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Canada tops Slovakia to improve to 2-0 at world juniors

Philip Tomasino had a goal and an assist for Canada in a 3-1 win over Slovakia at the world junior men’s hockey championship Sunday.

Jack Quinn, with an empty-net goal, and Jordan Spence also scored for Canada (2-0) playing its second game in as many days to start the tournament.

The host country opened with a 16-2 romp over short-staffed Germany on Saturday.

Canadian goaltender Devon Levi made 17 saves for the win on his 19th birthday.

Martin Romiak scored for Slovakia (1-1). Goaltender Samuel Hlavaj of the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix stopped 20 shots in the loss.

WATCH | Canada earns preliminary-round win over Slovakia: 

Canada beats Slovakia 3-1 to stay perfect at the World Junior Hockey Championship. 0:29

Canada has Monday off before facing Switzerland (0-2) in Pool A on Tuesday. Finland (2-0) beat the Swiss 4-1 earlier Sunday.

The top four teams in each pool advance to quarterfinals Jan. 2, followed by semifinals Jan. 4 and the medal games Jan. 5.

Romiak’s power-play goal at 18:36 of the third pulled the Slovaks within a goal, but Quinn sealed the victory with an empty-netter.

Tomasino took a long pass from Dylan Cozens and beat Hlavaj with a high shot at 16:25 of the third period for a 2-0 lead.

Canada’s Schneider serves suspension

Canadian defenceman Braden Schneider served a one-game suspension Sunday for checking German forward Jan-Luca Schumacher in the head the previous day.

Spence, who was a healthy scratch Saturday, drew into the lineup and scored on his first shift of the tournament.

Slovakia’s defence was a much tougher test for Canada’s scorers than depleted Germany.

The Canadians dominated puck possession and allowed Slovakia few clean entries into Canada’s zone, but their attack lacked cohesion for much of the game.

Slovakia killed off a pair of Canadian power-play chances and Canada in turned kill off one Slovak man-advantage in the second period.

Defenceman Bowen Byram levelled Slovak forward Jakub Kolenic on Canada’s blue-line midway through the period.

Spence scored Canada’s lone goal of the opening period at 4:08.

The Australian-born defenceman from Cornwall, P.E.I., caged a Dawson Mercer rebound and beat Hlavaj with a wrist shot from the hash marks.

WATCH | Finland downs Switzerland to stay unbeaten:

Finland scored 3 times on the power-play as they defeated Switzerland 4-1 and improved to 2-0 at the World Junior Hockey Championship. 0:29

Canadian winger Dylan Holloway didn’t dress for Sunday’s game because of an upper-body injury. Captain Kirby Dach isn’t playing in the tournament because of a wrist injury sustained in a pre-tournament game.

Cozens, who had a hat trick and six points against Germany, wore the captain’s C on Sunday. Cozens is alternating the captaincy with Byram.

The International Ice Hockey Federation announced Sunday there were no new positive tests for the COVID-19 virus among the teams and tournament personnel.

Three German players were released from quarantine Sunday to rejoin a team that iced just 14 skaters in its first two games.

Barring further positive tests, five more Germans will be released from isolation Tuesday with one player remaining in quarantine until Jan. 4.

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CBC | Sports News

India tops 10 million confirmed COVID-19 cases

India’s confirmed coronavirus cases have crossed 10 million with new infections dipping to their lowest levels in three months, as the country prepares for a massive COVID-19 vaccination in the new year.

Additional cases in the past 24 hours dropped to 25,152 from a peak of nearly 100,000 in mid-September. The pandemic has infected nearly 1 per cent of India’s more than 1.3 billion people, second to the worst-hit United States.

The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 347 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 145,136.

Dr. Randeep Guleria, a government health expert, said India is keeping its fingers crossed as the cases tend to increase in winter months.

“If we can sustain our declining trend for the next two to three months, we should be able to start the vaccination program and start moving away from the pandemic,” Guleria told The Associated Press.

Passengers have their temperatures checked before boarding a train in Mumbai on Monday. (Sujit Jaiswal/AFP via Getty Images)

India is home to some of the world’s biggest vaccine-makers and there are five vaccine candidates under different phases of trial in the country.

The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine-maker, is licensed to produce the Oxford University-AstraZeneca shots. India’s Bharat Biotech vaccine also is a front-runner, and the two vaccines are expected to get authorization for emergency use within weeks, said Guleria.

India aims to provide vaccines to 250 million people by July 2021. The government is planning to receive 450 million to 500 million doses, the Health Ministry said.

The first group will include health care and front-line workers. The second group to receive the COVID 19 vaccine will be people over 50 years of age and those under 50 with comorbid conditions, it said.

A workers sanitizes a metro coach in New Delhi on Sept. 3. (Manish Swarup/The Associated Press)

The pace of new cases has slowed down. It took India 12 days to get from 5 million to 6 million cases, but 22 days to go from 8 million to 9 million, and 29 days to hit 10 million.

India’s economy contracted by 7.5 per cent in the July-September quarter following a record slump of 23.9 per cent in the previous three months, pushing the country into a recession for the first time in its history. With millions becoming jobless, the Indian government is continuing to relax harsh lockdown restrictions that were imposed in late March.

A large number of offices, shops, businesses, liquor stores, bars and restaurants have reopened. Restricted domestic and international evacuation flights are being operated along with train services. Schools remain closed.

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CBC | World News

Ontario tops 2,000 new COVID-19 cases, vaccination programs begin in Atlantic Canada

The latest:

Ontario reported more than 2,100 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as vaccination efforts got underway in Manitoba and several Atlantic provinces.

