July 28, 2020 / 6:21 PM / 7 days ago

Canada official warns of renewed restrictions if COVID-19 uptick not contained

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam attends a news conference as efforts continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s chief public health officer warned on Tuesday that Canadians could face tighter health restrictions again as COVID-19 case numbers creep higher, particularly in the West.

Theresa Tam told reporters that as businesses and social spaces reopen, Canadians must still follow guidelines on social distancing and avoiding large crowds, along with wearing masks where required and practicing good hand hygiene.

“If people don’t collaborate and support this effort, things could be tightened up again,” Tam said in a news conference.

The comments come as Canada’s seven-day rolling average of newly reported cases has ticked up again after falling to a low in early July.

“There is an uptick in the national curve ... This is a worrisome sign,” Tam said.

Tam said some western Canadian provinces are facing an upswing in COVID-19 cases, which have pushed the national numbers back up. Overall infection numbers in the West still remain far below Ontario and Quebec, the provinces hardest hit by COVID-19.

As of Monday, Canada had reported 114,597 total cases, an increase of 686 from a day earlier, and 8,901 deaths, a gain of 11.

Tam also noted that a summer long weekend is looming, and said big parties over the Canada Day extended weekend in early July may have accelerated COVID-19 outbreaks in some regions.

“The more outbreaks you have, the bigger the public health capacity is being utilized, so that is not a good sign,” she said. “We need to make sure that we take this seriously and see that curve bend back down again.”

Reporting by Julie Gordon and Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; Editing by Tom Brown

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