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65% of reported COVID-19 cases in Canada related to community transmission: latest data

Vital importance of physical distancing during COVID-19 pandemic
Vital importance of physical distancing during COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly two-thirds of reported COVID-19 cases in Canada as of March 28 are related to community spread, according to the latest data by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

As of Saturday, 65 per cent of 2,811 reported COVID-19 cases in Canada were linked to community transmission, while 35 per cent were “either exposed while travelling or exposed to a traveller returning to Canada.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: What are community cases and should Canadians be concerned?

According to the Canadian government, a community case occurs when the virus has passed within a community, rather than contracted through travel.

This matters because, as Stephen A. Hoption Cann, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia, has previously told Global News, it means the virus is in the community and “no one knows where it has come from or even how widespread it is in the community.”

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READ MORE: You can catch coronavirus without travelling. Here’s how

As of March 28, 2020, demographics, symptoms and outcomes were only available for 2,811 cases reported in Canada, providing a limited snapshot of who has caught the virus and how.

Around half — or 51 per cent — of  2,708 reported COVID-19 cases in Canada so far are male.

Around one-third of reported cases — 29 per cent — are in people 60 years or older. 

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People under the age of 19 comprise only four per cent of 2,708 reported cases.

Dr. Hinshaw explains why Alberta is more focused on community transmissions of COVID-19
Dr. Hinshaw explains why Alberta is more focused on community transmissions of COVID-19

A cough appears to be the most commonly reported symptom, with 78 per cent of reported cases indicating so.

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Other commonly reported symptoms are chills — 53 per cent — and headaches — 53 per cent.

The Public Health Agency of Canada website also says 213 people have been hospitalized so far, including 69 in intensive care units.

READ MORE: Trudeau encouraged by B.C. coronavirus data, but warns ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’

Community spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, first appeared in British Columbia.

As of Saturday, the province had 884 cases and a total of 17 deaths. Ninety-two of those cases were announced on March 28.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Developing a rapid COVID-19 test is in the works in Canada, globally

B.C.’s health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix both said despite that major increase in new cases, the province was still on the same path shown in modelling data released Friday that made them “cautiously optimistic” the curve might flatten soon.

B.C.’s top doctor announces new orders to help reduce COVID-19 spread
B.C.’s top doctor announces new orders to help reduce COVID-19 spread

But they added it’s crucial for everyone to continue social distancing measures to make that a reality.

B.C. health officials had released new modelling data on Friday that showed the transmission rate in the province had dropped by double digits as people were ordered to stay at home while most businesses shuttered.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he is encouraged by B.C.’s data but Canadians are still urged to continue social distancing measures.

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READ MORE: B.C. ‘cautiously optimistic’ about COVID-19 forecast, but warns hospitals could still be overwhelmed

Earlier on Saturday, during an update from federal ministers on Canada’s response to the virus, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that cases in the country have now topped 5,000.

Tam also said that as of now, over 184,000 people in Canada have been tested for the disease.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau announces new measures on domestic flights and intercity passenger trains
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau announces new measures on domestic flights and intercity passenger trains

Seven per cent of cases need hospitalization, three per cent are critically ill and 1 per cent of cases so far have been fatal, according to Tam, who gave an update on the severity of cases.

“Because although there will be day-to-day fluctuations, a sustained trend of increased severity could point to a higher rate of infection in vulnerable populations, or the health system is being overwhelmed,” she said.

— With files by Global News reporters Hannah Jackson, David Lao, Sean Boynton