Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged retail restraint on Saturday, cautioning Canadians against panic buying in response to the escalating COVID-19 outbreak.
His remarks came during an interview with CTV’s Question Period in which he discussed the national response to the pandemic that has now sickened more than 300 people across the country.
But amid discussion of testing protocols and possible border shutdowns, Trudeau offered some guidance to the many Canadians who have been flocking to grocery and drug stores in recent days, leaving a swath of empty shelves in their wake.
He said Canada’s supply chains to date have not been affected by the tightening border restrictions around the world, merchandise is still coming across the border, and there’s no need to start hoarding supplies.
“Yes, stock up a little bit so you don’t have to go to the store every two or three days like we usually do, but make sure that you’re not taking more than you need,” he said. “Your neighbours, or vulnerable people, will need to access supplies as well.”
Trudeau said a measured approach will be important in all aspects of life as Canadians navigate the outbreak, which was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization last week.
The number of cases continued to climb across the country on Sunday, with Ontario reporting 39 new cases, bringing the total 142. Health authorities in Quebec reported 11 new cases, while the Manitoba government reported three more in that province.
And authorities in Nova Scotia said the novel form of coronavirus had officially reached that province after three people tested positive for COVID-19.
The total number of cases in Canada currently stands at 313.
Most people diagnosed with COVID-19 experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority of those who contract the virus recover. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the risk to the general population is low.
However, for some, including Canadians aged 65 and over, those with compromised immune systems and those with pre-existing conditions, the illness can be much more severe. Among the Canadians diagnosed with the illness so far, fewer than 15 per cent have required hospitalization.
The growing number of cases has prompted widespread closures of schools and universities, mass cancellation of large-scale events, multimillion-dollar economic stimulus packages from governments, and the suspension of the Parliament until April 20
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2020.
Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press