Statement from Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on February 3, 2021

From: Public Health Agency of Canada

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.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 786,417 cases of COVID-19, including 20,213 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 we must all continue with individual precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.

To improve comparability in reporting national laboratory results, the Public Health Agency of Canada is now shifting from reporting total number of people tested to total number of tests performed. Since the start of the pandemic there have been over 21.5 million tests performed. Over the past week, there were on average 107,609 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 4.2% were positive for COVID-19. At this point in the pandemic, reporting on number of tests performed instead of number of people tested provides a more accurate measure of overall test positivity and enhances national standardization across jurisdictions. With the new test-based metric, the proportion of tests positive is expected to decrease compared to the previous person-based metric, as all tests will be included in the calculation, including new tests on the same person over time.

At this time, there are 49,562 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate a downward trend in daily case counts, with a 7-day average of 4,199 new cases daily (Jan 27-Feb 2). 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 and some areas of the country are seeing increased 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 are seeing a gradual decline in severe outcomes as expected with lagging indicators. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 3,799 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 27-Feb 2), including 808 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 116 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.

A range of public health measures and restrictions are in place across Canada as we continue our collective effort 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, 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.

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