People in Peel region line up outside the University of Toronto Mississauga campus for the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, May 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin

Promising pandemic signs in Ontario, Quebec as urgency shifts to N.S., Alberta

Promising pandemic signs in Ontario, Quebec as urgency shifts to N.S., Alberta

Canada’s most populous provinces showed promising signs of containing their COVID-19 cases Thursday, as pandemic urgency shifted to surges in Alberta and Nova Scotia and efforts to vaccinate teens before the next school year.

Ontario reported 3,424 new cases and 26 more deaths linked to the virus. While that’s an increase from 2,941 reported Wednesday, the province’s seven-day average dropped to 3,369 from a record-high 4,348 on April 19.

The slight levelling off came as the province said it had administered a record 141,000 vaccines Wednesday, while over in Quebec, Health Minister Christian Dubé noted declines in case counts, hospitalizations and test positivity rates were pushing his province “in the right direction.”

Hospitalizations there dropped by eight, to 580, and 144 people were in intensive care, a decrease of eight.

Eyes remained on Nova Scotia, however, where an alarming upswing pushed daily counts to a pandemic high of 182 Thursday, following a 175-case tally a day before.

Alberta, meanwhile, reported 2,211 cases, as the province waited to see whether new containment measures announced early this week would make a difference.

Vaccine strategy and lockdown measures are playing a role in Ontario’s dropping daily average, infectious disease doctor Zain Chagla said in an interview.

And promising provincial data on vaccine effectiveness may give other jurisdictions hope things can turn around quickly, especially if inoculations are prioritized to those who need them most.

“The big thing now is vaccinating people in places where density of transmission is high,” Chagla said.

“So having that mentality of, we’re not only vaccinating to a particular age but scaling vaccines in populations that have been hit hard throughout this pandemic.”

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said “vaccines alone are not the silver bullet” to easing spread in Alberta, which has seen skyrocketing infection rates and a health-care system that’s “beginning to be overloaded.”

He said “strong public health measures” are also necessary.

Nova Scotia, which was mostly spared by COVID-19 earlier in the pandemic, added new restrictive measures last week, including a $2,000 fine for anyone caught leaving their counties for non-essential reasons.

Premier Iain Rankin said he was “frustrated” by his province’s rising case numbers.

“I don’t know what more I can say to Nova Scotians to make sure they take this issue seriously,” he said.

Quebec reported 907 new cases Thursday, along with seven more deaths attributed to the virus.

Nunavut reported 12 new infections, all in the 8,000-population capital of Iqaluit, with chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson saying house parties were to blame.

Data released by Public Health Ontario this week showed how effective Canada’s approved COVID-19 vaccines have been.

The agency found that from Dec. 14, 2020 — the beginning of the rollout — to April 17, 2,223 people tested positive for COVID-19 out of almost 3.5 million people vaccinated with at least one dose in Ontario.

Ontario says it expects 65 per cent of adults to have their first dose by the end of May, and eligibility could soon open to teens following Health Canada’s authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab in 12-to-15-year-olds on Wednesday.

Other provinces are making similar plans.

As of Thursday afternoon, Canada had given at least one dose to 13.7 million people, leaving just under 20 million people, over the age of 12, still without their first dose. Canada is currently expecting 10.8 million doses in May: 8.1 million Pfizer (including this week’s delivery), 2.1 million Moderna (including this week’s delivery) and 655,000 of Oxford-AstraZeneca from COVAX.

In June, the projections are for 13.1 million doses, with the expectation of another six to eight million doses from Moderna on top of that. The 13.1 million includes 12.1 million doses of Pfizer and one million AstraZeneca.

Dubé said he’s waiting for details on a formal plan but said Quebec youth between 12 and 17 can expect to be offered a vaccine by the end of June and to be fully vaccinated by the time they return to school in September.

Dr. Anna Banerji, a pediatrician and infectious disease expert with the University of Toronto, said vaccinating teens marks an important step in Canada’s rollout.

“Just having adults immunized is not enough to get to that herd immunity point,” Banerji said.

While kids are less likely to suffer severe disease from a COVID infection, Banerji said they have played a role in spreading the virus.

Canada achieved a new milestone in its vaccination program this week, surpassing the vaccination rate in the United States for the first time.

The Our World in Data project, which tracks vaccinations around the world, says the United States injected doses at a rate of 6.4 doses for every 1,000 people Wednesday. Canada injected 6.6 doses for every 1,000 people.

Canada had vaccinated more than 14.5 million people with at least one dose as of Thursday, which represents 41 per cent of the adult population.

Njoo said he believes there’s a “new energy” and “new optimism” around the country’s rollout.

“The overall goal has always been to vaccinate as many eligible Canadians as soon as possible,” he said. “So I think we’re on track and I think it bodes well for the summer.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

Dharmesh Goradia, and his daughter Vidhi and wife Chaitali, at the 2017 festival for the Godess Durga, held at the Golden Circle. (Photo contributed)
Draft curriculum misses the mark for central Alberta Hindu society

Meeting scheduled with Alberta Education officials

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Air Canada says it will recall more than 2,600 employees who were furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta’s tourism sector hurt by COVID-19 pandemic: ATB Financial

Between border closures, public health measures and hesitancy to travel, Alberta’s tourism… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Syringes are readied at a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, Friday, April 30, 2021 in Montreal. Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for Canada to donate some of its doses to other countries or international aid organizations and in at least three cases, for the doses to be resold.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada’s vaccine contracts allow for doses to be donated, in some cases resold

OTTAWA — Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for… Continue reading

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, responds to the report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Vancouver, on Monday June 3, 2019. As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Two sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

VANCOUVER — As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after… Continue reading

A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Four members of a family in London, Ont., are set to be buried today. The public has been invited to help celebrate the lives of Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Funeral to be held today for London family killed in attack

LONDON, Ont. — Four members of a Muslim family killed in what… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden listen to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver opening remarks at a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to discuss foreign policy with G7 leaders at second day of summit meeting

CARBIS BAY, CORNWALL, ENGLAND — Foreign policy is on the agenda for… Continue reading

Most Read