Almost half of Canada’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 are now due to community spread, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Officials say that while risk varies between and within communities, the overall risk to Canadians is considered high.
“There is already a significant impact on our health care system,” reads Canada’s coronavirus update page. “If we do not flatten the epidemic curve now, the increase of COVID-19 cases could impact health care resources available to Canadians.”
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An epidemiological summary from the health authority shows that 48% of Canada’s probable exposure setting is from the community.
Of the remainder of cases, 42% come from travellers, 7% come from close contact with a traveller, and 4% have yet to be determined.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer, further supported these numbers, telling reporters on Monday that “community transmission is occurring” in the city at increasing rates.
“We all have a responsibility to protect ourselves and our families from this spread,” de Villa said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also continues to push for physical distancing and plead to Canadians to stay home.
“Enough is enough,” said Trudeau. “Go home and stay home… We can’t afford to stop now.”
On Tuesday morning he said that nearly one million Canadians would be returning home this week through repatriation flights and says that the message especially applies to those who have travelled.
Otherwise, stricter measures may need to be enforced.
“We will put more stringent measures in place if people do not follow this,” said the prime minister. “The decisions you make have serious consequences not just on the community but the entire country.”
As of 4:30 pm PDT on March 23, 2020, there were 2,091 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Canada and 24 deaths.
With files from Megan Devlin, Rumneek Johal, and Clarrie Feinstein.