The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for Thursday, May 20, 2021

·11 min read

The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern):

6:25 p.m.

Quebec is reporting four more cases of a rare blood-clotting event in people who have taken the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Health officials say the province has recorded a total of eight cases of the condition, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia.

Officials say three of the newly affected people are in hospital but their lives are not in danger.

They say the fourth person is recovering at home.

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6:10 p.m.

Before the end of the month, Saskatchewan plans to expand visitation in long-term and personal care homes.

Beginning May 30, residents will be able to welcome an unlimited number of visitors - two at a time indoors, and four at a time outdoors.

This restriction will be loosened as Saskatchewan moves to Step 1 of its reopening road map.

In Step 2, which the government expects to take place around the third week of June, all long-term care and personal care home residents will be allowed to have four visitors at a time indoors and nine visitors outdoors.

For Step 3, which the government expects to take place in early July, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer is still developing further revisions to the family presence policy.

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6 p.m.

Alberta health officials are reporting 812 new cases of COVID-19 and four new deaths.

They say there are 665 people in hospital, with 177 in intensive care.

The positivity rate in the province is 9.3 per cent.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, says 51 per cent of Albertans 12 and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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6 p.m.

Manitoba is banning social gatherings between members of different households as it faces a record number of new COVID-19 cases.

Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says even in outdoor areas such as parks and golf courses, people must now only interact with members of their own household.

Roussin says the government has little choice because of rising case counts and a surge in demand for intensive care beds.

The province had already banned social visits inside private homes, and has other restrictions including a ban on indoor dining at restaurants.

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5:30 p.m.

B.C. health officials are encouraging more than 300,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 to register to receive their first doses of COVD-19 vaccine.

They say parents and trusted adults may register and book on behalf of young people, with booking invitations sent first to those who are older.

Young people accompanying an adult to the adult’s new vaccine appointment may also register on-site and don’t need to book in advance, and multiple young people from the same household may attend one appointment together.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has announced 357 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., the lowest daily case count since February.

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5 p.m.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is no longer confident it will receive another six to eight million doses of the Moderna vaccine next month.

More than 1.1 million doses of it arrived in Canada Thursday, and will be distributed to provinces by Saturday, said Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie, who is now leading the vaccine logistics effort for PHAC.

But there are no further confirmed shipments and neither PHAC nor the company will say if the six to eight million additional doses expected in June will actually materialize.

Moderna is supposed to deliver 44 million doses by the end of September.

As of this week, it has delivered about six million of those.

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4:10 p.m.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says advice on whether provinces can mix and match vaccine types should be ready in the first week of June.

Njoo says data coming from the United Kingdom will largely inform the initial advice, though a new Canadian study will provide additional data later on.

The advice will come from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Canada received another 655,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca last week, but only 534,000 are being distributed to provinces this week.

Normally almost all would be sent out to provinces, but Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie, who is now overseeing federal vaccine logistics, said 100,000 will be kept in storage after provinces put in their orders.

She would not disclose whether any provinces said they wanted none of those doses, or which provinces asked for a smaller share than the usual per capita division.

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3:45 p.m.

Canada is launching its own study to look at the safety and effectiveness of mixing two different kinds of COVID-19 vaccines.

Provinces are awaiting guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization on whether they can offer Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna as a second dose to people who got the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for their first dose.

Concerns about the potential link between AstraZeneca and vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia have led most provinces to pause that vaccine for use as a first dose, but the question still exists about whether people should be offered it a second time.

There are studies on mixing doses underway in the United Kingdom and Spain, but the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force is launching a Canadian version immediately.

They are looking for 1,300 volunteers, over the age of 18, in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Canadians who got AstraZeneca will begin coming due for the second shot next month, with the majority of the 2.1 million people in that group hitting the 12-week suggested interval in July.

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3:35 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting 146 new cases of COVID-19 today, and no new deaths due to the virus.

A hundred and forty-seven people have recovered, leaving the province with 1,785 active cases.

The Saskatoon zone has the highest number of active cases – 542 – of any region in the province.

The province also reported 138 people in hospital, 26 of whom are in intensive care.

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 case numbers is 169, marking an over 20 per cent drop from this time last week.

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3 p.m.

Ontario has introduced a three-step plan to lift public health restrictions based on vaccination rates and other health indicators.

Step one is set to take effect June 14 and will allow some non-essential retail with restrictions, outdoor gatherings of 10 people and limited outdoor dining.

The second and third stages will further expand outdoor gatherings and gradually allow more indoor activities with restrictions.

The province will reopen outdoor recreational facilities and allow outdoor gatherings of up to five people starting this Saturday.

