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Abu Dhabi permits people with negative COVID-19 test to enter emirate


Abu Dhabi will allow people to enter the emirate if they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the previous 48 hours, the local government media office said on Monday, Trend reports citing Reuters.

Abu Dhabi, the largest and wealthiest member of the United Arab Emirates federation, has had a ban on people entering since June 2. It eased some restrictions a week ago to allow movement between its cities for residents.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates will partially reopen mosques across the country starting July 1, with a reduced capacity of 30%, the spokesperson of the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority said on Monday.

Saif Al Dhaheri said that mosques will remain closed for Friday prayers, but some will be open at other times while those located in industrial areas, shopping malls and public parks will stay closed for now.



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Post COVID-19 Pandemic Lets Stop the Next Wave of Medicalisation over Mental Health — Global Issues


The wall at a Community Mental Health Movement in Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS
  • by Samira Sadeque (united nations)
  • Friday, June 26, 2020
  • Inter Press Service

This is according to Dainius Pūras, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

Pūras recently voiced his concerns about the “historical neglect of dignified mental health care,” that has been even more heightened under the pandemic.

“Before the pandemic, I critically addressed the current status quo of global mental health, and now with this pandemic my position is: even more I would recommend to rethink how we invest in mental health,” Pūras, a medical doctor with notable expertise in mental health and children’s health, told IPS.

He added that there are two principles used when addressing mental health: a human rights and evidence-based approach. Currently, under the pandemic, the latter has come under attack with a massive amount of misinformation and false news spreading, which he says can affect mental health of people and their communities. 

Excerpts of the interview with Pūras follow. Some of the answers have been paraphrased for clarity.

Inter Press Service (IPS): In what ways has the pandemic affected mental health of people?

Dainius Pūras (DP): During a pandemic, there are risks that if a person has a mental health condition, he or she might be hospitalised by force. Also, because of the virus, there might be suspicions that this person may spread the virus, which poses an additional risk factor for discriminating against people with mental health concerns. 

There should be more research done but there are many insights and preliminary observations that this pandemic will probably have a serious impact on the mental health of individuals and societies. 

There are several reasons for this: the spread of the virus and requirements for distancing and isolation, plus economic and social and employment also increase different forms of violence for example domestic violence. All these will fuel mental distress, anxiety, fear, all these feelings of uncertainty about the future 

I should highlight — another serious risk factor is that we witness massive amounts of fake news, disinformation, conspiracy theories around the virus, the origin of the virus and around statistics. This is not good for mental health. 

When children are not going to school, they’re missing out on very important aspects of socialisation. For many children, it’s their only way to get a meal — physical and mental health are interrelated in these ways.  

IPS: What is one of the current challenges of addressing mental health issues, especially under the pandemic? 

DP: I don’t support the narrative that this pandemic fuels mental distress, fear, anxiety, and the narrative that more mental illnesses will come. It’s not about producing more mental illness — it makes people anxious and scared but that’s a part of normal life, I do not want to medicalise that.  

We need to work against pathologisation and medicalisation. Because if we say millions of people are now more anxious than before, does it mean we will go on globally with medicalisation? Does it mean we will suggest  psychological medication to all these people including children and adults? 

I’m not against medication but when I analyse global situations, for sure this has gone too far. Feelings have been medicalised. I am warning that with this pandemic there would be a next wave of medicalisation. That when people are anxious and not happy, there might be an attempt to “medicalise them even more than before”. We have to be creative and to think of some innovative forms of support and cure, not necessarily medicalise. 

IPS: What are the risks involved for those with mental health at this time?

DP: More and more people are diagnosed. But then because of this diagnosis they’re discriminated against. And also because of that, in many parts of the world, many suffer from institutionalisation: sometimes that can be lifelong. 

Sometimes that’s because of a lack of services in the community and they live in institutions but now we know these institutions are hotspots for the virus. As for many countries, the closed spaces, such as prisons or psychiatric institutions are now making it worse given how dangerous it can be for residents and staff because the virus can spread. IPS: Are there certain communities more vulnerable to facing mental health risks in this pandemic?

