Canada’s chief public health officer is cautioning Canadians against “letting our guard down” in the fight against COVID-19 as holiday season approaches and colder weather drives people indoors.
Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement on Sunday that hot spots across the country are showing that social gatherings and crowded places where social distancing is made difficult “can amplify spread of the virus,” and urged Canadians follow public health guidelines as they hunker down for winter and celebrate the holidays.
“In these more relaxed settings, such as family and holiday celebrations and recreational activities, letting our guard down and not consistently maintaining public health practices can lead to many exposures and infections,” Tam said.
Tam also suggested Canadians wear masks indoors when gathering with people from outside their immediate bubble, consider socializing virtually and “bundle up to keep more activities outdoors as the weather cools.”
1/2 To date, labs across 🇨🇦 have tested 10,293,273 people for <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>, w an average ~2.7% positive overall, for a rate of 273,835 people tested per million population in Canada. <a href=”https://t.co/jrZH3tHRUo”>https://t.co/jrZH3tHRUo</a>
Her message comes a day after she warned that the soaring COVID-19 numbers in some of the hardest-hit provinces could soon overwhelm hospitals.
Tam said hospitals are already being forced to make the difficult decision to cancel certain elective surgeries and procedures, and the number of people with severe cases of COVID-19 continues to rise, with a daily average of more than 1,400 people being treated in hospitals over the past week.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 296,077 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 235,401 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,953.
In British Columbia, the Fraser Health Authority has announced three schools are closing for two weeks after reporting cases of COVID-19. They’re located in Surrey, Delta and New Westminster.
Manitoba saw a record increase of 494 new cases. The province also said 10 more people have died, seven of whom are linked to an outbreak at the Maples Long Term Care Home in Winnipeg.
Meanwhile, the province’s justice minister, Cliff Cullen, scolded the more than 100 people who gathered in the southeast Manitoba city of Steinbach in protest of increased COVID-19 restrictions, calling their actions “incredibly unfortunate, dangerous and wrong.”
WATCH | More than 100 protesters gather in Steinbach to protest COVID-19 restrictions:
Saskatchewan recorded 181 new cases and two more deaths. In a Facebook post, Premier Scott Moe expressed his condolences to the families of the two people who died and said more restrictions are being considered.
The province reported a record 308 cases the day before.
Ontario reported 1,248 new cases and 29 deaths, a day after the province saw more than 1,500 new infections — an all-time high.
Meanwhile, seven residents have died at the Rockcliffe Care Community long-term care home in Toronto amid an outbreak.
Quebec reported 1,211 new cases on Sunday and 15 new deaths. Though down from yesterday’s record-high of more than 1,400 new infections, Health Minister Christian Dubé said “we can’t rejoice” over Sunday’s lower numbers and that “we have to continue to bring that down.”
Nova Scotia‘s active caseload remains at 21 after reporting two new cases and two recoveries.
New Brunswick added three cases. The province says one case is travel-related and the other two are under investigation.
WATCH | How does a 3-layer mask protect you from COVID-19?:
Newfoundland and Labrador said a person is in hospital due to the coronavirus for the first time in six months.
Nunavut reported nine new cases in Arviat, just two days after the first case was identified in the Hudson Bay community. Another case was identified in Rankin Inlet, which the territory says is “linked to Arviat.”
“Due to the number of cases of COVID-19 in Arviat, anyone from Arviat who left the community on or after November 2 is being asked to immediately isolate for 14 days wherever they are,” Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said in a news release.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, more than 54.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 34.8 million of those considered recovered, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.3 million, the database reported.
In Asia, India has reported 41,100 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours. Daily infections nationwide have been on the decline since the middle of September, but there has been a resurgence in New Delhi in recent weeks.
In Europe, the number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in France dropped this weekend for this first time since September, after two weeks of new nationwide lockdown measures aimed at slowing surging infections and easing hospital strains.
In the Americas, Mexico has now reported more than one million novel coronavirus cases and is nearing 100,000 deaths. The country has the world’s fourth-highest death toll from the illness behind the United States, Brazil and India.
Africa has seen more than 1.9 million confirmed cases and more than 47,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. South Africa leads the continent on both counts, having recorded more than 749,000 infections and more than 20,000 deaths.