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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared visibly upset as he pleaded with Canadian provinces and cities to do more to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“We are seeing record spikes this morning across the country, so I urge the premiers and the mayors to please do the right thing: act now to protect public health,” Trudeau said in a press conference on Tuesday. Canada recorded 4,622 new coronavirus cases on Monday, breaking the previous record of 4,471 set three days earlier.
Countries across the northern hemisphere are experiencing a second wave of the virus as falling autumn temperatures bring people indoors where the virus spreads more easily. Canada is faring better than many of these nations, however, as many experience new cases in the tens of thousands in recent days.
“I would hope that no leader in our country is easing public health vigilance because they feel pressure not to shut down businesses or slow down our economy,” Trudeau warned. “I understand that worry, but let me tell you: that’s how we end up with businesses going out of business and the economy damaged even more.”
The Prime Minister did not explain how opening up the economy would be more harmful to businesses.
It does appear, however, that local leaders are not "easing public health vigilance" as the Prime Minister fears. In Ontario, some municipalities have faced more severe restrictions for over a month as Premier Doug Ford moved the cities into the modified stage 2 category, forcing gyms to close, restaurants to reject indoor patrons, and socializers to limit the size of their gatherings. While these restrictions continue to exist in places like Toronto, the reopening model has since been replaced with a colour-coded system.
The lockdowns have been even more severe in British Columbia, as new restrictions prevent those living in Vancouver from holding social gatherings with anyone outside of their immediate household. Travel in and out of the city is also restricted.
Some medical professionals have questioned the effects of lockdowns, arguing that they may be ineffective or even counterproductive. While experts expected the effects of lockdowns to manifest in new coronavirus cases within two weeks of implementation, parts of Ontario which have faced more severe restrictions have seen new cases continue to climb without any sign of stopping. Meanwhile, opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed in the province with some experts attributing the rise to lockdown-related social isolation.
It is not the first time that the Prime Minister has expressed frustration with the country's fight against the virus. Trudeau said in late October that the coronavirus pandemic's affect on Canadians "really sucks."