New COVID-19 outbreaks among young adults spark concern about bars, restaurants

New COVID-19 outbreaks among young adults spark concern about bars, restaurants

New COVID-19 outbreaks among young adults spark concern about bars, restaurants

OTTAWA — New outbreaks of COVID-19 among young adults across the country are sparking concern about the impact these clusters of new cases could have on the ongoing easing of pandemic restrictions.

Ontario is reporting its largest daily number of confirmed COVID-19 infections since the end of June with 203 new cases Tuesday, prompting Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott to urge citizens to follow physical distancing rules to stop the concerning trend.

Alberta and British Columbia have also seen surges in new COVID-19 infections over the last two days. Manitoba has seen an outbreak on a few Hutterite colonies in recent days and a couple of positive tests among international travellers.

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, said the uptick in new cases nationally is giving public health authorities cause for concern.

Canada’s daily new case numbers had slowed to an average of about 300 new cases a day, but this has increased to an average of 460 new cases per day for the last four days.

The majority of the newly infected are young adults, many of whom have contracted the novel coronavirus by going to bars, restaurants and attending indoor parties, Njoo told reporters Tuesday at a briefing in Ottawa.

“I think everyone’s been tired after spending the winter cooped up,” he said.

“And now with the nicer weather and the summer I think people just want to get out, so I think there is a fatigue factor in terms of trying to maintain all of those good public health measures.”

Njoo said he believes there is an “invincibility factor” also playing into the outbreaks among young people, which is being fanned by scientific evidence emerging that shows youth who contract COVID-19 are less likely to become seriously ill.

“I think at a certain age you think you can get away with anything … That’s where I think the challenge is, because even if they have only mild symptoms or they are asymptomatic, the fact is they’re part of our society.”

Njoo suggested some young people attending indoor parties and not following proper physical distancing measures might be doing so because the ongoing relaxing of pandemic restrictions — including the reopening of bars and restaurants — has sent a signal that they can let their guard down.

But it’s up to local authorities to decide whether these establishments should be allowed to remain open, Njoo said.

“Moving forward we also recognize we need to at some point reopen our society. The tricky part, really, is trying to find that balance as we slowly as a society figure out how we move forward with the appropriate amount of caution in terms of various sectors.”

New daily case numbers greater than 100 have become the norm in Alberta in recent days. The province reported 141 new cases on Tuesday. There are now 1,193 active cases of the virus in Alberta.

“If you think you can socialize with large groups of people in close quarters, knock it off,” Premier Jason Kenney said at a press conference. “If you are young and healthy, remember you could still carry and transmit the virus that ends up killing someone who is old or vulnerable.”

Even with the higher numbers, Alberta announced plans to open schools in September.

“I want to stress that there is no risk-free approach to living with COVID-19, yet we still have to learn to live with it,” said Alberta’s chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw. ”There are no easy choices in front of us.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he was especially concerned by data showing 57 per cent of Tuesday’s cases in his province were in people aged 39 or younger and that some of the outbreaks have been linked to people attending indoor parties.

“I just ask people to hold off on these parties, I don’t know why everyone wants to party so bad but — enough. We have to keep this in control and we will.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2020.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled the surname of Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

File photo
Norris Beach Road Tender Approved

County of Wetaskiwin Council awarded the tender for Range Road 11 to Crow Enterprises Ltd.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday that the province may consider a regional approach to loosening COVID-19 restrictions if numbers continue to decline. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Province further easing health restrictions

Numbers of people hospitalized and in intensive care has dropped dramatically, says premier

Government of Alberta COVID-19 Aggregate Data Map. Screen Grab/ https://www.alberta.ca/stats/covid-19-alberta-statistics.htm#geospatial
City of Wetaskiwin under 10 active cases; single active case in County

Active COVID-19 cases in the City and County of Wetaskiwin continue to drop.

File photo
Alberta’s central zone has 670 active cases

301 new cases identified Sunday

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

Maskwacis virtual job fair
MEC goes virtual with job fair and services during pandemic

By Chevi Rabbit For Ponoka News Maskwacis Employment Center’s (MEC’s) semi-annual job… Continue reading

hands
The call is out in Rimbey to sign on with a group that is all about building connections

‘Already, we are building a network where we can rely on each other and help each other out’

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. Photo contributed
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. (Pixabay)
‘Racism is a real problem:’ Muslim women fearful following attacks in Edmonton

So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime-related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women

Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro speaks during a news conference in Calgary on May 29, 2020. Shandro says Alberta is considering whether to extend the time between COVID-19 vaccine shots to four months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta may follow B.C.’s lead on faster rollout of first COVID-19 dose

Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming

A locally-produced video project aims to preserve Canada’s railway history

‘Railways have been an integral part of Canadian history since 1836’

Most Read