Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on December 10, 2020
December 10, 2020 Ottawa, ON Public Health Agency of Canada
As the resurgence of COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and healthcare capacity. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to maintain COVID-19 at manageable levels across the country.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 435,330 cases of COVID-19, including 12,983 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Though the cumulative number is high and many areas continue to experience rapid growth, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19.
At this time, there are 72,336 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 6,508 new cases (Dec 3-9). Laboratory data (excluding Alberta data due to reporting discrepancies) indicate an average of 72,541 people tested daily, with 6.5% testing positive (Nov 29-Dec 5). The national percentage of people testing positive reported over the last several days was overestimated nationally due to the discrepant data. The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with the province of Alberta to resolve the issue.
COVID-19 is spreading among people of all ages, with high infection rates across all age groups. However, nationally, infection rates remain highest among those aged 80 years and older who are at highest risk for severe outcomes. Likewise, outbreaks continue to occur in high-risk populations and communities, including hospitals and long term care homes, congregate living settings, Indigenous communities, and more remote areas of the country. This continued impact on high risk individuals, settings and populations is deeply concerning, putting countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, causing significant disruption to health services and presenting ongoing challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies.
The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase across Canada. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,795 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Dec 3-9), including 544 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 94 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. This situation is placing a heavy strain on local healthcare resources, particularly in areas where infection rates are highest. These impacts affect everyone, as the healthcare workforce and health system bear a heavy strain, important elective medical procedures are delayed or postponed, adding to pre-existing backlogs and wait times.
This week, the Public Health Agency of Canada released Canada’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan: Saving Lives and Livelihoods. The plan maps out how safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will be made accessible for all Canadians who want them, in an efficient and coordinated manner in collaboration with provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples and other key partners. While we continue to prepare the way for widespread and lasting control of COVID-19 through safe and effective vaccines, Canadians are urged to continue with individual practices that keep us and our families safer, while protecting populations and communities at high risk for severe outcomes.
To do this, we need to continue to limit close contacts to only those in our immediate household and reduce in-person interactions to only essential errands and activities, while consistently maintaining key public health practices: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, maintain physical distancing, wear a face mask as appropriate (including indoors with people from outside your immediate household), and keep up with frequent hand, cough and surface hygiene. Avoid the three C’s as much as possible: closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places where many people gather, and close contact situations where you cannot keep two metres apart. Importantly, please follow the guidance of your local public health authorities.
Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practices and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities and by downloading the COVID Alert app to break the cycle of infection and help limit the spread of COVID-19. Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others.
Today marks the beginning of Hanukkah, celebrated by Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. To celebrate the Festival of Lights safely this year during COVID-19 keep to existing households and consider virtual gatherings. I know that staying apart from family and friends can be especially difficult during important celebrations. Despite the challenges, I hope that you feel the spirit of family and community all the same while keeping each other safe. Happy Hanukkah.
In my statement last Thursday, December 10, 2020, I noted that data from Alberta had been excluded from the national 7-day average of people testing positive for COVID-19 (per cent positivity). This was as a result of an observation by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) of a significant increase in per cent positivity late in the week of Dec 7, 2020 which appeared out of keeping with other data sources. Upon further review, PHAC determined that the apparent increase in per cent positivity was incorrect. Following dialogue with the province of Alberta, it was determined that a field of submitted data had been interpreted incorrectly by PHAC. This issue has since been resolved. Previous data reports were not affected by this issue.
We regret any confusion this may have caused.
Public Health Agency of Canada
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