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Canada adds 6,381 new coronavirus cases as country watches for new strain

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: WHO says new virus strain from U.K. being studied' Coronavirus: WHO says new virus strain from U.K. being studied
WATCH: WHO says new virus strain from U.K. being studied – Dec 21, 2020
Canada added 6,381 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, bringing the country’s total number of infections to 514,895.
Provincial health authorities also reported 68 new fatalities associated with COVID-19, pushing Canada’s total death toll to 14,332.
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Read more: Ontario to enter ‘provincewide shutdown’ on Boxing Day

The new cases come as the federal government began halting all incoming flights from the United Kingdom for 72 hours in a bid to quell the spread of a potentially more transmissible variant of the virus, which has been running rampant in Britain.

A statement from Health Canada Sunday evening said the strain has not yet been identified in the country, but added that work continues to determine whether it is present.

However, while the new variant may be more transmissible, the World Health Organization said vaccines which were recently approved to combat the virus should still be effective.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, also said the mutated variant may be more transmissible, but said there is no evidence it would increase the “severity associated with this disease.”

“The U.K. has informed us that they don’t believe that there’s an impact on the vaccine. So that’s good news,” she said during a press conference Monday.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: WHO says new virus strain from U.K. being studied' Coronavirus: WHO says new virus strain from U.K. being studied
Coronavirus: WHO says new virus strain from U.K. being studied – Dec 21, 2020

In a series of tweets on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to “remain vigilant” as the holidays approach.

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“We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. “COVID-19 cases are rising across the country.”

“We need to keep doing the things we know work — things like wearing your mask, washing your hands, and avoiding gatherings,” he wrote.”

As of Monday, 3,544 people were in hospital across the country after contracting the virus, while 421,743 people have recovered after falling ill. 
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Thousands of new cases in the provinces

In Ontario, 2,123 new cases were reported on Monday, and health officials said another 17 people have died after contracting COVID-19.

To date, the province has seen 158,053 confirmed cases of the virus and 4,167 fatalities.

The new cases come as Ontario premier Doug Ford announced a “provincewide shutdown” will begin on Boxing Day in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

Read more: ‘Good news’: Coronavirus vaccine will still protect against new U.K. variant, WHO says

Meanwhile, in Quebec, 2,108 new cases were detected, bringing the provincial case load to 179,093.

Health authorities also said 30 more people have died after testing positive for the coronavirus, pushing the total death toll to 7,766.

Three hundred and seventy two new cases of the novel coronavirus were detected between Manitoba and Saskatchewan on Monday.

Saskatchewan added 206 new cases for a total of 13,761, while Manitoba saw 166 new infections, pushing the provincial case load to 23,025.

Four new deaths were reported in Saskatchewan, pushing the death toll to 122, while three new deaths in Manitoba bring the provincial fatalities to 572.

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Coronavirus: WHO still needs more funding for vaccine distribution to low-income countries – Dec 21, 2020

New Brunswick saw four new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total case load to 578. However, health authorities said the provincial death toll remained at eight. 

Nova Scotia reported two new cases COVID-19, pushing the total number of infections to 1,447.

However, the province did not see any new fatalities, meaning the death toll remained at 65. 

Newfoundland and Labrador did not report any new infections or fatalities on Monday.

To date the province has seen 382 cases and four deaths. 

Prince Edward Island did not report any new COVID-19 data on Monday, but the latest numbers suggest the province has seen a total of 91 cases, 73 of which are considered to be recovered. 

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Read more: Canada watching for new COVID-19 variant, warns against travel to U.K.

Health authorities in Alberta said 1,240 new cases have been detected, and nine more people have died.

The new cases bring the province’s total case count to 91459. To date, 860 people have died after contracting the virus in Alberta.

Meanwhile, in British Columbia 529 new infections and five additional fatalities were reported.

In an interview with Global News, British Columbia’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, said no cases of the new coronavirus strain have been detected in the province, but added that officials are watching “very, very carefully.”

“We went back and looked through all of the virus sequences we have here in B.C. and we do not have that strain that is seen in the U.K.” she said. “But clearly we need to be on the lookout for it.”

New cases in Nunavut

Nunavut reported three new cases of the virus on Monday, bringing the territory’s total number of cases to 262. 

The territory reported its first two deaths associated with the virus on Sunday.

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Coronavirus: WHO says new virus strain transmits easier, no evidence it’s deadlier – Dec 21, 2020

Neither the Northwest Territories nor the Yukon reported any new cases of the virus on Monday.

So far, the territories have reported 24 cases and 59 cases respectively.

Global deaths surpass 1.7 million

Since the pandemic began, a total of 77,296,617 cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected worldwide, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

As of 7:30 p.m. ET, the virus had claimed 1,700,932 lives around the world.

The United States remained the viral epicentre, with over 18 million confirmed cases and 311,190 deaths to date.

— With files from Emerald Bensadoun

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