Canada forecasts show fast coronavirus spread; officials urge new restrictions

By Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren OTTAWA (Reuters) - Longer-range forecasts project the second wave of the coronavirus spreading rapidly through Canada, and all the major provinces need to impose more restrictions, federal health authorities said on Friday. Although many of the 10 provinces have already reimposed some limitations on businesses and limited gatherings as numbers continue to spike, chief public health officer Theresa Tam said more action was needed to reduce pressure on the healthcare system as hospitalizations soar. 'The current daily case count far exceeds the peak of the first wave...

Reuters December 12, 2020 00:11:08 IST
Canada forecasts show fast coronavirus spread; officials urge new restrictions

Canada forecasts show fast coronavirus spread officials urge new restrictions

By Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Longer-range forecasts project the second wave of the coronavirus spreading rapidly through Canada, and all the major provinces need to impose more restrictions, federal health authorities said on Friday.

Although many of the 10 provinces have already reimposed some limitations on businesses and limited gatherings as numbers continue to spike, chief public health officer Theresa Tam said more action was needed to reduce pressure on the healthcare system as hospitalizations soar.

"The current daily case count far exceeds the peak of the first wave... There is little indication that this upward trajectory will change without further intensifying public health measures," she said in a news conference.

Local authorities should implement "restrictions, closures and control measures" while urging people to cut their interaction with others, she added, saying that without this action, there could be 12,000 new cases per day by January.

Tam said that by Dec. 25 the domestic cumulative death toll could be between 14,410 and 14,920, with the total number of cases ranging from 531,300 to 577,000. Canada has so far reported 13,109 deaths and 442,069 cases.

For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread of COVID-19, open https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/ in an external browser.

Howard Njoo, Tam's deputy, said the second wave was exerting enormous pressure on the healthcare system.

In some parts of the country, "we're on the point of being completely overloaded," he told the briefing.

Next week, Canada is set to become only the second Western nation after Britain to start vaccinating against the coronavirus. The first 30,000 doses of Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine are set to arrive in the next few days and could be administered on Monday.

Regulators have received rolling applications for three other experimental vaccines, from Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson.

The Moderna vaccine is farthest along the regulatory path, and Tam said she expects a decision "soon."

Officials have said they expect to receive 6 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines before the end of March. Each vaccine requires two doses, given about three weeks apart.

The United States could also begin a massive vaccination program next week, with U.S. regulators expected to soon authorize emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine.

"These holidays are going to be very difficult," Health Minister Patty Hajdu said at the same news conference, after urging people not to travel and gather during the Christmas holidays.

"We're going to have to be very, very cautious in the next several weeks ... I'm counting on Canadians this Christmas to take care of each other and protect each other. We can do it for a little longer."

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Matthew Lewis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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