Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on September 12, 2020
In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement today:
“There have been 135,626 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,163 deaths. 88% of people have now recovered. Labs across Canada tested an average of 47,806 people daily over the past week with 1.1% testing positive.
As public health authorities and Canadians continue with collective efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, we are closely monitoring disease trends to inform, adjust and adapt public health actions that are essential for interrupting new chains of transmission. However, public health actions aren’t enough on their own. Keeping the infection rate low to maintain the epidemic on the controlled, slow burn track requires the continued commitment of all Canadians. We need to all work together if we are to keep our social, economic and educational spaces open and protect our public health and health system capacity through the fall and winter.
In flattening the national curve, Canadians have demonstrated the power of personal protective measures. During these months, we’ve also had to learn some epidemiology concepts to recognise the warning signs that COVID-19 might try to make a comeback. In recent weeks, we have been watching a slow but steady increase in the average daily case count. Here’s what is giving us cause for concern and how each of our actions matter in where things go from here:
An average of over 630 cases were reported daily across Canada over the past week. This is more than 20% higher than the week prior and more than 65% higher compared to 4 weeks ago, when an average of just over 380 cases were being reported daily. Currently, the four most affected provinces, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec are each reporting between 100 to more than 200 new cases per day.
- Why it’s a concern: increasing daily case counts signify heightened disease activity that pose a risk for accelerated or “exponential” epidemic growth to occur. This rate of growth, which we experienced during the first wave of COVID-19 in Canada is difficult to control and would take us off the slow-burn path.
- Why our actions matter: where disease activity is increased, exponential growth can be sparked by “super-spreading events” that occur when public health guidelines are not being adhered to. We’ve seen examples of this in Canada recently, related to private social gatherings and a variety of public indoor settings, where just one infected person with even mild symptoms can start a chain reaction of COVID-19 exposures and infections.
- What we can all do to keep epidemic growth in check: keeping up with proven public health practices, limiting our in-person close contacts to our small, consistent bubble and taking appropriate precautions and/or limiting time spent in settings and situations that have not implemented measures, protocols and policies to reduce the risk of exposure.
During the fall and winter, Canadians will need to be even more vigilant about following public health guidance, particularly as the cold weather shifts our activities indoors. In addition, as it is safest to keep to our existing close contacts bubble, indoor gatherings with extended family and friends, may not be right for every Canadian or every family.
See my updated COVID-19 information and resources backgrounder, including a “Quick Checks” guide to help you consider COVID-19 risks and precautions, including (A) your personal/close contacts risk factors and (B) risks factors posed by the setting/activity and (C) precautions you can take to reduce your risk of infection and unintentionally spreading the virus.”
Public Health Agency of Canada
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