The number of newly diagnosed coronavirus patients topped 500 Saturday as Canada’s chief medical official expressed concern over the escalation in case counts seen in many provinces.
The 515 cases announced Saturday — the vast majority in Ontario and Quebec — bring the national total to 136,038.
The deaths of seven more COVID-19 patients were also announced Saturday, while 9,170 people in Canada have succumbed to the illness since the pandemic broke out. About 88 per cent of those diagnosed have recovered, however, and across the country more than 7.1 million tests have been carried out.
The figures released Saturday represent only a partial picture of what’s happening across the country, since Alberta, B.C., P.E.I. and the territories do not share updates on the weekend.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said that about 630 cases on average were added daily over the past week. That’s 20 per cent more than the previous week, and 65 per cent greater than what we were seeing a month ago.
On Friday, the country posted its largest single-day increase since early June.
“Increasing daily case counts signify heightened disease activity that pose a risk for accelerated or ‘exponential’ epidemic growth to occur,” Dr. Tam said in a statement Saturday.
“This rate of growth, which we experienced during the first wave of COVID-19 in Canada, is difficult to control and would take us off the slow-burn path.”
On Saturday, Quebec led the country in newly confirmed diagnosed cases with 244. There have been 64,707 diagnoses overall. The province said no deaths were reported in the last day, but six that were not previously recorded have been added to its total.
In Quebec, 5,780 people have lost their lives to the virus, the most by far of any region of the country.
As of Saturday, Quebecers could face fines between $400 and $6,000 if they aren’t wearing a mask in places the province has deemed their use mandatory.
In Ontario, 232 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded, along with one additional death. Overall, the province has seen 44,300 cases and 2,814 people have succumbed to COVID-19.
Saskatchewan announced 21 new cases Saturday, bringing its total to 1,709. Two dozen deaths have been attributed to the virus in the province.
Seventeen new COVID-19 cases were announced in Manitoba, including one involving a student in Brandon. The province has seen a total of 1,410 cases, along with 16 deaths.
The only other newly announced case in the country was reported in Newfoundland and Labrador, which officials said was related to a resident returning home from Alberta.
The province also announced a presumptive case involving a contractor to the Iron Ore Company of Canada mine in Labrador City.
Between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, there are just three cases currently active. N.B. has had 193 cases overall and N.S. has diagnosed 1,086. P.E.I.’s total stands at 55 cases, 47 of which are considered resolved.
On Friday, B.C. reported 132 new cases and Alberta reported 111. All 20 cases reported in Canada’s north have long been resolved, with Nunavut being the only territory yet to confirm a case.
Friday marked six months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
Around the world, cases of the novel coronavirus are approaching 28.6 million, though experts believe the totals are likely much higher due to gaps in testing.
The U.S., India, Brazil and Russia have reported the most diagnoses of all countries, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The global death toll is more than 917,000.
— With files from the Canadian Press