Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on May 6, 2022

OTTAWA, ONMay 6, 2022 /CNW/ –

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to stress and anxiety for many Canadians, especially those who do not have access to their usual support network. The Wellness Together Canada (WMC) online portal provides people of all ages across the country with instant access to free, confidential mental health and addiction support. These services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Serving as a free addition to the online EMC portal, the Wellness app provides Canadians with an additional way to access online health-related resources and substance use, as well as assess and monitor aspects of their mental wellbeing.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to monitor epidemiological indicators of COVID-19 to quickly identify, understand and communicate emerging issues. Here is a brief summary of the latest trends in the country.

PHAC publishes the following reports, which contain further data and analysis on COVID-19:

Given the shift toward more targeted screening, a range of other indicators, including lab test positivity rates and sewer monitoring trends for the daily number of people hospitalized and admitted to intensive care, remain important for ongoing trend monitoring. Wastewater continues to play an increasingly important role in helping us understand the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and supporting public health decision-making. Detecting SARS-CoV-2 in sewage water can help track trends in COVID-19 transmission, including reporting a new variant or increased presence of the virus. Today, PHAC, in collaboration with federal and other provincial, territorial and municipal governments and academia, has Canada, has launched a new online dashboard for monitoring COVID-19 in wastewater to illustrate wastewater trends in select Canadian cities. This tool, which will expand to provide additional data on more cities, will enable Canadians to access the latest wastewater data and make informed decisions, including personalized precautions.

While COVID-19 is still circulating in the country, recent seven-day averages (ending between April 30 and May 5, 2022, depending on province and territory) and other indicators of COVID-19 activity disease show a decline in transmission in many areas. Nationally, the positivity rate of lab tests over the past 7 days (April 27 to May 3, 2022) has fallen to 14%. Likewise, the indicators from wastewater stabilized or decreased in many regions, but results from test sites across the country vary widely.

The recent increase in hospital admissions nationwide appears to be leveling off and trends in ICU admissions remain at a relatively low level. Nevertheless, the week-long resurgence of COVID-19, including widespread illness and absenteeism among health professionals, has meant that the impact on the health care system continues. Keeping the infection rate low remains critical to protecting vulnerable populations, mitigating severe impacts and reducing the overall impact on the health system.

As we expect SARS-CoV-2 to evolve continuously, we are closely monitoring the situation at home and abroad and preparing for the emergence of new variants, including possible recombinant variants that may result from genetic admixture during co infection with two variants. At present, the BA.2 subline of the Omicron variant is predominant among the variants sequenced to Canada† Although the BA.2 subline is even more transmissible than Omicron’s subline called BA.1, it appears to have a similar severity and symptom profile.

Because the Omicron variant tends to evade immune mechanisms, two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine protect against this variant as well as the previous one. Fortunately, there is evidence to show that booster doses can help increase antibody levels that decline over time after the second dose is given. Although vaccine efficacy against infection declines over time, evidence suggests that two doses of an mRNA vaccine generally maintain good efficacy against severe disease outcomes regardless of variant, and one booster dose increases vaccine efficacy against such effects to more than 90%. As a result, health authorities continue to strongly recommend an up-to-date vaccination against COVID-19 for all eligible persons, including those who may be infected with COVID 19

Currently over 5.0 million of eligible Canadians must receive one or more doses to complete their primary series and many more are eligible for: a booster dose to increase their protection against infection, which may have decreased since the second dose, and to give them even better protection against serious diseases caused by Omicron. It is particularly important to get a booster dose if you are eligible, and especially for people 50 years of age or older, as the risk of serious illness increases with age. From May 5 over 18.5 million third doses were administered. According to national data as of April 24, 2022, more than 85% of people aged 70 and older and 62% to 76% of people aged 50 to 69 have received an additional dose.

During the transition phase of the pandemic and as we move forward, our greatest asset is to remain vigilant as we build our peak capacity for future responses, not to mention the personal protection habits we have learned. Individually, the best way to stay prepared is: keep your COVID-19 vaccines up to dateand in particular for the booster dose recommended. At the same time, public health advice tailored to local epidemiology and conditions can help you assess your individual and family risksand the use of individual protection measures reduces the risk of being exposed to the virus and passing it on. specifically, wear a well-designed and well-fitting maskavoid crowded placesand optimization of indoor ventilation are layers of protection that can reduce the level of risk regardless of the context.

We can also stay healthier through our recommended vaccines like routine vaccines for children and adults† For more information about vaccinations in your area, please contact your local public health agencyyour health care provider or other reliable and credible source of information, such as: immunize.ca and canada.cathat provide information to enable Canadians to benefits associated with vaccination against COVID-19

Canadians and Canadians who want to do more can share information credible on the COVID-19 risks and prevention practices and on the measures to be taken to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in communities† I invite you to read my backgrounder for more COVID-19 information and resources as well as ways to reduce risk and protect yourself and others, including information about: vaccination against COVID-19

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

For more information: Media Relations, Public Health Agency of Canada, 613-957-2983, [email protected]

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