Canada’s chief public health officer is warning that more adults under the age of 60 are being treated for COVID-19 in the country’s hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs).
On April 11, Dr. Theresa Tam said that recent data shows an “increasing number of hospitalizations” in adults between the age of 40 and 59.
The data also revealed that in March, adults in this age group were increasingly admitted to the ICU and received mechanical ventilation.
Tam said COVID-19 patients between the ages of 18 and 39 made up 15% of new ICU admissions last month – double compared to the 7.4% they accounted for in January.
Since mid-March, Canadians aged 20 to 39 have had the highest infection rate across the country.
“This is a reminder that serious illness can occur at any age,” Tam said. “Evidence indicates that variants of concern can be associated with more severe illness and increased risk of death.”
“Circulation of COVID-19 in younger, more mobile and socially connected adults is an ongoing risk for spread into high-risk populations and settings.”
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Between the last week of March and the first week of April, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 7% across Canada. ICU admissions rose by 23% in the same period.
The collective rise in critical illness has placed a “renewed strain” on both the healthcare system and its workers, Tam said.
She advised that strong public health measures are still needed as cases soar, variants circulate, and virus activity approaches the peak seen in the second wave.
“A high degree of caution must be maintained until vaccination programs are further expanded,” Tam said.
“A combination of strong and sustained community-based public health measures and strict adherence to individual precautions is crucial in order to suppress rapid epidemic growth.”
To date, Canada has seen 1,060,157 COVID-19 cases and 23,315 virus-related deaths.