OTTAWA — Variants of concern make up more than half of recently reported new COVID-19 infections, and ongoing strict public health measures will be needed to get the third wave under control, new federal modelling shows.
The updated projections on where the pandemic is headed in Canada that are being presented by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo, show that, as previously forecast, Canada is seeing a strong resurgence of COVID-19 infections in the third wave.
Now, the federal data shows that more contagious variants of concern are driving the third wave and, as a result, national disease and severity indicators “have increased considerably over the past month.”
On average over the past seven days, Canada has seen more than 8,400 new cases a day and an increasing number of people getting severely ill and ending up in hospital or admitted into intensive care units (ICUs).
In a small indication that stronger public health restrictions put into place in some provinces since the last modelling update in March are working, the “Rt” or effective reproduction number is below one, which federal health officials say is an early sign those precautions are working.
The modelling notes that some recent lockdowns have only just gone into effect and so it may be too soon to determine how much impact they will have on helping further flatten the curve.
The last long-range projection given on March 26 indicated that, even if Canadians maintained the current number of people they come into contact with each day, COVID-19 cases were set to spike to levels not yet experienced in Canada during this pandemic.
Friday’s presentation shows that this projection remains the case, and tough measures therefore need to be maintained to control these highly transmissible variants as vaccines continue to roll out.
Right now, Canada is seeing the steepest rise in hospitalizations among those aged 40-59 years, while nationwide there has been a considerable decline in the number of people aged 80 or older who are getting infected, attributed in large part to the high immunization rates in that demographic.
The Public Health Agency of Canada predicts, in the next two weeks, Canada will see a slower increase in cases hitting up to 1,281,040, though deaths may slightly increase with up to 24,570 by May 2.
As of the start of Friday’s presentation, 23,822 people have died in Canada from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and there have been a total of 1,155,837 cases reported.
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