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Ontario cases edge over 3,000, provinces prepare to expand vaccination rollout

Last Updated May 6, 2021 at 9:33 am PDT

COVID-19 cases in Canada’s most populous province edged over 3,000 again as Ontario expanded vaccination bookings and several regions in the country prepared to roll out shots to teenagers.

Ontario reported 3,424 new cases Thursday and 26 more deaths linked to the virus. While that’s an increase from the 2,941 cases reported Wednesday, Ontario’s seven-day average dropped to 3,369 — down from a record-high 4,348 on April 19.

Eyes are also on Nova Scotia where an alarming upswing pushed daily counts to a pandemic-high of 175 on Wednesday, and Alberta, where 2,271 cases reported Wednesday ushered in a slew of new containment measures. Alberta is averaging 2,035 new daily cases over the last week.

Nunavut reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, all in Iqaluit, the province’s capital city of about 8,000 people.

People aged 50 and older across Ontario are among new groups who can now book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment provincewide. Those with high-risk health conditions, and a number of employees who cannot work from home are also eligible to get the shot.

Ontario says it expects 65 per cent of adults to have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Wednesday the province will soon expand its rollout to include 12 to 15-year-olds after Health Canada authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for that age group. 

The Northwest Territories said it would open vaccine eligibility for teens starting Thursday, while Alberta will open booking up to that young age range as of Monday.

Manitoba said it will start vaccinating those 12 to 15 on May 21.

Data released by Public Health Ontario on Wednesday showed how effective Canada’s approved COVID-19 vaccines have been.

It found that from the beginning of the rollout Dec. 14, 2020 to April 17, only 2,223 people tested positive for COVID-19 out of almost 3.5 million people vaccinated with at least one dose.

The majority of those cases — 66.9 per cent — occurred within 14 days of receiving a first dose, when immunity had not yet been established. Less than four per cent of post-vaccination COVID-19 cases happened seven or more days following a second dose.

Canada achieved a new milestone in its vaccination program Wednesday, surpassing the vaccination rate in the United States for the first time.

The Our World in Data project, which tracks vaccinations around the world, says the United States injected doses at a rate of 6.4 doses for every 1,000 people on Wednesday. Canada injected 6.6 doses for every 1,000 people.

Canada has vaccinated 13.6 million people with at least one dose, or almost 36 per cent of the population. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press