Young people line up for COVID-19 vaccines at Downsview Arena in Toronto on Monday, May 10, 2021. Ontario has just opened up vaccines for 18+ in high risk areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Young people line up for COVID-19 vaccines at Downsview Arena in Toronto on Monday, May 10, 2021. Ontario has just opened up vaccines for 18+ in high risk areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Vaccine rollouts expand, but COVID-19 caseloads still high in some provinces

News was better in Canada’s two biggest provinces, which both continued a recent trend toward stability

Canada’s chief public health officer is warning that the decline in COVID-19 case counts is slowing as several provinces battle surging waves of the virus.

While there were signs of hope that Ontario and Quebec were making progress on Monday, provinces to the east and west continued to struggle.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said that his province is in the midst of a third wave of COVID-19 despite a long fight to stave it off.

“We’re in a race between the variants and the vaccines, and more must be done to ensure the variants don’t win,” he said as he announced expanded financial assistance for businesses.

The province recently brought in a number of new public health restrictions, and on Sunday it announced that schools in the Winnipeg and Brandon areas will be moving online beginning Wednesday until at least May 30.

COVID-19 case numbers have also been high in Nova Scotia, which closed its provincial boundaries to non-essential travel on Monday to try to limit the spread. Nova Scotia’s travel rules are in force until at least the end of the month, and an application process for most travellers will be introduced by May 14.

While the total number of new infections across Canada has been declining across the country since mid-April, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said disease activity is “elevated or increasing” in many jurisdictions, threatening the overall progress.

“The latest national-level data show the decline in national case counts has slowed to a less than 2 per cent decrease over the past week, with an average of 7,749 cases being reported daily” for the week of April 30 to May 6, Tam said in a statement.

Health officials in Iqaluit, meanwhile, sounded the alarm about rising COVID-19 cases in the city’s shelters and correctional facilities after at least 18 positive tests in those settings. A seniors home in the city was also evacuated over the weekend after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

The news was better in Canada’s two biggest provinces, which both continued a recent trend toward stability.

Ontario’s hospitalizations and active cases continued a slow decline, as the province announced it is now receiving enough vaccine to allow health-care workers to begin booking their second shots in the coming days.

Like other provinces, Ontario had extended dosing intervals to four months, but officials said Monday some high-risk workers may now be able to get their second shots earlier than previously thought.

However, Ontario’s health minister suggested that the encouraging signs in the province may not be enough to lift a stay-at-home order currently in place until May 20. “(Medical experts) have advised us to stay the course for now,” Christine Elliott said, adding that officials “need to see a pretty significant drop in the numbers of cases.” The province reported 2,716 new COVID-19 cases and 19 more deaths Monday.

Quebec announced Monday that it has given second vaccine doses to all long-term care residents, as it reported just 662 new cases.

But while the province’s situation was stable overall, officials were still dealing with a flare-up in the Estrie region east of Montreal, which was moved from the orange to the red alert level on Monday. The move means restaurant dining rooms and gyms must close, among other restrictions.

New Brunswick, meanwhile, announced that the only part of the province that had been under the orange alert level of the province’s COVID-19 response plan would be moved to yellow at midnight, allowing some restrictions to ease.

British Columbia’s daily case counts dipped below 600 for the first time since March, for a three-day total of 1,759, although there were another 20 deaths over the same period.

Everyone 18 years and older in high-risk communities are allowed to book their vaccination appointment and those in their 40s elsewhere in B.C. can ask for a shot, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Canada is scheduled to receive two million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week, allowing provinces continue to ramp up their immunization efforts.

Alberta began accepting vaccination appointments for children as young as 12 on Monday, while several other provinces expanded eligibility to younger adult age groups.

Saskatchewan on Sunday announced that more than 70 per cent of residents over 40 had received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, surpassing the bar to trigger the first step of the province’s reopening plan. The milestone means that on May 30, restaurants and bars can open, places of worship can fill to 30 per cent capacity and group fitness classes can resume.

— With files from Shawn Jeffords, Emma Tranter and Kelly Geraldine Malone

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Coronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens between Port Alberni and Tofino

Multi-vehicle accident temporarily closed highway in both directions

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read