COVID-19: Is Canada's 2nd Wave Here?
With public spaces slowly lifting their restrictions, along with schools across Canada opening their doors to students and the cooler weather coming into play, there is one question on everybody’s mind: is Canada entering its second wave of COVID-19?
Image is courtesy of Wix
On September 30th, the country reported a total of 1,796 cases of COVID-19, the highest case count since the spring. This week alone, Ontario has hit more than 700 cases on two occasions, while Quebec is seeing upwards of 800 to 1000. It is evident that without further intervention, cases are just going to rise. What does this mean for provinces individually, and the country as a whole?
New restrictions to stay safe
Depending on where you live, safety restrictions may vary. In hotspot regions like Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, restrictions are tighter and more focused. For example, Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford, is recommending that the idea of ‘social circles’ be stopped for now and that people stick to interacting only with their household members when possible. Additionally, the province’s chief medical officer is advising that people should only leave their homes for essential trips and work or school. Indoor dining has also been restricted for at least the next four weeks. On the other hand, the Atlantic provinces have very few cases by contrast and lower rates of community transmission, therefore, they have much more relaxed precautions, especially due to the lack of case a surge over the past week. Nevertheless, all individuals, regardless of where they live, are strongly recommend to take all precautions when going into public; this includes wearing a mask, frequent handwashing, hand sanitizing, and maintaining a safe distance from people outside of their households.
Image is courtesy of Ottawa Public Health
The image above demonstrates how a single individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 can transmit the virus and affect others within their community. This demonstrates the need for people feeling unwell to stay home and why public events and gatherings must be put on hold or modified.
The arrival of flu season
Viruses tend to thrive in colder environments, as cold air helps to spread them. With the arrival of the Canadian weather, this is becoming an issue of worry for healthcare workers and officers. On top of this, with the arrival of winter comes the flu season. The worst part about this is that the flu and COVID-19 are that those infected with these viruses display very similar symptoms, making it harder for individuals to properly diagnose themselves and take the necessary precautions. Health authorities advise that if you are displaying any symptoms of sickness, that the best precaution to take is to stay home. Whether it be COVID or the seasonal flu, both viruses are easily transmitted to others when in close contact, and staying home ensures limiting the spread of any diseases, and helping to not overwhelm your local health centers.
The dangers of a second wave
At first glance, it seems that Canadian health systems are prepared for a second wave of the virus. After the first wave, testing centers have been increased, protocols for social distancing and mask-wearing have been implemented, and there is a general sentiment of caution rising amongst individuals since the pandemic has been here for around 7-8 months already. Yet, there are still major issues that will result from the second wave. First, testing the backlog. Labs have become overwhelmed with the number of individuals who want to get COVID-19 tests done and diagnosed, which results in people who may not be following quarantine protocols since they haven’t received confirmation about their status. Additionally, with academic institutions having reopened there are numerous opportunities for a community spread amongst students, who can in turn bring the virus home to elder individuals whom they may live with. Contact tracing has also become more complicated, as the opening of public facilities has prompted more visits and interactions between people, making it harder to alert those who may have been infected. While there have been lessons learned from Canada’s first wave, negligence from these lessons could result in an even worse second wave for Canadians, especially those living in COVID-19 hotspots.
Image is courtesy of Maclean's
The image above demonstrates the rate of new COVID-19 cases in Canada. It is evident that case numbers resemble those from March to May.
In the end, a second wave seems inevitable for Canada. If people take it upon themselves to be responsible citizens and follow all necessary precautions and rules laid out by Public Health, however, we can mitigate the spread and ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Article Author: Asima Hudani
Article Editors: Stephanie Sahadeo, Valerie Shirobokov