Canada’s multi-jurisdictional COVID-19 Public Health response – January to May 2020

Iwona A. Bielska,

Mark Embrett,

Lauren Jewett,

Richard Buote,

Derek R. Manis,

Manasi Parikh,

David J. Speicher,

Gina Agarwal,

Robert O. Nartowski,

Heather Finnegan,

Thilina Bandara,

Clayon B. Hamilton,

Emily Moore,

Rebecca H. Liu,

Sophie I. G. Roher,

Elena Lopatina,

Duyen Thi Kim Nguyen,

Logan Lawrence,

Julia Lukewich


In late January 2020, the first COVID-19 case was reported in Canada. By March 5, 2020, community spread of the virus was identified and by May 26, 2020, close to 86,000 patients had COVID-19 and 6,566 had died. As COVID-19 cases increased, provincial and territorial governments announced states of public health emergency between March 13 and 20, 2020. This paper examines Canada’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the first four months (January to May 2020) by overviewing the actions undertaken by the federal (national) and regional (provincial/territorial) governments. Canada’s jurisdictional public health structures, public health responses, technological and research endeavours, and public opinion on the pandemic measures are described. As the pandemic unravelled, the federal and provincial/territorial governments unrolled a series of stringent public health interventions and restrictions, including physical distancing and gathering size restrictions; closures of borders, schools, and non-essential businesses and services; cancellations of non-essential medical services; and limitations on visitors in hospital and long-term care facilities. In late May 2020, there was a gradual decrease in the daily numbers of new COVID-19 cases seen across most jurisdictions, which has led the provinces and territories to prepare phased re-opening. Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada and the substantial amount of formative health and policy-related data being created provide an insight on how to improve responses and better prepare for future health emergencies.

Słowa kluczowe: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Canada, Public Health Response, Health Federalism, Kanada, działania zdrowia publicznego, federalism zdrowotny

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