Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on March 11, 2022
March 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 monitor aspects of their mental well-being.
Today marks the two-year anniversary of the World Health Organization's assessment that COVID-19 constituted a pandemic and Canada's National Day of Observance to commemorate those we have lost to this disease and the significant impacts we have all felt. This has been a long and difficult journey. I encourage all Canadians to take a moment to pause today, to honour the memories of the over 37,000 people who have lost their lives. Reflecting on the last two years, we have all made many sacrifices and faced exceptional challenges, from illness or losing family and friends to COVID-19, to experiencing a sense of isolation and the loss of our normal daily routines, as well as financial hardship.
While there have been many hurdles, this is also a time for us to recognize the tremendous things we have achieved together. Individually and collectively we have adapted to uncertainty and changing circumstances, as we protected ourselves, our families and our communities. Thanks to everyday Canadians, researchers, public health professionals, and health workers, we have learned from our experience and expanded our understanding of the disease. This has led to ever-improving tools, including vaccines, personal protective practices, infection prevention and control measures, laboratory testing, clinical management guidelines, and more and better treatments, all of which have worked to substantially minimize the overall impact and severity of the pandemic.
As part of the largest vaccination campaign in Canadian history, over 81 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to-date across the country, providing millions of Canadians with protection against severe outcomes. Canada now has a portfolio of six approved COVID-19 vaccines. And, today the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released their recommendations for the use of Medicago's Covifenz COVID-19 vaccine.
Thanks to the sacrifices, enduring strength and resilience of Canadians, we are in a stronger position than ever before in managing COVID-19. With a strong foundation of protection from vaccines and proven practices to reduce spread, these successes and good habits have equipped us to get back to more of the things we love and will remain important tools in the months ahead, as we continue to maintain readiness for future challenges.
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.
For additional COVID-19 data and analyses, the PHAC posts the following reports:
- Daily Epidemiological Update,
- COVID-19 vaccine coverage data,
- Reported Side Effects Following COVID-19 Vaccination in Canada
- COVID-19 trend reports, including weekly case by case Epidemiological Report
With a shift to more targeted testing, 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 (Mar 4-10, 2022), an average of 5,583 new cases were reported daily across Canada, a 3.7% decrease compared to the week prior. Laboratory test positivity during the latest 7 day period (Mar 3-9, 2022) remained at 13%, indicating there is still widespread activity across the country.
Severe illness trends continue to decline, with weekly reductions reported in most jurisdictions. The latest provincial and territorial data show that an average of 4,500 people with COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Mar 4-10, 2022), which is 13% lower than last week. This includes, on average, 546 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU) daily, which is a 12% decrease compared to the prior week, and an average of 51 deaths were reported daily (Mar 4-10, 2022). Keeping infection rates down remains key to 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. The latest provincial and territorial data indicate that over 81% of the total population are now fully vaccinated. Age-specific vaccine coverage data, as of March 6, 2022, show that over 88% of people 12 years or older have at least one dose and over 84% are fully vaccinated, while among children aged 5-11 years of age, 57% have at least one dose.
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. All told, over 5.3 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 and to provide even better protection against severe illness from Omicron. In particular, getting a booster dose if you are eligible, and especially for those aged 50 years of age or older, is very important. Recent studies indicate that an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine booster dose enhances the overall immune response, which can provide longer lasting protection and possibly better effectiveness against variants. As of March 10, over 17 million third doses have been administered to date. National data as of March 6, 2022 indicate that over 82% of seniors aged 70 years or older and 60%-74% of 50-69 year olds have received an additional dose.
As we move into a lower transmission phase and beyond, our best advantage going forward will be to maintain vigilance and not forget the personal protective habits we have learned. At the individual level, this can be best achieved by keeping COVID-19 vaccinations up-to-date, including getting a booster dose when eligible and continuing to follow public health advice tailored to local epidemiology and circumstances to guide your individual and family risk assessment and decisions on use of personal protective practices. In particular, properly wearing a well-fitted and well-constructed face mask, avoiding crowding, and getting the best ventilation possible in indoor spaces, are layers of protection that can reduce your risk in all settings.
We can also stay healthier by getting up-to-date with other recommended vaccines 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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