- Canada-U.S. border closure to non-essential travellers to reach full year.
- Provincial, territorial vaccination plans begin to take shape.
- Canadian government extending access to pandemic benefits.
- COVID-19 variants could fuel surge of 20K daily cases if restrictions eased, modelling warns.
- 6 people given fines after large social gatherings in Halifax.
- Australians take to the streets to protest COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
- ANALYSIS: Yes, the pandemic will end — but COVID-19 isn’t going away any time soon.
- Have a question about the coronavirus pandemic? Send your question to COVID@cbc.ca
The border between Canada and the United States will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced late Friday that the closure has been extended to March 21 — precisely one year after the world’s longest undefended border was first shut down to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Since then, the closure has been extended month by month.
WATCH | Navigating Canada’s new restrictions to airline passengers:
With more contagious variants of the coronavirus spreading across the continent, Friday’s extension is unlikely to be the last.
Blair tweeted that the government will continue to base its decisions on the border “on the best public health advice to keep Canadians safe.”
Non-essential travel restrictions with the United States have been extended until March 21st, 2021. We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe from <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>.
The border has remained open for essential travel throughout the pandemic in a bid to avoid disrupting the flow of food, medical supplies and other crucial goods between the two countries.
The Public Health Agency of Canada released modelling Friday suggesting that while infections continue to decline nationally, the spread of virus mutations threatens to reverse that progress.
WATCH | Waiting for vaccination can be stressful for seniors:
Canada’s chief public health officer said there are currently fewer than 33,000 active cases in Canada, a 60 per cent drop compared to a month ago.
But with more contagious variants now detected in all provinces, Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada may not be able to avoid a rapid acceleration of daily cases, predicted to hit 20,000 by mid-March, without continued vigilance.
What’s happening in Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had reported 840,591 cases of COVID-19, with 32,241 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,576.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that the federal government will extend the period of time claimants can receive several pandemic income benefits.
Trudeau said he Canada recovery benefit (CRB), the Canada recovery sickness benefit (CRSB), the Canada recovery caregiving benefit (CRCB) and employment insurance (EI) will all see extensions in the number of weeks eligible recipients can receive them.
WATCH | How vaccines can keep up with coronavirus variants:
Heading into the weekend, the provinces were reporting 47,850 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,402,139 doses given.
There were 267,025 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,851,710 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 75.72 per cent of their available vaccine supply.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, officials reported 60 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday and nine new presumptive cases on Friday.
WATCH | COVID-19 testing ramps up as N.L. struggles to contain outbreak:
In Halifax, six people were fined $1,000 each following two social gatherings early Saturday. Police responded to complaints about two locations and determined that more than 10 people were gathered at each, exceeding provincial limits.
Ontario health officials reported 1,150 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with 47 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 689, with 269 COVID-19 patients in the province’s intensive care units.
WATCH | Stay-at-home orders extended in Toronto, Peel and North Bay Parry-Sound:
In Quebec, health officials reported 800 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 14 additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 723, with 127 of those patients in intensive care.
Manitoba health officials reported 92 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and two related deaths. Dr. Jazz Atwal, the deputy chief provincial public health officer, also said three more cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K. have been identified in Manitoba. All three are linked to international travel and have since recovered, Atwal said.
Saskatchewan reported 146 new cases of COVID-19 and three related deaths on Friday.
British Columbia announced 508 new COVID-19 cases and six related deaths on Friday. Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reka Gustafson also announced that 12,250 vaccine doses were administered over the last 24 hours — a record for the province.
“This is very good news because every individual protected through vaccination makes us all safer,” Gustafson said.
In Nunavut, the territorial government confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 Friday in Arviat. It’s the seventh day in a row new cases have been reported in the hamlet of 2,650 people, and it brings the total number of active cases in the territory to 29, all in Arviat.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday morning, more than 110.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 62.4 million of those cases listed as recovered on a tracking site run by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.4 million.
Russia on Saturday approved a third coronavirus vaccine for domestic use though large-scale clinical trials of the shot, labelled CoviVac and produced by the Chumakov Centre, have yet to begin.
Russia has already approved two COVID-19 vaccines, including the Sputnik V shot, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, following a similar approach of granting approval before seeing any late-stage trial results.
Sputnik V was approved in August and late-stage trials began in September. Mass vaccination was launched in December, after preliminary trial results showed the vaccine to be 91.4 per cent effective.
Since then, more than two million Russians have been vaccinated with at least the first dose of Sputnik V, the country’s health minister said on Feb. 10.
Rollout of a second vaccine to Russians, EpiVacCorona, developed by the Vector Institute in Novosibirsk, has begun, officials announced on Thursday.
In Australia, hundreds of people across Melbourne and Sydney took to the streets on Saturday to protest against the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, with some in Melbourne pepper sprayed by police.
In Australia, hotel quarantine and health-care workers will be the first cohort to be inoculated at 16 Pfizer vaccination hubs across the nation, alongside older Australians at aged care facilities, starting on Monday.
“I don’t care, you want the vaccine, take the vaccine but don’t force me to take it,” said one unidentified protester in Sydney.
Australia has recorded just under 29,000 cases and 909 deaths, while New Zealand has recorded just 26 deaths from 2,350 cases.