Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on February 8, 2021

OTTAWA, ON, Feb. 8, 2021 /CNW/ - 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. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to maintain COVID-19 at manageable levels across the country. Due to reduced reporting over the weekend, national seven-day averages have not been updated in today's statement. These data are still being collected and analysed. I will provide the latest numbers during my remarks tomorrow.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 804,260 cases of COVID-19, including 20,767 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Though many areas continue to experience high infection rates, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.

From routine national surveillance data, we continue to observe hopeful signs of declining COVID-19 activity. At this time, there are 44,727 active cases across the country. Likewise, the latest national-level data indicate a continued downward trend in daily case counts, with a 7-day average of 3,947 new cases daily (Jan 29-Feb 4) and 107,609 tests daily, with 4.2% positive for COVID-19 (Jan 24-30). While these surveillance data and modelling forecasts suggest that community-based measures are having an effect, it is crucial that strong measures are kept in place in order to maintain a steady downward trend. With still elevated daily case counts and high rates of infection across all age groups, the risk remains that trends could reverse quickly, particularly in areas of the country that are reporting increased, unchanged or only modest declines in COVID-19 disease activity. Likewise, outbreaks continue to occur in high-risk populations and communities, including hospitals and long term care homes, correctional facilities, congregate living settings, Indigenous communities, and more remote areas of the country. These factors underscore the importance of sustaining public health measures and individual practices and not easing restrictions too fast or too soon. This is particularly important in light of the emergence of new virus variants of concern that could rapidly accelerate transmission of COVID-19 in Canada.

Following the recent decrease in COVID-19 activity, we remain on a gradual decline in severe outcomes as expected with these lagging indicators. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 3,633 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 29-Feb 4), including 736 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 121 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. Despite this recent decline, this situation continues to burden local healthcare resources, particularly in areas where infection rates are highest.

Across Canada, vaccines are continuing to roll-out to protect those at highest risk of severe outcomes or exposure. To date, 1,068,690 of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, with 52% of prioritised healthcare workers, 27% of the adults the territories and 11% of elderly adults over 80 years of age having received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Canada has a robust vaccine safety surveillance program to monitor, investigate and report on COVID-19 vaccine safety. As of January 29th, there have been 480 reports of adverse events following immunization to date; these include any medical event that occurs following immunization, but is not necessarily caused by the vaccine. Sixty-eight of these reports – about 1 in 14,000 doses administered – were considered serious, such as a severe allergic reaction. All serious events undergo a detailed investigation and to date, no unexpected vaccine safety issues have been identified.

While we continue to prepare the way for widespread and lasting control of COVID-19 through safe and effective vaccines, a range of public health measures and restrictions are in place across Canada to interrupt the spread of the virus. Canadians are urged to continue following local public health advice and to 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 face mask as appropriate (including in shared indoor spaces with people from outside 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

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