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These are the fastest-growing regions in Canada – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Canada’s population growth is being felt most in the nation’s cities – but not necessarily the biggest cities.

New population estimates from Statistics Canada break down the country’s population as of July 1, 2019, in each of the city’s largest population centres, which it refers to as census metropolitan areas (CMAs).

These 35 CMAs are home to more than 70 per cent of Canada’s population, and their share is getting bigger. Their population increased by 1.7 per cent between July 2018 and July 2019, as compared to 0.6 per cent population growth in the more rural areas not covered by CMAs.

One CMA clearly led the way when it came to population growth: Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo, Ont. added 2.8 per cent more residents during the year, well ahead of the 2.3-per-cent growth rate in London, Ont. and the Ontario portion of Ottawa-Gatineau. Halifax, Saskatoon and Edmonton rounded out the top six cities for population rate growth.

At the other end of the spectrum, five CMAs saw population growth of 0.8 per cent or less: Peterborough, Ont., Thunder Bay, Ont., Saint John, N.B., Greater Sudbury, Ont. and Saguenay, Que. Only St. John’s, N.L., lost more residents than it gained.

According to the Statistics Canada data, which was released Thursday, immigration was responsible for almost all population growth in the 35 CMAs, but only about half of the growth in non-CMA areas. This suggests that immigrants are drawn to urban areas and that newcomers to more rural parts of Canada are more likely to have last lived in another part of the country.

This image from Statistics Canada shows the 2018-2019 population growth rate in each CMA:

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Canada-U.S. border will remain closed until Sept. 21 – CBC.ca

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The federal government will extend the Canada-U.S. land border closure for another 30 days until Sept. 21, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Friday. 

The closure to non-essential travel has been in place for months, but with caseloads still high in many U.S. states, the two governments have mutually agreed to continue restricting movement across the world’s longest international border.

“We will continue to do what’s necessary to keep our communities safe,” Blair said in a tweet.

The closure has resulted in a dramatic drop in traffic between the two countries although essential workers — like truck drivers and health-care professionals — are still able to cross by land despite the restrictions. Canadians are still able to fly to U.S. destinations.

The federal government has also moved to curb the movement of Americans through Canada who are ostensibly on their way to Alaska. U.S. travellers destined for the northern state have been limited to five crossings in Western Canada and they must commit to taking a direct route.

Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer of Canada, says the government will continue to monitor epidemiological data on both sides of the border before making a decision to open the country to more U.S. travellers.

Tam said she didn’t want to see a spike in cases related to the U.S. after Canada has been able to flatten the infection curve with aggressive public health measures.

“We want to keep up our good work and, as you’ve seen from the map, Canada is actually in quite a good position right now,” she told reporters Friday.

Brian Higgins, a Democratic congressman for the New York district that includes Buffalo and the Niagara area, said he was disappointed but not surprised that the border closure was extended.

“I have been working with Canadian officials at the federal level for several months toward the goal of getting a mutually agreed-to plan to open the border or, short of that, expanding the category of who is an essential traveller,” said Higgins, who was among nearly two dozen members of Congress to sign a letter in July calling for a plan to reopen the border.

“But I have come to realize that the Canadian federal government response to COVID-19 was early, strong and united. The American federal government response was slow, chaotic and adversarial.”

Higgins said he doesn’t think Washington wants to keep the border closed but doesn’t have much choice.

Meanwhile, he said the border closure is having an impact on his district.

“We have, in Buffalo and western New York, two professional sports franchises — the NFL Buffalo Bills, the NHL Buffalo Sabres — highly dependent on the Canadian season ticket-holders for those two franchises. Forty-five percent of our business at the Buffalo-Niagara international airport is citizens from Canada — by and large from Ontario. Our retail economy is highly dependent on the Canadian shopper. Canadians spend $10 million a year on health care in western New York,” he said. 

“All of this has obviously come to a screaming halt.”

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Health officials warn of potential 'fall peak' in COVID-19 cases in Canada – CBC.ca

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Canada’s top doctors say they’re striving for a best-case scenario but preparing for the worst: a so-called “fall peak” of COVID-19 cases across the country that threatens to overwhelm the public health-care system.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam and deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo presented new modelling on the coronavirus on Friday, flagging a potential surge in cases several times worse than what we’ve seen so far in Canada.

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) documents show officials are aiming for a “slow burn” scenario, in which the number of cases remains low, so that the public health-care system can deal with the influx of patients. But officials are also planning for a “reasonable worst-case scenario,” where a fall spike in infections is followed by ongoing peaks and valleys, putting excessive demands on the health system.

Tam noted that this fall’s surge will coincide with the flu and cold season, potentially putting added strains on hospitals and other health resources.

She declined to put a figure on what the caseload might look like, but said health authorities should plan for “something that’s at least several times worse than your previous experience.” There is much that’s still not known about COVID-19, including whether it accelerates with seasonality.

WATCH | Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam on potential COVID-19 surge:

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says her team is striving for a best-case scenario but preparing for the worst: a so-called “fall peak” of COVID-19 cases across the country. 1:06

Tam said what actions Canadians take now will determine how transmissions unfold in the fall.

“Continuing to build up capacity across our health, public health and laboratory systems while urging all Canadians to continue with public health practices will give us the best chance of keeping the epidemic on a slow burn, while preparing us in the event of a need to rapidly ramp up response measures for possible larger resurgence,” Tam said.

