Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on March 4, 2022
March 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 monitor 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.
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. While the SARS-CoV-2 virus is still circulating widely, the epidemiological situation is variable across Canada. Some jurisdictions continue to report increased case counts, which is likely contributing to an observed overall slower decline in disease activity nationally over the latest 7-day period. Given ongoing easing of public health measures, it is not unexpected that we could see further increased transmission in additional areas over the weeks ahead. Although uncertainties remain in how the trajectory, and the virus itself, might evolve in the weeks and months ahead, there is no doubt that our best bet is to maintain caution and care as we get back to more in-person activities, indoor settings, and larger gatherings.
During the latest 7 day period (Feb 25-Mar 3, 2022), an average of 5,663 new cases were reported daily across Canada, a 5% decrease compared to the week prior. Laboratory test positivity during the latest 7 day period (Feb 23-Mar 1, 2022) remained at 11%, indicating 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 5,153 people with COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Feb 25-Mar 3, 2022), which is 15% lower than last week. This includes, on average, 618 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU) daily, which is a 16% decrease compared to the prior week, and an average of 58 deaths were reported daily (Feb 25-Mar 3, 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. As of February 24, 2022, provinces and territories have administered over 81 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The latest provincial and territorial data indicate that over 80% of the total population are now fully vaccinated. Age-specific vaccine coverage data, as of February 27, 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 5.4 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 3, over 17 million third doses have been administered to date. National data as of February 27, 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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