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COVID-19 pandemic still threatening Canadians' health, Trudeau says

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-06-05 10:12

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 1, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

OTTAWA - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned on Thursday that the COVID-19 pandemic remains serious in Canada.

The rise in infections has slowed across all age groups and in most regions of the country, but Trudeau said the situation remains serious in some regions where large numbers of new cases are still being reported, as well as in places like long-term care homes.

"I want to be very clear. We're not out of the woods. The pandemic is still threatening the health and safety of Canadians," Trudeau said at a press conference on Thursday.

"While we start loosening some restrictions, we also have to strengthen other measure... And as people head back to work, it's even more important that we keep a two-meter distance from others, wash our hands, and wear a mask when physical distancing is not always possible," Trudeau added.

Meanwhile, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam warned that Canada could see "explosive growth" in new COVID-19 cases if reopening is not done with caution.

According to new short-term federal modeling released by Health Canada on Thursday, as of June 15, the country could see between 97,990 and 107,454 cases, and between 7,700 and 9,400 deaths.

"These models all tell us that if we relax too much, or too soon, the epidemic will most likely rebound with explosive growth as a distinct possibility," Tam said.

As of Thursday afternoon, according to CTV News, Canada reported 93,700 cases of COVID-19, with 7,636 deaths and 51,685 recoveries.

There are big regional disparities in the way the pandemic is affecting Canada, Tam said.

Ontario and Quebec have accounted for more than 90 percent of national COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days.

There has been no community transmission in Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, and no cases have been reported to date in Nunavut, the only Canadian jurisdiction that has remained COVID-free so far.

The numbers showed COVID-19 is still disproportionately hitting Canadians in long-term care and seniors' homes. While outbreaks in these facilities represent 18 percent of all cases, residents of long-term facilities and nursing homes represent 82 percent of Canada's COVID-19-related deaths, she said.

Hospitals, correctional facilities, meat and poultry plants, work camps and shelters represent the other most important outbreak settings, Tam said.

Canada's largest outbreak occurred at the Cargill meat-processing plant in Alberta with 1,560 cases among workers, household and community members, she added.

Strict public health measures in these settings are an absolutely vital aspect of controlling outbreaks, Tam said.

"I think the collective amount of global information but also in Canada shows in closed crowded places, close contacts lead to what we might call these bigger or larger clusters or sometimes what we call super-spreading events," the health officer added.

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