Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on April 22, 2021
OTTAWA, ON, April 22, 2021 /CNW/ -
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.
Throughout the pandemic, volunteers across Canada have stepped up in so many ways, giving their time, talent and creativity to support the mental health and wellbeing of others. Last month, students from the Sacred Heart School of Montreal and Loyola High School came together to prepare nearly 150 care packages for Laval seniors. The packages included Passover or Easter cards and treats amongst other thoughtful surprises to help lift their spirits, letting them know that they are not forgotten. In Alberta, a community of quilters handcrafted and donated over 280 quilts to patients in hospital facing challenges with mental health in the Calgary Region, providing a source of comfort. These acts of kindness and generosity are a reminder of the powerful impact that our actions can have on the mental health and wellbeing of others. Let's continue to be united and show kindness to each other.
As COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and healthcare capacity. At the same time, the Public Health Agency of Canada is providing Canadians with regular updates on COVID-19 vaccines administered, vaccination coverage and ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety across the country. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to reduce infection rates, while vaccination programs expand for the protection of all Canadians.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,147,463 cases of COVID-19, including 89,167 active cases and 23,763 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. They also tell us, together with results of serological studies, that a very large majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. As vaccine delivery ramps up at an accelerated pace, there is cause for optimism that widespread and lasting immunity can be achieved through COVID-19 vaccination. We now have multiple safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines with unique advantages that are authorised for use in Canada. Vaccine coverage is increasing across Canada, with benefits being seen in prioritized high-risk populations. Ramp up of vaccine supply and acceleration of vaccination programs will return further benefits to protect more Canadians, over the coming weeks and months.
However, with elevated COVID-19 activity and a concerning rise in the proportion of cases that involve more contagious variants of concern, strong public health measures and individual precautions must be sustained where COVID-19 is circulating. The latest national-level data show a 7-day average of 8,616 new cases daily (Apr 15-21), a 2% increase compared to the previous seven days. Sustained high infection rates are also impacting COVID-19 severity indicators, particularly in areas with elevated disease activity. The rise in severe and critical illnesses is placing renewed strain on the health system and healthcare workforce. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,058 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Apr 15-21) representing a 22% increase over last week. This includes, on average 1,233 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), which is 21% higher than the previous week. Mortality trends are also increasing, with a 7-day average of 45 deaths reported daily, which is 17% higher than the week prior.
While COVID-19 continues to impact people of all ages in Canada, infection rates are highest among those aged 20 to 39 years of age. As well, we are seeing an increased number of adults under the age of 60 years being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including in ICUs. This is a reminder that serious illness can occur at any age and evidence indicates that variants of concern can be associated with more severe illness and increased risk of death. In addition, circulation of COVID-19 in younger, more mobile and socially-connected adults is an ongoing risk for spread into high-risk populations and settings. As of April 21, a total of 73,158 variant of concern cases have been reported across Canada, including 70,253 involving B.1.1.7 variants, 2,478 P.1 variants and 427 B.1.351 variants. These represent the tip of the iceberg, as there are many more COVID-19 cases that have screened positive for mutations indicative of a variant of concern. B.1.1.7 continues to account for the majority of variants of concern in Canada and has replaced the original virus as the dominant strain in several areas. At the same time, the continued rise in P.1 cases remains concerning, particularly with early evidence suggesting that the P.1 variant may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, making it even more important to control its spread.
Canadians are urged to remain vigilant, continue following local public health advice, and consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, think about the risks and reduce non-essential activities and outings to a minimum, avoid all non-essential travel, and maintain individual protective practices of physical distancing, hand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask as appropriate (including in shared spaces, indoors or outdoors, with people from outside of your immediate household).
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 and by downloading the COVID Alert app to break the cycle of infection and help limit the spread of COVID-19. 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.
SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada