Canadians will have to wait weeks before social distancing rules and other COVID-19 restrictions begin to be loosened, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during his daily update from the steps of Rideau Cottage on Wednesday (April 15).
Trudeau said Canada needs to get through the first COVID-19 wave before the government considers reopening the country and its economy.
“One size fits all will not work,” he said. “It will be weeks more before we can seriously consider loosening the requirements.”
Opening it too early, the prime minister said, would be “terrible” if it plunges Canada back into new cases and deaths due to the novel coronavirus. “Massive, rapid testing… and very aggressive contact tracing” will be essential as people head back to work.
“Until there is a vaccine, we are going to have to remain extremely vigilant as a world as a country for resurgences,” Trudeau said.
At a later press conference, Dr. Theresa Tam said current measures to contain the pandemic appear to be working but that the country still has a long way to go.
“The epidemic growth rate has slowed but the main message for all Canadians is not to let go. You’re doing a great job, let’s continue this until we get to the bottom of the hill,” she said. Near the end of March, Tam said, COVID-19 cases were doubling every three days, while now that has slowed to more than every 10 days.
She said officials were “cautiously optimistic,” but warned it was not a sprint to the finish line.
“It will be a marathon and there are no rewards for stopping early.”
Tam said the rate of healthcare workers who have tested positive for the virus ranges from seven to 11 per cent.
As of Wednesday morning, Canada had 27,557 cases and 954 deaths due to COVID-19. More than 462,000 people have been tested and six per cent have been positive for the virus.