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A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a facility in Milton, Ont., on March 3, 2021.

Carlos Osorio/The Canadian Press

Some provinces are expanding their COVID-19 vaccine rollouts amid what Canada’s chief public health officer describes as a recent increase in the number of new cases across the country.

Dr. Theresa Tam says health officials are observing a rise in new infections after several weeks of levelling off.

Tam expressed concern over an increase in cases linked to more contagious virus variants, as well as a higher infection rate in Canadians age 20 to 39, who she described in a statement as more mobile and socially connected.

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Her statement adds urgency to the vaccine effort, which is ramping up in several provinces as more doses arrive.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the province’s COVID-19 vaccine booking system is ready to start taking appointments for those 80 and older as of Monday morning, following recent pilot projects allowing some pharmacies and family doctors to deliver vaccines to certain groups.

Quebec, which is already vaccinating people ages 70 and up across the province or 65 and up in Montreal, will expand its booking system as of Monday to add some 350 pharmacies to the list of places where people can get shots.

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