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South African variant of COVID-19 found in Alberta



Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020.

JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

A new variant of COVID-19 that first surfaced in South Africa was found in Alberta on Friday, the same day two Atlantic provinces tightened their boundaries and Ontario warned tough new measures may be on the way if surging infection rates aren’t reined in.

Alberta’s chief medical health officer made the announcement about the new variant in a tweet late Friday afternoon. Dr. Denna Hinshaw said the person is believed to have contracted the illness while travelling and is in quarantine.

“There’s no evidence at this time that the virus has spread to others,” Hinshaw said.

“I know any new case is concerning, but we are actively monitoring for these variants and working to protect the public’s health.”

While a spokesman with Alberta Health could not confirm it, the case could be a first in Canada.

Federal officials said earlier in the day that the new variant had yet to be detected in the country.

A spokeswoman with the Public Health Agency of Canada said she could not immediately comment on the Alberta case, as the agency’s experts were not available.

The South African variant, 501. V2, is more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus and has rapidly become dominant in that country’s coastal areas. There have also been concerns among experts in the United Kingdom that vaccines may not be effective against it.

Fourteen cases of a more contagious COVD-19 variant that first surfaced in the U.K. have already been detected in Canada. Six of those were in Ontario, four were in Alberta, three were in British Columbia and one was in Quebec.

The news came as it was announced that, starting Saturday at 8 a.m., people entering Nova Scotia from New Brunswick will be required to isolate for two weeks.

“What we’re saying here is, ‘Do not go to New Brunswick, and New Brunswickers, do not come here, unless it is for essential purposes,’” said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.

New Brunswick announced it would prohibit all non-essential travel into the province.

“It’s that constant movement of people between cities, provinces, countries that has enabled COVID-19 to spread to every corner of the globe,” said chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell.

Nova Scotia reported two new cases, while New Brunswick had 18.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba government extended its COVID-19 restrictions, which were to expire Friday at midnight, for another two weeks to keep the demand on hospitals in check.

Since mid-November, restaurants and bars have been limited to takeout and delivery, and non-essential stores have shuttered except for curbside pickup. Public gatherings have been limited to five people and most social gatherings inside homes are forbidden.

The Prairie province reported 221 new COVID-19 cases Friday and nine additional deaths.

B.C. reported 617 new cases and 18 more deaths, bringing the total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the province to 988.

Ontario reported 4,249 new cases, still a record-breaking figure factoring in 450 earlier infections which were delayed in the tally. The province had 26 more deaths.

“If these basic measures continue to be ignored, the consequences will be more dire,” Premier Doug Ford warned. “The shutdown won’t end at the end of January. And we will have to look at more extreme measures.”

He did not provide further details on the nature or timing of any added restrictions.

Ford has warned in recent days that the province is going to run out of vaccine if it does not receive another shipment soon. Federal Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner said in a statement that the Liberal government has had months to take a leadership role.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed confidence that Canada will have enough vaccine by the fall for everyone who wishes to be inoculated.

Trudeau said he and Canada’s premiers discussed the vaccine rollout Thursday during a conference call.

“We agreed that it is vital that we work together as Team Canada to get vaccines delivered, distributed and administered as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Trudeau said more than 124,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to 68 sites across the country this week, and 208,000 more are to be delivered weekly for the rest of this month.

And, by the end of next week, more than 171,000 Moderna vaccine doses are expected to be delivered to provinces and territories.

In all, Trudeau said, Ottawa is on track to deliver about 1.3 million doses of both vaccines by the end of January, with quantities scaling up in February.

Those in charge of Canada’s vaccine portfolio and the delivery schedule are confident that vaccines will be offered to all Canadians by September, he said.

“That will be significant in terms of getting through this pandemic and making sure that next winter looks very different from this one.”

Source: – The Globe and Mail

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New COVID-19 cases in Ontario drop below 1000 mark for first time in a week – CTV Toronto



Ontario is reporting fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time in a week.

The 966 new infections represent a decrease from Monday’s report when 1,023 cases were logged. Before that, the province added 1,062 cases on Sunday and 1,185 cases on Saturday.

Ontario’s lab-confirmed COVID-19 case total is now 302,805, including 285,262 recoveries and 6,997 deaths.

The province says that 11 of those deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.

With 30,767 tests processed in the previous day, health officials say that Ontario’s COVID-19 positivity rate stands at 2.9 per cent.

The seven-day average for number of cases reported is 1,098, up slightly form the 1,050 reported a week ago today.

Right now, there are 10,546 active cases of COVID-19 across Ontario.

Where are the new COVID-19 cases?

Of the new COVID-19 infections reported in Ontario Tuesday, 253 are in Toronto, 223 are in Peel Region and 99 are in York Region, according to the Ministry of Health. 

York Region moved back into the province’s colour-coded framework last Monday and is currently operating in the red “control” level, which allows for the reopening of non-essential businesses with health restrictions in place.

Toronto and Peel Region, as well North Bay Parry Sound District, remain under a stay-at-home order until at least March 8.

Another 64 cases were found in Ottawa, which is operating in the orange “restrict” level of the same framework.

There are currently 677 patients in hospital with COVID-19, a number that has been climbing over the past three days.

Of those patients, 284 are being treated in intensive care and 189 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator. 

Additional cases of U.K. variant reported

Ontario health officials say that another seven cases of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, also known as the U.K. variant, have been confirmed in the last 24-hour period.

This brings the total number of documented B.1.1.7 infections in the province to 542.

