Canada has a grim lesson to teach Americans about the dangers of small, household gatherings during a national holiday and coronavirus spread.
After the country’s Thanksgiving on Oct. 12, Canadians saw a surge in COVID-19 cases in the two weeks that followed. It’s a trend that has continued ever since, experts say, and is likely to affect Christmas celebrations in Canada next month.
Canada’s seven day average of new infections is growing as a result. On Oct. 12, it was 1,983 coronavirus cases a week; on Sunday, it was 4,566, according to The New York Times’ tracker.
“The leading source of exposures for active cases right now are close contacts, and many of the cases that we are seeing now are the result of spread over Thanksgiving when families gathered together,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, told CTV, WebMD reported. “People did not mean to spread COVID, but it is a reminder where social gatherings where social distancing and masking are not used consistently are a significant risk for spread.”
Now, new modeling from Ontario shows that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are set to reach or exceed levels seen across Europe, according to CNN. Some European countries have already entered a second round of lockdowns in an attempt to control the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Canada is the 31st worst-hit country in terms of total confirmed coronavirus cases as of Nov. 16, according to Johns Hopkins, whereas the U.S. is number one. And not only are the holidays approaching in America, but cases are already soaring across the states like never before.
The U.S. surpassed 11 million confirmed COVID-19 cases just one week after reaching 10 million, The Washington Post reported. Nearly 247,000 Americans have died after testing positive for the virus as of Nov. 16, the most of any country.
Medical experts in the U.S. have been warning about the dangers of holiday festivities this year as the pandemic rages on.
“When you’re talking about relatives that are getting on a plane, being exposed in an airport, being exposed in a plane, then walk in the door and say ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ — that you have to be careful about,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS News in October.
“My Thanksgiving is going to look very different this year,” Fauci said. “I would love to have it with my children, but my children are in three separate states throughout the country, and in order for them to get here, they would all have to go to an airport, get on a plane, travel with public transportation.”
Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital, told CNN he is “terrified” about this holiday season.
“We’re going to see an unprecedented surge of cases following Thanksgiving this year, and if people don’t learn from Thanksgiving, we’re going to see it after Christmas as well,” Phillips said.