Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, October 13, 2020 


There have been 182,839 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,627 deaths. Nationally, there are close to 19,000 active cases across the country. Labs across Canada have tested an average of over 77,000 people daily over the past reporting week, with 2.4% testing positive. While there are reporting limitations over the long weekend, based on the information available, Ontario and Quebec continue to report the majority of cases. In addition some of the smaller provinces including Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick reported notable increases in cases. 

Over the weekend, I enjoyed hearing about the many creative ways that Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving while keeping up with good public health practices. Thank you to all those who did their part by celebrating safely. Finding ways to stay connected socially while physically distanced will continue to be key to our work together for the ongoing management of COVID-19.

As we have said before, the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread quickly without us knowing it is present in our friend and family groups or in our communities. People who are infected can transmit the virus before they develop symptoms or without ever developing any symptoms at all. This is why we must all continue with good personal public health practices, even in areas of the country with few identified cases of COVID-19. As we have seen in recent weeks, a number of communities that did very well at preventing outbreaks in the spring, are now facing new clusters of cases. When new chains of transmission emerge, a community’s best defense is the individual actions of its community members to limit opportunities for the virus to spread further.

The actions of individuals are critical in areas with higher incidence. Public health authorities cannot manage COVID-19 resurgences on their own. While testing and tracing, together with isolation and quarantine remain foundational elements of the COVID-19 strategy, public health authorities cannot get ahead of the spread of the virus where cases have large numbers of contacts they may have been exposed.

As we said in our epidemiology and modelling update last Friday, we must all keep our number of contacts with others low, particularly in areas of high incidence. This will not be easy, and will require hard choices between what we need to do, and what we would like to do. But the more we can do our part to reduce the spread, the less local health authorities will have to rely on broader measures like business closures to reduce COVID-19 exposures and manage resurgences.

It is a fine balance but together, we can find ways to keep COVID activity at manageable levels and limit severe illnesses and deaths while also minimising disruption to society.

Thank you.

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