Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on June 2, 2021
June 2, 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 AccessAbility Week (NAAW) and this year’s theme, Disability Inclusion 2021: Leaving No One Behind celebrates the valuable contributions of people with disabilities to Canadian society and the economy. This week also recognizes the people, communities and workplaces actively taking steps to remove barriers, and to promote accessibility and a culture of inclusion.
While COVID-19 has affected all of our lives, it has had a disproportionate impact on some populations, including people with disabilities and has heightened the persistent social inequities they face. As well, people with disabilities may be more vulnerable to the health consequences of COVID-19, for example related to the nature of their disability or their living environment (eg. living in a group setting). We can all help by making a conscious effort to respect and incorporate the concerns and needs of people with disabilities into our pandemic response at all levels.
I encourage everyone to participate in NAAW by posting and tweeting stories, photos and videos of disability inclusion using the hashtag #AccessibleCanada. You can also highlight organizations in your communities that demonstrate a commitment to enabling people with disabilities to realize their full potential. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen what we can accomplish when we work together. The more accessible and inclusive Canada is, the better off we all will be.
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 1,383,214 cases of COVID-19 and 25,556 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 large majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. However, as vaccination programs expand at an accelerated pace, there is increasing optimism that widespread and lasting immunity can be achieved through COVID-19 vaccination over the coming weeks and months.
As immunity is still building up across the population, public health measures and individual precautions are crucial for COVID-19 control. Thanks to measures in place in heavily affected areas, the strong and steady declines in disease trends continues. The latest national-level data show a continued downward trend in disease activity with an average of 2,529 cases reported daily during the latest 7 day period (May 26-June 1)Footnote *, down 35% compared to the week prior. Until vaccine coverage is sufficiently high to impact disease transmission more broadly in the community, we must sustain a high degree of caution to drive infection rates down to a low, manageable levels, and not ease restrictions too soon or too quickly where infection rates are high.
With the considerable decline in infection rates nationally, the overall number of people experiencing severe and critical illness has also declined. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,541 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (May 26-June 1)Footnote *, which is 16.5% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 1,065 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 11.5% fewer than last week. Likewise, the latest 7-day average of 35 deaths reported daily (May 26-June 1)Footnote * is declining, showing a 20% decrease compared to the week prior.
We are continuing to monitor and assess genetic variants of the virus and their impacts in the Canadian context. Overall, variants of concern (VOCs) represent the majority of recently reported COVID-19 cases across the country. While all four VOCs (B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1 and B.1.617) have been detected in most provinces and territories, the B.1.1.7 variant continues to account for the majority of genetically sequenced VOCs in Canada. All of these VOCs are more contagious, and evidence demonstrates that the B.1.1.7 and B.1.617 variants are at least 50% more transmissible. The P.1, B.1.351, and B.1.617 variants all have mutations in common, which may have an impact on vaccine effectiveness, although the evidence is limited at this time. While the impact of all VOCs continues to be monitored in Canada, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, are working to reduce spread of COVID-19.
As vaccine eligibility expands, Canadians are urged to get vaccinated and support others to get vaccinated as vaccines become available to them. However, regardless of our vaccination status, Canadians are urged to remain vigilant, continue following local public health advice, and consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer, even as we’re beginning to see the positive impacts of COVID-19 vaccines: 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).
For more information regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination, I encourage Canadians to reach out to your local public health authorities, healthcare provider, or other trusted and credible sources, such as Canada.ca and Immunize.ca. Working together, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, Canada’s Chief Medical Officers of Health and other health professionals across the country are closely monitoring vaccine safety, effectiveness and optimal use to adapt approaches. As the science and situation evolves, we are committed to providing clear and evidence-informed guidance in order to keep everyone in Canada safe and healthy.
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. 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
- Footnote *
A previous version of this statement misstated the date range for the collected data as being from "June 1-7," it was meant to say "May 26-June 1."
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