Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller echoed this call for continued vigilance Thursday as his department reported that the number of people with COVID-19 in First Nations communities has declined to the lowest point since Dec. 6, with 1,869 active cases reported as of Wednesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller echoed this call for continued vigilance Thursday as his department reported that the number of people with COVID-19 in First Nations communities has declined to the lowest point since Dec. 6, with 1,869 active cases reported as of Wednesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Feds call for continued vigilance as Canada sees 30% drop in COVID cases

Public health experts say the slowdown has led to a gradual decline in severe COVID-19 outcomes

Canada has seen nearly a 30 per cent drop in active COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, but the country’s chief public health officer says strict measures should remain in place as more contagious variants of the virus threaten to derail this downward trend.

In a daily update Thursday, Dr. Theresa Tam said there are 48,221 active COVID-19 cases in Canada, down from more than 68,400 cases two weeks ago.

Tam said the daily federal tally has also been trending downwards, with an average of 4,061 new infections reported per day over the past week.

She said this slowdown has led to a gradual decline in severe COVID-19 outcomes. Over the past seven days, an average of 3,711 patients were treated in hospitals each day, including 792 in intensive care.

Even with this decline, Tam said the current caseload continues to burden local health-care resources, particularly in regions with high infection rates.

“The risk remains that trends could reverse quickly,” Tam said in a statement, noting that the spread of the virus is accelerating in some parts of the country and outbreaks continue to occur in high-risk communities.

“These factors underscore the importance of sustaining public health measures and individual practices and not easing restrictions too fast or too soon.

“This is particularly important in light of the emergence of new virus variants of concern that could rapidly accelerate transmission of COVID-19 in Canada.”

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller echoed this call for continued vigilance Thursday as his department reported that the number of people with COVID-19 in First Nations communities has declined to the lowest point since Dec. 6, with 1,869 active cases reported as of Wednesday.

Miller said more than 64,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to First Nations on reserve, Inuit and in the territories as of Feb. 3. But as authorities wait to see how Canada-wide delays in vaccine shipments will impact the rollout, Miller warned this isn’t the time to let down our guards.

Moderna was to deliver 230,000 doses to Canada this week, but 180,000 arrived Thursday morning instead.

A spokeswoman for the company says it will still deliver two million doses total by the end of March. The company has delivered about half a million thus far, leaving 1.5 million for the only two shipments planned after this week before that deadline.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander managing logistics of vaccine deliveries for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said Canada doesn’t expect to get the 249,600 doses it was initially allocated for the Feb. 22 shipment either.

As federal authorities urge restraint, Manitoba is considering loosening restrictions to allow restaurants, lounges, gyms and churches to reopen at a reduced capacity.

Current measures expire next week and the province is seeking public feedback about changes moving forward.

Non-essential businesses were forced to close in November as COVID-19 infections and deaths surged.

Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said while numbers have significantly dropped, any steps to reopen must be taken cautiously.

Meanwhile, Ontario is considering cancelling March break as it moves to reopen schools that remain shuttered in southern parts of the province.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said he’s waiting on the opinion of the province’s chief medical officer of health before making a final call, stressing the importance of preventing travel as COVID-19 variants run rampant abroad.

Public Health Ontario released data Thursday indicating that mutations were found in 5.5 per cent of COVID-19 cases screened on a single day in January, most of them linked to a deadly outbreak at a nursing home in Simcoe-Muskoka.

Officials say more will be revealed about the prevalence of variants in the province as testing ramps up.

In Quebec, junior college and university students will be gradually welcomed back to campus starting next week, offering an alternative to the online education they’ve received since last March.

Students will be allowed to attend in-person classes at least once a week, and eventually, up to several times a month, Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann told reporters Thursday. Classrooms will be capped at 50 per cent capacity.

British Columbia also announced that it’s expanding its mask mandate in schools, requiring students in middle and secondary school and staff for kindergarten through Grade 12 to wear face coverings in all indoor areas.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Coronavirusfederal government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

School District 8 is considering moving some programs out of Central School to make more room. Photo: Tyler Harper
SD8 considers moving Wildflower classes, REACH program out of Central School

The district says the building is set to operate over capacity in the fall

A byelection will be held on March 27 to fill the council seat vacated by Brittny Anderson, who is now the MLA for Nelson-Creston. File photo
Meet the Nelson byelection candidates at online forum

Event sponsored by Nelson at its Best will take place online March 11

Chief Paul Burkart of the Nelson Police Department will be pushed into Kootenay Lake on March 6 to raise money for BC Special Olympics and celebrate his retirement. Photo: Submitted
Nelson police chief to celebrate retirement with freezing plunge

Event is a fundraiser for BC Special Olympics

A man wearing a mask against coronavirus walks past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
92 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths: Interior Health

The region is reporting 92 cases after the weekend

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The machines, called MySafe, are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Feds dole out $3.5-M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria both have a MySafe machine to help reduce overdoses

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

Most Read