COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out across Canada, but so do more public health restrictions

The latest:

Quebec’s premier is expected to announce new public health restrictions on Tuesday, a day after the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine given in Canada were rolled out in the two hardest-hit provinces in the country.

François Legault told Radio-Canada on Monday that “we’re going to have to tighten restrictions on businesses.”

“We will have to close them for a time,” he said. “There are too many contacts, and we have to reduce them.”

Ontario and Quebec both launched their COVID-19 vaccination efforts on Monday, while British Columbia is expected to begin its efforts Tuesday.

Gisèle Lévesque, an 89-year-old living in the Saint-Antoine care home, was the first Quebecer to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, Legault announced on Twitter. Quebec deputy premier Genevieve Guilbault later told reporters that Lévesque’s vaccination was the first in Canada.

Ontario’s first dose went to Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker in Toronto. 

Both of the hard-hit provinces have seen COVID-19 hospitalizations climb in recent weeks. As of Monday, Quebec had 890 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 122 in intensive care units. Ontario, meanwhile, had 857 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 244 in intensive care units.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said Monday that the first COVID-19 vaccines in that province would be given in two locations — Vancouver and the Fraser Health region. 

WATCH | ‘This is huge,’ says Dr. Bonnie Henry ahead of B.C.’s 1st vaccinations:

B.C.’s provincial health officer says her biggest fear is that people will stop putting in the effort to curb transmission knowing that a vaccine is on the way. 1:35

Officials have said health-care workers in long-term care homes and front-line workers “essential to the COVID-19 response” will be the first to be vaccinated in B.C.

“This is momentous news,” she said, adding that by next week officials expect to have vaccine available in every health authority across the province.

B.C. on Monday reported 2,146 new cases of COVID-19 over a three-day period, with 49 deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 359, with 87 people in intensive care. 

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Clinical allergist answers key questions about vaccine:

Dr. Zainab Abdurrahman, a clinical allergist, says only one ingredient in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine created a rare allergic reaction in just two patients. And the ingredient, polyethylene glycol, is already widely used.   7:29

As of 7:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 468,862, with 75,842 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 13,553.

Saskatchewan introduced new public health restrictions on Monday as it tries to slow the spread of COVID-19, including strict new rules around private indoor gatherings. As of Thursday, most people in the province will only be allowed to gather inside with members of their own household (with some exceptions, including for single people and co-parenting). 

“This needs to be a much quieter Christmas,” Premier Scott Moe said.

Manitoba has been under tight restrictions for some time now and COVID-19 rates there have been trending down. Health officials in that province reported nine additional deaths and 241 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin again urged people to follow the rules and celebrate virtually over the holidays.

“If we let our guards down — if we have a lot of gatherings, even on just one day — we’re set up for a lot of transmission and we’ll start seeing the results of that a week or two after the holidays.” 

In Alberta, heath officials reported 1,887 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, a new single day high. The province also reported 15 additional deaths and hospitalizations stood at 716, with 136 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.

Premier Jason Kenney said on Monday evening that the first 3,900 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech had arrived in the province.

“We hope to have our first Albertan to get the first dose of the vaccine within the next 24 hours,” Kenney said in the video while standing next to a cargo plane just after sunset at Calgary International Airport. 

“We’ve got ICU nurses queued up to be the first to receive this,” he said. “This is a game-changer.”

Across the North, Nunavut reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, all of them in Arviat. There was one new case reported in Yukon and no new cases reported in the Northwest Territories.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported five new cases of COVID-19, while New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador both reported one new case. There were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island.

What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:45 a.m. ET

As of early Tuesday morning, more than 72.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 41.3 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a Johns Hopkins University database that tracks cases of the novel coronavirus. The global death toll stood at more than 1.6 million.

In the Americas, twin efforts were underway in the U.S. Congress to reach a massive government spending deal that would avert a government shutdown, as Republicans and Democrats insisted they want to include a fresh round of aid.

Argentina’s infections tally touched 1.5 million on Monday, making it the ninth country in the world to reach the milestone, while Mexico reported 5,930 new cases and 345 additional fatalities.

In Africa, South Africa imposed further restrictions as it looks to slow a sharp rise in infections.

WATCH | Doctors worry COVID-19 could quickly overwhelm Uganda’s hospitals:

COVID-19 hasn’t had the devastating impact on Uganda that many expected, but doctors say it wouldn’t take much of a spike to overwhelm the country’s hospitals that have only 55 intensive care beds for 42 million people. 2:42

In Europe, London will move into England’s highest tier of restrictions, the government has said. A study showed infections in the city rose during the last weeks of a national lockdown even as its prevalence in England as a whole fell.

The Netherlands will go into a tough second lockdown, closing all schools and shops for at least five weeks. Meanwhile, Czech restaurants, hotels and indoor sports venues, which reopened only two weeks ago, must shut again from Friday in response to a new rise in infections.

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea has reported another 880 new cases of the coronavirus as it slipped deeper into its worst wave of the pandemic yet.

More than 10,000 infections have been reported in the last 15 days alone, mostly from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area where health workers are struggling to stem transmissions tied to various places, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, restaurants, churches and schools.

Municipal workers carry the coffin of an unclaimed body of a COVID-19 victim to a crematorium in Colombo, Sri Lanka, last week. (Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/Getty Images)

Authorities in Sri Lanka said on Tuesday that more than 3,000 COVID-19 cases have been detected in the country’s highly congested prisons, as infections also surge in the capital and its suburbs.

They said that 2,984 inmates and 103 guards have been confirmed to have the disease in seven prisons around the country. Sri Lankan prisons are highly congested, with more than 26,000 inmates crowded in facilities with a capacity of 10,000.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has started registering citizens and foreign residents for COVID-19 vaccination.

Israel said it was beginning a second-phase trial for its vaccine candidate which, if successful, could be ready for the general public by the end of next summer.

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