Trudeau stresses vigilance, announces vaccine pact as COVID-19 cases reach 150,000

Trudeau stresses vigilance, announces vaccine pact as COVID-19 cases reach 150,000

Trudeau offered assurances that Ottawa has taken steps to secure a COVID-19 vaccine

Quebeckers were urged to stop socializing, Ontarians were barred from late-night pub-hopping, and the entire country was sternly warned of “critical” containment measures required in coming weeks as soaring COVID-19 case counts edged past 150,000 on Friday.

The escalating pandemic drew repeated pleas for vigilance from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam in a joint press conference that also outlined a deal with AstraZeneca, which would guarantee up to 20 million doses of an experimental vaccine.

With cases surging in Ontario and Quebec hot-spots, Trudeau implored the public to adhere to public health guidelines, stressing that “what we do now, will be critical for the weeks and months to come.”

This was a repeated refrain across the country as political and public health officials took pains to tell the public it was time to scale back parties, dinners out, group activities and other individual actions they said were key factors in an alarming spike in transmission.

In Quebec, Health Minister Christian Dube told residents to a “make a special effort” to limit contact with other people for at least 28 days in order to contain spread and save hospitals from increased burden.

“I insist on this,” said Dube, nevertheless saying he had no problem with people dining in small numbers, within their bubble.

“We’re asking you (for) a month of effort to break the second wave.”

Dube called it a “28-day challenge” to flatten the curve, which on Friday pushed Quebec’s daily tally to 637 new cases, bringing the total number in the province to 70,307.

There have been 5,814 deaths in Quebec.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford said bars and restaurants must now close by midnight, with alcohol service to stop at 11 p.m., but that takeout and delivery will be permitted to continue into the wee hours.

All strip clubs will also close, he said, while explaining that the new restrictions strike a balance between public health needs and the province’s financial future.

“I don’t think it’s a huge ask if they can stop serving drinks at 11 o’clock and close their establishments at 12 o’clock,” he said during his daily media briefing.

The measures were not good enough for NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who criticized the Ford government for failing to provide “a proper, comprehensive and effective second wave strategy.”

Ontario reported 409 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death — about half of the new cases in Toronto and 65 per cent of them in people younger than 40.

The total number of cases in Ontario stood at 48,905, including 2,837 deaths.

Elsewhere, Alberta reported 17,190 confirmed cases, while British Columbia stood at 8,543 confirmed.

COVID-19 cases jumped in Manitoba, too, where masks will be mandatory in Winnipeg’s indoor spaces starting Monday.

Officials also limited indoor and outdoor gatherings to 10 people after 54 new cases emerged in the province — 44 of them in the capital region.

COVID-19 cases reached about 150,140 nationwide, with caseloads spiking dramatically in the four largest provinces over the past few weeks.

In the joint televised press conference with Trudeau, Tam said Canadians still have a chance to keep the epidemic from escalating, “if we all act together now.”

“Local public health authorities cannot do this alone. Each of us must take action to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities,” she said.

Despite the sombre warnings, Trudeau offered assurances that Ottawa has taken steps to secure a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one proves viable.

The latest deal is the sixth such arrangement to ensure Canadians have access to crucial supply.

Trudeau also addressed urgent calls to make more COVID-19 testing options available, stating “there are a number of rapid tests in the process of being evaluated by Health Canada, and they will be made available as quickly as possible.”

Tam added that Health Canada was trying to evaluate a variety of new tools including point-of-care devices and serological tests but suggested that work was hindered by a lack of clinical data from the companies seeking approvals.

“There was really little data submitted to the regulator, and you need basic, minimal clinical information. And so we’re also looking at how do we help in the assessment of those types of tests,” said Tam.

“The whole thing has to work in real life, if you like, but I think we’ll be providing more information to people next week and as things evolve.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

Island Health’s acting medical health officer for the central Island says schools are very safe, even after COVID-19 exposure at five schools in Nanaimo-Ladysmith this month. (File photo)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Qualicum superintendents ask Island Health about COVID-19 safety at schools

Central Island medical health officer answers questions parents have been asking

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have ruled out fouled play in the death of a woman in Chemainus. (Black Press file photo)
No foul play in death of woman in Chemainus

Police officers make determination after an investigation

Divers gear up at Kin Beach for venture to extract large industrial tires from the waters of Chemainus Bay. (Photo by Kathleen Fenner)
CFB Esquimalt’s Fleet Diving Unit members remove large tires submerged in Chemainus Bay for years

Environmental concerns and deadly hazard for crabs finally alleviated

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Bank of Montreal, located on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)
Heiltsuk man files human rights complaint against Vancouver police, BMO after bank arrest

Pair remains distraught after employee falsely reports fraud in progress leading to their arrest

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine pictured at BC Livestock Producers Co. in Kamloops, Nov. 16. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Meet B.C.’s only cowboy cop; a voice for the livestock industry

Cpl. Cory Lepine serves as a bridge between the law and those who make a living off the land

BCHL
BCHL pushes back season start due to provincial health orders

The delay is minimal, just six days, for now. But the league is open to starting up after Christmas

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Most Read