Justin Trudeau to speak today after top doctor says Canadians must ‘act now and act together’
Alberta on Sunday became the latest province to announce extended school closures amid growing concern about the coronavirus. The closures came as Canada’s chief public health officer urged Canadians to “act now and act together.”
The statement from Dr. Theresa Tam comes ahead of another planned announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set for Monday afternoon.
Speaking Sunday, Tam reiterated the call to slow the spread of COVID-19, which first emerged in China and has since spread to more than 140 countries.
“Our window to flatten the curve of the epidemic is narrow,” Tam said at a news conference. “We all need to act now.
COVID-19 is a serious public health threat.”
Tam repeated previous government messages about avoiding large public gatherings, practising social distancing and avoiding travel outside of Canada. She also said Canadians returning from trips abroad should immediately go into self-isolation for 14 days rather than simply self-monitoring.
The government has faced questions and criticism over how it was dealing with incoming international travellers. At her briefing on Sunday, Tam said that officials were considering additional screening questions.
On Monday, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said on Twitter that it is adding additional screening measures at all international airports.
The CBSA said an employee at Toronto Pearson International Airport has tested positive for COVID-19. The agency said it’s notifying all staff who may have come in contact with the person.
The worker is currently in self-isolation, CBSA said. The agency didn’t say whether the person came in contact with travellers making their way through the airport.
There are more than 340 presumptive and confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the country, with one known death linked to the virus. British Columbia and Ontario — the only two provinces that are currently offering information on the number of people who have recovered — list a combined total of nine “resolved” cases.
In an interview with CTV’s Evan Solomon on Sunday, the prime minister said “nothing is off the table” as the government prepares its response to the growing outbreak.
When asked whether a broader, co-ordinated response is needed, Trudeau said federal, provincial and territorial governments are working together, particularly around science and public health. But he noted there would be different responses in different regions because of the way situations vary around the country, as what needs to be done in Ontario would be different than what needs to happen in Nunavut.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says the risk from the coronavirus to the general public is low, but cautions that seniors, people with underlying health issues and individuals with compromised immune systems face a higher risk of “more severe” outcomes if they contract it.
Top officials with the World Health Organization (WHO) are urging countries around the world to take a “comprehensive” approach to the pandemic.
“Not testing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not quarantine alone. Not social distancing alone. Do it all,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said over the weekend.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories
For full coverage of how your province or territory is responding to COVID-19, visit your local CBC News site.
In B.C., officials say testing for COVID-19 will focus on places where there is a cluster of cases, on health-care workers, and on people in hospital and long-term care facilities. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top health official, said not everyone needs to get tested, even if they have recently travelled outside of Canada. But Henry did ask that people who return to the province from outside the country self-isolate for 14 days. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta on Sunday joined the growing list of provinces closing schools to students for an extended period. “We will be indefinitely cancelling classes across the province,” Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said. The City of Calgary made its own move on Sunday, declaring a state of emergency that closes public facilities like rec centres, arenas and libraries. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer says schools in the province are staying open for now. Dr. Saqib Shahab said Sunday, “with the number of cases we have and the fact that they’re all travel-related, we really don’t think that there’s any reason to close schools anywhere in the province at this time.” Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba, which has seven presumptive and confirmed cases, says all of its reported cases to date are travel-related. The province has four dedicated testing centres, which as of Sunday had seen 900 patients. A new testing centre is slated to open in Thompson, with more to come in rural areas this week.
Hospitals in Ontario are being asked to begin “carefully ramping down” elective surgeries. Health Minister Christine Elliott said over the weekend that the move will help preserve capacity to respond to COVID-19. Elliott said in a statement the approach will allow hospitals the discretion to make decisions based on “local circumstances” while also allowing “the province to take a more prescriptive approach, should it be warranted based on evidence.” All casinos in the province are being closed, and Metrolinx is reducing services starting later this week. In Ottawa, the city’s top doctor is recommending that people cancel events, and avoid going out for “non-essential” reasons, saying community transmission is likely taking place in the city. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario here.
Quebec ordered the closure of bars, clubs, gyms and movie theatres over the weekend. Spas and saunas are also being closed, the province said. Restaurants can stay open, but are being asked to operate at half capacity. “We have to give ourselves the best chance to slow the contagion over the next days,” Premier François Legault said Sunday. The province, which had already announced the closure of schools, is also urging people to embrace social distancing and avoid going out for non-essential trips. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
New Brunswick’s top doctor is set to answer questions on call-in shows Monday morning as the province deals with five presumptive cases — and prepares for more. Over the weekend, Premier Blaine Higgs urged people not to call the 811 line with non-urgent questions about COVID-19, saying: “We need people to slow down and think about how they impact others if they are tying up an emergency service.” Read more about what’s happening in New Brunswick.
Schools and daycares are closing for an extended period on Prince Edward Island. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said the province is monitoring COVID-19 and will reassess the situation as needed. “If we make some good decisions now, it might help us in the weeks ahead,” she said.
Nova Scotia is also closing schools and daycares for an extended period, with the premier cautioning that the closure could be extended. “Our No. 1 priority will be the public’s safety and the health [and] safety of Nova Scotians and their children,” Stephen McNeil said. The province has ordered more ventilators as the health system gears up for more cases, and health officials are calling for the preservation of some critical medical supplies, like N95 masks.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s officials say precautions like postponing large events will help limit the spread of the disease, which has one presumptive case and is preparing for more.
There are not yet any confirmed cases in Canada’s North, but governments there are ramping up their efforts to get ahead of the virus. In the Northwest Territories, the top public health officer is urging anyone arriving in the territory from an international location to self-isolate. The City of Iqaluit is asking people not to travel to the city unless it’s necessary
Here’s a look at the latest numbers in Canada, which as of early Monday had 342 presumptive and confirmed cases. Presumptive cases are individuals who have tested positive, but still await confirmation with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
- Ontario: at least 145 confirmed cases (five cases listed by province as resolved).
- British Columbia: 73 confirmed, including one death (four cases listed by province as resolved).
- Alberta: 56 confirmed.
- Quebec: 39 confirmed.
- Saskatchewan: five presumptive, one confirmed.
- New Brunswick: five presumptive, one confirmed.
- Manitoba: four confirmed, three presumptive.
- Canadians quarantined at CFB Trenton: four confirmed.
- Nova Scotia: three presumptive.
- Prince Edward Island: one confirmed.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: one presumptive.