| 24 May 2024, Friday |

Canada needs stricter measures to counter spread of COVID-19 variants: officials

COVID-19 variant cases are increasing rapidly in many parts of Canada and longer-range forecasts show that tougher public health restrictions will be required to counter the spread of the deadly virus, health officials reported on Friday.

Canada is expecting enough COVID-19 vaccine shots to double its supply by the end of next week as it scales up its inoculation program. But more transmissible variants now account for a high proportion of new infections, according to health officials.

“Increasing case counts, shifting severity trends and a rising proportion of cases involving variants of concern is a reminder that we are in a very tight race between vaccines versus variants,” Canada’s chief medical officer, Theresa Tam, told reporters.

While Canada has handed out first doses to many of the most vulnerable and very elderly, recent data reveals that young adults between 20 and 39 years of age are driving new cases now, health officials said.

Many parts of the country have started to relax some health restrictions put in place to beat back a second wave, but Tam said Canadians should buckle down now to ward off a sharp rise in infections and a third wave.

“We are closer now than ever, but it is still too soon to relax measures and too soon to gather in areas where COVID-19 is still circulating in Canada,” Tam added.

“So as Passover, Easter and Ramadan approach, make plans to celebrate safely, including having virtual celebrations to protect each other as we make this the last big push to keep the path clear for vaccines.”

As of Thursday, Canada had reported 22,790 deaths and 951,562 total COVID-19 cases. On Friday, the officials told reporters that new modeling showed the domestic death toll could rise to between 22,875 and 23,315 by April 4, with total cases rising to between 973,080 and 1,005,020.

  • Reuters