Dr. Teresa Tam delivered this speech in Ottawa on August 12:
Bonjour à toutes et à tous. Today we’ll provide an update on the response to the outbreak of monkeypox in Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to work closely with international, provincial, and territorial partners on prevention and control activities to contain the spread of monkeypox virus in Canada.
Globally as of August 10th, over 31,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported from 91 countries, territories and areas across all six designated regions of the World Health Organization. This represents a 19 percent increase in global cases during the latest reporting week, as compared to the previous week.
In Canada as of August 12th, a total of 1059 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported nationally, including 511 cases in Ontario, 426 in Quebec, 98 in British Columbia, 19 in Alberta, 3 in Saskatchewan, and 2 in the Yukon. Among cases for whom additional information is available, over 99 percent are male and the median age was 35 years.
Monkeypox infection is usually a self-limited illness, and while most people recover on their own after a few weeks, the accompanying rash can be painful and could affect any part of the body. In some circumstances, people can become very sick and in rare cases death can occur.
To date there have been 28 reported hospitalizations, including 2 ICU admissions and no deaths due to monkeypox in Canada.
In line with international trends, the majority of confirmed cases in Canada with available information on exposure history reported intimate sexual contact with other men. Nationally, less than one percent of confirmed cases with available information on age and sex were in females or people under 20 years of age. Internationally, women and youth, likewise account for one percent or less of reported cases.
Canada’s Chief Medical Officers of Health have stood up a Special Advisory Committee (or SAC) on the Monkeypox response, much like was done for COVID-19 over two years ago. To date, our discussions have focused on testing, working with community organizations to raise awareness on ways to limit spread of the virus, and deployment of the Imvamune vaccine and therapeutics
While the global monkeypox outbreak continues to be a serious concern, by focusing efforts on the impacted communities in Canada and worldwide, including with vaccinations, we have an opportunity to contain the spread.
To date, the Government of Canada has deployed over 99,000 doses of Imvamune vaccine to provinces and territories, with more than 50,000 people vaccinated as of August 11.
Increasing awareness and understanding is crucial. Public education to equip people with the information they need to make informed choices is an essential part of our response. Local community organizations are doing outstanding work in this space, including providing information directly to those most at risk—and the Government of Canada has provided funding to support their work.
In the current outbreak in Canada, we are largely seeing person-to-person spread. This can occur when someone has close contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, respiratory droplets or skin sores. It may also occur through direct contact with clothing, sheets or other personal items that have been in contact with someone infected with the monkeypox virus.
It is important to stress that anyone regardless of their sex, gender, race or sexual orientation can become infected with or spread the virus. We are urging everyone to be aware of the symptoms of monkeypox, and to learn how to reduce the risk of getting infected and spreading the virus to others.
Common symptoms include a rash or skin sores on any part of the body, which may be accompanied by general symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes.
If you think you may have been infected with the monkeypox virus, we urge you to stay home and isolate away from others. If you think you have been infected or may have come into contact with someone who has monkeypox, it is important to immediately contact your health care provider or local public health authority.
As we learn more about monkeypox, we will continue to provide updates, including on the canada.ca/monkeypox website, to ensure people in Canada have the information they need to understand the risks and prevention measures they can take to protect their health.