Provinces begin lifting restrictions as global COVID-19 cases top 3.5 million

The latest:

The number of known coronavirus cases around the world has topped 3.5 million, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University, with more than 247,000 recorded COVID-19-related deaths.

As of 7:30 a.m. ET, Canada accounted for 59,474 presumptive and confirmed coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 24,921 cases as recovered or resolved. A tally maintained by CBC News based on provincial health data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting lists 3,774 coronavirus-related deaths in Canada, with two known COVID-19-linked deaths of Canadians abroad.

The novel virus, for which there is no proven treatment or vaccine, first emerged in China and has since spread around the world. Public health officials have cautioned that actual infection numbers could be much higher, as recorded numbers don’t account for people who haven’t been tested or cases still under investigation. 

Governments around the world have been scrambling to try and slow the spread of the virus, build up health systems and sort out how to conduct testing on a large scale. In some areas — including provinces across Canada — those same governments are also looking forward to how they will exit the lockdowns put in place to respond to the pandemic.

Several provinces will be taking some steps toward what many officials have called the “new” normal. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she’s got mixed emotions about opening up. 

“It’s very apparent that there is a huge need that’s getting missed,” said Alison Matsyk, who is a physiotherapist and owner of Stapleford Health and Rehab Centre. “The nervousness part comes with, ‘What’s it going to be like? What’s our risk?'”

Newfoundland and Labrador recently followed New Brunswick’s lead and allowed families to come together in “bubbles” made up of two households. But on Monday, Health Minister John Haggie told CBC Radio’s St. John’s Morning Show that some of what he was hearing on social media after the first weekend of “bubble” families was a “a little bit worrying.”

Haggie said he’d heard suggestions “that people have just walked through an open door [rather] than just nudged it open gently.”

Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories

People in parts of northern British Columbia are getting the results of their COVID-19 tests back much faster after a decision was made to send the samples to a Vancouver-area lab by air, instead of by road. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

Alberta reported 96 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the province’s total number of reported cases to 5,766. The province lists 2,713 cases as recovered or resolved and the CBC News tally lists 95 COVID-19-related deaths. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

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Doctors answer your questions about COVID-19, including whether people over the age of 70 should self-isolate at home until there is a treatment or vaccine. 4:17

Saskatchewan, which is lifting some of its COVID-19-related restrictions on Monday, reported 12 new cases on SundayThe province has a total of 433 cases. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan. 

Manitoba, which reported one new coronavirus case on Sunday, is also lifting some COVID-19-related restrictions on Monday. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

Ontario, which now has 17,553 confirmed coronavirus cases, is allowing some businesses, including landscaping services and automatic car washes, to reopen on Monday. It will also allow car dealerships to reopen by appointment and garden centres to offer curbside pickup. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

Quebec, which accounts for more than half of Canada’s coronavirus cases, including deaths from the illness, is reopening retail stores outside Montreal, while those in the greater Montreal area are to reopen on May 11. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, including a story about concerns from English school boards around a plan to reopen elementary schools.

Health-care workers are shown at a mobile COVID-19 test clinic in the Montreal neighbourhood of Saint-Michel on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

New Brunswick has gone 15 days in a row with no new reported coronavirus cases. “We have come a long way, but we are still vulnerable,” Premier Blaine Higgs said in a statement released Sunday. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19-related death toll rose to 37 over the weekend, after six more deaths were reported at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax. The province lifted some restrictions on Friday, with Premier Stephen McNeil saying: “We need to get out of our heads and out of our houses and get outside. We need to feel that fresh air, a little freedom. The keyword is a little.” Read more about what’s happening in N .S.

Prince Edward Island, which has reported a total of 27 coronavirus cases, entered its first phase of reopening last Friday. In Phase 1, non-urgent health services were allowed to resume, and some outdoor activities were allowed to go forward. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

WATCH | Inside the fight against COVID-19 in long-term care homes:

Additional support has been brought in to some long-term care homes facing COVID-19 outbreaks. David Common talks to staff and the health-care workers brought in for support to hear what’s happening inside. 3:18

Newfoundland and Labrador marked two straight days with no new coronavirus cases on Sunday. The province has reported a total of 259 cases, with three deaths. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

The Northwest Territories and Yukon posted no new cases this weekend. Nunavut, which has one known case, last provided an update on its website on Friday. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

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

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 7:30 a.m. ET

At a virtual town hall Sunday night, U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged some Americans were worried about getting sick while others were concerned about losing jobs.

Though the administration’s handling of the pandemic, particularly the ability to conduct widespread testing, has come under criticism, the president defended the response and said the nation was ready to begin reopening.

“We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible,” Trump said. According to the Johns Hopkins database, the U.S. has more than 1.1 million known coronavirus cases, with more than 67,000 deaths.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, White House coronavirus co-ordinator Deborah Birx expressed concern about protests by armed and mostly mask-less crowds demanding an end to stay-at-home orders and a full reboot of the economy. Trump has encouraged people to “liberate” their states.

