COVID-19 cases on the decline across most of Canada, new modelling shows

The third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be on the decline across Canada, though some areas are still battling the latest resurgence of the virus, according to new federal pandemic modelling.

According to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, while Canada’s third wave appears to be on the decline and the number of new cases are projected to keep dropping, it’s not yet time to ease up on public health restrictions.

“Over the past month, things have taken a great turn for the better,” Tam said. “Our efforts have got us well and truly over the peak of the third wave nationally and heading for a much better summer, if we can stay the course.”

The updated national picture on the current state and future trajectory of the pandemic shows a drop in new cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths compared to where the country was a month ago.

In Manitoba, however, these key virus indicators are still surging, the modelling shows, and further interventions are needed to start seeing the curve flatten in that province.

Canada’s average case counts are now less than half of what they were during the peak of the third wave in mid-April, with under 3,400 cases being reported daily, over the past 7-days.

The early indications are that the combination of restrictions across Canada and the growing number of vaccinations is proving to be “highly effective” in limiting the number of new cases being recorded.

Tam said Friday that hospitalization rates began declining for Canadians aged 60-79 once that demographic reached 60 per cent vaccination coverage, and for those aged 40-59, once 40 per cent of that demographic received a vaccine, hospitalization rates began declining.

The big caveat to the latest modelling is that it’s yet to factor in any increase in spread as a result of the May long weekend, or what could happen with some provinces like Quebec and Alberta quickly moving to loosen restrictions.

Based on short-term forecasts Canada is on a “low” but still “steady” trajectory for new cases and deaths, with the country forecast to hit between 1,387,210 to 1,426,400 total cases by June 10 and 25,590 to 26,310 deaths by that time.

As of last month’s modelling update, the data showed that Canada was still in the midst of a strong resurgence of COVID-19 infections, but that there were some initial indications that the stronger public health restrictions put into place were beginning to work.

Now, Canada’s top Public Health Agency of Canada officials say, while the pandemic appears to be coming under control, more progress is needed on vaccinations before restrictions can be eased, or the country could face a fourth wave.

“If measures are relaxed, increasing the number of community-wide in-person contacts, resurgence is likely,” said Tam.

So far, vaccination take-up has been high, with more than 22 million doses administered, providing 62 per cent of eligible Canadian adults with at least one dose. As well, the administration of second-shots is beginning to accelerate now that most Canadians have been offered first shots.

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