Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on August 5, 2020

Statement

August 5, 2020 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement today:

"There have been 117,792 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 8,958 deaths. 87% of people have now recovered. Labs across Canada have tested 4,236,521 people for COVID-19 to date. Over the past week, an average of 48,360 people were tested daily, with 1% testing positive and an average of 400 cases were reported daily from across the country.

This World Breastfeeding Awareness Week, I am reminded that these past months have been stressful and uncertain for many Canadians because of COVID-19, including new and expectant parents. At the outset of the pandemic, we knew very little about the virus and how it would spread and impact pregnant women and their newborn babies. We are still learning about how COVID-19 is spread. At the present time, there is little evidence that the virus is spread from a mother to her infant through breastfeeding, and the benefits of breastfeeding are considered to far outweigh any potential risks.

Breastfeeding continues to be recommended, whenever possible, as the best way to feed infants, owing to its many well-documented health benefits. As well, breastfeeding offers the greatest protection against infection and illness throughout infancy and childhood.

Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are still encouraged to initiate or continue to breastfeeding. Those who are symptomatic, even with mild symptoms, or concerned about a recent exposure, should take recommended precautions to avoid spreading the virus to the baby - whether breastfeeding or not - including: frequent hand washing; practicing proper respiratory etiquette to cover coughs and sneezes; and wearing a non-medical face mask or face covering when close to the baby.

Breastfeeding is a skill that mothers and infants learn together and support during the first few weeks is important. During these times of physical distancing measures, there may be less in-person breastfeeding supports and programs operating. I encourage programs and practitioners to find alternate ways to offer support - whether by phone or online. I encourage families and friends to reach out to support the new parents around them. And I encourage breastfeeding parents to seek help when they need it.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has recently released new breastfeeding resources, which contain guidance and ideas in support of a positive breastfeeding experience including 10 Valuable Tips for Successful Breastfeeding and 10 Great Reasons to Breastfeed.

For information and resources on COVID-19 epidemiology and reducing your risks for infection and spreading the virus you can find resources here to help guide you."

Contacts

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
613-957-2983
hc.media.sc@canada.ca

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