Young people are particularly to blame for the latest upticks in COVID-19 in Canada, and scientists are warning there is risk of a severe outbreak as a result.
According to Canada Public Health, 22 percent of women and 28 percent of men who tested positive for COVID-19 during the second week of July were in their 20s.
Governments have opted to reopen the country, including bars and restaurants—spots where young people congregate—which means people are in closer proximity, even if physical distancing measures are in place.
Edmonton, Alberta had outbreaks in at least four restaurants when it first allowed them to reopen, while B.C. is linking cases to bars and strip clubs, according to CBC News. Ottawa reported that nearly 40 percent of recent cases were diagnosed among young people, and Ontario-wide, 57 percent of 203 new cases on Tuesday were diagnosed among people 39 and younger, tweeted the province’s health minister, Christine Elliott.
"You can't eat and drink with a mask on," Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and assistant professor at McGill University, told CBC News.
Oughton said young people pose a particular risk to communities because many of them don’t experience or display COVID-19 symptoms, which means they can spread the virus unknowingly.
Scientists have attributed the spike in cases among young people to lockdown fatigue as well as feelings of invincibility, reports the Canadian Press. But the decision to reopen bars and restaurants ultimately rests on governments.
“Really don’t love politicians making extremely risky decisions to reopen bars, restaurants and gyms, then piously lecturing people for going to said indoor spaces,” said Lauren Dobson-Hughes, a consultant specializing in gender equality and health, on Twitter.
According to a new Angus Reid poll, most young Canadians aren’t confident their communities will follow strict lockdown and physical distancing measures if reimposed to bring a second wave of the virus under control.
In early July, the country had its lowest dip in virus cases, with new daily cases hovering around 300. Now, COVID-19 cases are starting to creep up again. Canada reported 445 new cases on Monday, up from 110,679, according to data compiled by CTV News.
Western Canada was faring relatively well in recent weeks, with Alberta boasting impressive testing rates and British Columbia reporting new cases in the low double digits. But over the weekend, both provinces recorded over 100 new cases.
Alberta’s COVID-19 testing system is now overwhelmed as people rush to find out if they’re carrying the virus.
As of Tuesday morning, Canada had 111,124 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 97,474 of those reportedly recovered. Almost 9,000 people have died from the virus in Canada.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.