Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is begging provincial governments to ask for more help if they need it to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, insisting no leader should loosen restrictions because they’re worried about the economic impact of not doing so.
“With rising cases of COVID-19 here at home, there’s added pressure on all orders of government to keep people safe and to protect jobs,” Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa Tuesday.
“But I would hope that no leader in our country is easing public health vigilance because they feel pressure not to shut down businesses or slow down our economy,” he said.
“I understand that worry but let me tell you: that’s how we end up with businesses going out of business and the economy damaged even more.”
His plea came as Toronto, Canada’s largest city, reported a record number of COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row and Manitoba is bringing in stricter lockdown measures to help stop a recent surge there.
The Public Health Agency of Canada reported 4,086 new cases Monday, for a total of 268,735 across the country since the beginning of the pandemic.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top public health doctor, said the country has seen 10,564 deaths in the pandemic. Across the country, nearly 40,000 people are actively contending with the illness, she said.
On average, about 3,800 cases have been reported each day in the past week, she said. About 1,300 people have been hospitalized on any given day, including almost 250 in critical care.
Fifty-one people died on an average day in the past week.
“It is clear we have yet to bend the curve on accelerated growth in Canada,” Tam said.
“Now, as our activities move indoors during the colder weather, providing even better opportunities for the spread of respiratory viruses, it’s time to get really serious. Going into this respiratory season, COVID-19 is already well ahead of us.”
Manitoba, which leads all provinces in per-capita active cases, announced Tuesday that beginning Thursday, non-essential retail outlets will be limited to curbside pickup and delivery, and churches will not have in-person gatherings.
Social gatherings with anyone other than household members will be forbidden, and restaurants, museums, theatres and recreational activities must close.
Schools will remain open as the province’s chief public health officer says officials are not seeing much transmission within schools.
Meanwhile, Toronto reported 520 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, after recording 482 new cases Monday.
Ontario also hit a new provincial record, with total cases climbing to 1,388, higher than the previous record of 1,328 cases recorded Sunday.
Toronto Mayor John Tory is considering new measures for his city to slow the rate of growth.
Ontario’s surging number of cases mimics what is happening in much of the rest of the country, with cases soaring and the number of people in hospital steadily climbing.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
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