A health-care worker riding an escalator watches Ontario Premier Doug Ford speak to the media at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A health-care worker riding an escalator watches Ontario Premier Doug Ford speak to the media at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

South African COVID-19 found in Alberta as provinces tighten restrictions

Federal officials said earlier in the day that the new variant had yet to be detected in the country

A new variant of COVID-19 that first surfaced in South Africa was found in Alberta on Friday, the same day two Atlantic provinces tightened their boundaries and Ontario warned tough new measures may be on the way if surging infection rates aren’t reined in.

Alberta’s chief medical health officer made the announcement about the new variant in a tweet late Friday afternoon. Dr. Denna Hinshaw said the person is believed to have contracted the illness while travelling and is in quarantine.

“There’s no evidence at this time that the virus has spread to others,” Hinshaw said.

“I know any new case is concerning, but we are actively monitoring for these variants and working to protect the public’s health.”

While a spokesman with Alberta Health could not confirm it, the case could be a first in Canada.

Federal officials said earlier in the day that the new variant had yet to be detected in the country.

A spokeswoman with the Public Health Agency of Canada said she could not immediately comment on the Alberta case, as the agency’s experts were not available.

The South African variant, 501. V2, is more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus and has rapidly become dominant in that country’s coastal areas. There have also been concerns among experts in the United Kingdom that vaccines may not be effective against it.

Fourteen cases of a more contagious COVD-19 variant that first surfaced in the U.K. have already been detected in Canada. Six of those were in Ontario, four were in Alberta, three were in British Columbia and one was in Quebec.

The news came as it was announced that, starting Saturday at 8 a.m., people entering Nova Scotia from New Brunswick will be required to isolate for two weeks.

“What we’re saying here is, ‘Do not go to New Brunswick, and New Brunswickers, do not come here, unless it is for essential purposes,’” said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.

New Brunswick announced it would prohibit all non-essential travel into the province.

“It’s that constant movement of people between cities, provinces, countries that has enabled COVID-19 to spread to every corner of the globe,” said chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell.

Nova Scotia reported two new cases, while New Brunswick had 18.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba government extended its COVID-19 restrictions, which were to expire Friday at midnight, for another two weeks to keep the demand on hospitals in check.

Since mid-November, restaurants and bars have been limited to takeout and delivery, and non-essential stores have shuttered except for curbside pickup. Public gatherings have been limited to five people and most social gatherings inside homes are forbidden.

The Prairie province reported 221 new COVID-19 cases Friday and nine additional deaths.

B.C. reported 617 new cases and 18 more deaths, bringing the total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the province to 988.

Ontario reported 4,249 new cases, still a record-breaking figure factoring in 450 earlier infections which were delayed in the tally. The province had 26 more deaths.

“If these basic measures continue to be ignored, the consequences will be more dire,” Premier Doug Ford warned. “The shutdown won’t end at the end of January. And we will have to look at more extreme measures.”

He did not provide further details on the nature or timing of any added restrictions.

Ford has warned in recent days that the province is going to run out of vaccine if it does not receive another shipment soon. Federal Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner said in a statement that the Liberal government has had months to take a leadership role.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed confidence that Canada will have enough vaccine by the fall for everyone who wishes to be inoculated.

Trudeau said he and Canada’s premiers discussed the vaccine rollout Thursday during a conference call.

“We agreed that it is vital that we work together as Team Canada to get vaccines delivered, distributed and administered as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Trudeau said more than 124,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to 68 sites across the country this week, and 208,000 more are to be delivered weekly for the rest of this month.

And, by the end of next week, more than 171,000 Moderna vaccine doses are expected to be delivered to provinces and territories.

In all, Trudeau said, Ottawa is on track to deliver about 1.3 million doses of both vaccines by the end of January, with quantities scaling up in February.

Those in charge of Canada’s vaccine portfolio and the delivery schedule are confident that vaccines will be offered to all Canadians by September, he said.

“That will be significant in terms of getting through this pandemic and making sure that next winter looks very different from this one.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Alberta RCMP urge rural residents to use online crime reporting

‘Crimes reported online will be taken just as seriously as crime reported in any other way’

county
County of Paintearth highlights from Jan. 12th

County graders have been out blading ice at intersections where ice buildup has been bad

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19.  (File photo)
750 new COVID-19 cases identified in Alberta Sunday

Central zone currently has 1,182 active cases of the virus

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File)
First Nations seek to intervene in court challenge of coal policy removal

Bearspaw, Ermineskin and Whitefish First Nations are among those looking to intervene

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

Catherine Hay. Photo Submitted
Central Albertan lobbying government to help those affected by CERB repayments

Catherine Hay says she received a letter in November saying she had to completely repay the benefit

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Lacombe is looking at its options for reclaiming sewage lagoons that are no longer needed. Vesta Energy Ltd. has signed a deal to use three lagoons to store water for fracking.
Map from City of Lacombe
Energy company to use former Lacombe sewage lagoons to store water for fracking

Vesta Energy Ltd. will pay Lacombe more than $100,000 a year in 20-year deal

Most Read