Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said on Wednesday (January 20) that hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 continue to rise.
In a statement, Tam said that hospitalizations and deaths are “still increasing”.
“Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,737 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 13-19), including 878 of whom were being treated in intensive care units,” Tam said.
She added: “During the same period (Jan 13-19), there were an average of 141 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. This situation continues to burden local healthcare resources, particularly in areas where infection rates are highest.”
Dr. Tam noted that this “impacts affect everyone, as the healthcare workforce and health system bear a heavy strain, important elective medical procedures are delayed or postponed, adding to pre-existing backlogs”.
In her statement on January 20, the public health officer noted that the “resurgence of COVID-19 activity continues in Canada”.
“Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 719,751 cases of COVID-19, including 18,266 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date,” Dr. Tam said.
She also said that the “vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19”.
“At this time, there are 71,055 active cases across the country,” Dr. Tam said.
Also, the latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 6,469 new cases (Jan 13-19).
“COVID-19 is spreading among people of all ages, with high infection rates across all age groups,” Dr. Tam said.
She also said that “as viruses spread it is common for new variants to emerge”.
“While the number of cases in Canada with a virus variant of concern has been limited to date, recent cases with no travel history suggests that community transmission may already be occurring in Canada,” Dr. Tam said.
Roughly two dozen cases of a variant of the virus first identified in the U.K. last month have been identified in Canada so far.
However, the emergence of the strain among individuals who have not travelled abroad raises concerns that it could spread rapidly and overload Canadian health-care systems.
The virus is rapidly mutating with new strains identified from the U.K., South Africa and South America in recent weeks.
The highly contagious U.K. strain is on track to become the dominant circulating variant in the U.S. by March.
As of Tuesday (January 19), more than 606,426 Canadians, or almost 1.6 per cent of the population in Canada, had received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
At least 37,189 Canadians were fully vaccinated with two required doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines.
Israel has the world’s highest vaccination rate in the world, with 2.7 million people or 25 per cent of the population.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has allowed China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. to hold clinical trials in the country for its coronavirus vaccine.
President Rodrigo Duterte has indicated his preference for the Sinovac vaccine.
Duterte will take the first Sinovac shot once available, but wants the inoculation to be in private, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
The Philippine Food and Drug Administration is still waiting for Sinovac to submit documents on late-stage trials before processing its separate application for emergency use in the country.
The Philippines will sign an initial deal with Moderna Inc. in the coming days, with the vaccines expected to start arriving in May.