Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer, June 17, 2022
June 17 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.
COVID-19 disease activity indicators, from daily case counts and lab test positivity to wastewater signals, are stabilizing at the national level with most areas continuing to decline. Likewise, severe illness trends are also declining in most jurisdictions. With the first day of summer just a few days a way, steady improvements in epidemiological indicators are welcome and positive news, and have supported the continued relaxation and pausing of measures.
While we are cautiously optimistic about the current trajectory, we are observing early signals of increased activity in some areas. As well, there are signs of growth in several emergent Omicron sub-lineages, including BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5, which have demonstrated a growth advantage and additional immune escape over BA.1 and BA.2. COVID-19 has shown us over the past few years that there may be more surprises ahead. The virus is still circulating in Canada and internationally, and factors such as virus evolution and waning immunity, are anticipated to impact COVID-19 activity moving forward. We do not expect our progress to be linear, therefore, maintaining readiness for a potential resurgence that could result in severe impacts is our best advantage.
As we head into the summer, in addition to safer summer practices like staying hydrated and using sunscreen, COVID-19 readiness means maintaining awareness of local disease activity and keeping up with personal precautions. With more opportunities for social gatherings, festivals and travel for many people, staying up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines, improving ventilation and continuing to wear a well-fitted mask can help reduce the risk of infection and spread to others.
Some of our COVID-19 habits, such as staying home if you're symptomatic can also help prevent other infections, including monkeypox. Globally, at least 1,285 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported from 28 non-endemic countries as of June 8. In Canada, as of June 17, 2022, 168 confirmed cases have been reported, 141 from Quebec, 21 from Ontario, 4 from Alberta and 2 from British Columbia. We continue to collaborate with provinces and territories, as well as partners, such as community-based organizations and representatives from affected communities, to monitor and respond to the evolving monkeypox situation, including supporting provinces and territories in their efforts to rollout targeted vaccination campaigns. As well, we are working together to raise awareness of how the virus is transmitted so people can take steps to properly protect themselves, their friends and loved ones.
Among cases for whom information is available and has been reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada, all cases are male and ages range from 20 to 69 years. Our provincial and territorial colleagues inform us that many cases report sexual contact with other men, though some cases are still under investigation. However, the risk of exposure to monkeypox virus is not exclusive to any group or setting. Anyone, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, could get infected and spread the virus if they come into close contact with someone who has monkeypox or objects they have used, like personal objects, towels or bed linens. With upcoming celebrations and festivals such as Pride events, we want to ensure Canadians have the knowledge and tools they need to safely take part in these celebrations. So let's use these events as an opportunity to get the word out and work together to stop the spread.
Read my backgrounder to access COVID-19 Information and Resources, including information on vaccination and ways to reduce your risk of infection and spreading the virus to others.
Access more information on monkeypox, including symptoms to be aware of, and ways to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community: Monkeypox: Risks
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