Canada reached a grim and worrying milestone Tuesday in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths.
Alberta reported two deaths from COVID-19 to lift the national tally to 10,001 with a total of 222,887 reported cases in the country since the pandemic began in March.
COVID-19 case counts slowed across the country through the summer but have taken a big jump in many areas this fall, with new daily highs regularly being set through Central and Western Canada. The rising numbers have triggered new restrictions on public gatherings and indoor activities in several provinces.
“What we are living through is a horrific national tragedy,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday. “Families have lost loved ones, been devastated by these tragedies, and we need to know that there are more tragedies to come.”
Trudeau also said the COVID-19 pandemic “really sucks,” but added that a vaccine is coming.
Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first one was reported.
It’s not a milestone we want to achieve, and my worry is the speed at which things are changing.Cynthia Carr, Winnipeg epidemiologist
Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said she’s worried about the rapid spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks.
She said Manitoba reported 13 deaths between Oct. 20 to 26, compared with 13 people who died in 21 weeks from the start of the pandemic in March.
“Almost one in 20 people that are infected with COVID-19 in our country passed away,” Carr said in an interview. “It’s not a milestone we want to achieve, and my worry is the speed at which things are changing.”
Health Canada recently forecast 10,100 COVID-19 deaths in Canada by Nov. 1 as a worst-case scenario and now that number is close, she said.
Carr said the increased spread of COVID-19 will result in more opportunities for the virus to infect the elderly and other vulnerable people.
“The more that there is community-based spread, the fewer the options are for targeted approaches and restrictions without going back to a total shutdown,” she said.
But Carr added she doesn’t believe imposing further lockdowns on peoples economic and social well-being are the answer.
“We’re sabotaging those businesses and people that are paying the price because they are the ones that have been targeted as part of the solution to stop the spread,” she said.
It’s up to people to fight COVID-19 by reducing their interactions and practising physical distancing, she said.
“The pathway back is for us to do the right thing and do our own continued lockdowns,” said Carr.
Quebec and Ontario lead the country in COVID-19 deaths, with 6,172 in Quebec and 3,103 in Ontario.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.
With files from Reuters.
Also on HuffPost: