Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on March 10
More than 2 million people across Canada have now received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine
- More than 2 million Canadians have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
- Ontario launches AstraZeneca vaccine pilot project targeting people aged 60-64.
- Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and B.C. expand vaccine eligibility.
- N.L. ends regional lockdown, reports no new cases for 1st time in 5 weeks.
- Significantly higher death rate reported for coronavirus variant first detected in U.K.
- Biden's massive COVID-19 relief bill receives congressional approval.
- Have a question about the coronavirus pandemic? You can reach us at COVID@cbc.ca
Two million Canadians have now received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while about 580,000 people have received both doses. And the military commander leading Canada's vaccine effort says it is moving into a significant "ramp up" phase.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says about 3.8 million doses have been distributed to provinces and territories in the last 13 weeks, while 4.2 million will be distributed in the next three weeks.
"We're stepping into Phase 2 today," Fortin said.
Several provinces have announced expansions of vaccine eligibility.
The Ontario government is launching a pilot project that will see people aged 60 to 64 eligible to get vaccinated as soon as this weekend in pharmacies around the province.
WATCH | Ford outlines the pilot project:
As of this Friday, more than 325 pharmacies will be offering the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to eligible Ontarians, by appointment only, as part of the vaccine delivery pilot program in specific regions. Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province received 194,500 doses of the vaccine on Tuesday.
Select pharmacies in three health regions — Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington — began booking appointments on Wednesday. Primary-care physicians will also begin offering vaccines in some health regions, and will contact eligible patients.
"We are going to hit one million doses in the arms of the people of Ontario today," Retired general Rick Hillier, chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, told reporters from a vaccine distribution clinic in Toronto. He noted that the number will be surpassed this afternoon. "And in the next three weeks, we will do another million."
More details, including the list of participating pharmacies, can be found here.
Ontario has faced criticism over its changing vaccine administration plan and the late rollout of a provincewide online booking site for vaccine appointments, which is not expected to launch until next week.
Meantime, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia announced expansions of their ongoing vaccine rollouts today, with details below.
What's else is happening across Canada
As of 6:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had reported 896,744 cases of COVID-19, with 30,442 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,335.
WATCH | Vaccines protecting elderly despite limited outbreaks, experts say:
Ontario reported 1,316 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 new deaths on Wednesday. There were 678 people in hospital due to the illness, including 281 in ICU.
In Quebec, all residents who are at least 70 years old can now book an appointment for their COVID-19 shot.
Since the province started administering doses to the general population, the minimum age requirement for registration has varied from region to region.
Quebec reported 792 new cases and 10 new deaths on Wednesday. Across the province, 581 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 112 in intensive care.
WATCH | Veterinarian on joining the ranks of COVID vaccinators in Quebec:
Across the Prairies, Manitoba reported one additional COVID-19 death and 77 new cases Wednesday. The province released a list of underlying health conditions that will qualify people to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks. It includes people with heart failure, end-stage renal disease, people receiving home care four times a week, and pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes.
Saskatchewan reported 111 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and one additional death, as the province began taking online vaccination appointments for people 85 years of age and older.
The premier also defended the decision to ease public health restrictions as the number of known cases of COVID-19 variants rises in the province.
In Alberta, there were 399 new cases and one death reported Wednesday. Anyone born in 1957 can start booking their AstraZeneca vaccine through Alberta Health Service beginning at 8 a.m. local time today. Appointments also open for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people born in 1972.
It's the first step in a staggered distribution plan for Albertans between the ages of 50 and 64 who want this particular vaccine and do not have a severe chronic illness. The province says appointments will be rolled out in stages by birth year, as long as supplies last.
There were 531 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death reported in British Columbia Wednesday. Health Minister Adrian Dix said outbreaks at two long-term care homes, where more than 80 per cent of residents were vaccinated, serve as a reminder that it can take up to 21 days for immunity to the virus to develop.
"The fact is immunization doesn't eliminate all cases. When we talk about vaccines that are 92 per cent effective, 92 per cent is not 100 per cent," said Dix.
The province also announced late Wednesday that it will begin taking vaccine appointments for people aged 85 and older beginning tomorrow at noon, rather than Monday, as originally planned.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province is working as quickly as possible despite early growing pains.
"Once we get the clinics up and running ... get people booked in, get that sense of 'OK, we can make this work,' I'm really confident we'll be able to speed things up," Henry said.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Wednesday as health officials announced some public health restrictions will be lifted in the Avalon Peninsula.
The region has been in lockdown since early February, after an outbreak of the coronavirus variant B117 swept through the area.
Starting Friday, some non-essential businesses in the Avalon may open, such as hair salons and retail stores. Daycares can also operate at full capacity, but recreational facilities will stay dark.
Also in the Atlantic region, Nova Scotia reported one new COVID-19 case on Wednesday, while New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island reported no new cases.
