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These are the top stories:

Emergency aid packages, wage subsidies and financial support

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The federal government plans to spend $3.8-billion to subsidize wages at small businesses over the next three months, but business groups say the measures will not stave off significant job losses as the fight against the new coronavirus devastates the economy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a sweeping emergency-aid package Wednesday aimed at helping Canadian workers and businesses survive the severe economic downturn. It includes $27-billion in emergency aid for workers and businesses and $55-billion in tax deferrals.

Both Alberta and the federal government also promised help for the oil industry as prices hit a historic low, but have so far focused their efforts on direct financial support for people sickened or forced into self-isolation because of the pandemic.

Have you had to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus? We want to hear your story. Email: tips@globeandmail.com

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More in Canadian news

Canada and the United States are closing the world’s longest undefended border to nonessential travel. The two countries are still finalizing details on who and what will qualify as essential, but the border closing will not affect the movement of essential goods and workers.

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However, for Canadians still abroad, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne ​said some are likely to be stranded for weeks as airspace and borders close. He said Global Affairs Canada received nearly 8,000 e-mails and 6,000 calls from Canadians needing help abroad on Tuesday alone.

And back at home, workers who don’t ordinarily qualify for Employment Insurance benefits will have access to income supports under sweeping new federal government measures announced on Wednesday.

  • Opinion (John Ibbitson): Closing of borders could be the most lasting harm from this coronavirus pandemic

World news from The Globe:

  • Italy calls in military to help ramp up production of ventilators as coronavirus cases continue to surge
  • Boris Johnson says Britain’s schools will close at end of week, exams to be cancelled
  • In Wuhan, new coronavirus cases dry up, and a locked-down city has thoughts of freedom

A military member looks on as police check on people at Milan's main train station, following a government decree that has shut down large areas in the north of the country.

DANIELE MASCOLO/Reuters

Here are some other headlines you might have missed:

Two Italian doctors look to colleagues’ help leading the critical-care team at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital

Canadian critical-care doctors are bracing themselves as most have never treated a single patient made severely ill by the new pathogen, let alone the dozens a day who could soon need their help.

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Dr. Alberto Goffi, 43, and Dr. Andrea Rigamonti, the 49-year-old medical director of the trauma-neurosurgical ICU at St. Michael’s, said they’ve been bowled over by the generosity of the exhausted Italian doctors who are informally advising their critical-care team in Toronto.

Alberto Goffi, left, and Dr. Andrea Rigamonti at St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto, March 18, 2020.

Katie Cooper/Handout

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Police use tear gas as clashes break out at Greece-Turkey border: Greek police said Turkish authorities also fired tear gas at Greek forces, and migrants later lit fires on the Turkish side of the fence.

Sanders to ‘assess’ his presidential campaign after Biden sweeps three state primaries: For Sanders, catching up would be the tallest of orders under any circumstances, but even more so now amid efforts to fight the pandemic.

N.L. Liberal Party will elect new leader, premier amid coronavirus pandemic: The May vote is set to determine who will be the next leader of the provincial Liberals and the province after Premier Dwight Ball announced his resignation last month.

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MORNING MARKETS

U.S. dollar gains; ECB stimulus boosts bonds: The U.S. dollar surged on Thursday as extraordinary steps by central banks across the world to cope with a coronavirus-induced financial rout had mixed success. Overseas, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.22 per cent just after 6 a.m. ET. Germany’s DAX gained 0.17 per cent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei ended down 1.04 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell. 2.61 per cent. New York futures were choppy ahead of the North American open. The Canadian dollar was trading just below 69 US cents.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

In an era of isolation, it’s essential we maintain social connections with our most vulnerable

Vickie Cammack and Al Etmanski: “It may not be possible to reach out and touch people you care about during this terrible pandemic. However, it is more than possible to stay in touch.” Cammack and Etmanski received the Order of Canada for their work at PLAN and Plan Institute. Al Etmanski’s new book is called The Power of Disability.

We are now all social distancing because of coronavirus. I’ve been doing it for a decade

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Jeff Sutherland: “Take it from a survivor: our greatest enemy is the fear we allow to propagate in our minds, unchecked and malignant. Responsible behaviour will help to excise our fear, and we will be able to extinguish the novel coronavirus from our communities.” Sutherland, MD, is the author of Still Life: A Memoir.

The voices of pro-development First Nations elected chiefs have been marginalized

Roy Fox: “But as more First Nations people benefit from major projects, you will see more of them telling their stories, and giving their reasons for why they want a strong resource industry inside a strong Canadian economy.” Fox, Makiinima, is Chief of the Kainai Blood Tribe in southern Alberta and chair of the Indian Resource Council.

TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

By Brian Gable

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail

LIVING BETTER

The ethics of ordering home delivery in a pandemic

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European countries that have pretty much shut down all public social interaction are allowing grocery stores to remain open. So if you can get out to buy your own groceries, do it. Observe all the usual safety rules, but get your own supplies.

As coronavirus shutters gyms, it’s important to develop an at-home workout routine

During social distancing, we can’t just sit around binging on Netflix and 24-hour news reports. We must maintain our regular fitness routines as best we can, not only for the stress-management benefits, but also to prevent the loss of momentum that comes along with any prolonged layoff from training.

MOMENT IN TIME

An explosion is seen in Baghdad 20 March, 2003, as the U.S. launched a war on Iraq with air strikes on the capital, making good on threats of military action to push President Saddam Hussein out of power.

PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. invades Iraq

March 19, 2003: U.S. threats against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein came to a head on this day in 2003 as an American-led coalition launched missiles and bombs, then deployed troops into Iraq. Hussein said Iraq would be victorious against the invaders. However, he was in custody before the end of the year and executed in 2006. The invasion acted on U.S. grievances against Iraq. U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration claimed Hussein’s regime supported al-Qaeda and possessed weapons of mass destruction. Both claims eventually proved unfounded. But Bush was resolute as combat began. “This will not be a campaign of half measures, and we will accept no outcome except victory,” he said. Then-prime minister Jean Chrétien said Canada would not join the invasion unless such action was sanctioned by the United Nations, which did not happen. The war ended in 2011 under Bush’s presidential successor, Barack Obama, but about 10,000 U.S. troops remained in Kuwait to provide a military presence in the Gulf. An estimated 100,000 to 400,000 people were killed in the war, including 4,500 Americans. - Ian Bailey

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