Health officials in Ontario reported 2,139 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 additional deaths on Wednesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 4,035. Hospitalizations climbed to 932, with 256 people in intensive care units.

With case numbers and hospitalizations on the rise, officials have instructed hospitals in the province to get ready for a surge in COVID-19 patients. Ontario Health CEO Matthew Anderson said in a memo to hospitals that the province has entered “a more critical phase of the pandemic where we are seeing widespread community transmission.”

Quebec, meanwhile, reported 1,897 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 additional deaths on Wednesday.

Hospitalizations in the province also increased, rising to 975, with 128 in intensive care units, according to a provincial tracking site.

Premier François Legault announced new restrictions on Tuesday, saying offices will be closed as of Thursday, with non-essential businesses closing for a period after Dec. 25.

The updates in Ontario and Quebec come as more provinces begin to roll out their vaccination efforts.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia offered their first doses on Tuesday. Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island gave their first doses on Wednesday after receiving initial supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech product, the first — and so far only — COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in Canada.

Speaking ahead of the first vaccinations in the province, Premier Brian Pallister asked Manitobans to be patient and not let their guard down as the province readies a large, complex vaccination effort.

“This is a monumental challenge, a historic challenge,” he said Tuesday.

Danielle Sheaves, a registered nurse, was the first person to get the vaccine in Nova Scotia.

“It’s a little overwhelming this morning, but feels good, and I was honoured to be asked to be the first person to get the vaccine this morning,” said Sheaves, who works at the COVID-19 unit at the Halifax Infirmary.

Halifax nurse Danielle Sheaves receives the first COVID-19 vaccination given in Nova Scotia. (Robert Short/CBC)

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said Tuesday that if all goes well, his province will have more people vaccinated Wednesday than have tested positive for COVID-19 on the island, which has seen just 89 positive cases since the pandemic began.

As provinces dealt with the Pfizer-BioNTech rollout, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said that Canada has an agreement in place to get up to 168,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December, ahead of schedule. The Moderna vaccine has not yet been approved by Health Canada, but Trudeau said deliveries could begin within 48 hours of getting the green light.

“Doses of this vaccine will be directed to the North, as well as to remote and Indigenous communities,” Trudeau said Tuesday. 

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Infection control specialist warns of pressure on Ontario hospitals:

Ontario needs to really curb the spread of the coronavirus, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Gardam. ‘We can’t keep getting more COVID patients’ in hospital, he said. 0:51

As of 12:50 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 479,262, with 76,216 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 13,744.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, while Nova Scotia reported four new cases.

The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have arrived in New Brunswick, but that province’s vaccination effort is not set to begin until the weekend.

In British Columbia, the Interior Health Authority said Tuesday that a cluster of cases has been linked to the Big White resort near Kelowna.

B.C. reported 522 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 additional deaths on Tuesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 668. Hospitalizations stood at 361, health officials said, with 93 in intensive care.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced new supports for some neighbourhoods in Calgary and Edmonton that have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. 

Health officials in Alberta reported 1,341 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 11 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 744. Hospitalizations stood at 742, with 137 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units, according to a provincial tally.

Saskatchewan has administered its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to health-care workers in Regina. Nurses at the Regina General Hospital gave the province’s first shots to a critical care doctor and an emergency room nurse yesterday.

Health officials in Saskatchewan reported 194 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and seven additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 98.

The COVID-19 death toll in Manitoba passed the 500 mark on Tuesday as the province announced 272 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths. The province gave out its first vaccinations early Wednesday, beginning with select health-care workers.

Across the North, Nunavut reported two new cases of COVID-19 and there was one new case reported in the Northwest Territories. There were no reports of new cases in Yukon.

What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

As of early Wednesday afternoon, more than 73.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 41.8 million cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a case-tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.6 million.

In Europe, Germany hit a new record level of coronavirus deaths as it entered a harder lockdown Wednesday, closing shops and schools to try to bring down stubbornly high new cases.

Nearly 140,000 people in the United Kingdom have received their first COVID-19 shots in the first week of rollout for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the minister in charge of the program said on Wednesday.

The vaccine was approved for emergency use two weeks ago, with rollout beginning on Dec. 8, making Britain the first country to deploy the shot outside of clinical trials.

“A really good start to the vaccination program. It’s been seven days and we have done: England: 108,000, Wales: 7,897, Northern Ireland: 4,000, Scotland: 18,000. U.K. total 137,897,” Nadhim Zahawi said in a tweet.

Britain’s easing of restrictions for family gatherings over Christmas looks like it’s still on despite a sharp spike in new coronavirus infections that’s raised fears of another wave of cases and deaths in the new year.

WATCH | New COVID-19 restrictions across Europe as U.K. allows small Christmas gatherings:

New COVID-19 restrictions have been introduced across Europe to combat the rise in cases, but the U.K. has also loosened rules around Christmas gatherings, leaving many people confused and health officials warning about the consequences. 1:58

Britain’s communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said U.K. leaders will have further discussions Wednesday about the planned relaxation. However, he gave no indication that a change would be announced, beyond urging people to think harder about their holiday plans.

“It could be counterproductive to produce overly restrictive rules rather than providing very clear and sober guidance and ask people to think carefully and come to their informed judgment,” he told BBC radio.

Medical staff in Poland, meanwhile, could start being vaccinated this month, the prime minister’s top aide, Michal Dworczyk, said.

In the Americas, daily U.S. deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 3,000 for the third time in a week as the country expanded its vaccination program and the U.S. Congress appeared to make progress toward approving financial relief for the pandemic-stricken country, according to a Reuters report. The daily tally from the U.S Centers for Disease Control was slightly lower, at 2,960.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine appeared set for regulatory authorization this week after U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) staff endorsed it as safe and effective.

