OTTAWA, Feb. 26 (Xinhua)-- Canada has confirmed 1,010 COVID-19 variant cases, the Public Health Agency of Canada said Friday.
Out of the 1,010, 964 are B.1.1.7 variant cases, 44 are B.1.351 variant cases and two are P.1 variant cases.
Over the past week, an average of 97,120 tests were completed daily, of which 3.2 percent were positive for COVID-19 and an average of 2,960 new cases and 52 deaths were reported daily.
Although COVID-19 activity has been declining nationally for several weeks, "we are keeping a close eye on increased case counts over the past few days," said Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, in a statement on Friday.
"In particular, average daily case counts have increased, ranging from 8-14 percent higher, in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, as compared to last week," Tam said.
"In addition, the number of cases involving the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant of concern continues to increase, with the highest numbers to date being reported from these same three provinces," Tam added.
With daily case counts still elevated -- almost 75 percent higher than the peak of the first wave, and more contagious variants spreading -- the risk of rapid reacceleration remains. At the same time, new variants continue to emerge and those with an advantage, such as the ability to spread faster, can become predominant, she said.
"Given a much narrower margin of error with these variants, controlling the epidemic would much more difficult. This is why we must do our best to prevent spread now, and avoid more illness and loss that would follow," she added.
On Friday morning, Canada announced its approval of the use of the COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
The approval followed that of Pfizer and Moderna, both of which also require two doses.
As of Friday morning, over 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada.
Last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government would meet its end-of-September goal of vaccinating every Canadian who wants to be inoculated. Canada has a population of nearly 38 million.
As of Friday afternoon, Canada reported a cumulative total of 860,527 COVID-19 cases and 21,905 fatalities, according to CTV.