Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on September 24, 2021
September 24, 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.
The latest surveillance data show that while the Delta-driven wave is continuing nationally, there is considerable regional variation. Areas that have achieved high vaccination coverage and maintained masking, spacing and other measures where appropriate have been able to keep infection rates lower to protect the health system. However, some more heavily impacted areas are experiencing a strain on healthcare capacity, especially where vaccination coverage is lower. This is both a reminder of the importance of vaccination in our public health toolkit and a reinforcement of the need for ongoing vigilance with other measures to prevent and quickly respond to the rapidly spreading Delta variant.
Nationally, the average number of daily new cases being reported is over 4,300. On average, over 2,200 people with COVID-19 are being treated in our hospitals each day, including over 700 in intensive care units and an average of 36 deaths are being reported daily. These cases and severe illnesses are predominantly occurring among unvaccinated people. From early August to early September, the average weekly rate of new COVID-19 cases was 11 times higher, while the average weekly rate of hospitalisations was 38 times higher in unvaccinated people than in fully vaccinated people.
This week marked the start of fall and as we’ve already begun the move indoors for back-to- school and return to work and social spaces, increased disease activity is not unexpected. This means we must keep up efforts and use everything in our toolkit to slow the spread as much as possible to protect lives and livelihoods. COVID-19 vaccination is proving very effective, particularly in preventing severe outcomes and especially where coverage rates are highest. Although we need very high coverage to offset the highly contagious Delta variant, the good news is that we are continuing to make progress in getting more people protected everyday.
There are now over 26.5 million Canadians fully vaccinated, which is over 80% of the eligible population aged 12 years or older! On the flip side, that leaves more than 6.5 million Canadians still needing one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be fully vaccinated. Like COVID-19 disease activity, vaccination coverage is not the same everywhere. Where there are gaps in coverage there will be impacts, at the individual level, at the family and community level, and across society and shared services, including healthcare capacity for everyone.
As always, our collective efforts matter. We can all help by protecting ourselves through vaccination and indirectly protecting others who can’t be vaccinated or who don’t mount a strong response to the vaccines. At the same time, our efforts can help keep schools open and minimize disruption of vital economic, social and healthcare services. If you aren’t fully vaccinated yet, please access the information and supports needed to join the vaccination firewall. And whether you are vaccinated or not, we need everyone to keep up with individual precautions, including masking and spacing, that help prevent exposure and spread of the virus.
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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