California is distributing 5,000 body bags mostly to the hard-hit areas in Los Angeles and San Diego and has 60 refrigerated trailers standing by as makeshift morgues in anticipation of a surge of coronavirus deaths.

The precautions come from hospitalizations that now are double the summertime peak and threaten to soon overwhelm the hospital system.

Director of inpatient pharmacy David Cheng, centre, places trays of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine into a freezer at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles on Monday. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that the number of average daily deaths has quadrupled from a month ago.

In Kansas, a mayor announced Tuesday that she is resigning, effective immediately, because of threats she has received after she publicly supported a mask mandate.

Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw said she was concerned about her safety after being met with aggression, including threats via phone and email, after she was quoted in a USA Today article on Friday supporting the mandate, The Dodge City Globe reported.

Costa Rican authorities and Panama authorized the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia received its first shipment of vaccines on Wednesday and will begin distributing the shots in the next three days, the health minister said.

Oman’s Health Ministry has issued a licence to import the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Lebanon is expected to sign a deal this week for supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and is set to receive the first batch eight weeks after that.

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea reported a record daily rise in COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and the prime minister issued an urgent call for more hospital beds.

Indonesia will provide free vaccines to its citizens when it starts its inoculation program, President Joko Widodo said, adding that he would get the first shot to reassure people of its safety.

Workers spray disinfectant in a catering shop as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 in Karachi on Monday. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)

The number of daily COVID-19 deaths in Pakistan crossed 100 for the first time in months with the virus spreading quickly in the financial capital of Karachi.

Tokyo has reported 678 new cases of the coronavirus, a high for the Japanese capital, as Japan now struggles with another surge in the virus.

South Africa remained the hardest-hit country in Africa, with more than 873,000 cases and 23,600 deaths.

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CBC | Health News

Canada tops 200,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases

The latest:

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Canada has passed 200,000.

The latest cases from Saskatchewan lifted the national tally over the bleak milestone.

The development comes just over four months after Canada reached the 100,000-case threshold.

The bulk of the country’s caseload has been concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, though numbers have been surging in much of the country in recent weeks as Canada deals with a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 200,000-case milestone isn’t all that significant in and of itself, but it does provide an opportunity to examine how the country is doing in grappling with the pandemic, said Barry Pakes, a public health and preventive medicine physician with the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Canada saw its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in late January and marked 100,000 cases in mid-June, about five months later.

It will have taken roughly four months to double the caseload to 200,000, which Pakes said suggests public health measures slowed the virus’s spread to some degree in that time.

“That’s not how infectious diseases work — they double, and they go straight up on an exponential line, and when we put in proper public health measures we’re able to dull that somewhat, so I think that’s a testament to what we’ve been doing so far,” he said.

At the same time, it’s crucial to remember that Canada is in the midst of a second wave of the pandemic, and milestones such as this one can sometimes serve as a reminder not to let our guard down, he said.

“The problem arises when we rest on our laurels, and I think we shouldn’t do that, but I think we can be sort of hopeful that we won’t see some of the numbers and some of the really big societal effects that have been seen in the U.S. or Europe,” he said.

“But it does remain to be seen.”

Meanwhile, federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Monday the Canada-U.S. land border will remain closed to all non-essential travel until Nov. 21.

Blair took to Twitter to confirm the latest one-month extension of the policy that was first put in place in March to control the spread of COVID-19.

In an interview on AM 900 CHML Hamilton radio Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the situation in the United States “continues to be of concern.”

“We’d love to have the border open … but we can’t do that unless we’re comfortable that Canadians are being kept safe,” he said.

The U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 8.1 million, as well as more than 219,000 deaths.

What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 3:55 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 200,039 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 168,713 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,772.

In Alberta, a high school in northeast Calgary closed its doors Monday and moved to an online teaching model temporarily because of staffing challenges following the confirmation of a second case of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan reported 66 new cases on Monday, the province’s highest single-daily increase yet.

Meanwhile, at least 86 cases have been traced back to the Prince Albert gospel centre superspreader — including a newer “third generation” of cases that the province’s chief medical health officer says can be hard to pin down. 

Manitoba announced two more deaths and 80 news cases on Monday. The deaths of a man in his 70s and a woman in her 80s are both connected to the Heritage Lodge personal care home in Winnipeg. 

Meanwhile, new tougher rules are in effect starting Monday for Winnipeg and several surrounding municipalities, as the region struggles with the province’s worst COVID-19 surge since the start of the pandemic. The rules, which are in place for two weeks, limits gatherings to a maximum of five people, the lowest the province has gone.

Quebec reported 1,038 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Monday. There are now 532 people in hospital, an increase of five compared to the previous day, including 92 in intensive care, an increase of four. 

The province registered more than 2,300 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, indicating the number of daily cases isn’t yet slowing down three weeks after Premier François Legault imposed widespread restrictions. Legault said the restrictions would be in place for 28 days, but he has since acknowledged some will remain beyond Oct. 28.

Health-care workers block access to the Jacques Cartier bridge in protest over stalled contact negotiations with the provincial government in Montreal on Monday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Ontario reported 704 new cases on Monday as the provincial government recommended against trick-or-treating in COVID-19 hot zones.

The province is also recommending that kids not go out trick-or-treating in the parts of Ontario that have been hardest hit by a resurgence in COVID-19 cases

Meanwhile, York Region moved back into stage 2 of the province’s pandemic protocol amid a rise in cases. Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa were placed under similar restrictions amid rising cases on Oct. 10.