DP: Many people who were already left behind will suffer disproportionately… So, in many parts of the world, LGBT people are discriminated against, people with disabilities other than psycho-social ones we discussed, and those with physical disability, indigenous people, migrants and refugees in difficult situations, and also the prison population — these people are at more risk. 

IPS: The issue of mental health appears to have multiple layers of barriers: financial means and social stigma. How do you navigate both financial concern as well as social stigma of this issue?

DP: My approach is that we always have to keep in mind the principles and then we will not be lost when it’s concrete. We should follow non-discrimination, empowerment, accountability and other principles. 

The problem is all these global mental health are based on discriminatory approaches; for example, if a person is diagnosed with a mental health condition or illness they could be discriminated against by mental health law in their country. 

Next week, I will be presenting many arguments to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) about the need for a shift in paradigm instead of making small changes. A shift is needed. There is too much: the biomedical model is overused; its okay but when it’s overused, it’s harmful. 

 IPS: What’re your hopes going forward? 

DP: With this pandemic what I’m emphasising in my statement; now we should be finally convinced that we need to move ahead with reducing the number of these institutions, with a final goal of abandoning this legacy.  

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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The European Union’s Security and Defence Policy Beyond COVID-19 – E-International Relations


As Europe went from being the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic to a situation where most European countries are confident that they are past the worst of the crisis, the focus of the European leaders is now towards the resurgence of the society back to normalcy. Beyond the epidemiological challenge of the virus – the economic, political, geopolitical as well as security challenges faced by the Union are also plenty. Though the European Union’s Global Strategy of 2016 (PDF) highlighted the detection, prevention and response to global pandemics as a priority, the massive consequences and implications on the security policy of the EU are unprecedented. In a continent that is always undergoing shifts, the outbreak of COVID-19 is likely to cause an impact much similar to that of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States of America in 2001.

The most direct and immediate impact is economic in nature which is taking place concurrently to the pandemic. Most European companies including the EU defence firms are witnessing a historic drop in their stock market prices. This is subsequently leading to a rise in their debt ratios and eventually causing a functional threat to their survival. Further, as the public authorities are channelling their resources towards fighting an unprecedented challenge, the funding towards the defence sector and its initiatives is bound to be diminished.

As Europe enters a massive economic recession, defence spending will also take a blow in terms of priority. Europe’s recovery from the outbreak will require unparalleled levels of financial stimulus and thus, the allotted funding to previous defence initiatives, which do not seem to play a key role in the overall recovery of Europe, is likely to decrease. Spending on the defence sector, which had finally reached its pre-2008 financial crisis level in 2019, is now likely to see a reverse trend. The lack of funds will also have a directly proportional relationship with the in-house Research and Development sector of the European defence firms. As long as the COVID-19 crisis persists, its impact will continue to be seen as the slowdown of innovation in the European defence sector, further diminishing the European competitiveness in the same.

As the spending on defence sector slumps, the development of several initiatives on the EU defence cooperation such as European Defence Fund (EDF) and the European Peace Facility (EPF) will lose their velocity. The number of Member States already questioning the political credibility and the value of financing these initiatives will rise, fragmenting the otherwise flourishing integration project of the supranational Union. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the already unequal economies of the Northern and Southern European states, unity and solidarity are already under stress as Member States embolden nationalist narratives, rather than European solutions. Political will is a crucial factor for a transnational actor like the EU in order to develop an effective framework for European security and to establish itself as a credible security partner alongside NATO. The EU defence project will only make sense if the Member States support each other in principle in times of crisis.

The EU’s position as a security actor is under question as a result of the pandemic. Owing to the high cost of dealing with the socio-economic damage caused by the outbreak, the EU’s operational readiness of crisis-management activities will be narrowed down. The Union’s willingness to contribute troops to civilian and military activities on Libyan, Syrian and Ukrainian territories is likely to decrease. This inward-looking perspective of the European security policy further creates a risk that crisis in such regions may worsen at the peak of a pandemic. This will not only add to the human suffering in the neighborhood, but also create a nexus of vulnerability and crisis for Europe. If not handled effectively, non-state actors may begin to take advantage of this period of vulnerability of the Union. Negative externalities could spill over to the EU, such as accelerating the migrant issue and leading to political polarization within the Member States.

