Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer, June 30, 2022


June 30, 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.

While COVID-19 activity indicators, including weekly case counts and severe illness trends are stable or declining in many areas, COVID-19 viruses are still circulating across the country. However, despite overall lower transmission nationally, regional variability continues. Most recently, some areas are reporting increases in disease activity indicators such as lab test positivity and wastewater signals. In addition, the proportion of Omicron sub-lineage variants, BA.4 and particularly BA.5, is increasing among sequenced variants in Canada. Given BA.4 and BA.5 are even more transmissible and immune evasive than BA.1 and BA.2, it is reasonable to expect that we could see an increase in cases over the coming weeks.

As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to circulate worldwide and new variants emerge and spread, we must remain vigilant and prepared for resurgence in the weeks and months ahead. Keeping up-to-date with all the COVID-19 vaccine doses you are eligible for, including booster doses, continues to be vitally important. Up-to-date vaccination remains the foundation of our protection individually and collectively, to help reduce the spread that leads to resurgence and to significantly lower the risk of hospitalisation and death due to COVID-19. Vaccine effectiveness data from early April through early May 2022, when Omicron variant activity was very high in Canada, indicate that people vaccinated with a complete primary series plus an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccines had approximately five times lower hospitalisation rate and seven times lower mortality rate compared to unvaccinated people.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (or NACI) continues to monitor the rapidly evolving scientific data. NACI’s latest guidance provides provinces and territories with recommendations for planning booster programs to help prevent a strong resurgence in the fall and winter, reduce severe illness outcomes and lessen the strain on the health system. NACI strongly recommends a primary series with an authorised mRNA vaccine in all eligible age groups. NACI also strongly recommends a booster dose for all adults as well as for adolescents who are considered to be at high risk for severe disease. While the timing and severity of a future fall or winter wave is uncertain, NACI recommends that individuals who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness should be offered a Fall COVID vaccine booster dose and those aged 12-64 years may be offered a Fall booster dose, regardless of the number of booster doses previously received. Booster doses increase protection by activating your immune response to restore protection that may have decreased over time.

At this time, we continue to closely monitor the monkeypox situation in Canada and internationally. Currently over 3,400 confirmed cases of monkeypox, have been reported from 50 countries as of June 22nd. In Canada, as of June 29th, 2022, 278 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported nationally, including 202 from Quebec, 67 from Ontario, 5 from Alberta and 4 from British Columbia. Based on the latest epidemiological data provided, the majority of these cases are male and range in age from 20 to 69 years of age. In line with international trends, the majority of cases in Canada to date reported intimate sexual contact with other men. However, It is important to stress that 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 have direct contact with their personal or shared objects, including towels or bed linens.

As we continue to enjoy the summer months, including celebrating events like Pride, long weekends and seasonal festivals, let’s do our best to enjoy each other’s company safely. As tomorrow is Canada Day, I would like to give a special shout out to people everywhere in Canada to acknowledge your continued efforts in helping to control COVID-19. Thanks to our collective action, including achieving among the highest vaccine coverage in the world and continuing to adhere to public health measures to reduce spread, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of lives were saved in our country alone. Our challenge now is to sustain the gains we have made, while not losing sight of the continuing threat of COVID-19 to our health.

Many of the preventive actions and good personal protective habits we have honed over more than two years of managing COVID-19 can also reduce your risk of getting infected and spreading other diseases, including monkeypox. Prevention starts with keeping all of our recommended vaccines up-to-date and adding layers of personal protection including handwashing, wearing masks in poorly ventilated indoor or crowded settings and staying home if you have symptoms to prevent spreading infection to others.

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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Public Health Agency of Canada

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