A woman dresses mannequins in a storefront window in Montreal, Sunday, February 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Non-essential businesses such as stores, museums and hair dressers will be allowed to reopen as of February 8. Quebec has been under lockdown since December 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Quebec passes 10,000 COVID-19 deaths as Ontario reports case of Brazil variant

Canada hit more unwanted firsts in its battle COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday, as Quebec became the first province to surpass 10,000 deaths and Toronto reported Ontario’s first case of a variant first identified in Brazil.

The news came on the eve of several provinces easing restrictions, putting a damper on the cautious optimism brought on by a recent decline in new cases and hospitalizations.

Quebec became the first Canadian province to hit a five-figure death toll as it reported 32 new fatalities for a total of 10,031.

The number comes exactly one week after Canada reported its 20,000th death linked to the pandemic, and a day after the national COVID-19 case count surpassed 800,000.

While the number of deaths has continued to climb, Canada’s chief public health officer has said daily cases and severe outcomes are continuing to decline — leading some provinces to ease public health restrictions starting Monday.

That positive news was tempered somewhat on Sunday as Toronto Public Health reported it had discovered two more cases involving COVID-19 variants — including its first case of a strain first identified in Brazil.

The agency said the variant was discovered in a person in hospital who had recently returned from that country.

Authorities also discovered a case involving the South African variant in a person who had not travelled to the country, or had contact with anyone who had.

“Scientists and medical professionals are concerned that these variants are more transmissible than the original coronavirus.” Toronto Public Health said in a statement.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that research is ongoing to determine more about these variants to better understand how easily they might be transmitted and the effectiveness of currently authorized vaccines against them.”

The news came as several provinces prepare to ease restrictions on Monday amid an overall improvement in the number of new cases and hospitalizations.

Quebec will allow non-essential stores, personal care salons and museums to reopen across the province on Monday, following a steady drop in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Six of the provinces less-populated regions will move to the lower orange-alert level, allowing them to eat inside restaurants, work out at gyms and stay out until 9:30 p.m., instead of 8 p.m. like the rest of the province.

After 520,000 Ontario students returned to in-person learning on Feb. 1, schools in the remaining public health units outside of Toronto, York Region and Peel will be returning to in-person learning on Monday.

Premier Doug Ford is also expected to announce more details of a plan to re-open businesses, according to a senior government source.

Alberta will allow the resumption of some school and team sports for children and teens to resume on Monday.

Even as some restrictions are set to ease, Canada’s chief public health officer urged Canadians to keep avoiding gatherings, including for Sunday’s NFL Super Bowl.

Dr. Theresa Tam urged Canadians to hold virtual parties to mark the event, and to restrict in-person gatherings to people they live with.

That message was echoed by Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, who cautioned people to keep game-watching gatherings small, even as the province reported just one new case of COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2021

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

Most Read