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

A rendering shows an “mini urban bazaar” for very small businesses proposed in Cumberland. Image, Cumberland staff report
Cumberland considers microbusiness hub downtown

Applicant will have to host online or outdoor meeting for public input

From left - Rev. Sulin Milne, rector of St Peter’s, Karen Cummins and Bill Henderson of Nature Comox Valley pose for a photo with the newly-planted Garry oak tree. Photo supplied
Young Garry oak planted at St. Peter’s church gardens as a sign of resiliency

By Tony Reynolds Special to The Record St Peter’s Anglican Church, Comox,… Continue reading

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

Co-ordinator/founder David Clarke, right, is pictured with members of Comox Valley Street Outreach during Monday’s rig dig. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley group aims to stop overdose deaths, reduce stigma

As the overdose crisis worsens throughout B.C., a local advocacy group is… Continue reading

London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings. Screenshot, London Drugs
Courtenay London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings

A number of locations in Western Canada selected to give vaccine

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

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 following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Some Saanich firefighters have expressed concerns about first responders in the Island Health Region not being prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as an outbreak at a fire station would make service delivery a challenge. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Some Island firefighters not prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine despite working on frontlines

Saanich members express frustration, department calls on Island Health to take action

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

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

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

Most Read