Statement from Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on April 20, 2021

From: Public Health Agency of Canada

April 20, 2021| Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

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.

On this difficult stretch through the COVID-19 crisis, we can gain strength
from good news and focussing on the things we’re grateful for. Over the
course of National Volunteer Week, I have been reflecting on the many ways
Canadians are helping to support their community. In Saskatchewan, the
Regina Community Fridge is aimed at supporting neighbours, by providing
free, fresh and healthy food 24/7 in an outdoor fridge, freezer and pantry
space, where people can “take what you need, leave what you can”. Regina
Community Fridge volunteers acknowledge that some people have experienced
stigma when accessing the Fridge, and make efforts to discourage
discrimination towards community members. This reminds us that stigma and
discrimination can act as a barrier to people seeking care, support and
even essential material resources such as food. We all have a role to play
in making environments free of stigma and discrimination so that all people
have access to the supports and resources as and when they are in need.

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. At the same time, the Public Health Agency of Canada
is providing Canadians with 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, and the actions we all need to be taking to reduce infection
rates, while vaccination programs expand for the protection of all
Canadians.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,131,773 cases of
COVID-19, including 88,327 active cases and 23,667 deaths reported in
Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of
COVID-19 illness to date. They also tell us, together with results of
serological studies, that a very large majority of Canadians remain
susceptible to COVID-19. As vaccine delivery ramps up at an accelerated
pace, there is cause for optimism that widespread and lasting immunity can
be achieved through COVID-19 vaccination. We now have multiple safe and
effective COVID-19 vaccines with unique advantages that are authorised for use in
Canada
. Vaccine coverage is increasing across Canada, with benefits being seen in prioritized
high-risk populations. Ramp up of vaccine supply and acceleration of
vaccination programs will return further benefits to protect more
Canadians, over the coming weeks and months.

However, with the current acceleration of COVID-19 activity and a
concerning rise in the proportion of cases that involve more contagious
variants of concern, strong public health measures and individual precautions must be sustained where COVID-19 is circulating. The latest national-level
data show a 7-day average of 8,680 new cases daily (April 13 to 19), a 7%
increase compared to the previous seven days. Sustained high infection
rates are also impacting COVID-19 severity indicators, particularly in
areas with elevated disease activity. The rise in severe and critical
illnesses is placing renewed strain on the health system and healthcare
workforce. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of
3,868 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each
day during the most recent 7-day period (April 13 to 19) representing a 25%
increase over last week. This includes, on average 1,170 people who were
being treated in intensive care units (ICU), which is 21% higher than the
previous week. Mortality trends are also increasing, with a 7-day average
of 44 deaths reported daily, which is 31% higher than the week prior.

While COVID-19 continues to impact people of all ages in Canada, infection
rates are highest among those aged 20 to 39 years of age. As well, we are
seeing an increased number of adults under the age of 60 years being
treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including in ICUs. This is a reminder
that serious illness can occur at any age and evidence indicates that variants of concern can be associated with more severe illness and
increased risk of death
. In addition, circulation of COVID-19 in younger, more mobile and
socially-connected adults is an ongoing risk for spread into high-risk
populations and settings and several jurisdictions have highlighted social
gatherings as an important driver for spread. As of April 19, a total of
66,159 variant of concern cases have been reported across Canada , including 63,543 involving B.1.1.7 variants, 2,201 P.1 variants and 415
B.1.351 variants. These represent the tip of the iceberg, as there are many
thousands more COVID-19 cases that have screened positive for problematic
mutations. Although B.1.1.7, continues to account for the majority of
variants of concern in Canada and has likely replaced the original virus in
some areas, there has been a concerning rise in P.1 cases in recent weeks.
Early evidence suggests that the P.1 variant may reduce the effectiveness
of vaccines, making it even more important to control its spread.

Canadians are urged to remain vigilant, continue following local public
health advice, and 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 well-fitted and properly worn face mask as appropriate (including in shared spaces, indoors or outdoors, with people from outside
of 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 .

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.