December 3, 2020 – Dr. Theresa Tam Updates on COVID-19 in Canada

Dr. Theresa Tam
Dr. Theresa Tam

OTTAWA – 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 389,775 cases of COVID-19, including 12,325 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 are experiencing 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 67,564 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 6,044 new cases (Nov 26-Dec 2) and 74,596 people tested daily, with 7.4% testing positive (Nov 22-28). Both community transmission and outbreaks are contributing to COVID-19 spread in Canada, including spread to high risk populations and settings. Cases are increasing among older adults, with those aged 80 years and older currently having the highest incidence rate, nationally. More and larger outbreaks are occurring in long term care homes, congregate living settings and hospitals, and spreading in Indigenous communities and more remote areas of the country. These developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies.

Across Canada, the number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,377 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Nov 26-Dec 2), including 466 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 88 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. This situation is putting pressure on local healthcare resources and forcing hospitals to make the difficult decision to cancel elective surgeries and procedures in several areas of the country.

Canada needs a collective effort, from individuals and public health authorities, to support and sustain the response through to the end of the pandemic, while balancing the health, social and economic consequences. Given continued rapid growth of the epidemic, there is an urgent need for everyone to take individual actions to not only protect ourselves, but also our populations and communities at high risk. To do this, we need 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: closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places where many people gather, and close contact situations where you cannot keep two metres apart. Importantly, please follow the guidance of your local public health authorities.

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.

What comes next for us this Fall and Winter is for every one of us to determine, through our decisions and actions. Every effort you can make matters. Let’s bring COVID-19 down, together! Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others.

Today, I want to acknowledge the International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). Accessibility is about identifying and removing barriers that prevent people from participating fully in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities. We know that people with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health measures. Isolation, disconnection, and diminished services have greatly impacted mental well-being, and many people with long-term conditions or disabilities have experienced temporary or permanent job loss or reduced hours during the pandemic.

The theme for this year is “Not all disabilities are visible.” It asks us to think about disabilities that may not be immediately apparent, such as mental illness, sight or hearing impairments, neurological disorders, and others. Accessibility and inclusion requires us to be aware of and understand the barriers to accessibility that our family, friends and colleagues may face at home, at school and at work, including if working remotely. Acknowledging these accessibility challenges and committing to remove barriers today and everyday is the best way to celebrate this International Day for Persons with Disabilities! Join me by wearing purple to mark the International Day for Persons with Disabilities in support of those with visible and invisible disabilities, and share your photos on Twitter channels using the hashtags #PurpleLightUp and #IDPD.”

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada