The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for March 23, 2021

·8 min read

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

8:45 p.m.

Alberta reported 465 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths.

The province identified 197 new variant cases, bringing the province's total to 1,908.

There were 290 people in hospital, including 53 in intensive care.

Altogether there are 6,231 active cases in Alberta.

The province says so far 497,280 vaccine doses have been administered.

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7:30 p.m.

B.C. is reporting 682 new cases of COVID-19 and 144 of those involve variants of concern.

A joint statement from Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says almost 560,000 doses of the vaccines have been administered and bookings are now open for people 77 years and older.

There's been one more death for a total of 1,438 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The province says letters are going out now to about 200,000 clinically vulnerable people with cancers and other illnesses telling them they can start booking a vaccine appointment on Monday.

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6 p.m.

British Columbia health officials are prioritizing medically vulnerable people for COVID-19 vaccine.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says in a news release that people with conditions such as cancer, transplant recipients and those with severe respiratory conditions will be able to register for a shot starting next Monday.

Dix says the province has made progress on its age-based program and that allows the expansion to those who are at increased risk from COVID-19.

The government says those people identified as vulnerable will get a letter in the mail telling them how to book an appointment.

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5 p.m.

Regina is heading back to some of the toughest public-health restrictions seen during the pandemic because of a concerning spread of COVID-19 variants.

Effective immediately, a ban on household guests lifted two weeks ago is back on for households in the city.

Starting Sunday, restaurants and bars in Regina will only be allowed to offer takeout or delivery.

Indoor event venues like movie theatres, museums and community halls are not allowed to have customers starting that day.

The province says these rules will be in effect until at least April 5.

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4:10 p.m.

Saskatchewan health officials are reporting 151 new cases of COVID-19.

The province says 91 of them are from the Regina area.

The capital city is home to most of Saskatchewan's cases of more infectious COVID-19 variants and is driving the province's spread.

The Ministry of Health says 763 of the 891 variant cases identified are from the Regina area.

It has confirmed 352 cases are from the mutation first detected in the United Kingdom, known as B.1.1.7.

There are 152 people in hospital, with 26 patients receiving intensive care.

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2:55 p.m.

After a prolonged outbreak in one community, there are now no active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.

Premier Joe Savikataaq says Nunavut's case count dropped to zero on Saturday, March 20.

There have been 383 cases in the territory since the start of the pandemic.

Four Nunavut residents have also died from COVID-19, three of them outside the territory.

To date, 12,142 Nunavut residents have received one dose of the Moderna vaccine, while 6,577 have had two jabs.

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2:10 p.m.

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

Health officials say three cases are in the Moncton region and four cases are in the Edmundston area.

Officials say the case that was identified at Moncton High School on Sunday is presumed to involve the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant.

New Brunswick has 56 active reported cases and one patient in hospital with the disease.

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1:30 p.m.

The Manitoba government is increasing the number of people allowed to gather outdoors to 25 from 10.

It's one of a small number of COVID-19 restrictions being eased starting Friday.

The limit on people allowed to attend weddings and funerals will also rise to 25 people from 10.

The 50 per cent capacity rule for retail outlets will change to a maximum of 500 people from 250.

Manitoba is reporting one COVID-19 death and 98 new cases.

However, five cases have been removed due to data correction, for a net increase of 93.

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1:30 p.m.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is asking residents in two regions to reduce their contacts after a recent rise in cases.

Legault says residents of Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean and Outaouais need to be careful if they want their regions to remain orange zones.

The premier says the province is stable but the next few weeks will be crucial in the fight against a third wave of COVID-19 driven by a rise in variants.

He’s urging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, adding that he will be getting his own shot Friday in Montreal.

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1 p.m.

Canada’s top doctor says a rise in new strains of COVID-19 in Canada, including the B.1.1.7 variant, is leading to higher average hospitalization rates and more severe outcome trends among younger people across the country.

Dr. Theresa Tam says stronger evidence coming from the United Kingdom, where the B.1.1.7 variant originated, shows this new strain can cause more severe illness in the elderly and in younger age groups.

She says if these numbers increase in the younger population, hospitalizations and visits to intensive care units are likely to increase.

Over the past week, there has been a further 15 per cent increase in COVID-19 daily cases, with an average of over 3,600 new cases daily.

Tam continues to urge Canadians to follow public health guidelines, as the countrywide vaccination program continues to roll out.

Canada has seen a total of 938,000 cases to date, including more than 22,700 deaths.

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12:20 p.m.

The federal government is rolling out extra funding in key regions of Ontario to add more options for residents to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Ottawa will spend $23.7 million to operate self-isolation sites in Toronto, and the regions of Peel, York and Durham.

More sites are in the works for Thunder Bay, Windsor and other regions.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says the federal government recognizes many barriers exist in places of overcrowded housing and in areas where housing costs are unaffordable.

That’s why the government will fund an added 1,600 COVID-19 isolation rooms, bringing the total of rooms being paid for by Ottawa to 2,000.

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12 p.m.

Ontario family doctors say they want to be more involved in the province's COVID-19 vaccination effort.

The Ontario College of Family Physicians says a survey found 60 per cent of vaccine-hesitant respondents were more likely to get immunized if a family doctor endorsed and administered their shot.

Dr. Liz Muggah, president of the group, says it's in the public interest to have family doctors more involved in giving out the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines.

Some family physicians in six regions are offering Oxford-AstraZeneca shots to patients aged 60 and older as part of a pilot project.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says more vaccine supply will be sent to primary care physicians in the future, though she did not provide specifics.

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11:55 a.m.

The first of two expected shipments of Moderna vaccines this week is being delayed by 24 hours.

Canada is receiving 846,000 doses of the vaccine from Moderna this week, split between two shipments.

The first shipment was to arrive this morning in Canada, but is now set to arrive Wednesday, according to federal officials.

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11:15 a.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.

Health officials say the case involves a person in the eastern health region and is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.

Officials say more than 66,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, more than 20,000 of which have been booster shots.

The province has 21 active reported infections.

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11:10 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 656 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including one in the past 24 hours.

Health officials said today hospitalizations rose by six, to 519, and 113 people were in intensive care, a drop of one.

The province says it administered 26,040 does of vaccine Monday, for a total of 993, 102.

Quebec has reported a total of 303,707 COVID-19 infections and 10,618 deaths linked to the virus; it has 6,742 active reported infections.

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10:50 a.m.

Prince Edward Island is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says one case involves a female under the age of 19 who is a close contact of a previously reported infection.

She says the other case involves a male under 19 and may be related to regional travel.

There are now eight active reported cases on the Island.

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10:40 a.m.

Ontario reports 1,546 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 465 of those new cases are in Toronto, 329 are in Peel Region, and 161 are in York Region.

More than 50,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Monday's report.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press