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Canada could see 60K daily COVID-19 cases by year-end, modelling predicts

Last Updated Nov 20, 2020 at 8:28 pm EST

New modelling from federal health officials show Canada will see between 20,000 to 60,000 COVID-19 cases per day by the end of the year.

By the end of this month, Canada’s death toll is expected to reach 12,000.

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada’s future hangs in the balance if people don’t reduce their contacts to rein in the spread of COVID-19.

Trudeau addressed reporters outside his home at Rideau Cottage, the site of his daily briefings during the first wave of the pandemic last spring.

The prime minister acknowledged the growing fatigue Canadians face as the pandemic drags on, but says actions now could determine the country’s fate for generations to come.

He also recognized the financial toll closures could take, and says his government his committed to helping businesses weather the storm.

But Trudeau says that lockdown measures are a better way to ensure long-term economic success than letting the spread of the virus continue unchecked.

The average daily case count in near 4,800, about a 15 per cent increase from last week and modelling shows there is rapid growth in the six provinces outside the Atlantic bubble.

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 could hit 60,000 if socialization increases.

Test positivity rate has been growing in the last few weeks and has reached over 6.5 per cent. Anything above five per cent indicates countries aren’t testing enough, according to the World Health Organization.

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 one per cent of the population that has tested positive, meaning the vast majority of Canadians are still susceptible to infection.

Tam pointed to Western European countries confronting COVID-19 resurgences as a cautionary tale of where Canada could be heading, and what it will take to douse the wildfire spread of the virus.

Countries such as France and Belgium are starting to curb massive cases increases and surging hospitalizations after closing non-essential businesses and limiting outings to the necessities, said Tam.

She noted that several provinces, such as Manitoba, have implemented tougher restrictions in recent days, saying authorities will hopefully see the rewards of those measures in the weeks to come.