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How COVID-19 could change Canada's grocery landscape forever – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Never have Canadians thought more about securing their groceries than they are right now.

They are lining up to get inside stores, spending more money on food to prepare at home and expressing a new appreciation for the essential food chain keeping the country fed during this pandemic.

But the long-term effects of prolonged lockdowns and fear of public spaces could permanently shift how and where we shop, says Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University.

“Grocers are doing very well right now, but the future is very uncertain. What the landscape post-COVID is hard to read right now,” Charlebois told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.

It’s not that the grocery industry hasn’t served Canadians well during the pandemic. Charlebois, who studies the country’s food supply chain, has been impressed by how the system has responded to the surge in demand.

He compares the pandemic shopping rush to Dec. 23, a traditionally hectic shopping day before Christmas, and says grocers are seeing that level of demand “three times a day for a month.”

“To manage that kind of growth in such a short period of time is a miracle. There is no other way to put it.”

Virtually overnight, hitting the grocery store went from a routine outing to a surreal, experience requiring extensive pre-planning and hyper-vigilance.

That is bound to have a lasting effect, Charlebois says.

But for now, the massive hit to the restaurant industry is paying off for grocery stores.

Empire Company, the parent of Sobeys, announced April 15 that its same-store sales surged 37 per cent in the four-week period starting March 8. Metro said its second-quarter revenue jumped 7.8 per cent to CAD$3.99 billion over the prior year and estimated that more than 43 per cent of its CAD$287-million gain in sales was due to the pandemic.

Loblaw Companies Ltd., Canada’s largest grocery conglomerate, will report its fiscal first-quarter results April 29. But some retail analysts are predicting Canada’s major grocery chains will report higher earnings per share in 2020 than in 2019.

Charlebois says he believes Canadians now have a better understanding about all the elements of the food chain, including farmers, transportation companies, food processors, distributors and retailers.

“Something very transformational is happening. I think there is a new appreciation for the whole system.”

One result, the so-called hero pay bumping the wages of front-line grocery workers, is likely here to stay.

“We’ve heard that most grocers are going to be paying hero pay until May 8, but I don’t think the salaries will go back to where they were. It will be very hard to take that away now.”

But the grocery business is a high-volume, low-margin business, he says, and increased operational costs through salaries and stepped-up cleaning measures in stores will hit the bottom line. He expects that will likely lead to closures of less profitable locations and perhaps even the loss of certain banners.

Charlebois expects the fallout of COVID-19 will challenge the central business model in the grocery industry. At a 1 to 2 per cent profit margin, grocery chains have little room to absorb increased costs.

The average grocery store sells 15,000 to 18,000 distinct products (called SKUs in retailing). That has doubled or tripled over the last decade or so, he says, and contrasts with Costco’s strategy, which is to offer 3,400 SKUs at a 15 per cent margin.

“That choice for consumers comes at a cost. It’s more expensive to manage more SKUs but that has been the strategy for the grocery industry,” he said.

“So I think we could see retailers make changes going forward.”

SHIFTING ONLINE

One new normal from the pandemic will be that Canadian consumers and retailers alike will embrace online grocery shopping in a way they haven’t before, says Diane Brisebois, CEO of the Retail Council of Canada.

“I expect that we’ll see us catch up to the U.S. and to Europe,” she said. “There is a lot of thought going into what e-commerce means for the traditional grocery store.”

An April 15 survey commissioned by Dalhousie’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, where Charlebois is scientific director, found that 22 per cent of Canadians intend to buy food online post-COVID-19. Compare that to the barely 4 per cent of Canadians who were even considering buying food online regularly a year ago. 

The lab also found only 24 per cent of Canadians are comfortable with going grocery shopping right now. When three-quarters of your customers see grocery shopping as risky, that’s bad for business, says Charlebois.

It will have a lasting effect on bricks and mortar stores, he says, in a country that has been quite slow to let go of the grocery cart in favour of online shopping. Fears about health and safety are driving new habits in a way convenience and saving time did not.

“Some of these effects will be permanent. Will 22 per cent buy their groceries online on a regular basis? Maybe not, but it certainly won’t go back to the 2 or 3 per cent it was before.”

