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Ottawa, Aug 14 (Canadian-Media): Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer said Aug 14 during a news conference in Ottawa that while Canada has shown success at slowing the spread of COVID-19, a resurgence could occur subject to Canadians' failure to strictly follow public health guidelines on physical distancing, hand-washing and limiting mass gatherings.
Theresa Tam. Image credit: Twitter handle
The recent weeks have seen a surge in the number of new cases reported daily, with the highest rate of infection among people aged 20-39 years old.
While presenting new modelling on the coronavirus in the news conference Tam and deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo had flagged a potential surge in coronavirus cases which could be several times worse than what had been seen so far in Canada.
"Continuing to build up capacity across our health, public health and laboratory systems while urging all Canadians to continue with public health practices will give us the best chance of keeping the epidemic on a slow burn, while preparing us in the event of a need to rapidly ramp up response measures for possible larger resurgence," Tam said.
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) documents show although officials are aiming for lower number of cases which could be easily dealt with by the public health-care system, but officials are also planning for a "reasonable worst-case scenario," where a fall spike in infections is followed by ongoing peaks which could put excessive demands on the health system.
With reopening of businesses and schools and more people return to the workplace, Tam stressed that Canadians must be vigilant in following public health guidelines to avoid a major rebound and said the key measures they need to take to limit the outbreaks include detecting and isolating cases, contact tracing and quarantining, physical distancing, handwashing and staying home when possible, and using exposure notification apps.
Canada's COVID-19 exposure notification app had been downloaded by about 1.9 million people, Njoo said and urged people to take part, especially young people who go to pubs and nightclubs.
PHAC says that in the short term the case load could grow to between 121,650 and 127,740 by Aug. 23, and the number of deaths could climb to between 8,980 to 9,115.
Ontario and Quebec had seen the majority of cases, while Nunavut has not recorded a single case.
Modelling information on coronavirus of that day, said Tam and Njoo, does not predict what will happen, but provides a snapshot of what could happen in certain scenarios.
There is an increase in anxiety about potential outbreaks as students return to classrooms in the coming weeks.
British Columbia released its own modelling Thursday, showing the province's COVID-19 curve is now climbing at a higher rate than the initial outbreak in March, and suggesting a second wave could be bigger than the first by September.
Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said the province's contact-tracing efforts could help reduce the number of transmissions.