Ontario, Quebec to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults in May

The latest:

Both Quebec and Ontario plan to make COVID-19 vaccination available to all adults over the next several weeks. 

Quebec is promising that every adult in the province will be eligible for a shot in the next two weeks

Ontario says all people over the age of 18 will be able to register to get a shot by May 24

Beginning tomorrow in Quebec, people aged 50-59 will be able to make an appointment to get a vaccine. The province will then lower the age of eligibility by five years, every two days.

WATCH | Dubé details Quebec’s vaccine expansion plan:

Quebec is expanding its COVID-19 vaccination program in quick stages so that everyone over 18 will be eligible to book their first dose by May 14. 1:21

On May 3, Ontario plans to expand eligibility to adults over the age of 50, adults 18 and up in hot spot communities, those with health conditions deemed “high risk” and some people who cannot work from home. The age group will then be lowered by 10 years every week thereafter. 

The province said it will also allocate 50 per cent of all available doses to 114 hot-spot communities for the weeks of May 3 and May 10. It is currently allocating 25 per cent of doses for those postal codes.

Quebec on Thursday reported 1,042 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths. According to the province, COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 623, with 165 people in intensive care.

Ontario on Thursday reported 3,871 new cases of COVID-19 and 41 additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 2,248, with 884 people in ICU as a result of COVID-related illness.

Alberta is also expanding eligibility in two COVID-19 hot spots and directing delivery of more doses to those regions.

On Wednesday, there were 20,938 active cases in the province, the second-highest total since the pandemic began. (The highest was in mid-December: 21,649.) The province announced 1,839 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. There were 643 people in hospital, 145 of them receiving intensive care.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Premier Jason Kenney said the new measures will help address concerns in Banff and Lake Louise, as well as in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes the oilsands hub city of Fort McMurray.

Kenney said the province will explore further health restrictions as necessary.

Banff-Lake Louise and the Wood Buffalo area have been the hardest-hit areas in a province where COVID-19 cases have soared in recent weeks, propelled by more contagious variants that now make up two-thirds of all active infections.

Chief Allan Adam of the area’s Athabasca Tribal Council said Kenney failed to address key questions about more restrictions, including curfews or stay-at-home orders, to bring the caseload down.

“They’re not putting restrictions on anything. It’s business as normal for them. They say if people were to get vaccinated, that will divert the curve, and that’s a poor excuse.”

-From The Canadian Press, last updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

COVID-19 cases are nearing record levels in Alberta and hospitals are already feeling the squeeze with some surgeries being delayed and doctors preparing to triage patients for ventilators. 1:56

What’s happening across Canada

As of 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 1,208,188 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 83,033 considered active. A CBC tally of deaths stood at 24,166.

Across the North, Nunavut reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the number of active cases in the territory to 61. Premier Joe Savikataaq said that 55 of the cases were in Iqaluit. Health officials in Yukon and the Northwest Territories  — which recently reported new cases at a work site — had not yet provided updates for the day.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia on Thursday reported 70 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active caes in the province to 538.

In a tweet, Premier Iain Rankin said he has faith that the province can drive cases back down.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, while New Brunswick reported 10 new cases.

Prince Edward Island had not yet provided an update for the day.

In the Prairie provinces on Thursday, Manitoba reported 230 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. The province announced another deal with North Dakota to get more of its residents vaccinated. Teachers and education workers will now be eligible to go across the border to get a shot.

The Manitoba government has also added four more areas to its list of higher-risk COVID-19 zones where all adult residents can be vaccinated. Anyone 18 or over who lives in the Brandon East End and Powerview-Pine Falls health districts, as well as the Inkster West and Fort Garry South neighbourhoods of Winnipeg, can now book a vaccine appointment.

Saskatchewan reported 205 new cases and one additional death on Thursday. About 40 per cent of eligible adults in the province have received a first dose of vaccine, and supply is expected to increase beginning next week. 

British Columbia is dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Site-C dam project in the northeast part of the province. Thirty-four lab-confirmed cases have been identified. Of those, 13 are active, and 100 workers are isolating at home or on site. 

The province reported 841 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths on Wednesday. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in British Columbia has ticked up to 515, breaking a previous record set last week. Among those hospitalized, 171 people were in intensive care.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 4 p.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

Cemetery workers carry the coffin of a COVID-19 victim to his grave during a nighttime funeral at the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Wednesday. (Nelson Antoine/The Associated Press)

As of late Thursday morning, more than 149.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tool from Johns Hopkins University used to track COVID-19 cases. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.1 million.

In the Americas, Brazil is on the verge this week of registering 400,000 coronavirus deaths, after the Health Ministry reported 3,163 new COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 398,185.

In Europe, German pharmaceutical company BioNTech says it expects to receive the results of trials of its coronavirus vaccine in younger children by September.

BioNTech, which developed the first widely approved COVID-19 shot with U.S. partner Pfizer, has already submitted data from trials in children ages 12 to 15 to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and plans to do so for the European Medicines Agency, which regulates drugs for use in the 27-country European Union.

The company said it expects results from trials in children ages 5 to 12 “as early as July” and in those younger than five in September.

In the Asia-Pacific region, India’s total COVID-19 cases passed 18 million on Thursday after another global high number of daily infections, as gravediggers worked around the clock to bury victims and hundreds more were cremated in makeshift pyres in parks and parking lots.

India reported 379,257 new infections and 3,645 new deaths on Thursday, health ministry data showed, the highest number of fatalities in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

WATCH | So many cases, no vaccines in India: 

Health ministers in several Indian states say they’ve done all the necessary preparations to start the federal government’s campaign to vaccinate everyone above the age of 18, but have no vaccines to work with. 0:29

In Africa, a top public health official said the continent is “watching with total disbelief” what is happening in India as it struggles with a devastating resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong warned that the African continent, which has roughly the same population as India and fragile health-care systems, “must be very, very prepared” because it could see the same scenario now unfolding in the South Asian country.

“We need to regroup urgently,” Nkengasong told reporters Thursday. “We do not have enough health-care workers. We do not have enough oxygen,” he said.

Africa’s vaccine situation is also closely linked to India, which is the source of the AstraZeneca vaccines distributed by the global COVAX project to get doses to low- and middle-income countries.

In the Middle East, Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is not likely to reach deals with COVID vaccine makers to co-produce the vaccines, although discussions are still ongoing, chief executive Kare Schultz told Reuters.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 11:20 a.m. ET

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