Massive virus spike in Canada, PM says

David Ljunggren and Julie Gordon
·2-min read

Canada is recording a massive spike in COVID-19 cases which could overwhelm the hospital system, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, imploring Canadians to stay home as much as possible.

A second wave is ripping across the country, forcing several provinces to reimpose restrictions on movement and businesses.

Cases continue to spike and authorities complain some people are being more careless about taking precautions.

Trudeau, saying "a normal Christmas is quite frankly right out of the question", spoke shortly after chief public health officer Theresa Tam predicted new daily cases could soar to 60,000 by the end of the year from fewer than 5000 now.

"Cases across the country are spiking massively. We are facing winter, that's going to drive people inside more and more, and we're really at risk of seeing case loads go up and hospitals get overwhelmed," Trudeau said.

"So we need to do everything we can, right now, to slow the spread of COVID-19," he told reporters, stressing the need to curb personal contacts as much as possible.

Tam said the worst case scenario, a spike to 60,000 daily cases, would occur if people became more sociable.

Even if current restrictions on gatherings are maintained, new daily cases will jump to more than 20,000 by December 31.

Only if people reduce their personal contacts can the situation be kept stable and even then, the experience of harder-hit European countries strongly suggests more curbs will be needed, she said.

"Absolutely do not go above what we have now (in terms of daily cases) otherwise we are really in trouble," she said.

Officials predict that by November 30 the total death toll could be between 11,870 and 12,120, with the total cases between 366,500 and 378,600.

Canada has recorded a total of 315,751 cases and 11,265 deaths so far.