Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday

Canada's cumulative count for confirmed COVID-19  cases surpassed the 800,000 mark on Saturday.

Canada surpasses 800,000 COVID-19 cases since start of pandemic

People wear face masks in Montreal on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

Canada's cumulative count for confirmed COVID-19  cases since the start of the pandemic surpassed the 800,000 mark on Saturday, a day after the country's chief public health officer said the number of active cases is down significantly.

Dr. Theresa Tam said active cases of the respiratory infection across Canada are 30 per cent lower from two weeks ago, and deaths and hospitalizations are also trending downward.

But Tam noted that active cases are still double what they were at the peak of the pandemic's first wave last spring and that new variants are cause for concern.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday sought to quell angst over delays in vaccine delivery.

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Shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, one of two approved in Canada, have slowed as a plant in Belgium is retooled to eventually churn out more doses. Canada is getting about one-fifth of previously planned shipments this week and next.

This past week's shipment of the Moderna vaccine had 50,000 doses less than previously expected due to production delays in Switzerland. The company has signalled the next shipment in three weeks will also not be as big as initially planned.

But Trudeau said Canada is "very much on track" to receive a total of six million doses of vaccine by the end of March, as planned.

"I understand the ups and downs we are going through week to week are upsetting for some people," Trudeau said, while reiterating that all Canadians who want to receive a vaccine will be able to do so by September.

What's happening across Canada

As of 6 p.m. p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had reported 801,057 cases of COVID-19 — with 45,711 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,702.

British Columbia is extending its pandemic restrictions indefinitely, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Friday. The province's current orders were set to expire at midnight.

Recent days have seen a slow downward trend in the number of new daily cases in B.C., and the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 is now at its lowest level since Nov. 21.

In Alberta, the site of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in Canada is now facing a new spate of cases. 

Health officials have declared another outbreak at the Cargill meat plant near High River, confirming 11 cases linked to the facility as of Saturday. Of those, seven cases are active.

An outbreak last spring saw at least 950 staff at the facility — nearly half its workforce — test positive. Additionally, two workers and one worker's father died in connection with that outbreak.

Saskatchewan reported 264 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths on Saturday.

Manitoba registered 82 new COVID-19 cases and four new deaths. That's the lowest one-day increase in cases the province has seen since Oct. 19, when 80 new cases were reported.

Ontario continued its downward trend, logging 1,388 new COVID-19 cases and 45 additional death.

Meanwhile, a senior government source told The Canadian Press that Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce on Monday that the provincial government won't extend the state of emergency. The source said regions will transition back to the government's colour-coded restrictions system over the next three weeks.

A sign advising skaters of COVID-19 guidelines is seen at the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa on Saturday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Quebec reported 1,204 new cases and 27 more deaths on Saturday.

New Brunswick announced two additional deaths related to COVID-19 in the Edmundston region, bringing the province to 20 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The province also announced 12 new infections.

Nova Scotia saw no new cases. The province — which is preparing to loosen some restrictions on Monday — now has seven known active cases of the virus.

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Newfoundland and Labrador reported three new cases as public health officials called for people who worked at or visited a Mount Pearl restaurant to get tested.

Nunavut reported three new cases, all in Arviat.

The hard-hit community has seen more than 250 cases since the start of the pandemic and one death, the result of a local outbreak. All 15 active cases in the territory are in the community.

What's happening around the world

As of Saturday, more than 105.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 58.7 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.3 million.

In Europe, French health facilities received their first batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Saturday, with the first shots delivered at a Lyon hospital.

France, which now has three vaccines in use, said Saturday that it has administered a first dose to 1.86 million people, with 247,260 having received a second jab.

A health worker is administered a dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine at a hospital in Lyon, central France, on Saturday. (Olivier Chassignole/Pool via The Associated Press)

In Asia, China has given broader approval for the domestic-made Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, allowing more people to receive the vaccine beyond the high-risk and priority groups already allowed under an emergency clearance.

The Sinovac vaccine has already been sold to at least 10 other countries and is being administered to people in at least five other countries.

A worker wearing personal protective equipment and carrying disinfecting tools is seen in Wuhan, China, on Saturday. (Ng Han Guan/The Associated Press)

In the Americas, top U.S. health officials are urging Americans against gathering for the Super Bowl and creating potential superspreader events.

Despite an overall dip in new cases — a sign the infection spike from December holiday gatherings may be easing —health officials are concerned that Super Bowl parties with people outside their household could spread new cases and instead urged fans to gather virtually on online platforms such as Zoom.

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In Africa, South Africa has secured enough COVID-19 vaccines for at least 26 million people, the health minister said.

The country — which has seen more than 1.4 million cases and more than 45,000 deaths — plans to start inoculations soon, after receiving its first million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week.

With files from CBC News, The Associated Press and Reuters

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