“It’s devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because if they go home and infect their grandmother or their grandfather … they will feel guilty for the rest of our lives,” she said. “So we need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent.”

The divide in the U.S. between those who want lockdowns to end and those who want to move more cautiously extended to Congress.

WATCH | War of words between Washington and Beijing over COVID-19:

An ongoing war of words between Washington and Beijing about the spread of COVID-19 is making it harder for scientists trying to find a way to end the pandemic. 2:18

The Republican-majority Senate will reopen Monday in Washington. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is staying shuttered. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to convene 100 senators gives Trump, a Republican, the imagery he wants of America getting back to work, despite the risks.

Health experts have warned of a potential second wave of infections unless testing is expanded dramatically once the lockdowns are relaxed. But pressure to reopen keeps building after the weekslong shutdown of businesses plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s and wiped out millions of jobs.

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

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 7:50 a.m. ET

As Italy prepared to reopen parks and public gardens beginning Monday, health officials reported 174 deaths, the lowest number since a national lockdown began on March 10.

Like Italy, Spain has seen a significant downward trend in reported new cases. And Belgium was also relaxing some of its lockdown measures from Monday, confident enough that the outbreak there was on the wane.

Portugal is easing its confinement and isolation measures, but authorities say people have a “civic duty” to keep working from home through the end of May if they can. After a state of emergency ended last weekend, on Monday small stores were allowed to open.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he got so sick from the coronavirus that doctors had discussed what to say if he had died.

WATCH | Britain’s struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic:

British officials have been criticized for taking too long to take action against the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the U.K. is on the verge of having the deadliest outbreak in Europe.  6:04

Johnson has been under pressure to reveal how the country will lift its lockdown. The restrictions are due to last through Thursday, but with hundreds of deaths still being reported daily, it’s unclear how the country can safely loosen the restrictions.

And in Russia, new reported cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time, bringing total cases to about 135,000 with nearly 1,300 deaths.

Pianist Bella Kartasheva performs on her balcony during a partial lockdown imposed by the authorities to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in Moscow on Sunday. (Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters)

In all, countries in the Middle East have reported more than 342,000 cases of coronavirus, with at least 11,445 deaths, more than half of them in Iran. Iran’s health ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said Monday that the death toll from COVID-19 rose to 6,277 in Iran, after 74 more people died since the previous day. Iran has reported 98,647 virus cases.

In India, new infections have been rising rapidly. The lockdown of the country’s 1.3 billion people was extended two more weeks, but with some measures relaxed, as reported cases reached 42,000 with nearly 1,400 deaths. In New Delhi, a designated hot spot where many restrictions remained, construction workers, Uber drivers and self-employed people such as housekeepers returned to work.

India air force helicopters showered flower petals on hospitals in several cities to thank doctors, nurses and police at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic.

Men wearing personal protective equipment ride in the back of a vehicle along a street during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in New Delhi on Monday. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

The government has extended a nationwide lockdown by nearly two weeks to May 16 in Bangladesh to check the spread of coronavirus, as the South Asian nation crosses the 10,000 mark of infections, authorities said Monday.

In some good news, New Zealand reported no new cases on Monday, marking a significant moment that indicated the country’s bold strategy of trying to eliminate the virus was working. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would talk to her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, and other top Australian lawmakers on Tuesday about the idea of restarting travel between the two countries.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that the ongoing coronavirus state of emergency will be extended for about a month until the end of May.

Abe, citing experts’ evaluation of the current situation regarding infections, said that the measure should stay in place as the rise in the number of patients has not decreased significantly enough and hospitals are still overburdened. He said there is a possibility of an early lifting of the measures if data at mid-May shows improvement.

South Korea said it will allow schools to have their students back in their classrooms starting from next week, amid signs that the coronavirus outbreak in the country is waning. Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said Monday high school seniors will return to schools on May 13 and students in lower grades in phased steps from May 20.

Brazil reported 4,588 new cases and 275 deaths over the last 24 hours, while Mexico reported 1,383 new cases and 93 more deaths on Sunday.

Nigeria began easing restrictions on Monday in its capital, Abuja, and in Lagos, its largest city, marking the reopening of Africa’s biggest economy after more than four weeks of lockdown.

A public transport staff member offers hand sanitizer to a passenger who is about to board a bus in Lagos, Nigeria on Monday, the first day of the easing of lockdown measures imposed during the coronavirus outbreak. (Temilade Adelaja/Reuters)

Nigeria has recorded 2,558 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 87 deaths since recording its first case at the end of February, a much lower toll than those seen in COVID-19 hot spots in Europe and the United States.

The government has said a stay-at-home order in place since March 30 in Abuja and the states of Lagos and Ogun will be lifted gradually over a six-week period.

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