Canada surpasses 1 million Covid-19 cases

Canada is grappling with a third wave of cases amid the rapid spread of variants.
Canada is grappling with a third wave of cases amid the rapid spread of variants.PHOTO: AFP

TORONTO (AFP) - Canada on Saturday (April 3) crossed the threshold of one million coronavirus cases as the country faces a third wave of infections, forcing several provinces to tighten restrictions in recent days.

With 2,000 new cases of Covid-19 announced in British Columbia on Saturday evening, Canada topped one million cases since the start of the pandemic, according to figures reported by Canadian broadcasters. Just over 23,000 people have died.

Canada is grappling with a third wave of cases amid the rapid spread of variants, which are more contagious. The two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, headed into the Easter weekend tightening public health measures.

Ontario, home to more than a third of Canada's cases, stepped up restrictions for at least four weeks. Non-essential businesses are held to 25 per cent capacity, while others can accommodate 50 per cent capacity. Sports venues and hair salons are closed, though schools remain open and residents have not been ordered to stay home.

The second worst-hit province, Quebec, strengthened restrictions in several regions while maintaining a nighttime curfew imposed in early January that is unprecedented in Canada.

Meanwhile, vaccinations have been slow to get off the ground. An inoculation program launched in December has been plagued by delays in deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna doses from Europe. In addition, new age restrictions were imposed on the AstraZeneca jab, over safety concerns. To date, 14.6 per cent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Covid-19 Tracker Canada website.