Canadians must ‘really reduce’ contacts as coronavirus surges: Tam

Canadians need to reduce their contacts to get COVID-19 under control, the country’s top doctor said as she presented new modelling on the trajectory of the pandemic.

“If we increase, or if even maintain our current rate of contact, the epidemic in Canada is forecast to continue increasing steeply,” Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said at a press conference in Ottawa Friday.

The modelling found that the pandemic could be brought under control in most areas if contact between individuals is reduced by 25 per cent. Tam said the reduction in contact can come through personal action as well as on the community level through restrictions in virus hotspots.

Canadians can still celebrate the upcoming holidays but need to do so in ways that are safe, she said.

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“We’re working really hard on vaccines and new treatments, but until then, you know, big parties are off,” Tam said.

The modelling also shows that the national death toll could rise to 10,285 or 10,400 by Nov. 8, and the number of cases could range between 251,800 and 262,000.

Tam said Canada’s average case numbers are above peak levels during the first wave, with Quebec and Ontario accounting for more than 75 per cent of cases.

She noted that that British Columbia, the prairie provinces and Ontario have marked their highest case counts to date.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also urged Canadians in areas where cases are rising quickly to keep their contacts as low as possible.

“Right now, our most powerful tool remains social distancing,” he said.

The modelling figures come amid a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases. On Thursday, more than 2,900 new coronavirus cases were recorded across the country, the second-highest total reported to date.

Overall, 229,197 cases have been diagnosed in Canada since the pandemic broke out, and 10,083 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19.

While young people are most commonly infected, Tam said there has been a “concerning rise” of cases among those 80 and over.

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