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Quebec will shut down non-essential businesses for two weeks following Christmas Day in an attempt to slow a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The measure was one of several new public health orders that Premier François Legault announced on Tuesday evening, a day after the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the two hardest-hit provinces in the country.

It also came on the heels of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealing Canada is expected to receive 168,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of December.

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The new restrictions in Quebec include a mandatory work-from-home order, with few exceptions, from Dec. 17 to Jan. 11. Elementary schools will not reopen, as originally planned, on Jan. 4, but Legault said schools would supply students with homework and some distance learning. All students, from elementary and high schools, should be back in class Jan. 11.

As well, between Dec. 17 and Jan. 11, the province's yellow zones will be upgraded to orange and orange zones to red, the highest alert level, which means tighter restrictions on restaurant dining rooms, gyms, museums and theatres.

"We want to give ourselves all the chances of breaking this second wave and to start 2021 without hospitals overflowing," Legault said.

At the same time, the premier announced an easing of other restrictions during that period. Up to eight people will be allowed to gather in outdoor public spaces for physical activities, though outdoor gatherings on private property, no matter how small, will remain banned.

As well, people who live alone, who currently are allowed one visitor at a time, can join one family's bubble.

Quebec and Ontario both launched their COVID-19 vaccination efforts on Monday while B.C. vaccinated its first resident Tuesday and several other provinces were expected to follow suit.

Gisèle Lévesque, an 89-year-old living in the Saint-Antoine care home, was the first Quebecer to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, Legault announced on Twitter. Quebec deputy premier Genevieve Guilbault later told reporters that Lévesque's vaccination was the first in Canada.

Ontario's first dose went to Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker in Toronto. 

Ontario on Tuesday reported 2,275 cases of COVID-19, with 711 cases in Toronto and 586 in Peel Region, Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

The province, which reported an additional 20 deaths on Tuesday, said the latest data reflects a 27-hour period for most of Ontario's public health units because of a change in how the figures are gathered.

WATCH | Ford says lockdowns in Ontario regions are working:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the daily high case counts of coronavirus are troubling but would be much worse without the lockdown measures put in place by the province.  0:47

Quebec on Tuesday reported 1,741 new cases of COVID-19, with 39 additional deaths. 

Hospitalizations rise in Ontario, Quebec

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said Tuesday that the number of people experiencing severe illness "continues to increase."

"Over the past seven days, there were an average of 3,020 individuals with COVID-19 being treated in Canadian hospitals, including over 600 in critical care."

Tam urged people to continue to do their part to try to reduce the spread of the disease, even as vaccination efforts get underway.

Many provinces have been facing steep increases in hospitalizations in recent weeks, including hard-hit Ontario and Quebec. As of Tuesday, Quebec reported having 959 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 125 in intensive care units. Ontario, meanwhile, had 921 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 249 in ICUs.


What's happening across Canada

As of 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 474,214 with 73,511 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 13,659.

WATCH | Clinical allergist answers key questions about vaccine:

Dr. Zainab Abdurrahman, a clinical immunologist and allergist, says only one ingredient in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been known to cause allergic reactions in the past. And the ingredient, polyethylene glycol, is already widely used. The other ingredients are not known to cause allergy. 7:29

Manitoba reported 272 new cases and nine new deaths on Tuesday, hours after the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the province. The new deaths brought the total COVID-19 death toll in Manitoba to 508.

The Canada Border Services Agency said the initial vaccine doses landed early Tuesday morning. Provincial officials have said Manitoba will receive enough doses to vaccinate about 900 people to start, with the first doses going to health-care workers. The first injections are expected to be given as early as Wednesday.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin on Monday again urged people to follow the rules and celebrate virtually over the holidays.

"If we let our guards down — if we have a lot of gatherings, even on just one day — we're set up for a lot of transmission, and we'll start seeing the results of that a week or two after the holidays." 

Saskatchewan announced 194 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, along with seven additional deaths, while a doctor and nurse who work directly with COVID-19 patients became the first Saskatchewan residents to be vaccinated.

The province introduced new public health restrictions on Monday as it tries to slow the spread of COVID-19, including strict new rules around private indoor gatherings.

As of Thursday, most people in the province will only be allowed to gather inside with members of their own household (with some exceptions, including for single people and those who are co-parenting). 

"This needs to be a much quieter Christmas," Moe said.

Alberta reported 1,341 new cases and 11 more deaths on Tuesday. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 742, 137 of which were in intensive care, both record highs for the province.

Premier Jason Kenney said the province will send COVID-19 teams into the 11 hardest-hit neighbourhoods in Edmonton and Calgary to offer masks, hand sanitizer and more information.

The program will also provide free hotel rooms to allow people in those areas to self-isolate if necessary, he said.

About 3,900 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in the province Monday night, and on Tuesday, a pair of health-care workers — Sahra Kaahiye, a respiratory therapist at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, and Tanya Harvey, an intensive care RN at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary — became the first people in the province to receive the vaccine.

A health-care worker became the first person in British Colombia to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, receiving a shot shortly after 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday at a vaccination site in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

The initial shipment of 3,900 doses will go to health-care workers and long-term care staff. The shots are being administered at two vaccination locations, Vancouver Coastal Health region and the Fraser Health region, but as of next week the vaccine will be available in each of B.C.'s health authorities.

