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People wear masks to protect them from the COVID-19 pandemic in Kingston, Ont. on Feb. 10, 2021.Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says she’ll soon have advice to help fully vaccinated Canadians figure out what they can safely do, but she says much will depend on who you are and where you live.

More than 7.5 million Canadians, or 20 per cent of the entire population, has now received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine but there is still no guidance on what that means for personal behaviour.

The Centers for Disease Control in the United States issued its first advice for fully vaccinated Americans in early March, when less than 10 per cent of the U.S. population had all required doses.

That initial advice included being able to visit safely with other fully vaccinated people, including indoors, without masks or physical distancing.

But Tam says the Delta variant adds new risks, full vaccination doesn’t guarantee people won’t get COVID-19, and it’s hard to know who is vaccinated and who is not.

She says a risk-assessment tool for Canadians is being developed with provincial and territorial health officials and she is urging Canadians to keep following local public guidance and know about their own risks from COVID-19.

Ontario reports 296 cases, 60 deaths as historic case data added

Ontario is reporting 296 COVID-19 cases and 60 deaths today, but the province says the numbers include older infections and deaths that are just now being counted.

The province says 54 of the deaths reported today are from previous months but are now being recorded after a data review.

It also says approximately 80 cases reported today are from last year, following a data review by Toronto Public Health.

The province says there are 334 people hospitalized with the virus, including 314 people in intensive care.

There were 16,784 COVID-19 tests completed yesterday.

Ontario administered 199,535 vaccine doses since the last daily update, for a total of more than 12.8 million doses.

All Quebec to be at green COVID-19 alert level on Monday

The entire province will be in the green pandemic-alert level next week – the lowest level in Quebec’s colour-coded COVID-19 response plan – Premier François Legault said Tuesday.

Eight of the province’s outlying regions are already green and will be joined on Monday by the province’s bigger cities, including Montreal, Quebec City and Laval.

Under green zone rules, up to 10 people from three different households can gather indoors and up to 20 people can gather in backyards. For restaurants and bars, up to 10 people can be seated at a table indoors and up to 20 people are allowed at each outside table. Maximum capacity at weddings and funerals will also increase next week.

As of Friday, Legault said outdoor festivals across the province can welcome up to 3,500 people, adding that festival attendees who are fully vaccinated will not have to wear masks around each other.

One-fifth of the province’s population is considered fully vaccinated, according to the latest data. The province’s public health institute said Tuesday about 80.4 per cent of Quebeckers 12 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine while 20 per cent have received both doses.

People in the 18-to-39 age bracket, however, lag behind the rest of the province regarding first doses. “We still have work to do to reach our vaccine target for those under 40,” Legault said. “I ask you to get vaccinated as soon as possible, especially those in Montreal and Laval.”

Quebec health officials said discussions are ongoing with the federal government over the definition of who is “fully vaccinated.” In Quebec, someone who has recovered from COVID-19 and has had one dose of a two-dose vaccine is considered adequately vaccinated.

Quebec on Tuesday posted fewer than 100 new daily cases for the second consecutive day, reporting 84 new infections and four more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Health authorities said hospitalizations dropped by seven, to 161, and 40 patients were in intensive care, a rise of one. There are 1,225 active reported cases in the province.

Nova Scotia to open borders to Atlantic Canada but with modified rules for N.B.

Passengers wear face masks on a Halifax Transit ferry as it arrives in Dartmouth, N.S. on July 24, 2020.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia is opening its provincial boundaries on Wednesday to travellers from the Atlantic provinces but with modified rules for those coming from New Brunswick.

In a news release Tuesday, the province says travellers from New Brunswick can enter for any reason but will have isolation requirements based on their vaccination status and testing.

The move comes after New Brunswick was the first province in the region to reopen its borders to Canadian travellers last week, without requiring them to self-isolate as long as they have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Because of New Brunswick’s approach to visitors from the rest of Canada, we need to maintain some protection when people enter Nova Scotia from that province,” Premier Iain Rankin said in the release. “The rules we’re putting in place for New Brunswick will extend to travellers from outside Atlantic Canada on June 30.”

Under the new border rules, New Brunswick travellers will have to complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form, but will need to “be prepared” to show their proof of vaccination to officials at the border. The province says the vaccination proof can also be uploaded to the check-in form.

People who have received their second dose of vaccine at least 14 days before their arrival in Nova Scotia will have to self-isolate until they receive a negative test, while those with one dose will have to isolate for at least seven days and will need two negative test results before being released from quarantine.

Travellers with no vaccination will have to self-isolate for 14 days and need to be tested at the beginning and end of their quarantine period, and all tests must be standard PCR lab tests and can’t be rapid tests.

People travelling from Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador will no longer have to self-isolate or complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form.

