A timeline of COVID-19 in Canada

By The Canadian Press

Here’s a timeline of key developments in the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada since the first presumptive case was reported on Jan. 25, 2020:

Jan. 25: A Toronto man in his 50s who returned from the Chinese city of Wuhan — the initial epicentre of the outbreak — becomes the first presumptive case of the novel coronavirus in Canada. The man is placed in isolation in Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.

Jan. 26: The man’s wife, who had travelled with him from Wuhan, also tests positive, becoming the country’s second presumptive case. The woman is allowed to self-isolate at home.

Jan. 27: The National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg confirms that the Toronto man being treated at Sunnybrook Hospital is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Canada.

Jan. 28: The Toronto man’s wife is declared the second confirmed case of COVID-19. Health officials in British Columbia say a man in his 40s who travels to China for work is presumed to have COVID-19. The man is in self-isolation at his Vancouver home.

Feb. 4: There is another presumptive case reported in B.C. — a woman who had family visiting from China’s Hubei province. She is in isolation at her home.

Feb. 7: A plane carrying more than 200 Canadians from Wuhan arrives at CFB Trenton in eastern Ontario, where they start a 14-day quarantine.

Feb. 20: A woman who returned from Iran becomes B.C.’s sixth case of COVID-19 and the first person in Canada diagnosed with the illness who did not recently visit China or have close contact with someone who did. The Toronto man who was the country’s first confirmed case is cleared after testing negative for the virus.

Feb. 27: Quebec public health officials report the province’s first presumptive case, a woman from the Montreal region who recently returned from Iran.

March 5: B.C. announces eight new cases, including Canada’s first-ever case possibly contracted within the community, rather than through travel or contact with other cases.

March 8: Canada records its first death from COVID-19. A man in his 80s died in a North Vancouver nursing home.

March 11: The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic. Canada has more than 100 cases. A Utah Jazz player tests positive two days after a game against the Toronto Raptors, causing the NBA to suspend its season.

March 12: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau self-isolates after his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tests positive for COVID-19. The NHL and most other sports leagues suspend seasons. The Juno Awards are shelved. Minor hockey across the country is cancelled. The Ontario government announces schools across the province will be closed for two weeks after March break. Manitoba and Saskatchewan report their first cases.

March 13: The federal government announces Parliament will go on break.

March 14: The federal government urges Canadians currently abroad to return home as soon as possible

March 15: Nova Scotia reports its first three cases.

March 16: Canada announces it is closing its borders to non-Canadians, apart from Americans and a few other exceptions.

March 17: Ontario and Alberta declare states of emergency. 

March 18: Canada and the United States announce they will close their shared border to non-essential traffic. B.C. and Saskatchewan declare states of emergency.

March 19: New Brunswick declares a state of emergency.

March 20: COVID-19 cases pass 1,000 across the country. Manitoba declares state of emergency.

March 22: Canada says it won’t compete in the Tokyo Olympics or Paralympics.

March 23: Ottawa announces repatriation flights for Canadians stranded in foreign countries.

March 24: Olympics officially postponed until 2021. 

March 25: Emergency aid bill passes. Canada makes it mandatory for all travelers arriving in the country to quarantine for 14 days.

March 30: Trudeau says a new wage subsidy program will cover all businesses whose revenue has dropped by at least 30 per cent because of COVID-19.

April 2: COVID-19 death toll passes 100 in Canada.

April 3: Ontario projects COVID-19 death toll could reach 15,000.

April 4: U.S. company 3M told by the White House to stop exporting N95 respirators to Canada.

April 6: 3M makes a deal with the White House to provide N95 masks to Canada. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, says wearing masks is a way for people who might have COVID-19 without realizing it to keep from spreading the illness.

April 9: Ottawa projects 4,400 to 44,000 Canadians could die of COVID-19. Government announces more than one million people lost their jobs in March.

April 13: Federal government announces nearly 5.4 million Canadians are receiving emergency aid.

April 15: Canada passes 1,000 virus-related deaths.

April 22: Ontario and Quebec, the hardest-hit provinces, call on the military to help out in long-term care homes.

April 23: Canadian death toll passes 2,000 as country announces it will pour $1.1 billion into vaccine testing. 

April 25: New Brunswick introduces a two-household bubble, allowing people to interact with others.

April 28: Canada hits 50,000 cases.

May 4: Restrictions begin to lift in several provinces including Quebec and Manitoba.

May 8: The unemployment rate rockets up to 13 per cent, the second-highest figure on record in Canada.

May 11: Some Quebec schools reopen and Ontario stores start offering curbside pickup.

May 12: Death toll passes 5,000.

May 13: The country’s top doctor says Canadians in communities where COVID-19 is still spreading should wear non-medical masks when they can’t stay physically distant from others.

May 14: Many stores, child-care centres and hair salons open in Alberta.

May 19: Many stores reopen in Ontario, B.C. and Saskatchewan.

May 23: Thousands pack a park on a sunny day in Toronto, creating fears of a new outbreak.

May 26: A new report from the military helping battle COVID-19 in five long-term care facilities in Ontario reveals extreme neglect and exposes the extent of the horrific conditions facing residents.

May 29: At least 41 staff and students test positive for COVID-19 in the first two weeks after elementary schools outside the Montreal area reopen.

