Cases of COVID-19 are declining in many parts of Canada, but experts say those early positive signs are dependent on widespread restrictions.
Quebec, now under a province-wide curfew, has seen new cases decline. Ontario has showed 11 consecutive declines in its seven-day average, a metric that helps to spot long-term trends compared to daily numbers that can spike up and down.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Friday that national daily daily case trends are trending down.
“This gives us hope that community-based control measures are starting to take effect,” Tam said. “But it is too soon to be sure that these measures are strong enough and broad enough to set us on a steady downward trend.”
Caroline Colijn, an infectious disease modeller at Simon Fraser University, said most of the provinces seem to be declining.
“Ontario’s kind of uncertain, Saskatchewan’s growing still or again, but the rest are kind of flat or declining,” said Colijn, who also holds a Canada Research Chair in mathematics for evolution, infection and public health.
“That’s the first decline we’ve seen in Quebec and Ontario for quite a while,” she said. “In our models, it looks like a genuine decline.”
More tools needed
In B.C., for example, Colijn said the epidemic is stabilizing with strict measures such as telling people not to socialize outside their household.
But Colijn fears Ontario’s stay-at-home order, Quebec’s curfew and restrictions in other provinces aren’t solutions that people can sustain for months.
If people don’t limit their number of contacts with others then cases will start to climb again until vaccinations reach the general population.