(Dr. Theresa Tam/Health Canada and PHAC)

Even as daily COVID-19 case rates start to flatten in British Columbia, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer has issued a statement expressing concern over an alarming rate of increase in transmission across the country.

“Over the past week, labs across Canada have tested an average of over 71,000 people daily, with 2.5% testing positive,” said Dr. Theresa Tam in a statement on October 7.

“National daily case counts continue to increase steeply, with an average of 2,052 new cases being reported daily during the most recent 7 days. This represents an increase of 40% from the previous week.”

The CPHO also expressed concern over the growing number of hospitalizations and deaths across Canada, as a result of the increased transmission.

Meanwhile in B.C., provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expressed cautious optimism at a press briefing on Tuesday, saying that the transmission curve has started to flatten in the province.

Dynamic modelling shows that if British Columbians keep following the rules—physical distancing, proper hygiene, and wearing a non-medical face mask in enclosed spaces—the case rate could drop to 50 per day by November.

Nationwide, the situation looks different.

In her statement, Tam emphasized the importance of the nasal or throat swab COVID-19 tests that help to rapidly identify cases.

She says at the moment, Tam says all tests need to be administered by health care professionals and there are no at-home test kits authorized in Canada.

This statement is only partly true for B.C., where the province recently launched a saline-gargle test for school-aged children only. This test must be administered at a registered testing site, but can be done by the patient themselves or with the help of an adult, without the presence of a health care professional.

Regardless, Tam says testing is still not the most important safety measure against COVID-19.

“While testing is a crucial tool in our toolbox, it is does not and cannot replace vigilant public health prevention measures. We must continue to consistently practice physical distancing measures; keeping two metres away from others, frequent hand washing, wearing a mask when physical distancing can’t be ensured,” she added.

“These are the measures that have proven to be effective, and will continue to help us, and prevent further escalation of the pandemic in Canada.”