The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada on Dec. 18, 2020

·6 min read

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

7:30 p.m.

Almost 2,600 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have been given so far in B.C.

A joint statement from the provincial health officer and health minister says their focus is to safely protect as many people as possible as efficiently as they can.

There were 624 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 45,400 cases since the pandemic began.

There have been 11 more deaths, for a total of 724 fatalities since March.

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6:40 p.m.

Alberta is reporting 1,413 new COVID-19 infections.

The province says there have also been 25 additional deaths due to the illness.

There are 759 people in hospital with the virus, and 141 of those are in intensive care.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw says there is some positive news.

There are 19,607 active cases -- the lowest number in the province in two weeks.

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2:30 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting another 245 cases of COVID-19.

Health officials say two more residents who were 70 and older have also died.

The province's pandemic death toll sits at 107.

There are 121 people in hospital, with 17 in intensive care.

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says that over the past week, caseloads appear to be plateauing.

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2 p.m.

Ontario is extending lockdowns in Toronto and Peel Region that are currently set to expire on Monday.

Premier Doug Ford says restrictions in those two hot spots will continue and his government will make an announcement about new measures on Monday afternoon.

He says that will come after the government holds an emergency meeting on COVID-19 over the weekend.

Ford made the comments on his way into a meeting with health officials and hospital leaders today regarding the province's surging infections.

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1:35 p.m.

Manitoba health officials are reporting 350 new COVID-19 cases and 10 additional deaths.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, the province's acting deputy chief public health officer, says hospitalization rates remain high.

He is urging people to avoid any non-essential travel over the holidays.

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1:25 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 today and now has 48 active cases.

All the new cases are in the Halifax area.

Health officials say five of the cases are close contacts of previously reported cases, while the other two are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

No one is currently in hospital.

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1:10 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new cases of COVID-19.

Health officials say four of those infections are travel-related and the source of the fifth infection is still under investigation.

Today’s new cases bring the province’s active caseload to 27, and officials say one person is in hospital.

There have been 372 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador since the onset of the pandemic.

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1 p.m.

Canada's chief public health officer says recent data suggesting opioid-related deaths are at an all-time high is a sobering reminder of how the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the overdose crisis.

Dr. Theresa Tam says there were more than 1,600 opioid-related deaths in Canada between April and June, the highest number recorded in a quarter since national surveillance began in 2016.

Tam says prior to the pandemic's onset, some parts of the country were seeing early signs that opioid-related deaths were on the decline, but the COVID-19 crisis seems to have reversed those gains.

She says Canada's COVID-19 caseload is also on the rise, with an average of more than 6,650 infections reported per day over the past week.

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12:30 p.m.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is calling on the Saskatchewan government to consult with First Nations before shutting down casinos.

Premier Scott Moe announced a new public health order to close casinos and bingo halls starting Saturday until at least mid-January.

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron says Indigenous communities benefit from the revenue made at casinos operated by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority

Cameron says the organization's seven casinos already have strict safety protocols in place and their closures could have a lasting impact on communities.

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11:50 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is investing nearly $9 million in research to develop treatments for COVID-19.

Trudeau says the National Research Council of Canada will administer the funds to two companies in Montreal and two in Vancouver.

He says Canada is set to receive 125,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech per week in January, for a total of 500,000 doses next month.

Trudeau says 168,000 doses of Moderna's vaccine candidate are scheduled to arrive by the end of the month, pending regulatory approval.

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11:20 a.m.

Public Health officials in New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 today.

There have been eight deaths and the number of active cases is 52.

Three patients are hospitalized of which two are in intensive care.

This weekend 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be administered in Miramichi to priority groups.

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11:15 a.m.

There are no new cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut today.

There are 34 active cases in the territory, all in Arviat.

To date, 225 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Nunavut.

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11:10 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 1,773 new COVID-19 cases and 36 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including five that occurred in the past 24 hours.

Health officials say hospitalizations rose by nine, to 1,011, and 141 people were in intensive care, a rise of seven.

The province says it inoculated another 896 people for a total of 3,305 since the campaign began on Monday.

Quebec has reported a total of 172,801 COVID-19 infections and 7,671 deaths linked to the virus.

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10:45 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 2,290 new cases of COVID-19 today, and 40 new deaths due to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 691 new cases in Toronto, 361 in Peel Region, 296 in York Region, 207 in Windsor-Essex, and 126 in Hamilton.

The province says it has conducted more than 68-thousand tests since the last daily report, with a backlog of more than 81-thousand tests being processed.

In total, 877 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 261 in intensive care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected version. The 11:50 a.m. item previously said the government is investing $9 billion in research to develop treatments for COVID-19. In fact, it is investing about $9 million.