Canada reported just under 6,000 new coronavirus infections Friday, setting another daily record as health officials across the country continue their pleas to the public to slow the spread of the pandemic.
Friday’s cases more than tripled the highest number of daily cases seen in April, when the first wave of the pandemic crested. It’s also the eighth new record set this month alone as the virus spreads like wildfire in communities across the country.
As cases explode, Canadians are admitting to feeling fatigued by the ongoing pandemic. A new Ipsos poll released Friday found nearly half of respondents are getting tired of public health measures, even though nearly 90 per cent still intend to take them seriously.
On Twitter, Canada’s chief medical health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that attitude was the only defence against further spread of COVID-19.
“As with our last effort to bend the curve, this won’t be a quick solution, but a test of our determination and endurance,” she wrote.
“With resilience and resolve, let’s focus on what we can do to protect our families, friends & communities.”
Provinces and territories are also anxiously awaiting news on when a vaccine will be publicly available.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a “majority of Canadians” should be vaccinated by next September “if all goes according to plan,” citing the country’s top doctors.
One of those doctors, deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo, said that timeline was “optimistic” but added he shares that optimism with the prime minister.
Njoo and other officials said this week that they expect a first round of six million vaccination doses to be delivered to provinces and territories in early 2021, and expect to have at least one vaccine candidate approved by the end of this year.
Ontario set a new daily record itself Friday after reporting 1,855 new cases along with 20 new deaths. The province’s health minister said the staggering total was not unexpected, as restrictions in hard-hit areas like Toronto only kicked in on Monday.
Christine Elliot said the rising infections are coming in part from some of the events and celebrations that have taken place around the province over the past few weeks.
Quebec reported 1,269 more infections and another 38 deaths. The province’s death toll, already the highest in the country, is approaching 7,000.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba reported 329 and 344 new cases, respectively. Both provinces also saw new deaths: Saskatchewan reported that four more people had died, while another 14 deaths occurred in Manitoba.
New restrictions came into effect in Saskatchewan Friday banning all team sports and limiting capacity at public venues like churches, movie theatres and casinos to 30 people.
Alberta added another 1,227 new cases and nine more deaths. The province has more active cases than any other jurisdiction in Canada and has the highest seven-day infection rate in the country, according to federal data, with 209 cases per 100,000 people.
New measures came into effect Friday to help blunt the spike in cases. Private indoor social gatherings are banned, capacity limits have been imposed on stores and students between grades 7 and 12 switch to remote learning on Monday.
The province’s justice minister said 700 more peace officers have been given the power to enforce those restrictions.
British Columbia also set a new record with 911 new cases, while 11 more deaths were also reported. Hospitalizations also topped 300 for the first time ever.
Cases are continuing to surge nearly three weeks after stringent new restrictions were imposed in parts of the province where infections are high, suggesting they haven’t been effective. Health officials said workplaces, which were not included in the orders, have become a major source of transmission.
In Atlantic Canada, three provinces reported a combined 25 new cases, though no new deaths were reported. Prince Edward Island did not release new testing data Friday.
Four more cases were reported in Nunavut and another three were added in Yukon, while the Northwest Territories did not report any new infections. That territory is the only jurisdiction in Canada with no active cases.
As of 9 p.m. ET, more than 61.5 million infections have been confirmed worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll has surpassed 1.44 million.
The United States continues to lead the world in both cases and deaths, both of which have grown at alarming rates this month. The country surpassed 13 million cases on Friday, while over 264,000 people have died to date.
— With files from Global’s Rachel Gilmore and the Canadian Press