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Health News

Canada PM scolds provinces: Do more to fight coronavirus

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday urged premiers of the country’s 10 provinces to “do the right thing” and take stricter measures to fight a rapidly spreading second wave of the coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens while wearing a mask at a news conference held to discuss the country's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle/File Photo

“We are seeing record spikes this morning across the country, so I urge the premiers and the mayors to please do the right thing: act now to protect public health,” he told a news conference. Over the past week Canada has posted a daily average of more than 3,800 cases.

As Trudeau spoke, the central province of Manitoba announced a major shutdown beginning on Thursday. All social gatherings will be forbidden, restaurants closed except for takeout meals, and recreational facilities shut. Even supermarkets and pharmacies will operate only at 25% capacity.

Quebec, which has recorded the most cases, will maintain restrictions on the hardest-hit areas for at least another two weeks, Premier Francois Legault said.

Health authorities in Toronto, Canada’s most populous city, announced an existing ban on indoor dining, casinos and gyms would be extended for another 28 days to control what they called the most serious spread of the virus so far.

“Our situation is incredibly urgent,” Toronto’s chief medical officer Eileen de Villa told reporters.

New cases are rising everywhere except for the Atlantic Coast provinces, which have closed their borders even to most other Canadian visitors. But many provinces have resisted imposing another round of lockdowns, fearing potential economic damage.

Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said “it is clear we have yet to bend the curve on accelerated growth.” The virus will have more chance to spread as winter sets in, forcing people indoors, she said.

In Canada, health restrictions are the jurisdiction of provincial governments. Ottawa can step in during an emergency, but Trudeau said he saw no need for such action.

“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,” said Trudeau, noting that Ottawa has provided billions of dollars to help businesses and people through the health crisis.

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Oatis and Sonya Hepinstall

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