TORONTO — Rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in multiple provinces are stoking fears of a potential second wave, and one infectious disease expert says this surge in infections might ‘very well’ be the start of that next phase in the pandemic.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says that current upward trends in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec may be fuelling Canada’s second wave of coronavirus infections.
“It might be, it very well might be. We’re certainly seeing these cases rumble up in the wrong direction, and quite frankly what happens over the next few weeks and then over the next month or two ahead really depends on us. If we let our guard down as citizens, if we let our guard down for example as businesses and organizations, then we’ll see a spike in cases,” Bogoch told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday.
The growing uptick in cases numbers has politicians and health officials across Canada warning that parts of the country may soon return to the economic and social restrictions that closed businesses, shuttered schools and cancelled public events in March.
Bogoch said it is up to Canadians to ensure that does not happen.
“We all have a collective responsibility to keep these cases low, and quite frankly we haven’t been doing what we should be doing and we’ve been seeing a subsequent rise in cases,” he said.
Bogoch stressed following public health measures is key in maintaining new case numbers including frequent hand washing, mask wearing and physical distancing.
Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr says that Canadians should brace for more restrictions and shutdowns if COVID-19 cases continue to rise — even without the official arrival of a second wave.
“There could still be a large increase in cases related to behaviour and that gives government opportunity to go, ‘OK, what are we going to change now to get the transmission back under control?”‘ she told The Canadian Press. “That’s where government will need to focus.”
Quebec health authorities announced 276 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, its fourth day in a row reporting more than 200 new infections. Health officials in Ontario reported 313 new cases, marking the province’s highest daily total in 14 weeks and prompting the Ontario Hospital Association to warn that the province is “losing ground” in its battle against the virus.
While it is difficult to know exactly where these new COVID-19 cases are coming from – because of varying levels of contact tracing between provinces – Bogoch said previous trends from COVID-19 infections at the start of the pandemic can help health officials make decisions now.
“We know where outbreaks are going to occur, we know that it likes congregate setting, lots of individuals, indoor environments with close contact for prolonged periods of time so we can target those settings and help make those settings to be safer now so that we don’t see outbreaks in them later,” Bogoch said.
“We can learn from our past mistakes and we can learn from others and be proactive,” he added.
B.C. ordered the immediate closure of nightclubs and banquet halls last week after daily COVID-19 case numbers were consistently above 100, with many infections traced to young people out socializing at events where alcohol was served.
“I think we need to all start rethinking about what we need to do to get us through the next few months as a community together, and these are some of the things that we’ll need to put aside for now,” B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained at a news conference.
Last week in Quebec, the government said police can hand out tickets, ranging between $400 and $6,000, to those who don’t have a face covering in indoor public spaces or on public transit.
The province also announced several measures in addition to the fines, including the banning of karaoke and obliging bars to keep registers of clients as infection numbers rise.
However, infectious disease specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti told CTV News Channel on Monday that these provinces still have time to flatten their curves.
“I still maintain that a full lockdown like we saw in March is very unlikely because that was a time when we saw this tidal wave coming and we had nothing else to do. But at this point in time we can see the wave forming. When it’s small, we still have lots of time to do targeted interventions,” Chakrabarti said.
“Yes, this is concerning. Yes, we need to address this, but I think we should put this into perspective. We’re still in a good spot, we still have time,” he added.
With files from The Canadian Press
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