COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations could increase across the country in the coming weeks, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer warned.
Dr. Theresa Tam issued the stark statement on Wednesday, noting that the number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase.
From October 28 to November 3, an average of 1,173 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day, including 226 of whom were treated in intensive care units, according to provincial and territorial data referred to in the statement. During the same timeframe, an average of 40 COVID-19-related deaths were reported daily.
“As hospitalizations and deaths tend to lag behind increased disease activity by one to several weeks, the concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity,” Tam said.
“As well, influenza and respiratory infections typically increase during the Fall and Winter, placing increased demands on hospitals. This is why it is so important for people of all ages to maintain public health practises that keep respiratory infection rates low.”
The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 3,150 new cases from October 28 to November 3, and close to 61,000 people tested, with 4.7% testing positive from October 25 to 31, according to the statement.
As activities move indoors during the colder weather, Tam advises Canadians to avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places where many people gather, and close contact situations.
“Canada needs a collective effort to support and sustain the public health response through to the end of the pandemic, while balancing the health, social and economic consequences,” Tam said. “To do this, we need to retake the lead on COVID-19, by each reducing our close contacts to the best of our ability and employing key public health practises consistently and with precision.”
To date, there have been 244,935 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 10,279 deaths.