COVID-19 on the rise with flu season around the corner

COVID-19 Update

Monday, September 28, 2020 will be marked as the day COVID-19 deaths surpassed one million worldwide. It also marks a time when Canada is seeing an increase in cases, at a 1.4 reproduction rate as reported by the Public Health Agency of Canada on Friday. This means that for every 10 people with a confirmed case of COVID, they will likely pass it on to 14 others who will pass it on to another 20 and so on.

The one section of Canada that should be applauded for their proactive safety measures is the Atlantic Region. At a time when most provinces are seeing an increase, Nova Scotia has had no new cases in the last week. Susan Kirkland, head of Dalhousie University’s Department of Community Health and Epidemiology was quoted in The Chronicle Herald[1] as saying that she “will never say it [second wave] can’t happen to us, but I honestly feel a lot of things have gone right for the Atlantic region”.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the province of Quebec has seen a rapid increase in new cases, especially in Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches, causing Premier Legault to declare that these areas will, as of October 1, be on Red Alert for 28 days to mitigate this rise in numbers. During that time, bars, concert halls, museums, libraries and other gathering places will close. Restaurants will only be open for take-out and visiting people outside of one’s household is prohibited.

At 700 new cases, Ontario saw its highest single-day case count since the beginning of the pandemic. Close to 60 per cent of the new cases are individuals under the age of 40 and concentrated mostly in the following four health units:[2]

  • Toronto with 344 new cases;
  • Peel Region with 104 new cases;
  • Ottawa with 89 new cases; and
  • York Region – 56 new cases

These numbers prompted Premier Ford to make an announcement on Monday afternoon that Ontario has officially entered the second wave and Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association distributed a statement[3] recommending that Toronto, GTA and Ottawa be returned to Stage 2. Premier Ford has, to date, increased some safety measures, such as reducing unmonitored social gatherings to 10 inside and 25 outside and mandating that bars and restaurants stop serving at 11pm and close by midnight, with the exception of take-out and delivery. Minister of Health Christine Elliott said that the government “does not want to turn back to Stage 2 unless we absolutely have to”, but Chief Medical Office of Health Dr. David Williams said the province may consider targeted measures.[4]

The mayor of Toronto urged people to cut back on social gatherings and Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer recommends that maximum capacity in restaurants be reduced to 75 with no more than 6 people per table.

A car rally that attracted hundreds of people to Wasaga Beach, Ontario over the weekend forced the police to close the city to non-residents.

Manitoba reported a spike in cases with a total of 32 new cases province-wide, of which 22 are in Winnipeg. It is expected that the Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin will announce specific guidelines for Hallowe’en due to this rise in cases.

The RCMP detachment in Yorkton, SK has closed to the public for non-emergencies for 2 weeks due to a confirmed COVID case. Outbreaks have been confirmed at the Pumphouse Athletic Club, Yorkton Regional Health Centre and Yorkton Regional High School. As reported by CTV News Regina on Monday, 100 close contacts of those identified in Yorkton have tested positive for COVID-19.

Alberta reported 406 new cases and the Calgary Foothills Hospital has postponed surgeries due to an outbreak infecting 26 patients and 27 staff with other workers in isolation. Most of the province has seen fairly low spread with the exception of Edmonton with 750 active cases and on a steady increase. Calgary has experienced more of an undulating curve throughout the pandemic.

British Columbia registered 267 cases over the weekend and 3 new deaths. BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed these numbers at a press conference and mentioned that contact-tracing shows that the majority of transmission occurs at social gatherings. She therefore asked that British Columbians take extra care as they celebrate Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en this October.

Nunavut, which has only had three confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, reported seven presumptive cases at a mine site on Monday, which follows the confirmation of two positive cases back on September 19.

CIQS will monitor the situation across the country over the following months and updating the COVID-19 focused page on as needed. Check in often to learn about new updates both nationally and regionally.