Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on April 27, 2021
April 27, 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.
This week is National Immunisation Awareness Week in Canada, and across generations, Canadians are recognising the importance of vaccination for saving lives, and preserving health, wellbeing and livelihoods. First, we'll update the numbers, then focus on the importance of vaccines among other public health measures to control serious infectious diseases.
To date, close to one million one hundred and ninety thousand cases of COVID-19, including over 24,000 deaths have been reported in Canada. Over the past week, a somewhat lower average of just over 8,000 cases were reported daily, while the number of people experiencing severe and critical illness continued to rise. On average over 4,300 people with COVID-19 were being treated in our hospitals each day, including 1,350 people being treated in intensive care units, representing over 15% increases, compared to the prior week. At the same time, an average of 51 deaths were reported daily, which is also 15% higher than the week prior. There are over 94,200 variant of concern cases reported to date across Canada, with the B.1.1.7 variant accounting for 96 percent of these. This includes 90,515 B.1.1.7 variants, 3,180 P.1 variants, and 541 B.1.351 variants reported to date in Canada.
A year ago during National Immunization Awareness Week, we talked about how vaccines play a significant role in preventing and controlling the spread of serious, life altering and sometimes fatal diseases, like measles, pertussis, influenza, diphtheria and polio, in Canada and around the world. We ended by saying, a vaccine may also one day be available to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.
What a difference a year makes! And, not only do we have many examples of the lifesaving benefits of vaccines across the infectious diseases landscape, but where ever COVID-19 vaccines have been rolled out, we are starting to see what a difference they make. In fact, prior to the pandemic, vaccines were credited for saving 2 to 3 million lives each year. Now, with over 3 million reported deaths due to COVID-19 worldwide, it is clear these safe and highly effective vaccines have a big role to play in ending the pandemic and averting millions more deaths.
And the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines are increasingly being seen in Canada as well. For example, thanks to Indigenous leadership on a range of public health measures and the early deployment of vaccines supported by all levels of public health and the Canadian Armed Forces, over 340,000 vaccine doses have been administered in over 650 Indigenous and Territorial communities. With increasing vaccine uptake, active COVID-19 cases have dropped more than 80% in First Nations communities in the past three months. It is enormously encouraging to see how vaccination is serving to protect higher risk communities. Similar benefits have been seen in other high-risk populations targeted for priority vaccination. With vaccine rollout expanding every day, we can expect to see these benefits across the Canadian population.
Vaccines are an incredibly important public health tool throughout our lifespan, from protecting children against serious and life-threatening infections, to preserving and prolonging health and wellbeing into our senior years. But, when it comes to tackling a pandemic, with widespread and elevated levels of disease, we must maintain other vital public health measures to bring the infection rate down and keep it down, as vaccines roll out across the population.
That means keeping up with individual precautions and public health measures in your area, until we've built the bridge for vaccines to take us to greater safety and back to the things we have missed so much.Read my backgrounder to access COVID-19 Information and Resources, including information on vaccination and ways to reduce your risk of infection and spreading.
Public Health Agency of Canada
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