Canada has surpassed 15,000 deaths related to COVID-19, reaching the somber milestone after Quebec reported 37 additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus on Monday.
A total of 15,001 Canadians have now died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began earlier this year.
Canada surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 deaths on Oct. 27 and passed the 5,000-mark on May 12.
Of the 37 deaths reported Monday in Quebec, health officials said seven took place in the last 24 hours, 27 occurred between Dec. 21 and Dec. 26, and three were from unspecified dates.
Quebec also reported 2,265 new cases of COVID-19 — the second straight day the province recorded more than 2,200 new infections.
“The situation is critical in hospitals,” Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted Monday, urging Quebecers to respect a provincewide lockdown over the holiday period.
The province currently has 1,124 COVID-19 hospitalizations, including 150 people in intensive care, and officials have warned that many hospitals are full.
In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, while New Brunswick said one new infection was detected in the Fredericton area.
Officials in Newfoundland and Labrador said one of the new infections relates to international travel, while the other is a man who returned from working in Alberta.
The province currently has 19 active cases of COVID-19 with one person in hospital. New Brunswick has 33 active cases, including three hospitalizations.
“Non-essential travel is very risky right now,” New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, said in a statement.
“We are seeing more travel-related cases and transmission to household members when self-isolation measures are not strictly adhered to,” Russell said, calling on people who need to self-isolate to do so for the full 14 days as per public health directives.
Meanwhile, Ontario, which was not reporting new COVID-19 case numbers on Monday, registered 2,005 new infections on Sunday, as well as 18 more deaths.
Those figures came a day after Canadian health officials reported the first two cases of a more contagious new strain of the virus in a couple in Durham Region, east of Toronto.
The variant first seen in the U.K. now also has been found in Ottawa and the Vancouver Island area of B.C.
Public Health Ontario announced Sunday that the Durham couple had been in contact with someone who recently returned from the U.K.
The other two cases in Ottawa and B.C. are also related to U.K. travel, public health officials said.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said while early data suggests the new variant may be more transmissible, there is no evidence the variant causes more severe symptoms or impacts vaccine effectiveness.