Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, March 9, 2021


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for many Canadians, particularly those who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. Through the Wellness Together Canada online portal, people of all ages across the country can access immediate, free and confidential mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organisation’s declaration of the COVID-19 global pandemic. As we update the latest numbers, let’s not forget that the impacts have gone far beyond the numbers, during this long and difficult journey we are continuing on together. To date, there have been 890,698 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 22,276 deaths. There are now over 30,300 active cases across the country. Over the past week, an average of over 2,900 new cases and 37 deaths were reported daily. During the same time period, over 2,080 people with COVID-19 were being treated in our hospitals each day, including almost 550 in critical care.

This weekend, as I reflected on the week ahead, I felt a mix of emotions that I am sure most of us are feeling in one form or another. First, in looking back at the year behind us, it is a time of solemn remembrance of the cherished lives we have lost. At the same time, it is clear that our work is not done. To honour the memories of those we have lost and appreciate the progress that our sacrifice has afforded us, it is a time to pause to remember, gather our strength and commit to our future, by sustaining our efforts until the crisis phase of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.

In remembrance, the Government of Canada has designated this Thursday, March 11, 2021, as a National Day of Observance to commemorate those who lost their lives and the significant impacts we have all endured because of COVID-19.

As we reflect, it is also a time for great hope, given many important advancements. Not only have we all learned more about the public health measures and individual precautions that work to reduce the spread of rapidly spreading respiratory diseases like COVID-19, but our efforts have held the force of infection at bay long enough to buy time for research on vaccines and treatments. It would be very easy to take for granted the incredible worldwide, and population-wide, effort that has brought us, not one but multiple, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. In fact, the timeliness, safety and effectiveness of these vaccines was not a given and I would say it has in many ways exceeded the hopes we dared to have a year ago.

We have all experienced loss and I know we are all tired, but let’s also recognise some of our achievements, and the good things that we want to carry forward. We can have renewed faith in ourselves coming together during a crisis, sticking it out longer than any of us might have guessed we could do, and doing it with enduring kindness. Though there have been stumbles, we have adapted and we have endured and I know we have what it takes to see things through.

Lest I leave you without a public health reminder – as we continue to accelerate vaccinations, having the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance possible – and wearing the best fitting mask, will continue to serve us well.

Read my backgrounder to access COVID-19 Information and Resources, including information on vaccination and ways to reduce your risk of infection and spreading the virus to others.

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