Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer is warning that the country could see up to 577,000 COVID-19 cases by December 25.
On Friday, Canada released its new COVID-19 modelling and epidemiology data that shows where the virus could be heading.
In their short-term forecasting, health officials say Canada may see 531,300 to 577,000 cases and 14,410 to 14,920 deaths by December 25. Dr. Theresa Tam noted that the forecasts continue to be accurate.
In the last seven days, an average of 6,500 cases and 100 deaths have been reported each day nationally. Canada has reported 100,000 new virus cases in the last three weeks.
“The resurgence of COVID-19 in Canada clearly shows that the current daily case count far exceeded the peak of the first wave,” Tam said.
“There is little indication this upward trajectory will change without further intensifying public health measures.”
The numbers presented in the long-term forecast, which show how the epidemic could evolve over the next few months, have dropped in the last two weeks. This is due to more stringent controls being implemented in some provinces.
If Canadians don’t “significantly” reduce the number of people they come into contact with each day, the data forecasts that we could see 12,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by the beginning of January, with increased hospitalizations and deaths following.
If contacts increase, the number jumps to 30,000 daily cases.
The country is aiming for the blue line of the trajectory. By reducing our daily contacts to only essential activities, the data forecasts that Canada will see fewer than 5,000 cases per day by January.
“[The reduction] demonstrates that when public health authorities and individuals work together to implement and adhere to more stringent controls, we can bend that curve,” Tam said.
“But, we have yet to see the kind of sustained decline in daily case counts that would indicate we are bringing the pandemic under control.”
The updated modelling shows that the current growth of the virus is being driven by British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. The provinces have all seen their highest single-day case count in recent weeks.
Hospitalizations have increased in the aforementioned provinces as well, particularly in British Columbia.
The percentage of people testing positive has risen to 6.5% nationally, a sign that transmission has increased. Each new case is being spread to more than one person, keeping the epidemic in a “growth pattern.” The WHO recommends that countries keep the positivity rate under 5%.
On Wednesday, Health Canada approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate for use.
Tam called the decision “the best news we have heard for some time,” but reminded Canadians that the arrival of vaccines does not mean that the pandemic has ended.
To date, Canada has seen 442,069 COVID-19 cases and 13,109 deaths.