A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a face mask mural during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Thursday, November 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a face mask mural during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Thursday, November 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canada surpasses 300,000 COVID cases, more than 100,000 in past month

Canada could reach the 400,000 total case milestone by early December, if the current trajectory holds up

Canada reached a troubling milestone on Monday, surpassing 300,000 total COVID cases since the pandemic began earlier this year, and health experts are alarmed — but not surprised — by the rapid growth we’ve seen over the last few weeks.

The marker comes less than a month after the country reached 200,000 overall cases on Oct. 19. It took about four months for Canada to leap from 100,000 to 200,000, suggesting that even as some cases are being resolved, the spread is quickening.

Total COVID-19 cases are different from confirmed active cases. Canada had roughly 50,000 active cases as of Monday afternoon, while nearly 240,000 had recovered and more than 11,000 have died.

Caroline Colijn, an infectious disease modeller and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, said the growth trajectory is worrying.

“We’ve seen this with Europe and the U.K. and U.S., and now across Canada — the pattern is very consistent,” she said.

“This is something that can overwhelm the health-care systems in western democracies. And it can do it very rapidly.”

Colijn projected Canada would reach the 400,000 total case milestone by early December, if the current trajectory holds up.

Canada was averaging about 4,500 new daily cases over the past week, and Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer, said Friday that daily case counts may climb to more than 10,000 by early December.

Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease expert with the University of Alberta, says “widespread restrictions” are needed in order to prevent the skyrocketing spike projected by Colijn and other COVID modellers.

He said government and public health policymakers need to put forward clear, concise and aggressive measures, and continue to “emphasize that people really need to change their plans and minimize their in-person interactions.”

“Because it’s really only a matter of time — and we’re talking weeks, not months — before ICU’s become totally overwhelmed and are unable to provide even the most basic care to people,” he added.

While the jump from 100,000 total cases to 200,000 took place from June to October, a period that coincided with the large-scale re-opening of businesses and schools nationwide, Colijn said the more recent accelerated spike may signify more.

READ MORE: No mask mandate as B.C. breaks records with 1,959 new COVID cases, 9 deaths over weekend

She believes some people became complacent with pandemic restrictions in the final weeks of summer, and so they worried less when cases began rising in the fall among younger people who generally don’t get very sick.

The problem, however, is that COVID continued to spread, infecting more vulnerable people and putting hospitals in danger of reaching full capacities.

“People really relaxed, they went indoors and so that just accelerated the spread,” she said.

Some Canadians’ opinions on the dangers of COVID may be tainted by how relatively well the country handled the first wave, added Schwartz.

People were cautioned about overextending hospital resources back in March, and when the system wasn’t strained to the extent experts anticipated — largely because of early lockdown measures — some may have developed a false sense of security.

“It’s like Y2K, where we were told something big would happen and it didn’t,” Schwartz said.

“But seeing what’s going on now, with hospitals filling up across the country, ICU (admission) going up, and the rate of new infections continuing to accelerate, it’s extremely troublesome… And it is quite clear this (perspective) needs to change very rapidly.”

Dr. Andrew Boozary, the executive director of health and social policy at the University Health Network, says other factors contributing to community transmission need to be addressed.

It can be hard for someone to obey stay-at-home orders if they don’t have access to stable housing, he said. A low-income worker without paid sick leave, for example, may not be able to self-isolate with symptoms if it means missing out on a paycheck.

“We need to ensure that social policy protections can take place for prevention,” Boozary said.

“If we don’t do all these things, and do them in a way that’s coordinated, we’ll continue to keep lapsing.”

Canadians are entering what experts call a crucial period of the pandemic, with the Christmas holidays and winter season only six weeks away.

They say the escalating COVID-19 growth rate needs to be slowed in order to avoid reaching more grim milestones in the near future.

“Many of us have been worried about winter because of the inability of people to be outside and what that can mean,” Boozary said.

“This is not the place we want to be.”

READ MORE: Prenatal care remains key amid COVID, B.C. expert says, as U.S. studies show heightened risk

Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patrons exercise at Re4rm Fitness prior to last week’s new, provincial COVID-19 regulations. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake fitness centres adapt amid new COVID-19 regulations

Gymnastics, dance studios, martial arts, yoga, pilates, strength and conditioning impacted

Patrons enjoy some skiing and the views at the top of the chairlift at Mt. Timothy Recreation Resort. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Mt. Timothy nearing opening date; owners excited for upcoming season

Once open, hours will be Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

School District 27 announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 this week at Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘It was just a matter of time’: SD27 superintendent confirms two COVID-19 cases at LCSS

An entire PE class is self-isolating as Interior Health engages in contact tracing

A volunteer with the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association for the past 12 years and its current president, Mike Rispin moved to the lakecity in 1991. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
OUR HOMETOWN: Rispin skates through pandemic at helm of minor hockey

“I never did plan on staying here, but I liked the outdoor activities,” Rispin said.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

Most Read