As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout several parts of Canada, the country hit more then 10,000 confirmed cases on Thursday.
Ontario announced 401 more cases on April 2, putting the total for country at over 10,000 cases. That’s a stark increase compared to where the country was on March 1, with only 24 confirmed cases at that time.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer acknowledged the country reaching over 10,000 cases in a press conference on April 2.
“These represent infections from previous exposures and not what is happening right now necessarily,” she said.
“So even if you’re not hearing of cases in your community, it doesn’t mean there is no risk of exposure. We must all consider that anyone could be infected and keeping our two-metre distance is the safest bet,” she explained.
The provinces of Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec have the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases.
Canada’s total death toll also surpassed 120 this week.
There also continues to be ongoing concern for Indigenous communities along with retirement homes and correctional facilities, where vulnerable people are in close quarters with others.
So far, there have been outbreaks and deaths in some of these spaces, said Tam at a press conference on March 31.
Multiple provinces including B.C., Alberta and Ontario have seen a string of COVID-19-related deaths stemming from outbreaks at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, raising concerns about how protected residents and care workers in those facilities are.
The chart below only includes confirmed cases, not presumptive cases. To see all the presumptive cases in the country, see Health Canada’s chart here.
Understanding the current cases and increase
The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that community transmission applies to 64 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 cases, meaning those people were infected without travelling or being close to someone who has a confirmed case.
The extent of community spread cases can be difficult to track based on testing rates and if some people are asymptomatic, they know they are carrying the illness.
Thirty-six per cent of the cases are due to travel or a person being exposed to a traveller returning to Canada. So far, this data applies to 4,183 confirmed Canadian cases, according to the Public Health Agency.
As Canada’s total case count surpasses 10,000, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says what the new numbers don’t show is the point in time when people became sick, she said at a recent press conference.
“What you’re seeing today is what happened to someone when they were symptomatic at least two weeks ago,” she said.
Finding context in cases and the source of outbreaks can be difficult for public health agencies to discern and it will take some time to analyze whether social distancing and closures have made an impact in the last few weeks, she explained.
This week, however, is “crucial” to see whether these protocols have had any effect.
“There are still outbreaks connected to a number of high-risk settings in Canada, particularly in long-term care facilities. So there’s still an urgent need to double-down on precautions,” she said.
“While many cases occur in younger adults, it really is people over the age of 60 who account for 60 per cent of the hospitalizations and 90 per cent of deaths. The high-risk population needs to take every precaution.”
More Canadians continue to be tested
Testing efforts have also ramped up across the provinces, with more than 222,000 Canadians having been tested as of March 30. However, Ontario has faced criticism for their backlog of tests that had grown to just under 11,000 as of a week ago.
A Global News data analysis found that Ontario had the lowest testing rates at 351 per 100,000. In comparison, B.C. has a rate of 846 people tested per 100,000 as of April 1.
Ontario is still working through a backlog of cases, which is why the province is reporting increases in the hundreds recently, explained Christine Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott at a press conference on April 1.
On March 31, the province tested 6,245 people in one day, which is double the number of people tested from the day before.
“The cases that are currently being diagnosed are really historic cases, looking back at what has happened over the last week to 10 days,” said Elliott.
“What’s going to be most important is what we are going to see when the backlog is cleared over the next day or so. We will then be dealing with current information and that is what’s going to tell us where we are in terms of flattening the curve.”
Do we know what will happen next?
On March 27, B.C.’s health officials released their own data predictions about what’s in store for the province. The modelling showed that the province’s transmission rate had dropped from 24 per cent to 12 per cent.
Researchers compared B.C.’s COVID-19 growth rate to other regions like South Korea, northern Italy and Hubei province in China to see how B.C.’s hospitals would be able to handle the spread of the virus. The results showed B.C. is similar to having a scenario like South Korea and if that analysis is accurate, the province would have enough hospital beds and ventilators.
However, Tam has warned that Canada is a “big country” and outcomes may vary starkly between provinces and territories.
While the B.C. data is “promising,” we should be “very cautious in making any definitive claims and even more so when it comes to generalizing these findings to other provinces,” said Dr. Suzanne Sicchia, an associate professor at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health and Society at the University of Toronto Scarborough, in a previous Global News report.
This week and next week are crucial for health officials as they will give them a better sense of whether measures taken to flatten the curve are actually effective, she said.
“To these ends, the experts will be watching to see if there is a decrease in the rate of new, confirmed cases,” Sicchia said..
This week we may also see many beginning to have symptoms based on what’s known about the virus’ incubation period, according to Dr. Jeff Kwong, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto in a previous Global News report.
“It’s going to be this week or the next week that we’re going to see a wave of people who are really sick,“ Kwong said.
“We know there’s lots cases out there — most are mild — but how many of all these cases are going to be severe?” he said. “That’s what we’re going to start to see this week.”
According to Public Health, COVID-19 is a “serious health threat” and numbers continue to change on a daily basis.
“The risk will vary between and within communities, but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high,” the organization noted.
However, Public Health wants to ensure the public understand not all Canadians will get the disease. The focus should continue to be flattening the curve by physical distancing, self-isolation if you have any symptoms or recently travelling and staying home as much as you can.
Answering your coronavirus medical questions
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
— With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun, Patrick Cain, Hannah Jackson and Amanda Connolly.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Uber getting into grocery delivery business in Canada – CBC.ca
Uber Technologies Inc. is getting into the grocery delivery business and is using some Canadian cities to help it launch the venture.
