Ottawa (Canada) Feb 17: The COVID-19 second wave in Canada's epidemiological curve has been trending downward for weeks, with the seven-day national average dropping from about 8,000 daily cases in early January to 3,000 over Valentine's Day weekend.
"Overall, disease activity and severe outcomes are continuing to decline nationally and there are now less than 35,700 active cases across the country," according to the Public Health Agency of Canada on Tuesday.
However, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam noted on Tuesday that COVID-19 has come back with another twist, saying "in the past two months more contagious new variants have emerged in Canada and now appear in all 10 provinces."
Up to Tuesday, Canada has had more than 540 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in Britain, 33 cases of the B.1.351 variant first detected in South Africa and one case of the P.1 variant first detected in Brazil.
Medical experts are concerned that vaccinations won't be able to outpace the spread of coronavirus variants as parts of the country slowly begin to reopen.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised that every Canadian who wants to be inoculated against COVID-19 will be able to do so by September 2021. The country has a population of about 38 million in 10 provinces and three territories.
"Starting with a few travel-related cases in the early weeks, these variants have been smoldering in the background and gaining fuel that now threatens to flare up into a new, rapidly spreading blaze," said Tam in a statement.
She pointed out that more worrisome is that at least four provinces are reporting evidence of community spread and outbreak activity associated with these faster-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."
As of Tuesday evening, Canada reported a cumulative total of 829,781 COVID-19 cases and 21,362 deaths, according to CTV.