The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada on December 23

·6 min read

The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (All times Eastern):

6:50 p.m.

British Columbia's top doctor says COVID-19 cases in the province are levelling off after peaking in mid-November.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says the vast majority of cases are being traced to known cases, clusters and outbreaks, though keeping up with contact tracing is still a challenge, particularly in the hard-hit Fraser Health region.

Henry says the reproductive number for the illness in B.C. has dipped below one, meaning on average, someone who's infected may not transmit COVID-19 to anyone.

But Henry warns residents must continue following public health rules, since hundreds of people are still testing positive every day.

B.C. recorded 518 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 19 more people have died, pushing the death toll in the province to 796.

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5:40 p.m.

Alberta is reporting 1,301 new COVID-19 infections.

There have also been 19 new deaths due to the virus.

There are 821 people in hospital, with 146 of those in intensive care.

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5:30 p.m.

Nunavut is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 and more lockdown measures.

The infections are in the communities of Arviat and Whale Cove.

In total, there are eight active cases in the territory.

Starting tomorrow, Whale Cove is to join Arviat in its shutdown of non-essential businesses.

Indoor gatherings will be limited to five people beyond those in each household.

Outdoor gatherings are also limited to five people, masks are mandatory in public places, and travel in and out of the community is restricted.

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5 p.m.

The Northwest Territories says it will receive 7,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of this month.

That is enough for 3,600 residents to receive the required two doses of the vaccine.

Elders and health-care workers will be prioritized for the vaccine.

Health Minister Julie Green says the territory will roll out its vaccine distribution plan in early 2021.

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3:15 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today, and now has 35 active cases.

Two cases are in the Halifax area -- one is a close contact of a previously reported case and the other case is under investigation.

One case is in the western health zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case, while the remaining case is in the eastern zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case.

No one is currently in hospital.

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3:15 p.m.

Saskatchewan says 4,900 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in the province next week.

Health Canada gave the green light to the Moderna vaccine earlier today.

Saskatchewan says its Moderna shots will go to care home residents, front-line health workers, those over 80 and residents in northern and remote communities who are over 50.

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2:35 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting 159 new infections of COVID-19.

The province says five more people have also died from the virus.

That brings the death toll in Saskatchewan to 130.

There are currently 125 people in hospital with COVID-19, and 21 of them are in intensive care.

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2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a travel restriction on passengers from the United Kingdom is being extended by two weeks.

The original 72-hour ban imposed on Sunday was set to expire today.

Trudeau says the new ban will last until Jan. 6.

The U.K. is struggling with a new strain of COVID-19 that experts suggest is more contagious than other variants.

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1:35 p.m.

Manitoba is reporting 201 new cases of COVID-19.

The province also says there have been 15 new deaths.

There are 259 people in hospital with the virus, and 37 of those are in intensive care.

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1:15 p.m.

Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting five new cases of COVID-19.

There are two cases in the Fredericton region, one in Campbellton, one in Bathurst and one in Miramichi.

The number of active cases in the province is 46, with two people in hospital, including one in intensive care.

A vaccine clinic for front-line health-care workers began today in Moncton.

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12:40 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19.

Health officials say the case affects a woman in her 40s who returned to the province from work in British Columbia.

As a result of her infection, officials ask passengers from Air Canada Flight 696 departing Toronto on Dec. 15 and arriving in St. John’s on Dec. 16 to call 811 for a COVID-19 test.

The province has 23 active cases of the disease with one person in hospital.

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12:20 p.m.

Yukon's minister of health says now that Health Canada has approved Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, immunization clinics will begin in the territory in the first week of January.

Pauline Frost says approval is the "exciting news Yukoners have been waiting for."

She says delivery of 7,200 doses, expected by the end of this month, will be enough to allow 3,600 residents of the territory to receive the two doses needed to provide immunity against the virus.

Long-term care residents and staff will get the jab first and Frost says further shipments of vaccine will arrive next month, with 75 per cent of Yukon's eligible adult population expected to be vaccinated by early 2021.

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11:15 a.m.

Another day, another record number of COVID-19 infections in Quebec.

The province reported 2,247 new infections today — one day after it posted 2,183 new cases, which was a record at the time.

Health authorities also reported 74 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, 11 of which occurred in the past 24 hours.

Quebec says hospitalizations rose by 12, to 1,067, and 142 people were in intensive care, a rise of five.

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10:30 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 2,408 new cases of COVID-19 today.

The province says 41 more Ontarians have died from the virus.

There are currently 1,002 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario.

That number includes 275 people in intensive care and 186 on ventilators.

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10:15 a.m.

Health Canada says the COVID-19 vaccine from U.S. biotech firm Moderna is safe for use in Canada.

The vaccine is the second to be greenlit in Canada, following the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine on Dec. 9.

Moderna anticipates starting shipments to Canada within the next 48 hours.

Up to 168,000 doses are set to arrive by the end of December, and two million by the end of March.

Canada is to get 40 million doses of Moderna's vaccine in 2021, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, or about two-thirds of the Canadian adult population.

The vaccine is not yet recommended for use on children as tests on adolescents only began in December and tests on children younger than 12 won't begin until next year.

Canada's doses of the Moderna vaccine are being made in Europe.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press