The federal government and the United States are communicating “almost daily” in a collective effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus north of the border and across North America, Canada’s foreign affairs minister said Monday.
Francois-Philippe Champagne struck a diplomatic tone as he described a “science-first” approach that includes the government’s Five Eyes security partners — the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand — to keep COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, from running amok across the continent.
“We have been guided by science, we have been guided by the World Health Organization advisory and we’re continuing to work with our Five Eyes partners,” Champagne said Monday. “I would say our relationship and our interaction (with the U.S.) is going well — it’s almost daily at all levels of government — to make sure that we protect the safety of all Canadians.”
The muted statement stood in stark contrast to growing alarm in the U.S., where critics fear U.S. President Donald Trump and members of his administration are more preoccupied with managing the political fallout in an election year than they are with the crisis itself.
“The notion that we can’t do our day jobs and work on this very serious issue is absurd,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told a conference call. “We’re taking COVID-19 incredibly seriously, and our teams, our public-health agencies, are actively working as we sit here and also trying to reform the entire health-care system.”
Champagne said the U.S. asked for Canada’s help repatriating some of the 237 Canadians from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which docked Monday in Oakland, Calif. Those who are healthy will be quarantined at a military base in Trenton, Ont., while any Canadians who test positive will stay behind and undergo treatment in the United States.
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