Faced with a White House-ordered ban on exports of key COVID-19 medical supplies to Canada and abroad, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying a more diplomatic approach with U.S. President Donald Trump, hoping to convince him such a ban will harm Americans and Canadians alike.
Trudeau says he plans to speak with Trump in the coming days about his administration’s order preventing brokers, distributors and other intermediaries from diverting scarce personal protective equipment from the U.S. to other countries like Canada.
Trudeau says he is not considering counter-measures against this move by the U.S., but rather he believes the countries can come to a mutual understanding of the need to work together.
“We are not looking at retaliatory measures or measures that are punitive,” Trudeau said from outside his Rideau Cottage residence Saturday.
“We know it is in both of our interests to work collaboratively and co-operatively to keep our citizens safe and that’s very much the tenor of our conversations and I’m confident that we’re going to get there.”
WATCH | Why N95 masks are so important:
He highlighted that thousands of medical workers who live in Canada work every day in the United States, helping to treat novel coronavirus patients in America. He also noted Canada supplies the U.S. with many key COVID-19 supplies including pulp for surgical-grade N95 masks, test kits and gloves.
Trudeau plans to use these examples to ensure the American president understands the inter-connectedness of supply chains and the importance of keeping all goods and services flowing freely between the two countries.
“We recognize that our countries are deeply interlinked in sometimes very complex ways. The necessary goods and services back-and-forth across our border keep us both safe and help us on both sides of the border,” Trudeau said.
“We are continuing to engage in constructive discussions with different levels within the administration to highlight that the U.S. will be hurting itself as much as Canada will be hurting if we see an interruption of essential goods and services flow back and forth across the border.”
Trump, in his opening remarks at his Saturday news conference, highlighted the need for masks to stay in the U.S.
“We need the masks, we don’t want other people getting them,” Trump said.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford was far less diplomatic than Trudeau in his reaction to the U.S. measure, blasting the Trump administration for trying to block essential medical equipment from coming to Canada.
“We’re the two largest trading partners anywhere in the world. It’s like one of your family members [says], ‘OK you go starve and we’ll go feast on the rest of the meal.’ I’m just so disappointed right now,” Ford said Saturday.
“We have a great relationship with the U.S. and they pull these shenanigans? Unacceptable.”
With hospitals and health-care workers across the country rationing masks and other protective equipment due to shortages, Trudeau said the government has been working around the clock to get Canada the resources it needs.
He says Canada will be receiving “millions” of masks in the next 48 hours by a chartered cargo flight, which includes items ordered by Quebec.
Canada has also leased a warehouse in China to ensure timely collection and distribution of these items, Trudeau said, adding that flights chartered by the federal government to transport these materials to Canada going forward will include Canadian companies Cargo Jet and Air Canada.
WATCH | Trudeau says Ottawa collecting data to make broader COVID-19 predictions:
Abroad, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said flights repatriating Canadians have lifted off from Algeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru and India. Champagne said flights are expected Sunday from Argentina, Cuba, El Salvador, India, Lebanon and Serbia.
Meanwhile, a virus-hit cruise ship with 99 Canadians on board has arrived in Miami, and disembarkment of guests who are fit to fly home will begin Sunday.
The Coral Princess departed San Antonio on March 5 and was set to end its voyage March 19 in Buenos Aires, but it was discovered a dozen people onboard tested positive for COVID-19. The ship has been looking for a place to dock since March 13, but no country had allowed it before now.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms such as pneumonia.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says the situation is evolving daily and the risk to Canadians from COVID-19 is “considered high.”
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories
Canada has more than 14,000 cases confirmed and presumptive cases, with 274 deaths. The provinces and territories that list information about recovered cases have reported 2,785 cases as resolved or recovered. There have also been two reported COVID-19-related deaths of Canadians abroad — one in Japan and one in Brazil.
Public health officials caution that reported case numbers don’t provide a complete picture of the scale of the outbreak as that data doesn’t capture people who haven’t been tested and cases that are still under investigation. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has urged people nationwide to practise physical distancing and behave as though there is COVID-19 in their community, even if there is no known case.
In British Columbia, the provincial health officer said B.C. is in the crucial, two-week period where officials could get a greater understanding of how physical distancing measures and other orders are working. The province announced 29 new cases on Saturday, its lowest number this week. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
In Alberta, there are now nine outbreaks at continuing care centres, with 93 cases stemming from those facilities. Meanwhile, Calgary Transit announced Saturday that three workers had tested positive for COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
In Saskatchewan, the head of the province’s nurses union says health officials are looking at “new and creative ways” for medical workers to reuse face masks. The Saskatchewan Health Authority will have to first conduct trials to make sure the practice is safe in hospitals where personal protective equipment is already being rationed. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba is opening what it calls “alternative isolation centres” this weekend for people who need to self-isolate and may need extra support. The first is in a hotel, which will have enhanced cleaning. The province’s chief nursing officer says housekeeping staff at its acute care centres will start collecting “gently used” N95 masks for sterilization and re-use if the masks are deemed safe. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford says only essential workers should leave home unless it’s for getting groceries or other absolutely necessary reasons. To drive home the message, the province sent out another emergency alert on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Canada’s largest prison for women is in partial lockdown as it deals with a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers. Five inmates have tested positive at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener. The union says one prison guard has also tested positive for the virus. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
In Quebec, 14 more people have died. The province has 6,997 cases and there are 478 people in hospital, including 130 in intensive care, Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault said. Read more about what’s happening across Quebec.