The number of new cases reported daily has increased in recent weeks, with the highest rate of infection among people aged 20-39 years old.

As businesses and schools reopen and more people return to the workplace, Tam stressed that Canadians must be vigilant in following public health guidelines to avoid a major rebound.

(CBC News)

Key measures to limiting outbreaks are:

  • Detecting and isolating cases.
  • Contact tracing and quarantining.
  • Physical distancing, handwashing and staying home when possible.
  • Using exposure notification apps.

Njoo said about 1.9 million people have downloaded Canada’s COVID-19 exposure notification app, and he urged people to take part, especially young people who go to pubs and nightclubs.

Case load expected to climb

In the short term, PHAC says the case load could grow to between 121,650 and 127,740 by Aug. 23, and the number of deaths could climb to between 8,980 to 9,115.

The majority of cases have been reported in Ontario and Quebec, while Nunavut has not recorded a single case.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu’s office says the government knows a second wave of COVID-19 is possible, and is making appropriate preparations.

“That’s why we’ve been careful in how we’ve started to lift some public health measures, and why we’ve worked with the provinces and territories to establish a supply of PPE and medical supplies to keep Canadians safe,” Hajdu’s spokesperson Cole Davidson said in a statement.

“Deliveries of PPE and medical supplies continue to arrive at PHAC warehouses from both domestic and international suppliers while we work with provinces and territories to prepare for future needs, including the administration of potential vaccines and a possible second wave.”

Today’s modelling information is not intended to predict what will happen, but to provide a snapshot of what could happen in certain scenarios. It projects that the “peaks and valleys” could continue through 2022.

It comes as anxiety increases about potential outbreaks as students return to classrooms in the coming weeks.

British Columbia released its own modelling Thursday, showing the province’s COVID-19 curve is now climbing at a higher rate than the initial outbreak in March, and suggesting a second wave could be bigger than the first by September.

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said the province’s contact-tracing efforts could help reduce the number of transmissions. 

Canada’s top doctor has said while Canada has been successful at slowing the spread of COVID-19, there could be a resurgence if Canadians don’t strictly follow public health guidelines on physical distancing, hand-washing and limiting mass gatherings.

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Today’s coronavirus news: Canada preparing for COVID-19 surge in fall, Tam says; Canada-U.S. border restrictions extended to Sept. 21 – Toronto Star

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KEY FACTS

  • 12:38 p.m. Canada’s chief public health officer says surges in new cases of COVID-19 are expected going forward

  • 12:20 p.m. Restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border will be extended another 30 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • 10:15 a.m. Ontario is reporting fewer than 100 cases

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

3:23 p.m. Ontario school boards said Friday their reserve funds are already budgeted for high-priority initiatives not related to the COVID-19 pandemic and should not be used to lower class sizes and hire new teachers, as the government is asking them to do.

A group representing the province’s school boards also said they were not consulted before Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced a plan Thursday that would see boards access $500 million of their own savings to achieve physical distancing in classrooms.

Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, said boards across the province were “frustrated and concerned” by the Progressive Conservative government’s plan.

“As Minister Lecce has often said, we are in unprecedented circumstances as a result of this pandemic, and we need an unprecedented response — something more than the use of reserve funds that normal prudent budgeting would allow.”

Lecce said Thursday the government wanted to offer school boards more flexibility to cut elementary class sizes to address pandemic safety concerns by accessing their surpluses.

He described the funds as “rainy day” savings that can help immediately. The government will also spend $50 million to update school ventilation systems, and another $18 million to hire principals and support staff to administer online learning.

Several teachers’ unions and many parents have been calling on the government to mandate smaller class sizes, especially in elementary school.

3:09 p.m. The chief public health officer says people are losing sight of the fundamentals that kept the number of COVID-19 cases low in Manitoba as the province reported 40 new cases.

There has been one day in April with a case count that high since the beginning of the pandemic.

Dr. Brent Roussin says it’s clear some people are not social distancing, avoiding large indoor crowds or staying home when they are sick.

He added people need to start wearing masks when they are indoors in public spaces and stores.

Roussin says health officials now can go through as many as 25 or more close contacts for each person who has tested positive.

A cluster connected to a meat-processing plant in Brandon has grown to 39 positive cases in employees, but Roussin says there’s still no indication it is being spread in the facility.

2:40 p.m. Deadpool” star and B.C.-born heartthrob Ryan Reynolds has strong words for young partiers spreading COVID-19.

His main message? Don’t kill my mom.

“Young folks in B.C., yeah, they’re partying, which is of course dangerous,” he said in a voice message directed to Premier John Horgan in a tweet Friday. “It’s terrible that it affects our most vulnerable. B.C. is home to some of the coolest older people on earth. I mean, David Suzuki, he lives there. My mom!

“I hope that young people in B.C. don’t kill my mom or David Suzuki, or each other,” the message goes on.

Read the full story from the Star’s Alex McKeen: Ryan Reynolds to B.C. partiers spreading COVID: ‘Don’t kill my mom’

2 p.m. Federal health officials are preparing for surges in new cases of COVID-19, including an expected peak of the outbreak this fall that could temporarily exceed the ability of the health-care system to cope.

As Canada continues to reopen and as more people gather together indoors, the federal government is planning for a “reasonable worst-case scenario.”

