COVID-19: Canada's chief public health officer hopes provinces follow B.C.'s lead in reducing infection rate

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      Canada’s chief public health officer hopes that several Canadian provinces with the most COVID-19 caseloads begin to show signs of flattening the curve after British Columbia cautiously reported some early indicators last week that pandemic measures taken may be having an effect.

      In her daily update, Dr. Theresa Tam stated on March 29 that she will monitor Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec closely to see if those provinces, which have the highest coronavirus cases in the country, begin to show a decrease in the infection rate in the way that B.C. has.

      Dr. Tam also stated that the impact of social-distancing measures will become clearer later this week. Nonetheless, she emphasized the importance of all Canadians continuing on with their efforts in order to help lower infection rates. 

      B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry chose her words carefully on March 27 by stating that she was attempting not to “overcall” the situation as she expressed some potential optimism that preventative measures taken in B.C., including social distancing and closures of establishments, appeared to be contributing to a decrease in the rate of new COVID-19 cases in the province.

      B.C.’s rate of new cases had lowered to 12 percent, and would have been at an estimated 24 percent had measures not been implemented.

      Meanwhile, Quebec, which has the largest confirmed cases in the nation with 2,840 cases (and 22 deaths),

      Quebec Premier François Legault stated on March 29 that the infection rate appears to be stabilizing at 14 percent, while daily increase rates from the past week have been over 20 percent.

      Similar in approach to British Columbia and Ontario, Quebec has combined its probable and confirmed cases, whereas some other provinces, such as Saskatchewan and Manitoba, maintain separate probable and confirmed case tallies.

      Quebec’s number is thought to include large numbers of travellers who went abroad in the first week of March during the province’s spring break to outbreak hotspot destinations such as countries in Europe as well as Florida.

      With British Columbia having entered the community-transmission phase, Dr. Henry explained last week that the province has shifted testing focus to severe cases, healthcare workers, and cases not linked to travel while ceasing testing for those with mild symptoms who are in self-isolation.

      As of March 28, B.C. has conducted 38,697 tests and has ramped up to approximately 3,500 tests per day.

      Canada now has over 6,300 cases with 65 deaths, and is conducting over 10,000 tests per day.

      Last week, the United States became the country with the most confirmed cases in the world, having approximately 144,700 cases with almost 2,600 deaths.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook