The Canadian prime minister declined an invitation to Washington, D.C., this week
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Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) and President Donald Trump in 2017

A month after Justin Trudeau went silent in his response to President Donald Trump's handling of George Floyd protesters, the Canadian prime minister had some choice words for the White House's approach to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We were able to control the virus better than many of our allies, particularly including our neighbor,” Trudeau told reporters on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The 48-year-old leader held a press conference after declining the Trump administration's invitation to come to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the start of a North American trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador attended, but Trudeau cited scheduling issues.

"We wish the United States and Mexico well at Wednesday's meeting," the prime minister's office told CNN. "While there were recent discussions about the possible participation of Canada, the Prime Minister will be in Ottawa this week for scheduled Cabinet meetings and the long-planned sitting of Parliament."

Trudeau's critical comments come as the U.S. passed 3 million confirmed cases of the virus, according to a New York Times tracker following the available data. More than 131,000 people have died in the U.S.

"This global pandemic hit all of us, not just here in this country but across the world," Trump re-election campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox News this week.

However, the administration has argued the president's much-scrutinized response has saved countless lives even as cases are now spiking in parts of the country and there have been widespread issues with testing and other controversies.

Last weekend, President Trump falsely claimed 99 percent of virus cases were "totally harmless," which his press secretary defended on Monday.

"The president was noting the fact that the vast majority of Americans who contract coronavirus will come out on the other side of this," Kayleigh McEnany told reporters then. "Of course, he takes this very seriously. Of course, no one wants to see anyone in this country contract COVID, which is why the administration has fought hard to make sure that's not the case with our historic response effort."

Canada — which has a fraction of the U.S. population — also has a fraction of its cases and deaths.

The country had 106,167 total confirmed cases of the COVID-19 respiratory illness and 8,711 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the Times.

"We’ve been focused on keeping you safe and getting you the support you need since the beginning of this pandemic, and this morning I’m giving an update on where we are and the road ahead," Trudeau tweeted before he addressed reporters outside his Ottawa residence on Wednesday.

Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump
Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau together in Quebec City in 2018.
Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) and President Donald Trump together in 2017.

Trudeau's wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for the virus in mid-March following a trip to the United Kingdom.

She had attended a mid-March charity event in London before global isolation set in and international travel was restricted, and she was photographed with Idris Elba at the event. Days later, they both tested positive.

Soon after, the U.S. and Canada agreed to close its border.

The Canadian prime minister would have had to quarantine for 14 days upon returning to his country, if he had accepted the invitation to D.C. on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

Last week, Trudeau said he was still determining whether it made "sense" for him to travel to meet with his U.S. and Mexican counterparts, saying that he and other Canadian officials were "concerned about the health situation and the coronavirus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries."

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Canadian Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo echoed those same reservations while addressing Canada's plans to continue limiting the spread of the virus and its impact on its people.

“If we relax too much or too soon," Njoo said, "the epidemic will most likely rebound, with explosive growth as a distinct possibility."

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