The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
2:05 p.m.: Newfoundland and Labrador authorities are reporting 14 new cases of COVID-19 today.
The province has been in a lockdown for 10 days, and chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said today’s lower numbers, coupled with 37 new recoveries from the disease, indicate an encouraging trend.
Public health officials say two of the new cases are travel-related and involve people in western Newfoundland and in the region spanning Labrador and the tip of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula.
The remaining cases are in the eastern health region, where authorities have been battling an outbreak they say is caused by the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.
Public health says there are 407 active reported cases across the province, which is an active infection rate of 78 per 100,000 people — slightly higher than Ontario’s active infection rate of 70 per 100,000 people.
Officials say 108,834 people in the province, or slightly more than a fifth of the population, have now been tested for COVID-19.
1:50 a.m.: Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout could look different in each of its 34 public health units as the province receives more doses in the coming weeks.
The province’s Solicitor General says each health unit has drawn up a unique plan to distribute the vaccine and all have been submitted to the government for approval.
Sylvia Jones says while the health units must follow the province’s plan to vaccinate priority populations first, they can also determine the best way to serve the needs of their communities.
Jones says that may mean some have mass vaccination clinics, while other conduct active outreach to vulnerable seniors to arrange the shots.
Ontario is expecting to receive a more steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks as delivery issues that previously slowed the rollout are resolved.
Opposition leader Andrea Horwath says the province needs to take a more active approach to the local rollouts and ensure all health units have the necessary resources.
The province has so far been focused on vaccinating the highest priority groups, which include residents and staff in long-term care homes.
Residents aged 80 and older, Indigenous adults, and seniors in congregate care have been identified as the next in line for the shot.
A total of 569,455 vaccine doses have been administered in Ontario so far.
1:45 p.m.: Public health officials in New Brunswick have confirmed another death at the Manoir Belle Vue long-term care home in Edmundston as a result of underlying conditions including COVID-19.
They say the person was in their 80s and is the province’s 26th COVID-19-related death.
Officials are also reporting one new case in the Edmundston region involving a person in their 40s who is a close contact of a known case and is self-isolating.
There are currently 84 active cases in the province, and two people are hospitalized, including one in intensive care.
1:40 p.m.: Manitoba health officials are reporting 97 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths.
The province’s chief public health officer says there are no new cases involving variants of concern, such as the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in the United Kingdom.
Four such cases have been identified to date, all related to travel.
1:20 p.m.: A mandatory three-day hotel quarantine for most travellers landing at Canadian airports got off to a rough start on Monday, as some passengers complained of long waits to access the hotel-booking system.
At the Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, some travellers arriving on a flight from Brussels spoke of disconnected calls and hours or even days waiting on the line to make a reservation.
Loveline Akonbeng, travelling originally from Cameroon, said it took her sister three days waiting on the phone for multiple hours to finally get through. “Three hours of waiting and sometimes the line would cut off by itself,” said Akonbeng, who described feeling “panicked” as her trip neared its end.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the tighter border controls are meant to keep everyone safe, not punish travellers. At a press conference on Friday, Trudeau acknowledged there had been issues with the phone lines but said the problems would be cleared up shortly.
“Our officials are working very hard to ensure that quarantine system is in place by Monday, and we will be able to communicate with Canadians with regard to instructions on how to comply with those measures,” Trudeau said at the time.
The hotel stays, which must be paid for by the travellers, are just one of a series of measures that came into effect on Monday to limit the spread of COVID-19 and the introduction of variants considered more transmissible than the dominant virus strain circulating in the country.
Most incoming air travellers will need to get tested for the virus upon arrival and again toward the end of their mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Travellers arriving at land borders will be given self-swab kits, and testing will be provided on site at five, high-volume border crossings. The new rules are in addition to previous orders that require a negative test result within 72 hours of arrival. Travellers will need to complete a second test on Day 10 of their self-isolation period.
1:18 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19 Monday.
The new case is in the Halifax area and is a close contact of a previously reported case.
The province currently has 19 active infections.
As of Sunday, 27,521 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 11,533 people having received their required second dose.
12:30 p.m.: Manitoba is extending two government programs linked to COVID-19.
