This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
U.S. President Donald Trump wants to reopen the Canada-U.S. border soon, even though Canada is still “weeks away” from easing physical distancing measures that have helped slow the growth of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“It will be one of the early borders to be released,” Trump said in his daily address on Wednesday. “Canada’s doing well, we’re doing well—so we’ll see.”
Trump’s statements are at odds Canada’s current COVID-19 strategy. The two countries are faring differently: The U.S., the global epicenter of the pandemic, has more than half a million active cases of COVID-19 and 24,582 deaths, whereas Canada has 28,381 cases and 1,010 deaths and public health officials say it’s flattening the curve.
Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters on Wednesday that COVID-19 cases are doubling every 10 days, as opposed to every three—the doubling rate in March. That means, Canada is likely starting to flatten its curve.
But Tam urged “cautious optimism” and said that while Canadians are hoping to “sprint” to the COVID-19 finish line, fighting the virus is more like running a marathon—”there are no rewards for finishing early,” she said.
Both Tam and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have said several times that physical distancing measures will not be relaxed for weeks at least. U.S. and Canada officials have seemingly been in talks to extend the border closure as it’s set to expire.
Coronavirus case numbers and deaths across Canada have revealed major disparities, with Ontario and Quebec reporting the highest number of virus cases and deaths.
As of Wednesday evening, Ontario recorded 8,447 cases and 385 deaths, while Quebec reported 14,860 cases and 487 deaths.
Meanwhile, British Columbia is already looking to gradually ease emergency orders, as the province’s success in containing the virus continues.
It will still be weeks before easing begins, but B.C. Premier John Horgan said Wednesday that the province will start reopening in the “not too distant future.”
On Wednesday, Saskatchewan reported the lowest daily increase in cases in nearly one month, prompting the province’s top health official to say that “things are looking very positive.”
But the province said it will continue enforcing physical distancing to avoid a “second wave” of COVID-19.
States of emergency, including orders that keep businesses deemed “nonessential” closed, are still in place in every province and territory across Canada.
More layoffs, businesses closing permanently
As Trudeau announces new measures to support Canadians who are out of work because of COVID-19, corporations and small businesses hit by the virus are continuing to lay people off—or shut down altogether.
WestJet is laying off 17,000 pilots, some as of May 1 and others as of June 1, the Toronto Star reported.
A survey of small businesses released on Wednesday found that only half will survive to the end of May if pandemic conditions don’t change in Canada. About 22 percent of businesses said their revenue has dropped to zero because of COVID-19.
Several small businesses are shutting down for good, including Toronto’s family-run Vesuvio Pizzeria and Spaghetti House, a West End staple for 63 years.
“Like many restaurants, our business has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis,” a statement on the restaurant’s Facebook page said. "The time has come to say farewell.”
COVID-19 in Alberta’s oilsands
Alberta reported a COVID-19 outbreak at an oilsands camp just north of Fort McMurray.
Three people affiliated with Kearl Lake oilsands project tested positive for the virus, with another six self-isolating while they wait for their test results.
Alberta Health Services said it’s working with the site to prevent further transmission.
Canadian cases slowing, but still growing
As of Thursday morning, the country had 28, 381 probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,010 deaths.
Here is the breakdown of confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases across Canada:
British Columbia: 1,561
Newfoundland and Labrador: 247
New Brunswick: 117
Nova Scotia: 549
Prince Edward Island: 26
Northwest Territories: 5
Late Wednesday, the global total of confirmed COVID-19 neared 2 million, with more than 123,000 deaths.
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