OTTAWA – Canada crossed another discouraging threshold in the COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday, despite the country’s chief doctor saying there were hopeful signs that the numbers of cases and hospitalizations are gradually trending downward.
The national total of cases since the global health crisis began topped 800,000, led by daily reports from Quebec and Ontario that added 1,204 and 1,388, respectively, to the total. Federal government data shows Canada recorded a total of 801,057 infections and 20,702 deaths over the course of the pandemic.
It took Canada three weeks to add another 100,000 cases to its national list. The government reported just over 700,000 diagnoses on January 16.
Quebec, meanwhile, was ready to record its 10,000th disease-related death. The 27 deaths counted on Saturday brought the death toll in the province to 9,999.
At the same time, a statement by Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, that national surveillance data shows “hopeful signs of a decline in COVID-19 activity,” suggesting persistent public health restrictions are taking effect across the country.
“It is critical that strong measures are taken to maintain a steady downward trend,” she added.
“There is still a risk that trends will reverse rapidly, especially in areas of the country where there is increased, unchanged, or only minor decrease in COVID-19 disease activity.”
Tam said there are still outbreaks in high-risk environments and in vulnerable populations, including hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities and remote communities.
Tam reiterated her warning that new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 could rapidly accelerate transmission in Canada.
Your warning comes as several provinces prepare to relax tough public health measures that were put in place as the number of cases rose across the country.
Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford is due next week to reveal details of plans to reopen the economy following the nationwide shutdown that began December 26th. The provincial state of emergency declared on Jan. 12 expires on Tuesday, and a senior government source aware of the provincial plans told the Canadian press that the order is likely to expire as planned.
Quebec’s swaths – excluding Nunavik – have been subject to the toughest public health regulations in this province since early January. In some regions, the alert levels in some regions will go into effect on Monday.
Alberta announced on Saturday that restricted school and team sports for children and teenagers would be allowed to resume on Monday after it was announced late last month that children’s sports and performance activities could be resumed on that date as long as they are refer to the school program.
However, British Columbia officials bucked the trend, announcing on Friday that restrictions on social gatherings would be extended ahead of upcoming events such as the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Family Day and the New Year celebrations.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on February 6, 2021.