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Good evening – here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines
  1. Some provincial governments threaten fines, arrests to enforce COVID-19 isolation measures
  2. Ottawa working with airlines to repatriate Canadians, but not all will be able to come home
  3. Hospital-based labs mobilize to test for COVID-19 and alleviate backlog

Have questions about the coronavirus? Email The Globe’s paywall has been removed on coronavirus news stories.

Caution tape surrounds playground equipment after the City of Vancouver closed all playgrounds in the city due to concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 in Vancouver on Saturday, March 21, 2020.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Number of the day

15 per cent

In an effort to better understand the choices we face, The Globe and Mail worked with researchers at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia to develop a set of scenarios based on a mathematical model of the epidemic.

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To examine what that means for Canada, Dr. Caroline Colijn, a professor at SFU and Canada 150 Research Chair in mathematics for evolution, infection and public health, tested a range of possible futures. Each begins in mid-March with a tiny fraction of the population infected by the virus.

Importantly, the scenarios show the high level of uncertainty that is built into models of this kind. Based on a slight difference in how easily the virus can be transmitted from one person to the next – a number that is not yet known to high precision – the fraction of the total population that is infected during the peak of infections can vary by as much as 15 per cent.

Chen Wang and John Sopinski/The Globe and Mail

Coronavirus in Canada

1,331: cases in Canada reported; with 16 recoveries and 19 deaths reported.

  • As Ontario records its third COVID-19 death, Premier Doug Ford issued a call for the province’s businesses to step up and find ways to manufacture medical supplies such as masks, gloves and even hospital beds to help the province, and Canada, cope with imminent shortages.
  • In British Columbia, Vancouver’s health authority issued an order that bans most visitors to long-term care homes and prohibits staff and volunteers from working at more than one facility, as public-health officials work to contain an outbreak that has already hit three care homes in the region and killed nine residents at a single facility.
  • Nova Scotia has six new presumptive cases, bringing total to 21, All are travel-related. The 21 individuals affected range in age from late-teens to mid-70s. Dentists can no longer practise in the province unless it’s an emergency.
  • The Northwest Territories is reporting what is believed to be the first case of COVID-19 in Canada’s North. The territory says the individual had travelled to British Columbia and Alberta then developed mild symptoms three days after returning to Yellowknife.
  • With no new cases, PEI is asking anyone who has travelled internationally or within Canada to self-isolate for 14 days when coming to the Island. New screening measures are in place at all entry points to PEI including the Confederation Bridge, ferries and the airport, but the province is not closing its boundaries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is working with airlines to repatriate Canadians stranded abroad amid the COVID-19 outbreak, but is warning the government won’t be able to bring everyone home.

“We won’t be able to reach everyone but we’re going to do our best to help those we can,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters from outside of his residence in Ottawa, where he is self-isolating after his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for the virus.

People gather at the Mount Royal lookout in Montreal, Saturday, March 21, 2020, as COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Coronavirus and business

Coronavirus opinion and commentary:

To tackle coronavirus, walk – and act – this way

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André Picard: “It’s time to bring the hammer down, to move from polite entreaties to practice social distancing to firm orders to so. This must be done with absolute clarity and a singular message. It doesn’t feel like time for a casual walk, or casual talk, anymore.”

The coronavirus is pushing the world into unknown territory. Canada is especially vulnerable

Andrew Coyne: “But we have never seen the kind of sharp and sudden economic contraction around the world that is now under way in response, in part because we have never seen the kind of comprehensive shutdown of economic activity that the world’s governments have imposed to fight the virus.”

This is a respite column in a time of grave uncertainty

Robyn Urback: “So, if I may, allow me to delight you with a tale of my past emergency room visit – one that offers a little more levity (well, levity in hindsight) than many of those we might hear today.”

Have you had to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus? We’d like to hear your story. Email:

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Reader question

Question: Can I go for a walk?

Answer: That seemingly simple question underscores the complexity of finding the right public health response (and messaging) during a pandemic. Right now, most Canadians can go for a walk. Or a run. Or walk the dog. If – and this is an important “if” – they are not in isolation.

There is now good evidence that people with no obvious symptoms can transmit the virus. One study suggests that the seemingly healthy are, in fact, responsible for the spread of coronavirus to most people who subsequently fall ill. Viruses are devious in that way. As the number of infections rise, we need to behave as if we could all be infected, as if everyone around us could be infected. Right now, we’re still in the bargaining phase: It’s okay to go for a walk, right? It’s okay to take the kids to the park, isn’t it?

The Globe’s health columnist André Picard answered additional reader questions. Need more answers? Email

Globe long reads:

  • How the coronavirus took North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre: The nursing home witnessed Canada’s first death from COVID-19. Now, workers and patients’ families describe an understaffed facility with delayed communication, as authorities try to piece together how the virus was introduced here, and why it spread so quickly
  • Snapshots of socially distanced life abroad during the pandemic: From China to California, Berlin to Johannesburg, our foreign correspondents have been finding new ways to adapt to social distancing as they stay informed about the pandemic
  • Canada at home. Scenes of social distancing and self-sacrifice to stay safe from coronavirus: Some are families forced to stay together. Other families were split up by the chaotic response to a global crisis. Some are struggling with immune disorders, others with viral racism. All are coping with the coronavirus in their own way. These are their stories
  • Marriage, interrupted. Ian Brown and Johanna Schneller keep romance alive on separate floors: Who gets the main floor and who gets the basement? A glimpse of what married life looks like when even spouses need to keep their distance
  • Faces of the economic fallout. 15 stories from across Canada: This week, an estimated 500,000 Canadians have applied for employment insurance due to the coronavirus. Here’s a cross-section of some of the workers who’ve been affected

Juliette Brun, her husband Lionel May and their five children travelled to NYC and Washington DC. They left February 29th and came back Mars 8th. They isolated themselves since, to make sure they would mot contaminate anybody, if in any case they would have been contaminated. BENOIT AQUIN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Benoit Aquin/The Globe and Mail

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