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

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam issued a joint plea for Canadians to remain vigilant against COVID-19 spread Friday, as the country passed a grim milestone in recording 150,000 confirmed cases.

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

At the same time, he offered assurances that Ottawa has taken steps to secure a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one proves viable.

He says the latest deal is a pact with AstraZeneca to receive up to 20 million doses of an experimental vaccine.

This is the sixth such arrangement to ensure Canadians have access to crucial supply.

The news comes as COVID-19 cases reached about 150,140 nationwide.

“The fight against COVID-19 is not over yet and we must all continue to do our part,” Trudeau said.

Infections especially soared in Quebec, where 637 new cases were reported Friday, bringing the total number in the province to 70,307.

There have been 5,814 deaths in Quebec.

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.

Trudeau’s pleas Friday came alongside similar warnings from Tam and her deputy, Howard Njoo — a joint televised press conference that underscored how serious the second wave of COVID-19 has already become.

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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.

In a televised address Wednesday, Trudeau warned Canada is “on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring,” when the country went into a nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The coronavirus is now back, with caseloads spiking dramatically in the four largest provinces over the past few weeks.

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

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