In Ontario, June 27 is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day, an opportunity to raise awareness about traumatic stress and PTSD. PTSD is a diagnosable mental health disorder that may occur after exposure to psychological stressors during one or more potentially psychologically traumatic events. Symptoms of PTSD can include recurring and distressing memories, avoiding reminders of the event(s), and disturbed sleep.
While PTSD can affect anyone, regardless of background, some may be at greater risk because of the type of job they do. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased stressors and heightened risks have made many frontline and health workers susceptible to trauma and posttraumatic stress.
A recent survey conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada showed that 6% of Canadian adults reported moderate to severe symptoms of PTSD. Survey respondents with moderate to severe symptoms of PTSD were more likely to report pandemic impacts like physical health problems and difficulties meeting financial obligations. They were also more likely to report mental health-related concerns such as increased alcohol and cannabis use, symptoms of anxiety or depression, and thoughts of suicide. Since symptoms of PTSD may take months or even years to develop, we may not know the full impact of the pandemic on Canadians’ mental health for some time.
It is important to check in with those close to us, to acknowledge how the past months of challenges and sacrifices have affected us, and to support each other during this time. If you need support for your mental health or substance use, you can visit Wellness Together Canada for free help and resources.
As COVID-19 activity declines in Canada, we are continuing to track key epidemiological indicators to monitor trends and quickly detect emerging issues of concern, including to better understand the impact of circulating virus variants. The Public Health Agency of Canada is also 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.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,412,768 cases of COVID-19 and 26,214 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Variants of concern (VOCs) represent the majority of recently reported COVID-19 cases across the country. While the Alpha variant continues to account for the majority of genetically sequenced variants in Canada, four VOCs (B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617.2 (Delta)) have been detected in most provinces and territories and the Delta variant is increasing in some areas. However, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, are working to reduce spread of COVID-19.
The latest national-level data show a continued downward trend in disease activity with an average of 758 cases reported daily during the latest 7 day period (June 18-24), down 33% compared to the week prior. Likewise, the overall number of people experiencing severe and critical illness is also steadily declining. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 1,114 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (June 18-24), which is 22% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 533 people who were being treated in intensive care units, 18% fewer than last week. Likewise, the latest 7-day average of 18 deaths reported daily (June 18-24) is continuing to decline, showing a 9% decrease compared to the week prior.
As vaccine eligibility continues to expand, the administration of first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines continues at an accelerated pace across the country, there is increasing optimism that widespread, stronger and longer lasting immunity can be achieved by fully vaccinating a high proportion of Canadians. For more information regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination, I encourage Canadians to reach out to your local public health authorities, healthcare provider, or other trusted and credible sources, such as Canada.ca and Immunize.ca.
Canadians can access information on Canada.ca to understand the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as find guidance on life after vaccination. Free interactive risk assessment tools developed by Ryerson’s National Institute on Aging and supported by the Government of Canada are also available. These resources aim to assist Canadians with informed decision making and understanding of COVID-wise precautions that lower COVID-19 risks according to personal and family health and vaccinations status, as well as different risk settings and activities. However, as jurisdictions begin to ease restrictions, risks and circumstances are not the same everywhere and following local public health advice continues to be important, regardless of your vaccination status.
While COVID-19 is still circulating in Canada and internationally, core public health measures and individual protective practices can help us to reduce the spread: stay home/self-isolate if you have symptoms; be aware of risks associated with different settings; avoid all non-essential travel; and maintain individual protective practices such as physical distancing and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask, as appropriate.
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. 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.
SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada