There have been 251,338 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 10,381 deaths. Nationally, there are close to 33,000 active cases across the country. Over the past week, labs across Canada have tested an average of close to 61,000 people daily, with 4.7% testing positive. The average case count is now over 3,350 cases reported daily over the last 7 days.
There are also increased numbers of people experiencing severe illness. Over the past 7 days, there were on average 1,200 individuals with COVID-19 being treated in Canadian hospitals, including 225 in critical care and an average of 44 deaths were reported each day.
As I mentioned earlier this week, I am cautiously optimistic that safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will be available in the first quarter of 2021, bringing us one step closer to the widespread and long-term management of COVID-19.
I would like to emphasize that when vaccines become available, there will be a limited supply at first. While that supply will continue to increase over time, it does mean that federal, provincial and territorial governments will have to make important decisions on how to use the initial vaccine supply.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, or NACI, is a long-standing expert advisory group that provides independent guidance and recommendations to inform these kinds of tough decisions.
On Tuesday, NACI provided preliminary guidance on the key populations that should be considered for early COVID-19 immunizations, including people at high risk of severe outcomes or those at high risk of spreading to them; workers essential to maintaining the COVID-19 response and other essential services for the functioning of society; and people whose living or working conditions put them at elevated risk of infection and its disproportionate consequences, including Indigenous communities. The full guidance is available online at Canada.ca.
While this preliminary guidance is helpful for planning, there is still a long road ahead. Clinical trials need to continue, Health Canada still needs to approve the vaccines if they ar deemed safe and effective, and we will be receiving additional advice on prioritization based on the characteristics of each vaccine once approved. In the meantime, it is crucial that we continue to layer on individual protections that we know to be effective in keeping infection rates low: stay home if you have symptoms, even mild ones; wash your hands frequently; maintain physical distancing; wear a mask when spending time indoors with people from outside of your immediate household; and avoid or limit time spent in closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact situations where you can’t consistently maintain physical distancing – what we’ve been calling the 3Cs.
I remain committed to keeping Canadians informed and to sharing new information as becomes available.
Read my backgrounder for more COVID-19 Information and Resources to increase your COVID know how and use your knowledge to support, guide, and influence others.