Trudeau urges vigilance as COVID-19 cases expected to soar

Posted Nov 20, 2020 by Karen Graham
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to hunker down and follow public health rules to contain an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases, as new projections warn of a possible surge in the caseload.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau at a press conference in Ottawa.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau at a press conference in Ottawa.
Adam Scotti (PMO)
New modeling from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) shows the number of COVID-19 cases could reach 60,000 a day by the end of December, soaring past the approximately 5,000 cases a day seen now, threatening to overwhelm a healthcare system already stretched to the breaking point.
Trudeau, speaking to reporters outside his residence at Rideau Cottage, urged Canadians to resist the temptation to let their guard down after 10 months of making sacrifices, reports CBC Canada.
"We are facing [a] winter that's going to drive people inside more and more, and we're really at risk of seeing caseloads go up, and hospitals get overwhelmed, and more loved ones dying," he said. "So we need to do everything we can right now to slow the spread of COVID-19, to stop the spike in its tracks."
Health officials are concerned that people are not taking social distancing seriously enough, saying that cases could be limited to 20,000 new infections a day if everyone would maintain or curtail their contacts. To drive the figure to below 10,000 cases a day by the end of December will require even stricter adherence to protocols.
While several provinces are reimposing restrictions on movement and businesses, federal and provincial politicians say the public is not taking the public health precautions seriously enough, according to Reuters.
“Absolutely do not go above what we have now (in terms of daily cases) otherwise we are really in trouble,” chief public health officer Theresa Tam told a briefing to unveil the latest modeling forecasts.
“The healthcare systems in certain jurisdictions, certain cities, are already feeling the pressure. So if that’s happening now, you can imagine that these exhausted health care workers are not going to be able to cope (with a surge),” said Tam.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu also urged vigilance. "The more people who get this disease, the harder it is to get it under control," she said. Hadju cites the front-line workers, pharmacy workers, and personal support workers who are under strain after "working flat-out for several months."
“This wave is undeniably harder. We are all tired, we are all lonely, and we all want our lives back, but we can’t give up now,” said Hajdu.
Border closing extended
Current border restrictions between Canada and the U.S. have been extended for another 30 days, until Dec. 21. The prime minister made the announcement via Twitter on Friday, stating that “non-essential travel between our two countries remains restricted” until that date at the earliest.
As of Friday, November 20, Canada has reported 319,175 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 11,314 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.