Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on Tuesday, April 13, 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.
As we continue to track current surveillance data against the longer-range modelling forecast from just over two weeks ago, we are seeing daily cases still rising along a strong resurgence trajectory. Although COVID-19 vaccine benefits are being seen for high risk groups prioritised during the initial rollout, experience worldwide is unequivocal in cautioning us that strict public health measures will continue to be crucial during this phase of vaccine roll out, especially in the presence of high rates of disease.
To date, over one million, seventy one thousand cases of COVID-19, including over 23,350 deaths have been reported in Canada. Over the past week, there has been a 33% rise in daily case counts with an average of almost 8,100 new cases reported daily. During the same time, the number of people experiencing severe and critical illness continues to rise; on average over 3,000 people with COVID-19 were being treated in our hospitals each day representing, a 29% increase over last week. This includes almost 970 people being treated in intensive care units, which is 24% higher than last week. Although the number of deaths has averaged around 30 each day for several weeks, there is a concern that if the increase in severe illnesses persists, we could see a gradual increase in the mortality trend -- with today’s average at 34 deaths daily over the past week. There are almost 36,000 variant of concern cases reported to date across Canada, with the B.1.1.7 variant accounting for over 96 percent of these. This includes 34,404 B.1.1.7 variants, 1,222 P.1 variants, and 365 B.1.351 variants reported to date in Canada.
These trends are discouraging, but they reinforce why we must strengthen precautions to bring this variant of concern-driven resurgence under control quickly. This is the third big push and we’re all tired but the benefits of applying our strongest collective effort -- by following public health advice and strictly maintaining individual precautions-- could not be greater. This push will enable us to focus more capacity towards vaccine rollout.
Two great examples of this unified effort I will highlight today are from Nova Scotia. We have recently learned of a vaccine clinic organised for Black Nova Scotians in the Hammonds Plains community just outside of Halifax. The clinic was held at the historic Emmanuel Baptist Church, which has long been an important fixture in the community. Coming together in solidarity to receive COVID-19 vaccines is a testimony to the community’s perseverance and commitment to ensuring people feel culturally safe in the vaccination process. I also heard about a pharmacist in Cape Breton who converted an old ambulance into a mobile clinic to bring COVID-19 vaccination to seniors and people with mobility challenges. There are so many examples from individuals to organisations finding ways to help others and make sure that we all end this crisis together, stronger and more united.
Finally, on our current trajectory, it might seem premature to think of the days when restrictions will ease and social and economic activities will resume. But, if we want to take forward the things we’ve learned about the importance of family, community, and equity; about how we supported each other, adapted and innovated; we must commit to acting thoughtfully, clear in the view of what we want to take forward. The end of this crisis will be a time of great change, let’s not race towards the finish and risk stumbling along the way. Let’s make every step count by continuing, at pace, together.
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.
Public Health Agency of Canada
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