Canada has avoided 'explosive outbreak' but still far from loosening pandemic controls: Tam
OTTAWA -- Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says daily information coming in from across the country about the rate of new COVID-19 cases indicates that the month spent under strong public health measures such as physical distancing has “prevented an explosive outbreak” in Canada, but we’re not out of the woods yet.
“Canadians have demonstrated what has worked to slow the spread of this disease, and that has kept our health system from being overwhelmed. There is no doubt that our sacrifices and everyday inconveniences over the past weeks have prevented an explosive outbreak in Canada, like the ones that have overwhelmed health-care systems in places like Italy, Spain, and New York,” Tam said during the federal update on the novel coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.
Tam cautioned that this news doesn’t clear the way for a loosening of restrictions, but is rather evidence that they need to remain in place.
As of midday Tuesday there were 38,206 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada and 1,831 deaths.
“All this tells us is that we can't be too confident. We can't let our guard down. And we can't afford any weak points in our system,” Tam said. “To get this right, there will be a need to learn as we go and evaluate, adjust and right the course, as we take cautious steps.”
She said she knows—especially with some provinces beginning initial discussions about what public health measures could be eased up in the weeks ahead—that getting back to some semblance of normalcy is on everyone’s mind.
“But there are some hard truths that haven't changed. The first is that this will be a marathon, and we are going to have to plan, pace ourselves and not take any sharp turns. The second truth is that there are still a lot of unknowns, and no 100 per cent proven path before us,” she said.
There are some aspects of the current situation Canadians should anticipate remaining in place for the foreseeable future, like the need to maintain two metres distance between people and to isolate at home if you are unwell with any COVID-19 symptoms.
As a result, she’s encouraging all sectors of society to start thinking now about how they could adapt their day-to-day activities to maintain physical distancing until there is a treatment or vaccine for the virus.
"I think for sure crowded conditions, mass gatherings are not in any of our near future. I think that is sort of pretty evident,” she said.
To-date over 565,000 people have been tested Canada-wide for COVID-19, with around 6.5 per cent testing positive, but Tam continues to say that the testing capacity and contact tracing is going to have to be beefed up considerably once public health measures begin to relax into a new normal, to prevent any future outbreaks from amplifying.