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

Pictured here are Stettler-based band The Jazz Guys, who are launching this season’s Entertainment in the Park series at West Stettler Park on June 24th. photo submitted
Stettler’s The Jazz Guys to launch ‘Entertainment in the Park’ season June 23rd

This year’s festivities will consist of the following 10 free concerts

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

Stettler town hall
Town approves Canada Day fireworks show, using phase two health restrictions

The funding for the fireworks show has already been allocated

Castor Evangelical Missionary Church Pastor Brent Siemens, celebrating five years in Castor, reflects on the journey that brought him to the community. Kevin J. Sabo photo
Castor pastor celebrates five years of serving the community

Brent Siemens is the pastor of Castor’s Evangelical Missionary Church

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the two patients, a man and a woman likely acquired the virus in the hospital

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

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

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

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read