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A pedestrian wears a mask as they wait to cross the street in downtown Toronto on April 7, 2021.Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

Ontario is reporting 469 new cases of COVID-19 today and 18 more deaths linked to the virus.

It’s the lowest daily infections total for Ontario since Sept. 26, when the province reported 435 new cases.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 182 of today’s cases are in Toronto, 76 are in Peel Region, and 40 are in the Porcupine Health Unit Region.

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The Ministry of Health says 621 people are hospitalized with the novel coronavirus – 481 in intensive care and 305 on a ventilator.

Today’s data is based on nearly completed tests.

Ontario says 158,209 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province yesterday, for a total of more than 10.2 million doses so far.

Edmonton may keep masking bylaw until 70 per cent of population is fully vaccinated, mayor says

The mayor of Edmonton says he’s considering a request from a doctors group that he and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi keep masking bylaws in place until at least 70 per cent of their cities’ eligible populations have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Don Iveson said at a briefing Tuesday that he’s concerned about lifting masking bylaws in lockstep with the final stage of the Alberta government’s reopening plan.

Last week, the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association sent a letter to both mayors that expressed concern about the pace of the province’s plan, given that a variant first identified in India is able to infect two-thirds of people who have only had a single dose.

“They have been right every time,” Iveson said of doctors’ groups that have issued warnings about reopening plans.

“So their track record speaks for itself and I take their input very seriously.”

Nenshi said in an email Tuesday that Calgary city council plans to discuss its face-covering bylaw and is weighing all options for next steps.

“The safety and protection of our community remains our priority, and will guide our decisions,” he said.

Iveson said he and Nenshi have agreed to keep in touch as both city councils debate the issue.

In Calgary, there is also a debate about the timing of masking bylaws and the Calgary Stampede that is expected to start in early July.

“Albertans may travel to the Stampede for something to do, so it’s also by proxy and issue for our citizens and for our doctors,” Iveson said.

“If people get sick and come home or if things get bad in Calgary and they need to overflow to here, those are all knock-on impacts to our community and to our health-care workers.”

The province has said Stage 3 of its reopening plan, which could happen as early as June 24, would see all health restrictions lifted as long as 70 per cent of Albertans 12 and over had received at least one shot.

Premier Jason Kenney said Monday that the province is ready to go ahead Thursday with the second phase, which includes allowing up to 20 people at outdoor gatherings, weddings and funeral services.

To reach that stage, 60 per cent of eligible Albertans had to have at least one shot. Kenney noted that about 67 per cent had already received one dose.

But he also said 115,000 more people need to get their first shot within the next week if the final stage is to go ahead later this month.

There were 100,000 bookings for the next week, Kenney added.

The province reported Monday there were 4,707 active COVID-19 cases and, of those, 127 were new. There were 140 people in hospital due to the virus, including 94 in intensive care.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, was to hold a COVID-19 briefing later Tuesday.

N.B. says another 29,000 people need to get vaccine before health orders are relaxed

New Brunswick’s government says it is 28,812 people away from reaching its target of having 75 per cent of the population vaccinated with one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The government wanted to reach that goal on Monday and begin loosening health orders but decided to delay its reopening plan until the target is reached.

Health officials say 70.8 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, officials are reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.

They say the new case involves a person in their 70s in the Bathurst, N.B., area who is a contact of a previously reported infection.

New Brunswick has 99 active reported cases and three patients in hospital with the disease, including one in intensive care. One New Brunswicker is hospitalized with COVID-19 outside the province.

Manitobans fully immunized against COVID-19 will be exempt from self-isolation rule

Manitobans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will soon be able to travel within Canada without having to self-isolate upon returning to the province.

Premier Brian Pallister says new secure vaccination cards will be available to people who have received both doses.

The card will exempt people from the current rule that requires people to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling to another province or territory.

The card will also give people more ability to visit loved ones in hospitals and personal care homes.

Pallister says the measure is temporary until vaccination is more widespread and the threat from COVID-19 is reduced.

He says the card might also be required in the future for things like sporting events, but no decision has been made.

COVID-19 testing at Halifax airport, isolation rules change for rotational workers

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The Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Jan. 4, 2018.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Airline passengers arriving at Halifax Stanfield International airport will have the option of taking a COVID-19 test beginning today.

Travellers will be issued a self-swab kit and instructions, while health staff will be on hand for assistance.

Although the tests aren’t mandatory, officials have said the testing measure is a way to quickly identify and respond to cases.

The self-swab kit is a PCR test – a lab-based test similar to the one used at primary assessment centres, and people will receive results by phone or e-mail within 72 hours of dropping it off.

Also today, Nova Scotia rotational workers who have no COVID-19 symptoms and who have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks before arriving in the province will no longer need to self-isolate, although they must get tested three times within a two-week period.

Meanwhile, health officials say people in the province who received their first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on or before April 21 will now be able to reschedule their second dose appointment before June 30.

Although the vaccine is being offered, the province’s chief medical officer of health is recommending people get a second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines instead. Dr. Robert Strang has said his advice is based on recent research that indicates those vaccines provide a better immune response than two doses of AstraZeneca.

Nova Scotia has about 2,000 doses of AstraZeneca that are set to expire at the end of the month. The province has said about 58,000 Nova Scotians have received a first dose of AstraZeneca.

Amid heat wave, Quebec allows students to remove masks inside classrooms

Quebec is allowing students to remove their masks inside classrooms because of the hot spring weather and the improving epidemiological situation in the province.

Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said Tuesday his department sought to loosen the mask order for students last week but had to wait for public health officials to make a decision.

“I know what it is when it’s hot, when just breathing is an effort,” Roberge, a former elementary school teacher, told reporters in La Malbaie, Que., about 150 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.

The Health Department announced Monday evening that the obligation for students to wear masks would be ended Tuesday in orange pandemic-alert zones, which includes Montreal and its surrounding regions. Mask wearing is not mandatory inside classrooms in yellow and green pandemic-alert zones.

The government has said it intends to have students return to school in the fall without requiring they wear masks or stay in classroom bubbles. Students should also be able to attend field trips and eat lunch together in common areas.

Roberge said Tuesday 59 per cent of children aged 12 to 17 have either received a first dose or booked an appointment to get one.

On Tuesday, Quebec reported 149 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, none of which occurred in the past 24 hours. Health officials said hospitalizations dropped by two, to 263, and 60 people were in intensive care, a rise of two.

The province said 64,973 doses of COVID-19 were administered Monday, for a total of 6,220,734; about 66.4 per cent of eligible Quebecers have received a first dose.

Premier Francois Legault will hold a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday afternoon in Quebec City alongside Health Minister Christian Dube and Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health.

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