The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada on Dec. 16, 2020

·7 min read

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

7:35 p.m.

Alberta's top doctor says an Edmonton arena is being set up as an alternate hospital with help from the Canadian Red Cross.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Alberta Health Services and the national charity are putting 100 patient beds in the Butterdome arena at the University of Alberta.

She says it will take a few weeks to set up the site, but there is no plan to staff it unless the beds are needed.

Another alternate site was previously set up at Calgary's Peter Lougheed Centre.

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6:50 p.m.

British Columbia's death toll due to COVID-19 is surging with another two dozen deaths.

There have now been 692 deaths since the pandemic began.

A joint statement from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix says 409 doses of the COVID vaccine were administered on Tuesday and the province expects to see weekly vaccine deliveries starting next week.

There were 640 new cases of COVID, bringing the provincial total to 44,103.

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5:40 p.m.

Alberta is reporting 1,270 new cases of COVID-19, one of its lowest daily infection counts in weeks.

The province also says another 16 people have died from the novel coronavirus.

There are 749 people in hospital, and 139 of them are in intensive care.

Alberta started vaccinating health-care workers yesterday.

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5:30 p.m.

Health Canada is warning Canadians against buying COVID-19 vaccines online or from other unauthorized sources.

The federal regulator says these vaccines are counterfeit and might pose serious risks to one’s health, on top of being ineffective at protecting against COVID-19.

Health Canada says the only way to be immunized against COVID-19 safely is through clinics either organized or endorsed by a local public health authority, alongside other levels of government.

It says Interpol has issued a global alert to all of its 194 member countries to warn of the issue.

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3:20 p.m.

Nunavut says it has no new cases of COVID-19 to report today.

There are still 41 active cases in Arviat, the only community that currently has infections.

The territory announced its first case of COVID-19 in early November.

So far, 217 people have recovered from the illness.

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3 p.m.

Toronto Mayor John Tory says that he has been in discussion with neighbouring regions for a stricter lockdown.

Toronto and neighbouring Peel and York regions are already in Ontario's highest level of restrictions.

Tory says that people are not staying home like they did in the spring and that one response would be to close all but the most essential businesses so there is nowhere to go.

Toronto reported 850 new cases of COVID-19 today and 19 more deaths linked to the virus.

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2:40 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting 169 new COVID-19 cases.

There are 124 people in hospital, with 30 people in intensive care.

Health officials report the province’s weekly average of new daily cases is 243.

It’s the first time in weeks that figure has dropped below 250, which Premier Scott Moe says is too high.

He says comments made last week by Health Minister Paul Merriman, where he referenced an opinion poll when asked how the government measures its COVID-19 success, wasn’t appropriate.

Moe says he doesn’t know if there’s a way to measure success when it comes to tackling a new virus.

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2:20 p.m.

After the province’s first vaccines against COVID-19 were administered, public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported five new cases of the virus.

Officials say all five infections are travel-related.

Two cases affect residents of the province who returned home from work in Alberta, and three affect non-residents who came to the province from Asia.

Public health says all five are self-isolating and contact tracing is underway.

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2:15 p.m.

Manitoba announced 15 more deaths and 292 cases as the province's first vaccines were administered today.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, says 900 health-care workers will receive doses this week.

He says it's an important first step, but the risk in the province remains significant.

High daily infections for months put pressure on the health-care system and led to restrictions in November.

There are 328 people in hospital due to COVID-19, with 46 people in intensive care.

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1 p.m.

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

The eight cases are self-isolating and include one person in the Moncton region, five in the Fredericton region and two in the Edmundston area.

The province has 51 active cases and three people are in hospital, including two in intensive care.

New Brunswick has had 567 cases and eight deaths since the pandemic began.

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12 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today and now has 55 active cases.

All of the new cases are in the Halifax area.

Health officials say three of the cases are close contacts of previously reported cases while the other case is under investigation.

No one is currently in hospital.

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11:40 a.m.

Public health officials in Prince Edward Island have begun to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Front-line workers Heather Arsenault, Debbie Lawless and Dr. Chris Lantz, who all work at long-term care homes, were among the first people to receive the vaccine on the Island.

The vaccine is being administered at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.

The province received 1,950 doses of the vaccine in its first shipment.

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11:35 a.m.

A public health nurse in St. John’s is the first person in Newfoundland and Labrador to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ellen Foley-Vick said she felt like she got an early Christmas present as the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, put a Band-Aid on her arm after administering the shot.

Premier Andrew Furey told a room full of masked and socially-distanced onlookers at Memorial University’s medical school that the province’s first vaccination marked a generational moment.

Newfoundland and Labrador received its 1,950 first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine yesterday and health officials expect another delivery next week.

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11:20 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 1,897 new COVID-19 infections and 43 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.

Health officials said today hospitalizations increased by 16, to 975, and 128 people were in intensive care, a rise of three.

The province says 1,315 doses of vaccine were distributed yesterday, bringing the total number of people who have received the first dose of vaccine in the province to 1,613.

Quebec has reported a total of 168,173 COVID-19 infections and 7,613 deaths linked to the virus.

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11:15 a.m.

The first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Manitoba was a doctor who says he’s grateful to keep his patients in the intensive care unit safe.

Dr. Brian Penner, who works at Health Sciences Centre, says he feels extremely lucky to be able to get the Pfizer vaccine at around 8:30 a.m. at the University of Manitoba’s Bannatyne campus.

Health officials say Manitoba will receive enough of the vaccine to immunize about 900 health-care workers.

Premier Brian Pallister said yesterday that the initial vaccinations were a small but critical first step.

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10:55 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 2,139 new cases of COVID-19 today, and 43 new deaths due to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 780 cases were in Toronto, 528 in Peel Region, 148 in York Region, 143 in Durham, and 111 in Windsor-Essex.

The province says it has conducted over 49-thousand tests since the last daily report.

In total, 932 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 256 in intensive care.

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10:20 a.m.

Frontline health workers in Halifax are the first people in Nova Scotia to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

A clinic is underway on the campus of Dalhousie University where Danielle Sheaves, a registered nurse, was the first recipient of a shot.

Among the first to receive the vaccine this month will be workers at COVID-19 hospital units, emergency departments, critical care units as well as birth and early labour units at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

Long-term care staff who are directly involved in patient care in the Halifax area will also receive the vaccine this month.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press