It is high time for Canadians to pay attention to these reports about the novel coronavirus. Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia have each reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in new daily records in the past two weeks.
Ontario and Quebec both reported their highest daily figures in a month or more on Saturday. Even as this is the time of the year when viral diseases are least likely to be active, this means that every Canada’s five most populous provinces are being retold that COVID-19 is still a threat.
On Sunday, Dr. Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist, said respiratory viruses shouldn’t be circulating at all in July and August. Colin added that without doing anything, they should see no COVID – but they are doing a lot, and still seeing COVID. He said that it gives a sense that the virulence of this virus is there, and it would come back hard.
Also, Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, said it was essential for people to look at the bigger picture and not to be too concerned about short-term trends.
MORE THAN 5,000 ACTIVE CASES
Looking at trends around the number of active COVID-19 cases is one way to get a sense of that bigger picture. These numbers are less prone to the wild swings of one-day totals as patients are often considered active for a week or more.
Canada’s total number of active cases moved past the 5,000 marks for the first time in nearly three weeks, with 367 new cases of COVID-19 reported across Canada on Saturday, and only 145 new recoveries logged. It may be misleading to say the number of active cases is at its highest level in a few weeks.
Quebec has sometimes made major changes to its recovery figures with little explanation. This includes the 23,000 new recoveries announced on July 16. Canada would not have had more than 5,000 active cases since June – until Saturday if those 23,000 cases were to be removed from the historical data on active cases. On Saturday, Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist based in Mississauga, Ont., said that he does not see the overall state of COVID-19 activity in Canada as a significant concern. He said it was concerning what they were seeing out there.
A SECOND WAVE IN THE WEST?
B.C. has more active cases of COVID-19 than there were at any point during the first wave of the pandemic. The B.C.’s first wave of COVID-19 peaked on April 28, but by June, the number was below 200. That figure was maintained up to early July.
However, in the past three weeks, the increase has been slow. B.C. passed 400 active cases on August 10, passed 500 two days later and 600 also two days later. There were 824 active cases of COVID-19 in the province by August 21, more than had been there before. The number hit 1,014 on August 23. There were 982 active cases as of Friday last week.
In Manitoba, the active case count was down to the single digits in two months. But starting in July and continuing through August, there have been big increases more recently. Since August 19, Manitoba has not reported a decrease in the number of active cases. The number was at 462 as of Sunday, this being more than double the spring peak.
Besides in Saskatchewan, they reported twice more than 300 active cases of COVID-19 in late July. The caseload has shrunk since then, with fewer than 100 active cases reported every day for the past week. The number of active cases in Alberta has remained well below the province’s spring peak. They reported some of its highest single-day new case counts since April. Alberta has hovered between 1,000 and 1,200 active cases for the past four weeks.
STABILIZATION IN THE EAST AND NORTH
The number of reported cases in the West is not affecting the coronavirus condition in Central Canada, Atlantic Canada and the territories. Ontario was hitting some of its lowest patient numbers since the earliest days of the pandemic, while Western provinces were setting new records and seeing escalating case counts. The number stayed below 1,000 in Ontario for 12 days from August 9, reporting fewer than 1,000 active cases for the first time since March. However, there has been some escalation over the past two weeks. This is because they were 904 active cases of COVID-19 on August 16, 1,010 on August 23, and 1,181 on Sunday.
Because of the two major adjustments to Quebec’s number of recoveries, their numbers are a little harder to judge. However, over the past week and a half, the active caseload appears to have stopped falling and stabilized between 1,200 and 1,300.
In Atlantic Canada, the situation is similar. There were five active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia as of Sunday, three in Prince Edward Island, four in New Brunswick, and one in Newfoundland and Labrador. There were no active cases in any of the territories.
In Canada, as summer gives way to fall and the weather cools, Coronavirus activity is expected to ramp up, forcing Canadians to stay indoors where it is easier for the virus to spread. People are anticipating that the return of children to classrooms will worsen the situation. Around 20 teachers have been ordered to isolate in Quebec. This was after two teachers at one high school tested positive for COVID-19. The tests occurred before students were allowed in on a preparation day. Oughton said that it is too soon for the extent of COVID-19 spread in schools to show up in the province’s numbers, even if most French-language high schools in Quebec have resumed classroom instruction.