Trudeau urges Canadians to check up on loved ones, celebrate safely for Easter

The latest:

Canada’s chief public health officer is urging people to keep their guard up as COVID-19 disrupts Easter celebrations for a second year.

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.

Meanwhile, 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.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 1,003,994 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 58,402 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,062.

In British Columbia, three people police are describing as “key organizers” have been ticketed $2,300 each after a rally against COVID-19 restrictions in Nelson.

According to a press release from the Nelson Police Department, about 150 people participated in a “freedom rally” at the local city hall on Saturday afternoon. Between 75 and 80 people also took part in a march on Baker and Vernon streets.

Alberta reported an estimated 950 new COVID-19 cases, based on preliminary data.

In Saskatchewan, inmates at the Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre are worried about a repeat of a November 2020 outbreak after three positive cases were reported at the facility.

Meanwhile, the province recorded 221 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths. As of Sunday there were 194 people in hospital, including a record 44 in intensive care.

In Ontario, the provincial government says it has chosen Dr. Homer Tien, the CEO and president of Ornge Air Ambulance, to lead its COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force.

Tien, also a trauma surgeon, will be its “operational lead” as the province prepares to move into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, according to Stephen Warner, spokesperson for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.

Tien’s official title is chair of the task force and he replaces retired Gen. Rick Hillier in that role. Hillier stepped down when his contract expired on March 31 after declining a request to stay on.

WATCH | Modelling paints bleak picture of what lies ahead in Ontario’s 3rd wave:

The province’s Science Advisory Table has released its latest modelling on the spread of COVID-19, with a harrowing image of what lies ahead for the pandemic’s third wave in Ontario. Projections show that intensive care admissions will be high enough to threaten the health-care system’s ability to care for all patients, and that the spread of variants of concern is dangerously outpacing Ontario’s vaccination campaign. Jessica Ng has more details. 1:57

Quebec, which confirmed 1,154 new cases and nine more deaths on Sunday, says it is adding several cities in the Chaudiere-Appalaches region south of Quebec City to the list of municipalities on lockdown due to rising cases of COVID-19.

The government says in a news release that the curfew will be moved from 9:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the regional municipalities of Beauce-Sartigan, Bellechasse, Les Etchemins, Nouvelle-Beauce and Robert-Cliche.

Schools will close for in-person learning, while non-essential businesses and restaurant dining rooms will also be shuttered from tomorrow evening until at least April 12.

The provincial government imposed the same restrictions on three other cities last week, including Quebec City and Gatineau.

People wear face masks as they walk in a park in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

New Brunswick registered 11 new cases as the Edmundston Regional Hospital is preparing for the imminent transfer of patients after an influx of COVID-19 cases in intensive care. Officials say the spike in the hard-hit region is being driven by the  B117 variant.

Nova Scotia identified seven new cases, raising the province’s active caseload to 34.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 130.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.84 million.

In the Americas, Brazil’s Sao Paulo sped up efforts to empty old graves and  make room for a soaring number of COVID-19 deaths as the city hall registered record daily burials this week.

WATCH | Brazil’s cemeteries struggle to keep up with record COVID-19 casualties:

Brazil’s cemeteries struggle to keep up with record COVID-19 casualties, extend services to all hours and attempt to accommodate new caskets. 1:23

In Asia, Bangladesh authorities are imposing a one-week nationwide lockdown on Monday. Forhad Hossain, the country’s junior minister for public administration, says organizations providing emergency services will be available during the lockdown and industries will remain open.

In Europe, some 9,000 people are getting vaccinated at a huge stadium in Lyon during Easter weekend, and thousands more around France are spending the holiday lining up for injections elsewhere as the government tries to speed up vaccinations amid a new virus surge.

In Africa, authorities say Libya has received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines after 101,250 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine landed in the capital, Tripoli. The North African nation has seen a swell in confirmed COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

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