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall, followed by ongoing ups and downs, which chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says could overwhelm health systems in different parts of the country.

That’s why health officials across Canada are now getting ready for outbreaks that could surpass the highest spikes of the virus experienced in March and April, to ensure they’re ready for the worst.

“It’s preparing for — something could happen to this virus, who knows? Something could change,” Tam told reporters Friday in Ottawa.

“We don’t know the seasonality of this virus, it’s continued throughout the summer, that’s for sure, but what if it demonstrates a certain type of acceleration under certain conditions?”

Canada is better prepared than it was when the pandemic first hit the country this spring, she said, but officials are now planning for the likelihood of concurrent outbreaks of seasonal influenza, other respiratory illnesses and COVID-19 this fall and winter.

“We are over-planning beyond what we had for the previous wave and I think that’s the prudent thing to do,” Tam said.

“This planning scenario is to get all of our partners up and down the health system to over-plan.”

1:48 p.m. Florida reported more than 6,200 new coronavirus cases and 200 deaths on Friday.

The state health department reported 229 new confirmed deaths, bringing Florida’s death total to 9,276 since March 1. Over the past week, Florida has averaged 175 reported coronavirus deaths per day — only Texas was higher with 212.

Florida’s total confirmed cases is more than 563,000. The positivity rate for testing remains at 12.8% in the last week. The number of patients treated for coronavirus in Florida hospitals was 5,943 on Friday, down from a peak of more than 9,500 three weeks ago.

In the past month, COVID-19 has become Florida’s leading cause of death, averaging more than 140 reported fatalities per day. By comparison, the state health department says cancer and heart disease each average about 125 deaths per day.

COVID is easily the state’s deadliest infectious disease: Pneumonia, AIDS and viral hepatitis kill about 10 Floridians per day combined.

1:15 p.m. At his daily COVID-19 news conference Premier Doug Ford announced that as of tomorrow, up to 50 people can work out inside gyms at the same time.

1:11 p.m. This Sunday, the only thing keeping a flotilla of minimally clothed Americans on their side of the border is a strong west wind.

It’s the same predicament every year in Sarnia, Ont., when thousands of U.S. citizens — and some Canadians — hop aboard rafts, inner tubes and the odd trampoline or picnic table rigged with barrels — and transform the St. Clair River into a party for a 12 kilometre float downstream. In earlier decades, officials tried to stop the “unsanctioned marine event” known as the Port Huron Float Down, but now there is a weary acceptance that on the third Sunday in August thousands of people will show up without fail, in storms, strong winds and, yes, even in a pandemic.

Aside from the safety concerns, drifting into Canada without a passport used to be the biggest hassle for participants. Authorities have never endorsed this method of entering the country but, with high COVID-19 case counts in Michigan and a closed border, the RCMP is letting Americans know there are repercussions to floating across the river, including potential arrests under the Quarantine Act, arrests under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, fines, imprisonment — and they’ve made it clear that you can forget about police holding onto your raft or beer cooler for safekeeping. First responders are worried about the risk of COVID-19 spread with so many people expected to participate. The stakes have never been higher, but some officials expect the crowds could be the same, if not larger, because of pandemic boredom.

Read the full story from the Star’s Katie Daubs: Thousands of Americans are expected to float down the St. Clair River this Sunday. The border is closed. The current is strong. The pandemic persists. What could possibly go wrong?

1:08 p.m. The Star spoke with five Canadian doctors and health researchers to ask whether they would send their children back to school in September.

The specialists explain their decisions, and provide advice for caregivers grappling with this difficult situation.

I have kids, and am going to send them back to school. But I think its important to note that what’s good for my family does not necessarily mean what’s good for everyone else,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital.

“The message is not that I’m doing this, therefore it’s safe; The message is everyone has to look at their unique situation, and make decisions that best fit their situation.

Some questions you can ask include: Are your kids at greater risk of severe infection because of a medical condition? Who do your kids come to? How is their school implementing the provincial plan?”

Read the full story by the Star’s Joanna Chiu: Are Canadian doctors sending their kids to school this fall? Here’s how they’re weighing the risks of COVID-19

1 p.m. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s chief of staff is quarantining at home after his wife tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola says Ivey’s Chief of Staff Jo Bonner doesn’t have symptoms but is in quarantine at home. Bonner’s wife took a test after attending a visitation for a funeral last Friday in Mobile where she later learned several other attendees had tested positive. Janee Bonner doesn’t have symptoms of the virus, but the test was positive.

Maiola says Bonner was not with the 75-year-old Republican governor this week and Janee hasn’t been around the governor in several months.

1 p.m. Germany’s disease control centre says a study of a previous coronavirus hotspot town indicates there were almost four times as many infections from an outbreak in March.

The Robert Koch Institute says recent blood tests conducted on 2,203 adults in the southwestern town of Kupferzell showed that 7.7% had antibodies for the coronavirus.

In March, about 100 people tested positive for the coronavirus with a swab test and three died following an outbreak linked to a church concert in Kupferzell, population 6,000.

The study’s authors say this indicates more people were exposed to the coronavirus than previously thought and developed antibodies. The authors note many people with the virus show only minimal or no symptoms.

Also, more than a quarter of the people tested who had COVID-19 later showed no antibodies. However, the authors say this doesn’t mean they didn’t have immunity to the virus.

