Canada says COVID-19 cases could almost double soon unless stricter measures taken

A woman reacts while being inoculated with Pfizer vaccine by a health worker from Humber River Hospital during a vaccination clinic for residents 18 years of age and older who live in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) "hot spots" at Downsview Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 21, 2021. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - New daily cases of COVID-19 in Canada could almost double to more than 15,000 from 8,600 by the end of April unless stricter measures are taken as new coronavirus variants spread, health officials warned on Friday.

The officials told a briefing that if people cut the number of personal contacts by 20%-30%, the number of cases could drop to around 4,500.

"Elevated case counts and severe illness trends remind us we are still in a right race between vaccines and variants and our actions matter," said Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam.

Major provinces such as Ontario are struggling to cope with a worsening third wave of COVID-19 and accuse Ottawa of not doing enough to clamp down on the spread of new more highly transmissible virus variants and also of bungling the procurement of vaccines.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie are due to receive their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.

Canada has so far recorded a total of 23,822 deaths and 1,155,834 cases of COVID-19.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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