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UPDATE: Trudeau urges Canadians to avoid seeing friends as COVID-19 cases surge

(UPDATE: Nov. 20 @ 8:50 am): Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged people to put off social arrangements because COVID-19 cases are "spiking massively."

In a press conference outside his Ottawa home reminiscent of those held daily in spring, Trudeau said the country is at risk of seeing caseloads rise even further and hospitals becoming "overwhelmed."

"if you were planning to see friends this weekend, maybe don't," he said, asking people to avoid gatherings such as dinner parties.

He added: "I don't want to be here this morning; you don't want me to be here this morning – but here I am."

It comes after new modelling showed COVID-19 cases could skyrocket to 60,000 per day by the end of the year if people increase their social contacts over the holiday season.

Canadians need to do "everything" they can to stop COVID-19 getting out of control, Trudeau said.

He said people who can work from home should do so.

The PM explained that "the best way to protect the economy is to get the virus under control."

Some people, he said, have stopped trying – stopped wearing masks, stopped obeying social distancing rules.

That is "frustrating," he explained, and means the people who are following guidelines and rules "need to go in the opposite direction."

Canadians are going to have to "really tighten up" again, he said.

"We're gonna need to have to do this – for another few weeks, for another few months," the prime minister said.

"We can do this. We've done it before."

He also highlighted changes to national COVID-19 programs, including the extension of the federal wage subsidy up to June next year.

Trudeau also confirmed that the US-Canada border will remain closed until at least Dec. 21.

The prime minister was asked about discussions of his supposed support for the "The Great Reset" – which is talked of as an opportunistic plan by global leaders to fundamentally change societies and economies in the shadow of the pandemic.

He said he did indeed want to make changes to Canadian society, including improving the social safety net.

But he denied any sinister motives.

"I think that we are living through a very anxiety-provoking period for many people who are anxious about this pandemic and its impact on their lives," he explained.

People are looking for answers, he added, and sometimes turn to "conspiracy theories."

(Original story: Nov. 20 @ 5:20 am): Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will amplify his plea for Canadians to stay home as much as possible after alarming new projections for the spread of COVID−19 in Canada are released today.

The updated projections are expected to forecast a dramatic rise in cases over the next few weeks — to as much as 60,000 new cases a day by the end of the year — if Canadians don’t strictly limit their contact with people outside their households.

Trudeau is to hold a news conference after the latest modelling is unveiled by chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam this morning.

To underscore the importance of minimizing contacts, Trudeau will conduct the news conference outside his home, Rideau Cottage — the site of his daily briefings during the first wave of the deadly pandemic last spring.

<who> Photo credit: Canadian Press

He ended that practice over the summer when the pandemic went into a bit of a lull and, throughout the fall until now, he has joined Tam and select ministers at news conferences on Parliament Hill once or twice a week.

Tam has already warned that Canada is on track to hit more than 10,000 cases per day by early December if Canadians maintain their current rate of contacts outside their household.

That’s more than double the current daily case count, which is already straining the health care system in some regions.

Sources briefed on the latest modelling say it projects a much worse scenario by the end of December — 20,000 cases per day at the current rate of contacts and as much as 60,000 a day if Canadians increase their number of contacts as the holiday season approaches.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the modelling before its official release.

Tam has said Canadians need to reduce their current rate of contact with others by at least 25% in order to flatten the curve.

And last week, she and her deputy, Howard Njoo, gave a graphic description of the consequences if the trajectory toward more than 10,000 cases per day is not halted.

At the current level of just under 5,000 cases per day, Tam said routine medical procedures are being cancelled, intensive care beds are almost full and health−care workers are exhausted.

"So you can only imagine that if we got to that level (of 10,000), that the pressure on the health−care system will be huge," she told a news conference in Ottawa on Nov. 13.

Njoo pointed to what happened in northern Italy and New York City last spring, when their health systems were overwhelmed.

"Doctors were having to make a life and death decision in terms of who would be on a ventilator, who wouldn’t. And who wants to be in that position?"

For several weeks, Trudeau has been almost begging premiers to impose more stringent restrictions on businesses and social gatherings in order to get the soaring caseload under control.

He has warned that the federal government’s resources are not infinite and that, if cases continue to increase exponentially, Ottawa’s ability to help premiers cope with the health crisis will be strained.

Trudeau has suggested, for instance, that Ottawa might have to begin choosing which regions will get personal protective equipment or Red Cross help to operate hard−hit long−term care homes.

– With files from Canadian Press


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