Canada has averaged more than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases daily over the last week — a 45 per cent increase from the week before, Tam said.
“We need to keep doing what we know has worked, but do it with greater speed, vigilance and perseverance, incorporating all of the improvements we’ve gained over the past two years,” she told reporters.
Beyond COVID cases alone, Canada has also tracked an increase in cases of the Omicron variant. Tam confirmed that 350 cases of the new strain have been identified collectively in 11 provinces and territories. A growing number of these cases aren’t linked to travel, she warned, meaning “community transmission has been established in several areas of the country.”
“Omicron cases have been reported in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, as well as in previously infected people,” Tam said.
“However, it is important to stress that being fully vaccinated and then getting a booster, whether Pfizer or Moderna, is expected to provide a reasonable level of protection against infection and likely strong protection against severe illness.”
There were more than 43,000 active COVID cases across Canada as of Thursday. The federal government’s most recent hospitalization figures are from Monday, when at least 1,000 people were admitted to Canadian hospitals with COVID-19, including 453 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and 229 on respirators.
On Thursday, 19 people in Canada with COVID-19 died.
While spikes in infection are being seen across the country, including in Manitoba and New Brunswick, Canada’s biggest provinces are seeing some of the largest increases in cases. Here’s the latest:
Ontario COVID-19 cases
Ontario accounts for a significant chunk of the country’s COVID-19 cases — especially when it comes to the new Omicron variant. The cases reported in the province on Thursday marked a 29 per cent increase from the day before.
Total active cases: 17,081*
Omicron cases: 190
Hospitalizations: 358, 157 of which are in the ICU
Ontario reintroduced capacity limits for some indoor venues on Wednesday, capping capacity at 50 per cent for venues that can hold 1,000 or more people. Those rules come into effect on Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET.
On Friday afternoon, the government announced even tighter restrictions that will come into effect Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the indoor social gathering limit will be slashed from 25 people down to 10, while the outdoor capacity will be cut from 100 down to 25. Food and drink consumption will be prohibited at sports arenas, cinemas and other large venues.
Ford also imposed a 50 per cent capacity limit on all bars and restaurants, as well as rules against dancing and 11 p.m. ET closures.
B.C. COVID-19 cases
Total active cases: 3,878
Omicron cases: 135
Hospitalizations: 184, with 70 in critical care
The province will be following in Ontario’s footsteps as of Monday, when they’re bringing about a 50 per cent capacity limit for venues that can hold 1,000 people or more. The B.C. government also announced on Friday that no amateur sports tournaments can be held over the Christmas period, and that all New Year’s Eve parties are cancelled.
The Health Ministry also added that indoor gatherings, including those at rental or holiday properties, are being limited to one household, plus 10 guests, and everyone must be vaccinated.
The B.C. Vaccine card program must be used at all events, and people will not be allowed to move between tables at restaurants.
Alberta COVID-19 cases
Total active cases: 4,212
Omicron cases: 119
Hospitalizations: 352, with 70 in intensive care
Unlike other provinces, which have been tightening restrictions in recent days, Alberta took the step this week of loosening their COVID public safety measures. The province held the number of people who can gather indoors at 10, but did not limit the number of households that can participate in any of those gatherings.
Further, kids who are 17 and under don’t count toward the 10-person limit, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said on Wednesday.
Quebec COVID-19 cases
Quebec rivals Ontario for the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. The province is also seeing a spike in cases of the new variant, with hundreds of presumptive Omicron cases awaiting final confirmation.
Total active cases: 14,245*
Omicron cases: 13 confirmed, 309 presumed
Hospitalizations: 312, with 62 in intensive care
In response to skyrocketing cases, Quebec announced a number of new restrictions on Thursday. Stores, bars, restaurants, amphitheaters, movie theatres and gyms are going to be limited to 50 per cent capacity as of Monday. Places of worship will also have their capacity reduced to half, alongside an order not to exceed 250 people.
The vaccine passport will also be required going forward in churches and other places of worship. Only funerals and weddings, with a maximum of 25 people in attendance, can be held without vaccine passport requirements.
High-risk activities such as office Christmas parties, karaoke and dancing will be banned as of Dec. 20. On top of that, indoor private gatherings will be limited to 10 people, down from the 20 previously announced for the holidays.
— With files from The Canadian Press