Tam says groundwork in place to prevent COVID-19 spike as students head back to school

Canada’s chief medical health officer says she’s confident Canadians can “adjust, adapt and stay the course” as students prepare to head back to school.

Dr. Theresa Tam said COVID-19 cases will likely continue to show up throughout the fall. However, she remains hopeful local health authorities can contain any outbreaks.

“It’s no secret that we’ll continue to have cases, given that COVID-19 is circulating world-wide,” Tam said during a media briefing on Tuesday. “But, we also know that we have laid the groundwork to tackle these cases as they come, if we can keep working together.”

Tam said Canadians need to keep following COVID-19 precautions like hand-washing and physical distancing. She also encouraged residents to wear masks where appropriate, and follow all local health guidelines.

“Remember, (while) treading cautiously (and) carefully down the mountain of the initial wave, the idea was to get the infection rate low and build up capacity that would allow us to reopen while quickly responding to keep the epidemic in a slow-burn scenario,” she explained. “This is still the scenario I’m hopeful we can maintain, where local public health (officials) are able to manage every new chain of transmission, and not be overwhelmed with too many cases or too many contacts.”

Saskatchewan students are heading back to school on Sept. 8. On Monday, Premier Scott Moe and Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab urged teachers and staff members to get tested before going back to school. Voluntary tests will be offered to students in communities based on school size and community transmission rates.

Students in Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia are also heading back to class on Sept. 8. British Columbia schools were also supposed restart that day, however the provincial government pushed the reopening back to Sept. 10.

“Things will be different and there will be uncertainties,” Tam said. “By proceeding with caution, we’ll tackle these together to make sure our kids and our families can resume essential learning, social development and activities we all enjoy.”

 As of Aug. 17, there are 4,781 active COVID-19 cases in Canada, 785 of which are new. There have been 122,872 confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak, while 9,032 people diagnosed with the virus have died.

Quebec has the highest number of active cases with 1,555, while Alberta is second with 1,132 and Ontario is third with 920. Those numbers are accurate as of Aug. 17.

More than 4.8-million COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Canada, with 2.4 per cent of those tests coming back positive.

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