Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said that Canada has to watch for the transmission of COVID-19 variants "very carefully," including for considerations around masking guidance.
"We do have to be quite cautious because the provinces are just beginning to open up and we will then see what happens," Dr. Tam said.
"Even though we have a good first doses coverage, we still need to, I think, go a bit higher and quite a number of people haven’t had the full vaccination. This is a period, I think, that we should be more cautious."
She added that Canada can prevent a fourth wave of the pandemic, even with the more transmissible Delta variant, if vaccine coverage increases, specifically calling out about 80 per cent coverage in the younger adult population.
"The combination of public health measures and the vaccines are reducing the impact in our communities," Dr. Tam said. "As things ease up, we just have to watch very carefully on what transmission looks like."
In a virtual press conference from the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday, assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, Dr. Mariangela Simao, stressed the importance of people receiving a full vaccine course, in addition to masking and other public health protections, including individuals who are fully vaccinated.
"Vaccine alone won’t stop the community transmission. People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, the physical distance, avoid crowding."Dr. Mariangela Simao
"People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves."
Last week, the Public Health Agency of Canada released guidance on what fully vaccinated, partially or not vaccinated Canadians, can do in various social gathering situations. This includes fully vaccinated individuals being able to not wear a mask on for both indoor and outdoor gatherings with a small group of fully vaccinated individuals.