Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to address Canadians today as COVID-19 cases climb across the country and provinces impose new restrictions to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam discussed the latest modelling with detailed projections on new infections during a news conference Friday morning.
CBC reported Thursday that COVID-19 could reach 60,000 cases a day by the end of December if Canadians increase their current level of contact with other people, according to modelling charts prepared by the Public Health Agency of Canada and seen by CBC News.
That number could be limited to 20,000 a day if Canadians maintain their current number of personal contacts, according to PHAC.
But to drive that number under 10,000 cases a day by the end of the year, Canadians would need to limit their interactions to essential activities while maintaining physical distancing and adhering to other public health guidelines.
“We are not on a good trajectory,” Tam said Friday. “I think across the board, across Canada, we have to say the time is now, with urgency, that we limit contacts. However that is being done at the local level, that is the underlying principle. Keep those contacts down by restrictions and of course each individual doing their work.”
‘This won’t be forever’
Tam said the caseload has already surpassed the peak during the first wave of the virus, and it is spreading across a wider geographic area of Canada.
She said the rise in infections is causing a strain on hospitals and health-care systems, pushing some to capacity and leading to the postponement of other medical procedures.
Tam asked people to take precautions during the upcoming holiday season by following public health guidelines, limiting outings and keeping in-person activities to household members where possible.
“This won’t be forever. Recently there has been some really good news about vaccine development. Keep this beacon of hope in mind as we all come together, apart, to do what is needed,” she said. “Right now every effort you make as an individual matters.”
Health Minister Patty Hajdu also urged vigilance.
“The more people who get this disease, the harder it is to get it under control,” she said.
Hajdu said the federal government has been working to support the provinces and territories with “surge demands” with necessary supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. But she said front-line workers, pharmacy workers and personal support workers are under strain after working flat out for several months.
“That is a limiting factor for all of us,” she said.
More, and larger, outbreaks
Trudeau and opposition leaders met with Tam and her deputy Dr. Howard Njoo late Thursday to discuss the new modelling.
Trudeau will address Canadians Friday about the worsening situation at 11:30 a.m. ET from outside Rideau Cottage, returning to the doorstep media conferences that characterized the early days of the pandemic.
The modelling predicts that the number of COVID-19 deaths could rise from the current level of slightly more than 11,100 to just more than 12,100 by the end of the month if Canadians maintain their current level of contact with other people.
The modelling says that there are more outbreaks now, those outbreaks are larger — more than 50 cases each — and they are affecting long-term care homes.
It also says that Indigenous communities and schools are also seeing rising caseloads and that the situation is set to get worse in all regions except the Atlantic provinces and parts of the North unless action is taken.