Remarks from the Deputy Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, October 27, 2020

Speech

There have been 220,213 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,973 deaths. Nationally, there are close to 26,000 active cases across the country. Based on the latest national data, labs across Canada have tested an average of close to 75,000 people daily, with just over 3.0% testing positive. Yesterday, a total of 4,109 cases were reported nationally; 1,686 of these cases were backlogged cases from the weekend and 2,027 were newly identified yesterday (excluding Alberta, which has not yet reported Monday cases nationally). This brings the average daily case count to almost 2,700 cases. There are also increase numbers of people experiencing severe illness. Over the past 7 days, there were on average almost 1,070 individuals with COVID-19 being treated in Canadian hospitals, including 224 in critical care and an average of 28 deaths were reported each day.

Though the pandemic continues to play out differently across Canada, there are many similarities when it comes to the factors that contribute to the spread of COVID-19.  During the spring wave, the virus was our biggest challenge - there were many unknowns, including what public health measures were most effective to bring the infection rate down to manageable levels. Now we have a much better understanding of how the virus behaves. Our challenge is in adapting our behaviour to not give this virus any opportunity to spread.

In the many areas where COVID-19 is resurging, there are outbreaks in settings like long-term care homes and other group living, working and learning environments. Public health is focussed on detecting these outbreaks, so they can act quickly to control the spread.

But these are not the only settings where COVID-19 is spreading. Community spread, from everyday activities to smaller and larger organised social gatherings, is contributing to the case load in municipalities across Canada. Let’s remember that the lower the level of disease activity in the community, the lower the risk of outbreaks in closed settings.

Dr. Tam and I have also said that cases reported today are a reflection of exposures and infections that occurred up to two weeks ago. In some areas, we are learning that gatherings during the Thanksgiving weekend contributed to the elevated case counts we are seeing today. Our actions matter.

The solution is simple, implementing it is difficult, but the choice is clear. We must consistently maintain effective public health measures; stay home if we have symptoms, even mild ones, wash our hands frequently, maintain physical distancing and wear a face mask as appropriate.  Letting down our guard and letting this virus win is not an option.

For more information on the risks of COVID-19 and ways to protect yourself and others, see the COVID-19 backgrounder.

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