Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam urged Canadians once again on Wednesday to avoid non-essential outings as COVID-19 cases continued to rise across the country.
The country’s national-level data indicated daily averages of 5,139 new cases over the past seven days and 75,666 people tested daily, with 7.6 percent testing positive, Tam said in a statement on Wednesday.
The country reported a total of 346,728 COVID-19 cases and 11,697 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon, according to CTV.
The total number of COVID-19 cases is expected to surpass 350,000 on Thursday.
Tam said the number of people experiencing severe cases of COVID-19 is continuing to rise, putting a strain on health-care services and forcing hospitals to cancel surgeries.
“Cases are increasing among older adults, particularly those aged 80 years and older who currently have the highest incidence rate, nationally. More and larger outbreaks are occurring in long term care homes, congregate living settings and hospitals, and spreading in indigenous communities and more remote areas of the country,” Tam said.
“These developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services, and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” she added.
She said it’s safest to limit errands and outings to essentials and to avoid socializing with people beyond one’s household.
Record COVID-19 case numbers have prompted provinces and territories in the country to implement new restrictions and partial lockdowns. Tam said while it’s too early to measure their impact, public participation will be vital to their success.
“This is why as public health authorities implement measures to interrupt spread, Canadians are being called upon,” she said in a statement.
“It is safest for all of us to limit errands and outings to just the essentials, limit in-person activities to just our existing household members and keep up with key prevention practices,” she said, referring to handwashing, physical distancing and mask-wearing.
On Wednesday, Ontario urged its residents to restrict Christmas gatherings to members of their households as the province became the latest to unveil Christmas guidelines.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Ontarians should celebrate with people they live with unless they live alone. “We’re in the second wave of COVID-19 and we can’t take any chances.”
Manitoba is planning for a Christmas without group gatherings in the province.
Quebec will allow its people to gather in groups up to 10 in the province between Dec. 24 and 27 as long as they quarantine a week before and after.