OTTAWA (Reuters) – 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 U.S. effort.
Canada – with a population one-tenth the size of the United States – has so far recorded 8,711 deaths and 106,167 cases and Trudeau said the situation was stabilizing, although some hot spots remained.
In contrast, the United States has recorded more than 3 million cases and 131,336 deaths. Authorities have reported alarming upswings of daily case loads 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 neighbor,” Trudeau told a briefing, saying Canada’s success would help efforts to restart the economy.
Canada and the United States 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 July 17.
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 U.S. 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 United States and Mexico.
Trudeau, who would have had to enter a 14-day quarantine period on his return, repeated concerns about the possible imposition of U.S. tariffs on Canadian exports of aluminum.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Bernadette Baum)