Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, December 22, 2020
There have been 515,314 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 14,332 deaths. Nationally, there are over 77,360 active cases across the country. Yesterday, 6,381 cases were reported nationally. In addition, there were almost 1,140 new cases reported for Saturday and Sunday. This brings the average daily case count to over 6,630 cases for the past week. The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase. Over the past 7 days, there were on average almost 3,200 individuals with COVID-19 being treated in Canadian hospitals, including over 650 in critical care and an average of over 110 deaths were reported each day. To date, Canada has not identified the new variant of the coronavirus under investigation in the United Kingdom.
As 2020 draws to a close, our thoughts are with everyone who has faced struggles this past year and especially those who lost a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to acknowledge the incredible dedication and caring of Canada’s healthcare and public health workforce, along with members of the Canadian Armed Forces. I know that many across the health workforce will continue to be there for us over the coming holiday period, sacrificing time with their families to protect our health and safety. Seeing many of you, and those you care for, receiving the vaccine this past week fills me with hope for the New Year. To be sure, challenges remain, but with broader vaccine rollout on the horizon and reflecting on what we accomplished by working together, I know that we will be able to overcome whatever comes our way.
Looking back, another inspiring aspect of this year has been the outpouring of kindness and good will from Canadians across the country. The examples are far too numerous to recount - from the many who’ve made and donated homemade masks or delivered food and care kits to others in need, to kids of all ages colouring cheerful signs and pictures to lift people’s spirits - goodness and caring has been all around us. It even generated “caremongering” as a new uniquely Canadian word in 2020! And this spirit of giving continues to grow. Businesses have also been involved by retooling their manufacturing to supply hand sanitizer, PPE and respirators. And some of the latest examples include Canadian businesses lending specialised ultra-low temperature freezers to local public health departments to enable them to store our vaccines.
Add to that, the incredible work Canadians have contributed on a national and global stage, from researchers and others working around the clock on all aspects of laboratory diagnostics, vaccines and treatments, to planning and logistics experts who are ensuring coordinated and equitable rollout of vaccines, and the countless small kindnesses of Canadians protecting each other. Throughout, our essential service workers helped our health care system to cope, kept our grocery stores stocked, and our communities supplied.
Looking forward there is a lot to be hopeful about. There are safe and effective vaccines in our midst and until there are vaccines for all Canadians, our public health measures can work to control COVID-19. But, I have one big worry and only a continued commitment from all of us can allay this concern. Currently, Canada remains on a trajectory for even stronger resurgence over the next two months and this is a perilous time. Public health measures to reduce the infection rate only work if we all adhere to them to the best of our ability. Infection rates remain very high in many areas of the country. That means we must celebrate holidays differently this year and carry on with our public health practices through the coming weeks and months. In this time of giving and New Year’s resolutions, let’s all commit to continued efforts as a show of collective appreciation and gratitude for frontline and essential workers as they continue to care for us through the holidays. Follow public health advice, plan safer holidays, stay home if you have any symptoms, and practise physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and wearing a face mask, as appropriate.
Read my CPHO backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others.
For specific advice on how to reduce your risk and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during holidays and celebrations, see the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guide COVID-19: Plan a safe holiday or celebration.
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