OTTAWA – New outbreaks of COVID-19 in young adults across the country are raising concerns about the impact these clusters of new cases could have on the continued easing of pandemic restrictions.
Ontario is reporting its highest daily number of confirmed COVID-19 infections since late June with 203 new cases Tuesday, prompting Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott to urge citizens to follow the rules of physical distance to end the disturbing trend.
Alberta and British Columbia have also seen an increase in new COVID-19 infections in the past two days. Manitoba has seen an outbreak in a few Hutterite colonies in recent days and some positive tests in international travelers.
Canada’s deputy chief public health officer Dr Howard Njoo says the rising number of new cases nationwide is worrying public health officials.
The daily number of new cases in Canada had slowed to an average of about 300 new cases per day, but that number has risen to an average of 460 new cases per day in the past four days.
The majority of those newly infected are young adults, many of whom contracted the novel coronavirus by going to bars, restaurants and attending indoor parties, Njoo told reporters Tuesday during a briefing in Ottawa.
“I think everyone is tired after spending the winter locked up,” he said.
“And now, with the better weather and summer, I think people just want to get out there, so I think there’s a fatigue factor in trying to maintain all of these good public health measures. ”
Njoo said he believes there is an “invincibility factor” also playing out in epidemics among young people, which is fueled by emerging scientific evidence that shows young people who contract COVID-19 are less likely to get seriously ill.
“I think at a certain age you think you can get by with anything… that’s where I think the challenge is, because even if they only have mild symptoms or if they are asymptomatic, the point is that they are part of our society. ”
Njoo suggested that some young people who attend indoor parties and do not follow appropriate physical distancing measures might do so because the ongoing easing of restrictions in the event of a pandemic – including the reopening of bars and restaurants – sent a signal that they can let their guard down.
But it’s up to local authorities to decide whether these establishments should be allowed to remain open, Njoo said.
“Moving forward, we also recognize that at some point we have to reopen our company. The tricky part, in fact, is trying to strike that balance as we as a society slowly discover how we move forward with the proper caution in terms of various sectors. ”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he was particularly concerned about data showing that 57% of Tuesday’s cases in his province were in people aged 39 or younger and that some of the outbreaks were linked to people attending parties indoors.
“I’m just asking people not to go to these parties, I don’t know why everyone wants to party so badly but – enough. We need to keep this under control and we will. ”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 21, 2020.
Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled the last name of Ontario’s Minister of Health, Christine Elliott.
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