WATCH | Paramedic describes front-line fight against COVID-19:
New Brunswick confirmed three new cases Saturday, and the provincial RCMP said one officer has tested positive, while another is in isolation. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia is reporting 29 new cases. As Premier Stephen McNeil concluded a COVID-19 update on Friday, he offered a stern warning that may well become the mantra of his political career: “Stay the blazes home.” The phrase has taken on a life of its own online, inspiring music, merchandise and memes. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.
Prince Edward Island on Saturday said it has recorded no new cases compared with the previous day. The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said the island’s confirmed number of cases remains at 22. Morrison is urging Islanders not to become complacent and to continue staying home in order to prevent community transmission. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador announced eight new cases. The majority of the province’s now-more-than 200 cases are connected to a single funeral home. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
WATCH | What the COVID-19 pandemic looks like across Canada:
The Northwest Territories’ premier and top health officials doubled down on a government policy to not identify small communities with cases of COVID-19 in a news conference Saturday, just a day after local leadership in Fort Resolution, N.W.T., contradicted the policy. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
To see how things break down in your province, visit the CBC’s COVID-19 case tracker. Want to learn more about what the daily data means? Here’s how to make sense of the coronavirus numbers.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
New York’s governor said Saturday the Chinese government was facilitating a shipment of 1,000 donated ventilators to his state, highlighting the extreme measures U.S. leaders are taking in what has become a cutthroat scramble to independently secure enough lifesaving devices during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a sign of the country’s disorganized response to the global crisis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the Chinese government for its help in securing the shipment of the breathing machines that was scheduled to arrive at Kennedy Airport on Saturday, while acknowledging that the U.S. government’s stockpile of medical supplies would fall drastically short.
“We’re all in the same battle here,” Cuomo said, noting that the state of Oregon also volunteered to send 140 ventilators to New York. “And the battle is stopping the spread of the virus.”
The rush to secure supplies has prompted intense squabbling between the states and federal government at a moment the nation is facing one of its gravest emergencies. Leaders like Cuomo have been forced to go outside normal channels and work with authoritarian governments and private companies.
Trump said states are making inflated requests for medical supplies when the need isn’t there and suggested he had a hand in the ventilator shipment arriving from China to New York. Trump also said he’d like to hear a more resounding “thank you” from Cuomo for providing medical supplies and helping quickly to add hospital capacity. Cuomo acknowledged he asked the White House and others for help negotiating the ventilators.
“We have given the governor of New York more than anybody has ever been given in a long time,” Trump told reporters in Washington.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in Italy, Spain and parts of Europe
Spain‘s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says that his nation ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic is “starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” Current numbers show Spain has 124,000 cases of coronavirus and over 11,000 deaths.
Italy’s virus-ravaged Lombardy region is now requiring residents to wear a protective mask when they go outside in a bid to further trim infections. The ordinance goes into effect Sunday and lasts through April 13. While all of Italy is under a nationwide lockdown, Lombardy has passed particularly tight restrictions on movement and business operations in an effort to curb infections in the epicentre of Europe’s outbreak.
France‘s health director said that 7,560 people have died of coronavirus-related issues in France since the start of the epidemic in the country, including at least 2,028 in nursing homes. Jerome Salomon spoke Saturday evening during a daily news briefing. According to these figures, France has experienced 441 more deaths in hospitals in the last 24 hours. He also said that 28,143 people were currently hospitalized — of which 6838 are in intensive care, accounting for a rise of 176 people in 24 hours in intensive care.
In the U.K., Carrie Symonds, fiancée of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, says she is “on the mend” after a week suffering from symptoms of COVID-19. Symonds, 32, tweeted: “I’ve spent the past week in bed with the main symptoms of Coronavirus,” though she had not been tested. Symonds, who is pregnant, is not currently staying with Johnson at the prime minister’s Downing St. residence.
She said in a tweet that being pregnant with COVID-19 is “obviously worrying” but she was reassured by the latest medical guidance. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says babies are unlikely to be exposed to COVID-19 during pregnancy and there is also no data at the moment suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage for pregnant women. Johnson tested positive for the virus on March 26 and remains quarantined in Downing St. He said Friday he is feeling better but still has a fever.
Here’s a look at China and some other areas around the world
China‘s health authorities reported 30 new coronavirus cases Sunday, including 25 people who had arrived from overseas. The other five cases were in southern China’s Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong.
China has clamped down on international arrivals, banning most foreigners from entering and limiting foreign airlines to one flight per week. Having largely stopped the spread of the disease, the fear is that infected people coming from abroad could spark new outbreaks.
The National Health Commission said that three more people had died, bringing the country’s death toll to 3,329 as of the end of Saturday. The deaths were in Wuhan, where the pandemic began and by far the hardest-hit city in China. The number of confirmed cases stood at 81,669.
In South Africa, part of a hospital in the city of Durban has been shut down after 11 coronavirus cases were confirmed among patients and staffers. South Africa now has more than 1,500 cases, the most in Africa.
In Sri Lanka, nearly 2,900 prisoners have been released from overcrowded prisons as the Indian ocean island nation has stepped up its efforts to contain the virus. Sri Lanka’s prisons are highly congested, and the president’s office said there are more than 26,000 inmates in a system designed for 10,000.