1 p.m. Greek authorities issued a “strong recommendation” for people to wear masks for a week indoors and outdoors in public areas after returning from areas with high coronavirus cases.

Public gatherings will be limited to 50 people in all areas considered hot spots. A ban on restaurants, bars and nightclubs operating between midnight and 7 a.m. has been extended to cover much of the country, including the greater Athens area, until Aug. 24.

Also, Greek authorities say eight migrants have tested positive for coronavirs in a mainland camp for asylum-seekers in the northeastern Evros area. The Fylakio camp, which has about 200 residents near the Turkish border, was quarantined Friday.

Greece had a record-high 262 new infections on Wednesday. There’s been 6,400 confirmed infections and 221 total deaths.

1 p.m. Some churches in Alaska’s largest city have recently defied the emergency order limiting the size of gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Alaska Public Media reported the Anchorage health order prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 15 people in public, including religious services.

Anchorage Baptist Temple held in-person services Sunday, about a week after the emergency order took effect. Other churches saying they are not complying with the measure include the Wellspring Ministries and King’s Chapel in Eagle River.

12:50 p.m. Quebec is reporting 87 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.

The province said today there were no new deaths reported in the past 24 hours, but three occurred from Aug. 7-12.

Quebec has reported a total of 61,004 cases of COVID-19 and 5,718 deaths linked to the disease.

Hospitalizations increased by two in the past 24 hours, for a total of 151.

Of those patients, 25 are in intensive care, an increase of two.

The province says it conducted 18,596 COVID-19 tests on Aug. 12, the last day for which testing data is available.

12:45 p.m. Nova Scotia has changed its rules for the use of non-medical masks in schools, saying new federal guidelines mean younger students will be required to wear them when classes resume on Sept. 8.

Education Minister Zach Churchill announced today that all students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear a mask while inside school, except when they are seated at desks two metres apart that face the same direction.

Masks must also be worn in hallways and other common areas if a two-metre distance cannot be maintained.

When the province unveiled its back-to-school plan on July 22, the mask requirement was limited to high school students.

Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the change reflects new scientific evidence that has confirmed children as young as 10 can spread COVID-19.

12:38 p.m. Canada’s chief public health officer says surges in new cases of COVID-19 are expected going forward.

Dr. Theresa Tam says as Canada continues to reopen, the federal government is planning for a “reasonable worst-case scenario.”

That would mean a peak in cases this fall, followed by ongoing ups and downs, where the demand could temporarily exceed the capacity of the health-care system to cope.

Tam says continuing to build up that capacity, while encouraging people to follow best public health practices, is essential.

The federal government released its latest national modelling projections for the spread of the novel coronavirus today.

It suggests the number of cases by Aug. 23 could be as high as 127,740 and the number of deaths as high as 9,115.

12:20 p.m. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border will be extended another 30 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It means the two countries will continue their mutual ban on non-essential cross-border travel until at least Sept. 21.

In a tweet, Blair says officials will keep doing what’s necessary to keep communities safe.

A formal announcement of the extension was expected to come later.

The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to so-called “discretionary” travel like vacations and shopping trips since the pandemic took hold of the continent in mid-March.

The United States has been grappling with fresh COVID-19 outbreaks across the country in recent weeks.

12:15 p.m. Mandarin Restaurants announced today plans to reopen its restaurants, beginning with its Brampton location at Hwy. 410 and Steeles. However, the restaurant will not be operationg as a buffet, but as a new dine-in experience it is calling Mandarin Small Eats. “Mandarin Small Eats will be a delicious selection of about 70 freshly prepared, small plates of Mandarin classics — good for sampling and sharing. The dishes will be served right to your table and priced from $1.99 to $4.99,” the company announced in a news release on its website.

11:47 a.m. Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19.

The province said today the new case was identified Thursday and involves someone in the northern zone.

Public health says it is investigating the case.

The province has reported a total of 1,072 positive cases of COVID-19 and 64 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.

There are no patients in hospital being treated for the disease.

Nova Scotia has one active case of COVID-19.

11:43 a.m. The Toronto public board wants to create smaller elementary class sizes this fall — a key demand of parents and educators during the COVID-19 pandemic — but in order to do that, school reopening might have to be delayed a week, or the start-up date staggered, says the chair.

“We will probably go for smaller class sizes,” and a vote on the issue is scheduled for early next week, said newly elected Chair Alexander Brown, the trustee for Willowdale.

“But the issue is, where do we put all the kids? In my area, schools are at 100, 110 per cent capacity. We don’t have any room. We need time to find space in libraries or community centres or wherever we can to set up those classes.”

The city of Toronto is offering to help with extra space required to offer smaller classes, loaning use of community centres or other city buildings.

Read the full story from the Star’s Kristin Rushowy and David Rider: Toronto school board says it needs more space, more time to prepare for smaller classes. The city says it can help

11:23 a.m. A new survey indicates Atlantic Canada is largely opposed to lifting travel restrictions for Canadians who live outside the region.

More than 3,300 Atlantic Canadians participated in the Narrative Research online survey between Aug. 5-9. The results, published Thursday, indicate more than three-quarters of respondents were opposed to lifting 14-day quarantine requirements for visitors from the rest of Canada within the next month.

