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COVID-19 in Canada: Why Canada's doses of vaccine may be a bit delayed; Quebec allows 'moral contract' of two gatherings for holidays

Elisabetta Bianchini
·6-min read
COVID-19 in Canada
COVID-19 in Canada

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

Quebec only allows two holiday gatherings as part of ‘moral contract’

Quebec Premier Francois Legault provided more clarity around the “moral contract,” which allows people in the province to gather between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27.

“Public health authorities told us that we have to limit ourselves to two gatherings,” Legault said. “So we can only organize two events with people who do not live with us.”

“We must also refrain from travelling outside Quebec. If you do so, you may come back with the virus and it’s not good for our health system.”

People in the province will be able to host or attend two gatherings if they self-isolate for a week before and a week after that four-day period.

When asked about upcoming Hanukkah celebrations, which begin Dec. 10, the premier confirmed a similar plan with isolations and limited gatherings is not allowed.

“What we want is to have all the gatherings concentrated,” he said, adding that if something similar was implemented for Hanukkah school days would be impacted.

Quebec reported 1,124 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, including 284 in Montreal, 153 in Quebec City and 145 in Montérégie.

The province also confirmed 45 new deaths, including nine that occurred in the last 24 hours. There are currently 655 people with COVID-19 in Quebec hospitals, including 96 in intensive care.

‘Nothing that we do today will bring the numbers down this week’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau started a press conference on Tuesday by saying the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada is “very concerning.”

“We know that this second wave had the potential to get really serious, really fast and we also knew that we had to be ready to do whatever it takes to get it under control,” Trudeau said. “Because at the end of the day, lives are at stake.”

“Nothing that we do today will bring the numbers down this week. This week’s numbers were already determined by behaviours last week and the week before. What we can affect today is what our country looks like a week, two weeks from now.”

The prime minister also spoke about the access Canada will have to vaccines, but did not provide any concrete information on when the first doses are expected to arrive in the country. Trudeau stressed that Canada no longer has domestic capacity for vaccine production and recognized that countries like the United States, Germany and the U.K., which do have these pharmaceutical facilities, are “obviously” going to “prioritize helping their citizens first.”

“Yes, the very first vaccines that rolloff an assembly line in a given country are likely to be given to citizens of that particular country but shortly afterward, they will start honouring...the contracts that they signed with other countries, including with Canada,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister highlighted that Canada invested in ensuring there is some domestic vaccine production capacity because “we never want to be caught short again without the ability to support Canadians directly.”

Canada signs new agreement for a COVID-19 antibody therapy

The Government of Canada has signed an agreement with Eli Lilly for up to 26,000 doses of their COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapy Bamlanivimab.

This therapy was developed with Vancouver-based AbCellera Biologics, using its antibody therapy discovery platform.

The deliveries of this therapeutic drug will begin in December and and will be completed by February 2021. Canada will then be able to purchase additional doses.

Data error results in lower case data on Tuesday

Ontario reported 1,009 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, including 497 new cases in Toronto, 175 in Peel and 118 in York Region.

This low case number is due to a data entry error that was made where Monday’s case data included more than eight hours of extra data from Nov. 22. Tuesday’s data is lower due to the adjustment for that error.

The province confirmed 14 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 3,519.

There are currently 534 people with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals, including 159 in ICUs. Outbreaks have been reported in 102 long-term care homes in the province, with 534 active cases in residents and 451 active cases in staff.

Ontario reported 270 new school-related COVID-19 cases, including 223 student cases and 47 staff cases.

Ontario deploys rapid tests in long-term care homes, rural and hotspot areas

The Ontario government announced Tuesday it has deployed COVID-19 rapid tests to remote and high-risk communities.

The province has received about 98,000 ID NOW tests that are used in hospitals and assessment centres in rural and remote communities. They are also testing people related to outbreak investigations in hotspot areas. Hospitals can test both staff and patients who are symptomatic or have been in close contact with a COVID-19 case.

Ontario also has about 1.2 million Panbio rapid antigen tests that will be used in long-term care homes and other workplaces. They have been deployed to six long-term care operator with potential use in over 30 long-term care facilities, 27 retirement homes, eight hospitals, and 11 industry partners.

The province expects to receive up to 1.5 million more Panbio tests by the end of the year.

Nova Scotia adds restrictions across the province, strictest rules in Halifax

The Nova Scotia government announced more restrictive measures coming into place on Thursday, mainly in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), for two week.

“We need to stop the spread now, so it’s time to take some tough measures,” premier Stephen McNeil said at a press conference on Tuesday.

These new rules will apply to western and central Halifax areas:

  • Gathering limit in public is five, or up to the number of members of an immediate family in a household

  • Mandatory masking now applies to common areas of multi-unit residential buildings, such as apartment buildings and condos

  • Restaurants and licensed establishments are closed for in-person dining

  • Retail stores must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent or less of allowable capacity

  • Wineries, distilleries and breweries cannot hold tastings or in-person dining and must follow retail rules in their stores (delivery and curb-side pickup allowed)

  • Organized sports, recreational, athletic, arts and cultural activities, faith-based activities are paused

  • Profit and non-profit fitness and recreational facilities closed

  • Libraries, museums, casino and First Nations gaming establishments are closed

  • Attendees of illegal gatherings can receive a $1,000 fine

The following new rules apply across Nova Scotia:

  • No visitors are allowed in long-term care facilities, Adult Residential Centres and Regional Rehabilitation Centres licensed by the Department of Community Service,sexcept volunteers and designated caregivers

  • Sports teams are restricted to local or regional play only

  • No extracurricular activities between schools

Nova Scotians are also being asked to avoid all non-essential travel to and from western and central Halifax.

“If you were thinking you’re coming to Halifax this weekend for Black Friday, please think again,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health said. “For the next two weeks at least, HRM is not a shopping destination for the rest of the province.”

The province reported 37 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, which brings the number of active cases in Nova Scotia to 87.

“If you haven’t woken up to the second wave, this is your wake up call,” premier McNeil said.

Check out our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for latest news, tips, health updates, cases and more.