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Epidemic curve has been flat this week: Canada's chief public health officer

Last Updated Apr 30, 2020 at 9:25 pm PDT

FILE - Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam listens to questions at a press conference on COVID-19 at West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

But Dr. Tam cautions Canadians to be careful going down the other side of the epidemic curve

Nunavut records its first case of virus, last Canadian jurisdiction to report one

Still significant challenges in some settings, including long-term care homes: Tam

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — The COVID-19 epidemic curve has been flat this week, although Nunavut recorded its first case of the virus, Canada’s chief public health officer said Thursday.

“This week, things have been a little flat. COVID-curve flat, that is, and that’s got us all quite excited about what that means for getting out of our houses,” Dr. Theresa Tam said during the daily briefing of federal ministers in Ottawa.

“Though, as I have said before, we have to be very cautious going down the other side of the epidemic curve. It would be a whole lot easier if this was a well-trodden path, with many who have gone before us. But we are largely new explorers, so we’ll need to curb our enthusiasm and tighten the safety ropes for the way down.”

She referenced some worrisome emerging transmission trends, though, and cautioned that there are still significant challenges in some settings, including long-term care homes.

“Having learned a lesson about vulnerabilities in long-term care homes, and now tackling introductions and spread in certain work settings and congregate housing, I’m also concerned about increasing numbers of COVID-19 in First Nations communities in several provinces.”

Nunavut Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson, said the territory’s first case was detected in the community of Pond Inlet and the person is said to be in isolation and doing well.

Patterson added the territory’s rapid response team is on the way to help the community of 1,600 manage the situation.

Nunavut is the last Canadian jurisdiction to report a COVID-19 case.

B.C. reported its first death in a First Nations community on Friday, a 59-year-old woman from the ‘Namgis First Nation on Cormorant Island.

“You must get ahead of things to protect and support these communities, ramping up testing and contact tracing to find where chains of transmission are occurring,” Tam said.

“And while we make our way down the mountain together, I remain encouraged by the patience, cooperation and kindness of Canadians who are making the path easier, wherever they all needed to raise our spirits and keep us going.”

Tam also praised the Canadians who are volunteering to help those in need during the pandemic.

“Many of these efforts have started as grassroots initiatives by everyday Canadians using their skills, creativity, ingenuity and generosity to help in any way they can,” she said.

“A great example is Conquer COVID that began like The Little Engine That Could in one family’s home in Markham, Ont., until it picked up steam from two of Canada’s big names, Olympian and hockey legend Haley Wickenheiser and actor Ryan Reynolds. They joined forces with Conquer COVID out of a shared goal to provide PPE for healthcare workers. Another Olympian, Joannie Rochette, just received her medical degree last week is now heading straight to work to help in long-term care homes and come back as they bear the brunt of this epidemic,” Tam added.

“These Canadians exemplify what it takes to get down this mountain — the precision and grit of an Olympian with a can-do attitude and a readiness to help others. To all Canadians who are helping in innumerable ways, thank you.”

Canada had recorded 52,057 confirmed cases of the virus, as of Thursday morning, and 3,082 deaths. To date, labs across Canada have tested over 800,000 people for COVID-19, with about seven per cent testing positive.

For the 12th straight day, New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador also announced no new cases.

However, in Quebec, Premier Francois Legault said the province should expect COVID-19 deaths in care homes to continue over the next days and weeks as seriously-ill people succumb to the illness.

Quebec recorded 98 new deaths, with 92 of those being people in care homes.

Ontario reporting 459 new cases today, and 86 more deaths — the largest daily death toll in that province, so far.