Trudeau says ‘we’re at a tipping point’ amid latest modelling data, new government benefits

Canada’s top health officials provided an update on the nation’s latest modelling data, which projects how COVID-19 will continue to spread throughout the country. 

Canada could see up to 5,000 cases a day by late October to early November if we maintain our current levels of contacts, according to just-released modelling data.

“We’re at a tipping point in this pandemic,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, noting the country reported its most-ever daily cases on Thursday with 2,437 new infections.

Canada could see up to 5,000 new cases a day by late October if we don’t limit contacts

The latest modelling data by Public Health Agency of Canada shows that by Oct. 17, there could be 188,150-197,830 cases in the country, while the death toll is expected to increase to 9,690-9,800.

On Thursday — after Canada recorded its most-ever cases in a day with 2,437 — there were 175,559 total diagnoses and 9,557 deaths. Federal data projects that the country will see at least 133 additional fatalities and 12,591 more cases by Oct. 17.

“The acceleration of epidemic growth is concerning,” Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam said. “The actions of individual Canadians are needed now to reverse this trend.”

Modelling data also shows that Canada may see up to 5,000 cases a day by late October to early November if we maintain our current levels of contacts. If Canadians decrease them by 25-35 per cent, we could see fewer than 3,000 cases a day by November, according to the data.

Credit: Public Health Agency of Canada

Tam said that the individual actions of people in some areas of the country have not been enough to decrease transmission. Therefore, such as in areas like Quebec and Ontario, additional measures have been in place, including strategic business closures in “order to put the brakes on the epidemic.”

Tam said that by acting fast and imposing restrictions, we have the best chance of limiting the spread and avoiding the public health system being overburdened.

“We are at an important juncture in the pandemic where we would very much like to see the voluntary actions of Canadians across the country be sufficient to bend the curve downward,” Tam added.

Tam, along with Trudeau and several other ministers, stressed the importance of limiting contacts this Thanksgiving weekend.

Credit: Public Health Agency of Canada

Along with the recent projections, the data showed how that across Canada trends vary, with the highest increase in cases occurring in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. In contrast, there hasn’t been a significant resurgence in cases in the Atlantic bubble, which consists of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. There also hasn’t been any community transmission in the territories.

Credit: Public Health Agency of Canada

Canada’s time-varying effective reproduction number (Rt), represents how many people are being infected by each new case. When it’s less than 1, it means that the “epidemic will die out.” However, Canada’s RT has been greater than 1 since August, meaning each 100 cases are passing on the virus to 100 others.

“We need to limit our contacts and opportunities for the virus to spread, bring RT below one again,” Tam said.

Credit: Public Health Agency of Canada

The number of active cases is also rising in First Nations communities, with the majority of cases in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Even though health officials have consistently observed the highest incidence of COVID-19 among those 20-39 years old, they’re now seeing a concerning rise in infections among people 80 and up who are at highest risk of severe and fatal side effects.

More outbreaks are also being reported nationwide. There have been over 250 schools with more than two cases, but there’s been “little indication of transmission happening within the school environment,” Tam said. A growing concern is the rise in outbreaks in long-term care facilities, which are high-risk settings.

“At the same time a larger number of outbreaks are being reported related to private indoor gatherings, which several jurisdictions have noticed are contributing significantly to the spread of COVID-19,” Tam said.

Credit: Public Health Agency of Canada

Tam said hospitalizations and deaths are a late indicator of COVID-19 severity and they usually lag behind the increase of cases by several weeks. For more than two months, the nation observed fewer than eight deaths per day on average. Over the past week, the average number of reported deaths has increased to 18 per day.

“There is much we can do now to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the lives and livelihoods of Canadians,” Tam said. “Let’s act together in our actions and reduce the spread of the virus. Let’s start today.”

More funding for small businesses, mental health research

The modelling data was presented Friday. At the same press conference, Trudeau, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and other ministers provided updates on new economic benefits to help Canadians amid the second wave of COVID-19. 

Ministers unveiled the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy program, which will provide support to businesses directly until June 2021, for those who have seen a revenue drop. In addition, the Canada Emergency Wage subsidy was also extended until June 21. 

The measures are intended to help those who might be impacted by current and future closures as part of public health orders amid the second wave of the virus. 

“This is the economically smart thing to do and it’s the right thing to do,” Freeland said.

Ministers also announced a $100 million investment to help food banks and community organizations. An additional $37 million in funding will also be provided to territories as part of the Safe Restart Agreement, and a supplemental $41.4 million will also go toward air carriers to ensure essential air services to remote communities in the North.

To better understand how to protect the mental health of Canadians, the government also announced they are investing over $10 million into research projects around the country.

For more on the latest government benefits for businesses, please refer to the latest by Yahoo Finance Canada’s Alicja Siekiersk.

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