Statement from Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on 25 September

From: Public Health Agency of Canada

In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement today:

“There have been 147,753 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,243 deaths. Due the ongoing increase in daily case counts, the proportion of cumulative cases that are still active versus recovered has shifted, with overall the percentage recovered decreasing and currently at 86%. Laboratories across Canada continue to test at a high rate. An average of almost 70,000 people were tested daily last week, with 1.4% of these testing positive. The national daily case count continues to increase, with an average of 1,144 cases reported daily during the past seven days.

Although the pattern of epidemic curves varies by region in Canada, all provinces west of the Atlantic region are showing increasing incidence of COVID-19. The latest data indicate that 12 health regions in four provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec) are experiencing incidence rates of over 50 cases per 100,000 population. In areas where the virus is surging, there are heavy demands on resources for testing and contact tracing to interrupt new chains of transmission. Moreover, our epidemiological analysis and modelling studies show that if the current rate of accelerated growth is not slowed, there will be a large resurgence in these and likely other areas of the country.

However, Canada still has a chance to prevent a large resurgence if we all act together now. As I have said, local public health authorities cannot do this alone, individual actions to prevent exposure and limit the number of close contacts are a must. This is not simply a matter of resources, it is a reality of the current level of accelerated growth. Based on the past week, each new generation of cases is growing at a rate of about 1.3 times in Canada. That means each of the more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases reported daily will pass the infection to 1.3 others; so, 1,000 cases generates 1,300 cases, which in turn generate 1,700 more cases and so on -unless we all work together to slow the rate of spread!

This is why I am urging everyone to limit their in-person close contacts, as much as is possible for you to do. We all have different pressures and responsibilities but when it comes to close proximity contact with others, remember that every person you encounter brings their whole network of contact history with them. If you can’t reasonably reduce your in-person contacts to just your existing household and/or your small, consistent and trusted contacts bubble, there are choices you can make and actions you can take to reduce the risk of each encounter. Close proximity and longer duration can increase the risk, whereas public health controls and policies can reduce the risk. Whenever possible, limit the duration of close contact and opt for lower risk settings/situations where public health measures and policies are in place and always maintain personal protective measures, including physical distancing 2 metres from others, frequent hand washing, and wearing a non-medical mask or face covering as recommended).

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