Statement

September 3, 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.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to monitor COVID-19 epidemiological indicators to quickly detect, understand and communicate emerging issues of concern.
Today, I presented an update on the latest epidemiology and modelling
analysis. The following is a brief summary of the modelling results and the
latest on national numbers and trends.

Since the previous longer-range modelling forecast on July 30th, 2021, the Delta-driven wave has continued to accelerate along the strong
resurgence trajectory. The updated longer-range modelling forecast shows
that cases could continue to increase quickly in the coming weeks, but
strengthening measures to reduce spread, including for example reducing our contacts by 25%, could slow acceleration. Although Canada has
made significant progress in increasing vaccine coverage, the latest
modelling
highlights an urgent need for
more 18-39 years olds to get vaccinated and to speed up the overall rate of
vaccination across the eligible population groups. Getting more people
vaccinated faster could have a significant impact to slow the more
contagious and severe Delta-driven resurgence to protect healthcare
capacity and minimize societal disruption. As we head into the Labour Day
weekend and return to more indoor activities this fall, this forecast
reaffirms the importance of remaining vigilant and responsive as cases
continue to rise, and underscores the need to take steps to reduce spread.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,507,051 cases of
COVID-19 and 26,991 deaths reported in Canada. These cumulative numbers
tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date, while the
number of active cases, now at 33,493, and 7-day moving averages indicate
current disease activity and severity trends.

The latest national 7-day average of 3,486 new cases reported daily (Aug
27-Sep 2) is an increase of 22% over the previous week. After several weeks
of rising case counts, national severity trends have begun to increase,
primarily involving unvaccinated people. The latest provincial and
territorial data show that an average of 1,230 people with COVID-19 were
being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day
period (Aug 27-Sep 2), which is 34% higher than last week. This includes,
on average 442 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU),
29% more than last week and an average of 13 deaths were reported daily
(Aug 27-Sep 2).

During this fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, infections and
severe outcomes have several key features:

  • Nationally, the highly contagious Delta Variant of Concern (VOC), accounts for the majority of recently reported cases, is
    associated with increased severity, and may reduce the effectiveness of
    vaccines
  • Most reported cases, hospitalisations and deaths are occurring among unvaccinated people
  • Virus spread in areas with low vaccination coverage presents an ongoing
    risk for emergence of and replacement by new VOCs, including a risk of VOCs with the ability to evade vaccine protection.

Regardless of which SARS-CoV-2 variant is predominating in an area, we know
that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, continue to work to reduce disease spread and severe outcomes. In
particular, evidence continues to demonstrate that a complete two-dose
series of Health-Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines provides substantial protection. Based on the latest data from 11 provinces and territories for the
eligible population 12 years or older:

  • from December 14, 2020 to August 14, 2021, 0.04% of fully vaccinated
    people became infected, with the majority of recent cases and
    hospitalizations occurring in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.
  • In recent weeks (July 18 – August 14, 2021):

    • the average weekly rate of new COVID-19 cases in unvaccinated people was
      12 times higher than in the fully vaccinated.
    • the average weekly rate of hospitalized cases in unvaccinated people was
      36 times higher compared to fully vaccinated people.

As of September 2, 2021, provinces and territories have administered over 53.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with the latest provincial and territorial data indicating that over 84%
of people aged 12 years or older have received at least one dose of
COVID-19 vaccine and 77% are now fully vaccinated. Age-specific vaccine coverage data, as of August 28, show that from 63% to 94% of people in the eligible age
groupings have received at least one dose and from 74% to 96% are fully
vaccinated. As we head into the fall, covering this last stretch to reach
very high vaccine coverage across all eligible age groups could prove
crucial to reducing the impact of the Delta-driven wave. We must strive to
have as many eligible people as possible fully vaccinated as quickly as
possible to protect ourselves and others, including those who may not mount
a strong immune response or who cannot get vaccinated.

For additional information regarding vaccination in your area, reach out to
your local public health authorities, healthcare provider, or other trusted and credible sources, such as Canada.ca and Immunize.ca.
Canada.ca provides a broad range of COVID-19 information and resources to
help Canadians understand the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19 and find guidance on life after vaccination.

While COVID-19 is still circulating in Canada and internationally, core
public health practices remain crucial: stay home/self-isolate if you have symptoms; be aware of risks associated with different settings; follow local public health advice and maintain individual protective practices. In particular, physical distancing and properly wearing a well-fitted and well-constructed face mask provide additional layers of protection that further reduce your risk in
all settings. Canadians are advised to continue avoiding non-essential
travel outside of Canada; if you must travel, be aware of the requirements for visiting other countries and for returning to Canada.

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.

Contacts

Media Relations

Public Health Agency of Canada

613-957-2983

media@hc-sc.gc.ca

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