But plenty of consumers trying to use delivery services for the first time have been frustrated by weeks-long waits for delivery windows, crashing platforms and orders that are cancelled or disappear.

Brisebois says delivery services couldn’t handle absorbing a year’s worth of growth in a matter of days. Instacart, which serves 300 Canadian cities, said it was hiring 30,000 full-time shoppers in Canada just to keep up.

“There has been substantial investment by the great majority of grocers in the country, but it was still in its infancy stage. So the huge demand that ramped up overnight made infrastructure a challenge.”

Brisebois doesn’t expect Canadians will hold a grudge. She predicts many will embrace online shopping for staples and that grocery stores will focus on offering an experience by showcasing new products and ingredients, along with offering learning opportunities in cooking and nutrition.

FORMING NEW HABITS

Eugene Ace also foresees a huge uptick in consumers ordering groceries and prepared food online. He is founder and CEO of office coffee and snack delivery service GoJava. Its operations in Toronto and Ottawa saw revenues tank by 90 per cent in a matter of days when lockdown measures were imposed.

To keep his business alive, Ace lined up some new suppliers and began using his drivers, vans and warehouses to offer next-day delivery of produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods and prepared foods, finding immediate traction with house-bound consumers. He buys from wholesalers, local producers, and markets to fulfil orders.

“We can’t compete with traditional grocers on price and selection, but we can carve a niche in offering premium and local products,” he said.

He’s also focused on quick turnarounds, offering next-day service on orders placed before 4 p.m. That sets him apart from many home delivery services that can only offer deliveries weeks down the road.

“We had 20 to 30 orders a day right away and now we are doing 50 to 100 orders a day,” he said. “New people are finding us every day.”

Ace says he has capacity to ramp up even further and he is concentrating on offering a great experience to customers because he intends to keep offering the service even after the pandemic has ended.

“I think after COVID blows over, some people will return to stores, but others will not. I think there is a step-change in home deliveries happening and that we’ll see it double from before. People are forming new habits and if they like it, they’ll keep doing it.”

Charlebois agrees that Canadians won’t stop visiting grocery stores or markets any time soon, but he forecasts that 20 per cent of all food will be sold online in a few years, which is as much as a seven-fold increase over pre-pandemic days.

That would amount to a $50-billion market between restaurants and retail.

That sea change could result in food retailers investing in a system of automated micro-fulfilment centres dedicated to serving online ordering, he says.

‘DEMOCRATIZATION OF THE SUPPLY CHAIN’

A widespread shift to online ordering doesn’t mean only the established giants will benefit, says Charlebois.

In fact, he expects to see a post-pandemic “democratization of the supply chain” that could come in the form of more consumers buying directly from farmers, signing up for subscription-type services to stock up on staples from regional suppliers and supporting niche markets in their neighbourhoods.

“We had some fish and seafood delivered to us from a local retailer we didn’t even know existed a few weeks ago,” said Charlebois, who lives in Halifax. “It was a little more expensive, but incredibly fresh.”

COVID-19 has encouraged, and in some cases, forced Canadians to look beyond the “oligopoly” of the big-label grocery chains to get what they need, says Charlebois.

“I think consumers will consume food differently and that will force people in the food industry to adopt a different perspective.”

One potential casualty is paper flyers advertising grocery specials. Digital versions have been gaining in popularity for a long time but fears over transmission of the virus led Loblaw brands to pull in-store flyers in March.

Then the company announced it would permanently axe paper flyers for several of its chains.

Brynn Winegard, a marketing and retail analyst, told the Canadian Press that the move could lead other retailers in the same direction.

More consumers are using their phones to comparison shop through platforms like Flipp, Salewhale, and Flyerify, and retailers are reaching out to consumers with promotions through apps linked to loyalty cards.

Plus, the pandemic is leading to a “pivot or perish” instinct as retailers search for ways to eliminate costs.

“We haven’t seen anything like this before — no one has in any industry,” she said. “But if you’re not flexible and nimble in the way that you do business, you’re not likely to survive.”

