Canada sees 2,812 new COVID-19 cases as country receives first AstraZeneca vaccine shipment

Canada added 2,812 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, pushing the total number of infections in the country to 875,564. 

Health authorities also said 60 more people had died after testing positive for COVID-19.

To date, the virus has claimed 22,105 lives in Canada. 

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However, more than 832,000 people have recovered after contracting the respiratory illness in Canada.

Read more: Provinces, territories can wait 4 months to administer 2nd COVID-19 shot, NACI says

The new cases and deaths come as the country received its first shipment of the newly-approved AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.

Health Canada greenlit the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

Half a million doses arrived in the country on Wednesday from the Serum Institute of India.

Trudeau announces $518 million to support innovation and research in Canada

Speaking at a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the national operation centre has coordinated with the provinces and territories to distribute the vaccines.

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“Our priority is getting doses into arms as quickly as possible because we’ve got a lot more vaccines on the way,” he said.

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The federal government has maintained that all Canadians who want a vaccine, will have access to one by the end of September.

Read more: Here’s what the provinces, territories have said about AstraZeneca’s vaccine and seniors

However, Trudeau said as more doses arrive, and with work underway to approve other vaccine candidates, his government is “very optimistic that we’re going to be able to accelerate some of these timelines.”

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To date, Canada has approved three vaccines for use, all of which require two doses to be administered some weeks apart.

By Wednesday evening only 2,072,757 COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across the country, meaning approximately 2.8 per cent of the population has been innoculated.

In an effort to vaccinate their most vulnerable citizens more quickly, some provinces have decided to lengthen the window between first and second shots.

Click to play video 'Does Trudeau feel pressure to open Canadian economy sooner after Biden sets May date for mass vaccinations in the U.S.?' Does Trudeau feel pressure to open Canadian economy sooner after Biden sets May date for mass vaccinations in the U.S.?
Does Trudeau feel pressure to open Canadian economy sooner after Biden sets May date for mass vaccinations in the U.S.?

In new guidance released Wednesday, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that provinces and territories do so, saying jurisdictions facing shortages should extend the time between first and second doses to four months.

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NACI said “current evidence suggests high vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease and hospitalization for several weeks after the first dose, including among older populations.”

According to NACI, approximately 80 per cent of the eligible population could be offered a dose of one of the approved mRNA vaccines by the end of June if jurisdictions implement a four-month interval between shots in March.

Read more: Canada received ‘last piece’ of manufacturing data for Johnson & Johnson vaccine: Sharma

New cases in the provinces

In Ontario, 958 new cases and 17 more fatalities were reported, while Quebec saw 829 new COVID-19 infections and 19 more deaths.

Meanwhile, Manitoba added 50 new infections and three more COVID-19 related deaths.

Health authorities in Saskatchewan said 121 more people have contracted the virus, and two more people have died.

AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in Canada with a shelf life of less than a month

In Atlantic Canada, 10 new cases of COVID-19 were detected, but health officials confirmed no one else has died in the region.

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Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador each reported three new infections, while Prince Edward Island added one new case.

In Western Canada, hundreds of new cases were reported.

Alberta health officials said 402 more people have contracted the virus, while 542 more cases were identified in British Columbia.

Read more: AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine not recommended for people in Canada over age 65: NACI

Albertan authorities said 12 more people have died in the province after falling ill, while B.C. saw seven more COVID-19 related fatalities.

None of Canada’s territories added a new case or death on Wednesday.

Global infections top 115 million

The total number of novel coronavirus cases globally surpassed 115 million on Wednesday.

According to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University, as of 7 p.m. ET, a total of 115,117,893 people around the world had contracted the disease.

To date, there have been 2,558,784 COVID-19 related deaths worldwide.

Read more: ‘Risky’ or ‘incredible’? Experts split on delaying 2nd vaccine dose to expand coverage

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The United States remained the viral epicentre on Wednesday, with over 28.7 million confirmed infections.

The country has seen more than 519,000 fatalities connected with the virus so far.

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