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PM defends gov't response to COVID-19 outbreak, warns against knee-jerk reactions

Last Updated Mar 5, 2020 at 2:09 pm EST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the media while touring the Lion Electric bus factory, Wednesday, March 4, 2020 in St-Jerome, Que..THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Justin Trudeau is defending how his government has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak

The federal government has been questioned on its response, with a number of its allies taking measures like travel bans

The PM says Canada is ready for any and all scenarios in the continuing outbreak

TORONTO – As countries around the world try to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Canada’s prime minister is defending his government’s response to the outbreak.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is seized with the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, and added it will follow the best advice from experts.

“We recognize that there are countries that make different decisions,” he said. “The decisions we make are based on the best recommendations of the WHO and the tremendous health experts who work both in Canada and around the world.”

His comments came as critics questioned why Canada isn’t taking a stricter approach like some of its allies. Australia has banned foreign nationals from outbreak hotspots like China, South Korea, and Iran, while Italy closed all schools for two weeks. Britain, meanwhile, released a full action plan detailing its efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

Trudeau said his government is focused on measures that actually matter.

“Empowering Canadians to make the right decisions for their own health, for their family’s health, listening to experts working to coordinate with health authorities across the country, including in all provinces and territories,” he said.

Trudeau added that Canada is ready for any and all scenarios in the continuing outbreak, which has seen tens of thousands of people fall ill worldwide.

“Keeping Canadians safe needs to be done in the right way,” he told reporters Thursday. “There is a lot of misinformation out there, there is a lot of knee-jerk reaction that isn’t keeping people safe, that is having real challenging impacts on communities and on community safety.”

The prime minister announced this week a new cabinet committee, aimed at coordinating the federal government’s response to the outbreak, was set up.

The committee’s work will complement the work being done by the government’s incident response group, Trudeau said.

The number of cases in Canada continues to rise almost on a daily basis, though many have recovered since being diagnosed. The majority of reported infections have been confirmed in Ontario and B.C., and a few have been reported in Quebec.

No deaths have been reported in Canada as a result of the novel coronavirus, however, several people have died south of the border, mainly in Washington state.