Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller echoed this call for continued vigilance Thursday as his department reported that the number of people with COVID-19 in First Nations communities has declined to the lowest point since Dec. 6, with 1,869 active cases reported as of Wednesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller echoed this call for continued vigilance Thursday as his department reported that the number of people with COVID-19 in First Nations communities has declined to the lowest point since Dec. 6, with 1,869 active cases reported as of Wednesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Feds call for continued vigilance as Canada sees 30% drop in COVID cases

Public health experts say the slowdown has led to a gradual decline in severe COVID-19 outcomes

Canada has seen nearly a 30 per cent drop in active COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, but the country’s chief public health officer says strict measures should remain in place as more contagious variants of the virus threaten to derail this downward trend.

In a daily update Thursday, Dr. Theresa Tam said there are 48,221 active COVID-19 cases in Canada, down from more than 68,400 cases two weeks ago.

Tam said the daily federal tally has also been trending downwards, with an average of 4,061 new infections reported per day over the past week.

She said this slowdown has led to a gradual decline in severe COVID-19 outcomes. Over the past seven days, an average of 3,711 patients were treated in hospitals each day, including 792 in intensive care.

Even with this decline, Tam said the current caseload continues to burden local health-care resources, particularly in regions with high infection rates.

“The risk remains that trends could reverse quickly,” Tam said in a statement, noting that the spread of the virus is accelerating in some parts of the country and outbreaks continue to occur in high-risk communities.

“These factors underscore the importance of sustaining public health measures and individual practices and not easing restrictions too fast or too soon.

“This is particularly important in light of the emergence of new virus variants of concern that could rapidly accelerate transmission of COVID-19 in Canada.”

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller echoed this call for continued vigilance Thursday as his department reported that the number of people with COVID-19 in First Nations communities has declined to the lowest point since Dec. 6, with 1,869 active cases reported as of Wednesday.

Miller said more than 64,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to First Nations on reserve, Inuit and in the territories as of Feb. 3. But as authorities wait to see how Canada-wide delays in vaccine shipments will impact the rollout, Miller warned this isn’t the time to let down our guards.

Moderna was to deliver 230,000 doses to Canada this week, but 180,000 arrived Thursday morning instead.

A spokeswoman for the company says it will still deliver two million doses total by the end of March. The company has delivered about half a million thus far, leaving 1.5 million for the only two shipments planned after this week before that deadline.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander managing logistics of vaccine deliveries for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said Canada doesn’t expect to get the 249,600 doses it was initially allocated for the Feb. 22 shipment either.

As federal authorities urge restraint, Manitoba is considering loosening restrictions to allow restaurants, lounges, gyms and churches to reopen at a reduced capacity.

Current measures expire next week and the province is seeking public feedback about changes moving forward.

Non-essential businesses were forced to close in November as COVID-19 infections and deaths surged.

Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said while numbers have significantly dropped, any steps to reopen must be taken cautiously.

Meanwhile, Ontario is considering cancelling March break as it moves to reopen schools that remain shuttered in southern parts of the province.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said he’s waiting on the opinion of the province’s chief medical officer of health before making a final call, stressing the importance of preventing travel as COVID-19 variants run rampant abroad.

Public Health Ontario released data Thursday indicating that mutations were found in 5.5 per cent of COVID-19 cases screened on a single day in January, most of them linked to a deadly outbreak at a nursing home in Simcoe-Muskoka.

Officials say more will be revealed about the prevalence of variants in the province as testing ramps up.

In Quebec, junior college and university students will be gradually welcomed back to campus starting next week, offering an alternative to the online education they’ve received since last March.

Students will be allowed to attend in-person classes at least once a week, and eventually, up to several times a month, Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann told reporters Thursday. Classrooms will be capped at 50 per cent capacity.

British Columbia also announced that it’s expanding its mask mandate in schools, requiring students in middle and secondary school and staff for kindergarten through Grade 12 to wear face coverings in all indoor areas.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Coronavirusfederal government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

According to Statistics Canada, new housing starts and value of building permits in Greater Victoria rose in January 2021 compared to January 2020. (Black Press Media File)
New housing starts, value of building permits up in Greater Victoria

Cost of new housing also rising in region, now in excess of $1.15 million for a new detached home

The designation of March as Distracted Driving Awareness Month is among several measures designed to stop the use of hand-held phones. In 2018, Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, North Saanich Fire, BC Ambulance and ICBC partnered with Parkland drama students who played the role of driver, passenger and witness to simulate a car crash designed to prevent students from texting and driving. (Black Press Media File)
Police across Greater Victoria step up enforcement of distracted driving

More than a third of B.C. drivers admit to using phone while driving, even as most denounce practice

Alphabet Zoo Early Learning Centre wants to relocate from Langford to 3322 Fulton Rd. in Colwood, but has not been approved for a P-6 zoning by Colwood council. Residents who neighbour the property, have expressed concern to the Goldstream Gazette regarding the potential daycare site. Neighbours Ryan Landa and Selene Winchester said the noise of construction has been disruptive to the area, and the property is not suitable for a daycare. (Photo contributed/Ryan Landa)
Proposed West Shore daycare stirs up controversy amongst neighbours

Neighbouring property owners are concerned about traffic, noise that a daycare would bring to the area

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Doctors in Alberta have signed an open letter asking for prioritized vaccination of health-care staff who work directly with patients on dedicated COVID-19 units. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up

Seniors 90+, Indigenous seniors 65+ and Indigenous Elders can book starting March 8

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read