Not so fast: Canada’s top COVID-19 doctor says 'now is not the time to relax our measures' — a warning for provinces

·3 min read
Not so fast: Canada’s top COVID-19 doctor says 'now is not the time to relax our measures' — a warning for provinces
Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Updated COVID-19 modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada supports the guidance from the federal government that the most restrictive measures put in place in the country, particularly lockdowns, can be lifted this summer when 75 per cent individuals 12 years or older have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and at least 20 per cent have received their second dose.

"Though we will still need to maintain individual precautions such as masking and spacing around non-household members, we’ll be able to gather in small groups outdoors, dine on restaurant patios, and safely enjoy outdoor activities," Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer said on Friday.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

When 75 per cent of people in Canada 12 and older are fully vaccinated "it may also be safe to begin easing personal protective measures, without overwhelming hospital capacity."

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Dr. Tam does have a cautionary message for all provinces and territories, "now is not the time to relax our measures."

"We know that vaccines are going to help but we haven't gotten the one dose into everybody yet and the curve is only just over 50 per cent reduction from the peak," she said.

"People do need to go outside, those are lower risk areas and doing that cautiously, and then waiting to see what happens before you do your next phase is very much advocated."

"If you have pockets of under-immunized population...you might suddenly see a resurgence in under-vaccinated or partially-vaccinated population, fuelled by some of the variants of concern. Then you've got to move in very quickly address those pockets of resurgences."

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

The short-term forecasting predicts that by June 10 Canada will see cumulative reported COVID-19 cases total between 1,387,210 and 1,426,400, with deaths between 25,590 and 26,310.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Looking at hospitalizations at a regional level, there has been a decline in hospitalization rates but Manitoba, in particular, is still seeing a higher number infections and hospitalizations.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

The vaccination data in Canada shows that vaccines have been effective, with a low number of COVID-19 cases reported after vaccination.

Based on data up to May 25, individuals who were confirmed to have COVID-19 14 days or more after their first dose of a vaccine account for 0.15 per cent of people who have received at least one dose.

"Compared to unvaccinated cases in these jurisdictions, these individuals were more likely to report no symptoms and less likely to experience severe illness requiring hospitalization," Dr. Tam said. "This aligns well with vaccine effectiveness studies showing strong protection against severe illness."