Canadian health officials warned Friday that daily COVID-19 case counts in the country could nearly double by the end of April unless local governments do more to implement safety measures amid a third wave of the virus.
Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam and other officials said in a press briefing that the number of coronavirus infections reported per day in the country could increase from 8,600 currently to 15,000 by the end of the month, Reuters reported.
The prognosis comes as Ontario, Canada’s most populous province that contains Toronto and the capital of Ottawa, has struggled with a new surge in infections, with many arguing that the cases could have been prevented if Ontario Premier Doug Ford extended stay-at-home measures earlier this year.
Ford has faced calls to resign over his handling of the pandemic but said Thursday that he has no intention of stepping down. On the same day, Ontario reported 3,682 new COVID-19 cases and 40 deaths, the highest of any Canadian province.
Officials at Friday’s press conference said that daily cases could drop to around 4,500 if Canadians reduce their personal contacts by 20 to 30 percent.
“Elevated case counts and severe illness trends remind us we are still in a right race between vaccines and variants, and our actions matter," Tam said, according to Reuters.
More than 10 million Canadians have received at least their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine so far, and Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauMexico compares Biden electric car tax credits to Trump's tariff threat Canadian senator dies after being hospitalized for COVID-19 Photos of the Week: President Biden, Kenosha protests and a pardon for Peanut Butter MORE and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, are scheduled to get their first doses of the AstraZeneca shot on Friday.
Canada’s vaccine distribution has not gone as smoothly as the U.S.'s, especially following concerns over a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots.
A Canadian advisory committee late last month recommended pausing the use of the vaccine in adults under age 55 following reports of blood clots, especially among younger age groups.
On Wednesday, President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE announced that the U.S. planned on sharing surplus coronavirus vaccines with Canada and Central American countries that have fallen behind in the pace of vaccinations.
“It’s in process. We don’t have enough to be confident to send it abroad now, but I expect we are going to be able to do that,” Biden said in remarks from the White House.