Canada hit a grim new milestone in its ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.
Public health officials’ tallies show the country has now surpassed 20,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
That comes as several provinces continue to report hundreds of new cases each day, with Quebec the latest to share its numbers, reporting 881 new cases on Thursday.
The confirmed number of cases stands at 20,675 across Canada. Of the positive cases in the country, 4,889 people have recovered.
A total of 503 have died so far, including Canadians in their 20s and 30s.
Officials are grappling with the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 1.4 million people around the world and killed more than 80,000.
There is no vaccine and no known treatment.
As a result, countries around the world, including Canada, have shut down borders and implemented varying levels of domestic lockdowns for roughly one month now.
In Canada, all returning travellers are legally required to go into quarantine for 14 days upon their return: that means no getting groceries, no going for a walk, no leaving their home, period.
READ MORE: Canada lost 1 million jobs in March
The same goes for anyone who tests positive for the virus or who has symptoms of it.
Everyone else is ordered not to leave their homes except for essential business, such as a daily walk or getting groceries. But public health officials have urged the public to limit such trips to once a week.
There is no clear timeline for how long those measures will last, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Thursday that the pandemic could play out over 12 to 18 months.
A return to normalcy wouldn’t occur until a vaccine is available, he said.
READ MORE: Live updates on the coronavirus pandemic
Earlier on Thursday, federal health officials released projections showing that Canada could see 11,000 to 22,000 deaths due to the pandemic — even with the strongest control measures in place.
With weak controls, the number of fatalities could exceed 100,000.
Canada’s chief public health officer stressed, however, that models are not “a crystal ball.”
“Data and models can help Canadians see how our collective efforts … can determine the trajectory of Canada’s COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Theresa Tam.
Canada has shed more than a million jobs during the pandemic, according to figures released Thursday.
The unemployment rate rose to 7.8 per cent in March, an increase of 2.2 percentage points.
But the employment picture appears to have significantly worsened since the jobless data was collected between March 15 and 21.
Just over five million Canadians have applied for Ottawa’s emergency benefits program, suggesting an unemployment rate closer to 25 per cent.
— With files from Erica Alini and Kerri Breen, Global NewsView link »