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

Graduate Belle Riding is congratulated by Lake City Secondary School learning support teacher Gail Gardner as she makes her way across the stage to receive her diploma. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
2021 Lake City Secondary School grads take centre stage at Williams Lake campus ceremonies

Ceremonies took place over two days, with COVID-19 restrictions in place for second year in a row

BGC Williams Lake Sprockids participants get ready to hit the trails on Fox Mountain May 27 in Williams Lake. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Sprockids mountain biking program at BGC Williams Lake provides positive, outdoor outlet for youth

Sprockids aims to give youth the opportunity to saddle up on mountain bikes and hit the trails

Paradise Cinemas is ready to welcome back movie viewers once the province gives movie theatres the go-ahead. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
VIDEO: Williams Lake’s Paradise Cinemas eyes June 18 re-opening if COVID-19 restrictions allow

Managing partner Munraj Hothi is looking forward to showing movies again

The Williams Lake Tourism Discovery Centre (Photo submitted)
Bike wash station now available at Tourism Discovery Centre

The project was a long-time goal of the Williams Lake Cycling Club

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Most Read