Cases of COVID-19 variants on the rise in Canada, fuelling concerns over third wave

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Canada's chief public health officer says the number of cases of variants of concern in the country is rising.

Dr. Theresa Tam said on Twitter there have been 5,154 confirmed COVID-19 cases involving more transmissible variants, with the highest numbers in Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec.

The majority of those cases involve the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, which Tam says is responsible for 638 of the 655 cases of variants confirmed since March 18.

Even as vaccination programs ramp up, the growing number of variant cases is sparking fears of a third wave.

Quebec reported a rise in new cases and hospitalizations today, prompting Health Minister Christian Dube to urge people to respect health measures to prevent a variant-fuelled COVID-19 surge.

Ontario's solicitor general, meanwhile, said the province plans to expand pharmacy vaccination to virus hot spots amid a recent rise in cases that the chief medical officer of health described last week as the beginning of a third wave.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2021

The Canadian Press