The country reported 1,016 new infections on Friday, capping a five-day period where daily cases hovered just above or below 1,000 for the first sustained period since mid-September last year.
Friday’s cases brought the seven-day average down to 1,079.8, also matching September’s levels and marking an almost 90% drop from April’s third wave high.
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Hospitalizations have also fallen 73% from this peak, with just over 1,150 Canadians currently receiving care for symptoms of COVID-19.
The seven-day average of new deaths, meanwhile, fell 61%, from 51 per day to 19.6. Eleven new deaths were reported on Friday, including just one in Ontario – a province that not so long ago was reporting dozens a day.
Canada’s vaccination campaign has only continued to escalate as cases and deaths decline. More than 75 percent of eligible Canadians aged 12 and older have received at least one dose, according to the COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker. More than 19 percent were fully immunized with two doses.
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The country is administering 1.19 doses per 100 people daily as of Thursday, one of the five highest rates in the world. Canada also leads the world in the share of the total population vaccinated, with nearly 66 percent of all Canadians now at least partially vaccinated.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced on Friday that Canada is on track to have received more than 68 million doses of the vaccine in total by the end of July. This is more than what is needed to immunize the 32 million eligible Canadians with the two required doses.
Still, there are signs that the vaccination campaign may start to slow down. In the past 10 days, 3.6% of Canadians received a first dose, compared to 6.8% in the previous 10 days.
Reluctance to immunize may play a role. A new Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News, released on Friday, suggests 18% of Canadians are unsure or categorically refuse to be vaccinated.
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Provinces like Alberta and Manitoba that have started to see their vaccination rates level off are offering incentives like the chance to win up to $ 1 million in the lottery. But Ipsos has found that such benefits can only influence about half of those who are still unvaccinated.
Health officials warn that the vaccination rate in Canada must be even higher to effectively control the Delta variant, which has quickly spread to almost all parts of the country.
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Friday there were just over 2,000 confirmed cases of the variant. This is a 66% jump from just three days ago, when the Public Health Agency of Canada said there were just under 1,200.
Tam said this week the country should go beyond its initial goal of at least one dose of vaccine for 75% of eligible Canadians while urging for faster administration of second doses, saying that a single dose does not isn’t as effective against Delta.
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Two doses of the vaccines used by Canada are believed to offer very good protection against the variant, and even one dose has been shown to be effective in preventing serious illness.
“If the variant sets in and we don’t have high enough vaccine coverage, what you’ll probably see is a resurgence in the fall,” Tam told the House of Commons health committee on Friday.
All provinces warn of the existence of Delta. He is believed to be the cause of a major outbreak in Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario, to be implicated in an outbreak at a Calgary hospital and to worry health officials in Waterloo, Ontario, which is suddenly the province’s hot COVID-19 location.
However, most provinces are still moving forward with plans to reopen.
Alberta, which reported 124 new cases and three deaths on Friday, announced it would lift all restrictions on July 1 – the first province or territory to do so. The move was announced after the province surpassed the 70% vaccination threshold.
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British Columbia entered the next phase of its reopening plan on Tuesday, allowing some limited indoor gatherings, meals and events like film screenings. The province announced 108 new infections and just one new death on Friday.
The Prairies are a little more cautious. Saskatchewan, which has recorded 98 new cases and one other death, is waiting to cross the 70% inoculation threshold. Manitoba continues to face high hospitalizations while continuing to report more than 100 new infections a day – including 189 on Friday, along with three other deaths.
Ontario reported 345 new infections and one more death on Friday, while Quebec added 127 more cases and two new deaths. The two provinces have started to reopen, although parts of Ontario experiencing epidemics have been forced to suspend lifting of restrictions.
In Atlantic Canada, only New Brunswick and Nova Scotia added new cases, with three and 11, respectively.
Nine new cases have been reported in the Yukon, as the territory continues to fight an epidemic in its capital, Whitehorse. The outbreak is fueled by the Gamma variant, which was first identified in Brazil and is also highly contagious.
No new cases were reported in the Northwest Territories or Nunavut on Friday.
To date, Canada has recorded a total of 1,407,277 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of these, 26,023 people have died and 1,368,449 are considered cured.
– With files from the Canadian Press
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