Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday, December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday, December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Feds say all large provinces need stronger COVID-19 response ‘now’

Infections continue to climb in the six provinces west of the Atlantic region

Health officials are urging Canadians to not drop their guard in anticipation of the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine, as federal forecasts predict the country will hit several grim new milestones during the holiday season.

New modelling released on Friday anticipates the COVID-19 death toll could hit nearly 15,000 by Christmas Day, while case counts are projected to climb to as many as 12,000 per day by the start of January.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Canada remains on a “rapid growth trajectory.”

In their update, the feds warned that all large provinces need to strengthen their COVID-19 responses “now” to stem the rise in infections.

“Knowing access to safe and effective vaccines for all Canadians is within sight might lead some to think COVID-19 is no longer problem. But the reality is very different,” Tam told reporters on Friday.

Infections continue to climb in the six provinces west of the Atlantic region, with rates rising precipitously Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, according to the federal data.

But Tam noted that forecast for the new year isn’t quite as grim as it looked two weeks ago, saying stricter measures in Manitoba and British Columbia appear to have helped slow the spread of the virus.

“When public health authorities and individuals work together to implement and adhere to more stringent controls, we can bend that curve.”

Tam said there are currently more than 73,200 active COVID-19 cases in Canada, up from about 52,000 just three weeks ago.

The national positivity rate is 6.5 per cent, Tam said, with 49 of 99 health regions reporting more than 100 cases per 100,000 population.

Increasing community spread is leading to more and bigger outbreaks in high-risk settings, Tam said, including hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, shelters and long-term care homes.

She said the spread in long-term care homes is of particular concern as infection rates rise among older Canadians who face a higher risk of COVID-19 complications.

Dr. Tom Wong, chief medical officer of public health for Indigenous Services Canada, said there’s also been a troubling spike in outbreaks in Indigenous communities.

There were 5,675 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves as of Dec. 10, according to Indigenous Services Canada, including 2,100 active cases.

Making sure early vaccine batches reach Indigenous populations is one of the key priorities of highlighted by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, due to the disproportionate consequences of infection in those communities.

The feds are setting aside additional vaccine doses for First Nations people who live on reserve, where health care is a federal responsibility, said Health Minister Patty Hajdu.

However Metis, First Nations and Inuit living in urban areas, for instance, will be considered part of the provincial population, she said.

This is “very concerning” for National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations.

“Whether you live on reserve or not, the federal government has responsibility to provide the vaccine to First Nations — without delay,” he tweeted after Hajdu’s remarks on Friday, adding his office has reached out to the minister for clarification.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

The stretch of trail north of Royal Bay Secondary connecting to Painters Trail at Murray’s Pond will be closed temporarily this week for invasive species removal. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood trail behind Royal Bay Secondary temporarily closed for invasive species removal

Cloure in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday this week

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read