June 13, 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.
Canadian Men’s Health Month in June is an opportunity to look at ways men can improve their health and well-being. Ninety percent of men have at least one of the four main risk factors for chronic disease: smoking, being physically inactive, drinking excess alcohol or having an unhealthy diet. These health risks can be prevented through a healthier lifestyle. Making small lifestyle adjustments can have a big impact, leading to better health outcomes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional stressors and challenges for mental health. In recognition of this, this year Canadian Men’s Health Month focusses on the benefits of exercise to support physical and mental health. This year’s theme – Move for Your Mental Health – aims to get men across the country and their families more active and informed. We know that physical activity of parents can help encourage activity in children, which is important for their healthy growth and development. I encourage men and their families to participate in the virtual events hosted by the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF), and check out the CMHF’s list of resources, including health tips and tools, on how to lead healthier lives.
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, including acceleration of second dose programs, to better protect people and communities across the country.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,401,006 cases of COVID-19 and 25,914 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 large majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. However, as vaccination programs expand at an accelerated pace, there is increasing optimism that widespread, stronger and longer lasting immunity can be achieved by fully vaccinating a high proportion of Canadians over the coming weeks and months.
As immunity is still building up across the population, public health measures and individual precautions remain crucial for COVID-19 control. Thanks to measures in place in heavily affected areas and people across Canada continuing with individual precautions, the strong and steady declines in disease trends continues. The latest national-level data show a continued downward trend in disease activity with an average of 1,548 cases reported daily during the latest 7 day period (June 4-10), down 34% compared to the week prior. For the week of May 30-June 5, there were on average of 72,692 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 2.8% were positive for COVID-19, compared to 3.8% the week prior. Until vaccine coverage is sufficiently high to impact disease transmission more broadly in the community, we must sustain a high degree of caution to drive infection rates down to a low, manageable level, and not ease restrictions too soon or too quickly where infection rates are high.
With the considerable decline in infection rates nationally, the overall number of people experiencing severe and critical illness is also steadily declining. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 1,839 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (June 4-10), which is 21% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 795 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 21% fewer than last week. Likewise, the latest 7-day average of 31 deaths reported daily (June 4-10) is continuing to decline, showing a 7% decrease compared to the week prior.
Overall, variants of concern (VOCs) represent the majority of recently reported COVID-19 cases across the country. Four VOCs (B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617, which includes B.1.617.2 (Delta)) have been detected in most provinces and territories. While the Alpha variant continues to account for the majority of genetically sequenced variants in Canada, we are observing an increase in the Delta variant in some parts of Canada. As Canada continues to monitor and assess genetic variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including impacts in the Canadian context, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, are working to reduce spread of COVID-19.
As vaccine eligibility continues to expand, Canadians are encouraged to get vaccinated and support others to get vaccinated as soon as they are able. As well, with provinces and territories accelerating second dose programs, those who are eligible are urged to get fully vaccinated, including getting the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series. The second immune-boosting dose, substantially lowers our personal risk of infection and serious harms, provides stronger protection against certain variants of concern, including the Delta variant, and may make immunity last longer. Canadians are reminded that it is safe and effective to receive one vaccine product for your first dose and a different vaccine product for your second dose to complete your two-dose vaccine series for optimal protection from COVID-19.
However, regardless of our vaccination status while COVID-19 is still circulating, it is important to remain vigilant, continue following local public health advice, and consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer, even as the positive impacts of COVID-19 vaccines are building: 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).