Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on September 16, 2020


September 16 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 138,803 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,188 deaths. 88% of people have now recovered. Labs across Canada tested an average of 47,111 people daily over the past week with 1.4% testing positive. An average of 722 new cases have been reported daily during the most recent seven days.

Today, I would like to call attention to the over six million Canadians who have been tested for COVID-19 over the past months, including the over 300,000 people currently being tested each week across Canada. I would like to thank all Canadians who made the decision to get tested.

In the more than six months since the pandemic began, public health officials like myself have talked a lot about what each one of us can do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.  A lot of this advice has focused on proven effective prevention measures, such as, staying home and away from others if experiencing any symptoms, even if mild; keeping a physical distance of at least two metres from others when out in public; wearing a non-medical mask or face covering when physical distancing is difficult; and maintaining good hand hygiene. 

But one of the most important public health measures we can take if we have symptoms, or think we have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, is to get tested. For assistance in deciding whether and how to be tested for COVID-19, you can access COVID-19 self-assessment tools online.

Testing enables local public health agencies to interrupt chains of transmission and prevent further spread of the virus through case detection and contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine, respectively. I recognize that there may be line-ups at some local testing facilities, and awaiting test results may be stressful and disruptive to your family and work life, but I thank you for your patience. Your actions are vital to keeping COVID-19 activity at manageable levels.

Being tested for COVID-19 is an act of kindness, and frankly, bravery -- it means you are choosing not only to protect yourself, but also to protect those around you. If the test is positive, that starts the process of local public health authorities notifying others who may have been exposed so they can take steps to self-isolate and get tested if they develop symptoms.

If someone you know is being tested for COVID-19 or awaiting results, you can help by letting them know you’re available to support them, whether by offering to run an urgent errand, leaving supplies at their door or connecting with them virtually so they know they are not alone while they are self-isolating and awaiting their test results. And if we test positive we will need the same support during the period of self-isolation.

Another way you can help break the cycle of infection is to download the Government of Canada’s free COVID Alert app on your phone. While protecting your privacy, the app can alert you of a possible exposure before any symptoms appear. If you have downloaded the app and you test positive for COVID-19, you will get a one-time key from your provincial or territorial health care authority that you can enter into the app. The app will then notify other app users you may have come into close contact with while you were infectious. The app works without collecting personally identifiable or location data.  

We are all adjusting to new ways of resuming school, work, business… in our adapted way of life. As we do so, let’s continue to support each other and protect each other with, compassion and understanding.  You can find additional information on COVID-19 risk factors and precautions here.”


In Tuesday’s media availability, we reported that an average of 838 new cases had been reported daily during the preceding seven days. The calculation of this average erroneously included some cases that had been identified during Labour Day holiday weekend but were not reported until Tuesday September 8th.  With these cases removed, the correct average daily case count for the period September 8th to September 14th is 696 cases. In addition, the correct average for the daily case count for the period September 7th to 13th is 681, not 618 as reported in our statement on Monday. We apologize for these errors. We remain concerned about the steady increase in national daily case counts reported during recent weeks.


Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

Search for related information by keyword: Health and Safety | Public Health Agency of Canada | Canada | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | media | statements

Page details

Date modified: