Canadians have to tamp down COVID-19 to save Christmas, PM Trudeau says

by Reuters
Friday, 13 November 2020 18:54 GMT

(Recasts with details, comment from chief medical officer, Trudeau and Saskatchewan restrictions)

By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Canadians have time to tamp down the surging second wave of COVID-19 by Christmas if they act now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday, as he urged provincial leaders to impose more health restrictions for the second time this week.

"What we do in the coming days and weeks will determine what we get to do at Christmas," Trudeau said at a news conference.

In Canada, new cases averaged 4,300 per day during the past week, and deaths averaged 55 per day.

If the virus continues to spread at this pace, Canada will be recording more than 10,000 new cases per day by early December, Chief Medical Officer Theresa Tam said. Hospitals in some parts of the country are already filling up, she added.

"Fires are burning in so many different areas, and right now is the time to get those under control," Tam said. Apart from the Atlantic provinces, where borders are closed to visitors from elsewhere in Canada and abroad, cases are rising across the country.

"Provinces need to make the right decisions around bringing in rules that will limit close contacts, limit the spread of COVID-19," Trudeau said, three days after first urging premiers, who are in charge of health restrictions, to act before it is too late to get the second wave under control.

Saskatchewan on Friday restricted alcohol sales after 10 p.m. and widened mask mandates to cover indoor public spaces in all communities with over 5,000 residents. The province also said larger high schools should consider reducing in-class learning.

After Manitoba announced a major shutdown on Tuesday, the federal government said on Friday it would fund Red Cross support for long-term care homes in Winnipeg until Jan. 15, and it extended funding for the hard-hit nursing homes in Quebec.

Separately on Friday, Trudeau said the government would invest an additional C$1.5 billion ($1.14 billion) to boost work training programs across the country, especially for sectors hardest-hit by the pandemic. ($1 = 1.3147 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Steve Scherer; additional reporting by Julie Gordon; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Steve Orlofsky)

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