While COVID-19 continues to transform political and economic realities in Europe, it becomes imperative for the EU to advocate a holistic recovery package that focusses not only on the reconstruction of economies but also on the diversified security needs of the alliance. The EU has to cope with the pandemic as well as the economic recession without sacrificing the European defence sector initiatives and competitiveness, which could play a functional role in not only maintaining security and stability but also in pushing towards an EU-wide plan of economic and industrial re-launch. At the same time, it is important to note that the need for advancing solidarity on the defence policy front has never been as compelling. With the EU facing the heat on both sides of the pacific in the face of US-China rivalry and transatlantic relations also under stress, the exigency for a more coherent, geopolitical, self-reliant Europe is emergent.

The European Union External Action Taskforce’s factsheet on ‘COVID-19: Lessons and Implications for EU Security and Defence’ (May 2020) highlights the need of the Union to confront all possible security consequences of the pandemic, in order to be truly prepared and resilient for the future. The document brings out the five key essential initial lessons learned in order to overcome the crisis: partnerships, solidarity, responsiveness, capabilities and preparedness. It is advisable for the EU to not abandon its pre-coronavirus agenda on security and defence policy, which is required to be truly responsive to imminent threats facing the continent. Thus, the EU must incorporate European defence cooperation to be a part of its post-pandemic recovery, in order to achieve the goal of strategic autonomy, and enhance its role a security actor in the international realm.

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The fitness trends that are going to be big after Covid-19


HIIT, yoga and live stream sessions are going to be big (Picture: Getty)

Fitness fans have had to be extremely adaptable during lockdown. No gyms, no classes, no group training – the way we work out has changed drastically over the last few months.

While plenty of us are chomping at the bit to get back in the gym – it also looks like we are going to be sticking to some of our new fitness habits, even when lockdown ends.

Reebok health experts have predicted the top fitness trends that are going to be all the rage post lockdown.

So read up and get prepared for the new normal of fitness – and decide which trends you’re going to jump on over the next few weeks.

Virtual training

Virtual workouts are perfect for getting sweat session without leaving your house – great for while gyms are still closed, and also for more flexible lifestyles in the future.

Virtual workouts allow you to exercise at anytime time of the day, which is a big benefit for people who work erratic hours, or have jammed schedules.

‘The majority of people have adapted smoothly to virtual training,; says George Pearse, Personal Trainer at Fresh Fit London.

‘Armed with no more than a couple of dumbbells, perhaps a kettlebell and some bands, people have been enjoying new ways of training outside of the big lifts.’

Yoga for mental health

We’re all going to need to take good care of our mental health as we emerge into our new normal, and yoga is fantastic for that.

Yoga has long been renowned for it’s health benefits, increasing flexibility, strength and tone,’ so it’s no wonder it has become a staple for so many during lockdown.

‘Over the past few months, yoga has increased in popularity even more as people have had a massive shift in their working patterns and with more people working from home,’ comments Joe Mitton, Personal Trainer at MittFit.

‘People are spending an abundance of time sat behind a computer and yoga is the perfect remedy for stiffness and “tech neck”.’

Experts believe that we will come to rely on yoga more as we start to incorporate mental wellness into our fitness regimes.

‘Bodyweight training and running have been people’s favoured ways of training this past seven weeks, but yoga will continue to grow in popularity as people explore new, exciting methods of moving their bodies and calming their minds,’ says George Pearse, Personal Trainer at Fresh Fit London.

Group training

We’ve all been starved of human contact during lockdown, so it is unsurprising that we will flock to training in groups as soon as we get the chance

‘The lockdown has brought people together into fitness communities like never before and I think there will be a surge in people continuing with group training whether it be online or offline,’ says Joe Mitton Personal Trainer at MittFit.

