Trudeau urges vigilance on public health measures to contain deadly spike in COVID-19 cases

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today pleaded with Canadians to bear down and follow public health rules to contain an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases, as new projections warn of a possible explosion in the caseload.

New PHAC modelling shows there could be 60,000 new infections a day if Canadians increase their contacts

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed Canadians today on the increase in COVID-19 cases. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today pleaded with Canadians to bear down and follow public health rules to contain an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases, as new projections warn of a possible explosion in the caseload.

Speaking to journalists outside his residence at Rideau Cottage — a return to the doorstep news conferences that characterized the early days of the pandemic — Trudeau asked Canadians to resist the temptation to let their guard down after 10 months of making sacrifices.

"We are facing [a] winter that's going to drive people inside more and more, and we're really at risk of seeing caseloads go up, and hospitals get overwhelmed, and more loved ones dying," he said.

"So we need to do everything we can right now to slow the spread of COVID-19, to stop the spike in its tracks."

Trudeau said the prospect of a normal holiday season this year is "right out of the question."

Trudeau's plea comes as new modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) shows the number of COVID-19 cases could reach 60,000 a day by the end of December if Canadians increase their current level of contact with other people.

That number could be limited to 20,000 a day if Canadians maintain their current number of personal contacts, according to PHAC. 

But to drive that number under 10,000 cases a day by the end of the year, Canadians would need to limit their interactions to essential activities while maintaining physical distancing and adhering to other public health guidelines.

Trudeau acknowledged that people are getting tired of restrictions, especially in the wake of recent reports suggesting a vaccine will be available in the new year.

"We need to hang in there. We need to know that the end is in sight, but we're not there yet," he said.

WATCH: Trudeau praises front-line workers as 'heroes'

Trudeau says Canadians need to reduce contacts to take the pressure off health care workers

2 years ago
Duration 2:37
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned to the steps of Rideau Cottage, where he made an impassioned plea to Canadians to slow the spread of the COVID virus.

Trudeau also issued an emotional plea to the public to protect the front line workers now risking their lives, and the lives of their family members, to keep Canadians safe.

"They have been heroes. They have been going above and beyond anything they might have thought they were signing up for," he said.

"We need to help them. We need to give them a break. We need to stop this spike in cases. We need to think about them as we think about our loved ones who need medical help, who are vulnerable to COVID-19."

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on soaring COVID caseload

'We are now going to have to really tighten up once again,' Trudeau says as COVID numbers spike

2 years ago
Duration 2:25
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned to the steps of Rideau Cottage where he made an impassioned plea to Canadians to slow the spread of the COVID virus.

Trudeau said limiting the spread of transmission is critical for the long-term health of the national economy.

"Going into lockdowns and supporting businesses while we're in that lockdown is a better way of ensuring their success in a few months, in a few years, than trying to tough through a virus that is running around unchecked," he said.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam discussed the latest modelling with detailed projections on new infections during a news conference this morning.

"We are not on a good trajectory," Tam said Friday. "I think across the board, across Canada, we have to say the time is now, with urgency, that we limit contacts. However that is being done at the local level, that is the underlying principle. Keep those contacts down by restrictions and, of course, each individual doing their work."

'This won't be forever'

Tam said the caseload has already surpassed the peak seen during the first wave of the virus, and it is spreading across a wider geographic area of Canada.

She said the rise in infections is causing a strain on hospitals and health care systems, pushing some facilities to capacity and leading to the postponement of other medical procedures.

Tam asked people to take precautions during the upcoming holiday season by following public health guidelines, limiting outings and restricting in-person activities to household members where possible.

"This won't be forever. Recently, there has been some really good news about vaccine development. Keep this beacon of hope in mind as we all come together, apart, to do what is needed," she said. "Right now, every effort you make as an individual matters."

Health Minister Patty Hajdu also urged vigilance.

"The more people who get this disease, the harder it is to get it under control," she said.

Hajdu said the federal government has been working to support the provinces and territories facing "surge demands" with necessary supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. But she said front line workers, pharmacy workers and personal support workers are under strain after working flat-out for several months.

"That is a limiting factor for all of us," she said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said it's "completely out of touch" to tell people to stay home unless the government provides the necessary supports to allow them to do so.

"What we need to do now is make it easier to get help. We're in the second wave and it's harder to get help now than it was in the first wave," he said.

Singh also said it's "inexcusable" that major outbreaks are hitting long-term care facilities again, given the lessons learned during the devastating first wave of the pandemic.

More, and larger, outbreaks

Trudeau and opposition leaders met with Tam and her deputy Dr. Howard Njoo late Thursday to discuss the new modelling.

The modelling predicts that the number of COVID-19 deaths could rise from the current level of slightly more than 11,100 to just more than 12,100 by the end of the month if Canadians maintain their current level of contact with other people.

The modelling says that there are more outbreaks now, those outbreaks are larger — more than 50 cases each — and they are affecting long-term care homes. 

It also says that Indigenous communities and schools are seeing rising caseloads and that the situation is set to get worse in all regions except the Atlantic provinces and parts of the North unless action is taken.

With files from the CBC's Peter Zimonjic

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?