A senior receives their COVID-19 vaccination at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal. Health authorities stepped up COVID-19 vaccination efforts on Wednesday amid a stubbornly consistent spread of new infections and related deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

A senior receives their COVID-19 vaccination at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal. Health authorities stepped up COVID-19 vaccination efforts on Wednesday amid a stubbornly consistent spread of new infections and related deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

VIDEO: Canada steps up vaccine efforts but officials urge caution on lifting COVID rules

To date, Canada has seen almost 894,000 cases of COVID-19, more than 22,300 of those fatal

Health authorities stepped up COVID-19 vaccination efforts on the eve of the first anniversary of the global pandemic Wednesday amid a stubbornly consistent spread of new infections and related deaths.

As a result, the Public Health Agency of Canada urged caution in the lifting of anti-pandemic restrictions, saying easing should be slow and with special attention to emerging variants that are more contagious.

The vast majority of Canadians are still susceptible to COVID-19, Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief public health officer, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Although COVID-19 activity had been declining nationally from mid-January through mid-February, daily case counts have since levelled off,” Tam said.

“With the continued increase of cases and outbreaks associated with more contagious variants, we must all remain vigilant with public health measures and individual precautions to prevent a rapid shift in trajectory of the epidemic.”

To date, Canada has seen almost 894,000 cases of COVID-19, more than 22,300 of those fatal. Infection rates are now highest among those aged 20-39 years old, latest data show.

About two million Canadians — about five per cent of the population — have now received at least one vaccination dose as inoculation efforts ramp up.

The federal government has shipped more than 3.8 million doses to the provinces and territories — about one-third of those still unused — with Pfizer-BioNTech still to deliver 2.8 million doses and Moderna another 1.3 million before March 31

Officials said Canada is expected to have received one dose for each Canadian by the end of June.

“Barring any issues with production, we’re well on track to have those quantities delivered, and therefore provinces and territories in a position to immunize their people at a good cadence,” said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander overseeing federal vaccine distribution.

In the interim, the pandemic continued its spread, particularly in hard-hit Central Canada.

Ontario reported 1,316 new infections — most in Toronto and surrounding areas — and another 16 deaths. Quebec saw another 792 cases, with 10 more people dying from the disease.

Both provinces reported some progress on the vaccination front, with another 35,000 in Ontario inoculated and 18,000 more in Quebec.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said family doctors would start giving shots to people aged 60-64 on the weekend.

Manitoba said it would be launching pop-up vaccination sites next week in several places in an effort to reach communities far from existing “super sites” Appointments have to be booked through the provincial call centre.

The province also released a list of underlying health conditions, such as heart failure or end-stage kidney disease, that would make people with those issues a priority for inoculations.

Saskatchewan, too, said residents will be able to book vaccinations by phone or online starting on Thursday. Premier Scott Moe said the province was in the final stretch of the pandemic and the aim was to start vaccinating people aged 60 to 69 by early next month.

The province has also uncovered another 26 cases involving a variant of concern, a jump of 60 per cent from the previously reported tally.

The ongoing pandemic and measures to combat the spread have taken a toll on mental health, Tam said. The problem is especially acute for those without access to their regular support networks, she said.

To help mitigate pandemic-related stress and anxiety, the public health agency announced a new online portal — Wellness Together Canada. Anyone can access immediate, confidential supports for mental health or substance use at any time and at no cost.

Vaccination efforts are also ongoing in federal prisons, where infection rates have reached about 10 per cent — roughly five times the rate of the general population. About 600 offenders have received shots, Correctional Service of Canada reported.

To date, more than 1,400 inmates have contracted the virus and five have died.

READ MORE: 160,000 individuals, couples still waiting to receive their BC Recovery Benefit

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Edna Whiteley in 2016. “Her whole life has been happy and about helping others,” says her nephew Bob Steed. Photo: Submitted
Nelson’s ‘little firecracker’ Edna Whiteley turns 100

Whiteley is known as a welcoming ambassador for new arrivals in the city

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

A syringe is loaded with 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
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

An animal carrier full of bullet holes and containing a dead animal was found near Castlegar. Photo: Colleen Schwartz
Castlegar woman finds dead animal inside carrier riddled with bullet holes

The remains were discovered near Syringa Creek Provincial Park

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
Kootenay-Columbia MP pans federal budget

Conservative Rob Morrison says budget doesn’t have a plan for long-term spending priorities

These are the faces we were born with, we are sorry.
VIDEO: Wednesday Roundup

Bill and Tyler chat about the latest in Nelson

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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson leaves the assembly with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Paid sick leave for ‘hard-hit’ workers left out of provincial budget: BCGEU

‘For recovery to be equitable it requires supports for workers, not just business,’ says union president Laird Cronk

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Most Read