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Canada shifts into pandemic mitigation mode as world struggles with COVID-19

Last Updated Mar 13, 2020 at 6:20 am PDT

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, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID-RML via AP

Countries, provinces, and cities are taking steps to try and slow the spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 has had major impacts on the world, and just this week hit markets, events, and the sports world hard

Around the world there are almost 125,000 cases in118 countries and territories

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread in Canada, there are new rules and recommendations to help contain the pandemic.

In B.C., health officials are asking people to avoid all non-essential travel, including to the United States. For those who do head across the 49th, a voluntary two-week self-isolation period is being recommended.

However, the concern is that isolation period would be unenforceable and inevitably some irresponsible people may choose to ignore it.

Additionally, the province has banned all large gatherings of 250 or more people amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, hoping to prevent further spread.

B.C. has recorded more than 46 cases of the virus to date, including one death — the first in Canada.

Elsewhere in Canada, the number of positive cases identified of COVID-19 is also increasing. While a number of people have already recovered from the illness since being diagnosed, the number of new reports has been rising each day.

The city of Montreal has decided to close pools, community centres, and libraries but no such call has been made in B.C. cities, yet.

Ontario has ordered schools to close for two weeks following Spring Break, but most B.C. schools are to remain open until the end of day Friday, which is the final day of class before the two-week holiday.

Related video: COVID-19: Everything you need to know in B.C.

COVID hits close to home for PM

This all came as the prime minister’s wife was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday, after having developed symptoms a day earlier following a trip to London. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau began showing flu-like symptoms; as a result, she and Justin Trudeau went into self-isolation as a precaution.

The Prime Minister’s Office has said Trudeau is still in good health with no symptoms, however, on the advice of doctors, he will stay in isolation for the next two weeks. He also won’t be tested unless he starts to show symptoms, the PMO added.

The prime minister will continue to fully assume his duties and address Canadians on Friday, presumably via videolink or teleconference.

Around the world

South of the border, the United States has reported more than 1,700 cases, with dozens of deaths across the country, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

COVID-19 has halted U.S. presidential campaign rallies, wreaked havoc on the world of sports, and overwhelmed health care systems and economies.

Markets plunged this week over investors’ concerns about the spread of the new virus. It put the S&P/TSX composite index off more than 20 per cent from the record high it hit at the beginning of the year. It should be noted that losses picked up this week after an oil price war between two producing countries.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada has moved with a $7-billion promise to the country’s banking system and an expansion of its bond buy-back program, making moves it hasn’t used since the financial crisis.

In China, where the outbreak began late last year, despite the number of new infections tailing off, the government has moved in an effort to try and prevent what’s being described as a boomerang effect by quarantining new arrivals for two weeks.

Europe is being hard hit by the virus, with Italy being described as the epicentre of that continent. The country has seen mass travel restrictions and lockdowns in an attempt to slow the number of people being infected, and it appears steps being taken in the northern town that recorded Italy’s first case are showing positive signs.

While the number of new cases hasn’t stopped in Codogno, they have apparently slowed.

In Spain, the number of cases has risen to more than 4,000 from around 3,000, including 120 deaths.

South Korea is also seeing improvements. It was noted on Friday that the number of recoveries outnumbered new infections since the outbreak there began in January. In Japan, where a number of cases have also been reported, decisions still loom for the biggest athletic competition — the 2020 Summer Olympics — which are still set to begin in just a few months.

According to Japan’s Olympics minister, the organizing committee, as well as the IOC weren’t considering cancelling or delaying the Games.

There are now more than 10,000 cases and 400 deaths in Iran, which has also been hard-hit by COVID-19. The situation has seen the country’s foreign minister urge the Trump administration to life sanctions immediately, saying they made importing things like medical equipment and medicine difficult.

The sporting world isn’t immune from COVID-19: All major sports leagues have now suspended their seasons over concerns of the virus, but it’s unclear just how long the sports world will be paused due to the pandemic. Even when the leagues get the go-ahead to resume operations, it won’t be as simple as pressing “play” as athletes will need to prepare for competition physically.

The NBA announced it was suspending its season on Wednesday. The NHL, MLB, and a number of other regional leagues followed suit the next day.

Read more of NEWS 1130’s COVID-19 coverage here.

-With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press