Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Dec. 16

Multiple provinces administered their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, but a top health official warned that the country's vaccination campaign doesn't spell the immediate end of the pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccinations begin in Man., N.S., P.E.I. and N.L.

Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald administers the COVID-19 vaccine to nurse Ellen Foley-Vick in St. John's on Wednesday. Foley-Vick is the first person in N.L. to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Sarah Smellie/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

Multiple provinces administered their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

Vaccines were administered in ManitobaNova ScotiaPrince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

"It's a little overwhelming this morning but feels good, and I was honoured to be asked to be the first person to get the vaccine this morning," Danielle Sheaves, a registered nurse in the designated COVID-19 unit at the Halifax Infirmary, said Wednesday,

She said she will "definitely feel safer" going into work now.

Wednesday's vaccination first comes after Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia offered their first doses on Tuesday, while Ontario and Quebec rolled out vaccines on Monday.

Registered nurse Debbie Lawless receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Charlottetown hospital on Wednesday. (Brian McInnis/The Canadian Press)

The Pfizer-BioNTech is the first — and so far only — COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also said Canada is to get up to 168,000 doses of Moderna's vaccine by the end of December, ahead of schedule.

It has not yet been approved by Health Canada, but Trudeau has said deliveries could begin within 48 hours of getting the green light.

As it stands, officials are currently conducting a "dry run," practising the rollout before the vaccines arrive.

WATCH | Federal, territorial health officials make plans to receive Moderna vaccine:

Federal and territorial health officials make plans to receive the Moderna vaccine

12 months ago
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin spoke to reporters during the pandemic briefing in Ottawa on Wednesday. 2:36

But Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, warned that the vaccination campaign doesn't spell the immediate end of the pandemic.

"We are not at the end of living with COVID-19. Rather, we are at the beginning of the end," he said.

"As welcome as news of a first vaccine for Canadians may be, it is crucial for Canadians to continue following the guidance of their local public health authorities and to keep up with individual public health practices."

The vaccines are being administered as the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada nears 500,000.

What's happening across Canada

As of 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 481,630, with 75,885 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 13,799.

British Columbia recorded 640 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 deaths on Wednesday.

The province also said it is asking for more provincial officers to actively enforce public health orders and issue violation tickets.

A hospital worker is seen wearing a face mask in Vancouver on Wednesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Alberta reported 1,270 new cases and 16 deaths on Wednesday.  Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, says 760 people have now died from COVID-19 in Alberta since the start of the pandemic — which she says is more than all influenza deaths in the province over the past 10 years.

The province has said it will send COVID-19 care teams to the 11 worst-hit communities — nine in Edmonton and two in Calgary. The teams will deliver care packages, provide information in multiple languages and arrange on-the-ground support and safe transportation to COVID-19 assessment facilities. 

Saskatchewan registered 169 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday.

WATCH | Sask. doctor welcomes inoculation campaign after his own vaccination:

Saskatchewan doctor welcomes campaign to end the coronavirus after his own vaccination

12 months ago
Dr. Jeffrey Betcher, a critical care physician in Regina, was among the first in Saskatchewan to be inoculated against COVID-19 and sees a door opening that will end the pandemic. 1:35

Manitoba announced 292 new cases and 15 more people have died.

Ontario reported 2,139 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 more deaths on Wednesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 4,035.

Of Wednesday's new cases, 850 are in Toronto — a single-day high for the city — prompting Mayor John Tory to say health officials are considering enhanced restrictions to curb "alarming" numbers ahead of the holidays. 

WATCH | Toronto mayor calls for broader restrictions:

'We've got to find a way to get people to stay home': Toronto mayor calls for broader restrictions

12 months ago
Toronto Mayor John Tory says he's in active communication with Ontario Premier Doug Ford about imposing stricter pandemic measures in the city. 1:38

Quebec reported 1,897 new cases and 43 additional deaths. Premier François Legault announced new restrictions on Tuesday, saying offices will be closed as of Thursday, with non-essential businesses closing for a period after Dec. 25.

New Brunswick saw eight new cases.

Nova Scotia will put in place new limits on household gatherings across the province over the Christmas period, announcing Wednesday restrictions similar to those already in place in the Halifax region and Hants County. The announcement comes as the province reported four new cases.

WATCH | Nova Scotia administers province's 1st COVID-19 vaccine:

Watch Nova Scotia's first COVID-19 vaccine be administered 

12 months ago
Halifax nurse Danielle Sheaves became the first Nova Scotian to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 16, 2020.   0:30

Newfoundland and Labrador recorded five additional cases. Wednesday is only the second time since April that the province has announced five new cases in a single day, the highest daily total since the first wave receded.

Nunavut reported no new infections, with active cases in the territory dipping to 41.

Dr. Kami Kandola, chief public health officer for the Northwest Territories, says the amount of COVID-19 detected in Yellowknife's wastewater is steadily falling, which she says is "good evidence" that there have been no further cases in the territory's capital.

What's happening around the world

As of Wednesday, more than 74 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 41.9 million cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a case-tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.6 million.

In the Americas, Brazillian President Jair Bolsonaro said the timing of a vaccine rollout in the country will depend on Brazil's health regulator, Anvisa, which has yet to approve the use of any coronavirus vaccine in the country. 

Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the coronavirus a few months ago, has faced sharp criticism for not presenting a plan sooner and has said he won't take the vaccine.

Gravediggers carry the coffin of someone who died from COVID-19 at a cemetery in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. (Pilar Olivares/Reuters)

In Europe, the Czech Republic on Wednesday launched a free voluntary testing program at hundreds of sites across the country. 

The country has been facing a rise in coronavirus infections in December. The government has decided to toughen restrictive measures that include the closure of bars, restaurants and hotels and the reimposition of an overnight curfew as of Friday.

A person is tested for COVID-19 in Prague on Wednesday. (Petr David Josek/The Associated Press)

In Asia, South Korea has reported a record 1,078 cases — of which more than 770 are in the Seoul metropolitan area — as health officials face growing pressure to enforce stricter physical distancing to slow the spread in the capital.

Critics say the country let its guard down by easing physical distancing in October out of concerns about sluggish economic growth rates, despite warnings of a viral surge during the winter, when people spend longer hours indoors.

A park is taped off as a social distancing measure in Seoul on Wednesday. (Lee Jin-man/The Associated Press)

In Africa, the continent has seen more than 2.4 million confirmed cases and more than 57,000 deaths.

South Africa leads the continent on both counts, with more than 873,000 infections and more than 23,000 fatalities related to the virus.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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