Canada surpassed 15,000 COVID-19-related deaths, reaching the dismal milestone after Quebec reported 37 additional deaths related to the new coronavirus on Monday.
A total of 15,001 Canadians have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic earlier this year.
Canada surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 deaths on 27 October and surpassed the 5,000 mark on 12 May.
Of the 37 deaths recorded on Monday in Quebec, health officials said seven occurred in the last 24 hours, 27 occurred between December 21 and 26 and three occurred on unspecified dates.
Quebec also reported 2,265 new cases of COVID-19 – the second consecutive day that the province recorded more than 2,200 new infections.
“The situation is critical in hospitals,” Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted on Monday, calling on Quebecers to respect the blockade of the entire province during the holiday period.
The province currently has 1,124 COVID-19 hospitalizations, including 150 people in intensive care, and authorities 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 a new infection was detected in the Fredericton area.
Officials in Newfoundland and Labrador say one of the new infections is related to international travel, while the other is a man who has returned from work in Alberta.
The province currently has 19 active cases of COVID-19 with one person in the hospital. New Brunswick has 33 active cases, including three hospitalizations.
“Non-essential travel is very risky at the moment,” New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said in a statement.
“We are seeing more cases related to travel and transmission to family members when self-isolation measures are not strictly enforced,” said Russell, calling on people who need to isolate themselves to do so for a full 14 days according to public health directives.
Meanwhile, Ontario, which did not report new COVID-19 case numbers on Monday, reported 2,005 new infections on Sunday, as well as an additional 18 deaths.
These figures came a day after Canadian health officials reported the first two cases of a new, more contagious strain of the virus in a couple in the Durham area, east of Toronto.
The variant first seen in the UK is now also found in Ottawa and the Vancouver Island area of BC
Public Health Ontario announced on Sunday that the Durham couple had contacted someone who recently returned from the UK
The other two cases in Ottawa and BC are also related to travel to the UK, public health officials said.
The Canadian Public Health Agency said that, although early data suggests that the new variant may be more transmissible, there is no evidence that the variant causes more severe symptoms or has an impact on the vaccine’s effectiveness.
With Sarah Smellie’s files at St. John’s.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 28, 2020.