Canada’s chief public health officer said Sunday that the country is seeing more infections from coronavirus variants of concern, adding that now is a “crucial moment” to tamp down on the spread of COVID-19.
“In parts of Canada, variants of concern represent an increasingly high proportion of cases and are being associated with a greater number of outbreaks,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement.
“If we can keep up with personal protective measures and limit our contacts for a final push to keep COVID-19 infection rates down as vaccine programs scale up, we can keep the path clear for vaccines to do their part.”
Tam said there have been 4,499 cases of coronavirus variants confirmed in Canada as of Thursday. Variants of concern are taking a particularly strong hold in Western Canada, with Regina seeing nearly all of its cases from the variants, prompting health officials to urge caution and warn that lockdowns may return.
Have a question or something to say? CBC News is live in the comments now.
1/2 <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> key concerns in : With vaccine programs expanding, infection rates are dropping in adults >80 years & fewer outbreaks in long term care reassure us that vaccines will bring more & greater benefits in the weeks to come. <a href=”https://t.co/6ijCCnrMeG”>https://t.co/6ijCCnrMeG</a>
However, Tam noted that cases are down nationally and said she is encouraged by Canada’s vaccine numbers. More than 670,000 doses were administered in the past week, she said, out of more than 3.68 million overall.
“Each week, a new high is being set for the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, and we can expect more and greater benefits to come,” Tam said.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 6 p.m. on Sunday, Canada had reported 933,790 cases of COVID-19, with 35,009 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,679.
In Alberta, the provincial government says any decisions on moving to Step 3 of the reopening will be made on Monday at the earliest. The province reported 555 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths on Sunday.
Saskatchewan announced 178 new cases and an additional death.
The province says there is an elevated risk of COVID-19 in Regina due to community transmission of coronavirus variants. It recommends that Regina and area residents, particularly those over age 50, not increase their household bubbles to include the two to three households up to 10 people allowed under current regulations. They should consider remaining with their current household only, the province says.
WATCH | Officials urge caution as variants take hold in Western Canada:
The COVID-19 variants are taking hold in much of Western Canada with confirmed cases doubling in some provinces and Regina seeing nearly all its cases from the variants, prompting health officials to urge caution and warn that lockdowns may return.1:32
Manitoba registered 90 more cases and seven deaths.
Ontario logged 1,791 new cases and 18 additional deaths.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says residents aged 75 and older will be able to book vaccination appointments online starting on Monday.
Starting March 22, Ontarians aged 75+ will be able to book vaccination appointments online at <a href=”https://t.co/pxlgLpkLxR”>https://t.co/pxlgLpkLxR</a> or call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488. Please only access the booking tool or call for support if you’re eligible for an appointment. <a href=”https://t.co/aesDfsEj5a”>pic.twitter.com/aesDfsEj5a</a>
Quebec confirmed 648 new cases and five more deaths on Sunday.
Starting on March 26, three of the province’s regions are set to move to the yellow alert level.
That means restrictions will loosen, bars can reopen and curfews will be cancelled in the Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands, the North Shore and Northern Quebec.
Nova Scotia reported six new cases, the highest daily number in two weeks. The province now has 21 known active cases.
In a news release, Premier Iain Rankin noted that Sunday is the last day of March break, and he urged teachers and children to remain vigilant.
“Please remember to keep doing what we have been doing so well all along,” he said. “Keep our social circles small, follow public health measures and get tested.”
WATCH | Atlantic bubble set for April reopening:
Four premiers have planned to reopen the Atlantic bubble in mid-April, allowing people to travel between Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, P.E.I. and New Brunswick without isolating.1:56
New Brunswick added one new case on Sunday as the province announced a program to vaccinate high school teachers.
It’s expected that this week, 4,500 staff from high schools province-wide will receive a first dose at a clinic in one of 16 locations. Schools will be closed to students on the days that local clinics are being held to allow for high school staff to be vaccinated and plan for the full return to school.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s active caseload remains at five after the province again saw no new infections on Sunday.
N.L. is moving into Phase 2 of its vaccine rollout, meaning those who are 70 and older can pre-register for their shot. The Department of Health said registration can be done online, but people will not receive a separate email confirmation after pre-registering.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, more than 122.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide with 69.3 million cases listed as recovered, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.7 million.
In Asia, India reported 43,846 new cases its highest number of new infections in four months amid a worrying surge that has prompted multiple states to return to some form of restrictions on public gathering.
In Europe, Romania on Sunday recorded 1,334 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units its highest number since the pandemic began.
In the Americas, Colombia became the first country in the region to receive a shipment of vaccines from the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative after more than a million doses of Chinese-developed Sinovac and AstraZeneca shots touched down in Bogota late Saturday.
In Africa, Guy Brice Parfait Kolélas, the leading opposition presidential candidate in Republic of Congo, was receiving oxygen at a private hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19, a family member said, casting Sunday’s election into doubt.
Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.