With gyms and indoor group sessions closed, ‘personal training and boot camps in parks will see a big boom this year, as will small private studios and virtual one-to-one sessions,’ adds Keith McNiven, personal trainer and founder of Right Path Fitness

Coping without gyms

People have been really keen to keep training, despite the gym being out of bounds.

People have a strong need to keep moving, even if it’s not in the same way they were doing before.

This raises interesting questions on the other side of lockdown – will people want to rush back to the gym floor?

Experts believe that the customer is going to be a bit more discerning on the other side.

‘People will miss the gym, but the fact that they are adjusting so well to having intense, effective workouts at home and outside will change the mindset for many,’ says Keith McNiven, personal trainer and founder of Right Path Fitness.

‘Plus, it will be a while before they feel safe in gyms again.’

Instagram Live fitness

For gym-goers who felt apprehensive at the idea of exercising in a large group class, live, online classes are an excellent way of building confidence in a more private environment. 

‘The rise of Instagram live sessions has seen the public exposed to a huge range of different options,’ says Personal Trainer George Pearse, at Fresh Fit London.

‘While you aren’t physically sweating side-by-side on the mats with other people, it doesn’t mean workout together is not possible in quarantine. Even streaming by yourself, you feel as though you’re working out with others.’

More: Fitness

HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been revealed as the most popular fitness trend during lockdown with a 58% global increase in online articles during lockdown. 

Joe Mitton, Personal Trainer at MittFit says; ‘Lots of people are seeing the benefits of HIIT workouts and the ease of doing them from home combined with the abundance of great trainers offering incredible daily workouts across the world.

‘The soar in popularity will continue post-lockdown now that people have seen the benefit and created the habits.’

Physiotherapist, Emma James reveals that ‘there has been a sharp increase in HIIT and cardio classes online.

‘There will be a shift in how people exercise moving forward in a positive way, as exercising virtually helps to break down the barriers and fears that some people have about exercising in front of others.’

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MORE: What to expect when gyms reopen

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COVID-19: Warning issued as cases in U.S. states rise while tapering off in B.C.


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The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said there are 183 active cases of the disease, with 16 in hospital of whom four are in intensive care. Those numbers continue to fall.

There have been 2,659 cases reported since COVID-19 appeared in B.C. in late January, and 167 deaths.

The contacts of the people who most recently became ill have all been traced.

Henry said there have been no new outbreaks in health-care settings between noon Friday and noon Monday. There are four active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

She said health authorities are working on plans to allow families to start visiting relatives in long-term care homes and that would likely begin in the “coming weeks.”

The outbreaks at Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry and Superior Poultry have ended.

Henry said summer travellers need to be respectful of any community they visit and to practise social distancing.

Dix said B.C. has received 4.8 million N95 respirators, two million sets of goggles and 30 million sets of gloves since the state of emergency was declared on March 18.

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Ontario will target hot spots and vulnerable workers in next round of COVID-19 testing


A new testing strategy for COVID-19 will see “targeted campaigns” to check workers in Ontario communities with hot spots and key sectors where the virus spreads easily, including auto manufacturing, food suppliers and major retailers.

Officials unveiled the new blueprint Friday, with elements echoing what Premier Doug Ford has been saying for more than a week — and what epidemiologists have been pushing for much longer — to get a better picture of the illness as the economy reopens.

“It’s really to be proactive and understand what’s happening,” said Dr. Vanessa Allen of Public Health Ontario, who was instrumental in cobbling together a network of provincial, hospital and private labs to expand testing capacity.

For example, workers at LCBO stores were offered testing in the last few days along with Toronto police, said Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s chief coroner, who was brought in to lead the testing strategy. Several liquor store workers have tested positive in the last few months.

If there are concerns about the virus in a particular business, mobile teams will be sent in to test, he added.

