Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on August 12, 2021
August 12, 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.
Since the last modelling update two weeks ago, we have been closely monitoring increases in COVID-19 activity across the country. The latest national surveillance data indicate that a fourth wave is underway in Canada and that cases are plotting along a strong resurgence trajectory. Nationally, there are now over 13,000 active cases, more than double from two weeks ago. On average, over 1,500 new cases are being reported daily, with the majority of new cases reported in the 20-39 year old age group.
After several months of declining severity trends, we are now seeing early signs of increases in severe illnesses following the recent increase in cases. On average, 511 people with COVID-19 are being treated in our hospitals each day, an increase of 12% compared to last week, and 206 people in intensive care units, which has levelled off. Fortunately, the number of deaths remains low, with an average of 7 deaths being reported daily.
Although we are heading into a fourth wave driven by the Delta variant, the good news is that millions of Canadians have rolled up their sleeves to help build a strong wall of vaccination protection. While the Delta variant is more contagious, a complete two-dose series of COVID-19 vaccine still provides substantial protection. The vast majority of cases and hospitalizations are in those not fully vaccinated. To date, more than 50 million doses of vaccines have been administered in Canada. More than 82% of the eligible population 12 years or older have received at least one dose and importantly, over 71% are now fully vaccinated, providing strong protection against symptomatic disease and severe illness. However, there are still millions of eligible people in Canada who have not yet been vaccinated and coverage is not even across age groups. In particular, during this last stretch to increase vaccine uptake further across all age groups, we need to build up momentum to increase coverage among young adults, the age group where most of the transmission is occurring. This could help to reduce the size of the fourth wave this fall and winter and help limit its impact on our healthcare system.
As well, the Public Health Agency of Canada, along with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the Chief Medical Officers of Health are working with experts across the country to closely monitor emerging evidence on the potential need or benefit of a third dose in certain populations, including those who are immunocompromised. For now, our top priority remains ensuring as many people in Canada who are eligible are vaccinated.
Together we have made a lot of progress and now is not the time to stop. To reduce the risk that this fourth wave could exceed healthcare capacity or negatively impact essential activities like school, we must redouble our efforts to increase the proportion of fully vaccinated Canadians and maintain vigilance with public health advice. Let's make the most of these last weeks of summer and get more people in Canada vaccinated with their first and second doses. The more we can #VaxToTheMax, the better for back to school. And by getting vaccinated, young adults have the potential to make the biggest impact in building up our firewall of better protection this Fall and Winter.
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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