by Christopher Guly
OTTAWA, June 29 (Xinhua) -- As far as the reopening of businesses and bars is concerned, Canada has been better than the United States at slowing the spread of COVID-19 through physical distancing and people increasingly wearing face masks in public, the latest update from Canada's Public Health Agency suggests.
"As the epidemic has slowed, the incident rate has steadily declined in all age groups," Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said at a briefing here. "The epidemiology indicates the transmission is largely under control."
Canada has had just under 104,000 cases of COVID-19 with over 8,500 deaths to date.
By contrast, 41,075 new cases were reported in the United States on Monday, bringing its national total to more than 2.5 million -- nearly a quarter of the global total of 10.4 million.
The coronavirus disease has also claimed the lives of over 126,000 people in the United States, with 885 new fatalities reported on Monday alone.
The Canada-U.S. border, closed to non-essential travel since March 21, is scheduled to reopen on July 21. But at his regular COVID-related news conference on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted that could be halted.
"We will continue to assess the situation and work with the Americans on what steps need to be taken in the month of August," he said.
"What the situation we're seeing in the United States and elsewhere highlights for us is that, even as our economy is reopening, we need to make sure we are continuing to remain vigilant individually and collectively," he said.
However, with the return of in-store shopping and greater numbers of people gathering, the demographic picture of the pandemic in Canada has changed.
People 80 years of age and older remain the hardest-hit population, accounting for nearly 18,000 cases. Seniors living in long-term care and retirement homes also represent the greatest human toll taken by COVID-19, with 20,604 cases and 6,920 deaths across Canada as of Friday.
Yet the 80-plus crowd has experienced the steepest decline in transmission since late May, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, which reported a relative increase in cases among people between the ages of 20 and 39, who "now account for a greater proportion of total cases in recent weeks," said Tam.
New modeling numbers released by the Public Health Agency on Monday forecast a slight uptick in both cumulative cases of COVID-19 (as high as 108,130) and deaths (as many as 8,865) in Canada by July 12. Enditem