Canada surpassed 500,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as infections continued to surge while the vaccine rollout reached its final province.
Saskatchewan pushed the country over the grim threshold Saturday, with 252 new cases reported as well as eight more deaths.
Earlier in the day, Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces hardest hit by the pandemic, each recorded daily case counts beyond 2,000.
It’s the fifth consecutive day Ontario has exceeded 2,000 new positive tests, with Saturday’s tally at 2,357.
The province, which is currently holding emergency talks to consider additional health measures, also recorded 27 new deaths.
Five regions in Ontario are scheduled to be in the province’s lockdown stage as of Monday.
Quebec recorded 2,038 new infections and 44 new deaths related to the novel coronavirus.
Shortest growth period
The latest 100,000 cases racked up in just 15 days across the country, marking the shortest growth period since the pandemic was declared in March.
It took six months for Canada to register its first 100,000 cases of the virus, another four to reach 200,000, less than a month to hit 300,000 and 18 days to hit 400,000.
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Meanwhile, immunizations are now officially underway in all provinces, with New Brunswick the last to launch its inoculation program.
The province delivered its first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this morning, to an 84-year-old resident of a long-term care facility.
Pauline Gauvin told the health worker who administered the injection she felt comfortable having it, and, after asking what her next step in the process was, Gauvin was told she could go back to the waiting area.
″(I’ll) go mix with the crowd,” she said, smiling.
Other residents and health-care workers were set to get the shot today as part of the province’s plan to administer the vaccine to 1,950 people.
New Brunswick accepted an offer from the owner of a bluefin tuna exporting company in eastern Prince Edward Island for a loan of two freezers that can store the vaccine, which has to be kept below -70 C.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 19, 2020.