Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on January 21, 2022
January 21, 2022 | 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. PocketWell, a free companion app to the WTC online portal, provides another way to help Canadians access online mental health and substance use resources, and measure and track aspects of their mental well-being.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to monitor COVID-19 epidemiological indicators to quickly detect, understand and communicate emerging issues of concern. The following is a brief summary with the latest national numbers and trends.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 2,868,862 cases of COVID-19 and 32,220 deaths reported in Canada. These cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date, while the number of active cases, now at 298,509, and 7-day moving averages indicate current disease activity and severity trends. As very high infection rates challenge or exceed testing capacity, daily new and active case numbers underestimate the true number of current infections. Hence, a range of other indicators, from laboratory test positivity to daily numbers of people in hospitals and critical care continue to be important for monitoring trends.
During the latest 7 day period (Jan 14-20, 2022), an average of 25,821 new cases were reported daily across Canada. While this is a 28% decrease compared to the week prior, infection rates remain elevated and are increasing in some jurisdictions. Laboratories across Canada continue to test at a very high level. During the latest 7-day period (Jan 9-15, 2022), laboratory test positivity was 23%, indicating continued widespread community transmission.
Although evidence from ongoing surveillance and recent studies indicates that the risk of hospitalisation is lower for Omicron compared to Delta, the enormous volume of cases is placing a heavy strain on the healthcare system, both because of increased hospital admissions as well as high numbers of illness and need for isolation among health care workers. The latest provincial and territorial data show that an average of 10,041 people with COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 14-20, 2022), which is 38% higher than last week and exceeds all previous peaks. This includes, on average, 1,143 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU) daily, which is 24% higher than last week and an average of 146 deaths were reported daily (Jan 14-20, 2022). Keeping infection rates down remains key to mitigating the rise in severe illness trends as much as possible over the coming weeks.
Immunization for all those who are eligible, but are yet to receive their primary series, remains a top priority. Although uncertainties remain, evidence suggests that while two doses of vaccine may not provide good protection against getting infected, a two-dose primary series still provides good protection against hospitalisation. Encouragingly, the latest evidence indicates that a third dose improves protection against both infection and hospitalisation due to the Omicron variant.
As of January 20, 2022, provinces and territories have administered over 74 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The latest provincial and territorial data indicate that over 77% of the total population are now fully vaccinated. Age-specific vaccine coverage data, as of January 15, 2022, show that over 88% of people 12 years or older have at least one dose and over 83% are fully vaccinated. Among children aged 5-11 years of age, who have more recently become eligible for vaccination, 51% have at least one dose.
All told, over 6.5 million eligible Canadians need one or more doses to complete their primary series and many others are eligible to get a booster dose to help improve protection that may have decreased since their second dose. Moreover, there is accumulating evidence that a booster dose results in better protection against severe illness from Omicron. As of January 20, over 13 million third doses have been administered to date. National data as of January 15, 2022 indicate that 72%-75% of seniors aged 70 years or older and 44%-59% of 50-69 year olds have received an additional dose.
While COVID-19 is still circulating in Canada and internationally, a vaccines plus approach continues to be essential to the pandemic response in Canada. This includes layering vaccination with timed and targeted public health measures and individual protective practices. In particular, properly wearing a well-fitted and well-constructed face mask when with others outside of your immediate household, avoiding crowding, and getting the best ventilation possible in indoor spaces, are layers of protection that can reduce your risk in all settings. Canadians are advised to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada at this time; if you must travel, be aware of requirements for visiting other countries and for returning to Canada.
We can also stay healthier during the winter respiratory season by getting up-to-date with other recommended vaccines, such as influenza and routine vaccines for children and adults. For additional information regarding vaccination in your area, reach out to your local public health authorities, healthcare provider, or other trusted and credible sources, such as Immunize.ca and Canada.ca, which includes information to help Canadians understand the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19.
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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