Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on April 29, 2021
April 29, 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.
National Immunization Awareness Week (NIAW) is an opportunity to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated, including getting the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as its our turn. Removing barriers to vaccination and providing evidence-based information are crucial for supporting Canadians in getting vaccinated. The Public Health Agency of Canada is funding several projects under the Immunization Partnership Fund for the development and expansion of tools and training for healthcare providers, as well as supporting community-driven solutions to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and uptake. Funding for two initiatives, announced this week, is helping to address barriers that can delay or discourage people from getting vaccinated. Science Up First is developing a national network of science and health communicators, media, and citizens to debunk mis- and disinformation and flood social media with accurate and credible information about COVID-19 vaccines. The University of Toronto is improving the COVID-19 vaccine experience by adapting their successful student CARD system for use in adults to decrease pain and fear, which can be barriers to vaccination. The CARD system uses game-based coping strategies to comfort, relax, and distract patients. Through projects like these, we are working to build confidence and make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible for everyone in Canada.
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 1,202,737 cases of COVID-19, including 83,354 active cases and 24,117 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.
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 7,897 new cases daily (Apr 22-28), an 8.3% decrease compared to the previous seven days.
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 4,392 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Apr 22-28) representing a 7.6% increase over last week. This includes, on average 1,406 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), which is 13.6% higher than the previous week. The mortality trend is also still on the rise, with the 7-day average of 50 deaths reported daily 8.7% 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. 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 28, a total of 102,700 variant of concern cases have been reported across Canada, including 98,706 involving B.1.1.7 variants, 3,384 P.1 variants and 610 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. The B.1.1.7 variant has now been reported in all provinces and territories, and has replaced the original virus as the dominant strain in several areas.
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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