Normal life won’t return to Canada until a vaccine is developed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his daily update from Ottawa Thursday (April 9).
Trudeau said a vaccine would take time to develop and physical distancing will continue for “months” in order to keep infections and deaths down during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier Thursday morning, federal health officials released COVID-19 scenarios that showed Canada could keep deaths under 22,000 with strong containment measures.
A vaccine, Trudeau noted, might not come for between a year and 18 months – the same amount of time until things return to normal.
“We need to continue to listen to experts on next things we can do… to have the minimal impact on Canadians,” he said.
At a later press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government “just can’t say” when the border would reopen. It was was shut to most international travel on March 16 and to non-essential travel to the U.S. on March 21.
Freeland said “it would be foolhardy in the extreme” to make any predictions.
Speaking on the country’s financial situation, the prime minister said he hopes to return to the economy to a “certain sense” of normalcy in the coming months.
“Our country will come roaring back,” he said.”
Trudeau spoke on the same day that unemployment data was released for March, showing that more than one million people lost their jobs and the unemployment rate jumped to 7.8% – a figure not seen since October 2010.
He said 4.6 million claims have been processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Treasury Board president Jean-Yves Duclos said five million claims total had been submitted for EI or CERB since March 15.
Chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam asked Canadians to treat the upcoming long weekend as a “staycation for the nation,” and stick to celebrating virtually with those outside their household.
More to come.