Coronavirus Canada Update: Officials warn of COVID-19 variants despite ‘steady decline’ in cases

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Coronavirus Canada Updates: 69 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths reported in Manitoba
Coronavirus Canada Updates: 69 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths reported in Manitoba

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.

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