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The latest news on COVID 19 developments in Canada on Dec. 15, 2020

OTTAWA — The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 7:55 p.m. Saskatchewan has administered its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to health-care workers in Regina.

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

7:55 p.m.

Saskatchewan has administered its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to health-care workers in Regina.

Nurses at the Regina General Hospital gave the province's first shots to a critical care doctor and an emergency room nurse this evening.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says the injections happened less than five hours after the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in the province.

The first vaccinations in Canada happened Monday in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City and are rolling out elsewhere across the country.

Saskatchewan says nearly 2,000 health-care workers are to be immunized over the coming days as part of a pilot program that will test the province's vaccine delivery and storage.

The workers include staff in intensive care units, emergency departments and COVID-19 units at the Regina General. 

Staff at Regina's Pasqua Hospital, as well as workers at COVID-19 testing and assessment centres, will also get the vaccine.


7 p.m.

On the day the first vaccination was administered in B.C., another 21 people died of COVID-19.

A joint statement from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix says 688 people have died since the pandemic started.

There were 522 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 43,463 cases.

The statement says it's a momentous day in the province with the start of the first vaccine clinics, but people need to remember they have to protect themselves and others while the vaccines roll out.


6 p.m.

The first COVID-19 vaccination has been administered in British Columbia.

Health Minister Adrian Dix confirmed the immunization had taken place with a picture on his Twitter account.

Health-care workers in long-term care facilities and intensive care units are the first to get vaccinated in British Columbia.


5:50 p.m.

Alberta says its first COVID-19 vaccinations happened this afternoon.

Premier Jason Kenney says a respiratory therapist in Edmonton and an intensive care nurse in Calgary were the first to get the shots.

The province is reporting 1,341 new cases of COVID-19.

It says 11 more people have died from the virus.

There are 742 people in hospital with the illness, and 137 of them are in intensive care.


5:25 p.m.

Quebec is closing all non-essential businesses between Christmas day and at least Jan. 11.

Premier Francois Legault told reporters today that big-box stores will be prohibited from selling any goods that are deemed non-essential.

Legault is also forcing all office towers to empty starting Thursday and requiring employees to work from home until at least Jan. 11.

He says hospitals across the province are under too much pressure because of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow non-essential businesses to stay open during the holidays.


4:40 p.m.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he is thinking about appointing a second health minister to help the province fight its high COVID-19 case numbers. 

In a year-end interview with The Canadian Press, Pallister says the move would not be a criticism of Health Minister Cameron Friesen, but would help ease the workload in a department that, even in non-pandemic times, is the government's largest. 

Friesen has faced criticism throughout the fall as Manitoba's COVID-19 cases rose sharply.


2:35 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting seven more people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.

Health officials says one person was in their 20s, while the others were all 50 and older.

Their deaths push the province's pandemic death toll to 98.

Another 194 new infections were reported, with 124 people in hospital.

The province says 26 patients are receiving intensive care.

Saskatchewan currently has the third-highest rate of active cases per capita in Canada, behind Manitoba and Alberta.


2:10 p.m.

Today is the day for the first COVID-19 vaccinations in Alberta.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are to be given to health workers in Edmonton and Calgary at 4 p.m. local time.

Premier Jason Kenney says the Calgary recipient will be a nurse.

Vaccinations were to begin on Wednesday, but Kenney says events are moving faster than expected.

About 3,900 doses of the vaccine — which must be stored in extremely cold temperatures — arrived on Monday night and are being thawed so they can be used.

Shandro says another 25,000 doses are to arrive next week.


2 p.m.

Nunavut is reporting another two cases of COVID-19.

The territory says the new cases are in Arviat.

All of Nunavut’s 45 active cases are in the community, which is located on the western shore of Hudson Bay.

The territory had not had any cases at all until early November.


1:50 p.m.

Manitoba health officials are reporting 271 new COVID-19 cases and nine new deaths. 

The percentage of people testing positive remains high, but officials say transmission rates are down because of restrictions imposed last month on public gatherings.


1 p.m.

The first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador Tuesday morning.

In a tweeted video, Premier Andrew Furey and Health Minister John Haggie are shown walking arm in arm toward a plane in St. John’s as the precious cargo is unloaded.

In the video, Furey says vaccinations will begin on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the province reported one new case of COVID-19 Tuesday and officials say the infection is related to travel.


12:45 p.m.

Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.

The case is person in their 40s in the Edmundston region who is self-isolating and the case is under investigation.

There have been eight deaths and the number of active cases is 47.

Three patients are hospitalized, of whom two are in intensive care.


11:50 a.m.

Canada's vaccine advisory panel says more testing is needed before COVID-19 vaccines should routinely be offered to pregnant or breastfeeding women, kids under 16, or patients with compromised immune systems.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is encouraging vaccine-makers to expand clinical trials to include more study of their products in those groups.

But the committee's experts also say if there is evidence the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the potential risks of COVID-19, it could be offered to pregnant women, children as young as 12, or people who are immunosuppressed, with informed consent.


11:40 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada has signed a contract to receive up to 168,000 doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine before the end of December.

The Moderna vaccine has not yet been approved by Health Canada but Trudeau says deliveries could begin within 48 hours of that happening.

Trudeau also says Canada is set to receive about 200,000 of its total early shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer next week.

He says there will also be 70 sites across the country ready to administer these doses, a big jump from the 14 distribution sites in place this week.


11:35 a.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting six new cases of COVID-19 and now has 57 active cases.

Health officials say three of the cases are in the Halifax area while two are in the northern health zone and one is in the western zone.

All the new cases are close contacts of previously reported cases.

Premier Stephen McNeil also confirmed that the province received its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine today.


11:15 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 1,741 new COVID-19 cases today and 39 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.

The Health Department reported a sharp rise in hospitalizations — 69 more patients compared with the prior day — for a total of 959.

The province says authorities administered 298 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is expected to announce new COVID-19 lockdown measures during a news conference this afternoon.


10:35 a.m.

Ontario is reporting a new single-day record of 2,275 new COVID-19 cases today.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 711 new cases in Toronto, 586 in Peel Region, 185 in Windsor-Essex, and 154 in York Region. 

She says the province has conducted nearly 39,600 tests since the last daily report.

The province says the latest data reflects a 27-hour period for most of Ontario's public health units because of a change in how the figures are gathered.


8:20 a.m.

Jo-Anne Miner became the first person to receive the vaccine in Ottawa.

Miner, 48, is a personal support worker at St. Patrick’s Home in Ottawa.

She says she "feels fine,” after receiving the vaccine and she hopes everyone gets the shot "to protect our most vulnerable.”

She was the first of 100 people scheduled to receive the vaccine today in Ottawa.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press