Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for inviting the Public Health Agency of Canada back to provide an update on the COVID-19 situation in Canada.
We continue to monitor COVID-19 epidemiological indicators, so that we can quickly detect, understand and communicate any emerging issues of concern.
As Dr. Tam reported on Friday, COVID‑19 disease activity indicators, from daily case counts and lab test positivity to waste water signals, are stabilizing at the national level, with most areas continuing to decline.
Severe illness trends are also declining in most jurisdictions. However, the virus is still circulating in Canada and internationally, and factors such as virus evolution and waning immunity could have an impact on COVID‑19 activity moving forward. At this time, we are observing early signals of increased activity in some areas.
As we and Dr. Tam have said on a number of occasions, we are not expecting our progress to be linear. We need to continue to prepare in case there is a resurgence in COVID‑19 activity. This means we need to keep up with our personal precautions, including staying up to date with our COVID‑19 vaccines and wearing a well-fitted mask. This is especially important as summer approaches, and Canadians get together more and participate in larger events like fairs and festivals.
The steady improvements we have been seeing in epidemiological indicators have allowed us to continue to relax and pause some of our measures.
Last week, the Government of Canada announced it is suspending the vaccine mandate for federally regulated transportation sectors and federal employees. In Canada, we now have better levels of immunity from vaccination and infection, antiviral drugs are more widely available, and our hospitalization rates are lower, relative to when the mandates were first introduced. This means we're now better equipped to effectively manage the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce the pressure on the health care system.
The suspension of vaccine mandates reflects an improved public health situation in Canada at this time. However, the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve and circulate in Canada and globally. COVID-19 remains a public health threat. Our best line of defence against serious illness, hospitalization and death is staying up to date with vaccinations, including booster doses.
Because vaccination rates and virus control in other countries vary significantly, our vaccination requirements remain in effect at the border. This includes an existing vaccination requirement for most foreign nationals entering Canada, and the quarantine and testing requirements for Canadians and some travellers who have not received their primary vaccine series. These requirements will help reduce the potential impact of international travel on our health care system. They will also serve as added protection against any future variants of concern.
The Government of Canada is transitioning to a model in which testing occurs outside of airports for both random testing and testing for unvaccinated travellers. Random testing will continue to occur at land border points of entry across Canada, with no changes.
While we continue the fight against this virus, we are taking every opportunity to improve. We continue to learn from both our past actions and our evolving knowledge of the virus.
Although the agency was able to rapidly mobilize, and adapt and respond to the evolving COVID‑19 situation, as we move forward, we will look to strengthening our pandemic preparedness by building on the lessons we have learned.
As we look to the future, we are optimistic; however, we also need to prepare for various scenarios. In doing so, we will use science and data to help inform our response to new or evolving situations—just as we have done from the beginning of the pandemic.
We would be happy to answer any questions you have.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.