COVID-19 numbers have remained low across the four provinces this summer. In July, Atlantic Canada created the so-called travel “bubble,” which waived the 14-day self-isolation rules for residents of the region who enter into Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Margaret Brigley, CEO of Halifax-based Narrative Research, said measures to suppress the novel coronavirus have paid off and put the region in an “enviable position,” but the survey results, she added, show Atlantic Canadians are uncomfortable with the perceived risks of accepting more visitors.

“Findings suggest that residents are not confident that safety measures in place would protect us from a viral spread if borders were to open,” Brigley said Thursday in a statement.

Opposition to opening up the travel bubble was highest in Nova Scotia, at 80 per cent.

11:10 a.m. The statistics are clear: across the country, women and low-wage, racialized workers in precarious employment were hit hardest by this year’s COVID-19 job losses.

For touring sound engineer Rena Kozak, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was a necessary if insufficient lifeline; while it didn’t cover all her costs, it kept her afloat.

But as the benefit winds down next month — to be replaced in part by a new and as-yet undefined Employment Insurance program — uncertainty about the future is taking a heavy toll.

“It is not a happy time,” said Kozak.

A survey by the Toronto-based Workers’ Action Centre of more than 1,400 workers about their experiences accessing CERB provides a glimpse at what that mounting uncertainty looks like. For low-earners, the most common concerns are the inability to find a job come fall, eligibility for EI, and worries about surviving on what EI offers, the poll found.

“The incredible stress and fear of what was going to happen to people in their families from the uncertainty really seep through many of the comments,” said Mary Gellatly of Parkdale Community Legal Services, who helped analyze the survey responses.

Read more from the Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh: Reduced hours, job loss and bankrupt employers — it’s ‘not a happy time’ for CERB recipients as benefit winds down

11:09 a.m. The last thing Matthew Bonn remembers from that hazy July night was going to wash his face after snorting three lines of fentanyl.

He woke up with an IV in his arm, surrounded by police, paramedics and concerned friends, and was later transported to hospital.

Bonn has been using fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, since 2012, but he said this time hit him unlike anything before. It forced him to face a reckoning about his drug use.

“I just realized I have so much to lose … I didn’t want to become a statistic.”

Bonn, a harm reduction advocate in Halifax, could easily have become one of Canada’s record number of overdose deaths — a trend that, like every aspect of life in the past six months, has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But as the attention of governments and policy-makers is focused on the toll the virus has taken on hospitals and long-term-care homes nationwide, the opioid epidemic continues to kill in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic — and it’s now outpacing the virus in monthly deaths in Canada.

Read more from the Star’s Omar Mosleh: In the shadow of COVID-19, Canada’s opioid epidemic has suddenly become deadlier

10:17 a.m. Asylum seekers working on the front-lines of the COVID-19 crisis are getting an early chance at permanent residency in Canada.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced the program today in response to public demand that the so-called “Guardian Angels” — many in Quebec — be recognized for their work in the health-care sector during the pandemic.

Ordinarily, asylum seekers must wait for their claims to be accepted before they can become permanent residents, but the new program waives that requirement.

To apply for residency now, they must have claimed asylum in Canada prior to March 13 and have spent no less than 120 hours working as a orderly, nurse or other designated occupation since then.

They must also demonstrate they have six months of experience in the profession before they can receive permanent residency and have until the end of this month to meet that requirement.

In a statement, Mendicino says the approach recognizes those with precarious immigration status are filling an urgent need and putting their own lives at risk to care for others in Canada.

10:15 a.m. With Toronto Public Health’s data in from yesterday, today Ontario is still reporting fewer than 100 cases, with 92 cases of COVID-19, a 0.2% increase, Health Minister Christine Elliott reported on Twitter. The province processed over 30,000 tests.

9:56 a.m. Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has announced a range of new nationwide restrictions to help fight a surge in coronavirus cases.

Illa said after an emergency meeting Friday with leaders of Spain’s autonomous regions that authorities are shutting all discos and night clubs across Spain.

Visits to nursing homes are limited to one person a day for each resident for only one hour. People are prohibited from smoking in public areas if they are unable to keep at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) away from others.

Police will begin cracking down harder on banned night-time street gatherings by young people to drink alcohol. New daily cases in Spain have been steadily climbing since the country on June 21 ended a more than three-month lockdown.

Authorities have officially recorded almost 50,000 cases in the past 14 days, an average of about 3,500 new cases a day.

9:56 a.m. New Jersey’s governor says the state will move to a nearly all-mail election this November, following the model it used for the July primary because of the coronavirus.

Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy said during an interview with CNN on Friday that all voters would get a ballot. It’s not clear if people who aren’t registered will get an application to register.

Murphy indicated the only in-person voting will be with provisional ballots. That means if voters want to cast their ballot in person, they’ll have to go to one of a reduced number of polling places and cast a ballot that will be counted only after officials determine the voter didn’t mail in a ballot.

The development comes a day after President Donald Trump acknowledged he’s starving the United States Postal Service of cash to make it harder to process millions of mailed-in ballots.

9:56 a.m. Norway officials are recommending masks on public transportation in Oslo and banning private gatherings of more than 20 people after a local spike in coronavirus cases.

Health Minister Bent Hoeie says masks must be used in Oslo and in a municipality southwest of the capital starting Monday.

Oslo has had 19 news coronavirus cases in the past two weeks. Nationally, Norway has 261 confirmed deaths related to the virus.

