Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on September 16, 2021


September 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.

Updated surveillance data show that the Delta-driven wave is continuing to surge. Unless we can quickly reduce overall transmission rates, through accelerated vaccination and other measures where the virus is surging, continued expansion of the epidemic could lead to higher case counts than we have experienced thus far. Likewise, with still close to 7 million eligible people not yet fully vaccinated amid predominance of the highly contagious and more severe Delta variant, hospitalisations could exceed healthcare capacity in impacted areas.

Nationally, the average number of daily new cases reported is now over 4,300. On average, almost 1,950 people with COVID-19 are being treated in our hospitals each day, including over 650 in intensive care units and an average of 25 deaths are being reported daily. Reported cases and severe illness are predominantly occurring among unvaccinated people. During the month of August, the average weekly rate of new COVID-19 cases was 11 times higher, while the average weekly rate of hospitalisations was 39 times higher, in unvaccinated people than in fully vaccinated people.

Increasing the vaccination rate overall and raising fully vaccinated coverage among young adults, aged 18-39 years in particular, could slow epidemic growth enough to reduce the risk of exceeding healthcare capacity or shorten the duration of seriously elevated hospitalisation rates through the winter. Rapidly achieving these gains could also lessen the need for more stringent measures to control activity if and when healthcare capacity is threatened.

As we continue to face disruptions to our daily lives, it is understandable to feel fatigued. But it is important to know that we are now in a stronger position. By working together through these unprecedented times, we have made significant achievements, giving us more knowledge, tools and practices to take us through what could still be a challenging winter, as we continue to learn and navigate through the pandemic.

Thanks to highly effective vaccines, more Canadians than ever have strong protection against severe illness and, as our vaccination firewall grows higher, we are providing indirect protection to others who can't get vaccinated or may not mount a strong immune response to the vaccines. Most importantly, even as the Delta wave rises, masking and spacing will provide each of us with additional layers of protection, while public health measures can be timed and targeted to slow epidemic growth when and where needed. We will get through these next weeks and months and we can emerge stronger for it if we keep doing the work together.

Today on Yom Kippur, as people of the Jewish faith reflect on the past, present and year ahead, we can all appreciate the importance of committing to doing what's best for ourselves, our families and communities. Let's gather our strength, focus on what we know works and recommit to protecting the progress and sacrifices we've made to open doors to schools, businesses and social spaces.

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.


Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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