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COVID vaccines, restrictions working but new cases, hospitalizations still high: federal modelling

Last Updated Apr 23, 2021 at 8:30 am PDT

FILE - Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Summary

While vaccines and health measures are making a difference, Canada's top doctor warns we need to stay vigilant

Canada's Dr. Theresa Tam says new cases, hospitalizations remain high, and that we need to do more to bring numbers down

Steepest rise in hospitalizations has been among people 40 to 60 years of age, federal modelling shows

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – New federal COVID-19 modelling suggests all the vaccines being administered and health measures across Canada are making a difference.

“In recent days, following the implementation of restrictions in heavily impacted areas of Canada, the national Rt has finally dipped below one,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday.

“This means that, for the first time in many weeks, the epidemic has dropped out of a growth pattern,” she added. “National, the Rt had been trending above 1 since early March, meaning every 100 cases in Canada would pass the virus to more than 100 others and so on, rapidly increasing the size of the epidemic with each generational spread.”

She says for the first time in many weeks, we’ve dropped out of a “growth pattern,” due to recent declines in B.C., Ontario, and Quebec.


However, this doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. Tam notes that the Rt is still at or above 1 in some parts of Canada, and needs to come down if we want to get this health crisis “under lasting control.”

“We have reassurance that strengthened measures can slow growth where more contagious variants are circulating. The sustained measures and individual practices is the key to driving and keeping growth down,” she added.

When it comes to vaccines, Canada’s top doctor says the country marking a milestone of 10 million administered is good news.

“Notably, Indigenous communities and the territories have made excellent strides in increasing vaccination coverage, demonstrating strong leadership in the administration of vaccine programs in these communities,” Tam continued, noting more than two-thirds of adults in Canada’s three territories have received at least one dose.

More than half have received two doses in the territories.

But the new data shows infections and hospitalizations have increased dramatically over the last month, with variants now making up half of new cases being recorded.

“Average case counts are now more than double what they were a month ago, with over 8,400 cases being reported daily over the past week,” Tam explained.

The steepest rise in hospitalizations has been among people 40 to 60 years of age.

“This is a reminder that although severe illness is less common in younger age groups, serious or prolonged illness can occur at any age, and there are emerging concerns about increased severity of the B.1.1.7 variant in adults,” Tam said.

Tam says if people keep adhering to public health measures, we should see a levelling off of numbers over the next month.

She also says if Canadians want a summer that’s close to normal, that will depend on how many of us get vaccinated and follow guidelines.

Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is expected to update its guidance on the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday. It is still advising the shot for people 55 years and up due to rare blood clot concerns, however, Health Canada has approved the drug for use in all adults.

Several provinces have already lowered the minimum age to 40.

-With files from Monika Gul