The spread of COVID-19 is accelerating in Canada, with the country recording more than 4,000 new cases of the disease in one day for the first time.
The previous one-day record of 3,922 had been set two days earlier. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been nine days with more than 3,000 new cases logged across the country – all within the past 10 days.
Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa, told CTV News Channel on Saturday that Canada is “in the thick of a second surge” of virus activity.
“It’s really important for people to restrain themselves from unnecessary socialization. The message has not changed; it’s just that the situation is now more dire,” he said.
Many countries are seeing similar patterns of virus spread. The last four days brought the U.S. their four highest daily COVID-19 case counts yet, and many European nations have begun reinstating lockdowns and other restrictions due to elevated virus activity.
Deonandan said this is happening because people in the Northern Hemisphere are spending more time indoors as temperatures drop in advance of winter. It is easier for the virus to be transmitted from one person to another indoors, particularly if masks are not worn, distancing is not practised or ventilation is not adequate.
“We’re all vulnerable, even those of us who did a really good job early on,” he said.
A CROSS-CANADA SNAPSHOT
Unlike earlier in the pandemic, it is difficult to single out any province or two as leading Canada to record levels of coronavirus activity on their own.
Five provinces set daily records of their own within the past week. Those records have already been broken in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.
Saturday’s national record was driven largely by provincial records being set in Ontario and Alberta, which reported 1,132 and 919 cases respectively.
Even Nunavut, which earned international praise for seemingly keeping COVID-19 out of the territory, can no longer boast of a clean sheet. It reported its first confirmed case of the virus on Friday.
Per capita, Manitoba is far and away the national hotspot. Its 1,963 new cases between Oct. 31 and Nov. 7 mean that approximately one out of every 700 Manitobans was diagnosed with COVID-19 during that time.
Other provinces that stand out by this method include Alberta (one out of every 975) and Quebec (one out of every 1,150).
Ontario’s seven-day infection rate during this period was lower, at roughly one in 2,000, but rising fast. After setting a record with 1,132 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the province reported a 17.5-per-cent increase on that number Sunday, with 1,328 new cases.
Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist based in Mississauga, Ont., called the increase “very concerning” – particularly because it is happening as restrictions remain in place in the hardest-hit parts of the province.
“Maybe we’re not addressing the problem with the restrictions,” he said on CTV News Channel.
“It’s been over two weeks, and we’re still seeing this rise.”
It is believed that it takes approximately two weeks from public health restrictions being enacted or lifted before their effect begins to show up in daily case counts. Indoor dining and some other activities were banned in Toronto, Ottawa and the Toronto-adjacent Peel Region on Oct. 9 – more than four weeks ago – and yet those areas continue to have the highest COVID-19 diagnosis numbers in the province, and they continue to increase.