WATCH | Ottawa stands out among Ontario’s COVID-19 hot spots:

Ottawa is one of Ontario’s most troubling COVID-19 hotspots, with outbreaks in hospitals as well as long-term care facilities, while fecal testing in the sewers shows the virus is spreading rapidly. 2:00

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Monday, the province’s third straight day without a new case.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association is appealing a court decision to uphold the province’s controversial travel ban.

Nova Scotia reported no new cases on Monday, following an uptick of infections over the weekend.

New Brunswick recorded three new cases on Monday, all in the Campbellton health region.

What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 40.2 million. More than 1.1 million people have died, while more than 27.5 million have recovered.

WATCH | Proper quarantine from case contacts may change the game, says WHO:

Ensuring that case contacts are quarantined for an appropriate time may help to break chains of transmission but can be hard to sustain with countries experiencing rising cases of COVID-19, says Dr. Michael Ryan of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program. 0:51

In Europe, Wales became the second nation in the United Kingdom to lock down large swaths of the economy to combat a second wave of coronavirus infections as Prime Minister Boris Johnson resists calls to do the same throughout England.

Meanwhile, Russia hit a record daily high of 15,982 coronavirus infections on Monday as the authorities in the capital Moscow said they would not introduce stronger restrictions to contain the virus.

A municipal worker wearing a face mask and protective suit to protect against COVID-19 disinfects a square near Lenin’s monument in central Moscow on Monday. (Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)

In Africa, the South African government said it has reduced the number of countries on its high-risk COVID-19 list by more than half to 22 from 60. The only people from high-risk countries allowed entry are business travellers, holders of critical skills visas, investors and people on international missions in sports, arts, culture and science, or people visiting for a minimum of three months.

South Africa accounts for nearly half of the continent’s infections, with more than 700,000 cases and 18,000 deaths.

In Asia, the president of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, Joko Widodo, called on Monday for Indonesia not to rush the rollout of vaccines, citing concerns over public awareness about whether they were halal or permissible under Islam.

In India, 579 fatalities from COVID-19 were reported in the past 24 hours, the lowest increase in three months, bringing its death toll to 114,610. The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 55,722 more people infected, raising India’s total to more than 7.5 million.

A child is tested for COVID-19 at an army base hospital in Gauhati, India, on Monday. (Anupam Nath/The Associated Press)

In the Americas, Panama will offer travellers a COVID-19 test when they arrive at its main airport, a little less than a week after resuming international flights.

The country of four million has recorded over 124,000 cases of COVID-19 and 2,500 deaths.

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CBC | Health News

Brazil tops 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases

A thousand deaths a day.

Since late May, three months after Brazil’s first reported case of the coronavirus, it has recorded more than 1,000 daily deaths on average in a gruesome plateau that has yet to tilt downward.

On Thursday evening, the federal Health Ministry reported that the country had passed two million confirmed cases and 76,000 deaths.

Even as cases wane somewhat in the biggest and hardest-hit Brazilian cities, the virus is peaking in new locations across the largest country in Latin America.

Experts blame denial of the virus’ deadly potential by President Jair Bolsonaro and lack of national co-ordination combined with scattershot responses by city and state governments, with some reopening earlier than health experts recommended.

WATCH | Bolsonaro tests positive:

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19, after spending months downplaying the risk of the disease. 2:03

An interim health minister untrained in the field is presiding over pandemic response. Bolsonaro himself is sick with COVID-19 after repeatedly flouting social distance recommendations and undermining local leaders’ restrictions on activity.

Brazil’s roughly 7,000 COVID-19 deaths in each of the last seven weeks is equal to several airplanes packed with Brazilians crashing every day, former health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta told The Associated Press.

“People have become callous,” Mandetta said. “When you say, `Yesterday there were 1,300 deaths,’ people say, `OK, then it didn’t go up. It was 1,300 people the day before, too.”‘

Brazil’s nearly two million cases is second only to the United States and experts believe the number to be an under count due to widespread lack of testing. A model created by professors from several Brazilian academic institutions, based on the number of confirmed deaths, estimates Brazil has had 10 million infections.

“The virus would have been difficult to stop anyway. But this milestone of two million cases, which is very underestimated, shows this could have been different,” said Dr. Adriano Massuda, a health-care administration specialist and professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a Sao Paulo university. “There’s no national strategy for testing, no measures from the top … too little effort to improve basic care so we find serious cases before they become too serious, no tracking.”

Workers in personal protective equipment carry the coffin of a person who died of COVID-19 in Nova Iguacu city, Brazil, on Thursday. (Pilar Olivares/Reuters)

The virus has begun reaching cities and states previously spared, offsetting declines elsewhere. The number of deaths has been ebbing in states including Rio de Janeiro and Amazonas, where people were buried in mass graves in the capital, Manaus. In the last two weeks, 10 of Brazil’s 26 states and its Federal District saw increases, with two southern states’ average daily death tolls doubling.

Bolsonaro has consistently downplayed COVID-19’s severity, saying strict social distancing measures that sacrifice jobs and income will ultimately be more harmful than the virus itself, and calling on supporters to encourage their local leaders to lift restrictions on activity. Many mayors and governors have struggled to hold the line.

Patchwork response to pandemic

In Ribeirao Preto, a city in Sao Paulo state, protesting shopkeepers on Wednesday demanded they be allowed to reopen. They surrounded the mayor’s car as he left City Hall, punching his windows and cursing at him.

Campinas, a city of 1.2 million people closer to the state’s capital, adopted quarantine measures early, but succumbed to political pressure and reopened commerce on June 8, said Pedro de Siqueira, a Campinas city councilman. The city centre swarmed with shoppers like an overturned anthill, he said in an interview.

