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.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 402,569 cases of COVID-19, including 12,496 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 many areas continue to experience rapid 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 to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.
At this time, there are 69 977 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 6,168 new cases (Nov 27-Dec 3) and 74,596 people tested daily, with 7.4% testing positive (Nov 22-28).
The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase across Canada. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,490 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Nov 27-Dec 3), including 489 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 87 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
The latest longer range forecasting, using a model from Simon Fraser University, forecasts that if we continue on the current trajectory, we could have 10,000 cases daily by January. The impacts of ongoing community spread are increasingly being felt in high-risk populations and settings, including long term care homes and hospitals. But the effects go beyond, impacting everyone as our healthcare workforce and health system bear a heavy strain and must cancel or postpone important elective medical procedures adding to pre-existing backlogs.
The progression of COVID-19 has been filled with difficult news as more and more regions experience high infection rates and hospitalisations continue to increase across the country. All along the way Canadians have made sacrifices and despite a still long road ahead, there is some good news on the horizon! An initial supply of vaccines is expected to become available in early 2021 and although supply will be limited at the outset, Canada is well-positioned to provide access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for all Canadians. To address the initial supply limitations, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has released its latest guidance providing further recommendations for the initial sequencing of key populations for early COVID-19 immunization.
We don’t have a COVID-19 vaccine just yet and we must be prepared to address a range of logistical and operational challenges, but one thing is assured – any and all vaccines approved for use in Canada, will be required to meet the highest standards of quality, safety and effectiveness set by Health Canada’s rigorous regulatory review process.
As we continue to prepare the way for widespread and lasting control of COVID-19 through safe and effective vaccines, Canada must continue with the collective effort of individuals and public health authorities to sustain the response, while balancing the health, social and economic consequences. Canadians are all urged to continue taking individual actions to keep our ourselves and our families safer, while doing our best to protect populations and communities at high risk for severe outcomes. To do this, we need to continue to limit close contacts to only those in our immediate household and reduce in-person interactions to only essential errands and activities, while consistently maintaining key public health practices: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, maintain physical distancing, wear a face mask as appropriate (including indoors with people from outside your immediate household), and keep up with frequent hand, cough and surface hygiene. Avoid the three C’s as much as possible