Canada’s top doctor notes Manitoba restrictions as models predict grim future

WINNIPEG — New modelling for COVID-19 predicts a grim future for Canada, but strict restrictions in Manitoba have caught the eye of the country’s chief provincial public health officer who is looking to change the trend.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released modelling for the second wave of COVID-19, which estimates Canadians could see 20,000 cases a day country-wide by the end of December if the current trajectory stays the same.

“We do know that some jurisdictions have applied some increased restrictions so we will try and see what that looks like, for example, provinces like Manitoba,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer of Canada.

Public health officials urged Canadians to reduce the number of people they come into contact with – a goal new restrictions in Manitoba are trying to achieve.

Manitoba’s revised code red restrictions took effect Friday. The order says gatherings inside homes are now restricted to household members only, while outdoor gatherings are limited to five people or less. It also prevents any non-essential items from being sold in-person.

According to PHAC modelling, Manitoba could record more than 600 cases a day by December.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer said these models are what has led Manitoba to implement the most restrictive orders the province has had to date.

“We know that we can’t sustain these daily numbers, our healthcare system won’t be able to sustain it,” he said. “We do have high active cases, we have high amounts of admissions to both medicine and the ICU, and it’s not sustainable.”

Roussin told Manitobans to stay home, leaving only for essential reasons.

Manitobans actions can make a difference, according to Epidemiologist Cynthia Carr, the founder of EPI Research. She said the projection shows individuals’ behavior can affect outcomes.

“An exponential increase can happen but so can an exponential decrease,” she said.

Carr implores Manitoba leaders in places big and small to follow public health advice and encourage others to do the same.

“Unless you are a specialist in infectious disease control, you don’t know more than Dr. Roussin or Dr. Tam.”

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