OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam is doubling down on warnings to young Canadians to stop fuelling the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Tam delivered that pre-weekend warning — one week after her deputy Dr. Howard Njoo did the same — because of the worrying trend of rising infections among people aged 20 to 39.
Tam says that age group accounted for the highest incidence rates for COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks.
Tam outlined how the daily national case count, based on a seven-day average, is rising again across the country after falling earlier this summer.
Tam says the seven-day measure is the best way to assess the trend in the number of infections.
She says it stood at a high of 1,800 per day in early May, then dipped to 273 in early July, but in the last seven days the average daily count rose to 487.
The 20-to-39 age group accounted for 60 per cent of those cases, and one-third of them had to be hospitalized, said Tam.
"I must urge all Canadians, particularly younger adults, to not give in to COVID-19 fatigue," she said Friday in Ottawa.
"This is your generation and your future that is being shaped. Younger age groups are not invincible against COVID-19," said Tam, who returned to the government's public briefings after her own summer break.
"The upward trend in daily case counts is worrisome. We know that we have the means to keep COVID-19 under control, but this is by no means a sure thing. It is going to take all Canadians doing their part and working together, with public health, to keep the curve down."
Tam noted that less than one per cent of the Canadian population has been infected, which means the population remains highly susceptible to getting sick.
"If we let our guard down, the disease will work its way to our parents, and grandparents and other vulnerable people who need to be protected through our actions," she said.
"Now is the chance to be a lifesaver. We all need to take this disease, and our responsibility to protect others, seriously."
Health Minister Patty Hajdu urged Canadians to choose less and safer contact with others, and to avoid smaller spaces.
"Ask yourself before you go out this weekend, is what I'm about to do worth the risk? Is the worth the risk that I might end up very sick or someone within my circle will?"
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2020.
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press