Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. Canada’s top doctor is warning of the increasing pressure placed on hospitals as COVID-19 case counts rise in different parts of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. Canada’s top doctor is warning of the increasing pressure placed on hospitals as COVID-19 case counts rise in different parts of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

VIDEO: Tam warns of increasing pressure on hospitals as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

There has been an average of more than 1,400 people in hospital each day in the past week

The rising tide of COVID-19 infections across much of Canada threatens to swamp a hospital system already under strain, the country’s top doctor warned Saturday amid case numbers that continued to set records in long-standing virus hot spots.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam described the situation in Western Canada, Quebec and Ontario as “worrisome” hours after the central provinces posted new single-day highs for provincial case counts. The soaring numbers there and beyond, she contended, have potential to overtax the country’s hospitals.

“This situation … it is putting pressure on local healthcare resources,” she said in a statement. “Hospitals are being forced to make the difficult decision to cancel elective surgeries and procedures in areas of the country to manage (increases).”

But in Steinbach, Man., where a day earlier the president of the province’s nurses union said nurses reported having to triage patients in their cars at the local hospital because of a lack of space in the Emergency Department, a large group gathered for an anti-mask rally.

Enhanced restrictions came into effect in Manitoba on Thursday barring social gatherings outside immediate household members.

Lewis Weiss, a local reeve who spoke at the rally but was not an organizer, said he followed the rules by keeping well away from everyone else but still received a $1,296 ticket from a provincial official for disobeying a public health order.

“We’re not protesting masks. We’re protesting the way they went about it,” said Weiss. “They’re closing the little stores in the malls but the big Walmart can stay open.”

The province said in an email that it appeared from social media posts that there was enforcement at the rally, but that officers were still at the scene and it couldn’t confirm who was handing out tickets.

RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine said police partnered at the rally with provincial health officials, who she said were there to “monitor and issue fines.”

“RCMP used a measured approach during today’s event and will be working with Manitoba Public Health to further investigate breaches of the Public Health Order,” Courchaine said in an email.

Tam said the number of people with severe cases of COVID-19 continues to increase with a daily average of more than 1,400 people being treated in hospitals over the past week.

That includes a daily average of 280 people in critical care and 55 deaths reported each day over the past seven days, she added.

But Tam warned that those numbers lag behind overall case increase figures by one to two weeks.

“The concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity,” she said.

Tam said Western provinces saw a weekly increase in daily hospitalization between 24 to 50 per cent compared to last week.

While Ontario and Quebec saw lower increases, those provinces continue to have the highest numbers of people in hospital, she added, saying flu season is also straining hospital capacity.

“This is why it is so important for people of all ages to maintain public health practices that keep respiratory infection rates low,” she said.

Tam urged Canadians to follow public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. At the current pace, it is estimated that there will be 10,000 cases daily by early December, she said.

“What comes next for us this fall and winter is for every one of us to determine, through our decisions and actions,” she said.

Tam’s warnings come as Ontario and Quebec set new single-day records for new cases in the past 24 hours.

Ontario recorded 1,581 new diagnoses and 20 new deaths on Saturday, while Quebec posted 1,448 cases and 25 deaths linked to the virus.

Manitoba added 237 to its case count, along with multiple deaths tied to a long-term care facility in Winnipeg that’s the subject of a provincial investigation.

Saskatchewan reported 308 cases on Saturday, though said the figure was inflated by a testing lull triggered by a snowstorm that kept prospective patients at home. The sharp spike comes a day after the province’s daily tally dipped to 81, a low not seen for days.

Nunavut, meanwhile, reported four more cases, bringing the territory’s overall count to eight.

The surging figures also come as Canadians across the country prepare to start celebrating the Hindu festival of Diwali.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among many political leaders urging celebrants to recognize the holiday virtually this year in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“I know celebrations will look different this year,” he said in a video statement posted to social media. “But the message at the heart of the day – that light, hope, and knowledge will always triumph over darkness, evil, and ignorance – remains the same, and it has never been more important.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s COVID-19 wave continues with 617 new cases

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
UPDATE: Black bear tranquillized, being relocated by conservation officers

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Ladysmith resident Bonnie Cook lost the use of most of her basement and her backyard after experiencing a major water leak. (Cole Schisler photo)
Drip by drip: water line leaks lead to big repair bills for Ladysmith homeowners

Nearly all reported leaks occur on old copper lines that have been bent or manipulated

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ superintendent Scott Saywell at a May 6 press event showing off two new electric school buses. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district shows off electric buses

New buses anticipated to reduce 17 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from SD68 buses

An Ater-group Airon Slug identified during YES’s Bio-Blitz. (Yellow Point Ecological Society photo)
Yellow Point Ecological Society’s Bio-Blitz a big success

The Yellow Point Ecological Society held their first-ever Bio-Blitz over the weekend… Continue reading

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Island Health has confirmed COVID-19 exposures at Ecole des Deux Mondes in Campbell River on May 4 and 5, and at Mill Bay Nature School in Mill Bay on April 28, 29, 30 and May 3. (Metro Creative photo)
Two new COVID-19 school exposures confirmed by Island Health

Health authority contacting anyone exposed at Ecole des Deux Mondes, Mill Bay Nature School

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read