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Too soon to know if Canada's COVID-19 case decline will continue, Tam says

Last Updated Jan 24, 2021 at 8:12 pm EST

People arrive to be tested for COVID-19 at a clinic in Montreal, on Jan. 24, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

It’s still too soon to know whether the recent downward trend in new COVID-19 cases will continue, Canada’s chief public health officer said Sunday as several provinces grappled with outbreaks that threatened to derail their fragile progress.

Dr. Theresa Tam said there’s been an improvement in the COVID-19 numbers in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, but the disease is regaining steam elsewhere.

“While community-based measures may be starting to take effect in some areas, it is too soon to be sure that current measures are strong enough and broad enough to maintain a steady downward trend across the country,” she wrote in a statement.

Some long-standing virus hot spots have made headway in lowering the number of new cases in recent weeks, but are still fighting outbreaks and flare-ups as they race to vaccinate vulnerable communities.

The federal public safety minister announced Sunday that the Canadian Armed Forces will support vaccine efforts in a large swath of northern Ontario.

Bill Blair said on Twitter that armed forces personnel will support vaccine efforts in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a collection of 49 First Nations spanning about two thirds of the province.

The military has previously been asked to help with the vaccine rollout in First Nations communities in Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba.

In a statement, Tam said the prospect of vaccines has offered Canadians “hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight.”

But in the meantime, she stressed that all Canadians need to keep following health measures, even after they’re immunized.

She said following public health measures will also reduce the spread of new variants of COVID-19, including the ones identified in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa.