COVID-19 Update

Eight Months into the Pandemic

November 12, 2020. WHO map of coronavirus cases worldwide as of 4:40 pm.

November 11 marked eight months since the WHO characterized the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic. The recent period has seen a marked upsurge in cases, whereby infection curves that had been flattened now threaten to exceed the capacity of health care systems.

As of November 13, there have been at least 53,256,556 recorded cases of people infected with COVID-19. Of these, 37,316,738 people have recovered and 14,637,743 cases are active. The number of people who have died from COVID-19 is 1,302,075. The number of daily new cases has risen sharply in the last month alone, from 419,312 on October 16 to an all-time high of 647,651 on November 12. Daily deaths were 6,226 on October 16 and also hit an all-time high on November 11 of 10,163.

The 20 countries with the highest number of cases on November 8 were, in descending order: the U.S. (10,880,526), India (8,729,190), Brazil (5,783,647), France (1,898,710), Russia (1,880,551), Spain (1,484,868), the UK (1,290,195), Argentina (1,284,519), Colombia (1,174,012), Italy (1,066,401), Mexico (991,835), Peru (930,237), Germany (752,830), South Africa (744,732), Iran (738,322), Poland (665,547), Chile (526,438), Belgium (520,393), Iraq (514,496) and Ukraine (512,652).

As of November 13, the 20 countries with the highest infection rate (measured in cases per million) among countries with a population greater than one million in population are: Bahrain (48,875), Qatar (48,211), Belgium (44,830), Czech Republic (41,682), Armenia (38,574), Israel (35,026), Panama (33,034), the U.S. (32,801), Spain (31,754), Kuwait (31,594), Switzerland (29,631), France (29,065), Argentina (28,326), Peru (28,070), Chile (27,452), Brazil (27,139), the Netherlands (25,456), Slovenia (25,193), Costa Rica (23,662) and Oman (23,178).

The 20 countries with the highest number of deaths as of November 13 are, in descending order: the U.S. (248,638), Brazil (164,332), India (128,722), Mexico (97,056), UK (50,928), Italy (43,589), France (42,960), Iran (40,582), Spain (40,461), Peru (35,067), Argentina (34,782), Colombia (33,491), Russia (32,443), South Africa (20,076), Indonesia (15,037), Chile (14,699), Belgium (13,891), Ecuador (12,946), Germany (12,312) and Iraq (11,580).

The 20 countries with the highest mortality rate, for countries over one million in population, (measured in cases per million population) as of November 13 are: Belgium (1,197), Peru (1,058), Spain (865), Brazil (771), Argentina (767), Chile (767), Bolivia (752), the U.S. (750), Mexico (750), the UK (749), Ecuador (730), Italy (721), France (658), Colombia (656), Panama (652), Sweden (609), North Macedonia (594), Armenia (572), Bosnia and Herzegovina (552) and the Czech Republic (537).

For countries in the northern hemisphere, the onset of winter is expected to increase the infection rate, all other factors being equal.

In Europe, which was a hotspot early in the pandemic and instituted lockdowns in the spring, a sharply worsening situation has seen increased measures such as mandatory mask-wearing and reduced hours for bars and restaurants being put in place over the last month. Lockdowns at the national or regional level are being brought back in Ireland, Britain, France, Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic.

Situation in Canada

As of November 12, Public Health Canada reports a total of 282,477 cases recorded in Canada. Of these, 226,775 had recovered and 45,034 remained active. There have been 10,768 deaths. There were 5,516 new cases on November 12. As of November 13, Canada's infection rate is 7,463 cases per million population and the death rate is 284 per million. Most provinces and territories across the country have experienced a surge in cases in recent weeks.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, said in her November 12 statement that:

"As the resurgence of COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and health care capacity. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to maintain COVID-19 at manageable levels across the country. [...]

"Though the cumulative number is high and continues to increase, with several regions experiencing accelerated growth, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions that will keep ourselves, our families and our communities safer.

"[...] The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 4,015 new cases (November 4-10) and 54,668 people tested, with 5.8 per cent testing positive (November 1-7). Outbreaks continue to contribute to COVID-19 spread in Canada. Although the size can vary from just a few cases to larger clusters, outbreaks are being reported in a range of settings including long-term care and assisted living facilities, schools, congregate living settings, industrial work settings and large social gatherings.

"The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 1,361 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent seven-day period (November 4-10), including 258 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 50 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. Elective admissions are now being postponed in some areas of the country given rising COVID hospitalizations.

"As hospitalizations and deaths tend to lag behind increased disease activity by one to several weeks, the concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity. As well, influenza and respiratory infections typically increase during the Fall and Winter, placing increased demands on hospitals. This is why it is so important for people of all ages to maintain public health practices that keep respiratory infection rates low.

"With colder weather, we are moving indoors. Canadians should avoid the 3Cs settings -- closed spaces, crowded places and close contact situations -- wherever possible. Larger clusters tell us that closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places where many people gather and close contact situations can amplify spread of the virus. Spread in informal social gatherings and activities is also occurring. In these more relaxed settings, such as family and holiday celebrations and recreational activities, letting our guard down and not consistently maintaining public health practices, can lead to many exposures and infections. For these reasons, it is recommended that everyone wear a non-medical mask or face covering when spending time indoors with people from outside of your immediate household.

"Canada needs a collective effort to support and sustain the public health response through to the end of the pandemic, while balancing the health, social and economic consequences. To do this, we need to retake the lead on COVID-19, by each reducing our close contacts to the best of our ability and employing key public health practices consistently and with precision: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, maintain physical distancing, wear a face mask as appropriate, and keep up with frequent hand, cough and surface hygiene. [...]"

Regarding the possibility of a vaccine, Dr. Tam stated on November 6 that she is "cautiously optimistic that safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will be available in the first quarter of 2021, bringing us one step closer to the widespread and long-term management of COVID-19.

"I would like to emphasize that when vaccines become available, there will be a limited supply at first. While that supply will continue to increase over time, it does mean that federal, provincial and territorial governments will have to make important decisions on how to use the initial vaccine supply.

"The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, or NACI, is a long-standing expert advisory group that provides independent guidance and recommendations to inform these kinds of tough decisions.

"On Tuesday [November 3], NACI provided preliminary guidance on the key populations that should be considered for early COVID-19 immunizations, including people at high risk of severe outcomes or those at high risk of spreading to them; workers essential to maintaining the COVID-19 response and other essential services for the functioning of society; and people whose living or working conditions put them at elevated risk of infection and its disproportionate consequences, including Indigenous communities. The full guidance is available online at

"While this preliminary guidance is helpful for planning, there is still a long road ahead. Clinical trials need to continue, Health Canada still needs to approve the vaccines if they are deemed safe and effective, and we will be receiving additional advice on prioritization based on the characteristics of each vaccine once approved. In the meantime, it is crucial that we continue to layer on individual protections that we know to be effective in keeping infection rates low: stay home if you have symptoms, even mild ones; wash your hands frequently; maintain physical distancing; wear a mask when spending time indoors with people from outside of your immediate household; and avoid or limit time spent in closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact situations where you can't consistently maintain physical distancing [...]"

(With statistics from

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 44 - November 14, 2020

Article Link:
COVID-19 Update: Eight Months into the Pandemic


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