The province is adding $2 million to its Stay At Home program, which funds live streaming of cultural events, fitness classes and other content people can view from their home.
The government is also boosting its advertising campaign that explains to viewers how to stay safe from the novel coronavirus.
12:15 p.m.: Nunavut is reporting 12 new cases of COVID-19 today, all in Arviat.
It’s been more than 100 days since the first case of COVID-19 in Arviat, and the community of about 2,800 people continues to deal with an outbreak.
Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says there isn’t evidence of community transmission in Arviat as all cases are related to household transmission.
The community has been under a strict lockdown since November, with all schools and non-essential businesses closed.
There are 33 active reported cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all in Arviat.
12:08 p.m. Children in England will return to class and people will be able to meet a friend outside for coffee in two weeks’ time, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday as he laid out a slow easing of one of Europe’s strictest pandemic lockdowns.
But those longing for a haircut, a restaurant meal or a pint in a pub have almost two months to wait, and people won’t be able to hug loved ones that they don’t live with until May at the earliest.
Johnson said the government’s plan would move the country “cautiously but irreversibly” out of lockdown.
“We’re setting out on what I hope is a one-way road to freedom,” he told lawmakers in the House of Commons.
Britain has had Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with more than 120,000 deaths,. Faced with a dominant virus variant that scientists say is both more transmissible and more deadly than the original virus, the country has spent much of the winter under a tight lockdown — the third since March 2020. Bars, restaurants, gyms, schools, hair salons and nonessential shops are closed, people are urged not to travel out of their local area and foreign holidays are illegal.
12 p.m.: Quebec is reporting 805 new cases of COVID-19 today and 11 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including two within the past 24 hours.
Health officials say hospitalizations rose by three, to 689, and 117 people were in intensive care, a drop of two.
The province says it administered 7,396 doses of vaccine Sunday, for a total of 353,894.
Quebec’s government-mandated public health institute says 86 more suspected cases of coronavirus variants have been detected in the province, for a total of 415 suspected cases. Quebec has confirmed 23 cases.
The majority of new COVID-19 infections reported today were in Montreal, with 416 new cases; Monteregie, with 109; and Laval, Montreal’s largest suburb, with 97.
Quebec has reported a total of 282,927 COVID-19 infections and 10,318 deaths linked to the virus.
11:45 a.m.: The first of several community COVID-19 vaccination clinics has opened in Halifax for people 80 years of age and older.
The clinic at the IWK Health Centre is to run through Thursday.
Vaccinations are by appointment only and for people who have been randomly selected and who live within an hour’s drive of the hospital.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang has said the plan is to vaccinate 500 people from this age group with the two required doses.
Strang has also said the clinic is a prototype that will serve as a test run for future community clinics across Nova Scotia.
The plan is to open another 10 clinics next month and then expand vaccinations to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized.
10:25 a.m.: Ontario is also reporting that 12,922 vaccine doses were administered since its last daily update for a total of 569,455 as of 8 p.m. Sunday.
The province says 240,669 have been fully vaccinated, meaning they’ve had both shots.
10:20 a.m.: Ontario is reporting 1,058 COVID-19 cases with 11 deaths.
The seven-day avergae is up to 1,045 cases daily or 50 weekly per 100,000 and up to 23.7 deaths/day.
Locally, there are 325 new cases in Toronto, 215 in Peel and 87 in York Region.
The labs are reporting 31,163 completed tests with a 3.3 per cent positivity rate.
The Star’s Ann Marie Elpa has more details.
10:19 a.m.: Five patients and two staff members in one unit at Vancouver General Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting health officials to declare an outbreak in that section of the hospital.
Vancouver Coastal Health says inpatient unit T-10-C in the hospital’s Jim Pattison Pavilion is now closed to new admissions and transfers.
Visits to the unit, on the tenth floor of the hospital’s highrise tower, have been suspended except for end-of-life compassionate visits.
The health authority says strict infection prevention and control protocols have been implemented.
Those include enhanced cleaning and disinfection of all frequently touched surfaces in the unit and self-monitoring or self-isolation of staff and physicians as part of the contact tracing process.
