Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians to stay home as much as possible and avoid all non-essential travel as latest COVID-19 projections show a grim possibility of more than 60,000 cases a day if measures are not taken to curb transmission rates.
In a news conference out front of Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday (Nov. 20) Trudeau also called on employers to arrange for their employees to work from home.
We all know someone who’s not respecting the rules and the consequences are taking a toll on health care workers across the country, he said.
“We need to help them, we need to give them a break,” he said. “We need to stop this spike in cases.”
Trudeau says it's great to give people hope for Christmas that they will be able to see family, but the reality is that it all depends on what Canadians do right now.— Ashley Wadhwani (WAHD-WAH-NEE) (@ashwadhwani) November 20, 2020
"In the coming weeks, let's tighten up, let's be careful. We have done this before" #cdnpoli
The latest comments from the prime minister come just hours after Canada’s chief public health officer issued a sobering warning Friday: If contacts increase above current levels, we’ll be hurdling toward a worst-case scenario.
“Absolutely do not go above what we have now,” Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters. “Otherwise, we’re really in trouble.”
Tam emphasized the “urgency” to decrease infections as officials released dire new forecasts indicating that COVID-19 case counts have far surpassed levels seen during the first wave.
If Canadians increase their contact rates going into the holiday season, COVID-19 cases could skyrocket to 60,000 per day by the end of the year, according to the modelling.
That would be 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.
Tam warned “the time is now” for Canadians to do everything to do reduce their contacts, saying it will take a combined effort on the part of individuals and public health authorities to bring infection rates down to manageable levels.
Tam said at current rates of contact, Canada is careening toward a surge of more than 20,000 cases per day by the end of December, with a commensurate increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
“We have a long winter ahead,” Trudeau told reporters, reiterating for Canadians to follow safe hygiene rules, social distance and wear masks.
He advised Canadians to avoid gatherings of all sizes.
More to come.
– with files from The Canadian Press