WATCH | 'This is huge,' says Dr. Bonnie Henry ahead of B.C.'s 1st vaccinations:

B.C.'s provincial health officer says her biggest fear is that people will stop putting in the effort to curb transmission knowing that a vaccine is on the way. 1:35

B.C. on Tuesday reported 522 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 more deaths. There were 361 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 93 in ICU, a new record for both.

In the North, Nunavut reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday while the Northwest Territories reported one new case. Yukon reported no new cases on Tuesday.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as the province received its first delivery of 1,950 vaccine doses. 

Nova Scotia Public Health will start its first immunization clinic on Wednesday at Dalhousie University in Halifax and will administer the vaccine to front-line health-care workers.

The other Atlantic provinces have also each received their initial 1,950 doses. Newfoundland and Labrador, which reported one new case, and Prince Edward Island, which reported no new cases, both plan to begin administering vaccines on Wednesday.

New Brunswick, which reported one new case on Tuesday, will begin vaccinating members of priority groups this weekend at an immunization clinic at the Miramichi Regional Hospital.


What's happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

As of 4:45 p.m. ET Tuesday, more than 73.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 41.4 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a Johns Hopkins University database that tracks cases of the novel coronavirus. The global death toll stood at more than 1.6 million.

In the Americas, top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris should be vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Speaking to ABC News, Fauci said: "For security reasons, I really feel strongly that we should get them vaccinated as soon as we possibly can.

"You want him fully protected as he enters into the presidency in January."

WATCH | American health-care workers step up for first round of vaccinations:

Emotional scenes play out across the U.S. as exhausted health-care workers watch the rollout of a vaccine against COVID-19.   0:44

The U.S. extended its rollout of the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, inoculating health-care workers with an eye toward persuading skeptical Americans to get their shots and helping to contain a pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 people.

Brazil registered 964 additional COVID-19 deaths over the last 24 hours and 42,889 new cases, the nation's health ministry said on Tuesday.

In Africa, South Africa imposed further restrictions as it looks to slow a sharp rise in infections.

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Sudan on Tuesday said an international initiative would provide 8.4 million shots of vaccine against the coronavirus, without providing details on the type of vaccine the country would receive.

Amal al-Fateh, a senior health official, told a news conference that the shots are expected to arrive, via COVAX, in the first quarter of 2021. She said the first stage of vaccination would cover 20 per cent of Sudanese and that elderly people and health workers at the forefront of the fight against the virus would be prioritized when the shots arrive.

In Europe, after days of pressuring the European Union's medical regulator, Germany's health minister said Tuesday that he has received assurances that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will approve a coronavirus vaccine by Dec. 23.

Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday that he "welcomed" German media reports that said EMA would finalize its approval process of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine by Dec. 23, instead of a Dec. 29 meeting.

"Our goal is an approval before Christmas," Spahn said. "We want to still start vaccinating this year."

Asked afterward by The Associated Press whether he had received direct confirmation that the vaccine would be approved by then, Spahn said he had, "otherwise I wouldn't have said that."

He added, however, that "the EU has to announce it."

The Danish government will extend current lockdown measures to the entire country, broadcaster TV2 reported.

London will move into England's highest tier of restrictions, the government has said. A study showed infections in the city rose during the last weeks of a national lockdown even as its prevalence in England as a whole fell.

The Netherlands will go into a tough second lockdown, closing all schools and shops for at least five weeks. Meanwhile, Czech restaurants, hotels and indoor sports venues, which reopened only two weeks ago, must shut again starting Friday in response to a new rise in infections.

In Russia, authorities on Tuesday said vaccination against COVID-19 with the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine has started in all Russian regions.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the government to start "large-scale" vaccination in Russia two weeks ago, even though the Sputnik V vaccine is still undergoing advanced studies needed to ensure its safety and effectiveness.

The shots have been offered to medical workers for several months even though the vaccine was still in the middle of late-stage trials, and more than 150,000 people in Russia have already had the shot, according to the vaccine's developers.

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea has reported another 880 new cases of the coronavirus as it slipped deeper into its worst wave of the pandemic yet.

More than 10,000 infections have been reported in the last 15 days alone, mostly from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers are struggling to stem transmissions tied to various places, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, restaurants, churches and schools.

Municipal workers carry the coffin holding an unclaimed body of a COVID-19 victim to a crematorium in Colombo, Sri Lanka, last week. (Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/Getty Images)

Authorities in Sri Lanka said on Tuesday that more than 3,000 COVID-19 cases have been detected in the country's highly congested prisons, as infections also surge in the capital and its suburbs.

They said that 2,984 inmates and 103 guards have been confirmed to have the disease in seven prisons around the country. Sri Lankan prisons are highly congested, with more than 26,000 inmates crowded in facilities with a capacity of 10,000.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has started registering citizens and foreign residents for COVID-19 vaccination. Lebanon is expected to sign a deal this week for supplies of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine and is set to receive the first batch eight weeks after that.

Israel said it was beginning a second-phase trial for its vaccine candidate, which, if successful, could be ready for the general public by the end of next summer.





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