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Canada reports zero COVID-19 deaths for first time since March

FILE PHOTO: People walk in the Eaton Centre shopping mall, as the provincial phase 2 of reopening from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions begins in Toronto, Ontario, Canada June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/File Photo

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada reported zero COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours for the first time since March 15, according to public health agency data released late on Friday.

Canada’s death toll from the pandemic stood at 9,163 as of Sept. 11, the same as the number of the deaths reported on Sept. 10, government data showed. The number of positive cases rose by 702 to 135,626 on Sept. 11 from the previous day, the data showed.

With most provinces easing lockdown restrictions and as schools reopen for in-person classes, Canada’s infections have seen a mild pick-up in recent days. Authorities have been on high alert to avoid fresh outbreaks, and provinces including British Columbia have imposed new curbs to tackle the spread of the virus.

Still, Canada’s situation looks relatively healthy compared to its southern neighbor. Across the border in the United States, more than 190,000 people have died from the pandemic and more than 6.38 million people have been infected.

Canada’s experience dealing with SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, helped health officials be better prepared. SARS killed 44 people in Canada, the only country outside Asia to report deaths from that outbreak in 2002-2003.

Canada’s first recorded case of coronavirus was in Toronto, on Jan. 25. Both Ontario, the country’s most populous province, and neighboring Quebec turned into the hot spots for COVID-19 infections.

Both provinces struggled with outbreaks in long-term care homes. Canada’s first COVID-19 death was reported on March 9 at a British Columbia long-term care facility.

As COVID-19 cases began to spike in mid-March, Canada shut its international borders to all foreign nationals and ramped up tests in an effort to isolate infected patients. Ontario and Alberta faced outbreaks among temporary foreign workers on farms and meat-processing plants, which slowed reopening in certain regions.

Reporting by Denny Thomas and Moira Warburton; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler

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