The videoconference feed of Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, is seen in an interpreter’s booth during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. Tam says even though the average daily COVID-19 case count across the country is down 30 per cent compared to last week, it's not an accurate reflection of the state of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Canada’s top doctor says severe illness trends are still rising in most jurisdictions

Canada’s top doctor says even though the average daily COVID-19 case count across the country is down 30 per cent compared to last week, it’s not an accurate reflection of the state of the pandemic.

Dr. Theresa Tam says targeted testing policies and reduced testing continue to underestimate the number of true infections, noting severe illness trends are still rising in most jurisdictions and hospitalization rates are increasing across all age groups.

Quebec announced it will begin tracking COVID-19 rapid test results through an online portal, although experts question its usefulness and the accuracy of such data.

Health Minister Christian Dube says the government-run platform will help Quebec better track COVID-19 transmission in the community, given that publicly run PCR testing is reserved for people in high-risk groups.

COVID cases fuelled by the highly-transmissible Omicron variant continue to strain hospitals, with New Brunswick’s health minister saying most emergency room patients could be treated outside hospitals.

Alberta recorded its second-highest rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations with 1,418, one day after an overall record of 1,443.