COVID-19 ‘steady’ in Canada as world marks third anniversary of pandemic

By The Canadian Press and News Staff

Saturday marks three years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health, says while Omicron subvariants continue to spread, there have been no new variant-driven waves of infection in recent months.

Hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths have stabilized and the virus has reached a relatively steady state in this country.

Tam says population immunity is high due to an overall high vaccine uptake combined with the immunity people got from infection.

She also says it’s possible that Canada could be spared any new major waves in the coming months but cautions that this does not mean that COVID-19 is over.

Tam says people who are older or immunocompromised continue to be disproportionately affected by the virus and she urges anyone who has not been vaccinated or had a booster dose to get those shots.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending an additional bivalent booster dose this spring for for adults at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if it’s been six months or more since their last shot.

That includes seniors, long-term care home residents and people who are immunocompromised.

More than 51,000 people have died as a result of the virus in Canada.

The City of Toronto plans to mark the occasion with an interactive art installation called “The Burn.” It’s described as a commemorative gathering in memory of lives lost during the pandemic and to let go and transform the emotions we have all been carrying.

The event begins at sunset at Nathan Phillips Square and includes remarks, a moment of silence and a musical tribute.

Pediatric ER visits for suicidal behaviour up during pandemic

A global study shows there was an increase in emergency department visits for attempted suicide among children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, published in Lancet Psychiatry, analyzed 42 studies that represented more than 11 million pediatric patients in 18 different countries around the world.

It compared data on visits before the pandemic with those during the pandemic until July 2021.

Researchers also found an eight per cent increase in emergency department visits for suicidal thoughts.

There was a higher rate of suicidal behaviour for girls than boys, and older teenagers were more likely to self-harm.

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