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COVID-19 forces event cancellations worldwide as reasons for optimism emerge from outbreak epicentre

Last Updated Mar 10, 2020 at 9:01 am PDT

FILE - This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID-RML via AP

A number of Canadians who were aboard a virus-stricken ship in California have been brought back to Canada

The number of COVID-19 cases has topped 114,000 around the world, with more than 4,000 people dead

There are some signs parts of China hardest-hit by COVID-19 are starting to get back to normal

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Many of the Canadians who were stuck aboard a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship off the coast of California are now back on home soil after a government-chartered plane touched down in Ontario Tuesday morning.

Their journey, however, isn’t over just yet as they will now undergo a two-week quarantine.

Canada recorded its first death from the virus after a man in his 80s with underlying health conditions died on Sunday in a North Vancouver care home.

The virus outbreak has forced a number of events on the Lower Mainland to be pushed back or cancelled entirely, with the provincial case count exceeding 30.

Examples include the annual TED conference in Vancouver, which has been pushed from April to July, and the Sakura Days Japan Fair at VanDusen Gardens will no longer be going ahead.

The situation has continued to escalate across the country, with Canada having reported more than 70 cases since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

The majority of cases remain in B.C. and Ontario, however Alberta and Quebec have also reported cases.

The prime minister is set to meet with premiers on Friday to talk about the country’s readiness plans, and what this might mean for the health care system and economy.

The TSX closed on Monday with its biggest loss since the October 1987 crash and the Dow, loonie, and oil prices also sank after coronavirus-related selloffs were accelerated by a Saudi-Russia oil production war. The virus earlier forced the Bank of Canada and U.S. Federal Reserve to slash interest rates to try and dampen the impact it would have economies.

Amid the global spread of the virus, Canada’s top doctor recommended on Monday all Canadians avoid cruise ship travel, adding the global situation has changed rapidly and that the close quarters aboard these types of vessels could help the virus spread further.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has now hit every country in Europe, with Italy being the hardest hit outside of China. The country imposed travel restrictions Monday which were extended from just the north to the entire nation. Meanwhile, Ireland was forced to cancel a number of St. Patrick’s Day parades as outbreaks flared in France, Spain, and Germany.

In the United States, the death toll continues to rise as COVID-19 spreads from state to state.

So far, the virus has infected more than 114,000 people globally, with the death toll now topping 4,000.

Despite the growing fear among many people, there is some reason for optimism.

It appears many of the hard-hit area of China are starting to get back to usual, with signs of normalcy marked by a visit from President Xi Jinping to the coronavirus’ epicenter of Wuhan.

Wuhan and surrounding cities have been under lockdown for several weeks in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. Conditions also appear to be improving in neighbouring South Korea, which continues to report fewer cases of the virus.

-With files from Mike Hall, Richard Dettman, and The Associated Press