We can "own" this pandemic if young Canadians step up: Dr. Theresa Tam

Sep 22 2020, 4:07 pm

Canada’s top doctor is calling on young people to redouble their efforts in the fight against COVID-19 as cases across the country increase, with many of the new infections in people under 40.

Dr. Theresa Tam gave a special callout to young Canadians at her epidemiological modelling update on Tuesday, saying the country needs their “ingenuity” and “drive.”

“This is your generation, this is your time. Let’s work together and own this pandemic,” she said.

Young people were key in bringing the first coronavirus wave under control in the spring, and she said they need to step up once again for Canada to avoid a massive resurgence.

Her message came during an update where the latest national coronavirus numbers painted a grim picture.

This week’s average for new cases across the country was 1,058 per day, compared with 380 new cases per day when Tam gave her last epidemiological update.

Canada’s reproduction number, which refers to how many people each coronavirus patient infects, has now reached 1.4. That means every 100 people with coronavirus are going on to infect 140 people, so the number of infections will increase with each generation.

Tam, along with other public health experts, say the reproduction number needs to stay below 1 if the virus is to be snuffed out.

More and more young people are coronavirus patients now compared to in the spring, when it hit elderly people hard.

Young people are more apt to spread coronavirus since they’re more mobile and socially connected, Tam said. The more cases there are, the more likely it is the virus could spill over from young people to those more vulnerable to complications.

She also called on people to practice public health measures and reduce their social contacts in the coming days and weeks, warning that failure to do so could result in an even stronger wave of infections compared to in the spring.

“If we keep our same rate of contacts, the epidemic is forecast to come back,” she said.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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