Canadians have to tamp down COVID-19 to save Christmas, PM Trudeau says

OTTAWA, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Canadians have time to tamp down the surging second wave of COVID-19 by Christmas if they act now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday, as some provinces impose new health restrictions.

“If you want to gather with your loved ones at Christmas, even in a restrained way, we’re going to have to make sure that we change the trendlines on this COVID crisis right now,” Trudeau said in an interview with 980 CFPL radio in London, Ontario.

In Canada, coronavirus cases rose by more than 5,500 on Thursday from the previous day, and the average daily increase over the previous week was 4,015.

On Tuesday Trudeau scolded provincial leaders, who are in charge of introducing health restrictions, for acting too slowly to impose new measures during the second wave. That day, Manitoba announced a major shutdown.

Saskatchewan’s top health officials are expected to announce additional public health measures later on Friday as transmission spikes there.

On Thursday, Alberta banned group fitness and team sports for two weeks in some regions. Ontario, the most populous province, indicated it may have to suspend non-essential surgeries again as surging coronavirus cases fill hospital intensive care units.

Trudeau spoke to provincial leaders on Thursday evening, assuring them of the federal government’s support to soften the economic blow of any lockdowns.

“The federal government will continue to be there to support (provinces and territories) and encourage them to make those difficult decisions to shut things down now so things don’t get too bad in the coming months,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau also said the federal government would announce “hundreds of millions of dollars” in support for job training in Ontario later on Friday. (Reporting by Steve Scherer; additional reporting by Julie Gordon; editing by Jonathan Oatis)