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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 6:15 p.m. B.C.’s top doctor says the decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence as well as real-world data. Dr.
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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern):

6:15 p.m.

B.C.’s top doctor says the decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence as well as real-world data.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says the data show protection from a single dose is upwards of 90 per cent and lasts for several months, and delaying second doses will maximize the benefit of vaccines for everyone while reducing mortality and severe illness for those most at risk.

She adds that the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means people could be vaccinated sooner than planned as the province launches its campaign to immunize the general population.

Henry explained the province’s decision to delay second doses while announcing 438 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as well as two more deaths, pushing the death toll in B.C. to 1,365.

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6:10 p.m.

Alberta is reporting 257 new infections of COVID-19, including 35 new variant cases of the virus.

The variant total in the province is now at 492.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical health officer, says 261 people are in hospital with COVID-19 and 54 of them are in intensive care.

She says there have also been two additional deaths linked to the virus.

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4:45 p.m.

Saskatchewan will follow the advice of a national committee that recommends the latest vaccine against COVID-19 be used in people 64 and younger.

The province's chief medical health officer says it will soon receive around 15,000 doses of the shot from Oxford-AstraZeneca.

Dr. Saqib Shahab says the province will select which age groups will be eligible to be inoculated.

He says Saskatchewan is also waiting on national advice about how long it could delay giving people a second dose.

Premier Scott Moe says waiting up to four months to give people their second shot could be a "game changer" for the province.

He says that could mean thousands more people getting vaccinated by June.

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3 p.m.

Health officials are reporting 134 new cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan and two more deaths.

The two residents who died were 80 and older.

The Ministry of Health says at least one of the approved vaccines has made its way into every long-term care facility in the province.

To date, around 80,000 shots have been given provincewide.

There are 154 people in hospital, with 20 people in intensive care.

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2:25 p.m.

New Brunswick is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today and one death attributed to the novel coronavirus.

Health officials say the province’s 28th COVID-19-related death involves a resident in their 80s at the Manoir Belle Vue long-term care home in Edmundston.

The four new cases are all in the Miramichi region and bring to 36 the number of active reported cases in the province. 

Three patients are hospitalized with the disease, all in intensive care.

Officials say a recent infection reported in the Miramichi region is a suspected case of the B.1.1.7 variant.

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1:55 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today and confirming seven more variant cases as a result of previous testing.

The new case is in the northern zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case and brings the total number of known active cases to 29.

The variant cases include two that are the B.1.1.7 or U.K. variant, and five that are the 501.V2 or South African variant.

The two cases with the U.K. variant are in western zone and Halifax area and are connected to a previously reported U.K. variant case, while the five South African variant cases are in the Halifax area, with one case related to travel and the other four being household contacts of the traveller.

This brings the total number of cases of the U.K. variant identified in Nova Scotia to eight and South African variant to six.

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1:45 p.m.

Manitoba is reporting two additional COVID-19 deaths and 64 new cases. 

However, eight cases from unspecified dates have been removed due to a data correction, for a net increase of 56.

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1:20 p.m.

The Manitoba government is offering another round of grants to businesses and charities that have been forced to scale back operations by COVID-19 public health orders. 

The third round, like previous ones, will provide up to $5,000 to help make up for lost revenue.

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1:20 p.m.

Quebec’s health minister says the government has reached a deal that will see 350 pharmacies in the Montreal administering COVID-19 vaccines by March 15.

Christian Dube says the vaccines will be available for people as young as 70 and that the locations of the pharmacies will be publicized in the coming days.

He is also warning Quebecers that the drop in daily cases across the province may be deceiving because cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation are rising.

He says Montreal may be in the “eye before the storm” regarding a possible surge in infections caused by the variant.

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1 p.m.

Ontario seniors won’t receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province plans to follow advice from a national panel of experts who recommend against giving the vaccine to people older than 64.

Elliott says the vaccine could be used in correctional facilities as it does not require the same cold storage as the other two vaccines in use.

She says the province will share an updated vaccination plan that factors in the new supply soon.

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1 p.m.

Three-hundred thousand of the 500,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arriving this week expire in just a few weeks' time.

Federal government officials note all COVID-19 vaccines do have expiry dates and it's not the time for hoarding doses anyway.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says all vaccines should be administered as soon as they arrive.

