Justin Trudeau has warned Canadians it is “too early” to plan travel this summer, even within the country, as the “very worrying” rise in variant COVID-19 cases is far from finished.
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“I know that there are plenty of people who are thinking about what they could do this summer, to resume trips, and family visits, but we are not there yet, obviously”, he said. he pronounced, specifying that the country was currently going through an “extremely serious” third wave.
Thus, two weeks after the start of spring, the prospects for a largely deconfined summer like that of last year appear increasingly blurry.
The models presented by the health authorities at the end of March predicted a real explosion of cases if the measures were relaxed.
“Even though the sun is shining and the weather is warming up, COVID-19 is not done with us yet. And that means we have to stand firm a little longer, ”the Liberal Prime Minister warned at a press briefing.
Several regions of the country are currently grappling with a marked increase in cases.
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford announced a month-long re-containment last week, with daily cases in the province hovering around 3,000 for the past five days, more than double the average number of cases at the same time on last month. Justin Trudeau and Mr. Ford have scheduled a meeting later in the day.
As for the vaccine passport, both Mr. Trudeau and the Minister of Health Patty Hajdu did not make any major announcements in this direction on Tuesday. The idea remains on the table, but the Prime Minister had already mentioned that the concept raised ethical questions.
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Mme Hajdu said discussions were taking place with other countries as to how the rules and documentation for international travel will be established in the future, but without explicitly talking about a “vaccination passport.”
The rules for international entry are already well established, but the Prime Minister has warned Canadians against non-essential regional travel.
“Now is not the time for Canadians to think about traveling,” Minister Hajdu summed up.
The border with the United States will remain closed in the short term, as no changes have been reported on this front by Mr. Trudeau.
While Canada is set to receive a total of 44 million doses of vaccine by the end of June, the country still lags significantly behind its allies.
As of Monday, the government has distributed more than 10 million vaccines to provinces and territories, while less than 7 million doses have been administered.
Asked whether the pace of vaccination was too slow to effectively curb the epidemic, Minister Hajdu recalled that the provinces are responsible for the vaccination strategy.
The Chief Hygienist of Canada, the Dre Teresa Tam, recalled that the strategy of Canada could not be based only on the speed of the vaccination, but that important sanitary restrictions are necessary to fight against the “team variants”.
By comparison, the United States vaccinated 32% of its population with at least one dose, compared to just over 15% in Canada. The difference is even more significant in people who received both doses of the vaccine, 19% in the United States against less than 3% in Canada.