'Omicron could drive daily Covid cases to record high in Canada'
The Delta variant remains the dominant strain in Canada, but the spread of Omicron is increasing. As of December 9, Canada confirmed 87 Omicron cases
Canada could see daily Covid-19 cases soar to record levels above 10,000 before January if Omicron cases sharply increase, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
"The Omicron variant of concern is a cruel reminder that a global epidemiological situation can change quickly. We all need to be prepared for that," Xinhua news agency quoted Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos as saying.
The Delta variant remains the dominant strain in Canada, but the spread of Omicron is increasing. As of December 9, Canada confirmed 87 Omicron cases.
While there is a lot of uncertainty about how many cases might be reported, an increase from the current level of over 3,300 cases a day is likely, PHAC said, because Canada is experiencing a "gradual but steady increase" in infections.
As of Friday afternoon, Canada reported 3,878 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 1,826,888 cases, including 29,897 deaths.
The resurgence in the country's Covid-19 cases is primarily driven by Ontario and Quebec, with both provinces experiencing numbers not seen since spring.
Ontario reported 1,453 new Covid-19 cases and 11 deaths while on Friday Quebec reported 2,013 new cases.
Canada's national Rt metric that tracks the average number of people one infected person subsequently will infect is now over one. It means the pandemic is again in growth mode, according to PHAC.
PHAC said Covid-19 cases could quadruple to 12,000 a day in January if "omicron successfully establishes" and the current levels of transmission are maintained.
Omicron's "greater transmissibility" and the potential for "reduced protection from prior infection/vaccination" could drive this resurgence, PHAC said.
Even without Omicron circulating widely, PHAC said Canada could still be dealing with another wave of delta cases in the coming year.
If the current level of transmission is maintained, cases stand to double to between 6,000 and 7,000 a day in January. If transmission levels increase, a delta-driven wave of roughly 12,000 cases a day is also possible, PHAC said.
Canadians between the ages of 5 and 11 are the most likely to contract COVID-19 right now given the low vaccine coverage in this demographic.
The infection rate among kids aged 5 to 11 is over 20 cases per 100,000 people - four times higher than the rate for any other age group.
Hundreds of new Covid-19 outbreaks have been reported in Canadian schools and child care centers in recent weeks, driving up the infection rate for kids under 12. There have been over 380,000 reported cases in children and youths up to 19 years of age.
PHAC added the best way to blunt the spread of the virus is to ramp up the immunization campaign for people 5 to 11 and roll out third doses for other age groups.