There are also plans to support “enhanced testing” for hospital workers and their families, residents and staff in retirement homes, and more testing in nursing homes, where a first testing blitz of all residents and staff was completed two weeks ago after the new coronavirus raced through hundreds of facilities. About 30 per cent of retirement home testing has been completed.

That testing will continue next week in addition to testing open to the public at Ontario’s 131 assessment centres, which changed their criteria two weeks ago to allow anyone with one symptom of COVID-19 to be swabbed, along with people with no symptoms but occupational risk of exposure, such as health-care workers, their families and grocery-store workers.

Previously, people with mild or moderate symptoms were turned away from testing centres and told to self-isolate at home. Confusion over eligibility prompted Ford to issue a plea for people to get checked under the new criteria.

The goal going forward is to “identify, contain and monitor” new cases and spread of COVID-19, officials said, releasing figures showing 55 per cent of test results are available the next day and 82 per cent within two days.

Aside from communities with a higher number of cases, officials will also focus on “high-risk” individuals, such as hospital patients and cross-border workers.

Officials are aiming to increase Ontario’s lab capacity to get ready for the fall, when more respiratory symptoms will pop up and create “a need for greater testing,” Allen said.

Ontario’s testing for COVID-19 has ramped up this week and is close to peaks rarely reached as the number of cases since the illness arrived four months ago approached 29,000 with almost 2,300 deaths.

Ministry of Health figures released Friday show 18,525 nasal swabs were processed at a network of provincial, hospital and commercial labs across the province the previous day.

The provincial daily lab capacity is just over 20,000.

Results were in progress on another 13,351 samples and there have now been 680,687 tests processed in the province of 14.5 million, or 4.7 per cent of the population.

There were another 391 confirmed and probable cases as of 11 a.m. Friday, according to a Star compilation of data from health units in the previous 24 hours.

That raised the total number of cases to 28,544 and 2,272 deaths.

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About 66 per cent of cases have been in the Greater Toronto Area.

To date, at least 1,625 nursing-home residents have died, and there are outbreaks in 123 homes, down six from the previous day. But 1,476 nursing-home residents and 1,113 staff members are still fighting active cases of the highly contagious virus that spreads easily in close quarters.

The Ministry of Health said there were 826 Ontarians in hospital for COVID-19, with 129 in intensive care and 100 on ventilators. While the first two numbers were down from the previous day, there were six more patients who had to be put on ventilators to breathe.

Just under 21,000 Ontarians have recovered from the virus.

Rob Ferguson





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U.N. Warns Cybercrime Up 600% During COVID-19 Pandemic (VIDEO)


As the world relies more and more on the internet during the pandemic, crime is increasing online.

The United Nations warned on Friday that cybercrime is up 600% during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

U.N. disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu says the pandemic has caused an increase of technological innovation. And as the world relies more on the internet, online crime is also rising.

It’s estimated there’s an attack every 39 seconds. Many have been against health care and medical research facilities. 

Earlier this month, an announcement from U.S. and U.K. officials warned that hackers are targeting organizations with phishing scams to steal usernames and passwords.

Some attacks have been blamed on military intelligence. In March, the U.S. and others blamed Russian agents for cyberattacks against sites in the nation of Georgia. 

In April, the U.N. released data showing that one-third of nations lack laws to protect citizens’ online privacy. Nakamitzu said the U.N. is working to combat cybercrime by developing 11 voluntary norms for responsible state behavior related to technology.

Additional reporting by Edith M. Lederer of The Associated Press.





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Coronavirus live news: Europe halts delivery of faulty Chinese face masks; WHO says Covid-19 may never go | World news


Medical workers in Indonesia are complaining of persistent delays to an increase in coronavirus testing promised by their president, Joko Widodo, Reuters reports.

The south east Asian nation, the world’s fourth most populous, has the highest coronavirus death toll in east Asia outside China, and one of the lowest global testing rates.

Indonesia reported 568 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the total to 16,006, with 1,043 deaths. It has so far conducted around 50 tests per 100,000 people, compared with 2,500 per 100,000 in neighbouring Singapore.

