Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on November 16, 2020

OTTAWA, ON, Nov. 16, 2020 /CNW/ - In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement today:

"As the resurgence of 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, daily seven-day national numbers averages have not been updated in today's statement as these numbers the 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 296,077 cases of COVID-19, including 10,953 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Though the cumulative number is high and continues to increase, with many areas experiencing accelerated growth, 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 that will keep ourselves, our families and our communities safer.

At this time, there are 49,723 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 4,348 new cases (Nov 6-12) and 54,668 people tested, with 5.8% testing positive (Nov 1-7). Outbreaks continue to contribute to COVID-19 spread in Canada, including increased activity among vulnerable populations and settings (elderly adults, long-term care residents, and Indigenous communities). Although the size can vary from just a few cases to larger clusters, outbreaks are being reported in a range of settings including long-term care and assisted living facilities, schools, congregate living settings, industrial work settings and social gatherings.

The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase. Provincial and territorial data, indicate that an average of 1,438 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Nov 6-12), including 280 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 55 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. This situation is putting pressure on local healthcare resources and forcing hospitals to make the difficult decision to cancel elective surgeries and procedures in several areas of the country.

As hospitalisations and deaths tend to lag behind increased cases by one to several weeks, the concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity. As well, influenza and respiratory infections typically increase during the Fall and Winter, placing increased demands on hospitals. This is why it is so important for people of all ages to maintain public health practices that keep respiratory infection rates low.

With colder weather, we are moving indoors. Larger clusters tell us that closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places where many people gather and close contact situations can amplify spread of the virus. Jurisdictions continue to highlight informal social gatherings and activities as an important driver for spread. In these more relaxed settings, such as family and holiday celebrations and recreational activities, letting our guard down and not consistently maintaining public health practices, can lead to many exposures and infections. For these reasons, it is recommended that everyone wear a non-medical mask when spending time indoors with people from outside of your immediate household.

Canada needs a collective effort to support and sustain the public health response through to the end of the pandemic, while balancing the health, social and economic consequences. To do this, we need to retake the lead on COVID-19, by each reducing our close contacts to the best of our ability and employing key public health practices consistently and with precision: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, maintain physical distancing, wear a face mask as appropriate, and keep up with frequent hand, cough and surface hygiene. Importantly, please follow the guidance of your local public health agencies.

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 help limit the spread of COVID-19.

What comes next for us this Fall and Winter is for every one of us to determine, through our decisions and actions. Let's bring COVID-19 down, together! Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others."

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

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