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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Public health agency changes plans: Dr. Tam to hold briefing on new COVID-19 modelling

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OTTAWA — Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam will be providing an updated national picture on the trajectory of the COVID-19 fourth wave at a briefing next week, marking a change of plans for the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

There haven’t been pandemic or vaccine rollout briefings from PHAC since the election was called, despite there being exceptions in the “caretaker” convention that allow federal officials to communicate with Canadians about matters that are in the interest of public health and safety.

Tam indicated her intention to provide the latest modelling update “at a briefing” in the latest COVID-19 statement issued by PHAC on Friday.

Earlier this week, amid questions over the absence of what had been routine press conferences throughout the pandemic, the agency told CTV News that it “continues to closely monitor COVID-19 activity,” but planned to share any new COVID-19 information, including the monthly modelling, through written statements that are being sent weekly.

It would have been the first time the COVID-19 case projections would have been issued without a briefing or the ability to take reporters’ questions since the earliest days of the pandemic.

Spokesperson Mark Johnson said in a statement at the time that “as the situation warrants,” the agency “will not hesitate to provide additional communication.” 

The last modelling briefing was held on July 30 and warned that Canada was heading into a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, with the severity of the resurgence dependent on how many people are fully vaccinated. Since then, case counts have continued to increase and some regions have reinstated public health restrictions.

Friday’s statement from Tam also says that at present, national daily case counts are continuing to increase “along the strong resurgence trajectory.”

The latest national seven-day average is 2,848 new cases being reported daily, an increase of 29 per cent over the previous week.

“After several weeks of rising case counts, national severity trends have begun to increase, primarily involving unvaccinated people,” reads the statement.

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