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04.08.2021 18:15

Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on August 4, 2021

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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.

OTTAWA, ON, Aug. 4, 2021 /CNW/ - As COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are continuing to track key epidemiological indicators to monitor trends, quickly detect, and understand emerging issues of concern, including the impact of circulating virus variants. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) provides regular updates on COVID-19 vaccines administered, vaccination coverage and ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety across the country. Below is the latest summary on national numbers and trends.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,433,775 cases of COVID-19 and 26,607 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Four variants of concern (VOCs) in Canada, 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.  At the national level, the Delta variant currently accounts for the majority of recently reported VOC cases. Regardless of which SARS-CoV-2 variants are predominating in an area, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, continue to work to reduce the spread of COVID-19. At the present time, those who are unvaccinated are at greatest risk of infection and severe outcomes; however, the spread of the virus in areas with low vaccination coverage presents an ongoing risk for the emergence of new variants. This is why we must remain vigilant to reduce the spread of the virus, especially for variants that have some ability to evade protection from vaccines.

Hence, as public health restrictions are eased across the country, we are closely monitoring increases in disease activity, particularly among unvaccinated populations. Today's national 7-day moving average of 887 new cases reported daily (Jul 28 - Aug 3), is an increase of 59% over the previous week. To reduce opportunities for COVID-19 to spread, particularly the highly contagious Delta variant, we need to maintain a cautious approach to relaxing public health measures, remain vigilant and responsive to signs of resurgence, and continue to increase first and second dose vaccination coverage. Vaccination with a complete two-dose series of approved COVID-19 vaccines provides individuals with substantial protection against the virus and achieving a high fully vaccinated coverage across the population is expected to significantly reduce the severity profile of COVID-19.

Currently, severe illness trends are continuing to decline, with the latest provincial and territorial data showing that an average of 448 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jul 28 - Aug 3), which is 9% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 188 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 19% fewer than last week and an average of 7 deaths were reported daily (Jul 28 - Aug 3).

With early signs of a Delta-driven wave beginning and the fall approaching, efforts to increase the proportion of fully vaccinated Canadians and reinforce individual precautions per local public health advice are crucial to reducing virus spread and lowering the risk of a resurgence that could lead to healthcare capacity being exceeded this coming fall and winter. To this end, public health authorities continue to encourage eligible people to be fully vaccinated.  For more information regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination, 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, find guidance on life after vaccination and utilise free interactive risk assessment tools to aid in informed decision-making and understanding COVID-wise precautions to lower the risks in different settings. 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 non-essential travel outside Canada; 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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