The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for Thursday, April 8, 2021

The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):

5:45 p.m.

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Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says the COVID-19 variant of concern first reported in the United Kingdom is now the dominant strain.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans who test positive can assume that they have the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant.

Hinshaw is also reporting 1,429 new infections in the province and three new deaths.

She says the province has identified 717 new variant cases.

Hinshaw says the variants first reported in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil make up 45 per cent of Alberta’s active cases.


5:15 p.m.

The Quebec government is imposing an earlier curfew for Montreal and the suburb of Laval as it tightens COVID-19 restrictions for the second time in three days.

Premier Francois Legault announced that beginning Sunday, people in Montreal and Laval will have to remain at home from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. or face fines of more than $1,000.

Last week, Legault placed Quebec City, Levis and Gatineau under the earlier curfew, advancing it from the previous 9:30 p.m. start.

The government also closed schools and non-essential businesses in those three cities for at least 10 days, and Legault announced today that those measures would be prolonged until April 18.


5:10 p.m.

British Columbia is reporting 1,293 new cases of COVID-19 along with two new deaths.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the series of COVID-19 strains seen earlier in the pandemic have been replaced, largely by the variant that first originated in the U.K.

She says the news is not unexpected.

There are 9,184 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., with 336 people currently hospitalized.


4:45 p.m.

Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.

Health officials say the case involves a person in their 30s who had recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada.

There are now five active reported cases of COVID-19 on the Island.

P.E.I. has reported a total of 161 cases of COVID-19 and no deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.


4:10 p.m.

Health officials in Saskatchewan are reporting 205 new COVID-19 infections and two new deaths.

They say one person in their 70s died in the province’s south-eastern zone and another person over the age of 80 died in the Saskatoon area.

The province says 2,141 cases are considered active.

It says 206 people are in hospital due to the virus, with 41 of them in intensive care.


3:50 p.m.

The Northwest Territories says two recently announced COVID-19 infections have been identified as the variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

The cases include a resident in Yellowknife and an out-of-territory worker at the Diavik Diamond Mine, about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

Last week, the territory identified its first variant case -- another out-of-territory worker at the same mine.


1:50 p.m.

The Manitoba government is making a couple of minor changes to its COVID-19 public health orders.

Starting Friday, golf courses will be allowed to operate liquor carts, and the cap on attendance at self-help meetings will rise from 15 to 25 people.

Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says no other changes to public health orders are expected for at least three weeks.


1:45 p.m.

Manitoba is reporting 137 additional COVID-19 cases and three deaths.

Health officials have also confirmed that a death reported in late March involved a variant of concern.

It was that of a man in his 70s in the Winnipeg region with the variant first seen in the United Kingdom.


1:10 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19.

Authorities say the case involves a woman in her 40s in the eastern region of the province.

Contact tracers are still trying to determine the source of her infection.

There are now five active cases of COVID-19 across Newfoundland and Labrador.


12:45 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 today, all related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.

Health officials say three cases are in the health region that includes Halifax and the other two cases are in the eastern health region.

Officials are also announcing one new case involving a variant of concern – the B.1.1.7 mutation first identified in the United Kingdom – bringing the total number of cases of that variant to 23.

Nova Scotia has 40 active reported cases.


12:05 p.m.

New Brunswick is reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 today.

Health officials say six of the most recent infections are in the Edmundston area and one is in the Fredericton region.

New Brunswick has 146 active COVID-19 diagnoses and 20 patients in hospital with the disease, including 13 in intensive care.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the number of active cases in the province is the highest since the start of the pandemic.


12 p.m.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this morning in Winnipeg.

Pallister issued a written statement saying he encourages all Manitobans to roll up their sleeves and get a vaccine as soon as they are eligible


11:55 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been successful in northern communities thanks to the collaboration between Ottawa and the country's Inuit leadership.

Speaking at the fourth annual Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, Trudeau says more work is needed to close gaps in food security, housing and health care.

He says the pandemic has highlighted existing economic and social inequalities the Inuit have faced for a long time.

But Trudeau also says the pandemic didn't hit northern populations as hard as the rest of the country, nor were its effects as devastating.

President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Natan Obed says there is a need for building back stronger to address the vulnerabilities that Inuit residents face, including lagging infrastructure, health care and educational systems.


11:05 a.m.

Quebec is reporting another spike in cases and hospitalizations linked to COVID-19, with 1,609 new infections and an additional 16 people in hospital.

Of the 566 patients currently in hospital, health officials say nine more are in intensive care for a total of 132.

The province is also reporting nine more deaths linked to the virus, including one in the past 24 hours.

The Quebec City area is reporting the highest number of new cases with 436, followed by Montreal with 370.


10:40 a.m.

Ontario reports 3,295 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 933 of those new cases are in Toronto, 649 are in Peel Region, and 386 are in York Region.

She also say there are 165 new cases in Durham Region and 160 in Ottawa.

More than 100,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province for the second straight day.


10:15 a.m.

The Canadian Medical Association says constantly changing rules to help curb the spread of COVID-19 are confusing and detrimental to their purpose.

The national advocacy group representing Canada’s doctors, says new lockdowns can’t be lifted until there are clear signs the variants are under control.

The pace of vaccinations must also increase, particularly in communities where COVID-19 is spreading the most.

That association says primary care doctors should be involved to help roll out vaccines, prioritizing vaccinations for essential workers.

It says essential workers and their families also need supports to keep them safe, including paid sick leave and proper protective equipment.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2021.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the newly reported variant cases were the first in the Northwest Territories.

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