Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on March 4, 2021
March 4, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada
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.
I would like to thank the Canadian Armed Forces for its contribution to the national response to COVID-19. Canadian Armed Forces personnel have supported and served Canadians by responding to multiple requests for assistance – from deploying to long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario, to providing direct support to northern and remote communities, and assisting in the management and distribution of personal protective equipment. Military members are also assisting with the ongoing planning and coordination for the transport, storage, and distribution of vaccines, and most recently, members of the Canadian Armed Forces are providing Government of Canada departments with planning and logistics support to establish testing sites at land ports of entry across Canada. Their expertise in logistics and their ability to rapidly deploy anywhere in Canada are key to our efforts, especially as vaccine supplies ramp-up in the coming weeks.
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 875,559 cases of COVID-19, including 22,105 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. They also tell us, together with results of serological studies, that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19.
Currently, there are 29,930 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data show a 7-day average of 2,909 new cases daily (Feb 25-Mar 3). Following the decrease in COVID-19 activity over many weeks, severe outcomes continue to decline as expected for these lagging indicators. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,136 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Feb 25-Mar 3), including 562 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 43 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
Although COVID-19 activity had been declining nationally from mid-January through mid-February, daily case counts have since levelled off. As well, the emergence and spread of certain SARS-CoV-2 virus variants is an additional cause for concern. As of March 3rd, a total of 1,474 variants of concern have been reported across Canada, including 1,367 B.1.1.7 variants, 104 B.1.351 variants and 3 P.1 variants. With the continued increase of cases and outbreaks associated with more contagious variants, in particular the B.1.1.7 variant, in jurisdictions across Canada, we need to maintain the strictest vigilance in our public health measures and individual practices to prevent rapidly spreading variants from taking hold and making the epidemic much more difficult to control.
A range of public health measures 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 ramp up. Over the coming weeks and months it will be important to maintain a high degree of caution. Any easing of public health measures must be done slowly with enhanced testing, screening, and genomic analysis to detect variants of concern. In particular, there must be sufficient contact tracing capacity and supports for effective isolation, given increased transmissibility of variants of concern.
Canadians are urged to remain vigilant, continue following local public health advice, and consistently maintain 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, indoors or outdoors, with people from outside of your immediate household).
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. 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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