The latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada (all times eastern):
British Columbia is reporting 589 new cases of COVID-19, along with seven deaths.
But the province cautions the numbers are considered provisional due to delayed updates in its lab reporting system.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a statement that the federal government’s approval of the vaccines by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Verity-Serum Institute of India is encouraging news.
More than 250,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., with roughly 73,000 of those being second doses.
Alberta has recorded 356 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths.
There were 269 people in hospital with the virus, including 55 in intensive care.
The test positivity rate was 3.9 per cent.
Two doctors who co-chair the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association's pandemic committee are urging the Alberta government to hold off on easing restrictions on Monday.
They also think restrictions should be tightened on bars, restaurants and pubs, which they say are overcrowded and not following existing rules.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro says he still needs to see latest data, but so far there's been nothing that warrants alarm.
Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka will be in lockdown starting Monday based on COVID-19 trends.
Ontario announced the decision on Friday after local leaders in Thunder Bay called for help amid growing spread of the virus.
Public health restrictions will loosen in seven other Ontario public health units on Monday.
Data has shown COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations dropped after strict public health measures took effect in January, but numbers are starting to rise again.
Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says the case involves a woman in her 20s, adding that the infection does not appear to be directly linked to other cases announced this week.
She says health officials are still trying to determine the source of an outbreak of three cases in the Summerside area, about 60 kilometres west of Charlottetown.
Morrison says COVID-19 testing is being offered in the Summerside area for people between the ages of 14 and 21 on Saturday and for those between 22 and 29 on Sunday.
Saskatchewan health officials announced 153 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths Friday.
There were 155 people in hospital, with 16 in intensive care.
The province says 3,545 vaccine doses were administered Thursday for a total of 69,451.
New Brunswick is reporting one new travel-related case of COVID-19 today involving a person in their 20s in the Moncton region.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there are 41 active known cases in the province and that one person is in hospital with the disease, in intensive care.
She says if the number of new cases remains low, all areas of the province may be able to move from the “orange” to the lower, “yellow” pandemic-alert level on March 7.
Under the new rules, mask-wearing will still be required for indoor activities but not outdoor ones, and restrictions will be eased for entertainment centres, churches and sporting activities.
Health officials in Manitoba say one more person has died due to COVID-19 and there are 64 more cases.
The number of new infections has been steadily decreasing in Manitoba over recent weeks.
There are 191 people in hospital due to the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead for Manitoba's vaccination task force, says there’s no indication yet about how much of the newly approved AstraZeneca vaccine will come to the province.
But she says 250 clinics and pharmacies are ready to provide doses when it arrives.
Nunavut is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.
The new case is in Arviat, a community of about 2,800 and the only place in Nunavut with active cases.
Arviat, which continues to see an outbreak of the virus, has been in a strict lockdown for over 100 days.
All schools and non-essential businesses in the community are closed and travel is restricted.
There are 26 active cases in Nunavut, all in Arviat.
Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting four new cases of COVID-19.
Officials say they are also battling the province’s first outbreak at a hospital.
Though Eastern Health officials will not provide exact numbers, they say fewer than 10 people are affected by an outbreak at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital in St. John’s.
Public health says a wider outbreak in the St. John’s metro region is ongoing and there are now 11 people in hospital with the virus, including five in intensive care.
Canada’s chief public health officer says the daily COVID-19 case counts are nearly 75 per cent higher than they were at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic last spring.
Dr. Theresa Tam says the average daily case counts in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have increased between eight and 14 per cent over the previous week.
She says that as of Thursday evening, there have now been 858,217 COVID-19 cases in Canada, including 21,865 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic.
Tam warns that COVID-19 variants can still emerge and those that spread more quickly can become predominant.
Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 today.
Nine of the new cases have been identified in the health region that includes Halifax, and one is in the eastern region.
Of the new cases, five are close contacts of previously reported cases, three are under investigation and two are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.
Ontario's science advisers say prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations based on neighbourhood as well as age could prevent thousands of cases and reduce the number of deaths due to the pandemic.
The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table makes the findings in a new report released today.
The group says the pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on older adults and residents of disadvantaged and racialized urban neighbourhoods.
It says targeting those residents for vaccination first could minimize deaths, illness and hospitalizations across Ontario.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada has secured two million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine through a deal with Verity Pharmaceutical Canada Inc. and the Serum Institute of India.
She says 500,000 of those doses will be delivered in the coming weeks.
Another 1.5 million doses will arrive by mid-May.
This is on top of the 20 million doses already secured through an earlier deal with AstraZeneca.
Health Canada approved the vaccine for use in Canada earlier today.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the federal government to work to waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines to give poorer countries greater access to doses.
Singh joined with former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Stephen Lewis today to demand Ottawa support developing nations at an upcoming World Trade Organization meeting.
Those countries are asking for a patent waiver, which would allow them to produce generic versions of the vaccines.
Singh is also calling for the WTO to suspend its dispute resolution mechanism as it applies to poorer countries so that pharmaceutical companies cannot sue them over vaccine production.
(The Canadian Press)
Quebec is reporting 815 new COVID-19 infections and 11 more deaths attributed to the virus.
Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by 13, to 620, and 119 people were in intensive care, a drop of three.
Quebec has now vaccinated more than 400,500 people with a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine after administering 12,038 doses on Thursday.
Ontario's ministry of health says there are 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says that of those new cases 362 are in Toronto, 274 are in Peel Region and 104 are in York Region.
There were also 28 more deaths linked to the virus in Ontario since the last daily update.
Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, the third to be given the green light for national use.
Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was co-developed by researchers at the University of Oxford.
It will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX by the end of June.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021.
The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version, based on information provided by Dr. Theresa Tam, erroneously stated that daily COVID-19 case counts are nearly 75 times higher now than they were at the peak of the first wave. In fact, Tam later clarified they are 75 per cent higher than at the peak of the first wave.