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Ontario COVID-19 numbers continue to drop, Quebec records no related deaths in 24 hours

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Movie theatres, swimming pools, arenas in Quebec start to re-open next week

There were 1,500 fewer active cases in Ontario Wednesday compared to day before

Health Canada says provinces can expect to receive shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least a day behind schedule

QUEBEC (NEWS 1130) – It’s a rare day in Quebec, where no new COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the span of 24 hours.

As virus numbers continue to decline in the province, movie theatres, swimming pools, and arenas will start to re-open next week to give families something to do over the March break.

Montreal and Quebec City, however, will stay at the highest pandemic-alert level, which includes a strict 8 p.m. curfew.

The COVID-19 numbers continue to drop in Ontario, where there were 1,500 fewer active cases Wednesday compared to the day before. Just a few weeks ago, Ontario reported nearly 4,000 new cases of the virus. On Wednesday, it was less than 900.

Related article: Experts fear complacency with COVID-19 cases in decline, variants on the rise

The medical officers of health for Toronto and Peel Region have made a request in a letter to Ontario’s chief medical officer to extend the regions’ lockdown. Dr. Eileen de Villa says it is better to stay on lockdown than to re-open, only to have to close again.

Ontario is set to lift the stay-home order for Peel, Toronto, York Region and North Bay next week as it moves the regions back into its pandemic restrictions framework.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials are reporting 44 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and another 21 presumptive positive cases. But the new cases Wednesday are better than the spike of about 100 per day just a week ago.

On the vaccine front, a “big lift” for Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts this week has been hammered by a big snowdrift south of the border. UPS temporarily closed its shipping services in Kentucky because of bad weather.

Heath Canada says provinces can expect to receive shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least a day behind schedule but the shipments should start arriving by Friday.

At 403,000 doses, it will be the single biggest delivery of vaccine to Canada so far.

Related article: Kentucky storm holds up Canadian vaccine delivery as shipper hurries to catch up

Meanwhile, Health Canada is not yet ready to make a decision about approving the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, more than two weeks after it signalled the ruling could be imminent.

The World Health Organization gave its seal of approval to AstraZeneca Monday, and if Health Canada follows suit, almost 500,000 doses could be shipped to Canada in March through the global vaccine-sharing program known as COVAX.

But Health Canada is still having a back and forth with the British-based company on the clinical data behind the vaccine.