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Keep your guard up, Tam urges Canadians as COVID-19 disrupts Easter for second year

Last Updated Apr 4, 2021 at 5:51 pm EDT

People walk by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Canada’s chief public health officer urged everyone to keep their guards up amid a surge in more contagious variants of COVID-19, as the pandemic disrupted Easter celebrations for a second

Canadians need to be careful since the more contagious variants of concern “could be anywhere,” Dr. Theresa Tam wrote on Twitter.

“Let’s all be careful (and) cautious and keep up our guard,” she wrote.

Quebec, which has been struggling with a third wave of COVID-19 driven by more contagious variants, announced it would add more regions to a list of places under lockdown that already includes Quebec City and Gatineau.

The province said that parts of the Chaudiere-Appalaches region south of Quebec City would have to shutter non-essential businesses and abide by an 8 p.m. curfew as part of a series of restrictive measures set to begin Monday evening to and last until at least April 12.

Quebec reported 1,154 new cases on Sunday, as the number of cases involving presumptive variants soared past the 10,000 mark.

Ontario, meanwhile, announced that the head of its air ambulance service would be tasked with leading the province’s vaccine rollout.

Dr. Homer Tien will replace retired general Rick Hillier, who chose not to extend his contract past its March 31 expiry, the province said.

Saskatchewan reported 321 additional COVID-19 cases, with 141 of them being identified through screening as variants of concern.

New Brunswick logged 11 new cases of COVID-19 and Nova Scotia recorded seven, while several other provinces chose not to release new numbers due to the holiday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged in a video message that COVID-19 has forced Canadians to celebrate Easter differently for a second straight year, and that many people are having to forego in-person church services and family dinners.

He urged Canadians to stay optimistic, suggesting that the battle with COVID-19 was drawing to a close.

“My friends, soon this crisis will end,” he said.

In the meantime, he asked people to check up on loved ones who are isolated and to find different ways to celebrate the holiday.

Several other politicians also sent out Easter messages paying tribute to front-line workers and encouraging Canadians to respect pandemic-related safety measures over the holiday.