The San Francisco-based tech giant said Tuesday that users in Montreal and Toronto can now order groceries through its Uber and Uber Eats apps.
“They’ll be able to place orders from local merchants and receive them in as little as one to two hours,” Daniel Danker, who runs Uber’s product team, told reporters.
A demonstration of the new service showed thousands of items available from retailers including Walmart, Metro, Rexall, Costco, Longos, Pet Valu and Well.ca.
The company’s foray into the grocery sector comes after Uber advertised in November 2018 that it was hiring a head of grocery product in Toronto.
The company remained secretive about the role, but a year later, Uber’s potential interest in a grocery service was a hot topic again when it announced it was acquiring a majority stake in Chilean grocery delivery startup Cornershop.
The deal was held up by a Mexican Competition Authority investigation, but is supposed to close in the coming days.
Competition in grocery delivery market
Cornershop will serve as Uber’s partner in the grocery delivery venture, which will launch in more than a dozen Latin American cities alongside the Canadian markets.
Uber faces stiff competition with its new service. Amazon.com Inc. and Instacart are already going head-to-head with supermarket brands like Walmart and Loblaw Companies Ltd.
Uber believes it can edge out some of the competition because it sees groceries as a natural extension of its booming food delivery service and a way for the company to become a one-stop shop for every meal.
Grocery delivery has only become more important during the COVID-19 pandemic because more Canadians have transitioned to work from home and Uber’s ride-hailing business is still in “recovery mode,” according to Danker.
“I think this would have made a lot sense in a pre-COVID world, but our world has just fundamentally changed and so this represents even more of a huge responsibility for us,” Danker said.
Federal-provincial co-ordination might have prevented COVID-19 outbreak, says premier – CBC.ca
An outbreak of COVID-19 in the Maritimes on the weekend might have been avoided if Canada Border Services had better communication with the provinces, says P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.
The outbreak, including four out of five new cases on P.E.I. and one in Nova Scotia, started with a man travelling from the U.S. to Canada on a student visa. The man was reportedly planning to study on P.E.I. but was turned away at Confederation Bridge because he did not have pre-approval.
As it turned out, the man did have COVID-19. He spread it to a P.E.I. man he met with in Nova Scotia, and the Island man spread it to three other people back on P.E.I.
Speaking on CBC’s Island Morning Tuesday, King said while he doesn’t have the specifics of this case, it is likely the man would not have been admitted to the province for study at this time, despite having a student visa allowing him to study in Canada.
“We need to have a greater, in-synch protocol in place between the border services and the provincial jurisdictions,” said King.
“When an individual crosses the international border, such as into Toronto, are border agents asking them if your final destination is X, have you been in touch with that jurisdiction to make sure all of your protocols are met. What we’re trying to determine now is, is that question being asked.”
King noted that P.E.I. has turned away dozens of travellers at Confederation Bridge for not having documentation.
Governments are still working on putting in place systems so that border controls can work efficiently and effectively, King said.
Bubble still open
The new cases in the Maritimes came on the same weekend as freedom of movement around Atlantic Canada.
With the opening of the Atlantic bubble, residents of the four eastern provinces can move around the region without having to self-isolate. Border controls between the provinces remain in place.
Officials on P.E.I. have emphasized that this outbreak is in no way connected to the Atlantic bubble, and King said he is not at this time considering closing it.
P.E.I.’s contact tracing system was tested by this outbreak and it worked very well, he said.
“In this particular case I’m very, very pleased and proud of the public health officials and how they’ve undertaken their jobs,” said King.
He said he would only consider closing the bubble if an outbreak caused a strain on either the contact tracing system or the health system.
But he emphasized he is ready to shut the bubble down, and do it quickly, to protect the health of Islanders.
More from CBC P.E.I.
Canada adds 288 new coronavirus cases as curve continues to flatten – Globalnews.ca
The number was nearly identical to the totals recorded for Saturday and Sunday. Many provinces waited until Monday to report those numbers, taking a weekend break from daily updates.
Nine more deaths were reported Monday as well, three of them in Quebec — marking the lowest death toll for the province since April 2. The remaining six were in British Columbia, representing a cumulative total since Friday. One of the deaths occurred in June, but has only now been attributed to COVID-19.
Ontario also reported no new deaths Monday for the first time since the end of March.
Canada has now seen 105,915 lab-confirmed cases, along with 8,693 deaths. A total of 69,570 cases have since recovered.
Although it didn’t see any new deaths, Ontario still reported 154 new coronavirus cases Monday, and Quebec saw 74 more cases.
Nova Scotia reported one new case, the only Atlantic province to do so Monday.
Saskatchewan saw three more cases over the past 24 hours, while Manitoba stayed clear of new infections. Alberta added 49 new cases, and British Columbia reported seven.
While the Yukon and Northwest Territories haven’t reported any new cases for over two months now, Nunavut is awaiting confirmation of its first-ever presumptive case, which was reported Thursday.
All provinces and territories are in the midst of slowly reopening their economies after weeks of shutdowns at the height of the pandemic, which federal modelling suggests remains on a downward trajectory.
Daily totals of new cases have been hovering around 300 for over a week, after spiking past 400 in late June.
We could see a rise in diseases like COVID-19 because of climate change
Worldwide, the novel coronavirus pandemic has grown to over 11.5 million confirmed cases and has killed at least 536,000 people, according to public health data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
In the United States, confirmed cases are closing in on three million as cases continue to surge in several states. The country has been reporting an average of 50,000 new cases daily since the end of June.
Researchers and public health officials around the world say the true number of infections is likely far higher due to limitations in testing.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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