June 5, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for many Canadians, particularly those who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. Through the Wellness Together Canada online portal, people of all ages across the country can access immediate, free and confidential mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Today, I challenge people in Canada of all ages to get out and get moving in honour of National Health and Fitness Day. I hope that this day, celebrated every year with the goal of making Canada the world’s fittest nation, inspires you to look for ways to incorporate movement practices into your day. There are many ways to get physically active, from walking, running, or taking leisurely bike rides, to choosing to take the stairs or dancing to your favourite tunes at home.
No matter who you are, physical activity is an important choice you can make for your health. Research has shown that exercise can provide a diverse range of benefits like strengthening your body, supporting brain health, reducing risk of chronic diseases, and reduce risk of injury. Physical activity can decrease stress and improve mood by releasing endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are natural mood boosters. Exercise is also important for healthy growth and development in children and we know that physical activity of parents can help encourage activity in children. Find out more in Canada’s 24 Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth. Remember that physical activity can be adapted to fit your own needs. Try choosing something you enjoy doing, or getting active as a family.
The past year has been challenging and has had an impact on the mental health and wellbeing of many people across the country. Increasing your activity level is one way to promote positive mental and physical wellbeing. Canada, get ready to #ShowUsYourMoves – use this hashtag, as well as #NHFD2021, on social media to share your favourite activity for healthy living.
This is also an opportunity to join the 2021 ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge, a national physical activity initiative that aims to find Canada’s Most Active Community, taking place throughout the month of June.
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. At the same time, the Public Health Agency of Canada is 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, and the actions we all need to be taking to reduce infection rates, while vaccination programs expand for the protection of all Canadians.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,389,508 cases of COVID-19 and 25, 679 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. They also tell us, together with results of serological studies, that a large majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. However, as vaccination programs expand at an accelerated pace, there is increasing optimism that widespread and lasting immunity can be achieved through COVID-19 vaccination over the coming weeks and months. As of June 4, provinces and territories have administered over 25.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
As immunity is still building up across the population, public health measures and individual precautions are crucial for COVID-19 control. Thanks to measures in place in heavily affected areas, the strong and steady declines in disease trends continues. The latest national-level data show a continued downward trend in disease activity with an average of 2,339 cases reported daily during the latest 7 day period (May 28-June 3), down 31% compared to the week prior. . For the week of May 23-29, there were on average of 78,089 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 3.8% were positive for COVID-19, compared to 4.7% the week prior. Until vaccine coverage is sufficiently high to impact disease transmission more broadly in the community, we must sustain a high degree of caution to drive infection rates down to a low, manageable level, and not ease restrictions too soon or too quickly where infection rates are high.
With the considerable decline in infection rates nationally, the overall number of people experiencing severe and critical illness is also declining. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,344 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (May 28-June 3), which is 19% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 1,006 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 14% fewer than last week. Likewise, the latest 7-day average of 34 deaths reported daily (May 28-June 3) is declining, showing a 21% decrease compared to the week prior.
Canada is continuing to monitor and assess genetic variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including impacts in the Canadian context. Overall, variants of concern (VOCs) represent the majority of recently reported COVID-19 cases across the country. The World Health Organization has established new simplified labels for variants of concern using letters of the Greek alphabet. Four VOCs (B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617, which includes B.1.617.2 (Delta)) have been detected in most provinces and territories, however, the Alpha variant continues to account for the majority of genetically sequenced variants in Canada. Evidence demonstrates that the Alpha and Delta variants are at least 50% more transmissible. As well, the Gamma, Beta, and Delta variants each have certain mutations, which may have an impact on vaccine effectiveness, although the evidence is still limited. Nevertheless, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, are working to reduce spread of COVID-19.
As vaccine eligibility expands, Canadians are urged to get vaccinated and support others to get vaccinated as vaccines become available to them. However, regardless of our vaccination status, it is important to remain vigilant, continue following local public health advice, and consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer, even as we’re beginning to see the positive impacts of COVID-19 vaccines: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, think about the risks and reduce non-essential activities and outings to a minimum, avoid all non-essential travel, and maintain individual protective practices of physical distancing, hand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask as appropriate (including in shared spaces, indoors or outdoors, with people from outside of your immediate household).
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. Working together, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, Canada’s Chief Medical Officers of Health and other health professionals across the country are closely monitoring vaccine safety, effectiveness and optimal use to adapt approaches. As the science and situation evolves, we are committed to providing clear and evidence-informed guidance in order to keep everyone in Canada safe and healthy.
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.
Public Health Agency of Canada