Canada handled the novel coronavirus outbreak better than many of its allies, including the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, in a rare public comment on the faltering US effort.
Canada – with a population one-tenth the size of the US – has so far recorded 8,711 deaths and 106,167 positive cases and Trudeau said the situation was stabilising, although some hot spots remained.
In contrast, the US has recorded more than three million cases and 131,336 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Authorities have reported alarming upswings of daily caseloads in roughly two dozen states over the past two weeks.
“We were able to control the virus better than many of our allies, particularly including our neighbour,” Trudeau told a briefing, saying Canada’s success would help efforts to restart the economy.
Canada and the US have blocked nonessential travel between the two nations since March and are discussing whether to extend the ban when it expires on July 21. Canadian health officials said the death toll could hit 8,900 by mid-month.
Deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo said the outbreak was largely under control, while stressing measures such as contact tracing and quarantine would still be essential.
“If we relax too much or too soon, the epidemic will most likely rebound, with explosive growth as a distinct possibility,” he told a separate news conference.
Although Trudeau’s relations with US President Donald Trump have been good over the last 18 months, he skipped a Washington meeting on Wednesday to herald the start of a new continental trade agreement with the US and Mexico.
Trudeau, who would have had to enter a 14-day quarantine period on his return, repeated concerns about the possible imposition of US tariffs on Canadian exports of aluminum.
Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador met at the White House on Wednesday for bilateral talks and a working dinner. In Washington, DC, Lopez Obrador laid a wreath at a statue of Benito Juarez, president of Mexico from 1858 to 1872, and visited the Lincoln Memorial – two symbols of long-standing relations between Mexico and the US.