OTTAWA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new measures Friday morning to mobilize manufacturers to quickly produce vital life-saving medical supplies against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
"We are launching Canada's plan to mobilize industry to fight COVID-19 to ensure that we can quickly produce here in Canada the things we need," Trudeau told a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, where he has been self-isolating after his wife tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
"This initiative will help companies that are already making things like masks, ventilators and hand sanitizer to massively scale up production," he said.
He stressed that his government will provide support for those who want to re-tool their manufacturing facilities to contribute to this fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.
Trudeau said his government is also creating new innovative procurement streams to allow more businesses to develop solutions and products Canadians need because of COVID-19. "We will expedite these streams so firms can get to work quickly and these products are ready to use as soon as possible."
Under the new measures, Canadian companies will be able to access funds through the Strategic Innovation Fund to retool to produce medical equipment and supplies. The National Research Council will also work with small- and medium-sized companies on health research to fight the COVID-19.
Trudeau also announced that the Canada-U.S. border will close to non-essential travel at midnight Friday and both countries will turn back asylum seekers crossing the border.
He said that Canadian airlines are working to help Canadians stranded abroad get home. The first flight will be picking up Canadians from Morocco this weekend.
As of Friday noon, Canada has confirmed 924 COVID-19 cases and 13 people died of the coronavirus.