Two weeks later, the number of COVID-19 deaths had roughly tripled to 253, as did the number of confirmed cases, to 6,324. Intensive-care beds refilled with patients, prompting the mayor to reinstate restrictions on commerce on June 22, but allowing offices and churches to continue operating.

People wearing face masks are seen at a popular shopping street in Sao Paulo on Thursday. (Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

“Campinas reopened prematurely and erroneously, supported by the state government,” Siqueira, who is also a public health physician, said at the time. “This reopening was so catastrophic that Campinas had to step back, but did so only partially.”

Since then, Campinas’ number of cases and deaths has doubled once more. On Wednesday, the city extended restrictions until July 30.

Daniel Soranz, a researcher at state-run biology institute Fiocruz’s national health school, said Brazil’s center-west that includes the agricultural heartland will be the last region slammed by the virus. And, looking at deaths from severe respiratory insufficiency, it appears Brazil as a whole has begun turning the corner, he said.

People lay on the grass inside painted circles to promote social distancing at a park in Sao Paulo on Thursday. (Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

“By the end of August, we should be at a much better place than today,” Soranz said.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state with 46 million residents, the number of deaths has stabilized at a level slightly below its peak. At one of the capital’s cemeteries on Wednesday, Michelle Caverni buried her 88-year-old aunt, who died of COVID-19 and also suffered from pulmonary emphysema. The same day a friend of Caverni’s buried her 57-year-old mother. She also died of COVID-19.

“Until it knocks at your door, people are indifferent,” said Caverni, 40, a restaurant cook. “Yesterday there were 1,300 deaths from COVID-19. Is that supposed to be few? People are saying that’s just the media. I hear that every day at work.”

Most people show only moderate symptoms from COVID-19 and recover. Some, including the elderly or those with longstanding health problems, are more susceptible to severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Modeling by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that Brazil’s death toll will reach almost 200,000 by November, nearly closing the gap with that of the U.S. The forecast has a wide margin of error.

“We will see how this patient known as Brazil will behave until the end of this epidemic,” said Mandetta, who Bolsonaro fired as health minister in April for backing state governors’ quarantine measures.

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CBC | World News

Canada tops 100,000 reported coronavirus cases

Ontario reported 173 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, pushing Canada’s total number of confirmed and presumptive cases above 100,000.

As of 10:35 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 100,026 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 62,237 considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,407.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said that as parts of the economy reopen, testing and contact tracing “is crucial.”

Trudeau said testing for a voluntary nationwide mobile app that will let users know if they have been exposed to COVID-19 will soon begin in Ontario. 

“There are already a number of provinces, including B.C., who are working with us on this, but it will be available to everyone in the coming weeks.” 

Prior to Ontario’s case update on Thursday, Quebec and Ontario represented roughly 87 per cent of the total case numbers in Canada. 

Long-term care homes have been an area of major concern in the country, with several facilities in Quebec and Ontario facing such severe staffing issues that the provincial governments requested help from the Canadian Armed Forces.

Quebec’s coroner’s office has ordered a vast public inquiry into COVID-19 deaths at some of the province’s long-term care homes, private seniors’ residences and other accommodations for vulnerable people. Pascale Descary, the province’s chief coroner, said in a statement the public inquiry will allow Quebecers to learn the facts about what happened during the pandemic.

Ontario was the first province to announce it would look into the long-term care system, announcing in May that it would hold an independent commission. But critics decried the move, saying a full public inquiry is required.

The global pandemic has caused massive strain on health systems and economies worldwide — including in Canada, where provinces struggled to ramp up testing in early days and worried about shortages of critical protective gear and trained staff.

Public health officials responded to growing case numbers with public health measures aimed at slowing the spread of the disease, but widespread closures came with significant economic strain for governments, businesses and families as organizations closed their doors. 

As daily new case numbers decline, provinces have been taking steps toward reopening after months of closures and strict health measures aimed at fighting the novel virus, for which there is no proven cure or treatment.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has warned that there is no place for complacency around public health measures, and urged people to keep up hand hygiene and physical distancing. 

Nunavut remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed cases of COVID-19, but Yukon, Northwest Territories and Prince Edward Island have to date had no deaths attributed to the novel virus.

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CBC | Health News

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WHO says South America a ‘new epicentre’ of pandemic; Africa tops 100,000 cases

South America has become a new epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic with Brazil hardest-hit, while cases are rising in some African countries that so far have a relatively low death toll, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

“The COVID-19 pandemic today reached a milestone in Africa, with more than 100,000 confirmed cases,” the WHO said in a statement, noting there were 3,100 confirmed deaths on the vast continent.

“The virus has now spread to every country in the continent since the first case was confirmed in the region 14 weeks ago.”

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, who is from Botswana, said: “For now, COVID-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world.”

Even so, she said, “we must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.”

A health worker sprays disinfectants in Nairobi, Kenya, on Friday. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Nine African countries had 50 per cent increases in cases in the past week, while others have seen a decline or have stable rates, said Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert.

The low mortality rate may be because half the continent’s population is 18 or younger, he said, while saying he remains worried the disease will spread on a continent with “significant gaps” in intensive care services, medical oxygen and ventilation. About half of African countries are experiencing community transmission of the virus.

A heath worker collects a sample for COVID-19 testing in Katlehong, south of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday. (Themba Hadebe/The Associated Press)

The situation in South America appears graver. Ryan said: “In a sense, South America has become a new epicentre for the disease.”

Brazil is the “most affected” South American country, and authorities there have approved broad use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19, he said.

He reiterated that clinical evidence does not support the drug’s widespread use against the disease, given its potential side-effects.

As of Friday, Brazil had registered 330,890 coronavirus cases, passing Russia and now second only to the U.S. on the list of countries with the most cases.