9:56 a.m. Britain has secured 90 million doses of two vaccines being developed to fight COVID-19.

The deals with Novavax, an American biotech company, and Janssen, a Belgian company owned by Johnson & Johnson, mean the U.K. has now acquired the rights to 340 million doses of six different experimental vaccines as the government seeks to hedge its bets on products that are still being tested to see if they are safe and effective.

Kate Bingham, chair of the government’s Vaccines Taskforce, told ITV there was no guarantee any of the vaccines would work “because there have been no vaccines against any human coronavirus.

“So what we’re doing is we’ve chosen six of the most promising vaccines across four different vaccine types and we’re hoping that one of those will work.’’

9:56 a.m. Denmark has added Belgium and Malta to its list of European nations where non-essential travels are not recommended as the Scandinavian country has seen a flare-up of coronavirus cases.

The Scandinavian country’s reason for doing so is that both nations have seen more than 30 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants. Danish health officials say the number is 32.5 for Belgium and 31.5 for Malta.

As of Friday midnight, people who travel from Belgium or Malta must self-quarantine upon return.

Denmark earlier has listed Spain, Andorra, Bulgaria, Luxemburg and Romania as countries where non-essential travels are not recommended.

Danes also don’t recommend trips to countries outside Europe with the exception of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Georgia, Japan, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

9:56 a.m. German authorities in the western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg have established a new coronavirus testing station at a highway rest stop by the French border after noting a strong increase in cases in the neighbouring country.

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The dpa news agency reported Friday that the centre has started testing travellers at the Neuenburg-Ost rest stop, across the border from the French town of Chalampe. Travellers from designated risk areas are required to be tested upon return to Germany, and the centre will also test any others who want to be checked.

France reported more than 10,000 new confirmed cases over the past week.

Baden-Wuerttemberg already has test centres at airports in Stuttgart, Friedrichshafen and Baden-Baden, as well as the Stuttgart main train station.

The Neuenburg rest stop centre is the first such station outside Bavaria, which has had roadside testing since the end of July. They have generated so much interest that Bavarian officials have reported a backlog of cases, with about 44,000 people not yet informed of their results, including more than 900 who tested positive for COVID-19.

Baden-Wuerttemberg says it expects to be able to inform people within four days of their tests.

9:56 a.m. A man in his 20s has become the youngest person to die of the coronavirus in Australia.

He was among 14 new deaths and 372 new infections reported by Victoria state health officials Friday in an outbreak centred in Melbourne, the second-largest city.

And Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 188 elderly people had died over the past week as the virus ripped through aged-care homes in Melbourne. Officials say about 70% of Australia’s 375 virus deaths have been at aged-care facilities.

Morrison said that Australians had high expectations of the services and standards at nursing homes and other facilities like hospitals and schools.

He says, “On the days that the system falls short, on the days that expectations are not met, I’m deeply sorry about that, of course I am.”

He said the country was moving heaven and earth to defeat the virus and it would eventually win.

9:56 a.m. South Korea is reporting 103 new coronavirus cases. It is one of the country’s biggest daily jumps in months, and officials are expressing concern that infections are getting out of control in the capital of Seoul and other major cities as Koreans increasingly venture out in public.

The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday brought the national caseload to 14,873 cases, including 305 deaths.

Eighty-three of the new cases were in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where authorities have struggled to stem transmissions. Infections were also reported in other major cities such as Busan, Gwangju and Ulsan.

Friday’s jump was driven by local transmissions, which health authorities said could worsen because of the increase in travellers during the summer vacation season.

9:56 a.m. A private school in California has been ordered to close after it reopened classrooms in violation of a state health order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Fresno County issued a health order Thursday against Immanuel Schools in Reedley. The K-12 school was told to close its classrooms until the county is removed from a state monitoring list for two weeks.

The school has about 600 students and it allowed students into classes Thursday without masks or social distancing. The school’s trustees and superintendent say they believe students’ development will suffer if they can’t be taught on campus.

9:56 a.m. China has reported another eight cases of locally transmitted coronavirus infections, all in the northwestern region of Xinjiang where the country’s last major outbreak has been largely contained.

Officials said Friday that 22 other new cases were brought from outside the country by Chinese travellers returning home. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from COVID-19 among 84,786 cases.

Hong Kong reported 69 new confirmed cases and three deaths over the past 24 hours. The semi-autonomous Chinese city has required masks be worn in all public settings, restricted indoor dining and enacted other social distancing measures to bring down transmissions that now total 4,312 with 66 deaths.

9:56 a.m. Mexico has passed the half-million mark in confirmed coronavirus cases.

The Health Department reported 7,371 newly confirmed cases Thursday, bringing the country’s total for the pandemic to 505,751. The department reported 627 more confirmed COVID-19 deaths, giving Mexico a total of 55,293.

Experts agree that due to Mexico’s extremely low testing rates, those numbers are undercounts and that the real figures may be two to three times higher. With only about 1.15 million tests conducted to date in a country of almost 130 million people, less than 1% of Mexicans have been tested.

9:56 a.m. Texas is reporting fewer than 7,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients for the first time in six weeks.

That encouraging sign Thursday was clouded by questions over testing as students return to school and college football teams push ahead with playing this fall. Testing has dropped off in Texas, a trend seen across the U.S as health experts worry that patients without symptoms aren’t bothering because of long lines and waiting days to get results.

