Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie, are in self-isolation after she fell ill and was tested for the coronavirus, while school was canceled in Ontario to limit the spread of the outbreak.
In a blow to hockey-obsessed Canadians, the National Hockey League suspended the rest of its regular season because of the outbreak, and the World Curling Federation canceled the Women's Curling Championship due to start Saturday in British Columbia. With the Canadian dollar at a four-year low against its U.S. counterpart and stocks plunging globally, the Bank of Canada announced the expansion of its bond buyback and term repo operations to inject liquidity into the market.
Justin Trudeau, 48, is exhibiting no symptoms. Working from home, he spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and joined a special Cabinet meeting on the coronavirus by phone, his spokesman said on Twitter.
"Having recently returned from a speaking engagement in London, UK, the prime minister's wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau began exhibiting mild flu-like symptoms including a low fever late last night," the prime minister's office said. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie Gregorie Trudeau has tested positive for novel coronavirus, as per latest reports.
Canada on Thursday reported 138 confirmed cases, a 34% increase from Wednesday and a three-fold gain from a week ago. There has been one death. With Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan reporting their first presumptive cases in the past 24 hours, seven of Canada's 10 provinces have recorded COVID-19 contagion.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Trudeau's situation was "a precautionary measure, and should Canadians find themselves in a similar situation, that is the recommendation." Ontario, the most populous province, reported 17 new cases overnight, a 40% jump. To contain the virus spread, Ontario authorities ordered all schools in the province to close from Saturday to April 5.
Alberta's chief medical officer, Deena Hinshaw, banned large gatherings of more than 250 people and canceled all international events in the province. Hinshaw also discouraged foreign travel and said anyone returning from abroad should self-isolate for two weeks.
Quebec, which has recorded 13 cases, has banned all indoor events with more than 250 people and said people returning from any foreign country should self-isolate for 14 days. Health and education public-sector workers who travel abroad will be required to self-isolate.
"I know I'm asking a lot," Quebec Premier Francois Legault told reporters. "But the situation is very critical." Separately, Canadian authorities canceled the JUNO music awards, Canada's version of the Grammys, citing virus concerns, and Toronto's annual St. Patrick's Day parade was suspended.
Trudeau's government committed C$1 billion ($723 million) on Wednesday toward bolstering the healthcare system and limiting the impact of the virus, while the Ontario government said on Thursday it had set aside C$100 million in "contingency funding".
On Thursday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the public health crisis alone would cost the country "well north of C$10 billion." Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he would not push back the presentation of the budget for the new fiscal year, due on March 30, despite concerns over the virus.
($1 = 1.3834 Canadian dollars)