‘BACK TO BASICS’

Jane Devito says her approach to grocery shopping has definitely changed for good.

During the pandemic, she’s ordered online for curbside pickup for the first time. The experience wasn’t flawless — her first order was deleted, and when she modified it, at least a third of what she ask for was out of stock.

Regardless, Devito said she appreciates the convenience.

“I think once everything calms down, the service will get better,” said the Flamborough, Ont. resident, though she added she isn’t relying entirely on online shopping.

She and her husband take turns hitting the stores. They have taken advantage of designated shopping hours for seniors and hope they become permanent, noting that aisles are well-stocked and less crowded.

Through hunting out options, the couple has also discovered some farmers’ markets in their area they hadn’t noticed before where they have bought eggs, meat, baked goods, preserves and vegetables.

“It’s kind of fun to shop that way and we can stick close to home.”

Julie Melanson thinks in-store physical distancing should continue even after the threat of COVID-19 has passed.

“Maybe it doesn’t have to be six feet, but people should stay further apart anyway.”

The mother of three teenagers has both asthma and a heart condition that required surgery. She has found grocery shopping difficult and stressful during COVID-19, but delivery options to her home in a rural area of Hamilton, Ont. are limited.

While Melanson doesn’t expect to continue wearing a mask once the crisis has passed, she expects her other new grocery shopping habits – using hand sanitizer, wiping down the cart, using debit instead of cash, and disinfecting or washing what she buys when she’s home — are here to stay.

Her family has adopted a “back to the basics” approach in planning out meals, shopping for a couple of weeks’ worth of provisions, baking bread and making do when they run out of something.

All of that may endure, she says, but the pandemic won’t convince her that online shopping is an answer.

Aside from scant delivery, Melanson, an elementary teacher in a French school, says it makes shopping for sales and evaluating quality difficult. Plus, she says, the selection isn’t as extensive as what’s available in the store.

‘SOLID AND RESILIENT’

For Heather Ferguson and her husband Cam Turner, of Victoria, B.C., COVID-19 has temporarily changed their shopping habits — but they don’t expect many permanent effects.

“Really, it’s not changed our buying behaviour a bit, except we are going shopping a lot less,” said Ferguson.

They were already doing much of their shopping in neighbourhood independents and using a subscription for cleaning products that automatically sends a new order after a set amount of time.

“We may look at using subscriptions for more staple items, but I don’t think we will do much else online,” said Turner.

“I do hope the stores adopt the habit of limiting the items people can cart off. That was a huge mistake early on,” he said. “Who needs six Costco-sized toilet papers? That would last a year.”

Though panic buying has tested the industry, small and large grocery chains have made investments in logistics and inventory control that are paying off right now, says Brisebois.

“Our supply chain has proven to be very solid and resilient. It adapted very quickly when it came to responding to empty shelves and suppliers were amazing in shifting production to important products.”

Brisebois says retailers of all kinds are working with the RCC to institute best practices that will endure – at least for the foreseeable future. They are consulting with governments and learning from experiences in other countries and in Canada’s grocery stores.

“This virus has changed everything about the way we live our lives and the way we interact. The measures that we are seeing in place in grocery stores we will see in other environments.”

That includes physical distancing markings on the floor and special sanitizing stations. She says retailers will certainly listen to customers about other measures they want to see carried forward, whether it’s one-way aisles or hours for seniors.

All the extra cleaning and disinfecting going on is hardly a bad thing, either.

Viral pandemics aside, a study in 2017 found shopping carts at food stores carry hundreds of times more bacteria units per square inch than bathroom surfaces.

FOOD SELF-SUFFICIENT

Many Canadians have never had to contend with empty shelves in grocery stores or worried about adequate food production. But plant closures as growing ranks of workers fall ill with COVID-19 and fears about labour shortages in farm fields have rattled complacency.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Canada is among few self-sufficient nations in the world when it comes to food.

Others include the U.S., France, Australia, Russia, India, Argentina, Thailand and Burma. The organization doesn’t measure whether a country does feed its own population – after all, Canada exports much of its food production – but whether it could.

