HALIFAX — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says provincial health authorities won't be alone in their fight against the novel coronavirus because the federal government will ensure they have the resources to contain and treat cases.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has said that Canada is preparing for a pandemic outbreak, though the risk of contracting the illness known as COVID-19 here is still low.
That preparation includes increasing lab capacity to test possible cases and making sure provincial hospitals have the surge capacity, supplies and ventilators to treat an influx of potentially contagious patients.
Trudeau said Tuesday the federal government has been working closely with the provinces to make sure they have what they need.
"We recognize that the coronavirus presents a particular and very real challenge to health-care systems across the country and indeed around the world," he said.
"We're all going to be working together to make sure that the impacts are minimized on Canadians."
Trudeau said Canada has been at the table with international partners and the World Health Organization to chart the best way to fight the global spread of the virus.
More than 90,000 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed around the world and more than 3,100 people have died. The virus began in China but has spread across the globe and reached at least 70 countries.
"Our decisions are based on science, our decisions are based on the best recommendations of experts and we're going to continue to keep Canadians involved and informed," Trudeau said. He said people should take the same precautions that they do during flu season, such as frequent hand washing, to help keep themselves and their families safe.
Health officials have recorded at least 30 cases in Canada so far, with Ontario reporting 20 of those.
Trudeau also recognized that some businesses and entrepreneurs may need help if the illness spreads through Canada. He said the government knows how important it is to support small businesses, and perhaps help if it is needed.
The prime minister made the comments in Halifax, after announcing funding to help young people find jobs.
Ottawa is spending $492 million on more than 270 projects across Canada to help those facing barriers to employment.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2020.
The Canadian Press