The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 6:49 p.m. The Alberta government is ordering the closure of all casinos and gyms, banning dine-in service at restaurants and bars, and imposing a mandatory provincewide mask requirement under new restrictions aimed at curbing the surge of COVID-19 infections. Premier Jason Kenney also says Alberta will ban all outdoor and indoor social gatherings and impose mandatory work-from-home measures. The province is reporting 1,727 new cases of COVID-19 and set another record with 20,388 active cases. Across the province, 654 people were being treated hospitals for COVID-19, including 112 in intensive care units. — 4:56 p.m. The Saskatchewan government has delayed the release of its vaccination distribution program because of a power outage. Premier Scott Moe and health officials were set to detail how and when residents could start getting inoculated against COVID-19. Moe has said his province is ready to receive Pfizer’s vaccine, pending approval from Health Canada. He has said among the first to be vaccinated would be health workers and residents living in long-term care. — 3:50 p.m. Less than two weeks after being named to oversee Quebec’s vaccine rollout, Jerome Gagnon is taking a leave for health reasons. Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube announced today that Daniel Pare, head of the regional health authority in Chaudiere-Appalaches, will replace Gagnon, an assistant deputy health minister. Dube says in a statement the change won’t slow down the deployment of the province’s unprecedented COVID-19 vaccination campaign expected to begin next week. — 2:39 p.m. Saskatchewan has recorded its deadliest day since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with six deaths. Health officials say five of those who died were 80 and older, but one person was in their 30s. The province’s death toll from the pandemic sits at 66. Another 183 cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as Premier Scott Moe was set to announce the plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. The Ministry of Health says 144 people are in hospital for the virus, with 27 patients receiving intensive care. — 2:23 p.m. Manitoba health officials are reporting 245 new COVID-19 cases and 13 additional deaths. The five-day test positivity rate remains high at 13 per cent. Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says restrictions on public gatherings and many business activities must continue. — 2:10 p.m. Premier Jason Kenney is to speak to Alberta’s COVID-19 situation later today following his chief medical officer of health saying that recent restrictions to contain the skyrocketing spread of the novel coronavirus are failing. The mayors of the two largest cities have already warned that they will use whatever emergency powers they have to bring in their own added measures if the province fails to act. Kenney introduced somewhat tighter public-health orders two weeks ago to try to rein in the number of COVID-19 cases, but kept stores, water parks, bars, casinos and restaurants open. — 2:10 p.m. The Manitoba government is loosening some of its COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings and businesses. Starting Saturday, drive-in services at churches and other venues will be allowed, as long as people attend only with members of their household and remain in their vehicles. A Winnipeg church filed a Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge against the ban on drive-in services last week, and lost a bid for a temporary lifting of the rule until the case could be heard. The province is adding thrift stores and acupuncture services to the list of essential businesses that can operate. It has also added school supplies and seasonal holiday decorations to essential goods that can be sold in-store instead of through curbside pickup or online. — 2:03 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 today, and now has 78 active cases. Health officials say two cases are in the western health zone and are close contacts of previously reported cases, while one is in the northern zone and is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. Four cases are in the central zone, which includes Halifax — two are close contacts of previously reported cases, one is connected to Shannon Park Elementary School in Dartmouth and one is under investigation. No one is currently in hospital. — 1:52 p.m. Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting five new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Four of the cases are close contacts of previously confirmed cases and are self-isolating. They involve a person in their 30s in the Saint John zone, two people under 19 in the Fredericton area and a person in their 40s in the Fredericton area. The fifth case is a person in their 70s in the Fredericton zone related to international travel and is self-isolating. There have been seven deaths, and the number of active cases is 82. Three patients are hospitalized and are in intensive care. Late Monday, a positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Fredericton High School. At this time, no student-to-student transmission has been determined in any school in the province. — 1:44 p.m. There is one new case of COVID-19 in Arviat, Nunavut, where an outbreak is ongoing. As of today, all active cases in Whale Cove have recovered. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says the territory has reached a milestone in its recovery, with three out of four infected communities back to zero cases. Patterson also warned that as long as there are contacts in isolation in a community, it can’t be considered COVID-free. There are 44 active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all in Arviat, and 176 recovered cases. — 1:17 p.m. There is one new case of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador and officials say the infection is related to travel. The patient is a man in his 50s who returned to the province from work in the Northwest Territories. Meanwhile, health officials are still trying to chase down the source of an infection announced over the weekend. The case affects a person in the central region of the province, where the town of Harbour Breton has been on partial lockdown since Sunday. — 12:45 p.m. The first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will only be given to patients at one of the 14 sites where the doses are initially being delivered. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, says the plan is to move the doses as little as possible. She acknowledged that will make it more difficult to vaccinate residents of long-term care homes, who cannot easily be moved to other sites. Pfizer’s vaccine against the virus that causes COVID-19 has to be stored at extraordinarily cold temperatures with specialized boxes and equipment. — 12:35 p.m. Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the average number of COVID-19 deaths in Canada each day in the last week topped 92 people, up from a seven-day average of 87 deaths a day on Monday. There are also now nearly 2,700 people in hospital being treated for COVID-19, and one in five of them are in intensive care. — 11:25 a.m. Ontario is reporting 1,676 new cases of COVID-19 today, and 10 new deaths due to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 588 new cases are in Toronto, 349 in Peel Region, and 141 in York Region. Ontario’s fiscal watchdog says the province had $12 billion in unspent reserve funds by the end of September. The Financial Accountability Officer says in a report today that the money was earmarked for three contingency funds, including two related to pandemic spending. — 11:10 a.m. Quebec is reporting 1,564 new COVID-19 cases and 36 additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. The provincial health department says 12 of those deaths occurred in the past 24 hours while 22 occurred in the first six days of December. Hospitalizations increased by 17 to reach 835, with nine more patients in intensive care for a total of 114. Given the worsening indicators, Premier François Legault told reporters today the province hasn’t ruled out stricter lockdown measures and urged Quebecers to follow public health rules. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version identified Jerome Gagnon as deputy health minister.