Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said growing case numbers in other parts of the country make the risks of a Canadian bubble too great for P.E.I.
Morrison was answering questions from MLAs at a legislative standing committee on health and social development Wednesday.
Morrison was asked about P.E.I.’s response to COVID-19, including why the province is still choosing to keep most of the country out, during the meeting with MLAs.
“You have continually opened the scope for people you have allowed,” said Green MLA Ole Hammarlund.
The province has made several exceptions since closing its borders because of COVID-19.
They include Atlantic Canadians, seasonal residents and their families, both Canadian and international university students, essential workers and those with family members that live on P.E.I.
“It seems like there is a huge list of people you are letting in. Why are the few that are not on the list, not allowed?” Hammarlund asked.
‘Testing does not replace quarantine’
With the exception of Atlantic Canadians and some essential workers, everyone has to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival.
Morrison said most people wanting to come here only want to do so if they don’t have to self-isolate and right now that continues to be out of the question.
“Testing does not replace quarantine or self-isolation and we know that certainly from our cases here that have tested positive very late into their quarantine,” she said.
“We know that from the evidence that a test on one day when you arrive does not mean you will not spread the virus two days later.”
Rule will stay for now
So far, all of P.E.I.’s COVID-19 cases have been travel related. With an increase in cases in some areas of the country, Morrison said the risk of involving P.E.I. in a Canadian bubble is too great to take right now.
“We’re hearing from some who would like to see relatives in particular without having to self-isolate. I think we are also hearing that the majority of Islanders are concerned about the Canadian bubble,” Morrison told CBC News after the meeting.
Morrison said the two-week self-isolation rule will continue for now for Canadians outside of the Atlantic bubble and international travellers, but it is something her team talks about daily.
“We’re facing the decision from a public health point of view, on the epidemiology here, Atlantic Canada and across the country,” she said.
“We know how quickly we could get community transmission. It would not take a huge amount or a huge number of outbreaks to overwhelm our system, so it’s trying to balance that going forward.”
Canada is not in a second wave, but coronavirus cases increasing sharply: Tam – Global News
Rapid increases in new COVID-19 cases could quickly spiral out of control, public health officials said Friday as some provinces continued to impose new and tougher public health measures.
Canada’s top public health official, Dr. Theresa Tam, said it’s too soon to declare a second wave of the pandemic across Canada, but daily case counts are increasing at an alarming rate.
Coronavirus: Canadians should ‘redouble their efforts’ at preventing COVID-19 spread as national case count rises, Tam says
“This situation increases the likelihood that we could lose the ability to keep COVID-19 cases at manageable levels,” she said. “Now is the time for Canadians to redouble their efforts with personal precautions that will slow the spread of the virus.”
The provinces also have a role to play, Tam noted, ideally by taking a targeted approach to stem outbreaks on a regional basis.
Renewed fears of outbreaks in long-term care homes
To that end, Quebec announced Friday it would send police officers to 1,000 bars across the province over the weekend, with particular focus on eight regions that have seen a marked rise in cases and could face further restrictions if the trend isn’t reversed.
“The goal behind this operation is to help our regions to go back to green and remain green for those that are already green,” Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said in Quebec City, referring to the province’s colour-coded reopening framework.
Coronavirus: Dr. Tam explains what ‘manageable levels’ of COVID-19 in Canada might mean
The province, which has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus, announced 297 new cases on Friday.
Ontario, meanwhile, reported 401 new cases — a daily increase not seen since June — a day after it hiked fines for those organizing large social gatherings to $10,000 and cut down the maximum size of gatherings in three hot spot regions.
In Toronto, Ottawa and Peel region, only 10 people will be allowed to gather indoors _ down from the current limit of 25 _ while the number for outdoor gatherings will drop to 25 from 100.
But soaring case numbers are not limited to the two provinces that have been hardest hit by the virus.
British Columbia, for instance, reported 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday — an all-time daily high for the province where case counts started cresting in August in spite of a previously flattened curve.
By early afternoon, Canada was reporting 141,565 cases of COVID-19.
Among them is Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, who announced that he has gone into self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Trump claims Canada wants to open border with U.S. as closure extended to Oct. 21 – Global News
On the same day an extension of the U.S.-Canada border closure was announced, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that the border would soon be reopened.
