A novel coronavirus, now known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2), was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December 2019. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, predominantly manifests as pneumonia, however, COVID-19 can also present with an array of extrapulmonary signs and symptoms.

In this document the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) describes the epidemiology—the study of disease incidence, distribution and control—of COVID-19 in Canada as of late 2020. RSC also explores the timeline, distribution and determinants of SARS-CoV-2 transmission within Canada as well as describe Canada’s public health response to COVID-19 within various sectors and populations including Canadian workplaces; healthcare settings including long-term care; and school settings.

Our current understanding of the epidemiology of COVID-19 continues to evolve, and this summary, written in late 2020, prior to availability of vaccines for COVID-19 prevention, reflects information available as of 30 November 2020. It should be acknowledged that the epidemiology will continue to evolve over the weeks and months that follow.