Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared Wednesday that a second wave of the coronavirus is already underway in most of Canada.
“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring,” Trudeau said during a rare address to the nation. “I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear and we can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s. Those were already decided by what we did or didn’t do 2 weeks ago.
“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving but we still have a shot at Christmas. Together we have the power to get this second wave under control,” he said telling Canadians they have the ability to flatten the pandemic curve once again.
Canada’s Thanksgiving falls on October 12.
The exponential growth of new cases is now of grave concern to public health officials trying to avoid a second lockdown.
Public Health Agency of Canada reported a near tripling of cases in the last five weeks, with young people under the age of 40 contributing the majority of cases.
“Canada is at a crossroads with the Covid-19 epidemic trajectory,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement Wednesday. “Unless public health and individual protective measures are strengthened and we work together to slow the spread of the virus, the situation is on track for a big resurgence in a number of provinces.”
The health agency reported Thursday that the national daily case count continues to increase, with an average of 1,144 cases reported daily during the past seven days. That average was just 380 in mid-August.
Dr. Tam emphasized that Canadians can still prevent a rapid resurgence of the virus. “As I have said, local public health authorities cannot do this alone, individual actions to prevent exposure and limit the number of close contacts are a must. This is not simply a matter of resources, it is a reality of the current level of accelerated growth,” she said in a statement.
‘Not a time for austerity’
The Trudeau government and several provincial leaders have indicated that targeted restrictions may be needed but they fear a second lockdown could put a fragile economic recovery in jeopardy.
Earlier Wednesday, Trudeau’s government delivered its Speech from the Throne, designed to set out its priorities for the upcoming parliamentary session.
The prime minister outlined a pandemic response with the mantra, “This is not a time for austerity.” Trudeau promised to create a million jobs for Canadians through a mix of programs including subsidizing wages, skills retraining and incentives for businesses to hire new employees, especially in environmentally focused sectors.
In addition, Trudeau said he will continue to provide income support for the unemployed, including making it easier to qualify for unemployment and a new benefit for those who do not qualify.
He also promised to help provinces now facing challenges with testing, long-term health care for seniors and school reopenings.
Canada has reported more than 150,000 cases of Covid-19 with 9,295 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins global tracker.