Trudeau goes into self-isolation over COVID-19

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife are in self-isolation over COVID-19 concerns, which has forced the cancellation of an in-person meeting of Canada’s first ministers.

The Prime Minister’s Office says Sophie Gregoire Trudeau returned from a speaking engagement in the U.K. and began exhibiting mild flu-like symptoms, including a low fever late Wednesday night.

She sought immediate medical advice and is now awaiting test results for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus while in self-isolation at home, although her symptoms have subsided, the Prime Minister’s Office says.

Trudeau himself is not exhibiting any symptoms, but “out of an abundance of caution” has decided to work from home until the results come in.

Trudeau was to meet Thursday and Friday with Canada’s premiers in Ottawa, but his office says they will instead talk to each over the phone and postpone the in-person meeting.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have urged Canadians to take all necessary precautions and follow medical advice in order to stay safe. This is what the prime minister and his family are doing,” his office said in a statement.

Provincial and territorial leaders had been scheduled to meet for two hours late Thursday afternoon with Trudeau and national Indigenous leaders, followed by a day-long meeting of first ministers on Friday.

On Wednesday, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs cancelled his plans to attend the first ministers’ gathering after the first case of COVID-19 turned up in his province. He urged the prime minister to conduct the meeting by teleconference.

Yukon’s Sandy Silver had also cancelled plans to travel to Ottawa, after having attended a mining conference in Toronto, where one participant has since tested positive for the virus.

Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford also attended that conference.

Ford was already in the nation’s capital for the first ministers’ meeting. At a morning news conference Thursday, he called on all first ministers to put their differences aside and pull together to confront the health and economic fallout from the virus.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was also in self-isolation Thursday.

In a tweet, Singh said he’s at home “feeling unwell” and, although his doctor does not believe his symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, he was advised to “limit contact with the public until I am feeling better.”

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.