Feds will fund COVID-19 testing, tracing and data-sharing, Trudeau promises

Masks problematic for asthmatic autistic hearing-impaired people

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a national recommendation on when and where Canadians should be wearing face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is coming later today.

He says federal contact-tracers are helping public health authorities in Ontario and are ready to make thousands more calls a day when any province asks.

All of this could help provinces and territories with backlogs.

There are also other federal employees that can make 3,600 calls every day of the week.

Second, Canada must accelerate contact tracing.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Conservative MP Garnett Genuis were also in face masks on the Hill, though Genuis was the only one who kept his mask on while inside the House of Commons.

The prime minister said the government is still working to find out exactly what help the provinces need most.

Canadian health officials once recommended against the wearing of face masks but adjusted that advice in early April when it became clear COVID-19 can be spread by people who aren't showing symptoms.

Tools to aide in this have already been implemented in other countries, including South Korea and Australia.

"What we are recommending is that if you can not social distance by six feet then you should wear a mask, but if it inhibits your breathing, then you should not wear a mask", she said.

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"I think we all need to adjust to what works in our circumstances and keep safety at the forefront of what we're doing", he said.

However, serious privacy questions remain about using cell phone apps to monitor Canadians.

The federal government is working with the provinces and territories on getting them reagents and swabs to effectively manage future outbreaks.

That the app come with time-limit measures that see any personal information collected destroyed when the crisis ends. "Everything hinges on design, and appropriate design depends on respect for certain key privacy principles", said Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien in a statement.

A discarded face mask is shown on a street next to a mobile COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Sunday, May 17, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world.

The call from organizations like Autism Canada and Asthma Canada comes after the federal and provincial government recently advised people to wear masks in situations where physical distancing is not possible.

Trudeau noted that it's important for people across the country to know that.

In total, Canada has tested almost 1.4 million people, and as of Friday morning there have been more than 81,000 confirmed cases, of which half are already recovered.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Thursday that, despite the number of tests done, with a population of more than 37 million the true infection rate remains unknown, and is likely much higher than current data indicates.

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