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Provinces struggle to contain spread of COVID-19 as country adds over 5,500 new cases

Click to play video: 'Canadians urged not to gather for Easter long weekend' Canadians urged not to gather for Easter long weekend
WATCH: With COVID-19 cases rising and variants spreading, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec are ramping up restrictions. As Abigail Bimman reports, for the second in year in a row, Canadians are being urged not to turn the Easter long weekend into a superspreader event – Mar 31, 2021

Canada added 5,519 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday as provinces struggled to slow the spread of the virus ahead of the long weekend.

The new cases bring the total number of novel coronavirus infections in the country to 982,122.

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Provincial health officials also confirmed 33 more people have died after testing positive for the respiratory illness.

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To date, 22,959 people have died in Canada after contracting the disease. 

In a series of tweets Wednesday, Canada’s top doctor Theresa Tam said national case counts are now 66 per cent higher than just three weeks ago, “which is now showing in increasing numbers of people with severe illness in our hospitals each day.”

Click to play video: 'Dr. Tam ‘looking forward to the fall’ to get back to some normality' Dr. Tam ‘looking forward to the fall’ to get back to some normality
Dr. Tam ‘looking forward to the fall’ to get back to some normality – Mar 31, 2021

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Tam said over the past week, on average, the country has seen a seven-per cent increase in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, including a 14 per cent increase in those being treated in intensive care units.

She said this is “placing renewed strain on the health system” and on the health-care workforce.

Tam said it is “vitally important that we all continue to follow local public health advice (and) maintain individual protective practices.”

Currently, 2,433 people are hospitalized across the country with COVID-19.

Provinces struggle to contain the virus

In Ontario 2,333 new cases and 15 more deaths were reported on Wednesday.

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The new cases came as the province prepares to activate a four-week, province-wide ’emergency brake’ lockdown in order to limit the spread of the virus.

Click to play video: 'Dr. Tam ‘looking forward to the fall’ to get back to some normality' Dr. Tam ‘looking forward to the fall’ to get back to some normality
Dr. Tam ‘looking forward to the fall’ to get back to some normality – Mar 31, 2021

Multiple sources told Global News that the logistical details were still being sorted out Wednesday evening.

However, government and political party sources said the emergency measure would take effect sometime before the Easter weekend.

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Meanwhile, Quebec added 1,025 new cases and nine more fatalities as the province imposed more stringent lockdown measures on three cities ahead of the Easter long weekend.

Read more: Ontario government moves to activate 4-week, provincewide COVID-19 ’emergency brake’

In Manitoba, 71 new cases were detected and health officials said one more person has died after contracting the disease.

Saskatchewan officials said 191 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 and two more have died.

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In Atlantic Canada, 14 new cases were reported.

New Brunswick added 12 new cases, while Nova Scotia saw two new infections.

Newfoundland and Labrador added one new case, but health officials confirmed no one else has died.

None of the Maritime provinces reported any fatalities on Wednesday either.

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Read more: B.C. reports 1,013 new COVID-19 cases, highest-ever single day total

Alberta reported the province’s highest daily increase since mid-January, adding 871 new cases and three more fatalities.

Meanwhile, British Columbia saw its largest daily increase in COVID-19 cases to date.

Provincial health authorities said 1,013 new cases were detected, and said three more people have died after falling ill.

The Yukon was the only of Canada’s territories to add a new case on Wednesday.

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Globally, the virus has infected 128,770,964 people, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.

To date, 2,814,019 have died around the world after testing positive for COVID-19.

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