Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on February 11, 2022
February 11, 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 3,170,649 cases of COVID-19 and 35,231 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 146,680, and 7-day moving averages indicate current disease activity and severity trends. As still high infection rates continue to challenge or exceed testing capacity, reported case numbers continue to underestimate the true number 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 (Feb 4-10, 2022), an average of 11,116 new cases were reported daily across Canada. While this is a 21% decrease compared to the week prior, these daily case counts together with other indicators of COVID-19 disease activity, including 16% laboratory test positivity during the latest 7 day period (Feb 2-8, 2022), indicate ongoing widespread activity across the country. As such, maintaining layers of protection remains important to reduce spread, particularly as we continue to spend more time indoors over the winter and as public health measures ease in areas of the country.
Presently, severe illness trends remain elevated or are still rising in some areas of the country, but we are starting to see hopeful signs, with weekly reductions reported in most jurisdictions. The latest provincial and territorial data show that an average of 8,530 people with COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Feb 4-10, 2022), which is 15% lower than last week. This includes, on average, 1,041 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU) daily, and an average of 123 deaths were reported daily (Feb 4-10, 2022). Keeping infection rates down remains key further reducing severe illness trends and protecting vulnerable populations over the coming weeks.
Immunization for all those who are eligible, but are yet to receive their primary series, remains a top priority. As of February 10, 2022, provinces and territories have administered over 79 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The latest provincial and territorial data indicate that over 79% of the total population are now fully vaccinated. Age-specific vaccine coverage data, as of February 6, 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, 56% have at least one dose.
All told, over 5.8 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 offers even better protection against severe illness from Omicron. This is especially important for those aged 50 years or over, as the risk of hospitalization, critical illness and death is substantially higher with increasing age. As well, a booster dose can decrease your risk of infection, which can in turn reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus to others, including those at high risk or not yet eligible for vaccination. As of February 10, over 16 million third doses have been administered to date. National data as of February 6, 2022 indicate that over 80% of seniors aged 70 years or older and 57%-71% of 50-69 year olds have received an additional dose.
As we continue to take measures to mitigate the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the health system, health authorities across Canada are looking ahead to longer-term sustainable management of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This includes transition plans for the immediate future as epidemiologic indicators of COVID-19 disease activity continue to improve, allowing jurisdictions to begin to ease restrictions. It also includes planning for the months ahead and beyond, when we can expect the virus to still be with us, including emergence of new variants with uncertain transmission and severity characteristics.
However, what will not change, is the advantage to be gained by maintaining a state of readiness. This includes monitoring to detect signals of concern that can enable early and appropriate public health response at the population level. At the same time, providing guidance and tools to support risk-based decision making can continue to empower individual, families and communities to reduce their risks through personal 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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