She says it is up to provinces to determine who is best placed to get which vaccines, but all are safe and effective.

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12:55 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting five new cases of COVID-19, including one infection involving a health-care worker at a rural hospital.

Four of the cases reported today are in the Eastern Health region, where authorities have been battling an outbreak in the St. John's area.

The fifth case involves a health-care worker at a hospital in St. Anthony, a town of about 2,200 on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula.

Public health says there are now 203 active cases of COVID-19 across the province, with nine people hospitalized because of the disease and five of those in intensive care.

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12:50 p.m.

The Manitoba government is loosening some of its COVID-19 restrictions as its case numbers continue to drop.

Starting Friday, people will be allowed to have another entire household visit in their home, and outdoor public gatherings can increase to 10 people from five.

Maximum capacity at stores and restaurants will increase to 50 per cent from 25, and indoor religious services can run at 25 per cent capacity, up from 10 per cent.

Licensed establishments can reopen their video lottery terminals.

Some facilities, such as casinos, bingo halls and concert venues, must stay closed.

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12:45 p.m.

The federal procurement minister says there's no reason to doubt delivery of 20 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine set to come from the United States.

Anita Anand says she's received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer that it does not see any problems with exporting those doses.

But she says a delivery schedule for those doses is up in the air.

The U.S. government has said it wants Americans all vaccinated first before it shares vaccine doses with other countries.

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12:30 p.m.

Canada's top public health officials say shifting knowledge of how the available COVID-19 vaccines work is behind the changing guidance on how they should be used.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says initial advice for provinces to stick with manufacturers' guidelines on vaccine use was based on that being the best information available at the time.

He says there is now real-world evidence those rules can be adapted.

A decision by B.C. health authorities to stretch the interval between doses to long as four months has drawn criticism for potentially going too far off existing guidelines.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is set to release updated guidance on how the various vaccines can be used, including the extent to which one dose is effective.

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12:15 p.m.

Canada's chief public health officer says what's been a daily decrease in new COVID-19 cases is now levelling off.

Dr. Theresa Tam says there is now a moderate increase in case counts at the national level.

Tam says there is an increase of new variants circulating in Canada, and no province has been spared.

But she says more ground is being gained on the vaccine front every day with the authorization of new vaccines that will all help to fight the novel coronavirus.

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12:10 p.m.

Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand says half a million doses of the latest COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use in Canada will arrive tomorrow.

She says the first shipment of the version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India is on the way.

Anand says that means Canada is on track to receive about 945,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in total this week.

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12:05 p.m.

The Quebec government has reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March.

A source close to the provincial government who was not authorized to speak publicly confirmed the agreement, which was first reported today by 98.5 FM.

About 50 pharmacies in the Montreal area will be the first to receive shipments of the Moderna vaccine before the program is extended to pharmacies across the province.

Health Minister Christian Dube is scheduled to release details of the plan at an afternoon news conference.

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11:50 a.m.

Nunavut is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.

The new case is in Arviat, the only place in Nunavut with active cases of COVID-19.

Arviat, a community of about 2,800 people, has been under strict lockdown since November, with all schools and non-essential businesses closed.

The community's hamlet council has also put a nightly curfew in place to help curb the spread, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

There are nine active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all in Arviat.

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11:45 a.m.

Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting four new cases of COVID-19.

The cases involve three men and one woman, all in their 20s, and they are self-isolating.

There are now 22 active cases on the Island.

Test results from the National Microbiology Laboratory have confirmed that two earlier COVID-19 cases involving two women in Charlottetown are linked to the variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

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11:15 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 588 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.

Health officials say hospitalizations rose for a third consecutive day, up by 16 today, for a total of 628.

The number of people in intensive care dropped by one, to 121.

The province says it administered 16,458 doses of vaccine Monday, the first day of Quebec’s mass vaccination campaign for the general public.

Quebec has reported a total of 288,941 COVID-19 infections and 10,407 deaths linked to the virus.

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10:30 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 966 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths from the virus.

The new data is based on 30,737 tests.

There are 284 hospitalized people in intensive care and 189 people on ventilators. 

The province says it administered 22,326 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the last daily report.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said in the 12:55 p.m. item that all five new cases in Newfoundland and Labrador were in the Eastern Health region. In fact, only four of them were, while the fifth was in the northern town of St. Anthony.