Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on February 1, 2021
February 1, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada
As 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. Due to reduced reporting over the weekend, national seven-day averages have not been updated in today's statement. These data are still being collected and analysed. I will provide the latest numbers during my remarks tomorrow.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 778,972 cases of COVID-19 in Canada. Sadly, we are reporting over 20,000 deaths for the first time today, with 20,032 deaths among the total cases to date. These cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Though many areas continue to experience high infection rates, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.
At this time, there are 53,281 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate a downward trend in daily case counts, with a 7-day average of 4,896 new cases daily (Jan 22-28). While these surveillance data and modelling forecasts suggest that community-based measures are having an effect, it is crucial that strong measures are kept in place in order to maintain a steady downward trend. With still elevated daily case counts and high rates of infection across all age groups, the risk remains that trends could reverse quickly and some areas of the country are seeing increased activity. Likewise, outbreaks continue to occur in high-risk populations and communities, including hospitals and long term care homes, correctional facilities, congregate living settings, Indigenous communities, and more remote areas of the country. These factors underscore the importance of sustaining public health measures and individual practices and not easing restrictions too fast or too soon. This is particularly important in light of the emergence of new virus variants of concern that could rapidly accelerate transmission of COVID-19 in Canada.
As severe outcomes lag behind increased disease activity, we can expect to see ongoing heavy impacts on our healthcare system and health workforce for some time to come. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,192 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 22-28), including 855 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 149 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. This situation continues to burden 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.
A range of public health measures and restrictions are in place across Canada as we continue our collective effort to interrupt the spread of the virus. Canadians are urged to continue following local public health advice and to consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, reduce non-essential activities and outings to a minimum, avoid all non-essential travel, and maintain individual protective practices of physical distancing, hand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a face mask as appropriate (including in shared indoor spaces with people from outside your immediate household). Last week, I focused on mental health in the lead up to Bell Let's Talk Day to acknowledge the impact and challenges we are all facing during COVID-19 and to urge every one to take care of their own mental health and support others in doing the same. Let's keep the momentum going. Every day is the right day to reach out, talk and support each other and to take that step toward mental wellbeing.
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, including information on COVID-19 vaccination.
Public Health Agency of Canada
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