Canada added 3,315 more cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as well as another 63 deaths linked to the virus.
To date, the country has logged over 837,500 infections, of which 783,417 have since recovered. Canada’s death toll now stands at 21,498, while over 23,789,000 tests and 1.35 million tests were administered since the start of the pandemic.
The new cases came alongside further warnings from the country’s top doctor, who said that despite a “steady decline” in COVID-19 activity, Canadians should still be wary of a resurgence of the virus — citing the detection of several variants “of concern” across the country.
“Although it is normal for variants to emerge as viruses continuously evolve, some variants are considered ‘variants of concern’ because they spread more easily, some may cause more severe illness, or current vaccines may be less effective against them,” said Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam in a statement Thursday.
“This is why we need to maintain the strictest vigilance in our public health measures and individual practices. This will help to prevent these variants from reaccelerating the epidemic and making it much more difficult to control.”
As of Feb. 17, cases of either the B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the U.K., or the N501Y.V2 variant, which was first found in South Africa, have spread to all provinces in the country. Public health officials have since sounded the alarm over these variants which have mutated to either be more transmissible or resistant to the effects of COVID-19 vaccines.
Tam also warned that areas in the country where the more contagious variants of the virus were quickly spreading could see a reversal in their downward trend of cases, and called for public health measures and restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19 to not be eased too fast or too soon.
Her call to sustain measures came amid suggestions from Ontario’s premier on Thursday that he would grant requests to several of the province’s largest, and hardest-hit regions, to extend a stay-at-home order for two more weeks.
The province’s COVID-19 hotspots of Peel Region and Toronto were set to have their pandemic restrictions eased on Monday, though municipal health officials have since made pleas to the province for a delay. On Thursday, Ontario added another 1,038 cases and 44 deaths.
Quebec, the country’s hardest-hit province, added 900 new infections on Thursday. The province’s death toll now stands at 10,264 after 10 more deaths were reported on Thursday.
Alberta also recorded 415 more cases and seven new deaths on Thursday. Manitoba reported 139 infections and two deaths, while Saskatchewan added 146 cases and no new fatalities.
B.C. added another 617 cases on Thursday, of which four are considered “epi-linked” or cases that display symptoms and were in close contact with infected individuals, but were never tested. Another four COVID-19-related deaths were also reported by the province.
All provinces in Atlantic Canada reported new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as well.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported another 48 infections, New Brunswick added four, Nova Scotia another two and P.E.I. added just one additional case.
Nunavut added six more cases on Thursday, while Yukon and Northwest Territories did not report any new cases during their daily updates.
Worldwide, cases of COVID-19 continue to increase with a total of 110,270,000 people having been diagnosed since so far according to Johns Hopkins University. Over 2.43 million people have since succumbed to the virus worldwide, with the U.S., Brazil, India and Mexico continuing to lead in either cases or deaths.
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