Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on April 24, 2021
April 24, 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.
Over the past week, I have been celebrating the efforts of people across the country to support Canada’s COVID-19 response. Today I would like to highlight some of the many contributions of Indigenous communities. Recently, members of Siksika First Nation volunteered their time to support a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary for urban Indigenous people. Their efforts reduced barriers to access by providing vaccination in a culturally safe manner. As well, in communities throughout the territories, volunteers have been connecting via social media to arrange food and supplies deliveries to support people while in quarantine or isolation, as well as to arrange transportation for people going for COVID-19 testing or vaccination appointments. As National Volunteer Week draws to a close I encourage everyone to reflect on this year’s theme – The Value of One, the Power of Many – as we move to overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19. By continuing to work together, we can make sure that we all end this crisis together, stronger and more united.
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. At the same time, the Public Health Agency of Canada is providing Canadians with regular updates on COVID-19 vaccines administered, vaccination coverage and ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety across the country. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to reduce infection rates, while vaccination programs expand for the protection of all Canadians.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,164,581 cases of COVID-19, including 86,355 active cases and 23,883 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 a very large majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. As vaccine delivery ramps up at an accelerated pace, there is cause for optimism that widespread and lasting immunity can be achieved through COVID-19 vaccination. We now have multiple safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines with unique advantages that are authorised for use in Canada. Vaccine coverage is increasing across Canada, with benefits being seen in prioritized high-risk populations. Ramp up of vaccine supply and acceleration of vaccination programs will return further benefits to protect more Canadians, over the coming weeks and months. As of yesterday, provinces and territories have administered almost 11.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and are further expanding programs as supply ramps up at an accelerated pace.
Although COVID-19 activity remains elevated, with a high proportion of cases involving more contagious variants of concern, we are cautiously optimistic that our efforts and strengthened restrictions are beginning to have an impact, as presented in the latest epidemiology and modelling update. However, strong public health measures must be sustained where COVID-19 is circulating and individual precautions are important everywhere. The latest national-level data show a 7-day average of 8,444 new cases daily (Apr 16-22), a 2.6% decrease compared to the previous seven days. For the week of April 11-17, there were on average of 131,086 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 7.4% were positive for COVID-19, an increase from 6.5% the week prior.
Elevated infection rates continue to impact COVID-19 severity indicators, particularly in areas with sustained high levels of disease activity. The rise in severe and critical illnesses continues to place a prolonged and heavy strain on the health system and healthcare workforce. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,167 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Apr 16-22) representing a 22% increase over last week. This includes, on average 1,268 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), which is 21% higher than the previous week. The mortality trend is also still on the rise, with the 7-day average of 46 deaths reported daily 11% higher than the week prior.
While COVID-19 continues to impact people of all ages in Canada, infection rates are highest among those under 60 years of age. Likewise, we are seeing an increased number of adults below 60 years of age being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including in ICUs. This is a reminder that serious illness can occur at any age and evidence indicates that variants of concern can be associated with more severe illness and increased risk of death. In addition, circulation of COVID-19 in younger, more mobile and socially connected adults is an ongoing risk for spread into high-risk populations and settings. As of April 22, a total of 78,729 variant of concern cases have been reported across Canada, including 75,413 involving B.1.1.7 variants, 2,853 P.1 variants and 463 B.1.351 variants. These represent the tip of the iceberg, as there are many more COVID-19 cases that have screened positive for mutations indicative of variants of concern. Although B.1.1.7, continues to account for the majority of these variants in Canada and has replaced the original virus as the dominant strain in several areas. At the same time, the continued rise in P.1 cases remains concerning, particularly with early evidence suggesting the P.1 variant may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, making it even more important to control its spread.
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).
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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