No additional cases of B.1.351 (South African variant) or P.1 (Brazilian variant) were found, the province says, as case counts for those strains remain at 27 and 3, respectively.

Update on COVID-19 vaccinations

Since the province began vaccinating people against COVID-19 in December, 727,021 doses have been administered.

More than 22,000 of those shots were administered in the last day alone.

So far, 264,896 people have received their first and second doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and are considered fully vaccinated against the virus.


The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for March 2 –




  • B.C. has accelerated its vaccination plan to have every eligible adult receive a first does by July.
  • A total of 1,478 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths were announced on Monday.
  • A total of 1,363 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
  • There were 42 new cases of variants of concern identified in B.C. over the weekend.
  • There are now 236 people in hospital due to COVID-19 with 65 in intensive care.
  • There are currently 4,464 active cases of coronavirus in the province,
  • So far, 275,681 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. — around four per cent of the population — with 83,777 of those being second doses. 

Every eligible adult in British Columbia should be able to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by late July after the approval of a new vaccine and a decision to delay second doses.

Health officials announced the accelerated timeline Monday as the province moved into the second, seniors-focused phase.

Seniors 80 and older, Indigenous seniors 65 and older, hospital staff and medical specialists, vulnerable populations living and working in congregated settings, and staff providing in-home support to seniors will begin getting their shots this month.

The province’s vaccination plan is focused on inoculating high-risk people and most elderly populations by April, followed by younger age groups in the spring and summer. 

Also on Monday, the province announced it is immediately extending the time between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to four months, saying studies are showing strong protection from COVID-19 with one dose.

Rise in variants

Cases of coronavirus variants of concern continue to climb in B.C.

B.C. health officials confirmed they had identified 42 more variant cases of COVID-19 over the weekend. There have now been 158 variant cases of COVID-19 confirmed in B.C.

A total of 1,478 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths were announced on Monday.

The number of hospitalized patients is at 236 people, 65 of whom are in intensive care.

A total of 1,363 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 4,464 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 8,210 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure.

More than 74,776 people who tested positive have recovered.  

So far, 275,681 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. — around four per cent of the population — with 83,777 of those being second doses. 

Church petition

Three Fraser Valley churches were in court Monday seeking to overturn provincial health orders barring in-person religious gatherings. The hearing is expected to continue Tuesday.

The orders were put in place by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry last year as a way to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and were last extended on Feb. 10.

A lawyer for a group of British Columbia churches challenging COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services says the provincial health officer’s orders allow secular gatherings such as in-class education and food distribution for people in need, while discriminating against churches and their congregants’ right to freedom of religion.


What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 4 p.m. PT Monday Canada had reported 870,033 cases of COVID-19, with 30,430 cases considered active.

A total of 22,017 people have died.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Headache.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they’re mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or o​​​​​​ther extreme symptoms should call 911.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep at least two metres away from people outside your bubble. Keep your distance from people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government’s website.

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How to get your COVID-19 vaccination shot in B.C. – Times Colonist



The vaccines are coming. After a long wait, B.C. is gearing up for one of its largest mass immunization efforts in history.

On Monday, the province unveiled Phase 2 of its COVID-19 rollout plan and announced that seniors over 80 and Indigenous people over 65 will start receiving their vaccinations on March 15.

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Here’s what you need to know to get your jab.

How do I book an ­appointment?

You can make your own appointment, or have a friend or family member do it for you.

Booking information — including health authority contact details, complete call-in schedules, hours of operations and step-by-step instructions on how to call to book an appointment — will be available on March 8 at

The government has promised that seniors would also be able to book their appointment through their health authority call centre. The Island Health call centre can be reached at 1-833-348-4787. It will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

People should only call in when they are eligible. Anyone who misses their age-based dates can call, book and be vaccinated at any time after they become eligible.

Seniors who are 90 and older and Indigenous people who are 65 and older will be able to book their vaccinations starting March 8, while seniors 85-89 can book starting March 15, and seniors 80-84 can book beginning March 22.

What information will I need to provide when I call?

The call centre will ask for your:

• Legal name

• Date of birth

• Postal code

• Personal health number (PHN), found on the back of B.C. driver’s licences or B.C. services cards.

• Contact information, including an email address or phone number to receive texts.

The health authority will never ask people for their social insurance number, driver’s license number or banking and credit card details.

When can I get vaccinated?

Phase 2 vaccinations of high-risk groups will continue until mid-April. This includes individuals living in shelters, health care workers, seniors and staff in independent living homes and long-term home support clients and staff.

Vaccinations for seniors 90 and older and Indigenous peoples 65 and older who are not living in independent living or seniors supportive housing will start on March 15.

Seniors 85-89 will start receiving vaccinations on March 22. Those 80-84 will follow a week later.

Vaccinations for the general population are expected to take place from April until September. The vaccines will be administered by age in five-year increments, starting with people ages 75 to 79.

The provincial government provided this estimate of when appointment slots would open for various age ranges:

Phase 3

• 75 to 79 — First shot April; second shot May

• 70-74 — First shot April; second shot May

• 65-69 — First shot May or June; second shot June or July

• 60-64 — First shot June; second shot July

• clinically vulnerable people 16-69 — First and second shots between April and June

Phase 4

• 40-59 — First shot July; second shot August

• 35-39 — First shot July; second shot August

• 30-34 — First shot July; second shot August

• 25-29 — First shot July or August; second shot August or September

• 18-24 — First shot August; second shot September

— With files from Scott Brown and Katie DeRosa

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