Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Federal health officials are preparing for surges in new cases of COVID-19, including an expected peak of the outbreak this fall that could temporarily exceed the ability of the health-care system to cope.

As Canada continues to reopen and as more people gather together indoors, the federal government is planning for a “reasonable worst-case scenario.”

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall, followed by ongoing ups and downs, which chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says could overwhelm health systems in different parts of the country.

That’s why health officials across Canada are now getting ready for outbreaks that could surpass the highest spikes of the virus experienced in March and April, to ensure they’re ready for the worst.

RELATED: ‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

RELATED: Worldwide virus cases top 20 million, doubling in six weeks

“It’s preparing for — something could happen to this virus, who knows? Something could change,” Tam told reporters Friday in Ottawa.

“We don’t know the seasonality of this virus, it’s continued throughout the summer, that’s for sure, but what if it demonstrates a certain type of acceleration under certain conditions?”

Canada is better prepared than it was when the pandemic first hit the country this spring, she said, but officials are now planning for the likelihood of concurrent outbreaks of seasonal influenza, other respiratory illnesses and COVID-19 this fall and winter.

“We are over-planning beyond what we had for the previous wave and I think that’s the prudent thing to do,” Tam said.

“This planning scenario is to get all of our partners up and down the health system to over-plan.”

Increases in infection rates of COVID-19 are expected as economic and social activities continue to ramp up, even with appropriate controls in place, according to the projection models.

The data released Friday suggests the number of cases by Aug. 23 could be as high as 127,740 and the number of deaths as high as 9,115.

It also shows “peaks and valleys” of outbreaks are expected to continue in Canada until January 2022.

Continuing to build up capacity within the health system, while encouraging people to follow best public health practices, will give Canada the best chance of keeping the epidemic on a “slow burn,” Tam said, while also preparing for a need to quickly ramp up response measures if case numbers spike.

One method to stop large outbreaks is to ensure people who are infected can be identified and quarantined as soon as possible, Tam said.

That’s why officials believe the COVID-19 mobile application will be an important tool.

The pilot launch of the COVID Alert app in Ontario has seen two million people, out of a provincial population of 14 million, download the app to date. Tam says she finds that encouraging.

—The Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

Historic BC Tree Fruits head office in downtown Kelowna for sale

The company’s CEO said the decision was necessary due to a fickle fruit market

2020 overdose death toll rises to 73 in the Okanagan

Just under half of the deaths occurred in Kelowna

COVID-19 picture ‘much clearer,’ says Interior Health president

As fall routines set in, IH CEO Susan Brown reminds public to be vigilant in preventative practices

Suspects steal $30,000 in glasses from Lake Country business

Jimmy Choo, Smith, Ray Ban, Tom Ford and Maui Jims taken from optometry

More bats nothing to worry about, say Okanagan experts

The Okanagan Community Bat program says residents may see more young bats around

Interior Health reports five new COVID-19 cases

Across the region, 34 cases are active

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

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

Penticton quadruple murder trial begins in Kelowna next month

John Brittain, 69, is facing three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Kelowna man caught with up to 12K child porn files to be sentenced next month

Terry Krock told the court today that he is ‘very ashamed’ of his actions

Most Read