“Our testing strategy is among the most robust in the country and will continue to support our border policy while also supporting routine testing for all Nova Scotians,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

Nova Scotia reported two new COVID-19 related deaths and two new cases of the virus on Tuesday.

Health officials said the deaths included a man in his 60s in the Halifax area and a man in his 50s in the province’s western health zone. The two new cases included one in the Halifax area who was a close contact of a previously reported case and one in the western zone related to travel.

The province has 74 active cases of novel coronavirus with two people in hospital.

Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court lifted an injunction Tuesday that had banned protests and other gatherings during the recent COVID-19 lockdown.

Justice Gail Gatchalian made the ruling following a short hearing in Halifax. The injunction was granted to the province on May 14 and was primarily aimed at two anti-mask protests, but its reach extended to other gatherings and events and also banned their promotion on social media.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has criticized the court order as too broad and its challenge to the original injunction will be heard at a June 30 hearing.

Nova Scotia’s government issued a lockdown order in late April to control a COVID-19 outbreak, primarily in the Halifax and Cape Breton areas.

In New Brunswick, health officials said that more than 31,000 eligible people had registered for appointments on Monday to get their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine – a new single day record in the province.

New Brunswickers can book a second-dose vaccine appointment if at least 28 days have passed since their first dose. Currently, 76.4 per cent of people eligible have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 20.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.

The province also reported one new travel-related case of novel coronavirus involving a person in their 20s in the Saint John region. There are now 49 active cases and five patients are hospitalized, including two in an intensive care unit.

One new case was also reported Tuesday in Newfoundland and Labrador. The province currently has 13 active cases.

Two-thirds of Canadians say restrictions should stay in place as people get vaccinated, poll suggests

Toronto's Yonge and Dundas Square, usually one of Canada's busiest places, is nearly empty during lockdown on June 7, 2021.Ian Willms/Getty Images

A new poll suggests about two-thirds of Canadians believe that governments should not lift all restrictions related to COVID-19.

Sixty-nine per cent of respondents to an online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say restrictions should stay in place as people continue to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said Canadians are still fairly prudent and careful regarding lifting the restrictions.

“I believe they’re waiting until the end of the vaccination campaign, or at least until governments say that they’ve reached all of their targets, potentially to sort of relax a little bit,” he said in an interview.

“We’ll see this number change once governments have said that they’ve reached their vaccination targets. So, a few more weeks at least.”

The online poll of 1,542 adult Canadians was carried out June 18 to 20, and it cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based surveys are not considered random samples.

Bourque said the pandemic has impacted the wellness of many Canadians as they have been exercising less, gaining weight, drinking more alcohol and smoking more cannabis.

The survey found that 63 per cent of respondents say their mental health has been bad since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

Thirty-six per cent of respondents said their level of exercise has decreased, 39 per cent say they have gained more weight, 16 per cent say they have drunk more booze and nine per cent say they have smoked more pot since the beginning of the pandemic.

Those who gained weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average.

Respondents who drank more alcohol since the pandemic started say they have drunk 6.3 more servings per week, and those who smoked more cannabis says they smoked on average 5.6 times more per week.

The poll also suggested that six per cent of Canadians have been spending more money on online gambling including gambling on sports and casino games.

Those who spent more on gambling say they spent on average an additional $74.8 on gambling per week.

“It’s not that there’s many more that gamble compared to before, but those who gamble more actually have increased their spending quite significantly,” Bourque said.

At the same time, the survey found 59 per cent of respondents say they feel optimistic about the next year in Canada.

“Optimism tends to be higher among younger Canadians, and among those who live in larger urban areas, so probably a bit more affluent youth are looking forward to getting out there, being more social again,” Bourque said.

“Canadians, anyway, seem to be opting for a more gradual, careful, prudent approach to getting out there and enjoying some of the things that they used to enjoy prior to the pandemic period.”

Alberta continues COVID mask rules for public transport after most restrictions lift

Alberta’s general COVID-19 mask rules are going, but they won’t be completely gone by July 1.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, says some mask rules will remain in place after the mask mandate in indoor public places lifts on Canada Day.

She says masks will continue to be required in taxis, on public transit and on ride shares.

Hinshaw says there’s still a risk given they are enclosed spaces and some people may not be fully vaccinated.

Masks will also still be required in continuing care and acute care settings.

Both Calgary and Edmonton will have their mask mandates in place until July 5.

A motion to deactivate Edmonton’s mandatory mask bylaw on Canada Day was defeated by one vote Tuesday. The motion would have ended the bylaw on July 1, but it failed on third reading so the vote was pushed to July 5 when council meets again.

Calgary city council decided Monday to keep that city’s bylaw in place until its next meeting, also on July 5. At that time, council will consider the level of hospitalizations, infection rates, second-dose vaccinations and positivity rates before repealing the bylaw.