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2:15 p.m.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé says youth between the ages of 12 and 17 can begin getting COVID-19 vaccines with their families at Montreal drive-thru sites as of Friday and make appointments at mass vaccine sites as of May 25.

A school vaccine program will begin the week of June 7 and will follow a "hybrid" model that could include sending mobile vaccine clinics to schools or transporting students to nearby vaccine centres.

Dubé says the province’s goal is to finish giving a first shot to everyone in the 12-to-17 age group by June 23 and a second dose by the time school returns at the end of August.

Children who are 12 and 13 years old will have to get parental permission, and those 14 and up can make the decision on their own.

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2:10 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting 65 new cases of COVID-19 today.

Health officials have identified 41 cases in the Halifax area, 15 in the province's eastern zone, seven in northern zone and two in the western region.

The province has 1,143 active cases of novel coronavirus with 87 people in hospital, including 20 in intensive care.

As of Wednesday, the province has administered 463,526 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 40,495 people having received their required second dose.

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1:50 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting four new cases and 72 active cases of COVID-19.

Health officials have traced all but one of those infections to travel or to previously known cases.

The source of the remaining infection remains under investigation.

According to online public health data, 50 per cent of people in the province age 12 and older have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

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1:50 p.m.

Manitoba is reporting a record 603 new COVID-19 cases, more than 40 above the previous high.

The province is also reporting three deaths.

The percentage of people testing positive, averaged over five days, stands at 13.8 per cent provincially and 15.3 per cent in Winnipeg.

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1:20 p.m.

New Brunswick is reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 today.

Health officials say there are two new cases in each of the Moncton, Fredericton and Bathurst regions, and one new case in the Miramichi area.

New Brunswick has 117 active reported cases of COVID-19 and six patients hospitalized with the disease in the province, including two in intensive care.

One New Brunswicker is hospitalized out of province in intensive care.

More than 50 per cent of New Brunswickers over the age of 12 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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12:15 p.m.

The Manitoba government is set to tighten its COVID-19 public health orders.

Premier Brian Pallister says the new measures will focus on gatherings and staying at home, and will be announced by the chief public health officer soon.

Manitoba already bans most social gatherings at private residences and has closed indoor dining at restaurants and food courts.

Pallister says case numbers spiked after previous long weekends and he doesn't want to see a repeat.

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11:20 a.m.

Health Canada says as of May 13, 740 fully vaccinated people, and 13,461 who had received their first dose, have contracted COVID-19.

The department says the statistics come from only nine provinces, but officials haven't yet identified which province did not submit data.

There are 587 people who contracted COVID-19 more than seven days after their second dose, and 4,896 who were infected 14 days or more after their first dose. It takes about 14 days after the first dose, and seven days after the second dose for the immunity it confers to take effect.

Health Canada says 443 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 14 days or more after they got their first dose, and 95 people in that group died of COVID-19.

As well, 32 were hospitalized at least a week after getting their second dose, and 13 people died.

As of May 13, about 16 million Canadians had at least one dose, and 12 million were at least 14 days out since getting that first dose. On that date, about 1.3 million people had received their second dose of vaccine, and 1.2 million were more than a week out from their second dose.

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11:15 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 662 new cases of COVID-19 today and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including one in the past 24 hours.

Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by six, to 460, while the number of people in intensive care also fell by six, to 107.

The province says it administered 89,551 doses of vaccine in the past 24 hours, for a total of 4,636,679; about 51.4 per cent of Quebecers have received at least one dose.

Health Minister Christian Dubé will announce the province's plan to vaccinate children between the ages of 12 and 17 later today.

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11:10 a.m.

Nova Scotia has expanded its COVID-19 vaccine availability to those 25 and older.

The move to include the 25 to 29 age group follows the opening of vaccine appointments to people 30 and older on Monday.

The province says there are about 61,400 people eligible in the new age group to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines.

Its vaccine rollout expands access in descending order of five-year age groups as supply becomes available.

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10:40 a.m.

Ontario reports 2,400 new cases of COVID-19 in the province and 27 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 607 new cases in Toronto, 528 in Peel Region, and 224 in Hamilton.

Ontario says it administered nearly 145,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since Wednesday's report, for a total of more than 7.5 million doses.

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10:30 a.m.

Nunavut is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 and 10 recoveries today.

There are now 55 active cases in the territory, 54 in Iqaluit and one in Kinngait.

Iqaluit remains under a strict lockdown, with all schools, non-essential workplaces and businesses closed.

One Iqaluit resident with COVID-19 was admitted to the intensive care unit at an Ottawa hospital.

In the territory of about 40,000 people, 16,859 adults have received one dose of the Moderna vaccine and 13,737 are fully vaccinated.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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