Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on February 13, 2021
February 13, 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.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 820,306 cases of COVID-19, including 21,162 deaths reported in Canada; 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. As well, the emergence and spread of certain SARS-CoV-2 virus variants is an additional cause for concern. Over the past week (Jan 31-Feb 6), there were on average over 103,000 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 3.7% were positive for COVID-19. As of February 12, nine provinces have reported detections of variants of concern, including Newfoundland where recent outbreak activity has been linked to the B.1.1.7 variant. Although it is normal for variants to emerge as viruses continuously evolve, some variants are considered "variants of concern" because they spread more easily, some may cause more severe illness, or current vaccines may be less effective against them. This is why we need to maintain the strictest vigilance in our public health measures and individual practices. This will help to prevent these variants from reaccelerating the epidemic and making it much more difficult to control.
From routine national surveillance data, we are observing a steady decline in COVID-19 activity. Currently, there are 36,944 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data show a continued downward trend in daily case counts, with a 7-day average of 3,347 new cases daily (Feb 5-11). Likewise, following the decrease in COVID-19 activity, severe outcomes continue to decline as expected for these lagging indicators. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 3,048 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Feb 5-11), including 688 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 82 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
While these surveillance data and modelling forecasts suggest that community-based measures are having an effect and that our collective effort is continuing to make a difference, it is crucial that strong measures are kept in place in order to maintain a steady downward trend. With still elevated daily case counts, the risk remains that trends could reverse quickly, particularly in areas of the country where more contagious virus variants are spreading or where increased, unchanged or only modest declines in COVID-19 disease activity are being reported. Likewise, outbreaks 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 remain a concern. These factors underscore the importance of sustaining public health measures and individual practices and not easing restrictions too fast or too soon.
A range of public health measures and restrictions are already in place across Canada as we continue our collective effort to interrupt the spread of the virus, including limiting the spread of more contagious variants, while we buy critical time for vaccine programs to expand. Canadians are urged to remain vigilant and to continue following local public health advice as well as consistently maintaining individual practices that keep us and our families safer: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, think about the risks and 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 well-fitted and properly worn face mask as appropriate (including in shared spaces with people from outside your immediate household indoors and also outdoors where physical distancing is difficult to maintain). Aiming to have the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance possible is a simple rule that we can all apply to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while vaccine programs expand to protect all Canadians. 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.
As we continue our collective effort to maintain physical distancing, we need to take every opportunity to have fun and maintain important social connections in safer ways! During this winter season, embrace Canada's winter wonderland by considering outdoor activities, but don't forget to bundle up with layers of individual public health practices when you layer on the winter weather gear (including a face mask, as appropriate). This year, we can also celebrate winter indoors with Winterlude, a virtual event taking place until February 21, 2021. As part of this celebration, you can admire the work of sculptors from across the country taking part in the Winterlude National Ice-Carving Competition and vote for your favourite sculptures. Other activities include virtual performances by Canadian artists, do-it yourself workshops, or becoming characters in a virtual storybook with the Winterlude mascots. Whether you decide to embrace winter outdoors or indoors, I encourage Canadians to find creative ways to enjoy this season in a fun and safe way.
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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