The total number of cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada reached a new high on Wednesday, climbing past 9,000 and getting close to 10,000 by the end of the day.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada and provincial health authorities, as of April 1, the country recorded 2,004 new cases, bringing the countrywide total to 9,712.
That’s up from 7,708 total cases as of mid-day March 31. That total was recorded before some western provinces reported their case increases Tuesday evening.
Fifteen new deaths were reported over the same 36-hour span, bringing the number of fatalities in Canada to 111.
Quebec saw the largest increase Wednesday and holds the most cases in the country, with 4,611 infections and 33 deaths.
In Ontario alone, there were 426 new cases reported Wednesday — the largest number for the province so far — and four new deaths. This brings the total number of cases in Ontario to 2,392.
Every province and territory except for Nunavut has reported cases as of April 1.
“What you don’t see with these numbers is, when did these people get sick?” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.
“What you’re seeing today is what happened to someone when they were symptomatic at least two weeks ago.”
Tam said it takes time for public health agencies to “investigate each outbreak and find the context,” but suggested Canadians visit the government of Canada’s website to visualize how the changes are unfolding.
Efforts to stop the spread of the virus ramped up in recent weeks, with physical distancing measures tightening and non-essential services closing. Tam said the impact of these directives — if they’ve been followed — won’t be measurable “for some time.”
But she said this week is “crucial” to see what’s happened.
“There are still outbreaks connected to a number of high-risk settings in Canada, particularly in long-term care facilities. So there’s still an urgent need to double-down on precautions,” she said.
“While many cases occur in younger adults, it really is people over the age of 60 who account for 60 per cent of the hospitalizations and 90 per cent of deaths. The high-risk population needs to take every precaution.”
The novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, has forced countries around the world to impose lockdowns and curfews. People are being asked to stay home, self-isolate and practise physical distancing to try and curtail the spread of the virus.
It was deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11 after it spread from China to the rest of the world. Major outbreaks have more recently touched the United States, Italy and Spain.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a slew of measures to help Canadian citizens, businesses and the health-care system cope with the drastic changes.
—With files from Sean Boynton