Canada reached another grim milestone in its fight against the pandemic Monday as COVID-19-related deaths in the country surpassed 15,000.
The mark was reached after another 37 deaths were reported in Quebec Monday. To date, a total of 15,121 people have now succumbed to the virus.
Another 3,304 cases were also reported, though the increase in infections is limited by several provinces and territories withholding their data over the holidays. As of Monday evening, there have been 554,780 lab-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada, while over 466,000 infections are now considered resolved and a total of 18 million tests have been administered.
Health Minister Patty Hadju’s office also confirmed that the Moderna vaccine was set to arrive in the Yukon and Northwest Territories Monday, with both receiving 7,200 doses each.
The less stringent temperature requirements of transporting the vaccine, which was approved last week, have made it the main choice to be administered in rural areas and long-term care homes. No information was provided yet on when Nunavut — the territory with the most COVID-19 cases — would get the vaccine, though the government said that the rest of the 168,000 doses would be delivered to provinces and territories “this week.”
Another province also identified another case of the new COVID-19 variant, with health authorities in Alberta linking it someone who recently arrived arrived from the U.K. To date, British Columbia and Ontario have both reported cases caused by the new variant, with several health experts warning that the new mutation has most likely already spread to other provinces.
The Ontario government also faced criticism Monday after it said that it cut back on administering their coronavirus vaccines during the Christmas holidays. According to the province’s ministry of health, the cut was due to staff shortages over the holidays.
“As with any holiday season, ensuring proper staff coverage can be challenging,” the ministry said in a statement. “Schedules for vaccination clinics were adjusted over the holidays to ensure that there was no impact on staffing levels within the long-term care homes or for the hospitals operating the clinics.”
The province did not report any new case data on Monday, with cases and deaths there standing at 171,416 and 4,377, respectively.
Alberta also marked over 1,000 deaths from the virus on Monday after health authorities announced that 112 people had died between Dec. 23 to Dec. 27. The province’s caseload also stands at 98,269 after 917 new cases were announced over the last 24 hours.
“This tragic milestone is more than a number or statistic,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in a statement. “It represents more than 1,000 mothers, wives, fathers, husbands — empty spaces around the table that can never be filled.”
Quebec added another 2,265 cases of the coronavirus on Monday as well, pushing it’s total infections to 194,930. Another 37 deaths were reported, while Monday marked the second day in the row the province logged more than 2,200 new cases.
Manitoba added another 107 cases of the virus, while both B.C. and Saskatchewan did not release new data due to the holidays.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia added one new infection while Newfoundland and Labrador reported another two cases.
Nunavut added on new lab-confirmed infection, though both the Northwest Territories and the Yukon did not release new data.
To date, over 81,247,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus worldwide according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. A total of 1,772,869 people have since succumbed to the virus, with the U.S., Brazil and India continuing to lead in both cases and deaths.
— With files from The Canadian Press