Tam Warns of ‘Urgency’ to Lower Infections as Projections Paint Dire Scenario

November 20, 2020 Updated: November 20, 2020

OTTAWA—Canada’s chief public health officer says there’s “urgency” to bring infections down as officials released dire new forecasts indicating that COVID-19 case counts have far surpassed levels seen during the first wave.

Dr. Theresa Tam says COVID-19 cases could skyrocket to 60,000 per day by the end of the year if Canadians increase their contact rates.

The modelling predicts that at current rates of contact, Canada is careening towards a surge of more than 20,000 cases per day by the end of December.

But if socialization increases, the projections indicate that as 2020 draws to a close, Canada could see a twelvefold increase from the current level of around 5,000 cases per day, which is already straining the health-care system in some regions.

The forecasts predict that at current rates Canada’s case total could land between 366,500 and 378,600 and the death toll could fall between 11,870 and 12,120 by the end of the month.

Currently, Tam says an average of 4,800 cases are being reported daily—about a 15 percent increase compared to last week.

The data says the percentage of people testing positive has increased to about 6.5 percent, above the World Health Organization’s benchmark of 5 percent.

Tam says this could indicate that Canada is not testing enough, and is a clear sign that the spread of the virus is accelerating.

Tam says there are about 52,000 active cases in Canada to date, with a cumulative tally of more 315,000 cases.

Still, Tam says that amounts to less than 1 percent of the population that has tested positive, meaning the vast majority of Canadians are still susceptible to infection.