Adam Feller reacts as he gets his Pfizer-BioNTech shot at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Adam Feller reacts as he gets his Pfizer-BioNTech shot at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Canada unlikely to follow U.S. approach to easing COVID-19 masking rules: doctor

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks outdoors and in most indoor settings

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks outdoors and in most indoor settings, but one of Canada’s top public health officials suggests a different approach would be taken here.

“We have more of what I’d call a collective or community approach,” Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer, told a briefing in Ottawa on Thursday. “So it’s not about what an individual should be able to do with one or two doses.”

He said even as more Canadians get their shots, public health measures such as physical distancing, mask wearing and frequent hand washing remain key.

Njoo added the rate of new infections, the number of new cases resulting from each infection, test positivity rates and impact on the health-care system are all factors that should be weighed.

“If all that is looking good at a certain point in time — along with high vaccine coverage — that’s the point I think that certainly local health authorities will be able to consider loosening restrictions on what Canadians are able to do.”

Njoo said 40 per cent of eligible Canadians over the age of 18 have now received one vaccine dose — good, but not maximum, protection.

More than 46 per cent of the U.S. population has been given at least one dose and more than a third given both.

Njoo made his remarks after Ontario announced it’s keeping its stay-at-home order in place until at least June 2 in order to have the “most normal July and August possible.”

Premier Doug Ford said Thursday that public health measures have been effective in driving down cases, but need to be continued for now.

The province reported 2,759 new infections in its latest update — well below the more than 4,000 a day it was seeing when it last extended the order and added sweeping restrictions about a month ago. The order was to have expired next Thursday.

Ontario had 1,632 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 776 in intensive care.

The province’s chief medical officer, Dr. David Williams, has said he would like to see “well below” 1,000 daily cases before Ontario considers lifting the stay-at-home order.

“We’re about where we were at the peak of the second wave, so we’ve come down but we have a ways to go yet,” he said.

Back in Ottawa, the military officer in charge of Canada’s vaccine rollout said 655,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been received from COVAX, the global vaccine sharing alliance.

The doses aren’t being immediately distributed, but provinces are invited to put in orders, said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin.

“We want to assure everyone that sufficient supply will be available for those who want a second dose of AstraZeneca or who cannot take an mRNA vaccine (made by Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna),” he said.

Njoo said that Canada has confirmed 18 cases of an extremely rare blood clotting condition in patients who received the AstraZeneca shot and that 10 more are under investigation.

Quebec cited that side-effect as its reason for pausing the AstraZeneca shot as a first dose. Ontario and other provinces have made similar moves as supplies of other vaccines, including Pfizer’s product, are poised to pour into the country.

Quebec health officials said people who have already received one AstraZeneca shot will have the choice to get it as a second dose or to receive a different one.

That province reported 781 new COVID-19 infections and five more deaths Thursday.

Neighbouring New Brunswick announced that it had two more cases of the blood clots for a total of four. The two latest clots involved people who received AstraZeneca shots in mid-April. One remained in hospital, while the other has recovered.

The Atlantic province reported 16 new COVID-19 cases, along with 10 hospitalizations.

British Columbia, meanwhile, is monitoring its second case of the vaccine-induced clotting condition. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the man in his 40s is stable.

B.C. diagnosed 587 new cases of COVID-19, as its infection rate continued to trend downward.

On the Prairies, Manitoba reported a single-day record of 560 new infections and Saskatchewan had 223 new cases. Alberta, with the highest case rate in the country, had 1,558 new infections.

In the North, Nunavut had 12 new cases — all in the capital city of Iqaluit, which has a population of about 8,000 and remains under tight restrictions.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

The Port McNeill Fire Hall. (Port McNeill Fire Rescue photo)
Port McNeill Fire Rescue gets big financial boost from government

Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom was thrilled by the funding announcement

The river behind the ball field. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Pulled by the flow: river stirs up childhood memories

Gazette editor makes trek through Port Hardy wilderness to swim in the river

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Alert Bay council has decided to cancel Canada Day celebrations. (Alertbay.ca photo)
Alert Bay council cancels Canada Day celebrations

The decision was made in wake of the mass graves being found at former residential schools

A person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on April 23, 2021. Human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 denounced by China as “politically motivated” and based on “lies.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein
VIDEO: Trudeau demands truth from China about Uyghurs

PM says Canada has admitted broken Indigenous relationship, unlike China on Uyghurs

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, middle right, participates in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honour of the launch of Kelowna’s plasma donor centre at Orchard Plaza Mall on June 22. From left to right: Canadian Blood Services’ business development manager Janna Pantella, Canadian Blood Services’ operational excellence manager Tyler Burke, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Canadian Blood Services’ centre manager Janine Johns. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
B.C.’s first dedicated plasma donor centre opens in Kelowna

The Kelowna location is the third dedicated plasma donor to open in Canada

Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back to school on Sept. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Study reassures parents, teachers that COVID-19 infrequently shared at school

Federally funded study in Vancouver finds risk in the classroom and in the community identical

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday April 13, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Single-game sports betting about to become legal in Canada

Senate passes bill to take sports gambling away from overseas agencies

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves Point Roberts’ only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton

The Somass Sawmill sits idle in early May 2021. While the kilns have been in use occasionally, and the lot has been used to store woodchips this spring, the mill has been curtailed since July 27, 2017. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni to expropriate Somass Sawmill from Western Forest Products

Sawmill has been ‘indefinitely’ curtailed since 2017

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter said a black bear is believed to have killed local livestock. (THE NEWS/files)
Black bear believed to have killed miniature donkey in Maple Ridge

Trap set for predator that has been killing livestock

Most Read