OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government began preparing for a possible pandemic as soon as it received the first alert about a mysterious cluster of pneumonia cases in China on New Year’s Eve.
Trudeau is defending his government against accusations it didn’t act fast enough to warn Canadians about the danger COVID-19 posed to their health and the economy.
This comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is accused of downplaying the danger of the novel coronavirus while privately saying it was much worse than the regular flu.
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says there was a lot of work done in January and February, including getting labs ready to test for COVID-19.
She says the risk for transmission within Canada did remain low until early to mid-March but things with this pandemic changed very quickly after that.
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu told Canadians as late as March 10 the risk in Canada was low, and within a week much of the country was on lockdown.