Numbers from Texas health officials this week offer a hazy picture of how much testing has fallen. At one point this week, the infection rate in Texas was as high as 24%, only to suddenly drop Thursday to 16%.

Officials have not offered explanations about the wild swing in infection rates.

9:56 a.m. California will resume eviction and foreclosure proceedings Sept. 2, stoking fears of a wave of evictions during the coronavirus pandemic unless the governor and state Legislature can agree on a proposal to extend protections.

The Judicial Council of California voted 19-1 Thursday to end the temporary rules blocking such proceedings that had been in place since April 6.

Since the pandemic began in March, more than 9.7 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in California. A survey from the U.S. Census shows more than 1.7 million renters in the state could not pay their rent on time last month.

California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has been reluctant to let the rules stay in place much longer, saying it is the job of the judicial branch to interpret the laws, not make them.

9:56 a.m. Britain will require all people arriving from France to isolate for 14 days — an announcement that throws the plans of tens of thousands of holidaymakers into chaos.

The government said late Thursday that France is being removed from the list of nations exempted from quarantine requirements because of a rising number of coronavirus infections, which have surged by 66% in the past week. The Netherlands, Malta, Monaco and the Caribbean islands of Aruba and Turks & Caicos also were added to the quarantine list.

France is one of the top holiday destinations for British travellers, who now have until 4 a.m. Saturday to get home if they want to avoid two weeks in isolation.

The number of new infections in Britain is also rising.

9:40 a.m. British Columbia’s Health Minister urged those thinking of attending large events where social distancing isn’t possible to re-think their plans, and warned bylaw officers would be out as enforcement.

Adrian Dix says parties may not be immediately shut down but there would be consequences for those found flouting the rules.

“(Private parties) have been a significant source of problems,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.

“I have to say this, if you’re thinking of organizing a party — especially one involving alcohol, where there’s so specific limits on distancing that you’re putting in place — you should not do so.”

He warned that environmental health and bylaw officers would be out checking banquet halls and other places that hold events to ensure the 50-person capacity limit is being respected.

“They can expect to be visited,” he said of those hosting private events. “The rules will be enforced and that will have consequences.”

Dix’s comments come as B.C. reported 78 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province’s total to 4,274.

No new deaths were reported Thursday, leaving the province’s total at 196.

People between the ages of 20 to 29 now make up the group seeing the largest increase of infections, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

Those infections have been seen after exposure events, such as parties where young adults have been gathering, she added.

9:31 a.m. (updated) Around 550 people may have been exposed to COVID-19 at Brass Rail Tavern over the course of four days, Toronto Public Health announced in a news release Friday morning.

An employee who tested positive for COVID-19 was at the strip club, located at 701 Yonge St., during these times:

  • Aug. 4 from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (Aug. 5)
  • Aug. 5 from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. (Aug. 6)
  • Aug. 7 from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. (Aug. 8)
  • Aug. 8 from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (Aug. 9)

Toronto Public Health said in the release that “there was no risk to anyone attending the Brass Rail Tavern outside of these dates and times.”

As a precaution, TPH is advising anyone who attended the Brass Rail Tavern during these dates and times to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for the 14 days since their last visit during this period.

Read the full story from the Star’s Ted Fraser

7:37 a.m. Cineplex Inc. reported a loss of $98.9 million in its latest quarter as its movie theatres were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company says the loss amounted to $1.56 per share for the quarter ended June 30 compared with a profit of $19.4 million or 31 cents per share in the same quarter last year.

Revenue totalled $22.0 million, down from $438.9 million.

Cineplex temporarily closed all of its theatres and other entertainment venues March 16 as public health authorities started to put restrictions in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The company started to reopen its theatres just before the end of the quarter.

Cineplex has also had to deal with the fallout from Cineworld Group PLC’s decision to walk away from a deal to buy the company on June 12. It has filed a lawsuit against its former suitor over the failed deal.

7:35 p.m. New coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 50,000 for the second day in a row, as countries around the world struggled to curb the virus’s spread.

Total cases in the U.S. exceeded 5.2 million, about a quarter of the world-wide total, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s death toll rose by about 1,000 to more than 167,000. That was down from the previous day’s tally, which was the highest daily total since May 27.

6 a.m. More people in Indonesia rolled up their sleeves Friday to test a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by a Chinese company.

The Indonesian government announced the partnership between state-owned enterprise Bio Farma and the Chinese company Sinovac BioTech in early July. As part of the deal, Indonesia recruited 1,620 volunteers for the trial. The first 20 were injected with the candidate vaccine in Bandung, West Java province, on Tuesday, and more followed suit.

“We hope that this third clinical trial will be completed in six months. We hope that in January we can produce it and at the same time, if the production is ready, vaccinate all people in the country,” President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday.

After passing a medical and PCR test to confirm their health, volunteers were given a first dose of the experimental vaccine or a placebo, then a second dose 14 days later.

“I am not worried about the vaccine trial as I have searched the information related to a Sinovac vaccine before,” said Rina Mardiana, 44. “I want to join the trial for humanitarian reasons. I hope the pandemic will end soon.”

Clinical trial research leader Kusnandi Rusmil told The Associated Press that half the volunteers will be injected by the vaccine and the other half with the placebo. “We will see the comparison … in seven months,” Rusmil said.

