Canada is seeing a massive spike in COVID-19 cases which could overwhelm the hospital system, an emotional Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday, imploring Canadians to stay home as much as possible.
A second wave is ripping across the country, forcing several of the 10 provinces to reimpose restrictions on movement and businesses. Cases continue to spike and authorities complain some people are being more careless about taking precautions.
Trudeau, saying “a normal Christmas is quite frankly right out of the question”, spoke shortly after Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, predicted new daily cases could soar to 60,000 by the end of the year from less than 5,000 now.
“Cases across the country are spiking massively … we’re really at risk of seeing case loads go up and hospitals get overwhelmed,” said a clearly upset Trudeau.
He dismissed the idea of Ottawa invoking emergency powers to reintroduce the kind of widespread national shutdown that provinces imposed earlier in the year, saying “I’m not looking to bring in a federal hammer to try and do things”.
Tam said the worst case scenario, a spike to 60,000 daily cases, would occur if people became more sociable. Even if current restrictions on gatherings are maintained, new daily cases will jump to over 20,000 by Dec 31.
Only if people reduce their personal contacts can the situation be kept stable and even then, the experience of European nations strongly suggests more curbs will be needed, she said.
“Absolutely do not go above what we have now (in terms of daily cases) otherwise we are really in trouble,” she said.
Officials predict that by Nov. 30 the total death toll could be between 11,870 and 12,120, with the total cases between 366,500 and 378,600. Canada has recorded a total of 315,751 cases and 11,265 deaths so far.