Coastal health says the rest of the hospital, including the emergency room, are open and operating as usual.
9:02 a.m.: A walk in the park. A stroll on the beach. A breath of fresh air. These could soon be some of the treatments the doctor orders to cure what ails you.
Starting today, Ontario health-care providers can offer prescriptions for nature.
The new Park Prescriptions program offers roughly 200 pre-registered health-care providers prescriptions with unique codes and instructions on how to prescribe and log nature prescriptions for their patients. These prescriptions incorporate evidence-based recommendations for spending time in nature: two hours a week with a minimum of 20 minutes a day. They also have printable patient handouts on the health benefits of nature organized by medical issues.
A patient with depression, for example, may now be prescribed 20-minute daily nature outings by their family physician in addition to other therapies.
Read the full story
8:40 a.m. Toronto police have charged 11 people after bottles were allegedly hurled from a 35th-floor downtown condo balcony during a large gathering despite COVID-19 restrictions.
Police said the gathering was held in a short-term rental unit. Four people face criminal charges. Seven of the 11 were charged with failing to comply with the emergency orders under the Re-Opening Ontario Act.
Police tweeted about the incident just after 2:30 p.m. Sunday when they received reports of bottles being thrown off a condo balcony.
Const. Laura Brabant told the Star the bottles were tossed from the 35th floor of a building at 14 York Street, known as ICE condominiums.
Read the full story from the Star’s Breanna Xavier-Carter
8:25 a.m. As York Region readies to enter the red control level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework, Markham’s mayor is urging stricter measures. However, York’s top doctor believes the plan is fine as is.
At a special meeting of York Region council Thursday, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti urged York’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Karim Kurji, to use his powers and enact stricter red zone regulations.
According to a provincial update Friday afternoon, York will move from a state of lockdown into the red zone starting Monday. While regions including Toronto and Peel will remain under stay-at-home orders until at least March 8, York can expect to see a limited revival of local businesses.
Although Scarpitti encouraged the reopening, he also urged caution.
Read the full story from the Star’s Kevin Jiang
8:10 a.m. It’s a region of about 200,000 people with a large university, several federal prisons, a significant senior population — and only 21 active cases of COVID-19.
The Kingston region, despite its numerous institutions and proximity to the U.S. border, has only seen one death connected to the virus over the course of the pandemic. It has had no deaths in long-term-care facilities and was one of only three health regions in Ontario allowed to transition to the green zone on Feb. 10.
How did Kingston do it?
One only needs to look to the local health unit’s YouTube page, where medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore — armed with a sharpie and flip chart — lays out the region’s strategy in responding to the pandemic.
Read the full story from the Star’s Omar Mosleh
8 a.m. The province’s school testing program continues to report low numbers of COVID-19 cases, statistics obtained by the Star show.
Of 3,706 tests conducted, 32 new cases were found. The testing began in late January in Ottawa and Sudbury, and in February in those two public health regions plus Toronto, Peel and Hamilton.
While most of the staff, students or family members who were tested were asymptomatic, some areas also tested those with symptoms.
All 72 Ontario school boards have plans and sites to ramp up testing this coming week — now that all students in the province are back in class in person and the province has mandated they cover five per cent of schools each week at a minimum, and two per cent of students.
Read the full story from the Star’s Kristin Rushowy
7:45 a.m. New international air and land travel measures take effect Monday.
The new rules, rolled out over the last few weeks by the federal government, are in response to the discovery of more contagious COVID-19 variants around the world.
Even though some of the variants have already been identified in Canada and blamed for deadly outbreaks, Ottawa is banking on the new travel restrictions to help limit the importation of even more variant cases.
The federal government has been advising against non-essential international travel since last March, but it can’t legally prevent Canadians from leaving or entering the country.
So if you’re still thinking of leaving the country for non-essential reasons like a vacation, or if you’re away and looking to come back, how will these new rules affect you?
Read the full story from the Star’s Jacques Gallant
7:40 a.m. A mass immunization campaign to beat COVID-19 will likely require the vaccination of school kids. In Ontario, that could be a problem.
A Star analysis of immunization data for 1.5 million students enrolled in nearly 4,400 Ontario schools reveals that in some school districts there are concerning gaps in vaccinations for measles, one of the world’s most highly infectious diseases.
