Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on Tuesday, April 6, 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.
Over 1 million cases of COVID-19, including over 23,000 deaths reported since the start of the pandemic in Canada, is a stark reminder of how much we’ve been through. With more contagious variants driving epidemic growth in many areas of Canada, we know this virus is not going out with a whimper. But our vaccine response is getting stronger everyday and we will get through this pandemic together. Just yesterday, we marked the milestone of delivering 10 million COVID-19 vaccines to provinces and territories.
Over the past week, on average there have been almost 6,100 new cases and 31 deaths reported daily. With an ongoing increase in severe and critical illnesses placing a heavy strain on the health system in many places, it is clear community-based restrictions will be needed a while longer. Last week, an average of almost 2,400 people with COVID-19 were being treated in our hospitals each day representing a 4% increase over the previous week. This includes over 780 people in intensive care units, which is a weekly increase of 18%. With increasing rates of infection, we are seeing a greater number of younger adults with COVID-19 being treated in hospital. This is a reminder that COVID-19 can impact people of all ages and severe illness can occur at any age.
Variants of concern are contributing to the current resurgence. The B.1.1.7 variant is known to cause more severe illness and increase the risk of death. Of the over 15,000 variant of concern cases reported to date across Canada, the B.1.1.7 variant continues to account for over 90% and has likely replaced the original virus in some locations. A significant increase in the number of cases of the P.1 variant is also cause for concern. Cases due to this variant rose from about 460 cases a week ago to now 857 cases reported in Canada, with the majority of these cases reported by British Columbia and Ontario to date. Early evidence suggests the P.1 variant may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, making it even more important to control its spread. With variants of concern posing new challenges in different locations across the country, now is not the time to travel across regions for recreational reasons. Limit your travel to essential trips only to do your part to stop spread. This includes 14,010 B.1.1.7 variants, 857 P.1 variants, and 337 B.1.351 variants reported to date in Canada. New variant case numbers represent the tip of the iceberg as there are thousands more cases that have screened positive for problematic mutations.
Tomorrow marks World Health Day, bringing attention to a specific health concern common to many people around the world. This year’s theme, “building a fairer, healthier world”, serves to remind us of the inequitable impact that COVID-19 has had for many people in Canada and around the world. It also challenges us to ensure that our pandemic response prioritizes interventions that will support good health and safe recovery. Building in actions to address inequities in our response makes us stronger and more united.
I know that we are all tired and looking for a break, but now is not the time to let down our guard or travel for recreational purposes. Please continue to follow local public health recommendations, stick to the safer habits we’ve learned, and get a vaccine when it is your turn. The bottom line is, no one is protected until everyone is protected.
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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