Statement from Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on January 25, 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. Due to reduced reporting over the weekend, national seven-day averages have not been updated in today’s statement. These data are still being collected and analysed. I will provide the latest numbers during my remarks tomorrow.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 747,383 cases of COVID-19, including 19,094 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 it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.

At this time, there are 63,668 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate a recent downward trend in daily case counts (past 10 days), with a 7-day average of 6,079 new cases daily (Jan 15-21). While this suggests that community-based measures may be starting to take effect, it is too soon to be sure that current measures are strong enough and broad enough 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 this trend could reverse. 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.

As severe outcomes lag behind increased disease activity, we can expect to see ongoing heavy impacts on our healthcare system and health workforce for weeks to come. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,651 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 15-21), including 870 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period (Jan 15-21), there were an average of 149 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. This situation continues to burden local healthcare resources, particularly in areas where infection rates are highest. These impacts affect everyone, as the healthcare workforce and health system bear a heavy strain, important elective medical procedures are delayed or postponed, adding to pre-existing backlogs.

We know that these impacts can also affect our mental health. Later this week, we will mark Bell Let’s Talk Day. This year’s theme – “Be There” – reminds us of the powerful impact we can have on the mental health of those around us. The pandemic has affected all of us in different ways. Many Canadians are struggling to balance work and family responsibilities, dealing with fears of contracting the virus, experiencing a sense of loneliness and isolation, or grieving the loss of a loved one. Some Canadians are working long hours on the frontlines, while others are facing unemployment and financial uncertainty. No matter what challenges this pandemic has brought into your life, know that you are not alone. It’s normal to feel angry, lonely, sad or worried. It is okay to feel many different emotions during this time, or not to feel much at all. If you are struggling – if intense emotions are long lasting or interfering with your daily routines – there is help. Please reach out.

Through Wellness Together Canada, Canadians of all ages across the country can access free supports such as information and practical tools to feeling better, self-guided programs, peer-to-peer support and confidential sessions with social workers, psychologists and other professionals. Supports are provided online as well as by phone and text for those without internet access. There are also immediate supports:

  • Adults: Text WELLNESS to 741741
  • Youth: Text WELLNESS to 686868
  • Front Line Workers: Text FRONTLINE to 741741

Indigenous Peoples can also contact the toll-free Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or the online chat at hopeforwellness.ca open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For longer-term care, contact a First Nations and Inuit Health Regional Office.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, help is available 24/7. Call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566. In Quebec, call APPELLE at 1-866-277-3553.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or your local emergency line.

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. 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.

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