July 2, 2021 – Update from Dr. Theresa Tam

Dr. Theresa Tam
Dr. Theresa Tam

As Canada Day gatherings and events may be continuing into the weekend, I encourage people across Canada, regardless of their vaccination status, to keep following local public health advice, including adhering to gathering size limits and maintaining recommended individual precautions, to keep your risks lower. Owners and operators that are organizing events are urged to take extra care and precautions by assessing the risks and putting plans in place to reduce them, such as planning for outdoor gatherings and implementing measures which encourage physical distancing, especially if indoors. As your vaccination status will not be known to those operating businesses or venues, you may still be required to wear a face mask and maintain physical distancing, as these measures are in place for the protection of everyone. During this time of transition, many people may feel more comfortable continuing with individual precautions such as mask wearing and physical distancing. Let’s continue to support each other by respecting each other’s personal risk comfort levels.

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 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. Due to reduced reporting over the holiday, national seven day averages and cumulative numbers have not been updated in today’s statement. These data are still being collected and analysed. Starting today and over the summer months, I will provide updates on these data and trends in written statements on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and in speeches during live press conferences each Thursday. As always, you can access my current and archived CPHO statements and speeches online at Canada.ca and numbers are available in the COVID-19 daily epidemiology update.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,415,284 cases of COVID-19 and 26,295 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 some areas of 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. More recently, the Delta variant has been increasing and now accounts for the majority of current COVID-19 cases in other areas, such as in Ontario. Nevertheless, 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 610 cases reported daily during the latest 7 day period (June 24-30), down 25% 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 935 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (June 24-30), which is 19% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 462 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 15% fewer than last week. Likewise, the latest 7-day average of 14 deaths reported daily (June 24-30) is continuing to decline, showing a 17% decrease compared to the week prior.

With the ongoing expansion of vaccine eligibility, the administration of first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines is continuing at an accelerated pace across the country and 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.

Today, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) provided updated guidance on the use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in light of very rare reports of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart) following vaccination with mRNA vaccines in Canada and internationally. NACI continues to strongly recommend that a complete series with an mRNA vaccine should be offered to all eligible individuals without contraindications, including those 12 years of age and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in people 12 years or older and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in people 18 years of age or older. NACI is also recommending that individuals who are offered an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be informed of the very rare risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis following immunization. As a precaution, NACI recommends that individuals who experienced myocarditis and/or pericarditis after a first dose of an mRNA vaccine should wait to get their second dose until more information is available. NACI will continue to monitor the evolving evidence and update its recommendations as needed.  

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

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