COVID-19 cases in Canada remain on troubling course, Tam says
Canada remains on a troubling path for new COVID-19 infections as case counts continue to mount, the country's top doctor said Saturday.
The most recent infection rates indicate Canada is on track to hit as many as 10,000 new cases a day by next month, Dr. Theresa Tam said.
"If we continue on the current pace, our longer range models continue to forecast significant increases in daily case counts and estimate that there could be up to 10,000 cases reported daily by mid-December," Tam said in a written statement.
"Right now, we have a window of opportunity to act collectively together with public health authorities to bring the infection rate down to a safer trajectory."
Canada is currently recording caseloads at about half that level, with the most recent seven-day average standing at 5,335 between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26.
Tam said Canada is also averaging 76 deaths a day and more than 2,100 people in hospital.
People 80 years and older are experiencing Canada's highest COVID-19 death rate, and there are now more and larger outbreaks in long-term care facilities, hospitals, group living settings, Indigenous communities and remote areas, she said.
"Those developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies," Tam said.
Her assessment came as case counts continued to soar in numerous provinces.
Quebec set a new single-day record with 1,480 new infections Saturday as the provincial death toll crossed the 7,000 threshold.
Alberta also broke its own record, reporting 1,731 new cases of the virus on Saturday. It also counted five new deaths.
Ontario logged case numbers just shy of Friday's one-day record as it reported 1,822 new diagnoses in the past 24 hours.
Case numbers also jumped sharply in Manitoba, where officials recorded 487 new infections and 10 new deaths.
Among those who died was a boy under the age of 10, officials said, though they offered no other details.
Saskatchewan reported 197 COVID-19 cases and one death Saturday.
The province ordered the suspension of team sports earlier this week until Dec. 17 after confirmed COVID-19 cases among several minor and recreational hockey teams.
The Saskatchewan suspension applies to hockey and curling leagues and dance studios.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority posted notices Saturday of COVID-19 exposure risks at curling and recreation centres at Christopher Lake and Shellbrook. Those curling or socializing at either of the two facilities last month must self-isolate for 14 days, the health authority said.
In British Columbia, Fraser Health announced the closure of an elementary school in Surrey after confirming 16 COVID-19 cases.
Newton Elementary School will close for two weeks, said Fraser Health.
B.C. reported a daily record of 911 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province will update its numbers Monday.
People must continue to practise physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home as much as possible, said a newly appointed member of B.C. Premier John Horgan's cabinet.
"I just think it's important for us to be thoughtful and caring, but at the same time it's critical that people follow the rules because it's vital to be able to keep our schools open and keep as many of our business open as possible," said Ravi Kahlon, whose ministry includes economic recovery.
Figures from New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador show more modest increases of four and two cases, respectively.
Prince Edward Island reported two new COVID-19 cases, but they involved young males aged 10 and 19.
There were 14 new cases in Nova Scotia and five COVID-19 cases in Nunavut.
Tam redoubled her calls for Canadians to heed public health advice, limit their social interactions and practice physical distancing in a bid to bring surging case counts under control.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.