OTTAWA - Canada is seeing more cases from COVID-19 variants, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said in a statement on Sunday.
"As of March 18, a total of 4,499 variants of concern have been reported across Canada, including 4,169 B.1.1.7 variants, 241 B.1.351 variants and 89 P.1 variants," said the Public Health Agency of Canada on Sunday.
COVID-19 variants of concern are taking a particularly strong hold in Western Canada, with Regina city seeing nearly all of its cases from the variants, prompting local health officials to urge caution and warn that lockdowns may return.
"In parts of Canada, variants of concern represent an increasingly high proportion of cases and are being associated with a greater number of outbreaks," Tam said.
On Thursday, Canada's most populous province of Ontario, with a population of 14 million, announced that Ontario is in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic because of increasing COVID-19 variant cases.
Canada's capital city of Ottawa moved to the red zone on Friday as the spread of COVID-19 is getting out of control. Red brings with it some of the strictest restrictions detailed on the province's pandemic scale, second only to grey lockdown.
However, nationally, COVID-19 activity has leveled off at a high level since mid-February and average daily case counts are now on the rise.
As of Sunday afternoon, Canada reported 2,716 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the cumulative total to 933,230, including 22,673 deaths, according to CTV.
The country's latest national-level data show a seven-day average of 3,297 new cases daily on March 12-18. Currently, there are 34,283 active cases across the country.
While COVID-19 continues to impact people of all ages in Canada, infection rates are the highest among those aged 20-39 years of age, said Tam.
"Circulation of COVID-19 in younger, more mobile and socially-connected adults presents an ongoing risk for spread into high-risk populations and settings," Tam added in the statement.
More than 3.68 million doses of vaccines have been administered to date across Canada as of March 19, according to Tam.