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Canada adds 7,563 new coronavirus infections as more variant cases found

A person wears a disposable mask while walking past a restaurant that offers take-out and ubereats in Kingston, Ontario on Wednesday, December 30, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

Canada added 7,563 coronavirus cases Thursday and 154 deaths as the second detection of the South African variant of the virus was reported in the country.

There are now 688,891 cases in total and 17,537 deaths in the country.

The new variant case was found in British Columbia’s Vancouver Coastal Health region after the first case was reported last week in Alberta.

Read more: Police can’t randomly stop people under coronavirus stay-at-home order, Ontario government says

The new B.C. case has not been known to have travelled or been in contact with someone who travelled recently.

An investigation is underway to see how the case was contracted.

The variation appears to spread more easily and has not been found to be immune to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

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B.C. also reported a fourth case of the U.K. variant of the virus, this one not related to the same family to which the first three were connected.

Click to play video: 'B.C. detects 1st case of South African variant, 4th case of U.K. variant of COVID-19' B.C. detects 1st case of South African variant, 4th case of U.K. variant of COVID-19
B.C. detects 1st case of South African variant, 4th case of U.K. variant of COVID-19 – Jan 14, 2021

Gen. Dany Fortin, who is overseeing logistical planning for Canada’s vaccine distribution efforts, also outlined the future of the country’s rollout on Thursday.

He said that one million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will arrive in Canada by April, with 20 million doses planned between April and the end of June.

“This will signal our transition into this ramp-up phase,” he said.

Read more: No plans for ‘divisive’ vaccine passports for Canadians, Trudeau says

For the time being, Ontario announced 3,326 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday and 62 more deaths.

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The province has enacted a new stay-at-home order that requires everyone to not leave their homes unless for essential trips and requires non-essential businesses to close by 8 p.m.

The province currently has 1,657 hospitalizations related to COVID-19, with 388 of them in intensive care.

In Quebec, the province reported 2,132 new cases and 64 more deaths, 15 of which occurred in the last 24 hours. The province now has 1,523 people in hospital due to the virus, with 230 of them in intensive care.

The province also announced a new vaccine strategy of waiting at least 90 days between an initial shot and the necessary second dose. The policy is meant to reduce pressure on the health-care system until more vaccine doses arrive.

Click to play video: 'Quebec to deliver second dose of COVID-19 vaccine within 90 days' Quebec to deliver second dose of COVID-19 vaccine within 90 days
Quebec to deliver second dose of COVID-19 vaccine within 90 days – Jan 14, 2021

However, Canada’s vaccine advisory council recommends the second dose be given no later than 42 days after the first.

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Over in B.C., the province announced 536 new cases of the coronavirus and seven more deaths. The province has 362 hospitalizations total, with 74 people in intensive care.

Alberta reported 967 new coronavirus cases Thursday and 21 more deaths, as the province also announced it would ease restrictions by now allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people. Personal wellness businesses, such as barbershops and salons, will also be able to open Monday with one-on-one appointments.

The province currently has 806 hospitalizations with 136 in ICU.

Read more: Alberta COVID-19 rules will ease Monday for outdoor gatherings, personal wellness services

Saskatchewan reported 312 new cases and no new deaths as its hospitalizations rose to a new high of 206, with 33 in intensive care.

Manitoba reported 261 more cases and two new deaths.

In the Atlantic bubble, New Brunswick reported 23 more cases and one more death, Nova Scotia has six more cases, and P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador each have one more case respectively.

There have been 93,044,567 cases worldwide so far and 1,991,921 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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