Statement from the Deputy Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on July 16, 2021
July 16, 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.
In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement on behalf of Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer.
This Saturday, July 17, is Canada's Parks Day, and a perfect opportunity to discover the great Canadian outdoors through the many national, provincial/territorial, and municipal parks in your area. Nature and parks can provide us many health and wellness benefits, including appreciating the natural beauty of the landscape, breathing in the fresh air, getting active, and socializing, all while limiting the transmission of COVID-19. National parks are uniquely Canadian protected natural areas, which allow for a wide range of environmentally friendly activities. Exploring the diverse natural spaces in different regions of the Canadian outdoors this summer can be done while camping, hiking, canoeing and running, to name a few activities. Canada also boasts an abundant coastline to enjoy either on foot or from the water.
In addition to allowing us to connect with nature, parks can also teach us about the history and culture of Canada. From east to west to north, parks such as Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site in Nova Scotia, Rouge National Urban Park in the Greater Toronto Area, Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba, and Kluane National Park and Reserve in Yukon, offer people across Canada an opportunity to learn about the histories, cultures, and contributions of Indigenous peoples, as well as the local geography with its flora and fauna. Choosing lower-risk activities and settings like exploring local, provincial, and national parks is a good way to continue protecting yourself and your family, especially younger children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. Check out Parks Canada and your provincial/territorial/municipal websites to find parks in your area and get ideas and inspiration for outdoor activities.
As COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are continuing to track key epidemiological indicators to monitor trends and quickly detect emerging issues of concern, including to better understand the impact of circulating virus variants. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is also providing 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.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,422,246 cases of COVID-19 and 26,472 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Variants of concern (VOCs) represent the majority of recently reported COVID-19 cases, including four VOCs (B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617.2 (Delta)) that have been detected in most provinces and territories. While the Alpha variant still accounts for the majority new cases nationally, the Delta variant has increased and now accounts for the majority of new COVID-19 cases in some areas, such as in Ontario. As all viruses change over time, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, new and emerging variants are expected. PHAC, in collaboration provincial and territorial partners and CanCOGeN, monitor for these changes by sequencing a percentage of all COVID-19 viruses from positive cases. While this percentage has varied over time, since mid-May, over 70% of all positive cases have been sequenced. Regardless of which viruses are predominating in an area, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, continue to work to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
While the latest national-level data show a continued decline in disease activity with an average of 396 cases reported daily during the latest 7 day period (July 9-15), the rate of decrease has slowed. As public health restrictions are eased, some increase in cases, particularly among unvaccinated populations, is not unexpected. The latest provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 640 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (July 9-15), which is 14% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 306 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 17% fewer than last week and an average of 10 deaths were reported daily (July 9-15).
Administration of first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines is continuing across the country and there is optimism that widespread, stronger and longer lasting immunity can be achieved by fully vaccinating a high proportion of eligible people across Canada. As of July 15, 2021, provinces and territories have administered over 44.2 millions doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The latest data provincial and territorial data indicate that over 79% of people aged 12 years or older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and over 53% are fully vaccinated across Canada. Age specific data as of July 10th, show that over 78% of adults over the age of 40 years have received at least one dose and over 82% among those aged 70 years or older are now fully vaccinated. As infection rates are still highest among those under 40 years of age in Canada, increasing coverage in younger age groups can have a big overall impact on epidemic control. I encourage people of all ages across Canada to please step up, ask questions, find the time and seek out supports in your community to make this happen for you. For more information regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination, reach out to your local public health authorities, healthcare provider, or other trusted and credible sources, such as Canada.ca and Immunize.ca.
Canadians can access information on Canada.ca to understand the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19, find guidance on life after vaccination and utilise free interactive risk assessment tools to aid in informed decision-making and understanding COVID-wise precautions to lower the risks in different settings. However, as jurisdictions begin to ease restrictions, risks and circumstances are not the same everywhere and following local public health advice continues to be important, regardless of your vaccination status. While COVID-19 is still circulating in Canada and internationally, core public health measures and individual protective practices can help us to reduce the spread: stay home/self-isolate if you have symptoms; be aware of risks associated with different settings; avoid all non-essential travel; and maintain individual protective practices such as physical distancing and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask, as appropriate.
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.
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