Premier Jason Kenney has announced that all major health restrictions can lift on Canada Day given that more than 70 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose.

Hinshaw said about 71 per cent of those aged 12 and over have now received at least one dose and more than 30 per cent have received two.

More than 3.85 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Alberta.

“Our numbers are declining quickly, which is a testament to the power of vaccines and to the way Albertans are all helping protect each other,” Hinshaw said Tuesday.

Case numbers continued to fall.

Alberta reported 57 new cases of COVID-19 and there were 1,773 active cases, which is the fewest recorded since early October.

There were 200 people in hospital, including 54 in intensive care.

Kenney has said vaccine protection is the key to avoiding future health restrictions in the months to come.

Provincial officials estimate another 15 per cent of the eligible population is willing to get vaccinated but, for whatever reason, has not done so. To that end, the province is giving away three $1-million prizes in draws this summer for those who have been vaccinated.

There are also free airline trips and passes to events at the upcoming Calgary Stampede.

COVID-19 Gamma variant continues to spread among unvaccinated Yukoners

Yukon’s chief medical officer says COVID-19 is continuing to spread among unvaccinated residents in the territory.

Dr. Brendan Hanley says in a statement that eight new cases were confirmed Tuesday.

Seven were in Whitehorse and one was in a rural community.

The statement says there are now 92 active cases in the territory.

It says that since June 4, screening results show all cases are positive for the Gamma variant first identified in Brazil.

About 74 per cent of Yukoners are fully vaccinated, while 82 per cent have received their first dose of vaccine.

“We expect many further cases over the coming weeks, especially amongst unvaccinated people. COVID-19 will go wherever it finds an opportunity,” Hanley says in the statement.

“We all need to take responsibility for protecting ourselves, our families and our communities.”

B.C. health officials say mixing mRNA vaccines is safe, effective

British Columbia’s provincial health officer is encouraging anyone who is offered a different COVID-19 vaccine than the one they first received to take it.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said fluctuating vaccine supply means if you received Pfizer-BioNTech, you may be offered Moderna for your second shot, or vice versa.

The two mRNA shots are essentially the same vaccine in a “slightly different package,” which is the same antigen wrapped in different lipids, she said.

“We will do our best to make sure that we have both products available at our clinics, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible,” she said Tuesday, adding that Pfizer shipments are expected to lag behind Moderna in the coming weeks.

“With the millions of doses of vaccines delivered in Canada and across the world, we are confident that both of these mRNA vaccines are safe and effective and can be used interchangeably.”

Henry spoke from Prince George, where she met with colleagues at Northern Health and spoke about how to increase vaccination rates.

Accessibility is one of the biggest barriers in rural communities, she said. She encouraged anyone with ideas for community events or gatherings that would be appropriate hosts for pop-up clinics to pitch their suggestions to the health authority.

She said the province is seeing a sustained drop in new cases, hospitalizations and clusters thanks to climbing vaccination rates.

More than one million people have been fully vaccinated in the province, she said. About 77.7 per cent of adults in B.C. and 76.2 per cent of those 12 and older have received their first dose.

British Columbia recorded 56 new infections Tuesday and there were no new deaths.

There were 1,150 active cases, of whom 111 people were in hospital, including 41 in intensive care.

Health Minister Adrian Dix, speaking from Vancouver, said the province has seen a moderate drop in the number of people choosing AstraZeneca for their second dose, following new advice on mixing and matching vaccines from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

On June 1, the federal committee had said AstraZeneca recipients “could” get Pfizer or Moderna for their second shot if they wanted, but last Thursday it went further to say an mRNA vaccine was the “preferred” choice.

The committee’s guidance is based on the growing supply of mRNA vaccines, evidence that a second dose of an mRNA vaccine produces a stronger immune response and because of the very low but serious risk of vaccine-induced blood clots associated with AstraZeneca.

Before the new guidance, about half of AstraZeneca recipients were opting for a second dose of the same vaccine, or about 6,000 people per day. Over the past four days, that dropped to under 4,000 a day, Dix said.

The B.C. government is not turning down additional doses of AstraZeneca and expects about 10,000 to be delivered this week, alongside about 896,000 shots of Moderna and 327,000 doses of Pfizer.

Henry is not making a recommendation on which vaccine AstraZeneca recipients should receive for their second dose, instead leaving it up to them to make a personal choice.

She said AstraZeneca is also safe and effective, and those opting for a second dose are making a “perfectly valid decision.”

The B.C. government once again extended the provincial state of emergency Tuesday that gives officials extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the pandemic response. It is in effect through July 6.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé says raising the COVID-19 vaccination rate among 18 to 39 year olds is important to prevent a new surge in the fall. Dubé says it’s important that at least 75 per cent people in each age group get the shot.

The Canadian Press

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