To date, Canada has now seen 121,174 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The death toll stands at 9,015, after nine more deaths were reported since Wednesday.
Although Ontario and Quebec are reporting lower case counts than at the peak of the pandemic last spring, other provinces like British Columbia are escalating dramatically, while those in central Canada are now posting double-digit increases regularly.
In Atlantic Canada, only New Brunswick reported new cases Thursday, adding two to a provincial total that now stands at 180. There are a total of 16 active cases across the four easternmost provinces, including five reported in Prince Edward Island on Wednesday.
Quebec broke a short streak of reporting fewer than 100 new cases per day, with 104 more infections bringing the provincial total to 60,917. Six new deaths were also reported, although nearly all of them had occurred prior to Tuesday.
Ontario saw one of its lowest daily counts on record, with 78 new cases, though the total did not include data from Toronto Public Health. The province’s total now stands at 40,367, with 2,787 deaths. No deaths were reported Thursday.
Manitoba saw 25 new infections for a total of 588 confirmed by laboratory tests, along with 15 that are still considered probable. Saskatchewan saw a similar increase, with 27 new cases, bringing its total to 1,511.
In Alberta, officials reported 76 new cases and three more deaths. To date, the province has seen 11,969 cases and 220 deaths.
In a grim milestone, Ontario’s daily case count of 78 was matched by British Columbia, a feat not achieved since the very early stages of the pandemic. B.C. has in recent days watched its number of active cases explode past 500, the only province to see such a dramatic uptick compared to recoveries.
Modelling released by B.C. health officials Thursday warned the province could see a massive growth of new cases into September unless people refrain from large gatherings, including indoor parties, and re-commit to physical distancing.
Officials are directing their messaging particularly toward young people, who now make up a majority of new cases, despite accounting for only a small fraction of hospitalizations.
The province recently announced it would be delaying the start of the school year for students by two days to Sept. 10.
Most other jurisdictions across Canada are going ahead with returns to in-class learning in September, yet debates are raging over issues like mandatory masks and how to conduct some classes and activities like physical education.
Those same back-to-school debates are now front of mind around the world, where the coronavirus has now infected at least 20.7 million people and killed over 750,000, according to public health data compiled by John Hopkins University.
Experts say the true number of cases could be up to 10 times higher than official data shows, due to testing shortages that have continued to plague several countries since the pandemic began.