Canada's Trudeau predicts 'tough winter' and says pandemic 'sucks'


By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday predicted a "tough winter" as a second wave of COVID-19 infections engulfed much of the country, and he channeled public frustration, saying the pandemic "sucks" and calling it a horrific national tragedy.

Canada's case numbers have been rising, triggering new restrictions to public gatherings and indoor activities in several provinces. On Monday, Canada recorded 4,109 new cases, and there have now been nearly 10,000 deaths.

"This sucks. It really, really does," Trudeau said at a news conference when asked about the fatigue Canadians now feel after living amid the pandemic for more than seven months.

The comments mark a rare show of emotion and frustration from Trudeau, who has regularly given nationally televised briefings to reassure Canadians that his Liberal government is managing the crisis as best it can.

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

Quebec, Canada's second-most populous province, on Monday extended a shutdown of bars, gyms and restaurant dining rooms in hotspots like Montreal, with new cases coming in at about 1,000 per day.

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

"My six-year-old asked me a few weeks ago, 'Dad, is COVID-19 forever?'," the prime minister said, saying it was "frustrating" to tell him he could not go trick-or-treating this year. "This is really difficult."

"It's frustrating knowing that unless we're really, really careful, there may not be the kinds of family gatherings we want to have at Christmas," he added.

But he did also say things will get better and that the federal government would be there to help out, while urging Canadians to do their part to limit the spread of the disease.

"It's going to be a tough winter," he said, but "spring and summer will come and they will be better".

(Reporting by Steve Scherer, additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa, Allison Lampert in Montreal, Moira Warburton in Toronto, and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by David Gregorio)

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