COVID-19 cases 'spiking massively' PM says, as modelling shows Canada on a grim path

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OTTAWA — Canada is far from flattening the COVID-19 curve, and the severity of the pandemic has now surpassed the peak of infections during the first wave of the national health crisis, according to new national modelling.

This forecast is prompting Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam to say there’s “urgency” to get the situation under control, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resume his Rideau Cottage addresses.

“I don’t want to be here this morning, you don’t want me to be here this morning, but here we are again. The cases across the country are spiking massively,” Trudeau said Friday.

“We’re really at risk of seeing caseloads go up and hospitals get overwhelmed, and more loved ones dying. So we need to do everything we can, right now, to slow the spread of COVID-19, to stop this spike in its tracks,” he continued.

 

 

The grim new projections show that if people increase their contacts — such as gathering for Christmas — the country could see upwards of 60,000 new daily cases in December.

New projections released on Friday show that, in the short term, Canada is projected to hit between 366,500 to 378,600 total cases, and between 11,870 to 12,120 deaths by Nov. 30.

“The national epidemic curve shows that case counts have far surpassed peak levels seen during the first wave,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said during a briefing on the modelling Friday.

“An average of about 4,800 cases are now being reported daily. Moreover, epidemic growth is continuing at rapid pace, and about 15 per cent more daily cases are reported this week, compared to the last.”

The projections also indicate that, even under current rates of contacts, into December the country could be recording 20,000 cases a day. In order to drop the rate of spread enough to begin slowing the epidemic’s growth, Canadians need to reduce their number of contacts and stay home as much as possible, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Friday.

“Think about the choices that you're making carefully, because lives actually depend on it: Is my travel essential? Do I need to go out today? Can I reduce my shopping time? Do I need to have that dinner? This will be especially hard as holiday season approaches, but I know that we can be creative in the way that we stay connected more safely,” she said, noting as well that the federal government has been building up capacity to help provinces with surge demands such as hospital overcapacity, which is becoming a reality in some areas.

The modelling shows that instead of flattening the curve, national daily case counts are “increasing significantly,” and rapid growth is occurring in several provinces because each new case in Canada is spreading the infection to more than one other person.

“The vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to infection… There is urgency to quickly bring infection rates down across the country,” Tam said.

Based on the modelling presentation prepared by the Public Health Agency of Canada, more high-risk adults and seniors are contracting the virus at higher rates; the number and size of outbreaks are increasing, including in long-term care homes and Indigenous communities; and hospitalizations and deaths are increasing.

“Keep to your household. Household doesn’t mean your university student son who is living somewhere else, household means the people that you’ve been living with in the last 14 days. Keep to those right now, because that is going to reduce the contact rates substantially,” Tam said.

PM WORKING FROM HOME

After getting an advance look at the seriousness of the deadly health crisis on Thursday afternoon, Trudeau resumed his national addresses from his residence: Rideau Cottage.

Speaking to the latest national outlook, Trudeau renewed his plea for people to stay home by doing that himself. He plans to work from home as much as possible, and will address Canadians again from the front steps of his home next week.

Facing questions over the last few weeks about whether it’s time for national intervention after imploring premiers to “do the right thing” and implement shut downs in hard-hit regions, Trudeau has said the federal government is ready to help provide whatever supports are required, but warned those resources are limited.

The prime minister has said he knows people are trying to find a balance between adapting to the now months-long reality of living life differently due to the pandemic, and not becoming complacent with the personal and societal precautionary measures in place.

However, as the latest modelling presentation reads: “A stronger response is needed now to slow the spread of COVID-19.” It’s a message that has been shared over the last few modelling updates, indicating the public health measures and restrictions taken so far, are not making enough of an impact.

Federal COVID-19 modelling
Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

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