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P.E.I. introduces 'circuit-breaker' measures as Quebec marks COVID-19 anniversary


One of the provinces that's largely escaped the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly moved to stem a burgeoning outbreak on Saturday, while Canada's two long-standing virus hot spots marked a grim anniversary and braced to pass some sobering milestones in their respective fights against the pandemic. 

Prince Edward Island's newly announced "circuit-breaker" measures, which limit gathering sizes and social circles, are meant to clamp down on an outbreak of COVID-19 that officials believe is linked to the variant of the virus that first emerged in the United Kingdom.

"We do seem to be stuck in this tangled spider's web of COVID and it won't really let us out of its grip," P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said Saturday. 

The measures come into effect Sunday and are set to last two weeks. 

They also prohibit indoor dining and receptions for weddings and funerals, while limiting occupancy in retail stores and gyms. 

The province counted six new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, all among people in their 20s. None of the cases are linked to travel outside the province. 

P.E.I. has had 127 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, 10 per cent of which are currently active. 

Ontario, meanwhile, is poised to cross the 300,000 case threshold on Sunday after the 1,185 new infections counted Saturday pushed the overall tally to 299,754. 

The province has been logging roughly 1,000 new cases per day in recent weeks. Ontario is also approaching 7,000 total deaths linked to the virus, with 6,960 recorded as of Saturday. 

The province is taking a regional approach to its pandemic response, and is set to push two public health units back into lockdown on Monday -- Simcoe-Muskoka and Thunder Bay. 

Meanwhile, restrictions will loosen Monday in the Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce public health regions.

Meanwhile Quebec, Ontario's neighbour to the east, marked one year since detecting its first case of COVID-19. 

In that time, it's seen 287,003 cases of the virus, including 858 that were announced Saturday. It also logged 13 more deaths for a total of 10,385. 

But Premier Francois Legault said there was reason for optimism, as the infection rate has been relatively stable and the province has begun vaccinating members of the general public in some regions. 

"We should receive around 175,000 doses of vaccine per week in March and therefore we will move quickly," Legault wrote. "We still have a few critical weeks ahead of us, especially because of the spring break and the new variants."

The province has 34 confirmed variant cases with 30 of them identified as the B.1.1.7 mutation first detected in the U.K. 

Elsewhere, New Brunswick reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, while Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador each added four. 

Manitoba recorded 88 new cases of the virus and four more deaths, while Saskatchewan added five deaths and 162 new infections. 

Alberta, meanwhile, reported six new deaths linked to COVID-19 and 415 new diagnoses. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. 

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

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