Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on June 28, 2021

OTTAWA, ON, June 28, 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.

The latest epidemiology and modelling update, shows that we are continuing to make significant progress in bringing COVID-19 disease activity down and raising vaccination coverage up. Over the next two months, as many jurisdictions begin to ease public health measures, we expect cases to continue to decline nationally. However, with current rates of vaccination and the increased transmissibility and severity of the Delta variant, resurgence is still possible if easing of public health measures proceeds too quickly and in-person contact rates across the community increase by 50% or more. If the Delta variant becomes predominant, modelling suggests we may be at risk of a greater than expected resurgence this fall and/or winter. But by continuing to work together, we can reduce the risk of a strong resurgence that could overwhelm hospital capacity by achieving higher vaccination coverage, especially in younger populations. This is why it is more important than ever for as many people as possible to get fully vaccinated across Canada. Although the Delta variant has emerged as our latest hurdle, we've done the work to have a better summer. By keeping up the momentum to build a stronger wall of vaccination protection and staying vigilant to keep cases low, we can stay on track for a safer fall and winter.

As COVID-19 activity declines in Canada, we are continuing to track key epidemiological indicators to monitor trends and quickly detect emerging issues of concern, including to better understand the impact of circulating virus variants. The Public Health Agency of Canada is also providing 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. 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 1,413,203 cases of COVID-19 and 26,227 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Variants of concern (VOCs) represent the majority of recently reported COVID-19 cases across the country. While the Alpha variant continues to account for the majority of genetically sequenced variants in Canada, four VOCs (B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617.2 (Delta)) have been detected in most provinces and territories and the Delta variant is increasing in some areas. However, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, are working to reduce spread of COVID-19.

The latest national-level data show a continued downward trend in disease activity with an average of 758 cases reported daily during the latest 7 day period (June 18-24), down 33% compared to the week prior. Likewise, the overall number of people experiencing severe and critical illness is also steadily declining. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 1,114 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (June 18-24), which is 22% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 533 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 18% fewer than last week. Likewise, the latest 7-day average of 18 deaths reported daily (June 18-24) is continuing to decline, showing a 9% decrease compared to the week prior.

As vaccine eligibility continues to expand, the administration of first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines continues at an accelerated pace across the country, there is increasing optimism that widespread, stronger and longer lasting immunity can be achieved by fully vaccinating a high proportion of Canadians. For more information regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination, I encourage Canadians to reach out to your local public health authorities, healthcare provider, or other trusted and credible sources, such as Canada.ca and Immunize.ca.

Canadians can access information on Canada.ca to understand the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as find guidance on life after vaccination. Free interactive risk assessment tools developed by Ryerson's National Institute on Aging and supported by the Government of Canada are also available. These resources aim to assist Canadians with informed decision making and understanding of COVID-wise precautions that lower COVID-19 risks according to personal and family health and vaccinations status, as well as different risk settings and activities. However, as jurisdictions begin to ease restrictions, risks and circumstances are not the same everywhere and following local public health advice continues to be important, regardless of your vaccination status.

While COVID-19 is still circulating in Canada and internationally, core public health measures and individual protective practices can help us to reduce the spread: stay home/self-isolate if you have symptoms; be aware of risks associated with different settings; avoid all non-essential travel; and maintain individual protective practices such as physical distancing and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask, as appropriate.

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.

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

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