test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.

COVID-19 death toll verges on 10,000 as second wave continues to surge

Nearly 10,000 Canadians have died due to COVID-19, a mark of the losses wrought by a pandemic that is far from over.

Twenty-six new deaths reported in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba pushed the death toll to 9,999 as of Tuesday afternoon.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the pandemic a “horrific national tragedy,” and warned that Canadians should brace for more.

“Families have lost loved ones, been devastated by these tragedies, and we need to know that there are more tragedies to come,” he told a briefing in Ottawa.

The death toll has climbed much more slowly since April and May, when outbreaks in long-term care homes and lack of medical knowledge about the novel coronavirus resulted in a higher proportion of fatal infections.

However, the pandemic has grown deadlier over the past month. There were 165 COVID-19 fatalities reported in September compared to more than 600 in October so far, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Ontario reported 827 new cases of COVID-19, and four new deaths due to the virus.

Quebec, where residents in its biggest cities will have to live with partial lockdowns for at least another four weeks, reported 963 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 more deaths.

The pandemic’s rising second wave could jeopardize large gatherings with friends and family over Christmas after a reined-in Thanksgiving.

“It’s frustrating knowing that unless we’re really, really careful, there may not be the kinds of family gatherings we want to have at Christmas,” Trudeau said.

He sought to spur hope ahead of a “tough winter.”

“We will get through this. Vaccines are on the horizon. Spring and summer will come and they will be better than this winter,” he said.

But the current situation he summed up with a single verb.

“This sucks. It really, really does.”

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities, despite frustrations over conflicting information on Halloween as well as varying COVID-19 testing requirements for students.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has suggested hockey sticks as a tool to hand out Halloween treats, while others are resorting to candy chutes or self-serve stations. But the Ontario government has recommended against trick-or-treating in parts of the province that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus resurgence.

Meanwhile school reopening plans sowed confusion about what symptoms in students demanded COVID-19 tests, triggering massive lineups at assessment centres and overwhelming laboratories where the tests are processed.

And Quebec Premier Francois Legault had his own ideas Tuesday about the prospects for a festive holiday in December.

“I really hope and I’m confident that in 28 days, we’ll be able to maybe not have big parties, for Christmas, but to be able to see our families,” he said in his own briefing.

In Prince Edward Island, chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison had unwelcome news for residents hoping to reunite with family from outside the Atlantic bubble over the December holidays.

“While we are always evaluating our decisions and guidance using the best available evidence, I do not expect right now that we will be reducing the 14-day self-isolation requirement prior to the Christmas holiday season,” she told a briefing in Charlottetown.

Under their bubble arrangement, the Atlantic provinces limit who can enter and require people who do come in from outside the region to quarantine for two weeks.

Mixed messaging threatens to chip away at trust in public health advice, said Tim Sly, an epidemiologist and professor emeritus at Ryerson University’s School of Public Health.

Dance studios in Ontario’s “hot zones” have been allowed to stay open, while gyms have been forced to shutter along with cinemas, casinos and performing arts venues, he noted.

“Quite honestly I don’t know why a distinction is made between those two,” Sly said.

Trudeau said circumstances have changed since the spring, when little was known about the novel coronavirus and there was one main message: “Everyone stay home.”

“We can be a little more targeted (now). But yeah, that means a little more complicated in our messages,” he said Tuesday.

Epidemiologists across the country have stressed the need for massive testing in order to stop the spread of the virus.

Sly pointed to Germany as a model, despite a recent spike in case numbers. German authorities have made both rapid testing and “open public testing,” which lets asymptomatic people access tests, key weapons in the war against viral resurgence.

“Testing is absolutely key and, at the other end after the fact, contact tracing. And we’ve been not prepared for these things — behind the 8-ball,” Sly said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.

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

Just Posted

(Black Press file photo.)
Red Deer city council holds closed-door discussion about proposed aquatics centre

Recommended design, cost and location won’t be made public until next spring

A community gathering space was created in front of the new Red Deer Culture Services Centre before the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (Advocate file photo).
Red Deer’s Culture Services Centre to get additional $4.6 M in renovations

It’s one of many capital projects approved by city council

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, reported an additional 1,307 COVID-19 cases Tuesday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Mayor
Mayor Veer appointed as Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer has been appointed an Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel by… Continue reading

Const. Jason Tress
Mountie testifies another RCMP officer sexually assaulted her at 2012 party

Former Mountie on trial for sexual assault in connection with incident in northwestern Alberta

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary's Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season's top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CP NewsAlert: Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

CP NewsAlert: Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney watches late in the second half of the team's MLS Cup soccer match against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Seattle. Vanney has stepped down as coach of Toronto FC. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo-Elaine Thompson
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney steps down, says it’s the right time to move on

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney steps down, says it’s the right time to move on

Hamilton Forge FC's Giuliano Frano (8) heads the ball against CD Olimpia's Jorge Benguche (9) during Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2019 second half soccer action in Hamilton, Ontario on Thursday, August 22, 2019. Forge FC looks to win its way into the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday when it takes on Haiti's Arcahaie FC in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF League, a 22-team feeder competition that sends six clubs to CONCACAF's elite club tournament. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Forge FC loses penalty shootout to Haitian side in CONCACAF League quarterfinal

Forge FC loses penalty shootout to Haitian side in CONCACAF League quarterfinal

Public health must balance science and society: former top doctor

Public health must balance science and society: former top doctor

California boat captain indicted in fire that killed 34

California boat captain indicted in fire that killed 34

President Donald Trump participates in a video teleconference call with members of the military on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump headed to Georgia as runoff boost, but also a threat

Trump headed to Georgia as runoff boost, but also a threat

Flames and exhaust trail behind a Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang'e 5 lunar mission after it lifted off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang in southern China's Hainan Province, early Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back material from the moon's surface for the first time in more than 40 years — an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
China spacecraft lands on moon to bring rocks back to Earth

China spacecraft lands on moon to bring rocks back to Earth

FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, vials used by pharmacists to prepare syringes used on the first day of a first-stage safety study clinical trial of the potential vaccine for COVID-19 rest on a lab table at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. An influential scientific panel on Tuesday, Dec. 1, is set to tackle one of the most pressing questions in the U.S. coronavirus epidemic: When the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine become available, who should be at the front of the line for shots? (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
US panel: 1st vaccines to health care workers, nursing homes

US panel: 1st vaccines to health care workers, nursing homes

Most Read