“We’re looking at the border with Canada. Canada would like it opened and, you know, we want to get back to normal business,” he said Friday.
Trump went on to praise the U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade agreement, and say that the border would be reopening “pretty soon” — potentially by the end of the year.
“Could be,” he said. “We’re working with Canada.”
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair took to Twitter earlier on Friday and announced the extension of the border closure, which was set to expire Sept. 21.
The U.S. and Canada border will remain closed until at least Oct. 21 in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are extending non-essential travel restrictions with the United States until October 21st, 2020. We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe,” he tweeted.
Asked to respond to Trump’s statement, a spokesperson referred Global News to Blair’s previous tweet.
The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to travel like as vacations and shopping trips since mid-March — it does not cover trade or travel by air. The agreement has been extended on a monthly basis.
As of Friday, Canada has reported 142,879 coronavirus cases and 9,249 deaths. The U.S. has reported 6,678,382 cases and 197,696 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would not be in a rush to open the border, as doing so may spark a second wave.
“If we take steps too quickly, if we are not sure of what we’re doing at each stage, we risk hitting a second wave … and having to close our economy again,” he said.
There had been a previous effort from U.S. Congress members to reopen the border with Canada amid the pandemic.
In early July, a bipartisan group of 29 federal lawmakers sent a letter to Blair and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, urging both countries to “immediately craft a comprehensive framework for phased reopening of the border.”
“Continuing to extend border restrictions at 30-day intervals is untenable for the communities that have been separated from family and unable to tend to their property for over three months,” the group argued.
In response to the letter, a spokesperson for the office of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that while conversations between Canada and the U.S. about the border are ongoing, “both sides agree that the current measures in place” have “worked well.”
“Our absolute priority is the health and safety of Canadians,” Katherine Cuplinskas said in an email. “That is why we want to be clear that decisions about Canada’s border are made by Canadians, for Canadians.”
Thousands tried to visit Canada despite COVID-19 border closure
Although the Canada-U.S. land border remains closed until at least Oct. 21, Canadians can still fly into the U.S. as long as they have not recently been to countries such as China, Brazil or the United Kingdom.
The government of Canada still emphasizes that all non-essential travel outside of Canada must be avoided. The government has made it clear on its website that people deciding to travel during the pandemic could not only put themselves and others at risk of being infected with the novel coronavirus, it could also result in them becoming stranded.
New fence being built on U.S/Canada border
— With files from Global News’ Kerri Breen and Sean Boynton
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Trump claims Canada wants U.S. border reopened – CTV News
U.S. President Donald Trump says that Canada wants to see the Canada-U.S. border reopened, but the federal government says it’ll make the decision based on public health advice.
“We’re looking at the border with Canada. Canada would like it open, and you know we want to get back to normal business,” Trump said outside the White House on Friday.
“We’re going to be reopening the borders pretty soon,” Trump said, adding that he thinks the U.S. is “rounding the turn” in that country’s still massive COVID-19 outbreak.
To date there have been more than six million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and more than 198,000 Americans have died. Over the course of the crisis there have been 141,565 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, and more than 9,000 deaths.
On Friday federal officials on both sides of the border announced that the Canada-U.S. border closure would be extended for at least another month, until Oct. 21.
The land border between the two countries has been closed to all non-essential travel since March 21, a move first made to limit the spread of the virus.
The agreement, as it stands, exempts the flow of trade and commerce, as well as temporary foreign workers and vital health-care workers such as nurses who live and work on opposite sides of the border.
Tourists and cross-border visits remain prohibited, though some restrictions on close family members have been eased allowing families to reunite, while others continue to call for further compassion for non-married couples and others who are still not permitted to cross.
Pandemic tensions have flared in Canada over prospective American visitors, some of whom have used loopholes in the rules to enter the country.
CTVNews.ca reached out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office for comment, and spokesperson Chantal Gagnon pointed to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s comments earlier on Friday about the continuation of the border restrictions.
“We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe,” Blair said in a tweet.
In the latest episode of CTV News’ podcast Trend Line, Chair of Nanos Research Nik Nanos said that “people in Canada see what’s happening in the United States, and they have significant concerns about the risks to Canadians because of the pandemic.”
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