Justin Trudeau creates cabinet committee on COVID-19

Justin Trudeau creates cabinet committee on COVID-19

In a press conference following the committee's first meeting, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said that since January there has been "scenario planning" underway to assess the global spread and "to give our government options as the situation evolves".

"This isn't a partisan issue, we aren't looking to light partisan fires on this", said Conservative health critic Matt Jeneroux.

"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.

The risk of community transmission of the virus and its accompanying respiratory disease, COVID-19, is still considered low in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The Prime Minister announced on March 4 that there is a new committee for COVID-19 that will work on the federal response to the virus.

Opposition critics say they have been left in the dark about the federal government's preparations for a potential outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Canada.

"Keeping Canadians safe needs to be done in the right way", he told reporters Thursday.

"That's why we put forward a committee that will be responsible for ensuring that Canadians have the right frame to make the good decisions for their families, for their communities", Trudeau said in St-Jerome, Que.

"We are here today to assure Canadians that the government is very aware of the broad economic and potentially social impacts of coronavirus", she said.

"We're seeing that in terms of tourism there's an impact, there's an impact on investment, on the airline industry, on the auto industry as well".

"He's like a big celebrity for us, like, he's the Prime Minister, but he's like a big celebrity", said Satvir Sekhon, a new Canadian citizen.

"There will be an impact and we're there to try to find solutions together with companies and communities".

She said the work public health officials have done so far and continue to do could prevent an outbreak from taking place during flu season when hospitals are already full.

As well Kirsty Duncan, who now has the position of Deputy House Leader but is a longtime politician and has a PhD, is being brought in to be a "core participant" despite not being a member of cabinet given her expertise on communicable diseases.

In Canada, 30 cases of the virus have been confirmed, with 20 cases reported in Ontario, nine in B.C. and one in Quebec.

There are now at least 90,870 confirmed cases in 72 countries, including almost 3,000 deaths, according to the latest numbers released by the World Health Organization.

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