Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on July 16, 2020
July 16, 2020 - Ottawa, ON - Public Health Agency of Canada
In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement on behalf of Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer.
“There have been 108,829 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 8,810 deaths. 67% of people have now recovered. Labs across Canada have tested over 3,341,000 people for COVID-19 to date. Over the past week, an average of 40,000 people were tested daily, with 1% testing positive. Visit Canada.ca/coronavirus for the latest numbers.
As we continue our response to COVID-19, we are also moving forward in our fight against another infectious disease: tuberculosis (TB). TB is preventable and curable, yet it remains one of the most common infectious diseases worldwide. Like COVID-19, TB disproportionately affects communities experiencing poverty, inadequate housing and social inequities. While the rates of active TB disease in Canada are among the lowest in the world, they are unacceptably high among Inuit and First Nations communities and among newcomers to Canada from countries where TB is more common.
TB is caused by certain bacteria, which spread person-to-person through the air when a case of active TB disease coughs or sneezes. Unlike COVID-19, TB bacteria can stay airborne for several hours. When a person breathes in the bacteria, they may become infected and the bacteria may lay dormant in their body (latent TB infection) or develop later in life into active TB disease. Active TB disease usually affects the lungs, resulting in coughing that can last for more than two weeks, coughing up blood, weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats and/or chills.
Eliminating TB is a priority for Canada and there is no better time than now to accelerate our efforts to eliminate this preventable and curable disease. We have effective treatments and rapid diagnostic tests. Many of our tried and true public health measures that prevent and control COVID-19 also stop the spread of TB. Indeed, infection control practices, case detection and contact tracing are essential elements in the response to both of these respiratory infectious diseases.
At the same time, a comprehensive response to both COVID-19 and TB includes efforts to support communities and address social inequities. Solutions in both instances will be driven by the communities themselves, with sustained support from governments, Indigenous leaders, academics, technical experts and other stakeholders. Given the unequal burden of TB in Inuit and First Nations communities, we must also integrate First Nations and Inuit cultural perspectives and traditional knowledge into health care and public health practices, while recognizing the right to self-determination.
Visit Canada.ca/Tuberculosis to learn more about TB.”
Public Health Agency of Canada
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