Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on July 28, 2021

·5 min read

OTTAWA, ON, July 28, 2021 /CNW/ -

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 is World Hepatitis Day: on July 28th, we unite with people around the globe to take action and raise awareness about hepatitis, to remind all Canadians about the importance of knowing your hepatitis status, and to spread the word about treatment.

Viral hepatitis continues to be a key public health concern in Canada. In 2019, there were over 4,900 reported cases of hepatitis B and over 11,400 reported cases of hepatitis C in Canada. Hepatitis C is a silent epidemic, as many people are unaware they are living with a chronic infection, which means they are not able to access curative treatment, may suffer serious long-term health effects, and may unknowingly pass the virus on to others.

We know some people are unfairly exposed to conditions that put them at greater risk for hepatitis and other health issues. Canada's worsening opioid crisis, compounded further by COVID-19 has put certain populations and people who use drugs at a greater risk of a number of health issues, including hepatitis C infection. COVID-19 has also affected the delivery of and access to crucial health and harm reduction services supporting these groups. It is vital that we work together to address inequities that contribute to hepatitis infection, develop tailored interventions, and end the systemic discrimination and stigma that prevents individuals from accessing testing, treatment, and care.

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, I am inspired by the many community organizations and service providers across the country working tirelessly to reach those affected by hepatitis, and who lead change by challenging the stigma and discrimination within our health systems and communities. It is important that we support their work through our own individual actions to address stigma.

For more information on hepatitis please consider checking out these awareness resources. Talk to your doctor to learn whether you should be tested for hepatitis. If we all take action, we can help to meet our global goal of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030.

As COVID-19 activity continues 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 (PHAC) provides regular updates on COVID-19 vaccines administered, vaccination coverage and ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety across the country. Below is the latest summary on national numbers and trends.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,427,917 cases of COVID-19 and 26,560 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, including four VOCs (B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617.2 (Delta)) that have been detected in most provinces and territories. Regardless of which viruses are predominating in an area, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, continue to work to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

As public health restrictions are eased, some increase in cases, particularly among unvaccinated populations, is not unexpected. We have been closely monitoring increased disease activity in several jurisdictions, which is reflected in national case counts. Today's 7-day moving average of 557 new cases reported daily (July 21-27), shows an increase of 36% over the previous week. Severe illness trends continue to decline, with the latest provincial and territorial data showing that an average of 495 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (July 21-27), which is 12% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 232 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 8% fewer than last week and an average of 8 deaths were reported daily (July 21-27).

Administration of first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines is continuing across the country, with the aim of achieving widespread, stronger and longer lasting immunity by fully vaccinating a high proportion of eligible people across Canada. For more information regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination, 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, find guidance on life after vaccination and utilise free interactive risk assessment tools to aid in informed decision-making and understanding COVID-wise precautions to lower the risks in different settings. 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 non-essential travel outside Canada; 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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View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/July2021/28/c1536.html

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