According to the 2016 census, Canada produces about 1.5 per cent of the planet’s food while consuming about 0.6 per cent of global production. What that adds up to is that, in most food categories, the share of imports is below 20 per cent, with notable exceptions in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Brisebois hopes Canadians will continue to appreciate the country’s food chain long after COVID-19 has been conquered.

“I hope one thing that comes out of this is that Canadians realize how proud we should all be of our farmers, processors, distributors and retailers. The availability and affordability we have is not found in many parts of the world.”

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Coronavirus: What's happening across Canada on Friday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Canada approached 7,000 COVID-19-related deaths and the total number of cases passed 88,000 on Thursday as both Quebec and Ontario reported hundreds of new cases and New Brunswick faced a fresh outbreak linked to a health-care worker.

As of 7:30 a.m. ET Friday, Canada had 88,512 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 46,853 of them considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional information and CBC’s reporting stood at 6,963.

New Brunswick, which has been ahead of most other provinces in its reopening given its relatively low case numbers, announced a new outbreak this week in Campbellton, which is near the Quebec border in the province’s north. Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, said there are a total of six cases, including a health-care worker who failed to self-isolate after travel.

The province said in a statement Thursday that the current active cases “appear to have a connection to a health-care professional who worked in the Restigouche area.”

“Based on the contact tracing and the testing that we are doing, we will see more cases,” she said Thursday. Premier Blaine Higgs, who has called the health worker “irresponsible,” said that information has been passed along to RCMP, “to determine exactly what took place and whether charges are warranted.”

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories 

British Columbia health officials said Thursday that an outbreak at the Mission Institution, a medium security correctional facility, is over. The Correctional Service Canada reported 120 positive COVID-19 tests at the facility, with one death. Read more about what’s happening in B.C, which reported two new long-term care deaths linked to COVID-19, for a total of 164 deaths.

Alberta is allowing preschools to open as of June 1 under tighter public health guidelines. The province reported two more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, bringing its total to 143. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, where there have been a total of 6,955 cases, with 6,160 considered resolved or recovered.

Saskatchewan reported two more coronavirus cases on Thursday, one in the far north and one in the Saskatoon area. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

WATCH | An infectious disease specialist answers questions about COVID-19, including whether someone who has recovered can stop physical distancing:

An infectious disease specialist answers viewer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, including whether someone who has recovered from COVID-19 can stop physical distancing. 2:46

Manitoba reported two more cases on Thursday, bringing the provincial total of confirmed and presumptive cases to 294, with 273 considered resolved. The province, which is preparing to reopen schools for limited programming including one-on-one and small group instruction on June 1, has reported seven deaths. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

Ontario’s long-term care minister said 19 long-term care homes are still considered “red” or “high risk,” but would not say if the province will identify them publicly. “If you really look at the dynamic nature of what’s happening in our homes, our homes are shifting,” Merrilee Fullerton said, noting that their status can change daily. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government should release the list so that families can know which homes are struggling. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

WATCH | Lack of data hampers Ontario’s fight against COVID-19:

Issues continue to surround Ontario’s failure to gather and share data about COVID-19, which many say is key to controlling outbreaks. 1:44

Quebec reported 563 new COVID-19 cases and 74 new deaths on Thursday, bringing its death toll to 4,302. The province has reported a total of 49,702 cases, with 15,618 of the cases listed as resolved. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.

In New Brunswick, the threat of a growing COVID-19 outbreak forced the adjournment of the provincial legislature Thursday and delayed by a week the planned loosening of some restrictions in the province’s recovery plan. The moves came a day after officials confirmed a health-care worker who travelled outside New Brunswick had failed to self-isolate upon their return and subsequently infected other people in the Campbellton area. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Dr. Jennifer Russell announced three new COVID-19 cases in the Campbellton area on Thursday, bringing the province’s active case number up to six. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Nova Scotia reported two new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing its total to 1,055, with 977 considered resolved. The province has reported 59 deaths to date, with most linked back to the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

People who live in Prince Edward Island’s long-term care homes will be able to see visitors again as of June 1. The visits will be by appointment, will have time limits and will happen outside in a bid to prevent infection, officials said. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

WATCH | Buying or selling a home during the pandemic — what to expect:

