Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on August 11, 2021
August 11, 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.
As COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are continuing to track key epidemiological indicators to monitor trends, quickly detect, and understand emerging issues of concern, including the impact of circulating virus variants. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) provides regular updates on COVID-19 vaccines administered, vaccination coverage and ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety across the country. Below is the latest summary on national numbers and trends.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,443,433 cases of COVID-19 and 26,683 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Four variants of concern (VOCs) in Canada, B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617.2 (Delta), have been detected in most provinces and territories. At the national level, the Delta variant currently accounts for the majority of recently reported VOC cases. Regardless of which SARS-CoV-2 variants 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. At the present time, those who are unvaccinated are at greatest risk of infection and severe outcomes; however, the spread of the virus in areas with low vaccination coverage presents an ongoing risk for the emergence, and replacement by, new variants. This is why we must remain vigilant to reduce the spread of the virus, especially for variants that have some ability to evade protection from vaccines.
Hence, as public health restrictions are eased across the country, we are continuing to monitor increases in disease activity. The latest national 7-day moving average of 1,380 new cases reported daily (Aug 4-10), is an increase of 65% over the previous week. With early signs of a Delta-driven wave beginning and the fall approaching, efforts to increase the proportion of fully vaccinated Canadians and reinforce individual precautions per local public health advice are crucial to reducing virus spread and lowering the risk of a resurgence that could lead to healthcare capacity being exceeded this coming fall and winter. To this end, public health authorities continue to encourage uptake and administer first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to eligible people, aiming to achieve high vaccine coverage for widespread, stronger and longer lasting immunity across the Canadian population.
With recent increases in COVID-19 disease activity, we are closely monitoring the impact on lagging COVID-19 severity indicators and are seeing early signs that hospitalizations are increasingly slightly at the national level. The latest provincial and territorial data show that an average of 504 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Aug 4-10), which is 12% higher than last week. This includes, on average 204 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 1% fewer than last week and an average of 7 deaths were reported daily (Aug 4-10).
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 non-essential travel outside Canada; and maintain individual protective practices such as physical distancing and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask, as appropriate.
If you are eligible and haven’t already, please make an appointment to get your first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are able. COVID-19 vaccination is important for all eligible age groups, including youth, for better protection this fall and winter. The Government of Canada, via the Immunization Partnership Fund, supports initiatives to improve access to vaccines and encourage vaccine uptake. Two projects, for example, focus on school-based strategies to enhance education and vaccination among youth: these include an initiative of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, partnering with Kids Boost Immunity, to develop social media communications and involve young people in a video contest. The Canada Safety Council is creating a Vaccine Education and Awareness program, consisting of a video course and supporting materials to be delivered in schools, with the participation of teachers across the country. Through projects like these, we are working to build confidence and make COVID-19 vaccines accessible for everyone in Canada. 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 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
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