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

Marchers supporting Indian farmers rallied in Surrey last month, from Bear Creek Park to Holland Park along King George Boulevard. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey MP says mayor’s motion to support Indian farmers is his to make

“He has his own sovereignty, right,” Sukh Dhaliwal says

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions against new model; BCSS and its board in favour

Researchers say residents should leave sleeping bats alone while they exit hibernation. (Cathy Koot photo)
Spring ‘signal’ brings White Rock, Surrey bats out of hibernation

Community Bat Programs of BC says it’s best to leave sleeping bats alone

(Photo: Creative Outlet)
YOUR MONEY: Tax tips for a complicated tax season involving CERB and more

With April 30 tax deadline, ‘it is important to understand the tax implications (benefits) will have’

The Delta Police Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit: (from left) Const. Joel Thirsk, analyst Jody Johnson and Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police respond to rising number of hate crimes

Police have received 15 reports so far in 2021, compared to 12 in all of 2020

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Most Read