Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Feb. 21

The latest:

  • Tam stresses need for Canadians to maintain precautions as variant cases mount.
  • More schools close in Quebec over coronavirus variant concerns.
  • Students, staff at 5 B.C. public schools test positive for variant.
  • Canada’s new air travel rules go into effect Monday for testing, hotel quarantine.
  • Israel plans to allow cultural gatherings, travel for vaccinated residents.
  • Coronavirus  tracker: The cases, hospitalizations and vaccinations in your area.
  • Have a question about the coronavirus pandemic? Send your question to

Canada’s chief public health officer says the collective efforts to fight COVID-19 are paying off, even as the country sits at a “critical juncture” in the fight against fast-spreading variants.

Dr. Theresa Tam said Sunday on Twitter that COVID-19 disease activity continues to decline and vaccination is heading in the right direction.

“Our collective effort has begun to tip the balance in our favour,” Tam said.

But she says Canadians need to maintain COVID-19 precautions to protect each other, especially as cases of more contagious variants are mounting across the country.

One such measure will be introduced on Monday, with air travellers arriving in Canada — unless they are exempt — having to submit to a COVID-19 test upon arrival and quarantine in a government-approved hotel for up to three days while they await their results.

The federal government has provided a list of authorized hotels for passengers arriving in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. The government says the list is incomplete and will be finalized in the coming days.

What’s happening in Canada

As of 7:40 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 845,657 cases of COVID-19, with 31,375 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,674.

In British Columbia, students or staff at five public schools in the Fraser Health region have tested positive for the faster-spreading coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom, health officials said.

Alberta reported 328 new cases of COVID-19 and nine related deaths on Sunday.

Premier Jason Kenney said the province will not introduce any new taxes as his government prepares to unveil a pandemic-focused budget on Thursday. Finance Minister Travis Toews said deficits will continue and the budget will focus on COVID-19 pandemic aid, along with getting the economy back on its feet.

Saskatchewan confirmed 182 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths on Sunday. Meanwhile, in Regina, police said they issued two health order violation tickets to people protesting public health orders.

Manitoba reported 58 new cases and two additional fatalities.

Ontario registered 1,087 new cases and 13 additional deaths. Officials also said there are more than 400 cases of coronavirus variants in the province.

WATCH | Why this doctor wants aggressive action around COVID-19 variants:

In an interview on Rosemary Barton Live, Dr. Brooks Fallis speaks out against reopening plans in several provinces as officials study potential implications of the spread of new COVID-19 variants. 8:46

Quebec reported 666 new cases, its lowest number of new infections in five months. The province also saw 15 more deaths.

Meanwhile, officials are closing more schools in the province in response to concerns over coronavirus variants.

The closures come as authorities in Quebec City largely completed mass testing on Sunday of all 342 staff and students at Marguerite d’Youville elementary school in Cap-Rouge, where they suspected a coronavirus variant may have been circulating.

The Marguerite-d’Youville primary school is seen closed in Quebec City on Saturday. (Jean-Michel Cloutier/Radio-Canada)

In New Brunswick, a sixth death has been reported at the Manoir Belle Vue care home in Edmundston. The facility had confirmed 92 cases — 51 residents and 41 staff — as of Friday, according to Public Health.

Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed 25 new cases, all within the Eastern Health region.

Nova Scotia added one new infection. Public health officials also announced four new potential COVID-19 exposures in the Halifax area.

Nunavut reported one new case of COVID-19 on Sunday in Arviat. It’s the ninth day in a row that one or more new cases have been reported in the hard-hit community. With three recoveries, Arviat has a total of 28 active cases.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 111.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 62.7 million of those cases listed as recovered on a tracking site run by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.4 million.

In Asia, Israel has unveiled a plan to allow people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend cultural events, fly abroad and go to health clubs and restaurants.

A person is administered a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Dimona, Israel, on Sunday. (Tsafrir Abayov/The Associated Press)

In Europe, Serbia has received a first shipment of 150,000 AstraZeneca vaccines, adding to the three other vaccines already in use.

In the Americas, the official leading Mexico’s response to the pandemic says he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

In Africa, the continent has confirmed more than 3.8 million cases and more than 100,000 deaths. South Africa leads the continent on both figures, with more than 1.5 million cases and more than 48,000 deaths.

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