A sign reminding people to follow social distancing guidelines is seen along a path beside Lake Ontario on Tuesday, September 29. Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press/AP

Canada’s public health officials are warning people to stay home as much as possible, saying the next few weeks will be “critical” to the country’s efforts to contain the virus.  

Public Health Agency of Canada says national daily case counts continue to increase steeply with an average of about 2,000 new cases every day for the past week. Government statistics indicate that’s a 40% rise in the past week alone. 

Hospitalizations and deaths continue to creep upward as well, with more than 600 Covid-19 patients currently in hospitals, and an average of about 18 deaths reported daily. 

More than 80% of new infections are from Ontario and Quebec, with 60% of cases detected in people under 40.

The province of Quebec is of particular concern with urban hotspots in Montreal and Quebec City. Dine-in restaurants and bars were closed in those cities last week as new daily cases continue to climb. 

Quebec reported 1,364 new cases of the virus on Tuesday alone, the highest daily case total since the pandemic began. That prompted a blunt warning to young people in Quebec to take the virus seriously and stay home. 

“The young people that are not respecting the rule, they will have an impact on the system.” said Christian Dube, Quebec’s health minister, during a news conference in Quebec City Tuesday, adding, “Don’t take the risk, please don’t test the hospital system. There are already nurses, the doctors, what they are asking you, what they are asking Quebecers, please stay home.”

More on this: Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians to stay home even for the Thanksgiving holiday next week, saying if Canada can once again flatten the curve that the country can “turn things around for Christmas.” 

“We are going in the wrong direction now, which is why it is so important for Canadians to do what is necessary, to wear a mask, to keep your distance, to understand that each of us has the power to end this by the choices we make,” said Trudeau during a news conference Monday. 

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