January 15th, 2021

Atlantic provinces tighten boundaries; Trudeau confident in vaccine rollout timeline


By Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press on January 8, 2021.

A health-care worker riding an escalator watches Ontario Premier Doug Ford speak to the media at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Two Atlantic provinces tightened their boundaries on Friday, Manitoba extended its COVID-19 restrictions and Ontario warned tough new measures may be on the way if surging infection rates aren’t reined in.

All this while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed confidence that Canada will have enough vaccine by the fall for everyone who wishes to be inoculated.

Starting Saturday at 8 a.m., people entering Nova Scotia from New Brunswick will be required to isolate for two weeks.

“What we’re saying here is, ‘Do not go to New Brunswick, and New Brunswickers, do not come here, unless it is for essential purposes,'” Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said Friday.

New Brunswick also imposed new rules on incoming travel in an effort to limit spread of the novel coronavirus.

Nova Scotia reported two new cases on Friday, while New Brunswick had 18.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba government extended its COVID-19 restrictions, which were to expire Friday at midnight, for another two weeks to keep the demand on hospitals in check.

Since mid-November, restaurants and bars have been limited to takeout and delivery, and non-essential stores have shuttered except for curbside pickup. Public gatherings have been limited to five people and most social gatherings inside homes are forbidden.

The Prairie province reported 221 new COVID-19 cases Friday and nine additional deaths.

Ontario reported 4,249 new cases, a record-breaking figure even factoring in 450 earlier infections which were delayed in the tally. The province had 26 more deaths.

“If these basic measures continue to be ignored, the consequences will be more dire,” Premier Doug Ford warned. “The shutdown won’t end at the end of January. And we will have to look at more extreme measures.”

He did not provide further details on the nature or timing of any added restrictions.

Ford has warned in recent days that the province is going to run out of vaccine if it does not receive another shipment soon. Federal Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner said in a statement that the Liberal government has had months to take a leadership role.

“Every day that we delay getting vaccines to vulnerable Canadians puts more Canadian lives at risk,” she said.

Trudeau said in a COVID-19 media update that he and Canada’s premiers discussed the vaccine rollout Thursday during a first ministers conference call.

“We agreed that it is vital that we work together as Team Canada to get vaccines delivered, distributed and administered as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said.

Trudeau said more than 124,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to 68 sites across the country this week, and 208,000 more are to be delivered weekly for the rest of this month.

And, by the end of next week, more than 171,000 Moderna vaccine doses are expected to be delivered to provinces and territories, he added.

In all, Trudeau said, Ottawa is on track to deliver about 1.3 million doses of both vaccines by the end of January, with quantities scaling up in February.

Those in charge of Canada’s vaccine portfolio and the delivery schedule are confident that vaccines will be offered to all Canadians by September, he said.

“That will be significant in terms of getting through this pandemic and making sure that next winter looks very different from this one.”

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the September target is based on the assumption that more vaccines will be approved. Ones developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson are currently under Health Canada review.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is overseeing vaccine distribution logistics, said he’s expecting doses to increase significantly come April.

“I think we have no reason to doubt that provinces and territories will significantly ramp up their ability to administer vaccines over the next weeks and months as we collectively gain more knowledge and experience with administering vaccines.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2021.

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