WATCH | Massive cemetery built in Brazil to accommodate COVID-19 deaths:

More than 16,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in Brazil. 0:46

The country registered 1,001 daily coronavirus deaths on Friday, taking total deaths to 21,048, according to the Health Ministry.

However the true number — both of cases and deaths — is likely higher as Latin America’s top economy has been slow to ramp up testing.

WATCH | Brazil’s worsening COVID-19 crisis:

Brazil’s worsening COVID-19 crisis SUMMARY: Brazil’s already weak health-care system and an incoherent response from its political leaders to the COVID-19 pandemic have made it much more difficult for the country’s hospitals to deal with the growing number of cases, says Oliver Stuenkel, a professor and author from the Getulio Vargas Foundation in  Sao Paulo. 6:42

Infections rose and intensive-care units were also swamped in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, countries lauded for imposing early and aggressive business shutdowns and quarantines.

Many experts said the rising death toll across Latin America showed the limits of government action in a region where millions labour in informal jobs and many police forces are weak or corrupt and unable to enforce restrictions.

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CBC | World News

Canada’s COVID-19 death toll tops 4,000

The latest:

Canada now has more than 61,000 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, but as numbers continue to climb in some provinces, parts of Atlantic Canada have gone several days without any new cases.

Prince Edward Island  — where 25 of the province’s 27 confirmed cases have recovered — extended its run with no new infections reported, while Newfoundland and Labrador has now gone four days without any new cases. New Brunswick on Tuesday reported its first case in more than two weeks.

Federal health officials and politicians have stressed that the reopening process will vary depending on where people live, noting that while there are shared guidelines, provincial leaders and health officials will make their own decisions based on the reality in their region. 

As of 2 p.m. ET, Canada had 61,961 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. Provinces and territories listed 26,671 of those as either recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting put the COVID-19-related death toll in Canada at 4,122, plus two known deaths of Canadians abroad.

WATCH | COVID-19: Will there be a 2nd lockdown?

An infectious disease specialist answers your questions about the COVID-19 pandemic including whether there will be a second lockdown. 2:37

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the daily increase of cases in Canada has slowed to about three per cent.

Tam says that trend, coupled with statistics showing the percentage of tests coming back positive is going down, even as the number of tests goes up, signifies that the epidemic in Canada is slowing down.

Meanwhile, Tam says the pediatric network in Canada is monitoring children for signs of the inflammatory syndrome known as Kawasaki disease, which some countries have found in some children with COVID-19.

But Tam says there are no firm conclusions in Canada about the links between COVID-19 and inflammatory diseases.

A person wearing a face mask walks past a banner thanking front-line workers in Toronto on Tuesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday unveiled a $ 252-million support plan for the agri-food industry. 

Speaking outside Rideau Cottage, the prime minister announced a range of initiatives, including support for food producers, funding for processors and a program to purchase surplus supply.

WATCH | Trudeau on federal government’s role in health and safety of meat plant employees:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes questions from CBC’s Tom Parry on why it’s up to the federal government to ensure international meat packing companies keep their workers safe. 1:20

The prime minister said $ 77 million of the funding will go to measures to keep workers in food processing safe with protective equipment and by supporting physical distancing in workplaces.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture had asked for $ 2.6 billion in assistance, saying it was needed to “to help maintain food security in Canada in response to COVID-19.”

Tuesday’s announcement was an “initial” pledge of support, Trudeau said, and the government will continue working with farmers, food producers and provinces.

“We know that there is more to do,” Trudeau said. “We will be there for our agricultural producers because they are so important to all Canadians.”

Volunteers prepare meals for food banks on the floor of the Bell Centre in Montreal on Tuesday. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Public health measures put in place to try and slow the spread of the virus — including lockdowns, mandated business closures and travel restrictions — have caused massive economic disruption in Canada and abroad, including in the food and agriculture sectors.

The novel coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19, first emerged in China in late 2019 before spreading around the world. There are no proven treatments or vaccines for the virus, which causes mild to moderate symptoms in most but can cause serious illness and death.

What’s happening in the provinces and territories

British Columbia’s top doctor, Bonnie Henry, says the time is coming when people in the province will be able to see more people“Our challenge, and our work together, is to find that sweet spot — somewhere around increasing our contacts by twice as many as we have now, but without allowing those opportunities for rapid exponential growth in our communities.” Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

In Alberta, a third meat-processing plant is seeing a spike in cases, prompting the federal food inspectors’ union to call for the plant to be closed. Alberta Health has connected 34 coronavirus cases to Harmony Beef in Balzac, just north of Calgary, as of Tuesday.

More than a month ago, the first case in the plant prompted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to withdraw its inspectors from Harmony Beef over safety concerns. The union representing those inspectors is calling for Harmony Beef — and all other meat-processing facilities with infected employees — to be closed immediately. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

WATCH | Workers worry about safety as Cargill meat processing plant reopens:

Workers are concerned about their safety as the site of Canada’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak, the Cargill meat processing plant in High River, Alta., reopens. 2:04

Saskatchewan’s Health Authority is set to release its plan for the phased resumption of health-care services at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Some services, such as elective surgeries, have been put on hold for weeks. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan, which lifted some COVID-19 restrictions on Monday.

Manitoba on Tuesday reported a seventh death from COVID-19. The deceased was a man in his 70s from the Southern Health Region, said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer.

One new case of COVID-19 was also reported by health officials on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases seen in the province to 282.

