Cases of COVID-19 in Canada surpassed 840,000 on Friday as new federal health modelling projected a possible third wave of the virus, sparked by new variants of the virus, could catapult the country’s daily caseload to over 20,000 by mid-March.
The modelling comes amid another 3,089 new infections on Friday, which pushed the national total to 840,591. Another 78 deaths linked to COVID-19 also brought the nation’s death toll from the virus to 21,576.
A total of 786,774 patients have since recovered from the virus however, while 23,907,900 tests and 1.4 million vaccine doses have been administered.
The modelling, released Friday and presented by Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, painted a grim picture of the wave’s potential spread should the country not increase or maintain its public health restrictions.
Despite the declining trend in new cases across the country, Tam warned that the spread of the new variants could reverse all the progress Canada has made during the pandemic.
“With the emergence and spread of new variants of concern … unless we maintain and abide by stringent public health measures, we may not be able to avert a rapid resurgence of the epidemic in Canada,” said Tam during a virtual press conference Friday.
Despite the worst case scenario of 20,000 daily infections in March, the modelling suggested that the country could still see as much as 10,000 more cases a day by April should current public health restrictions remain in place.
Tam, who attributed the worrying rates of infectivity to more infectious or resistant virus mutations such as that of the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the U.K., said that the outbreaks could still be controlled should Canada double down on its public health measures.
“We’ve been saying all along — if we lift these (measures) too soon, the epidemic will resurge even stronger. With highly contagious variants in our midst, the threat of epidemic growth is significantly elevated,” said Tam.
“This is why measures need to be stronger, stricter and sustained long enough to suppress.”
Ontario logged another 1,150 new cases on Friday, as well as another 47 deaths. The provincial government announced on Friday that the’ virus hotspots of Toronto and Peel would remain under a previous stay-at-home order for another two weeks. All other areas in the province — except for a northern community seeing an outbreak in variant cases — would be seeing restrictions loosened however.
Quebec, the hardest hit province in the country, reported another 800 cases and 14 deaths on Friday. The province has logged 10,278 deaths since the start of the pandemic, which remains the highest in Canada.
Manitoba announced another 92 cases and one new death in the province, while Saskatchewan added 146 infections and three more fatalities. Alberta saw 325 new infections on Friday, as well as seven new deaths.
B.C. recorded 508 new cases and six more fatalities. No new “epi-linked” cases were recorded during the province’s update on Friday.
Several provinces in Atlantic Canada reported new cases of the virus during their updates on Friday.
Newfoundland and Labrador added 60 more infections, Nova Scotia reported two new cases and New Brunswick added six. None of the provinces added new deaths.
Nunavut reported two new cases on Friday, while the Yukon and Northwest Territories did not add new infections.
To date, over 110,709,000 cases of COVID-19 have been identified worldwide according to Johns Hopkins University. Over 2,451,000 patients have also succumbed to the virus, with the U.S., India, Brazil and Mexico leading in cases or deaths.
— With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Rachael D’Amore
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