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Canada's Trudeau predicts "onerous winter", deaths over 10,000

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford visit 3M's Brockville facility

From Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday predicted a "hard winter" in the face of a second wave of COVID-19 infections to sweep much of the country, calling it a terrible national tragedy as the deaths hit the mark exceeded 10,000.

Canada's case numbers have risen, triggering new restrictions on public gatherings and indoor activities in several provinces. As of Tuesday, Canada recorded 2,674 new cases, while there are now 10,001 deaths for a total of 222,887 cases.

"This sucks. It really, really," Trudeau said at a press conference when asked about Canadians' fatigue after living in the pandemic for more than seven months.

The comments were a rare display of emotion and frustration from Trudeau, who has given regular nationally televised briefings to reassure Canadians that his liberal government is handling the crisis as best it can.

"What we are going through is a terrible national tragedy. Families have lost loved ones, have been devastated by these tragedies, and we need to know that more tragedies are to come," Trudeau said.

Quebec, Canada's second largest province, extended the closings of bars, gyms and dining rooms in hotspots like Montreal on Monday. New cases come in at around 1,000 a day.

The province, the hardest-hit region in the country, reported 963 cases and 19 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Alberta limited social gatherings to 15 people on Monday, and British Columbia also placed more restrictions on the number of people who could meet there at one time over the weekend after a surge in new cases.

"My 6-year-old asked me a few weeks ago, 'Dad, is COVID-19 forever?'" Trudeau said, saying it was "frustrating" to tell him he could do this Year not to do trick or treating. "It's really difficult."

"It's frustrating to know that if we're not really, really careful, there might not be the kind of family reunions we'd want for Christmas," he added.

But he also said it would get better and that the federal government would be there to help as he urged Canadians to do their part to limit the spread of the disease.

"It will be a hard winter," he said, "but spring and summer will come and they will get better".

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Steven Gregory