A healthcare worker talks with people as they wait to be tested for COVID-19 at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. A total of 15,001 Canadians have now died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began earlier this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Canada surpasses 15,000 deaths related to COVID-19 with 37 new deaths in Quebec

Canada has surpassed 15,000 deaths related to COVID-19, reaching the somber milestone after Quebec reported 37 additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus on Monday.

A total of 15,001 Canadians have now died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began earlier this year.

Canada surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 deaths on Oct. 27 and passed the 5,000-mark on May 12.

Of the 37 deaths reported Monday in Quebec, health officials said seven took place in the last 24 hours, 27 occurred between Dec. 21 and Dec. 26, and three were from unspecified dates.

Quebec also reported 2,265 new cases of COVID-19 — the second straight day the province recorded more than 2,200 new infections.

Ontario, which is not reporting new COVID-19 cases numbers on Monday, registered 2,005 new infections on Sunday, as well as 18 more deaths.

Over the weekend, Canadian health officials reported a more contagious new strain of the virus was found in three parts of the country.

The variant first seen in the U.K. has been found in Ottawa, the Vancouver Island area of B.C. and in Durham Region east of Toronto, where the first two cases were reported in a couple on Saturday.

Public Health Ontario announced Sunday that the couple had been in contact with someone who recently returned from the U.K.

The other two cases in Ottawa and B.C. are also related to U.K. travel, public health officials said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said while early data suggests the new variant may be more transmissible, there is no evidence the variant causes more severe symptoms or impacts vaccine effectiveness.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press