The primary wave of COVID-19 is subsiding in Canada, with every day case numbers and hospitalizations falling to charges not seen for the reason that starting of the pandemic.
Predictions on when a second wave of COVID-19 may hit have ranged from the autumn and winter months of this 12 months, when flu season historically begins, to early subsequent 12 months, much like the way in which the pandemic started.
However specialists say the probability of a second wave is not set in stone, and Canada may as a substitute see a number of smaller waves within the coming months or keep away from a second wave altogether — particularly if we hold our guard up.
“There’s truly nothing preordained a few second wave,” stated Steven Hoffman, director of the World Technique Lab and a worldwide well being regulation professor at York College in Toronto who research pandemics.
“We would have a second wave, we would have a 3rd, fourth and fifth wave — we would not have a second wave in any respect.”
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious illness doctor and scientist with Toronto Basic Hospital, stated as a substitute of 1 cohesive second wave, we’ll doubtless face smaller outbreaks within the coming months that can must be clamped down on rapidly.
“It may be a recreation of whack-a-mole,” he stated.
“We’re mainly going to be making an attempt to quickly establish small outbreaks as quickly as attainable, quelling these small outbreaks and stopping them from snowballing into bigger outbreaks and a bigger epidemic.”
Israel noticed tons of of recent infections after reopening colleges, South Korea confronted a spike in instances at a nightclub district in Seoul whereas an outbreak at a meatpacking plant in Germany led to renewed lockdown measures.
In the meantime, nations like Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan rapidly flattened the curve of their first wave and have up to now prevented a second wave of infections altogether whereas holding strict physical-distancing measures in place.
China moved rapidly to quell a new coronavirus outbreak in Beijing this month, elevating its emergency degree, suspending reopenings and cancelling greater than 60 per cent of flights out and in of the capital after reporting a minimum of 256 new instances since early June.
Bogoch stated if Canada takes the same method to controlling new outbreaks, we will keep away from extra drastic measures like shutting down nonessential companies and reimposing lockdown measures throughout the nation for the long run.
“If we bounce on it rapidly and we’ve got the capability to do the early identifications, contact tracing and isolation, we will get via this with out a large second wave,” he stated.
“But when we do not, if we let our guard down, nicely, right here it comes.”
Canadians susceptible to COVID-19
The most important threat issue for an additional wave of an infection is related to the truth that most Canadians are vulnerable to COVID-19 just because they have not had it.
Canada’s Chief Public Well being Officer Dr. Theresa Tam stated nearly 2.5 million Canadians have been examined for COVID-19, with a mean of about 4 per cent testing constructive and greater than 100,000 confirmed instances.
“Now we have very small penetration of this illness in our society,” stated Raywat Deonandan, a worldwide well being epidemiologist and an affiliate professor on the College of Ottawa.
“Meaning the overwhelming majority are nonetheless vulnerable, and if they’re vulnerable, then it does not take an entire lot for one thing to set off one other explosive development.”
For that motive, Deonandan stated there’s a mathematical likelihood that one other wave of an infection is feasible, however it could be much less extreme based mostly on what we have realized about easy methods to management the virus prior to now six months.
“We all know that it loves mass indoor gatherings. That appears to be the place the tremendous spreading occasions are usually: church buildings, karaoke bars, events, nightclubs,” he stated.
“So on condition that, that is sort of our means of controlling the second wave — if we simply actually monitor giant indoor actions or stop them fully.”
York College’s Hoffman stated whereas bodily distancing and lockdown measures have drastically lowered the variety of new instances and hospitalizations in Canada, they proceed to rise globally — placing us at additional threat.
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“It is simply very doubtless that as long as this virus is circulating all over the world, it can in some unspecified time in the future come again to Canada,” Hoffman stated. “Even when we eradicated it from our nation.”
Information of the virus might assist fend off future waves
Our understanding of the novel coronavirus and the way COVID-19 presents within the human physique has elevated dramatically prior to now six months, and we now know extra about easy methods to react to outbreaks rapidly and deal with the illness itself extra successfully.
“We have realized that this can be a very unusual illness that appears to manifest in a different way in numerous populations, totally different age teams and that the symptomatology is under no circumstances what we would have anticipated at first,” Deonandan stated.
“This concept of dropping your sense of scent, for instance, that took everybody abruptly. We additionally realized about asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission.”
He stated it was wrongly assumed early within the pandemic by specialists all over the world that merely testing symptomatic sufferers early may management the unfold of COVID-19, very like with an influenza outbreak.
The World Well being Group additionally just lately backtracked on a declare that the unfold of COVID-19 from individuals who don’t present signs is “very uncommon,” later conceding that asymptomatic people can transmit the virus.
There have been additionally early considerations about the specter of totally different modes of transmission, both via surfaces or feces, and Deonandan stated that prompted confusion about easy methods to stop an infection at a crucial time.
“It appears now that the majority of it’s being pushed by droplets and aerosol, largely droplets,” he stated.
“So we will direct our efforts towards controlling droplet transmission, and that may assist us mitigate a second wave.”
That is why bodily distancing, correct hand hygiene and carrying masks when applicable are important instruments in preventing the unfold of COVID-19.
Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor of viral pathogenesis on the College of Manitoba in Winnipeg and Canada Analysis Chair of rising viruses, stated we will use our elevated understanding of transmission to fend off future waves.
“We’re higher ready than we had been the primary spherical as a result of we’ve got a greater thought of what this virus is and a bit of bit extra about the way it behaves,” he stated.
“We have realized in all probability round 5 to 10 years price of analysis within the final six months.”
But whereas we all know extra now in regards to the virus with a view to stop an infection, Kindrachuk stated the primary wave has uncovered our vulnerabilities, particularly in long-term care properties, the place greater than 6,000 Canadians have died from COVID-19.
“If the virus hits a resurgence in Canada once more,” he stated, “so long as we will try to restrict the unfold inside these susceptible communities, we all know that almost all of the remainder of the inhabitants is manageable.”
Hoffman stated he hopes we have realized sufficient about defending long-term care house residents and making certain workers are supported to take crucial precautions with a view to stop extra outbreaks within the months forward.
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“That is what has allowed this outbreak to proceed for longer, affecting extra susceptible individuals, and in consequence has meant that we’re solely in a position to begin lifting these layers of safety at a later level after different nations have already been in a position to take action,” he stated.
“It is only a complete catastrophe and so preventable.”