Widodo promised in April that 10,000 tests would be performed each day, but the goal is yet to be reached, with testing rates on average hovering at less than half that figure. Health experts have urged Jakarta to rapidly increase its testing rate to determine the true spread of the virus across the Indonesian archipelago, saying that without sufficient data the full extent of the outbreak will remain unknown.

A man covers his face with a shirt instead of a face mask while in a queue to get the Takjil, food for breaking the Ramadan fast, in central Jakarta.

A man covers his face with a shirt instead of a face mask while in a queue to get the Takjil, food for breaking the Ramadan fast, in central Jakarta. Photograph: Muhammad Zaenuddin/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

“We can’t even get the results after two weeks,” Meneldi Rasmin, a consulting doctor at Persahabatan Hospital in Jakarta, told Reuters.

“So we cannot determine whether it’s COVID-19 or not. We can only judge them (the patients) from clinical symptoms,” he said, attributing the delay to limited equipment capacity.

In between his rounds at Persahabatan Hospital where medical staff move about in white protective gear, Rasmin called for testing capacities to be scaled up not only in the capital, but across the sprawling country.

“Early detection by rapid testing should take place in every small district. Local clinics should take control, instead of (centralized) rapid testing,” he said.
“It should be organized at the community level, working together with the district authority.”



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First nurse in Ontario dies of COVID-19, province warns of new symptoms in kids


Ontario has lost its first nurse to COVID-19 and is amending the definition of the disease to include symptoms of a serious inflammatory syndrome that causes persistent fever and abdominal pain in children.

The registered nurse, Brian Beattie, worked at the Kensington Village long-term-care home in London, Ont. which declared an outbreak in early April and has lost five of its 78 residents to the highly contagious virus.

It’s not known how Beattie contracted the illness, which has also infected a handful of other staff at the home.

“He was the definition of dedication, and he considered his colleagues and residents to be his ‘other family,’” Ontario Nurses’ Association Vicki McKenna said Wednesday.

“While there will be much discussion about Ontario’s pandemic preparedness and protection of nurses and other health-care workers, this is not the time for speculation,” she added, noting the Ministry of Labour has been contacted to investigate the death.

More than 3,000 health-care workers, the majority of them in nursing homes, have contracted COVID-19, and several personal support workers have died from the illness. As of Tuesday, 180 nursing homes across the province were dealing with outbreaks.

Overall, the novel coronavirus has sickened more than 22,000 in Ontario since it first emerged here in late January and killed just over 1,800, including at least 1,239 long-term care residents.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said doctors are being advised to watch for a condition that is similar to Kawasaki Syndrome in children.

“Recent reports in Canada and internationally indicate that there may be an increase in multisystem inflammatory vasculitis, a rare but serious …illness that impacts children who have been diagnosed with COVID-19,” she said in a statement.

U.S. media have been reporting on this as an atypical presentation of the illness in children, which has appeared in a number of states.

Aside from the persistent fever and abdominal pain, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a rash.

“Parents should contact their health care providers immediately if their children are having these symptoms,” Elliott said, acting on the advice of chief medical officer Dr. David Williams.

While recent data suggests the majority of COVID-19 infections in children are mild, the province will begin tracking this new condition. The Ministry of Health said people under 19 account for five per cent of coronavirus cases and none are known to have died.

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Projections show spike in COVID-19 deaths in Montreal if confinement lifted


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“It’s not a free-for-all at all at this point,” she said.

Hankins said it was too soon to say whether schools and non-essential stores should reopen in Montreal on May 25.

“It’s prudent to watch and see what happens,” she said.

“I know it’s unsettling not to have firm dates, but on the other hand we want wisdom to prevail here,” she added.

On Thursday, Premier François Legault again delayed the reopening of schools, daycares and non-essential retail outlets in the Montreal region.

Sixty-three per cent of Quebec’s 2,928 deaths from COVID-19 have occurred on the island of Montreal, as have 51 per cent of diagnosed cases of the disease, according to the latest statistics unveiled by the Quebec government on Sunday.



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