Editor’s note: These numbers will continue to update as they are confirmed by Global News. Graphics can take up to 10 minutes to update following number changes.
- As of March 31, there are 7,722 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the illness caused by the novel coronavirus — in Canada, according to Health Canada and provincial health officials. A total of 516 of those cases are people who have recovered, and 89 people who have died.
- Ontario announced 260 new cases on March 31, bringing the total number of diagnoses to 1,966, a 15.2 per cent increase in cases from the day before. Five-hundred and thirty-four of those cases are now resolved, meaning patients are no longer infectious.
- Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed to Global News the first COVID-19-related death in the province on March 30.
- On March 30, Quebec announced new cases, bringing the total to 3,430. To date, the province has had 25 deaths due to the virus.
- All non-critical businesses in Manitoba will close on Wednesday, the province announced. New cases of the coronavirus increased from 69 to 83.
- Saskatchewan announced the first deaths in the province . One death was related to travel and both victims were in their 70s, according to the provincial government.
- British Columbia’s total was raised to 970 following an announcement of 86 new cases on March 30, along with two new deaths. The province’s death total is now at 19. One of those deaths was a man who died at home and not in a health-care facility, the first such case in the province.
- On Monday, Alberta reported another five deaths from the virus, along with 29 newly confirmed cases. The additional cases bring province’s total to 690, and eight deaths related to the virus.
- Two new cases of the virus were announced in New Brunswick, bringing the provincial total to 68.
- P.E.I. announced seven new cases that include a person under the age of 20.
The chart below only includes confirmed cases, not presumptive cases. To see all the presumptive cases in the country, see Health Canada’s chart here.
What do the newest numbers tell us?
A steady increase in numbers shows the novel coronavirus is spreading quickly across Canada.
Roughly half of Canada’s cases are the result of community transmission, said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer. at a press conference on March 24.
Data provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada analyzed 1,352 cases and found that 53 per cent of them were spread within the community, 44 per cent were the result of travelling or close contact with a traveller and three per cent had results pending.
Community transmission means the disease is being passed on and creating cases that aren’t linked to travel or a known confirmed case. This spread can be difficult to track, especially when not everyone with COVID-19 may get tested and many do not show symptoms.
The number of novel coronavirus cases in Canada is expected to rise as more people are tested, Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist based out of Toronto General Hospital, told Global News in a previous report.
As the U.S-Canada border closed on March 20, new cases likely won’t be important and will be the result of community spread, said Bogoch.
Tam called the increase of prominent community transmission of COVID-19 in Canada a “fundamental shift in our epidemiology.”
Those with milder symptoms are more likely to spread the virus in a community setting, as they may not know they have the disease, explained Bogoch. This is why social distancing is important, as you could be unintentionally passing COVID-19 on to others, he said.
“We’ve been hearing about what we need to do for weeks now. It’s been over a week. We know exactly what it is to do to avoid getting this infection. We know how to prevent ourselves from getting this infection. We know how to prevent transmission in community settings,” he said.
Differences in infection rates per province
Although Quebec currently has the highest number of reported cases at over 1,000, this is due to a change in testing procedures. On March 22, the province started accepting verified positive confirmation counts from any hospital lab, rather than requiring them to be confirmed at one source.
Based on the rate per 100,000 cases in each province, B.C. has the highest infection rate at 12.1. That’s followed by Quebec at 11.9 and Alberta at 8.1. Ontario’s rate is four confirmed cases per 100,000, according to an analysis by Global News’ Patrick Cain.
What is the age range of those infected, and who is ending up in hospital?
Based on Canada’s current cases, those aged between 50 and 70 appear to be more likely to be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, according to a Global News data analysis.
Elderly people and immunocompromised people are more likely to have worse outcomes, including hospitalizations or death due to the novel coronavirus. That’s why failure to comply with social-distancing protocols can have deadly results for many people in your community, according to a previous Global News report.
But that doesn’t mean that younger people are in any way protected from this virus. Out of the more than 1,300 cases that public health officials have looked at, 47 per cent were under the age of 50.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned young people on March 19 that they’re not “invincible.”
