Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. Canada’s top doctor is warning of the increasing pressure placed on hospitals as COVID-19 case counts rise in different parts of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. Canada’s top doctor is warning of the increasing pressure placed on hospitals as COVID-19 case counts rise in different parts of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

VIDEO: Tam warns of increasing pressure on hospitals as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

There has been an average of more than 1,400 people in hospital each day in the past week

The rising tide of COVID-19 infections across much of Canada threatens to swamp a hospital system already under strain, the country’s top doctor warned Saturday amid case numbers that continued to set records in long-standing virus hot spots.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam described the situation in Western Canada, Quebec and Ontario as “worrisome” hours after the central provinces posted new single-day highs for provincial case counts. The soaring numbers there and beyond, she contended, have potential to overtax the country’s hospitals.

“This situation … it is putting pressure on local healthcare resources,” she said in a statement. “Hospitals are being forced to make the difficult decision to cancel elective surgeries and procedures in areas of the country to manage (increases).”

But in Steinbach, Man., where a day earlier the president of the province’s nurses union said nurses reported having to triage patients in their cars at the local hospital because of a lack of space in the Emergency Department, a large group gathered for an anti-mask rally.

Enhanced restrictions came into effect in Manitoba on Thursday barring social gatherings outside immediate household members.

Lewis Weiss, a local reeve who spoke at the rally but was not an organizer, said he followed the rules by keeping well away from everyone else but still received a $1,296 ticket from a provincial official for disobeying a public health order.

“We’re not protesting masks. We’re protesting the way they went about it,” said Weiss. “They’re closing the little stores in the malls but the big Walmart can stay open.”

The province said in an email that it appeared from social media posts that there was enforcement at the rally, but that officers were still at the scene and it couldn’t confirm who was handing out tickets.

RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine said police partnered at the rally with provincial health officials, who she said were there to “monitor and issue fines.”

“RCMP used a measured approach during today’s event and will be working with Manitoba Public Health to further investigate breaches of the Public Health Order,” Courchaine said in an email.

Tam said the number of people with severe cases of COVID-19 continues to increase with a daily average of more than 1,400 people being treated in hospitals over the past week.

That includes a daily average of 280 people in critical care and 55 deaths reported each day over the past seven days, she added.

But Tam warned that those numbers lag behind overall case increase figures by one to two weeks.

“The concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity,” she said.

Tam said Western provinces saw a weekly increase in daily hospitalization between 24 to 50 per cent compared to last week.

While Ontario and Quebec saw lower increases, those provinces continue to have the highest numbers of people in hospital, she added, saying flu season is also straining hospital capacity.

“This is why it is so important for people of all ages to maintain public health practices that keep respiratory infection rates low,” she said.

Tam urged Canadians to follow public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. At the current pace, it is estimated that there will be 10,000 cases daily by early December, she said.

“What comes next for us this fall and winter is for every one of us to determine, through our decisions and actions,” she said.

Tam’s warnings come as Ontario and Quebec set new single-day records for new cases in the past 24 hours.

Ontario recorded 1,581 new diagnoses and 20 new deaths on Saturday, while Quebec posted 1,448 cases and 25 deaths linked to the virus.

Manitoba added 237 to its case count, along with multiple deaths tied to a long-term care facility in Winnipeg that’s the subject of a provincial investigation.

Saskatchewan reported 308 cases on Saturday, though said the figure was inflated by a testing lull triggered by a snowstorm that kept prospective patients at home. The sharp spike comes a day after the province’s daily tally dipped to 81, a low not seen for days.

Nunavut, meanwhile, reported four more cases, bringing the territory’s overall count to eight.

The surging figures also come as Canadians across the country prepare to start celebrating the Hindu festival of Diwali.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among many political leaders urging celebrants to recognize the holiday virtually this year in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“I know celebrations will look different this year,” he said in a video statement posted to social media. “But the message at the heart of the day – that light, hope, and knowledge will always triumph over darkness, evil, and ignorance – remains the same, and it has never been more important.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s COVID-19 wave continues with 617 new cases

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Two of the weapons seized in a Nov. 8 traffic stop in Black Creek. Photo supplied by RCMP
RCMP seize guns, drugs in Black Creek traffic stop

Two arrested in connection with incident

Canadian Tire Courtenay’s Owner Bert Heeringa and General Manager Keith Pistell displaying the donated sanitizer. Photo supplied.
Courtenay Canadian Tire donates 2,400 litres of hand sanitizer to local not-for-profits

Organizations can request sanitizer via the Comox Valley Community Foundation

Christmas will look a bit different in Cumberland this year, not only because of COVID restrictions but due to changes from BC Hydro about hanging decorations on the poles. Record file photo
Snowflakes a no-go for Cumberland’s power poles

Village, business association looking to promote shopping local for holidays

The Trenton Golden Hawks are changing their name and uniform for one game on Nov. 27 as they become the Trenton Snowbirds for one game to honour Capt. Jennifer Casey. Twitter photo
Hockey team honouring fallen Snowbird with Comox Valley connection

The Trenton Golden Hawks will become the Trenton Snowbirds for one game

A late-blooming Welsh poppy gave the Cox garden some unexpected colour last month. Photo by Leslie Cox
DUCHESS OF DIRT: La Nina signs not necessarily steeped in science

LESLIE COX Special to The Record I am beginning to think climate… Continue reading

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

3L Developments president Dave Dutcyvich is pictured during a 2018 meeting at the regional district boardroom. File photo
Denied developer prefers not to log Comox Valley land: Planner

At its inaugural meeting Tuesday, the Comox Valley Regional District board refused… Continue reading

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Most Read