Officials say action ‘urgently needed’ as COVID-19 cases rise, holidays near

Public health officials are urging Canadians to dramatically limit their contacts with other people as the country continues on a “rapid growth trajectory” for COVID-19 cases and the holiday season nears.

This week’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine and a rollout plan unfolding has given optimism to many Canadians there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Releasing new modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said if Canadians maintain their current contact levels, more than 12,000 new cases would be recorded daily by January.

If people increase their level of contacts, that number could surge to more than 30,000 cases daily by January, according to the modelling sheets.

According to PHAC modelling documents, combined efforts are “urgently needed” to bend the curve as outbreaks continue in long-term care facilities and First Nation communities, putting a strain on hospitals and health-care systems.

During a briefing in Ottawa, Tam said only one per cent of Canadians have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which means most Canadians remain vulnerable to being infected.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Canada is entering a tricky season, when people traditionally take a break from work to spend time with family. Despite the positive news on the vaccine front, she urged Canadians to be vigilant in practising public health guidelines as a “very clear danger” remains.

“We’re going to have to be very, very cautious over the next several weeks to protect those people who are counting on us to work together,” she said.

Short-term projections show there could be up to 577,000 cases and 14,920 deaths by Dec. 25.

As of Friday morning, Canadian public health officials reported a total of 443,922 cases and 13,154 deaths.

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