Canada added 4,573 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday as the death toll in the country approached 23,000.
The new infections bring the total number of novel coronavirus cases in Canada to 971,723.
Health officials also confirmed 20 more people have died after contracting the respiratory illness, pushing the total death toll to 22,900.
The new cases come as the country’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) issued new guidance, recommending the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca not be used on people aged 55 and under.
The committee cited concerns over reports of blood clots as its reason for issuing the new guidance.
“As you’ve heard, rare cases of serious blood clots that have been associated with low platelets have been reported in Europe following use of AstraZeneca vaccine in those populations,” Dr. Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the NACI said during a press conference Monday.
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Deeks said NACI has “determined there is substantial uncertainty” around the benefit of providing AstraZeneca to adults under 55 years of age given the potential risk .
The vaccine can still be used in those over 55, the committee said.
Speaking at the press conference, the country’s deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo, said Health Canada is taking the reports of the adverse effects very seriously and is conducting a “risk-benefit assessment.”
To date, more than 307,000 doses of the shot have been administered across Canada, Njoo said.
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The country’s top health officials confirmed, though, that to date there have been no reports of blood clotting issues in anyone who received an AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada.
The new recommendations come as the country is set to receive 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United States in the coming days.
By Monday evening, just over 5.3 million COVID-19 vaccines had been administered.
NACI recommending AstraZeneca vaccine not be used for people under the age of 55
That means so far, approximately 7.1 per cent of the Canadian population has been fully inoculated with the required two vaccine doses.
New cases in the provinces
In Ontario, 2,094 new cases were reported and health officials confirmed 10 more people have died.
Meanwhile in Quebec, 891 more people are sick with the coronavirus, while five more have died.
Manitoba saw 53 new infections, while 202 more cases were detected in Saskatchewan.
Neither province added any new deaths on Monday.
In Atlantic Canada, 11 new cases were reported — all of which were detected in New Brunswick.
However, none of the Maritime provinces, or Newfoundland and Labrador saw any new fatalities on Monday.
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In Western Canada, hundreds of new cases were identified.
Health officials in British Columbia said 777 more cases have been identified, and two more people have died.
The new cases come as a slew of new restrictions were announced in the province aimed at limiting transmission of the virus.
The new measures, which include closing bars and restaurants, gyms and places of worhip, are set to take effect at midnight on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in Alberta, another 545 people are sick with COVID-19, but authorities confirmed no one else has died.
No new cases of the virus or deaths associated with it were reported in any of Canada’s territories.
Since the virus was first detected in late 2019, a total of 127,442,926 people have contracted it globally, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
To date, over 2.7 million people around the world have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
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The United States has seen the highest number of cases, reporting more than 30,291,863 infections so far.
More than 549,600 people have died in the U.S. after falling ill with the respiratory virus.
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