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what happens when you buy or sell a house. Andrew Chang walks through what’s changed in the real estate game. 1:48

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new coronavirus case on Thursday after going 20 days without any new cases. The case is related to travel, health officials said. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

Nunavut, which is the only province or territory in Canada that has no confirmed COVID-19 cases, has extended its public health emergency until June 11. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said Thursday that the territory’s border won’t be reopened soon. “Right now, travel into Nunavut from outside of the territory represents the highest risk,” he said. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

WATCH | Italians nervous as regional borders reopen:

Many Italians are concerned about the potential for more COVID-19 spread as the country reopens its borders to free travel and people start returning to workplaces. 1:58

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada on May 28 – CBC.ca

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The latest:

As Canada’s total number of COVID-19 cases climbed to more than 88,500 on Thursday, New Brunswick began ramping up testing in a region of the province where it’s feared a new cluster of three cases could grow.

At least 150 people have been exposed to a medical professional in the Campbellton region who has COVID-19 and saw multiple patients over a two-week period following his return to New Brunswick from Quebec. Gilles Lanteigne, head of the Vitalité Health Network, said those exposed include 50 health-care workers at the Campbellton Regional Hospital and 100 people in the community.

“We could see some transmission around the province,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, told a briefing on Thursday, adding that two of the three new cases of COVID-19 are health-care workers.

Quebec and Ontario remain the hardest-hit provinces in terms of the number of cases and the daily increases.

Innis Ingram sits chained to a tree Thursday near crosses identifying the lives lost to COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community centre in Mississauga, Ont. Ingram’s mother is inside the facility, and he says he won’t unchain himself until an inspector arrives or management from Trillium Health Partners, a hospital system serving Mississauga and west-end Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Quebec has reported 563 new cases, while Ontario has reported 383 new cases. As of 5:50 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 88,504 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 46,844 considered resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial health data, regional information and CBC’s reporting stood at 6,961.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the country is seeing a “series of regional epidemics” with Quebec and Ontario experiencing the vast majority of cases and severe outbreaks.

Within those provinces, you have to home in on certain areas and offer assistance to hard-hit areas, said Tam, who praised a move by the health officials in Toronto to release more “granular data” about COVID-19 cases.

When asked about a recent decision in New Brunswick to reimpose some restrictions on one region after new cases emerged linked to a returning traveller who didn’t self-isolate, Tam said she thinks every medical officer of health agrees on the need to be “really careful” as activities resume and restrictions are lifted.

WATCH | RCMP to look into new cluster of cases in New Brunswick:

Premier Blaine Higgs says police will determine whether charges are warranted after a health-care professional with COVID-19 did not self-isolate after returning to New Brunswick from Quebec. 0:56

“I think there’s always been the message in different jurisdictions that there’s a flexibility in the public health system to reinstate or pull back on some of the measures as they see fit, based on their own epidemiologic context,” she said at a Thursday briefing.

New Brunswick had gone an extended period with no new cases, but with the new cases, it’s now rolling back the easing of some restrictions in Zone 5, an area that’s home to 25,000 people and includes the Campbellton-Dalhousie Region. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not hold his daily briefing on Thursday because he was opening a UN conference on financing issues around health and development and how they have been affected by COVID-19, including questions about liquidity and debt.

Trudeau told heads of state and government that “our citizens need to have confidence in international institutions that leave no one behind and are capable of overcoming global challenges.”

Read on for a look at what’s happening in your region, and to get the latest details on how provinces are handling the pandemic and the tentative process of lifting restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the novel virus.

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories

British Columbia reported nine new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday — including one new outbreak at Nicola Lodge, a long-term care home in Port Coquitlam — for a total of 2,558 cases in the province. There have been 164 COVID-19-related deaths in B.C., including two more in long-term care homes in the Fraser Health region.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s health officer, announced the outbreak of COVID-19 at Mission Institution, where dozens of inmates had fallen ill, has now ended. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that B.C.’s COVID-19 numbers are trending in the right direction but urged continued adherence to public health guidelines. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

Alberta reported 29 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and two new deaths. That brings the province’s total number of confirmed cases to 6,955 with 143 deaths.

