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Demonstrators march past Montreal's Olympic Stadium in a protest against COVID-19 restrictions on May 1, 2021.

ANDREJ IVANOV/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands marched in Montreal on Saturday to protest COVID-19 public health measures they call excessive and unjustified.

Demonstrators gathered at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, calling on the Quebec government to lift a nighttime curfew that has been in place in much of the province since January. They also expressed opposition towards the notion of immunity passport for those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The stadium currently serves as one of the province’s COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics and was closed for the day due to the protest.

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The organizers said in a statement that Saturday’s protest was the first of several planned for the month of May.

Quebec reported 1,101 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus on Saturday, with one taking place in the past 24 hours.

Hospitalizations dropped for a fourth consecutive day, as authorities reported 14 fewer patients in hospital for a total of 578. the number in intensive care also declined by five to 159.

The province administered 62,406 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, and about 36.3 per cent of the population have now received a first shot.

“Hospitalizations are still declining and cases are relatively stable,” Health Minister Christian Dube wrote on Twitter. “We must continue our efforts to reduce cases and hospitalization, even with the onset of good weather.”

Dube said respecting public health measures and getting vaccinated are the best weapons against the virus.

The government has said all adults will be able to book an vaccination appointment by mid-May.

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Dube said Saturday that for a second day, 200,000 appointments were booked for those between 50 and 59 years of age. Vaccinations were opened to that age group on Friday.

Health authorities will open appointments to those 45 and older beginning Monday.

Quebec has now reported 350,874 infections and 10,933 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The province has 9,579 active cases.

In other COVID-19-related developments on May 1: Mayor of Alberta hot spot expecting J&J doses disappointed supply is delay

The mayor of a COVID-19 hot spot in Alberta says she’s disappointed that Johnson & Johnson vaccines earmarked for her community are delayed, but values the work Health Canada is doing to ensure every dose is safe.

Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen issued a statement saying front-line workers need the vaccines.

She also thanked provincial health officials for exploring other sources to help immunize high-risk areas as soon as possible.

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Residents of Banff were among several priority groups across Canada looking forward to the promise of J&J shipments next week.

Plans to distribute the first 300,000 doses are on hold after Health Canada learned part of the vaccines were manufactured at a Maryland facility that messed up the ingredients in 15 million doses bound for the U.S. market.

Health Canada says it’s seeking information from the FDA and J&J’s pharmaceutical arm, Janssen, to determine if the doses shipped to Canada meet required safety standards.

“Like other communities, we will wait our turn and remain vigilant in following all health protocols to stop the spread until everyone is immunized,” Sorensen says.

The Emergent Biosolutions facility in Baltimore was recently cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for violations including cleaning and sterilization failures, the potential for cross-contamination and failure to follow required protocols.

Nova Scotia reports 148 new cases, testing backlog complicates picture

Nova Scotia is reporting 148 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, with the majority of the new infections in the province’s Central Zone.

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The figure marks a single-day high for new cases in the province.

But Premier Iain Rankin says the large number of cases was expected as the Nova Scotia Health Authority lab catches up with a backlog caused by high testing volumes.

Nova Scotia has 713 active cases of COVID-19 in the province as of Saturday, with 30 people in hospital including five in intensive care.

Meanwhile, Halifax Regional Police issued 10 summary offence tickets to occupants in a city home overnight for failing to comply with the regulations set out in the Health Protection Act.

Police responded to a report of a loud party on Parker Street and issued all 10 occupants with tickets that carry a fine of $2,000 each.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, says every Nova Scotian needs to be vigilant, stay home, and obey the new public health measures.

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Ontario reports 3,369 daily coronavirus cases

Angela Bedard, a nurse re-assigned to the Intensive Care Unit, stands in a doorway after helping to intubate a patient suffering from COVID-19 at Humber River Hospital in Toronto on April 28, 2021.

COLE BURSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Ontario is reporting 3,369 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday and 29 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 1,050 new cases in Toronto, 819 in Peel Region, 286 in York Region, 158 in Ottawa and 157 in Durham Region.

The province says 2,152 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 – 900 are in intensive care and 637 are on a ventilator.

Ontario says 107,700 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Friday’s report for a total of 5,247,684 shots given in the province.

The daily numbers come hours after an independent commission released its report examining Ontario’s COVID-19 response in long-term care homes.

The scathing, 322-page report to the government called for an overhaul of the sector.

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The report said the province was ill-prepared for the pandemic, despite lessons it should have learned from the SARS epidemic.

Long-term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton issued a statement in response to the report, thanking the three commissioners for their efforts and pledging a thorough review of their findings.

She said many of the improvements called for in their report align with steps the government has already taken, asserting the situation in the province’s long-term care facilities has improved in recent months.

Nonetheless, she said, the harm to the province’s seniors is clear.

“There’s no question that residents and staff at long-term care homes and their families were disproportionally impacted by COVID-19,” Fullerton said in the statement. “As I said in my testimony to the commission, we cannot let their experience be in vain – and we won’t. We will continue to work with our partners across the sector to address the commission’s recommendations as we continue to build a safe and modern long-term care sector that respects the dignity of our seniors and the staff that care for them.”

Elsewhere in Canada:

  • Alberta’s daily count of new COVID-19 cases continues to soar as its leaders resort to new measures to remind people of tighter restrictions brought in to bring numbers under control. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, says via Twitter that there have been 2,433 new infections in the past 24 hours and the province’s test-positivity rate is now at 12 per cent. It’s the third-straight day Alberta has exceeded 2,000 new cases.
  • Manitoba is reporting 273 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths. Health officials say in Saturday’s pandemic update that seven cases have been removed due to data correction, for a net number of 266 new infections. Both of the people who died were in their 60s – one was in the Northern health region, while the other was in the Southern region and was linked to an outbreak at the Emerson Health Centre. The five-day test positivity rate in Manitoba is 7.3 per cent, and 8.3 per cent in Winnipeg.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new cases of COVID-19. The latest numbers bring the province’s active case count to 33, while there are three people in hospital with the virus. Meanwhile, public health is issuing a flight advisory. Passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 8016 that departed Montreal and arrived in St. John’s on Thursday, April 29 are asked to arrange COVID-19 testing.

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