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Canada adds 151 more coronavirus deaths as cases close in on 600K

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Canada added another 6,178 new cases of the novel coronavirus Sunday as news of more politicians travelling abroad during the pandemic despite strict travel advisories came to the forefront.

Sunday’s update pushed Canada’s total COVID-19 cases to 597,397, of which 504,900 have since recovered. A total of 15,865 people have now also died from the virus after 151 more deaths were announced, while 18,731,000 tests have been administered.

Read more: Two Liberal MPs resign from government roles after traveling abroad amid coronavirus

While the Global News’ tally currently lists the country’s total caseload at just over 597,000, Canada’s total infections is suspected to have already surpassed the 600,000-mark Sunday due to several provinces and territories not releasing new COVID-19 data either during the holidays or over the weekend.

A new tally of cases released by Health Canada places the country’s total caseload at 601,663 — primarily due to its counting of Alberta’s new coronavirus infections, which has not seen an official release by the province since Dec. 30. Other provinces like B.C., Nova Scotia and P.E.I., as well as the Northwest Territories and Yukon did not release new COVID-19 on Sunday, offering a limited snapshot of the virus’ spread across Canada.

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The federal government also said Sunday that it was mulling over whether it would exclude people travelling overseas from a benefit for those who have to quarantine due to the virus.

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Launched in the fall to help Canadians unable to work due to quarantining amid the pandemic, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit allowed $500 per week for a maximum of two weeks.

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Employment Minister Carla Qualthrough said in a statement Saturday that the government was actively looking at all options.

Read more: Feds mull cutting sickness benefit for Canadians who have travelled amid coronavirus

“The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit was never intended to incentivize or encourage Canadians to not follow public health or international travel guidelines,” the statement said.

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“We strongly urge all Canadians to avoid non-essential travel.”

Qualthrough’s comments come amid new admissions from several Liberal Party MPs over having recently travelled during the holiday season.

Pierrefonds—Dollard MP Sameer Zuberi recently traveled to Delaware to see his wife’s sick grandfather, while Kamal Khera, who represents Brampton West, flew to Seattle to attend a private memorial for her deceased uncle. Both returned on Dec. 31, and have since resigned from their government and parliamentary roles.

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Three other Liberal MPs were also found to have traveled overseas in 2020, though all had done so in the summer or fall when travel restrictions were loosened and new cases were at a low. These include Alexandra Mendès, the MP for Brossard—Saint-Lambert, Lyne Bessette who represents Brome—Missisquoi and Patricia Lattanzio who was elected to Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.

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Ontario added another 2,964 cases on Sunday as well as 25 additional deaths during its daily update. The province’s total caseload and death toll now stands at 190,962 and 4,650, respectively.

Quebec on Sunday reported more than 7,600 new COVID-19 cases over a three-day period, as well as an additional 121 deaths from the virus. Of those cases and deaths, 2,869 infections and 11 fatalities were recorded over the past 24-hours.

Saskatchewan added another 238 cases Sunday, pushing its provincial total to 16,083 while Manitoba added 100 more infections.

In Atlantic Canada, only New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador reported new COVID-19 data, with N.B. adding seven more cases. N.L. did not record any new cases Sunday.

While Alberta did not officially release new COVID-19 data on Sunday, health authorities there estimated a total of 400 new cases on Jan. 2. The province’s last case count as of Dec. 30 stood at 100,428.

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Nunavut did not report any new COVID-19 cases in its daily update Sunday.

Worldwide, cases of the novel coronavirus continue to increase as infections topped 85,095,000 according to Johns Hopkins University. A total of 1,842,590 people have since succumbed to the virus, with the U.S., India and Brazil leading in both cases and deaths.