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People walk past an empty store in Vancouver, Canada, May 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Liang Sen)

The downturn in Canada's GDP, the sharpest since the first quarter of 2009, reflects measures rolled out in March to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

OTTAWA, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Canada's national statistical agency said on Friday that the country's economy saw the worst quarterly performance since 2009 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Statistics Canada, it came as gross domestic product (GDP) suffered a big drop in March as restrictions against the spread of COVID-19 began rolling out during the month.

The downturn in GDP, the sharpest since the first quarter of 2009, reflects measures rolled out in March to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, such as closures of school and non-essential businesses, border shutdowns and travel restrictions, as well as events earlier in the quarter, mainly the Ontario teachers' strike and rail blockades in February.

The country's GDP fell 7.2 percent in March from February, the most severe month-on-month fall, while annualized growth for the first quarter decreased by 8.2 percent, the largest since the depths of the Great Recession.

Household spending was reduced by 2.3 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the steepest quarterly drop ever recorded. Spending reductions were influenced by substantial job losses, income uncertainty and limited opportunities to spend because of the mandatory closure of non-essential retail stores, restaurants and services, and restrictions on travel and tourism activities.

Real GDP plummeted by a record 11 percent in April from March as most sections of the economy were shut down to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

The March and April falls are likely to be the largest consecutive monthly declines on record, said the country's statistics agency. ■

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