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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada on Friday, March 5, 2021

The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern):

7:20 p.m.

B.C. is reporting 634 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 83,107 cases since the pandemic began in the province.

There have also been four new deaths, pushing the death toll from the virus to 1,380 in B.C.

Four new cases have been confirmed to be variants of concern, bringing the total to 250, of which 222 are the strain first found in the U.K. and 28 are the variant first detected in South Africa.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say this has been a week of progress, as the province gets ready to begin age-based immunizations and integrate the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine into its program.

Henry and Dix say the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be another tool in its program that will help accelerate protection of people in B.C.

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6:15 p.m.

Alberta is reporting 411 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths due to the virus.

The province says 22 cases are of the more contagious variants.

There are currently 243 people are in hospital with COVID-19, and 44 of them are in intensive care.

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4:40 p.m.

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro says word of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being approved is just more good news.

Shandro's response came on the one-year anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 being identified in his province.

He announced this week that all Albertans who want a vaccination will be able to do so by the end of June.

Shandro said there is still no schedule or any word on how many more doses will be available from J&J but assumes it could accelerate the vaccination process.

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4:25 p.m.

Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.

Health officials say the case involves a man in his 50s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection.

P.E.I. has 24 active reported cases of COVID-19.

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3:50 p.m.

Indigenous Services Canada says there were 1,300 active COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities as of Thursday and 21,836 cases since the pandemic began.

There have been 245 deaths in First Nations communities.

The department says more than 127,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in over 480 First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities as of Thursday.

It says about 40 per cent of people in those communities have received at least one dose.

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2:50 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting 207 new cases of COVID-19.

The province also says two more people have died from the illness.

There are 138 people in hospital with the virus, and 22 of them are in intensive care.

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1:50 p.m.

Ontario's updated vaccination plan will see shots administered based on factors including age, neighbourhood, existing health conditions and inability to work from home.

The province notes, however, that the plan doesn't factor in the newly approved Johnson & Johnson shot and additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Shots will go to seniors 75 and older starting in April with a goal of offering first shots to everyone 60 and older by the end of May.

Doses will also be offered starting in April to people with specific health conditions and some caregivers, including those in congregate settings.

Thirteen public health units, including Toronto, Windsor, York and Peel, will receive additional doses for hot-spot neighbourhoods between April and June.

Essential workers who can't work from home will be offered doses at the end of Phase 2, while adults 59 and younger are expected to receive the shot in July, though the timeline is subject to change.

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1:40 p.m.

Manitoba is reporting 53 additional COVID-19 cases and one death.

The province is also reporting one new confirmed case involving the variant first seen in South Africa. 

The percentage of people testing positive continues to drop, with the five-day average at three per cent.

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1 p.m.

New Brunswick is reporting four new cases of COVID-19, three of which are in the Miramichi region.

Health officials say the province has 33 active reported cases and three people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care.

New Brunswick is announcing it will ease public health restrictions across the province as of this Sunday because COVID-19 infections are on a steady trend downward.

The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says the decision to shift to the lower, yellow pandemic-alert level will be revisited if there is a spike in cases over the weekend.

As well, Russell is confirming that with the expected arrival of the first shipment of the two-dose Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine later this month, the province is pledging to provide one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every New Brunswicker before the end of June.

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12:50 p.m.

A stay-at-home order will lift next week in Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay Parry Sound.

The three Ontario regions were the last ones still under the order, while most of the province transitioned back to the government's colour-coded pandemic response framework last month.

Toronto and Peel will go into the strictest "grey lockdown" category of the framework, as recommended by public health officials in those regions.

The province says North Bay will be placed in the red zone, the second most restrictive level of pandemic measures.

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12:45 p.m.

There is one new case of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The figures released today bring the total number of active cases in the province to 113.

Health Minister John Haggie said he was feeling optimistic and said the province is on track for a "new summer" where residents can travel around the island.

The province is inviting people who are asymptomatic to seek testing to see if there are any pockets of COVID-19 still undetected in the province.

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12:05 p.m.

Pfizer has told Canada it will speed up delivery of the shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says 1.5 million additional doses are coming in March.

He says another one million doses will come ahead of schedule in both April and May.

Trudeau says that means there will be eight million doses of the Pfzier-BioNTech vaccine in Canada by the end of this month.

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11:55 a.m.

Nunavut is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today for a total of 17.

All the new cases are in Arviat, the only community in Nunavut with active cases of COVID-19.

Despite the rise in cases, chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says the outbreak in Arviat is contained.

Arviat has been under a strict lock down for 112 days, with all school and non-essential businesses closed and travel restricted.

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11:45 a.m.

Nunavut's health minister says the territory is on track to receive 38,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by mid-March, enough to vaccinate 75 per cent of the eligible population.

Lorne Kusugak says there will be at least one vaccination clinic in all of Nunavut's 25 communities by the end of March.

Kusugak also announced a mass vaccination clinic will launch in Iqaluit on March 15.

Starting March 10, residents ages 18 years and up can call Iqaluit Public health to book an appointment.

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11:10 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 798 new cases of COVID-19 today and 10 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by nine, to 617, and that 111 people were in intensive care, a drop of four.

The province says it administered more than 18,000 doses of vaccine, for at total of 510,479.

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10:40 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 1,250 new cases of COVID-19 in the province.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 337 of those new cases are in Toronto, 167 are in Peel Region, and 129 are in York Region.

The province also reports a single-day high of 35,886 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered since Thursday's update.

Ontario also reports 22 more deaths linked to the virus.

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10:35 a.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today.

Health officials say the new cases are in the health region that includes Halifax.

They say one case involves a close contact of a previously reported infection and the other is under investigation.

The province has 31 active reported cases of the disease.

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10:20 a.m.

The Manitoba government is now predicting it will be able to provide all eligible adults with a first dose of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of June. 

Officials say it might even be as early as mid-May, depending on the flow of supplies. 

The timeline has been moved up by months as more vaccines have been approved by the federal government.

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10 a.m.

Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson and Johnson, saying it has the evidence showing the vaccine is both safe and effective against the novel coronavirus that causes the disease.

It is the fourth vaccine to be approved in Canada and the first and only one Canada has purchased that requires just a single dose.

Canada has pre-purchased 10 million doses, with options to buy another 28 million.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press