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Canada's top doctor warns of flare-up in COVID-19 variants

Last Updated Feb 16, 2021 at 12:23 pm PST

FILE - Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday, September 8, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Dr. Theresa Tam says more contagious COVID-19 variants now in all 10 provinces

At least four provinces reporting evidence of community spread of COVID-19 variants, says Tam

Canada expecting 1.3 million doses of Moderna vaccine in March

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – First it was “Flatten the Curve.” Now, the country’s chief public health officer is calling on Canadians to “Vanquish the Variant.”

Dr. Theresa Tam says it all started with a few travel-related cases.

“These variants have been smoldering in the background and gaining fuel that now threatens to flare up into a new, rapidly spreading blaze. There are now over 540 B.1.1.7 variants, 33 B.1.351 variants, and P.1 variant,” she said.

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She adds we’ve been making steady progress against COVID-19, but the more contagious variants are now in all 10 provinces.

“More worrisome is that at least four provinces are reporting evidence of community spread and outbreak activity associated with these fastest spreading variants. The rapid rise of cases in a previously well-controlled situation in Newfoundland and Labrador is a testament to how quickly things can change when more contagious variants are introduced,” she said.

On Friday, B.C.’s public health officer said 445 new COVID-19 cases had been recorded in the previous 24 hours. She noted there were 29 cases of B.1.1.7, first identified in the U.K. and 17 of the B.1.351, first identified in South Africa.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada will receive 1.3 million doses of the Moderna vaccine in March, despite uncertainty over timing details. The shipments would bring the total of Moderna doses to two million as planned, following smaller-than-expected deliveries this month.

Canada’s vaccine rollout is ramping back up with more than 878,000 more Pfizer-BioNTech doses expected in the next two weeks after faltering shipments attributed to production delays abroad.