For newcomers to Canada, social isolation amplified during COVID-19 pandemic

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Five months before the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a state of emergency, Fabio Sehungiza arrived in New Brunswick to start a new life. 

More than 10,000 kilometres from his native Burundi, his mother was his only connection in the city he hoped to make his home. 

"I didn't know anyone in Fredericton," he said.

After a month, Sehungiza began taking English classes at the Multicultural Association of Fredericton and found a job with a construction company. 

The 30-year-old experienced the challenge of his first Canadian winter, started to meet new people and gradually join the community. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

"When I heard about the pandemic myself, I was scared," Sehungiza said. "I was like 'OK, now this is the end,' because many people die."

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