Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, November 24, 2020


There have been 337,555 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 11,521 deaths. Nationally, there are close to 57,000 active cases across the country. Over the past week, labs across Canada have tested an average of over 75,500 people daily, with 7.6% testing positive.

Yesterday 5,713 cases were reported nationally. In addition, there were over 1,300 new cases reported for Saturday and Sunday. This brings the average daily case count to over 5,050 cases for the past week. The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase. Over the past 7 days, there were on average over 2,000 individuals with COVID-19 being treated in hospitals, including over 415 in critical care and an average of over 70 deaths were reported each day. 

Following last week’s epidemiology and modelling update, it’s clear that we need to strengthen our response. Specifically, to bring down the rapid rate of growth, we need to combine a range of public health measures with tightened prevention practices by individual Canadians. In many ways, we have more to bring to this round of the effort in terms of experience, tools and knowledge. But things are different this time; there are more regions of the country with high infection rates and it is clear that COVID-19 knows no bounds. Communities, jurisdictions and whole regions that were little, if at all, impacted in the past are now seeing community spread. Some areas are experiencing very high rates of infection for the first time. Nunavut has implemented territory-wide restrictions, some of the Atlantic provinces have seen an increase in cases, and the Prairie provinces now have some of the highest infection rates in the country and are feeling a heavy strain on their healthcare systems.

There has also been a change in the age trend. In the early days of this resurgence, we saw high rates of infection among young adults. Now we are seeing an increase in rates in older adults aged 80 years and older, who are at much higher risk of serious complications and death.

Although it is still too early to know the impact of strengthened public health measures implemented in areas across Canada, we do know from the experience of many other countries that to be successful a package of measures is required and it’s not one size fits all. Most importantly, we know that public participation is vital to success.

That’s why as public health authorities implement measures to interrupt spread, Canadians are being called upon. It is safest for all of us to limit errands and outings to just the essentials, limit in-person activities to just our existing household members and keep up with key prevention practices: stay home if you have symptoms, practise physical distancing and frequent handwashing, wear a face mask in indoor public places, and avoid the 3Cs, crowded places, closed spaces and close contact situations, whenever you can.

As we head into the holiday season, I know that things will be different and difficult choices will be required. Let’s focus on the things that we can do, including doing our utmost to protect our families, friends and communities.

Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others.

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