Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Federal health officials are preparing for surges in new cases of COVID-19, including an expected peak of the outbreak this fall that could temporarily exceed the ability of the health-care system to cope.

As Canada continues to reopen and as more people gather together indoors, the federal government is planning for a “reasonable worst-case scenario.”

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall, followed by ongoing ups and downs, which chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says could overwhelm health systems in different parts of the country.

That’s why health officials across Canada are now getting ready for outbreaks that could surpass the highest spikes of the virus experienced in March and April, to ensure they’re ready for the worst.

RELATED: ‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

RELATED: Worldwide virus cases top 20 million, doubling in six weeks

“It’s preparing for — something could happen to this virus, who knows? Something could change,” Tam told reporters Friday in Ottawa.

“We don’t know the seasonality of this virus, it’s continued throughout the summer, that’s for sure, but what if it demonstrates a certain type of acceleration under certain conditions?”

Canada is better prepared than it was when the pandemic first hit the country this spring, she said, but officials are now planning for the likelihood of concurrent outbreaks of seasonal influenza, other respiratory illnesses and COVID-19 this fall and winter.

“We are over-planning beyond what we had for the previous wave and I think that’s the prudent thing to do,” Tam said.

“This planning scenario is to get all of our partners up and down the health system to over-plan.”

Increases in infection rates of COVID-19 are expected as economic and social activities continue to ramp up, even with appropriate controls in place, according to the projection models.

The data released Friday suggests the number of cases by Aug. 23 could be as high as 127,740 and the number of deaths as high as 9,115.

It also shows “peaks and valleys” of outbreaks are expected to continue in Canada until January 2022.

Continuing to build up capacity within the health system, while encouraging people to follow best public health practices, will give Canada the best chance of keeping the epidemic on a “slow burn,” Tam said, while also preparing for a need to quickly ramp up response measures if case numbers spike.

One method to stop large outbreaks is to ensure people who are infected can be identified and quarantined as soon as possible, Tam said.

That’s why officials believe the COVID-19 mobile application will be an important tool.

The pilot launch of the COVID Alert app in Ontario has seen two million people, out of a provincial population of 14 million, download the app to date. Tam says she finds that encouraging.

—The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Moen tapped to run for Green Party in North Island riding

Moen says all issues should be viewed through environmental lens

VIDEO: Save Wild Salmon demonstrators march in Campbell River

March to put pressure on federal government to fulfill Cohen report recommendations

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

NDP candidate Babchuk a fixture in local politics since 2005

School trustee, city councillor and regional district chair sets sights on being North Island MLA

Multiple incidents of bear-spraying investigated

Police are investigating multiple incidents of people being bear sprayed on Sept.… Continue reading

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read