Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

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Canada reached a grim and worrying milestone Tuesday in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths.

Alberta reported two deaths from COVID-19 to lift the national tally to 10,001.

COVID-19 case counts slowed across the country through the summer but have taken a big jump in many areas this fall, with new daily highs regularly being set through Central and Western Canada.

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first one was reported.

Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said she's worried about the rapid spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks.

She said Manitoba reported 13 deaths between Oct. 20 to 26, compared with 13 people who died in 21 weeks from the start of the pandemic last spring.

"Almost one in 20 people that are infected with COVID-19 in our country passed away," Carr said in an interview. "It's not a milestone we want to achieve, and my worry is the speed at which things are changing."

Health Canada recently forecast 10,100 COVID-19 deaths in Canada by Nov. 1 as a worst-case scenario and now that number is close, she said.

Carr said the increased spread of COVID-19 will result in more opportunities for the virus to infect the elderly and other vulnerable people. 

"The more that there is community-based spread, the fewer the options are for targeted approaches and restrictions without going back to a total shutdown," she said.

But Carr said she doesn't believe imposing further lockdowns on peoples economic and social well-being are the answer.

"We're sabotaging those businesses and people that are paying the price because they are the ones that have been targeted as part of the solution to stop the spread.," she said.

It's up to people to fight COVID-19 by reducing their interactions and practising physical distancing, she said.

"The pathway back is for us to do the right thing and do our own continued lockdowns," said Carr.  

Quebec and Ontario lead the country in COVID-19 deaths, with 6,172 in Quebec and 3,103 in Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted today that the COVID-19 pandemic "really sucks" but added that a vaccine is coming.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press