Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on February 4, 2022
February 4, 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 3,096,217 cases of COVID-19 and 34,381 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 180,492, and 7-day moving averages indicate current disease activity and severity trends. As very high infection rates continue to challenge or exceed testing capacity, reported case numbers 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 (Jan 28-Feb 3, 2022), an average of 13,977 new cases were reported daily across Canada. While this is a 24% decrease compared to the week prior, these daily case counts together with other indicators of COVID-19 disease activity, including 18% laboratory test positivity during the latest 7 day period (Jan 26-Feb 1, 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 begin to ease in areas of the country.
The ongoing high volume of cases continues to place 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. Presently, severe illness trends are elevated or still rising in many areas of the country. The latest provincial and territorial data show that an average of 9,951 people with COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 28-Feb 3), which is 8% lower than last week, but still exceeds all previous peaks. This includes, on average, 1,170 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU) daily, and an average of 142 deaths were reported daily (Jan 28-Feb 3). 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. As of February 3, 2022, provinces and territories have administered over 78 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 January 30, 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, 55% have at least one dose.
All told, over 6.0 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 3, over 15 million third doses have been administered to date. National data as of January 30, 2022 indicate that over 79% of seniors aged 70 years or older and 54%-69% of 50-69 year olds have received an additional dose.
Given the very large number of Canadians with a confirmed or apparent infection during the Omicron surge in particular, it is important to stress that previously infected people can also benefit from starting or completing their COVID-19 vaccination. Hence, for the best possible protection against severe illness now and going forward, health authorities continue to strongly recommend up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible people, including for those who have had or may have had a COVID-19 infection. Today, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released recommendations on suggested intervals for administration of booster doses for those who have been previously infected. Notably, NACI suggests that an mRNA booster be given at least 6 months after the previous dose or three months following infection, whichever is longer.
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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