As Canada virus cases pass 1,000, asylum seekers to be turned back; jobless claims soar
By David Ljunggren and Jeff Lewis OTTAWA/TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada will turn back asylum seekers who walk over the U.S.-Canada border, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday, as economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak intensified and a ban on non-essential travel across the world's longest undefended border was set to come into effect. More than 500,000 applications for Canadian unemployment benefits were made so far this week, versus just under 27,000 in the same week last year, Trudeau said.
By David Ljunggren and Jeff Lewis
OTTAWA/TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada will turn back asylum seekers who walk over the U.S.-Canada border, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday, as economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak intensified and a ban on non-essential travel across the world's longest undefended border was set to come into effect.
More than 500,000 applications for Canadian unemployment benefits were made so far this week, versus just under 27,000 in the same week last year, Trudeau said. The monthly number of unemployment insurance claims last year averaged 239,000.
"This is of course an unprecedented situation and it is putting a lot of pressure on our system, but we’re on it," he told reporters outside his house, where he has been in isolation since his wife tested positive for the virus last week.
The jobless claims indicate an unemployment rate over the next two months "probably the likes of which we have not seen in the post-war era," said Bank of Montreal Chief Economist Douglas Porter.
The Bank of Canada on Friday said it would take additional measures to help ensure financial markets continue operating smoothly "given the rapidly evolving uncertainty".
Canada's tally of reported cases of the COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus has surpassed 1,000, along with 12 deaths.
It closed its borders to most foreign nationals and agreed with the United States this week to close their shared border. A notice from the U.S. Homeland Security Department (DHS) said restrictions will begin at 11:59 p.m. EDT Friday and last until April 20.
Trudeau said the measure to return asylum seekers who walk into Canada outside official border stations was a temporary one to protect the health of Canadians during the coronavirus outbreak.
Thousands have illegally crossed the Canada-U.S. border to file refugee claims in recent years, spurred by tougher U.S. immigration policies under President Donald Trump’s administration.
The Canadian Council for Refugees said it was "shocked" at the decision to turn back migrants.
As the border deadline approached, traffic was already snarled on some crossings early on Friday owing to stepped-up screening measures by the Canada Border Service Agency.
In a relief for Canada's agriculture sector, temporary foreign workers are exempt from the restrictions.
Trudeau's government has pledged C$27 billion (£16.06 billion) in support, which could blow out the fiscal deficit and lead to higher government borrowing by nearly 40%, according to Reuters calculations.
(Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal, Moira Warburton in Toronto and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Jason Neely, Andrea Ricci, Marguerita Choy and Cynthia Osterman)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.