Overview of Canada's Answer to the COVID-19 Pandemic's First Wave (January-April 2020).Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jul 03; 18(13)IJ
Canada is a federal state of almost 38 million inhabitants distributed over ten provinces and three territories, each with their own power regarding health. This case study describes the health infrastructures' situation before the COVID-19 outbreak and their adaptations to face the expected cases, the available epidemiologic data for the beginning of the first wave (January-April 2020), and the public health and economic measures taken to control the pandemic both at the federal level and breaking down by province and territory. Canadian health infrastructures offered on average 12.9 intensive care units beds per 100,000 (occupancy rate ~90% before the outbreak), unevenly distributed across provinces and territories. Canada implemented public health measures, such as social distancing, when hospitalization and death rates due to the pandemic were still lower than in other countries; each province and territory adapted and implemented specific measures. Cumulated cases and deaths substantially increased from mid-March 2020, reaching 65 cases and 2 deaths per 100,000 on April 12, with strong differences across provinces and territories. Canada has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic's first wave with a generally slower dynamic than in the USA or in the European Union at the same period. This suggests that implementation of public health measures when health indicators were still low may have been efficient in Canada; yet the long-term care sector faced many challenges in some provinces, which drove a large part of the pandemic indicators.