Meanwhile, Premier Brian Pallister said a $ 200 tax credit will be sent to anyone over 65 who filed a 2018 tax return. The one-time benefit is not limited to low-income earners, and will not be treated as taxable income. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

WATCH | Pallister on people unwilling to work due to subsidies:

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says people who are less inclined to work due to subsidies should take a job now because it may not be there down the road. 2:12

Ontario reported 387 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the provincial total to 18,310. On Monday, Premier Doug Ford said the province may be “getting close” to opening public parks and more curbside pickup in retail — but David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health, had a cautious message, saying: “We’re in the range of the possible, but we’re not in the range of the probable at this stage.” Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

Cherry blossom trees are fenced off as a means to enforce physical distancing in Toronto on Tuesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Quebec Premier François Legault is lifting some of the restrictions on private seniors’ homes that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Since March 23, regular visits have been banned in the province’s 1,800 seniors’ homes, known as RPAs, and the 130,000 residents who live there have been unable to leave, unless they are accompanied. Quebec will now ease these rules in certain parts of the province, allowing residents to go for unaccompanied walks.

“Autonomous people have been isolated for two months now,” Legault said. “It’s bad for mental health.” Read more about what’s happening in Quebec. 

Seniors walk in front of their residence in Montreal on Tuesday. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

New Brunswick on Tuesday announced its first case in more than two weeks. Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the individual is in the Fredericton region and is between the ages of 30 and 39. She said the case is under investigation. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

In Nova Scotia, three more resident have died, all at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax, which has been dealing with the province’s most significant outbreak of the disease. Of the province’s 41 total deaths, 35 have been residents of Northwood. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

WATCH | 100-year-old recovers from COVID-19:

After a 100-year-old Nova Scotia woman fully recovered from COVID-19, her daughter says it’s important to share good-news stories during this time of uncertainty. 1:59

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King is receiving some backlash from students and opposition parties for comments he made suggesting some federal emergency benefit programs could act as a disincentive to going back to work. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 for the fourth straight day on Tuesday. The total number of cases remains at 259, with 241 people having recovered from the virus. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

Nunavut is once again the only jurisdiction in Canada to have zero confirmed coronavirus cases after the territory’s top doctor said the first reported case was actually a false positive. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 3 p.m. ET

The number of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 surged past 70,000 on Tuesday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Nearly 1.2 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 — more than the combined total of the next largest outbreaks in Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

On Monday, a University of Washington research model often cited by White House officials nearly doubled its projected U.S. death toll to more than 134,000 by Aug. 4.

A health-care worker tests a child for COVID-19 at a church in Lake Worth, Fla., on Tuesday. (Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press)

The revision reflects “rising mobility in most U.S. states,” with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11, the institute said.

The revised projection coincided with the disclosure of an internal Trump administration forecast predicting a surge in fatalities to 3,000 a day by the end of May.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump headed for Arizona to visit a Honeywell factory that makes respirator masks, in what could be a return to more regular travel for the president.

“The people of our country should think of themselves as warriors. Our country has to open,” Trump said before boarding Air Force One.

A person wearing a face mask carries a box of food at a Massachusetts National Guard distribution point in Chelsea, Mass., Tuesday. (Steven Senne/The Associated Press)

Meanwhile, some states took continued steps to lift the restrictions that have thrown millions out of work, while others extended their measures.

In Delaware, Democratic Gov. John Carney said Tuesday he will allow small businesses to resume limited operations starting Friday.

The announcement is aimed at gradually lifting restrictions that Carney imposed on individuals and businesses more than seven weeks ago in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Retailers such as department stores, tobacco shops, book stores and thrift stores will be allowed to do business using curbside pickup as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Jewelry stores will be allowed to conduct business by appointment only.

A grocery worker helps a customer from behind a plexiglass barrier at a store in Los Angeles on Tuesday. (Richard Vogel/The Associated Press)

But in Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont ordered in-person classes at all K-12 public schools in the state to remain cancelled for the rest of the current school year, requiring districts to continue distance learning.

The Democrat says schools must continue providing to-go meals to children under the school lunch and breakfast programs. Lamont says he’s working with state and local education officials to determine whether summer school programs should be held.

Lamont says he was hoping high school seniors could complete the final few weeks, but it wasn’t possible given the virus and the need to “protect everyone’s safety.”

The state’s largest teachers union, the Connecticut Education Association, praised Lamont’s decision.

Members of the Georgia National Guard work to clean and disinfect hallways and common areas at an assisted living care home in Smyrna, Ga., on Tuesday. (John Bazemore/The Associated Press)

In hard-hit New York state, officials reported more than 1,700 previously undisclosed deaths at nursing homes and adult care facilities.

At least 4,813 people have died in the state’s nursing homes since March 1, according to a tally released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office late Monday. It includes, for the first time, people believed to have died from the coronavirus before it could be confirmed by a lab test.

Exactly how many nursing home residents have died of COVID-19 remains uncertain despite the state’s latest disclosure. The list doesn’t include nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals before dying.

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that a report that COVID-19 had emerged in December in France, sooner than previously thought, was “not surprising,” and urged countries to investigate any other early suspicious cases.

WATCH | WHO says COVID-19 may have been circulating earlier than first believed:

The World Health Organization pushes countries to review older cases of pneumonia to gain a clearer picture of the viral spread. 1:01

Britain’s death toll from the pandemic appears to have surpassed Italy, making it Europe’s hardest-hit nation. The government said 28,734 people with COVID-19 had died in U.K. hospitals, nursing homes and other settings. But official U.K. statistics released Tuesday that take into account people who died with suspected, rather than confirmed, COVID-19, put Britain’s toll at more than 30,000 dead. Those figures also suggested the true toll could be a third higher than the government virus figure. Italy has reported 29,079 fatalities.

Tallies from both nations are likely to be underestimates because they only include people who tested positive and testing was not widespread in Italian and British nursing homes until recently. 

