Ontario plans to expand vaccination as COVID cases stabilize in several provinces

Ontario plans to expand vaccination as COVID cases stabilize in several provinces”

As public health officials warn of a possible variant-fuelled third wave, but as daily case numbers drop below 1,000, Ford is under pressure from all sides to explain his government's reopening decisions.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has said more than 335,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be delivered in the coming days following a weeks-long slowdown that forced provinces to curtail their immunization efforts.

The case and death counts weren't updated on Monday due to the Family Day holiday.

The province's seven-day average for number of cases recorded is now 1,038, down from 1,367 one week ago.

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit became the latest to confirm a case of the variant first discovered in South Africa, which is one of three "variants of concern" that has been detected in the province.

Officials reported that 742 people are now in hospital due to COVID-19, but noted some hospitals have not submitted data on their bed use, which may have resulted in an underestimation.

The province logged 910 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday along with 15 new virus-related deaths. Officials reported 251 new cases in Toronto, 201 in Peel and 93 in York Region on Monday.

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Most of new infections reported for Tuesday are in Toronto (320), followed by Peel Region (154), and York Region (118).

Ontario's premier is defending the lifting of a stay-home order for the majority of the province's regions today despite warnings it could lead to a third wave.

Newfoundland and Labrador now has 297 active cases of COVID-19. We also have 9 confirmed cases of the United Kingdom variant that originated in South Africa and 1 that originated from Brazil.

On Friday, the Ontario government announced that it has deployed approximately two million rapid antigen tests and 175,000 rapid diagnostic tests to essential workplaces and highly vulnerable settings like long-term care homes and retirement homes to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and North Bay Parry Sound are set to remain under the stay-at-home order until at least February 22.

"I wouldn't call it reopening, I'd call it transitioning", said Premier Doug Ford on Tuesday.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube also expressed concern about variants, even as his province continued to report encouraging numbers.

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