‘We have to do this’: PM Justin Trudeau warns Canadians not to travel abroad and tells of isolation after wife’s coronavirus diagnosis

Ian Young

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced sweeping measures to control the spread of Covid-19 in an address to the nation on Friday, as he described the personal impact of his wife being diagnosed with the disease a day earlier.

Trudeau said he was “feeling good” and had no symptoms of the illness himself.

“Sophie’s symptoms remain mild; she will remain in isolation for the time being,” he said of his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.

In new measures against the disease, Canada has shut down parliament, is advising against all non-essential travel outside the country, and is limiting inbound flights.

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau at a rally for her husband, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in October. Photo: The Canadian Press via AP

The Prime Minister’s Office had announced on Thursday that Grégoire Trudeau came down with flu-like symptoms after a trip to London and had tested positive for the disease.

In his address from a lectern outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Trudeau said he would remain in self-isolation for two weeks.

“I want to be clear: I have no symptoms, I am feeling good,” he said.He described his isolation as “inconvenient and somewhat frustrating”.

Wife of Canadian PM Trudeau tests positive for coronavirus

“But we have to do this … We are following medical advice, as should all Canadians.”

Trudeau said his wife was in medical quarantine, while he and the couple’s three children were in self-isolation.

“Most of the morning the kids have been doing Lego … my wife has been on the phone to friends and family,” he said, without saying specifically whether Grégoire Trudeau was in Rideau Cottage too.

The Trudeaus at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in September. Photo: Agence France-Presse

Trudeau said he had not been tested for Covid-19, on the advice of his doctors, because he showed no symptoms of the disease.

“It was explained to me that as long as I don’t show any symptoms at all, there is no value in having me tested,” he said.

“Anyone I engaged with this week has not been put at risk,” he added.

On matters of policy, the Canadian government is now “recommending that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel outside the country”, Trudeau said.

Authorities also want the cancellation of all large events like concerts. Transport Minister Marc Garneau said cruise ships with more than 500 people would not be able to dock in Canada until July 1.

Overseas flights into Canada would be limited to a small number of airports in the country, although these were not immediately identified, and there would be more screenings of passengers for symptoms of the illness.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves Rideau Cottage to deliver an address to the nation in Ottawa on Friday. Photo: Reuters

On Thursday, British Columbia had said that anyone who travelled internationally from BC would be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.

That requirement included travellers using British Columbia’s land borders to drive into the US. Day trips to buy cheaper groceries and petrol in Washington state are common for many residents of BC.

Later in the day, Trudeau added, Finance Minister Bill Morneau would announce a “significant fiscal stimulus” to help offset the economic carnage triggered by the pandemic.

Earlier, chief public health officer Theresa Tam said 157 people have tested positive for the virus in Canada. More than 15,000 people have been tested.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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