TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s third wave of COVID-19 infections should decline steadily through the first part of June, driven lower by health restrictions and the steadily increasing numbers of people who are at least partially vaccinated, health officials said on Friday.
Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam told reporters that the downward trend in cases is “very encouraging”, but added “now is not the time to relax our measures”.
While some of the 10 provinces, like Quebec, are beginning to open up businesses and relax health restrictions, others are not. Ontario is still mostly closed for business, and Manitoba has extended curbs as hospitals continue to be overloaded.
Some 60% of adults in Canada have had at least one dose of vaccination, but only about 5% have been fully vaccinated.
In early spring, facing limited supplies and a surge of infections, Canada opted to delay second vaccine doses by up to 16 weeks for most people. But with millions of doses delivered and expected soon, most people will now not have to wait that long.
Ontario said on Friday that residents 80 or older will be eligible to book a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines the week of May 31, and people 70 to 79 will become eligible the week of June 14.
After that, prioritization will be based on when people received their first dose, with everyone eligible by the week of Aug. 9.
British Columbia said on Thursday that most people will receive doses eight weeks apart.
Canada’s official vaccine advisory council said on Friday authorities should begin administering second doses to high risk groups while continuing to offer first doses.
(Reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto and Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Frances Kerry)