At more than 200 Ontario schools, records show less than 80 per cent of students are up to date with their mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccinations, well below the threshold of 95 per cent required to achieve herd immunity and prevent outbreaks.
Read the full story from Diana Zlomislic and Andrew Bailey
Search our database to see the measles vaccination coverage at your child’s school
6:06 a.m.: Cases of COVID-19 are increasing in some parts of India after months of a steady nationwide decline, prompting authorities to impose lockdowns and other virus restrictions.
Infections have been plummeting in India since September, and life has already returned to normal in large parts of the country. In many cities, markets are bustling, roads are crowded and restaurants are nearly full.
But experts have been warning that the reasons behind India’s success aren’t really understood, and that the country of nearly 1.4 billion people can’t afford to let its guard down. Public health officials are now investigating potential mutations in the virus that could make it more contagious and render some treatments and vaccines less effective.
The spike has been most pronounced in the western state of Maharashtra, where nearly 7,000 cases were detected in the past 24-hours, accounting for almost half of India’s over 14,000 cases confirmed on Monday. The weekly average for infections has nearly doubled to 5,229 in the state in the past two weeks, and most of the cases have been concentrated in a few areas, including India’s financial capital, Mumbai.
Lockdowns have been reimposed in some parts of the state and authorities have banned all religious or cultural programs. Another wave of cases was “knocking on our door,” state Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said in a virtual address Sunday, while warning people that failure to follow public health measures like wearing masks could result in a need for larger and stricter lockdowns.
6:05 a.m.: President Joe Biden will mark 500,000 U.S. lives lost from COVID-19 with a moment of silence and candle-lighting ceremony at the White House.
The nation is expected to pass the grim milestone on Monday, just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. fatality of the pandemic.
The White House said Biden will deliver remarks at sunset to honour those who lost their lives. He will be joined by first lady Jill Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. They will participate in the moment of silence and lighting ceremony.
Biden has made a point of recognizing the lives lost from the coronavirus. His first event upon arriving in Washington for his inauguration a month ago was to deliver remarks at a COVID-19 memorial ceremony.
6:04 a.m.: Elementary schools and kindergartens in more than half of Germany’s 16 states reopened Monday after two months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move comes despite growing signs that the decline in case numbers in Germany is flattening out again and even rising in some areas.
Germany’s education minister, Anja Karliczek, has defended the decision to reopen schools, saying younger children in particular benefit from learning together in groups.
Karliczek told German news agency dpa that schools should use “all available means to prevent virus transmission” and expressed confidence that state education officials — who are in charge of school matters in Germany — would consider infection numbers when deciding where to reopen.
Germany’s disease control agency say there were 4,369 newly confirmed cases and 62 deaths in the past day, though Monday’s numbers are often low due to reporting delays over the weekend.
Education unions have called for teachers and kindergarten workers to be moved into a higher priority group for vaccinations, an idea that government officials have said they will consider.
6:03 a.m.: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is laying out a road map for lifting lockdown — but millions of people in the U.K. longing for a haircut or a meal in a restaurant still face a long wait.
Johnson is set to announce a plan Monday to ease restrictions incrementally, starting by reopening schools in England on March 8. People will be allowed to meet one friend or relative for a chat or picnic outdoors from the same day.
Three weeks later, people will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to six. But restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers are likely to remain closed until at least April.
The government says progress will depend on vaccines proving effective, infection rates remaining low and no new virus variants emerging that throw the plans into disarray.
Britain has had Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with more than 120,000 deaths.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government’s plan for easing restrictions was “steady as she goes.”
6:03 a.m.: Researchers in Scotland say its COVID-19 vaccination program has led to a sharp drop in hospitalizations.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland found that the Pfizer vaccine reduced hospital admissions by as much as 85 per cent and the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot cut admissions by up to 94 per cent.
The findings were based on a comparison of data from people who had received their first dose of vaccine and those who had not received an inoculation. The data was gathered between Dec. 8 and Feb. 15, a period during which 21 per cent of Scotland’s population received their first shot.
“These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future,’’ said Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute.
