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Coronavirus: Canada’s COVID-19 death toll surpasses 100

Coronavirus around the world: March 31, 2020
WATCH ABOVE: Coronavirus around the world: March 31, 2020

Canada’s death toll from the novel coronavirus has now surpassed 100 following an announcement of five more deaths in B.C.

As of Tuesday, Canada’s COVID-19 death toll now sits at 101 while confirmed cases have now reached 8,579.

The new numbers come amid a surge of cases in Quebec and Ontario.

READ MORE: How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

Quebec — the new epicentre of Canada’s outbreak — reported an increase of 790 confirmed cases from the day before, bringing their total to 4,162. Ontario announced 260 new cases on Tuesday as well, a 15.2-per cent increase in 24 hours.

The numbers still, however, paled in comparison to COVID-19 hotpots around the world such as Italy, Spain and the United States.

According to a running online tally by John Hopkins University, the U.S. is now the epicentre of the pandemic with almost 190,000 confirmed cases and 3,900 deaths as of Tuesday.

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Coronavirus outbreak: 7708 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, 89 total deaths
Coronavirus outbreak: 7708 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, 89 total deaths

While both Italy and Spain had the second- and third-highest number of cases, both had the most deaths from the virus, with over 12,000 and 8,000 in those countries respectively.

Grim predictions of the U.S. death toll were also made public this week by health officials, with fatalities predicted to reach at least 100,000 even with stringent social distancing measures put in place.

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters at a press conference that this week would be “really critical” in the Canada’s fight against COVID-19.

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“I know that it is hard, but we all must stay strong and stay at home unless we are doing essential work like stocking the shelves in our grocery stores, like working on the frontlines of our health-care system,” she said.

Despite Canada’s relatively low numbers, health-care officials across the country have since expressed concern that a lack of screening procedures and shortfalls of medical equipment are now placing Canada’s most vulnerable communities at the forefront of exposure to the virus.

READ MORE: Live updates: Coronavirus in Canada

British Columbia announced five new deaths and 43 new cases on Tuesday, while Alberta announced its third death and 64 new cases.

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The brunt of B.C.’s and Alberta’s deaths come from long-term and continuing care homes in the province.

On Tuesday, a nursing home in Bobcaygeon, Ont. confirmed that another one of its residents had died from the coronavirus — bringing its total to 12.

Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada prepared if too many healthcare workers contract COVID-19?
Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada prepared if too many healthcare workers contract COVID-19?

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, warned that the spread of the virus to marginalized groups such as Indigenous communities, old age homes and correctional facilities could spell trouble for the country’s healthcare system.

“Of greatest concern at the moment relates to the introduction and spread of the virus in enclosed settings where vulnerable people reside,” said Tam.

“We currently have a number of ongoing outbreaks in long-term care homes, cases in First Nations and Inuit communities, and in corrections facilities.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s top doctor, told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday that Canadians in the province should expect restrictions to remain until at least the summer, also warning of the potential resurgence of the virus in the fall.

“We are going to be in some form of having to monitor and prevent transmission of this virus until we have a vaccine or until enough of the population is immune to it that it’s no longer infecting people,” said Henry.

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“I do think it’s more and more less likely that we’re going to be able to get back to full normal life, which I miss a lot, before at least the summer. Then we need to start preparing ourselves for the potential of a second wave in the fall.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced on Tuesday that medical supplies were being manufactured by companies across the country — including hundreds of ventilators — in Canada’s dash to acquire the needed equipment to fight against the virus.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Canadian companies now manufacturing ventilators, surgical masks

Over 3,000 Canadian companies have since reached out to the federal government to offer their help in supplying medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), according to Trudeau.

“We are seeing the best of what it means to be Canadian,” Trudeau said during a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday. “In tough times, we pull together. We are there for each other. We put our hands and ask: ‘How can I help?’”

— With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Maham Abedi and Andrew Russell

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Follow David Lao on Twitter

david.lao@globalnews.ca