Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Thursday, June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

COVID-19 models show Canada is moving ‘in the right direction’: feds

Cases, hospitalizations, cases on the way down, prime minister says

Canada is moving “in the right direction” when it comes to its fight against COVID-19, Prime Minister Trudeau said during a press conference at Rideau Cottage Monday (June 29).

Trudeau said the progress comes as a result of Canadians listening to public health directions and that despite “some hotspots, nationally, the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths is declining over time.”

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada has had 103,250 cases so far, with 64 per cent of those having recovered. More than 2.6 million people have been tested so far, with currently about one per cent testing positive, down from a high of eight per cent positive in April.

As of Monday, 8,522 people have died due to the virus – about eight per cent mortality rate based on known test positive cases. Hotspots in Quebec and Ontario have made up 86 per cent of the total cases.

Tam said that of the cases so far, 15 per cent have needed hospitalization and just over three per cent have required intensive care.

Canada’s effective reproduction number (Rt), or how many people are infected by each case, has been below one for more than eight weeks.

“The epidemiology indicates that transmission is largely under control while showing us that cases can reemerge at any time or place,” Tam said.

READ MORE: Caught in U.S. COVID-19 surge, Canadian ex-pats hunker down, spare a thought for home

The median age of COVID-19 cases is 51, with 56 per cent of those diagnosed being female and 44 per cent being male.

The modelling showed that cases among people aged 80 and older have declined sharply, although there has been a “relative increase” in cases among 20 to 39 years olds since late May.

Speaking to B.C.’s numbers, Tam said transmission of the virus was “largely brought under control,” despite some localized outbreaks.

“COVID-19 has exploited social and economic vulnerabilities and inequalities across Canadian society, taking hold in settings and among communities that experience overcrowding, lower incomes and health disparities,” she said.

Federal data showed 1,052 outbreaks in long-term care and seniors’ homes, leading 20,604 cases and 6,920 deaths. Meat and poultry plants saw 13 outbreaks with 2,025 cases and six deaths, while correctional facilities had 26 outbreaks, 818 cases and five deaths. Hospitals, with vulnerable patients, saw 124 outbreaks lead to 1,644 cases and 184 deaths. Outbreaks have also been recorded in agricultural workers, workplaces including those that house their workers onsite and shelter.

Tam said as provinces begin to reopen, events and gatherings such as funerals and indoor family gatherings could also lead to outbreaks.

“Dynamic models are telling us that if relax too much, or too soon, the epidemic will most likely rebound with explosive growth as a distinct possibility,” she said. In order to maintain a balance of loosening restrictions that had closed schools, restaurants and shops in much of Canada for weeks if not months, health officials will have to trace and quarantine cases and contacts, as well as insist on the public keeping up sanitization practices and physical distancing.

Looking into the weeks and months ahead, Tam said the goal was to have less than 10 per cent of Canada’s population, or about 3.7 million people, infected by the end of the pandemic.

However, while federal health officials have moved to recommending masks in mid-May, deputy chief medical officer Dr. Howard Njoo said that making them mandatory was the last resort.

“It’s much better to have an empowered, educated population that understands the utility, usefulness, the effectiveness of using masks than right away going to… the regulatory approach,” Njoo said.

“For some people, it may even get their backs up if you made it mandatory right off the bat. Some people… may resist that.”

READ MORE: Threats, racism being directed at COVID-19 checkpoint staff: Remote B.C. First Nation


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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