“One of the things that we are learning is that although older people are the hardest hit, younger people are not spared. Data from many countries clearly show that people under 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization,” said WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference on COVID-19. “This virus could put you in the hospital for weeks or even kill you.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. also relayed a similar message when it reported that nearly 40 per cent of COVID-19-related hospitalizations were people between the ages of 20 and 54.
Who has died from the new coronavirus in Canada?
As of March 26, 39 people in Canada have died as a result of the new coronavirus. The first death was reported on March 9.
Currently, 14 of those deaths are out of B.C., and 11 are linked to an outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre, a seniors facility. Forty-six residents and 24 health-care workers at the centre have been infected.
Ontario’s deaths include elderly people who came into contact with others with the virus, as well as a man in his 50s who had pre-existing health conditions.
Deaths in Quebec have all occurred in one town: Lavaltrie. Four of those deaths are tied to a seniors care home in the area. Health officials in the province continue to express concern about spread within seniors homes after the deaths.
The only other province reporting deaths so far is Alberta, confirming a total of two on March 24. The second person who died was a woman in her 80s who was living in a care facility in Calgary.
How many Canadians are being tested, and will testing help ease the infection rate?
More aggressive testing practices have helped quell community spread of the virus in other countries, according to a previous Global News report. For instance, South Korea has tested over 290,000 people and has seen a sharp decrease in cases as a result.
More than 125,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Canada as of March 24, according to the country’s public health agency. About 10,000 tests are being done per day.
At a press conference on March 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said testing efforts will be increased.
“Mass testing is one of the best ways of protecting Canadians and reducing the spread of the virus as well,” Trudeau said.
Labs across Canada have faced a testing backlog due to diminished supplies of a chemical used for the tests, reports the Canadian Press. Reagents are being sought by multiple health agencies in different provinces to address the testing shortage.
As a result, certain demographics are being prioritized to receive testing, including hospitalized patients, those in long-term care facilities and health-care workers.
How long will it take to flatten the curve?
Canadians should expect to be social distancing until the number of confirmed cases per day has decreased, Dr. Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in emerging viruses at the University of Manitoba, said in a previous Global News report.
“What we need to see is that new cases are decreasing over time, but we also want to be conscious that loosening of the social-distancing recommendations and restrictions too quickly could result in a resurgence of transmission,” he wrote in an email to Global News.
He said there’s currently no “definitive timeline,” as the situation is continuing to evolve and trends can’t be defined within a short period of time.
How long this will all last really depends how willing Canadians are to practice social distancing for a period of time, said Bogoch.
If Canadians listen, the benefits could be seen within months, he said.
“I would say plural, in the coming two-ish or more months,” he said. “Depending on how well we do.”
How can Canadians protect themselves?
Washing your hands frequently and practicing social distancing by limiting your interactions with only members of your household are the best ways to flatten the curve, according to a previous Global News report.
The recommendation from federal and provincial public health agencies includes self-isolating if you have symptoms or have been near someone who has had symptoms. That isolation should last 14 days if you have travelled as well.
A woman diagnosed with COVID-19 in Quebec was arrested after she violated a self-isolation order to stay home. Provincial leaders across the country have been clear there will be consequences if you are violating these kinds of orders. On March 25, the Quarantine Act was invoked by the federal government, meaning that it’s now mandatory to isolate after travelling. The policy was implemented after there were reports of recent travellers stopping for groceries or entering public spaces when they should be in quarantine.
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a press conference on March 21 that the government will consider more severe measures if Canadians do not follow social-distancing protocols.
“When people are playing loose and hard with the rules like this, it does actually put our civil liberties in jeopardy,” Hajdu said. “It makes governments have to look at more and more stringent measures to actually contain people in their own homes.
“Politicians and governments will be pushed to a place to take more and stringent measures when people violate them and don’t take this seriously. So I would encourage Canadians to think about that and to think about their obligation to act collectively right now.”
— With files from the Canadian Press and Global News’ David Lao, Emerald Bensadoun, Laura Hensley, Leslie Young, Maryam Shah, Alexander Quon, Patrick Cain, Hannah Jackson and Amanda Connolly.View link »