Canada is seeing a “steady decline” in new coronavirus cases despite recent outbreaks in hot spots across the country, according to new modelling from the federal government.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam offered an updated picture of the current COVID-19 pandemic facing Canada, which included new modelling and estimates on the number of cases and deaths.
“The epidemiology indicates that transmission is largely under control, while also showing us that cases can re-emerge any time or place,” Tam told reporters Monday.
“The virus has not disappeared. A resurgence can happen any time or at any place.”
The modelling showed that the steepest declines in transmission occurred in Canada’s oldest age group — people over the age of 80 — with a greater increase in people ages 20 to 39 since May 1.
The federal health agency is also predicting between roughly 104,000 and 108,000 cases countrywide by July 12, and between 8,545 and 8,865 deaths by the same date.
Tam and deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the daily number of hospitalization and critical care cases are also steadily declining as recoveries increase. They warned that lifting pandemic measures without a proper system for contact tracing and isolation could lead to resurgences.
“The novel coronavirus has not been eliminated and we do not have an effective vaccine at this time. So as restrictive public health measures are being lifted to minimize the unintended health, social and economic consequences, we expect to see some resurgence of cases,” Tam said.
“The key is to keep the number of cases small.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada figures released Monday show that some provinces — specifically Quebec and Ontario — have been more heavily affected by COVID-19 than others and identified some recent hotspots, including parts of Saskatchewan, Toronto and Montreal and areas near Windsor, Ont.
Of Ontario’s 257 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 reported Monday, 177 were from the Windsor-Essex area as the province began targeted testing of migrant farm workers.
Tam said the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in crowded settings such as long-term care homes, meat plants and the congregate housing facilities where many agricultural workers live while in Canada.
Other recent outbreaks include Kingston, Ont., where hundreds are being tested after the local health unit confirmed at least 27 people tested positive for COVID-19 after working at or coming into contact with someone who visited a nail salon.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that the new figures show the efforts to fight the virus are working but said COVID-19 remains a “serious threat to our health.”
“After a very challenging spring, things are continuing to move in the right direction. We still have some hot spots in some parts of the country, but nationally, the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths is declining over time. And that’s because Canadians are doing their part,” Trudeau said.
“Though, while we’re on the right track, the fight against COVID-19 is not over yet. As we start to reopen parts of the economy, we must continue to follow local public health guidelines to keep each other safe.”
Both Tam and Trudeau urged Canadians to continue following advice from public health officials like wearing a mask and maintaining physical distancing.
They said that if the advice isn’t followed, Canada could risk losing the progress it’s made. Other countries have seen a resurgence of the virus, particularly the United States, where cases are surging as states began reopening and easing health restrictions.
“It going to be really, really important that everyone remains attentive and vigilant to their own behaviours so that we can prevent a second wave from arriving,” Trudeau said.