It’s been over a year since the first COVID-19 cases hit Canada, leading to 2020, a year few people will ever forget. There have been over 800,000 cases of COVID in Canada as of this writing, and over 20,000 deaths. It has been a long struggle, and signs show that there is still a long way to go. The proper reaction to COVID depends on facts. With that in mind, we want to do a quick recap of the COVID pandemic in Canada
On January 25th, a man returning from Wuhan, China, became the first COVID case in Canada, being placed into isolation in Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto. Two days later the presence of COVID in his system is confirmed - COVID had arrived in Canada. Over February, more provinces would announce their first cases from those who had traveled abroad.
On March 5 was the first record of a case of COVID in Canada that was contracted within Canada. The virus was now spreading from Canadian to Canadian and the pandemic had arrived in full force. Over the spring, the situation would rapidly worsen. By mid-March, major sports leagues and other events would start to be canceled, and the borders would be closed to non-Canadians. Meanwhile, Canadians are asked to return, with quarantine periods instituted. One by one, various provinces declare emergencies.
By April the death toll had passed 100 and a million Canadians had lost their jobs. By mid-April the number of dead was already at 1000 - and 2000 by the end of the month.
In May, many stores reopened, under the pressure of massive unemployment figures. This happened despite the fact that the death toll would pass 5000. In Toronto, images circulated of crowds returning to parks as the weather improved. Throughout the summer, deaths, and cases remained relatively low, giving people the false impression that the worst was already over.
Come September, students returned to school across Canada. Though there were reports of COVID now reaching Canada’s arctic, the return to school and loosening of restrictions seemed to not have an immediate effect.
However, over the month, COVID-19 cases continued to rise, leading Prime Minister Trudeau to declare that a “second wave” had started. The cases would skyrocket over the fall and into the winter. By the end of December, there would be 15,000 deaths in Canada.
In January, stricter measures were put into place, especially in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. These included more strict closures, as well as curfews.
Right now, Canada is doing its best to acquire enough vaccines to combat the continual spread of COVID. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have both been approved for use, but must be shipped from Belgium. So far over 500,000 people in Canada have been fully vaccinated, with priority being given to frontline healthcare workers.
The impact of COVID in Canada cannot be understated. The majority of COVID deaths have been in care homes, creating the greatest tragedy out of sight for many and exposing the weaknesses in Canadian care.
At the same time, Canadians have rallied to help each other and to adhere to safety protocols. Mask wearing is now common across Canada, as is social distancing. The promise of a vaccine does indicate that an end to the pandemic is possible. It will just take a little longer of Canadians coming together to protect each other.