In the North, restrictions in the community of Arviat, Nunavut were lifted on Wednesday. Businesses, workplaces and daycares can reopen, while schools can reopen part-time. The territory is reporting no new cases and one recovery to bring its total number of active cases down to 22, all of them in Arviat.
Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory's chief public health officer, said Tuesday the decision to lift restrictions was made because there is no evidence of COVID-19 circulating uncontrolled in the community.
In the Northwest Territories, people 18 and up are now eligible to be vaccinated.
Here's a look at what else is happening across the country:
- Language, cultural barriers could fuel vaccine hesitancy, Quebec community organizers warn
- COVID-19 outbreak declared at another B.C. care home where residents were vaccinated
- Made-in-Edmonton COVID-19 vaccine ready for clinical trials, company says
- Poor communications undermine trust in Ontario's vaccine plan: experts
- Halifax police want COVID-19 vaccine priority, but Public Health says no
- From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 5:45 p.m. ET
What's happening around the world
As of early evening ET on Wednesday, more than 117.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 66.7 million of those cases listed as recovered by Johns Hopkins University, which maintains a case-tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 2.6 million.
The United States Congress passed a landmark $1.9-trillion US COVID-19 relief bill Wednesday, a major triumph for President Joe Biden and the Democrats.
The House gave final congressional approval to the sweeping package by a near party line 220-211 vote precisely seven weeks after Biden entered the White House and four days after the Senate passed the bill without a single Republican vote. Republican lawmakers opposed the package, calling it bloated, crammed with liberal policies and heedless of signs the crises are easing.
Democrats rejected those complaints.
"I call upon my Republican colleagues to stop their March madness and show some compassion for their constituents who are less than wealthy," said No. 3 House Democratic Leader James Clyburn of South Carolina as the House debated the legislation.
Most noticeable to many Americans are provisions to provide up to $1,400 US direct payments this year to most adults and extend $300 per week emergency unemployment benefits into early September.
Elsewhere in the Americas, Brazil set a new one-day record for COVID-19 deaths, with 2,286 reported in the past 24 hours. The previous record had been set on Tuesday with 1,954. The figure put Brazil's total death toll at more than 270,000.
Mexico is turning to China to fill a vaccine shortfall with an order for 22 million doses, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said, a week after the U.S. ruled out sharing vaccines with Mexico in the short term.
Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the Mexican government has signed agreements for 12 million doses of the yet-unapproved Sinopharm vaccine and increased to a total of 20 million doses its contracts for the Coronavac dose made by China's Sinovac.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistan has started vaccinating people who are 60 years old or above to protect them from COVID-19 amid a steady increase in cases and fatalities from the disease.
Pakistan is currently using China's Sinopharm vaccine, which was donated to it by Beijing last month. Pakistan hopes to start receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine this month under the World Health Organization's COVAX Facility.
Japan has decided to stage this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday, citing officials with knowledge of the matter.
The Tokyo 2020 games organizing committee said in response that a decision would be made by the end of March. The Olympics, postponed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
In Africa, Mauritius has gone into lockdown and suspended flights in and out of the island for two weeks following the discovery of 15 more cases of COVID-19, the Mauritius state tourism agency said on Wednesday. All residents and visitors are being asked to stay at home or in their hotels until March 25.
The Indian Ocean island of 1.4 million people has had 641 confirmed coronavirus cases with 10 deaths.
Zimbabwe has authorized the emergency use of four COVID-19 vaccines — Sinopharm and Sinovac shots from China, Russia's Sputnik V and India's Covaxin — the minister of information said on Tuesday.
The country of 15 million has recorded 36,321 coronavirus cases and 1,489 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
In Europe, the European Commission says it has secured an agreement with Pfizer-BioNTech for an extra four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for its 27 nations to tackle the surge of cases in several coronavirus clusters.
The European Union mentioned Tyrol in Austria, Nice and Moselle in France, Bolzano in Italy, and some parts of Bavaria and Saxony in Germany where COVID-19 hospitalizations have been on the rise. The Commission said the new doses will be made available to all member states on a pro-rata basis this month.
Overall, the EU has six contracts for more than two billion doses of vaccines to inoculate its 450 million people.
Portugal is joining other European countries in extending the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to people age 65 and over, after initial uncertainty about its effectiveness in that age group.
In the United Kingdom, researchers are reporting that a highly infectious coronavirus variant that was first discovered in Britain late last year is between 30 per cent and 100 per cent more deadly than previous dominant variants.
The B117 variant was first detected in Britain in September 2020, and has since also been found in more than 100 other countries.
In the Middle East, Palestinian hospitals are overfull and intensive-care units operating at 100 per cent capacity with coronavirus patients in some areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Tuesday.
Palestinian cities have introduced full lockdowns over the last two weeks to control soaring COVID-19 infections, even as neighbouring Israel has begun to lift restrictions as it proceeds with one of the world's fastest vaccination campaigns.
- From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 11:30 a.m. ET
With files from Reuters, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press