PM creates COVID-19 cabinet committee to deal with novel coronavirus

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has created a new cabinet committee to address the novel coronavirus outbreak and its impacts, as it continues to spread around the world, including in Canada.

Our country now has a total of 33 cases of COVID-19, with illnesses predominantly in Ontario and B.C.

“We need to keep moving forward in a way that keeps Canadians safe and keeps our economy rolling,” Trudeau said, adding this new cabinet committee will be focused on coordinating action around the COVID-19 outbreak from our healthcare system to our economy.

The committee will meet regularly and be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and include the minsters of health, finance and public safety. Its work will complement the work being done by the government’s incident response group.

Speaking in Quebec Trudeau said the government will also be focused on making sure Canadians get the information they need to stay safe.

“There’s a lot of misinformation circulating online,” the prime minister said. “We need to make sure that people make the right decisions.”

Meanwhile, the number of new infections is starting to drop in China, but countries like South Korea, Italy and Iran have become new hot spots.

The Italian government has ordered schools nation-wide to close for the next two weeks to limit the spread of the virus. Iran has opted for more drastic measures in an effort to stop transmission, reportedly releasing some 54,000 prisoners from crowded jails, provided they test negative for the virus and post bail.

The COVID-19 outbreak has had far-reaching impacts since it first popped up in December of last year. On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada followed in the footsteps of the U.S. Federal Reserve and slashed its key interest rate a half a percentage point. The move was made in an effort to dampen the economic damage being cause by the outbreak, which has left thousands of people dead and infected more than 92,000 people worldwide.

-With files from Kurtis Doering

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