5:55 a.m. Germany added the most new cases since May, while the head of the French Health Agency Jerome Salomon said the situation in his country is worsening. Travel stocks slumped after the U.K. government said it will require travelers from France, the Netherlands and four other countries to quarantine.

Infections continued to rise in Spain, prompting warnings from business leaders about the cost to the economy if new lockdown measures have to be imposed. New Zealand recorded 12 new local cases on Friday, including some outside the largest city Auckland, where the lockdown was extended.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden said U.S. governors should require masks for the next three months, an approach he said would save more than 40,000 lives, though President Donald Trump said this would be unenforceable.

5:51 a.m. The head of France’s national health service says Paris and Marseille have been declared at-risk zones for the coronavirus as authorities observe a sharp increase in infections.

Jerome Salomon, speaking on France Inter radio, warned “the situation is deteriorating from week to week” in the country. He says virus clusters emerge every day following family reunions, big parties and other gatherings amid summer holidays.

A government decree issued Friday allows authorities to impose stricter measures in the Paris and Marseille areas.

Salomon says there are “more and more people who tested positive, more and more people arriving in hospitals…we need to react before counting new deaths.”

The national health agency reported 2,669 new infections across on Thursday, putting France’s infection rate per 100,000 people to above 30.

4:21 a.m. India’s coronavirus death toll overtook Britain to become the fourth-highest in the world with another single-day record increase in cases Friday.

According to the Health Ministry, India reported 1,007 deaths in the past 24 hours. Its total rose to 48,040 deaths, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico.

India’s confirmed cases reached 2,461,190 with a single-day spike of 64,553 in the past 24 hours. More than 70 per cent of people infected in India have recovered.

The daily increase in newly reported infections was around 15,000 in the first week of July but jumped to more than 50,000 in the first week of August. The ministry cited its testing efforts, with more than 800,000 tests in a single day, taking cumulative tests to more than 26 million.

Health experts say it needs to be higher, given India’s population of 1.4 billion.

India’s two-month lockdown imposed nationwide in late March kept infections low. But it has eased and is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas. The new cases spiked after India reopened shops and manufacturing and allowed hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to return to their homes from coronavirus-hit regions.

Subways, schools and movie theatres remain closed.

Thursday 10:15 p.m. Despite initial findings and statements to the contrary, it seems children do transmit the coronavirus and play a substantial role in its spread, according to emerging research and several experts who spoke to the Montreal Gazette this week, raising concerns about the prospect of opening schools in three weeks.

But epidemiologists and pediatricians contend the health risks that come with keeping kids away from the classroom remain greater than the risks associated with sending them back — especially for the children themselves, who don’t tend to get as sick from the coronavirus. The experts admit, however, it is possible their return to school will fuel more community spread.

While treating patients on the COVID-19 ward at Ste-Justine Hospital, Dr. Fatima Kakkar, a pediatric infectious disease clinician-researcher, has been struck by how well kids seem to handle the infection.

“It’s been fascinating to me to call a family (to inform them of a positive COVID-19 test) and sometimes they’re even shocked the result came back positive, because the child is already feeling better,” she said. “But what’s also interesting is that in that same family you can have a parent who is very sick, going to the hospital, whereas the child has already recovered.”

The virus affects young children differently, Kakkar said, leading her to believe that worries of children contracting COVID-19 at school and becoming gravely ill are largely inflated.

COVID-19 has so far killed no children in Canada, she said; less than 100 have been hospitalized with the virus, and less than 20 have landed in intensive care. Compare that with last year’s influenza season, she said, which saw 15,000 cases among children, 200 of whom ended up in the ICU and seven of whom died.

But though they don’t get as sick, there are new concerns about the role children play in spreading the virus. An article in the Medical Journal of Australia published online this week claimed that, contrary to claims made by some researchers, children do play an important role in spreading COVID-19.

“Research suggesting otherwise is hampered by substantial bias,” wrote the article’s author, Dr. Zoë Hyde. “Additionally, large clusters in school settings have been reported, with implications for the control of community transmission.”

Thursday 9:30 p.m. A surge of COVID-19 cases among Southwestern Ontario’s Mennonite communities is prompting the region’s public health offices to work together to keep the virus from spreading in the enclaves of farm families who lead a faith-based lifestyle.

From Huron-Perth to Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex, public health officials have reported a rise of positive cases among Low German-speaking Mennonite communities in recent weeks.

Chatham-Kent’s top public health doctor said “almost all” of their cases – 84 are active as of Friday – are members of the Low German Mennonite community.

As of Wednesday, in Huron-Perth, 10 of the region’s 74 cases are among Low German Mennonites, mostly in the Perth East area, which includes Millbank and Milverton.

Thursday 8:30 p.m. Mexico has passed the half-million mark in confirmed coronavirus cases.

The Health Department reported 7,371 newly confirmed cases Thursday, bringing the country’s total for the pandemic to 505,751. The department reported 627 more confirmed COVID-19 deaths, giving Mexico a total of 55,293.

Experts agree that due to Mexico’s extremely low testing rates, those numbers are undercounts and that the real figures may be two to three times higher. With only about 1.15 million tests conducted to date in a country of almost 130 million people, less than 1% of Mexicans have been tested.

Read more of Thursday’s coverage here.

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