Canada reported another 4,735 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus Friday, the second highest daily total ever and the second day in a row the number of new cases hovered below a staggering 5,000.
While that’s less than half the daily infection rate that health officials are predicting for the winter, they say the trend is still a cause for alarm.
“Our fight against COVID-19 is far from over,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter Friday night. “Cases are still rising, and we’re seeing record spikes across the country.”
Indeed, the daily case rate is now roughly 2.5 times the peak seen during the spring, when it hovered below 2,000 new infections a day.
Friday’s new positive cases accounted for over five per cent of the 85,627 known laboratory tests performed over the past 24 hours. Not all provinces reported their latest testing data Friday.
Canada has now seen a total of 287,031 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date. Of those, 230,646 patients have recovered from the disease.
Another 60 deaths were also reported Friday, though not all of them occurred over the past 24 hours. The national death toll now stands at 10,828.
Trudeau on Friday reminded Canadians to keep washing their hands and wearing masks to try and limit the spread and bring the numbers back down.
“I know you’re tired of hearing that, but we need to keep doing our part,” he added.
He also pushed the government’s COVID Alert contact tracing app, which is still not available in British Columbia, Alberta or the three northern territories.
Earlier Friday, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the country could see more than 10,000 new cases a day by December if Canadians don’t reign in their behaviour and follow public health guidance.
“Fires are burning in so many different areas and now is the time to get those under control,” she said.
Tam said even now, some parts of Canada are feeling a strain on their health care capacity, which could buckle under the current trajectory.
“You can only imagine if we got to that level, that the pressure on the health care system would be huge,” she said. “We’ve got to stop the acceleration so we don’t see that (number) in the beginning of December… That’s only a few weeks away.”
As of Friday, 1,727 of Canada’s 45,557 active COVID-19 cases are in hospital. While that’s a little over half the number of hospitalizations seen in May, it also includes some of the highest numbers ever in provinces like British Columbia and Manitoba.
British Columbia set a new record for daily cases Friday with 617, six of which are considered “epidemiologically linked” and have not been confirmed through testing. Another two people also died over the past 24 hours.
Alberta nearly matched its own record, reporting 907 new cases and five more deaths. Elsewhere in the prairies, Saskatchewan announced 76 new cases while Manitoba’s total increased by 434. Five more deaths were also reported in Manitoba Friday.
Ontario and Quebec are continuing to lead the country in both new cases and deaths, each reporting over 1,000 new cases for the eighth straight day. Quebec added 1,301 new cases and 30 deaths, while Ontario announced another 1,396 infections and 19 new deaths.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia each reported two new cases, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported one more infection.
In the north, the Northwest Territories reported four new cases while Nunavut announced it has confirmed its fourth-ever case.
Only Prince Edward Island and the Yukon were spared from new COVID-19 infections Friday.
Worldwide, the coronavirus has now infected at least 53.2 million people, 1.3 million of whom have since died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The United States continues to lead the world in both confirmed infections, at over 10.7 million, and deaths, which have now reached 244,000. The country is now averaging over 100,000 new cases and 1,000 deaths per day, while many other countries — particularly in Europe — are also experiencing new surges.
— With files from Global’s Rachael D’Amore