The British government’s chief scientific adviser has acknowledged that the country should have been testing more people for the novel coronavirus early in the country’s outbreak. Patrick Vallance told Parliament’s health committee that “if we’d managed to ramp up testing capacity quicker it would have been beneficial, and for all sorts of reasons that didn’t happen.”

French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed plans to gradually reopen schools next week amid concerns from mayors, teachers and parents about the timing. Macron, wearing a mask, visited a primary school in a suburb west of Paris on Tuesday that has remained open for children of health workers.

More than 300 mayors in the capital region, including Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, urged Macron in an open letter to delay the reopening of primary schools, which is scheduled for next week.

A specialized helper disinfects a corridor of the Anatole France preschool in Cenon on Tuesday as schools in France are to gradually reopen from May 11, when a partial lifting of restrictions due to the pandemic come into effect. (Mehdi Fedouach/AFP/Getty Images)

They denounced an “untenable and unrealistic timetable” to meet the sanitary and safety conditions required by the state, including class sizes capped at a maximum of 15. The majority of French children attend public schools.

Dutch riot police have arrested some demonstrators who gathered in The Hague to call for an end to the partial coronavirus lockdown. Authorities in the city allowed the unannounced demonstration by a few hundred people near the city’s central railway station on condition that the protesters maintained physical distancing.

However, the mayor withdrew permission when demonstrators refused to follow police instructions and officers, supported by police on horseback, began detaining people. Police didn’t immediately say how many people were arrested.

In Russia, the number of infections rose sharply again, with Moscow reporting more than 10,000 new cases for three days in a row.

At the same time, many European countries that have relaxed strict lockdowns after new infections tapered off were watching their virus numbers warily.

WATCH | How cities might change to allow for physical distancing:

Some cities are looking at ways to change outdoor spaces to allow for physical distancing, including closing roads to traffic. 1:57

“We know with great certainty that there will be a second wave — the majority of scientists [are] sure of that. And many also assume that there will be a third wave,” Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s national disease control centre, said Tuesday.

The death toll in Iran rose by 74 in the past 24 hours to 6,277.

Widely seen as a success story, South Korea reported only three new cases of the virus, its lowest total since Feb. 18. Schools will be reopened in phased steps, starting with high school seniors on May 13, but the highlight Tuesday was the baseball season.

Members of the media are seen standing near an image of an audience before a baseball game in South Korea. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

Cheerleaders danced beneath rows of empty seats and umpires wore protective masks as one of the world’s first major professional sports returned to action in games broadcast to starved sports fans around the world.

The Korea Baseball Organization employed other protective measures, including fever screenings for players and coaches before they entered the stadiums.

Other places in the Asia-Pacific region have also suppressed their outbreaks, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, which has had zero new cases for two days. But experts say India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, has yet to see the peak of its outbreak.

Students wearing face masks stand in a line to get their temperatures checked at the Marie Curie school in Hanoi on Monday as schools reopened after an extended closure to combat the spread of COVID-19. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

India has discovered two viral clusters since it partly lifted the nationwide lockdown on Monday, contributing to the largest single-day spike in cases and deaths in 24 hours. There’s been a total of 3,900 infection cases and 195 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking India’s total to more than 46,000 cases and more than 1,500 dead.

Uganda began to loosen one of Africa’s strictest anti-coronavirus lockdowns on Tuesday after President Yoweri Museveni declared the infection “tamed.” The country of 42 million reported 97 confirmed cases and no deaths in 45 days of restrictions, and Museveni said it was now better equipped to trace and detect new infections faster.

“We have somehow tamed the virus,” Museveni said in a televised address late on Monday. “It is high time we … start slowly and carefully to open up, but without undoing our achievements.”

Schools and international borders were to remain shut, Museveni said.

There have been 4,075 new cases in Brazil and 263 deaths over the last 24 hours and Indigenous leaders in the country have asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to set up an emergency fund to help protect their communities.

WATCH | COVID-19 pushes move toward online health care:

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed forward a move towards more online health care for Canadians that may become the new normal. 1:57

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CBC | Health News

Canadian leading WHO team going to China, where coronavirus death toll tops 900

An advance team of international experts led by the World Health Organization (WHO) left for Beijing to help investigate the coronavirus epidemic in China, which authorities said has now claimed 908 lives on the mainland.

The outbreak has caused huge disruptions in China with usually teeming cities becoming virtual ghost towns during the past two weeks as Communist Party rulers ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and shut schools.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who made a trip to Beijing for talks with President Xi Jinping and Chinese ministers in late January, returned with an agreement on sending an international mission.

But it has taken nearly two weeks to get the government’s green light on its composition, which was not announced, other than to say that WHO veteran Dr. Bruce Aylward, a Canadian epidemiologist and emergencies expert, was heading it.

Bruce Aylward speaks during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, in July 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

The WHO declared the outbreak a global emergency on Jan. 30, days after the Chinese central government imposed a lockdown on 60 million people in Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, epicentre of the virus that emerged in December in a seafood market.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China rose by 97 to 908 as of the end of Sunday, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Monday.

Across mainland China, there were 3,062 new confirmed infections on Sunday, bringing the total number so far to 40,171.

Watch: Montreal woman on life in Wuhan

Felicity Feng, a Montreal woman visiting her parents in Wuhan over the Lunar New Year holiday, was caught up in the coronavirus outbreak. 5:09

There are currently seven cases of coronavirus in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Two deaths have been reported outside mainland China — both of them Chinese nationals.

The latest patients outside China include a group of British nationals staying in a mountain village in Haute-Savoie in the Alps, French health officials said, raising fears of further infections across Europe.

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CBC | Health News