Despite recent progress in immunizing older Canadians, Canada is likely to see a “strong resurgence” of COVID-19 cases across the country if the more transmissible variants continue to spread and become more commonplace, according to new modeling by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the expanding vaccination campaign across the country cannot keep pace with the rapid spread of COVID-19 variants and urged Canadians not to let their guard down.
“Current community-based public health measures will be insufficient to control rapid growth,” she told reporters Friday. “It’s clear that we need to hold on together a bit stronger and longer until vaccines have us better protected.”
COVID-19 variants, like B.1.1.7, which is thought to have originated in the U.K., now account for a high proportion of new cases — representing half of all new cases in some areas. There are roughly 3,000 new cases being reported each day nationwide, up from about 2,000 a month ago.
“The not-so-good news is that circulating of COVID-19 among younger, more mobile and socially connected adults, present an ongoing risk for spread into high-risk populations and settings, and continuing transmission in the community,” said Tam.
“It is important to remember that although severe illness is less common in younger age groups, serious or prolonged illness can occur at any age, and there are emerging concerns about increasing severity of the B.1.1.7 variant in adults.”
The case count could rise to as high 12,000 a day if Canadians maintain or increase the number of people they are in contact with each day, the PHAC modelling shows.
“Daily case counts have increased over 30 per cent in the past two weeks,” said Tam. “Every 100 cases in Canada, passes the virus to more than 100 others.”
The short-term forecast is predicting Canada will hit between 973,080 to 1,005,020 cases by April 4, and between 22,875 to 23,315 cumulative deaths, Tam said.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been more than 951,500 COVID-19 cases and 22,790 deaths in Canada.
With files from CBC News