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

60 middle school students in one Abbotsford classroom? It’s true, stunned parent is told

Parent says she was in disbelief when her son told her he was in a class with 60 other kids

Three Abbotsford candidates so far come forward for provincial election

Mike de Jong, Simon Gibson and Bruce Banman to toss hats in ring

COVID-19 testing lineup wraps around block in Chilliwack

Testing lineup includes seniors, children and their parents as demand seems to surge

Shots fired into unoccupied vehicle in Abbotsford

Incident occurred Saturday night on Upper Maclure Road

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

Former worker at Surrey brewery claims he was bullied on the job

Human rights complaint to be heard against Surrey’s Central City Brewers and Distillers Ltd.

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

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

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Most Read