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

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OTTAWA – Quebeckers have been urged to stop socializing, Ontarians are barred from going out to pubs late at night, and the entire country has been sternly warned of the “critical” containment measures required in the coming weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 150,000 on Friday. The escalating pandemic has repeatedly drawn calls for vigilance from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam at a joint press conference which also described a deal with AstraZeneca, which would guarantee up to 20 million doses of an experimental vaccine.

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

It was a refrain repeated across the country as political and public health officials scrambled to tell the public it was time to cut back on parties, dinners, group activities and other individual actions which they believed were key factors in an alarming spike in transmission.

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

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

“We ask 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 at midnight with alcohol service due to stop at 11 p.m., but take-out and deliveries can continue until small hours.

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

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

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

Ontario has reported 409 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death – about half of the new cases in Toronto and 65% of them in people under the age of 40.

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

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

Cases of COVID-19 have also jumped in Manitoba, where masks will be mandatory in indoor spaces in Winnipeg starting Monday.

Authorities also limited indoor and outdoor gatherings to 10 people after 54 new cases emerged in the province, including 44 in the capital region.

COVID-19 cases have reached about 150,140 nationwide, with the number of cases increasing dramatically in the four largest provinces in recent weeks.

During the joint televised press conference with Trudeau, Tam said Canadians still have a chance to prevent the epidemic from getting worse, “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 grim warnings, Trudeau assured that Ottawa had taken steps to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it proved viable.

The latest agreement is the sixth of its kind to ensure that Canadians have access to essential supplies.

Trudeau also made urgent calls to make more COVID-19 testing options available, stating “that there are a number of rapid tests being evaluated by Health Canada, and they will be available as soon 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 the work was hampered by a lack of clinical data from companies seeking approvals.

“There was very little data submitted to the regulator, and you need basic and minimal clinical information. So we are also looking at how can we help with the evaluation of these types of tests, ”Tam said.

“It’s got to work in real life, if you will, but I think we’ll get more information out to people next week and as things evolve. ”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 25, 2020.

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