COVID-19 highs in provinces are underestimates: health experts

Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia reported a record number of COVID-19 cases on Christmas Eve as Nunavut ordered a full lockdown to prevent further spread of the virus.

Health officials across the country have warned the latest figures are an understatement and a sign of what’s yet to come, and again urged people to rethink large gatherings during the holidays.

Quebec reported just over 10,000 new infections a day on Friday, a record compared to the 9,397 cases reported a day earlier.

Ontario had 9,571 new cases, a jump from 5,790 on Thursday.

“The Omicron variant is more contagious than anything seen since the start of the pandemic,” wrote the Premier of Quebec, François Legault, in a Christmas message posted on Facebook.

He warned that more difficult weeks are ahead.

“Due to the highly transmissible nature of the Omicron variant, the number of cases was expected to increase during the winter months,” said Alexandra Hilkene, spokesperson for Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

“We expect them to continue to increase over the next few days and weeks as other jurisdictions see similar increases in the per capita case rate.”

Manitoba has reported 742 daily cases, its highest level since the pandemic.

The province’s chief public health officer Dr Brent Roussin said the number is likely underestimated as the province’s testing system is at full capacity and there is a backlog of 10,000 tests.

“We have set a daily record, so Manitobans need to prepare,” Roussin said at a press conference.

“Vacation plans have to change. If you’re planning on going out, we need people to reconsider this… if you’re going to three or four gatherings this weekend, it should be reduced to one.”

Nunavut, with eight active cases in various communities, has ended all gatherings inside by ordering a “kill switch” lockdown.

All non-essential businesses must close within the territory, and travel within and outside certain communities has been restricted to essential purposes only.

The order came a day after tighter restrictions were announced in Iqaluit, when a case was confirmed in a person who had not left the city for more than a month.

“With the introductions of COVID-19 in several communities over the past week, we must adopt the most stringent public health restrictions across the country,” Public health director Dr Michael said on Friday. Patterson, in a press release.

“I understand this will make the holiday season more difficult for many, but it is necessary for the health and safety of our communities and loved ones.”

Also on Friday, Nunavut MP Lori Idlout said she tested positive for COVID-19 the day before and was isolating herself at her home in Iqaluit.

“I am doubly vaccinated which helps keep my symptoms mild,” she said in a statement.

“I share my diagnosis to remind people that the pandemic is still ongoing. Even though we are all tired of the pandemic, it is very important to get vaccinated and get vaccinated when we can. “

British Columbia has reported 2,441 daily cases and a total of 10,415 active cases. The new cases eclipsed Thursday’s previous record of 2,046 infections.

Health chief Dr Bonnie Henry said British Columbia has also reached its COVID-19 testing capacity.

She asked residents not to get tested unless they are showing symptoms and encouraged those who believe they have COVID-19 to self-isolate.

“Omicron is different,” she said. “In a way, we’re in a different game, a different pandemic now. “

In his annual Christmas Facebook post, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to “keep coming forward for one another” by following public health measures and encouraging friends and family to to get vaccinated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 24, 2021.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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