by Michel COMTE / Eric THOMAS
His children play with Lego in their rooms, his wife spends a lot of time on the phone: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday offered a glimpse into the Canadian first family’s COVID-19 quarantine while reassuring an anxious nation that he continues to govern.
“I want to be clear. I have no symptoms. I’m feeling good. Technology allows me to work from home,” Trudeau told a news conference outside his official residence in Ottawa.
Standing alone in front of the small brick cottage, journalists giving him several meters (yards) clearance, the prime minister spoke publicly for the first time since his wife Sophie tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The announcement was made late Thursday that the 48-year-old Canadian leader, his 44-year-old wife and their three children, aged 6-12, would be confined for 14 days to the house a few kilometers (miles) from parliament.
Telegoverning, he said “is an inconvenience and somewhat frustrating.”
“We’re all social beings after all, but we have to do this.”
Public health officials have asked all Canadians to self-isolate if they exhibit any flu-like symptoms and get tested for COVID-19, especially if they recently travelled outside the country.
“We are following medical advice as should all Canadians,” Trudeau commented.
Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau started feeling flu-like symptoms including a low fever late Wednesday after flying back from a speaking engagement in London.
“Sophie’s symptoms remain mild,” said her husband. “We are thinking about all the families across the country who have received the same diagnosis, but we’re in good hands.”
– ‘A little bit concerned’ –
Working from home, Trudeau has maintained a busy schedule: phone calls to Emmanuel Macron, Donald Trump, Giuseppe Conte, Canadian provincial and territorial leaders, and others.
He has remained in contact with his cabinet and officials, unveiling on Friday a slew of measures and money to combat the spread of the virus.
“I’ve been very busy both yesterday and today. I’ll continue to work from home remotely to do the important things that need to be done to keep Canadians safe,” he said.
A journalist asked if the prime minister fell sick after contracting the virus from his wife, was there a contingency plan?
“There have always been contingency plans for ministers who are sick or even a prime minister who has fallen ill,” Trudeau replied.
Another reporter asked how the prime minister and his family were coping under the circumstances.
“Most of the morning the kids have been playing with Lego and my wife has been on the phone to friends and family,” he said, adding: “I have been on the phone with President Macron, with my cabinet and officials.”
And what about the kids? Is anyone in the family worried about their health?
“We are obviously having some very good conversations with our kids about what’s going on, about how not to be overly concerned, but to be a little bit concerned, which is obviously why they are home today with us,” Trudeau said.