People arrive to be tested for COVID-19 at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, January 24, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Too soon to know if Canada’s COVID-19 case decline will continue, Tam says

Too soon to know if Canada’s COVID-19 case decline will continue, Tam says

MONTREAL — It’s still too soon to know whether the recent downward trend in new COVID-19 cases will continue, Canada’s chief public health officer said Sunday as several provinces grappled with outbreaks that threatened to derail their fragile progress.

Dr. Theresa Tam said there’s been an improvement in the COVID-19 numbers in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, but the disease is regaining steam elsewhere.

“While community-based measures may be starting to take effect in some areas, it is too soon to be sure that current measures are strong enough and broad enough to maintain a steady downward trend across the country,” she wrote in a statement.

Some long-standing virus hot spots have made headway in lowering the number of new cases in recent weeks, but are still fighting outbreaks and flare-ups as they race to vaccinate vulnerable communities.

The federal public safety minister announced Sunday that the Canadian Armed Forces will support vaccine efforts in a large swath of northern Ontario.

Bill Blair said on Twitter that armed forces personnel will support vaccine efforts in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a collection of 49 First Nations spanning about two thirds of the province.

The military has previously been asked to help with the vaccine rollout in First Nations communities in Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba.

Health officials in Ontario were also investigating whether a long-term care home could become the second in the province to be linked to a U.K. variant of COVID-19, after a first home in Barrie, Ont., made headlines when it became infected with the more contagious strain.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said Sunday that an individual with the U.K. variant within the region had close contact with a person who is also part of an outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community, a long-term care home in Bradford West Gwillimbury, south of Barrie.

Ontario’s daily case count stood at 2,417 on Sunday, up slightly from the figure recorded a day earlier but significantly lower than levels seen earlier in the month when the province consistently logged more than 3,000 new diagnoses every 24 hours.

Quebec, meanwhile, reported a fifth straight day with a decline in the number of hospitalizations as the health minister urged citizens to keep following protective measures. But the province was still dealing with more than 1,350 active outbreaks, including one at a jail north of Montreal with over 60 cases.

Farther west, Police in Regina said they monitored a weekend anti-lockdown protest outside the home of Saskatchewan’s top doctor and are still determining if further action will be taken.

Premier Scott Moe condemned the protest targeting Dr. Saqib Shahab in a statement late Saturday, saying those who disagree with his government’s decisions should take their issues up with him or a local legislator rather than going after a “dedicated public servant and his family.”

He said Shahab should not be subjected to harassment from a “group of idiots” and that the government is looking into long-term security options to protect the chief medical officer of health and his relatives.

The Regina Police Service issued a release saying officers monitored the situation and conducted an investigation until the protesters departed after about an hour.

Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 case count rose by 260 on Sunday as the province announced it had exhausted its supply of vaccines.

Officials said they had delivered 101 per cent of available inoculations, accounting for the overage by saying they’d found “efficiencies” when drawing doses from vaccine vials.

Manitoba, meanwhile, logged 222 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and three more deaths.

Alberta also recorded a decline in case counts with 463 new diagnoses, news the province’s top public health official characterized as reassuring.

“We continue to see encouraging signs with the decline in active cases and hospitalizations,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a tweet. “Let’s keep the momentum going and follow all public health guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

The news was less positive in Nunavut, where officials recorded a surge in new COVID-19 cases after weeks without infections. The territory reported 13 new diagnoses in Arviat, a community of about 2,800 which had been the centre of Nunavut’s largest COVID-19 outbreak and at one point had 222 cases.

While some provinces and territories reported flare-ups of new infections, other provinces had better news to report.

Newfoundland and Labrador did not record any new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, while Nova Scotia identified just one.

New Brunswick fared less well as it reported 20 new cases, just hours after the hard-hit Edmundston region entered lockdown.

In a statement, Tam said the prospect of vaccines has offered Canadians “hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight.”

But in the meantime, she stressed that all Canadians need to keep following health measures, even after they’re immunized.

She said following public health measures will also reduce the spread of new variants of COVID-19, including the ones identified in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 24, 2021

With files from Victoria Ahearn in Toronto, Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton and Kevin Bissett in Fredericton

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Traffic will be delayed on 40th Avenue and 19th Street until the end of February. (Advocate file photo).
Traffic delays expected downtown this weekend

Red Deer drivers will be delayed in the downtown area of the… Continue reading

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read