On Wednesday, the province reported its lowest number of active cases since the end of March, at 679. That number was down to 652 on Thursday. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, where health officials are investigating a possible case of Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), an inflammatory syndrome associated with the novel coronavirus.

Saskatchewan announced two new cases of COVID-19, one in the province’s northern region and one in the Saskatoon area. There are now 61 active cases out of 639 cases and 568 recoveries, with four people in hospital for treatment of the disease. Ten people in the province have died of the illness. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba is on track to enter the next phase of its reopening on Monday, when it will allow restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses shuttered by COVID-19 restrictions to open with stepped-up public health measures in place.

There were two new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba on Thursday, bringing the province’s total to 294. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

WATCH | Brian Pallister talks about moving Manitoba into the next phase of reopening:

Premier Brian Pallister says the slow and careful Phase 2 reopening is the result of the low incidence of COVID-19 in Manitoba and the province will look closely at any resurgence in cases. 1:15

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford said Thursday that he’s sick of “taking bullets” for unionized government inspectors who, he said, refused to go into the province’s long-term care homes to carry out inspections in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic because of safety concerns.

WATCH | Release of COVID-19 hot spot data in Toronto can help prevent spread of coronavirus, says epidemiologist:

Dr. David Fisman says lowering infections in hot spots will help the city and province continue with reopening plans.  6:45

On Wednesday, the province announced it’s taking over the management four of the five long-term care homes that were the subject of a Canadian Armed Forces report alleging “horrific” conditions, including poor hygiene and aggressive behaviour toward residents. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

In Quebec, Premier François Legault talked more about plans to recruit and train 10,000 support staff, or orderlies, to work in long-term care homes. He said they would be full-time positions with pensions and benefits.

Provincial Justice Minister Sonia LeBel confirmed that courthouses in Quebec would reopen on June 1. She said there will be a limited number of people allowed inside, physical distancing rules and Plexiglas barriers for judges.

Many long-term care homes in Quebec are in desperate need of medical personnel and continue to struggle to bring down the number of COVID-19 infections, a military report on its mission inside the province’s seniors’ residences says. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, which has had 49,702 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

WATCH | Military reports staffing, PPE issues in Quebec long-term care homes:

The Canadian military’s report into Quebec’s long-term care homes during the COVID-19 crisis found ongoing staff shortages and issues with the use of personal protective equipment. 2:00

In New Brunswick, officials say they expect hundreds of people to be tested within the next couple of days after a new cluster of COVID-19 cases in the Campbellton region. Premier Blaine Higgs on Thursday said the development is “very concerning,” but he remains optimistic that with contact tracing, the province will be able to curb the spread of the respiratory illness. Read more about what’s happening in N.B., where the legislature, which just reopened on Monday, has been adjourned until June 9 in a bid to ensure MLAs don’t contribute to spreading the virus.

New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, both with low numbers of COVID-19, were considering a proposed interprovincial bubble that would see travel resume across the Confederation Bridge in late June or early July. Higgs, New Brunswick’s premier, told CBC News such a plan now depends on what health officials learn about the new cluster of cases in northern New Brunswick in the next couple of weeks.

Nova Scotia is set to allow more businesses to reopen next week, saying everything from restaurants and bars to gyms and personal services like hair salons can open on June 5 under enhanced public health protocols. “We are still moving slowly, but this is a good first step,” Premier Stephen McNeil said Wednesday. Read more about what’s happening in N.S., which reported two new coronavirus cases on Thursday.

Prince Edward Island’s state of emergency has been extended until June 14Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I., which has no active cases of COVID-19.

Newfoundland on Thursday reported one new case of COVID-19, ending the province’s 20-day streak of zero new cases. The Department of Health says the new case, affecting a man between 40 and 49 years old, is related to travel. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

The chief public health officer of the Northwest Territories said she “wholeheartedly” supports the idea of people taking staycations this summer, including visits to regional hubs. But Dr. Kami Kandola said people in the territory need to “stay on our game,” as the risk associated with COVID-19 has not passed. Meanwhile, in Nunavut, the public health emergency has been extended until June 11. Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has not had a confirmed coronavirus case. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

The novel coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19, causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. The virus labelled SARS-CoV-2 first emerged in China in late 2019, before spreading around the world.