“We now have national evidence — across an entire country — that vaccination provides protection against COVID-19 hospitalizations.”
6 a.m.: A mandatory three-day hotel quarantine for most travellers landing at Canadian airports comes into effect today, along with a suite of measures meant to prevent contagious COVID-19 variants from entering the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the tighter border controls are meant to keep everyone safe, not punish travellers.
Anyone flying into the country will be required to foot the bill for their hotel stays.
They will also have to complete multiple COVID-19 tests in the days after they arrive in Canada.
Most incoming travellers will need to get tested for the virus upon arrival and again towards the end of their mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Travellers arriving at land borders will be given self-swab kits, and testing will be provided on-site at five high-volume border crossings.
They’ll need to complete a second test on Day 10 of their self-isolation period.
6 a.m.: Canada is poised to receive a record number of COVID-19 vaccine doses this week thanks to scheduled deliveries from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, as the country looks to speed up its vaccination efforts.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says it expects more than 640,000 shots from the pharmaceutical giants this week, which would represent the largest number of deliveries in a single week.
The previous record was set last week when Pfizer and BioNTech delivered more than 400,000 doses of their vaccine following a month-long lull while they expanded a production plant in Europe.
The two companies will ship more than 475,000 shots this week before scaling back slightly to 445,000 doses per week as they look to fulfil their commitment to deliver 4 million jabs by the end of March.
Canada will also receive 168,000 shots this week from Moderna, which ships its doses every three weeks. Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech shots, Moderna’s are largely destined for northern and remote communities.
The expected influx of vaccine shots follows news on Friday that the millionth Canadian had received a first dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
5:58 a.m.: One of Ontario’s long-standing COVID-19 hot spots returns to the province’s colour-coded system of pandemic restrictions today, while a stay-at-home order remains in effect for three others.
Businesses in York Region are allowed to reopen as the public health unit returns to the second-most restrictive red level of public health precautions.
Non-essential retailers and restaurants can welcome customers back, with capacity limits and physical distancing in place.
York has long logged some of Ontario’s highest COVID-19 case counts, but the region’s chief medical officer of health requested that the province move it back to the tiered framework to bring it in line with most of Ontario’s other public health units.
The stay-at-home order remains in effect only for Toronto, Peel and North Bay-Parry Sound until at least March 8.
Meanwhile, the province’s chief public health officer is due to testify before a commission investigating how Ontario’s response to COVID-19 affected long-term care homes.
Dr. David Williams’ comments will not be live-streamed, but the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission is expected to post a transcript at a later date.
5:58 a.m.: The head of the Canadian Medical Association is urging the federal government to boost access to family doctors for COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ enduring ongoing illness and requiring referrals to multiple specialists.
Dr. Ann Collins said people struggling with persistent and wide-ranging symptoms and without a primary care provider need a regular physician to manage their care, which will continue long after the pandemic is over.
“There’s no question that there is clear value to having a primary care physician or a primary care team who the patient can always be anchored to, and who can make the necessary referrals,” Collins said from Fredericton, where she has been a family doctor for three decades.
At least 10 per cent of COVID-19 patients are believed to suffer from symptoms months after their diagnosis, according to various studies around the world that have cited brain fog, anxiety and conditions involving multiple organs, such as the heart and lungs.
Collins said there’s a lack of recognition about “long COVID” among health-care providers, likely because some have symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, leading to further frustration for patients who are stuck in a seemingly never-ending battle with the disease.
“What strikes me is that when we talk about COVID, we talk about numbers and we talk about restrictions and we talk about deaths. And now we’re talking about vaccines. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about the people that are sick.”
4 a.m.: The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday Feb. 22, 2021.
In Canada, the provinces are reporting 40,424 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,492,270 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 3,937.463 per 100,000.
There were no new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,851,710 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.59 per cent of their available vaccine supply.
4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday Feb. 22, 2021.
There are 845,652 confirmed cases in Canada (31,375 active, 792,603 resolved, 21,674 deaths).The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.
There were 2,351 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 82.55 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18,985 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,712.
There were 44 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 367 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 52. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.03 per 100,000 people.
There have been 23,703,735 tests completed.