OTTAWA — The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern):
Alberta’s health minister says 437,000 people can soon begin booking appointments for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Tyler Shandro says those aged 65 to 74, and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50-plus, can begin booking on March 15.
The province has been able to accelerate vaccinations due to a third one being approved by Health Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Shandro says the first 58,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will available starting March 10.
Alberta is reporting 331 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths due to the illness.
The province says 33 more cases of variants have been detected, bringing that total in Alberta to 541.
There are 245 people in hospital with COVID-19, and 47 of them are in intensive care.
British Columbia's provincial health officer says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be distributed to first responders and essential workers in the province.
Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C.'s immunization committee should have the distribution plan in the next few weeks, and until then, the vaccine that arrives will be used in hot spots where COVID-19 infections have flared.
The province has another 564 cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths, for a total of 1,376 people.
Henry says another 46 cases of variants of concern have been uncovered, bringing the total cases of variants that originated either in the United Kingdom or South Africa to 246.
Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.
Health officials say the case involves a man in his 60s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection.
They say the man initially tested negative but was tested again after developing symptoms.
P.E.I. has 23 active reported cases of COVID-19.
Health officials in Saskatchewan say there are another 169 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths.
There are 146 people in hospital, with 20 people in intensive care.
The province says its seven-day average of new daily cases sits at 148.
National data shows Saskatchewan leads the country with the highest rate of active cases per capita.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his province will be delaying the second dose of vaccines to speed up immunizations against COVID-19.
He says people will get their second shot four months after the first, which falls in line with a recommendation from Canada's national immunization committee.
Saskatchewan health officials are expected to speak at a COVID-19 briefing this afternoon.
Earlier in the week, Moe said delaying the second doses for up to four months would mean every adult in the province could be immunized at least once by June.
New Brunswick is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 today.
Health officials say three new cases are in the Edmundston region, and that the Moncton and Miramichi regions each have one new case.
There are 36 active known infections in the province and three patients are hospitalized with the disease, including two in intensive care.
A recently reported presumptive case of a variant in the Miramichi region has been confirmed by Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory as the B.1.1.7 mutation.
Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines will be distributed in some Ontario pharmacies starting next week.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says most doses of that vaccine will go to pharmacies in a pilot project.
The Ontario Pharmacists Association's CEO says the pilot will begin at 380 sites in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex.
Ontario has said it will prioritize people between the ages of 60 and 64 for the AstraZeneca doses.
Manitoba is reporting 51 news COVID-19 cases and two deaths.
Northern regions continue to be hardest hit.
High case numbers in Mathias Colomb Cree Nation have prompted the chief and council to ban public gatherings and require people to stay home except for shopping, medical care and work in essential services.
Alberta's Opposition NDP is calling for an immediate public inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak at the Olymel pork processing plant in Red Deer.
It also wants today's planned reopening of the plant put on hold.
The plant was shut down in mid-February, after an outbreak that has caused three deaths and infected more than 500 employees.
The company says Alberta Health has given it a green light to start a gradual reopening with slaughter operations today.
Cutting room operations can resume tomorrow.
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today.
Health officials say four new cases are in the eastern health region, which includes St. John’s, involving people between the ages of 40 and 69. Three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel.
The fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel.
Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care.
Nunavut is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 today.
All the new cases are in Arviat, a community of about 2,800 and the only place in Nunavut with active cases.
Arviat has been under a strict lockdown since November, with all schools and non-essential businesses closed.
The community's hamlet council also ordered a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to curb the spread.
Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says contact tracing is ongoing in the community.
There are 14 active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all in Arviat.
Health Canada says a decision on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be announced in the "next few days."
The word came today from Dr. Marc Berthiaume, director of the regulator's bureau of medical sciences.
Once approved, the J&J product would become the fourth vaccine available for use in Canada. It was approved last weekend in the United States.
Canada's deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says nearly 400,000 people were vaccinated in Canada in the last seven days.
He says that's the most in a single week since immunizations began on Dec. 14.
Njoo says more than two million doses have been administered now, with about four per cent of Canadians getting one dose and almost 1.5 per cent now vaccinated with two doses.
Nova Scotia is lifting some of the restrictions in place in Halifax and surrounding communities as COVID-19 cases decline in the region.
Officials say rules that came into effect on Feb. 27 limiting restaurant hours, prohibiting sports events and discouraging non-essential travel in and out of the area will end on Friday at 8 a.m.
Rules for residents of long-term care homes remain unchanged, but those living in care facilities may only have visits from their two designated caregivers.
Officials say the restrictions for long-term care residents will remain in place in the Halifax Regional Municipality and neighbouring areas until March 27.
Quebec is reporting 707 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including four in the past 24 hours.
Health officials say hospitalizations rose by eight, to 626, and 115 people were in intensive care, a drop of five.
The province says it administered 16,619 doses of vaccine yesterday, for a total of 490,504.
Quebec has reported a total of 290,377 COVID-19 infections and 10,445 deaths linked to the virus.
It has 7,379 active reported cases.
Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19.
Health officials say all three cases were identified in the health region that includes Halifax.
Two cases involve contacts of previously reported infections while the third is under investigation.
Nova Scotia has 29 active reported cases of COVID-19.
Ontario is reporting 994 new cases of COVID-19.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 298 of those new cases are in Toronto, 171 are in Peel and 64 are in York Region.
There were 10 more deaths in Ontario since the last daily update and more than 30,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021.
The Canadian Press