WATCH | Why Iceland has been so successful at contact tracing:

Coronavirus contact tracing in Iceland is a collaborative effort between health-care workers and the police, creating a ‘force to be reckoned with,’ says one of the detectives in charge. 4:47

According to a Johns Hopkins University case tracking tool, as of Thursday afternoon there were more than 5.9 million coronavirus cases worldwide, with nearly 358,000 deaths reported. 

The U.S. accounts for almost 1.7 million of the cases and more than 100,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

WATCH | COVID-19: What parts of the world are big concerns right now?

A panel of experts answer questions about what’s happening with COVID-19 around the world and how it impacts Canada. 6:20

WATCH | COVID-19: What parts of the world are big concerns right now?

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Canada sees fewer than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for 3rd consecutive day – Globalnews.ca

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For the third day in a row, the number of new coronavirus infections in Canada remained below 1,000.

But every province except for Prince Edward Island reported at least one new case on Thursday, with New Brunswick reporting a cluster of cases linked to a health-care worker who failed to self-isolate after returning from Quebec.

Canada reported 994 new cases of COVID-19 — slightly more than Wednesday’s 872 — and 112 new deaths, for a total of 88,501 cases and 6,877 deaths.

Nearly 47,000 people across the country are deemed recovered, and more than 1.6 million tests have taken place, the majority of them in Ontario and Quebec.


READ MORE:
How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

The two provinces together account for more than 86 per cent of Canada’s cases, and 94 per cent of the national death toll.

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With the exception of PEI, all the Atlantic provinces reported new cases on Thursday.






1:46
Saskatchewan company creates coronavirus decontamination unit using ozone gas


Saskatchewan company creates coronavirus decontamination unit using ozone gas

New Brunswick saw three new cases linked to a health-care worker, casting a pall on provincial reopening plans and bringing the total number of cases to 126. Zero deaths have been reported so far.

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Premier Blaine Higgs has said the “irresponsible” health-care worker had been in contact with “multiple patients” over two weeks. The worker could be charged with violating public health orders, he added.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case, for a total of 261, including three deaths and 255 recoveries.


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Nova Scotia saw two new cases, bringing its figures to 1,055 cases. Fifty-nine people have died so far, many of them linked to a long-term care home in Halifax. More than 970 people have recovered.

Quebec saw 563 new cases and 74 new deaths. The province has seen nearly 48,000 cases, with more than 15,000 recoveries, and 4,302 deaths. Premier Francois Legault has asked the Canadian military to remain in long-term care homes till the fall.






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Ontario announced 383 new cases — nearly 100 more than the previous day’s report — and 34 new deaths, bringing its figures to almost 26,900 cases and 2,189 deaths. More than 20,600 people are considered recovered from the virus.

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Saskatchewan and Manitoba reported two new cases each. Saskatchewan has seen 10 deaths so far and 639 cases, including nearly 570 recoveries. Seven people have died in Manitoba, which has 283 cases.

Alberta reported two new deaths and 29 new cases on Thursday. One hundred Albertans over the age of 80 have died of COVID-19 so far, out of 143 fatalities.

The province has seen close to 7,000 cases overall, including more than 6,000 recoveries.


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British Columbia reported nine new cases and two new deaths. The province also declared a major outbreak in a prison was officially over. B.C. has seen 2,558 cases — 84 per cent of them recovered — along with 164 deaths.

All cases resolved

Prince Edward Island is currently the only province without any active cases, after it declared all 27 of its cases resolved weeks ago.

The Northwest Territories and the Yukon also have no active cases, with all cases resolved for weeks now.






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Nunavut remains the only region in Canada that hasn’t seen a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Worldwide

Globally, there are more than 5.8 million cases of COVID-19 around the world as of Thursday evening, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 360,000 people have died.

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The U.S. accounts for the majority of cases and deaths, with more than 1.7 million infections and more than 100,000 deaths.

— With files by The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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