Canada’s COVID-19 curve has been on the upswing over the past two weeks, after steadily declining in June and flattening out in early July. On Thursday, Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, said that there’s this gradual but progressive creep of increasing new cases. The increase has not come as a surprise as it was expected that it would be easier for the novel coronavirus to spread as more parts of the country reopened.
According to Project Pandemic tracks, many of these new cases are associated with known outbreaks in several provinces. At the same time, some of them have been blamed on younger Canadians loosening up their social circles and “lockdown fatigue” and issues in migrant worker camps and other close-quarters settings.
CANADA DAY PARTIES IN KELOWNA, B.C.
Canada Day has resulted in an increase in COVID-19 cases in the largest city in the B.C. interior. At that time, eight known COVID-19 patients were in the city. The two private Canada Day parties are the most likely sources of the ongoing outbreak. As of Wednesday, more than 70 COVID-19 cases had been linked in some way to that outbreak. As a result, more than 1,000 people have entered self-isolation. Towners have been warned against visiting the city this summer, and regional restrictions may be imposed in that area.
CALGARY’S MYSTERIOUS UPSWING
Alberta, now holding the dubious distinction of being the province with the highest infection rate per capita, has led the charge for increasing COVID-19 numbers in Canada. On Wednesday, Dr. Abdu Sharkawy stated that about a month ago, they had controlled the pandemic really well. Most of the new cases are originating from Calgary, and this concern the experts, though, it’s not clear what’s driving the increasing caseload. There is a place or activity or gathering generally considered to be the source of the outbreak in other Canadian hotspots. As of Wednesday, there were 517 active cases of COVID-19 in Calgary.
Around three-quarters of the world’s Hutterites stay in Western Canada. In this region there are more than 350 Hutterite communities known as colonies who mostly live technology-free lives and speak their own language. As of last week, they were at the center of COVID-19 activity in the Prairies where two Hutterite colonies in Manitoba went into voluntary lockdown after reporting a combined five cases of the virus on July 17. The tally was up to 20 cases among three colonies a few days later. As the colonies attempt to repel the virus, church services, and communal meals have been put on hold.
Hutterite groups in Saskatchewan have been hit hard by the pandemic. As of Wednesday, seventeen colonies in that province were known to have had active cases of COVID-19.
MIGRANT FARM WORKERS AROUND WINDSOR, ONT.
As new numbers of cases in parts of province are low and allowed people to have fewer restrictions than those where the numbers are high, Ontario adopted a staged approach to reopening. Windsor, Ont., has also lagged among the last areas to reopen in and around Toronto. Of all new COVID-19 cases announced in Ontario on Thursday, Windsor and neighboring Essex County were responsible for more than one-quarter. As of Thursday, there were ten active outbreaks in the region.
MONTREAL’S BELOVED BARS
Quebec has been moving ahead faster than some others when it comes to reopening despite having by far more cases of COVID-19 than any other province. Montreal is hard-hit as in late June, Bars were allowed to start serving customers, with distancing and other safety measures in place. It wasn’t long until reports of coronavirus infections linked to bars began to pour in. Oughton said that there have been much concerns that facilities like bars, where there’s alcohol involved, are at a higher risk than most other businesses. Also, bar employees were not wearing the required personal protective equipment. This resulted in a proposal to close down drinking establishments. However, last week, Legault seemed to rule that out.