June 12: Ontario enters Stage 2 of its reopening, except for Toronto, Windsor-Essex and Peel region.

June 18: Canada officially records more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 over the length of the pandemic.

June 26: The Canadian Red Cross sends 900 people to work in Quebec’s long-term care homes until mid-September, replacing Canadian Armed Forces members.

June 26: The Nova Scotia government announces all bars and restaurants can operate at full capacity after more than two weeks without a single new case of COVID-19.

July 3: P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia begin allowing their Atlantic neighbours to visit without self-isolating for 14 days after entering. The so-called “Atlantic bubble” as a way to boost struggling local economies.

July 16: Trudeau says the federal, provincial and territorial governments reached a deal on billions of dollars in transfers to continue reopening economies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Trudeau says the federal government will contribute $19 billion to the effort.

July 18: The Blue Jays are denied approval to play in Toronto due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

July 18: Quebec becomes the first province in Canada to require mask-wearing in all indoor public places.

July 28: Remdesivir becomes the first drug to be approved by Health Canada for treatment of patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms. 

July 31: COVID Alert, A voluntary smartphone app that can warn you if you’ve come into close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, becomes available to download. 

Aug. 3: Quebec increases the limits on indoor and outdoor public gatherings from 50 people to 250 people. The province’s health minister says despite the relaxed rules, COVID-19 continues to circulate in Quebec, especially among young people.

Aug. 17: The Canadian Football League cancels its 2020 season, making it the first year since 1919 that the Grey Cup won’t be awarded.

Sept. 8: Hundreds of thousands of children and teenagers across Canada re-enter classrooms for the first time in six months. Alberta and Quebec are among the first to report new cases of COVID-19 related to the reopening of schools. 

Sept. 14: The Bloc Quebecois caucus, including leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, enters self-isolation after a member of Blanchet’s staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Sept. 16: Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he, his family and some party workers are in self-isolation after an aide tested positive for COVID-19. 

Sept. 19: Nunavut reports its first confirmed cases of COVID-19. The territory’s chief public health officer says there are two cases at the Hope Bay gold mine 125 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay. Top public health official Dr. Michael Patterson says both miners were exposed in their home jurisdictions.

Sept. 22: Rebecca O’Toole, the wife of Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, tests positive for COVID-19. 

Sept. 23: In an address to the country, Trudeau says the second wave of COVID-19 is underway. He says families won’t likely be able to gather for Thanksgiving, but it is not too late to save Christmas.

Sept. 25:  Tougher COVID-19 restrictions are also reimposed in Winnipeg due to a spike in cases. In Ontario, Ford says bars and restaurants will have to stop serving booze at 11 p.m.

Sept. 30: Parliamentarians unanimously pass Bill C-4 to usher in a new batch of COVID-19 benefits. For Canadians left jobless or underemployed because of the pandemic, the legislation supplants the CERB support program with a more flexible and generous employment insurance regime.

Oct. 1: Stringent new rules take effect in three Quebec regions at the heart of rising COVID-19 case counts in the province. Bars, cinemas and restaurant dining rooms are ordered closed for at least 28 days in Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudiere-Appalaches. Restaurants are still allowed to offer takeout. The strictest of the new measures include prohibiting private gatherings. 

Oct. 19: Canada’s COVID-19 case count surpasses the 200,000 mark. The development comes just over four months after Canada reached the 100,000-case threshold.

Oct. 28: A report from Canada’s chief public health officer focusing on the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic says Canada ranks 26th in the world for total deaths per million population. 

Nov. 10: The Manitoba government forces non-essential stores to close and bans social gatherings in an effort to stop a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Nov. 16: Canada’s COVID-19 case count tops 300,000 less than a month after it crossed the 200,000 threshold.

Nov. 23: The premiers of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador announce they will temporarily pull out of the so-called “Atlantic Bubble” for two weeks due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Atlantic Canada.

Nov. 26: Federal health officials say Canada has purchase agreements with seven COVID-19 vaccine producers. 

Nov. 26: New Brunswick becomes the latest Atlantic province to opt out of the so-called bubble and demand anyone entering the province self-isolate for 14 days. The province also introduces heightened public health measures in the Fredericton area.

Nov. 27: Trudeau says most Canadians should receive the COVID-19 vaccine by September 2021. The prime minister says Canada’s vaccine distribution program would be led by former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin.

Dec. 2: Johnson & Johnson begins the process of applying for emergency approval of its COVID-19 vaccine from Health Canada and the European Medicines Agency, while Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is given permission for emergency use in the U.K. 

Dec. 4: Canada records more than 400,000 cases of COVID-19, just 18 days after it hits the 300,000 mark.

Dec. 7: Trudeau says Canada will receive up to 249,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in December.

Dec. 8: Partial results published in the medical journal Lancet suggest the COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Oxford University and AstraZeneca is safe and about 70 per cent effective. 

Dec. 9: Health Canada approves national use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. 

Dec. 14: The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are administered to people in Quebec and Ontario.

Dec. 20: Canada surpasses 500,000 total cases of COVID-19 as Nunavut reports its first two deaths. The federal government restricts travel from the U.K. for 72 hours in an effort to keep a contagious new strain out of Canada.

Dec. 23: Health Canada says the COVID-19 vaccine from U.S. biotech firm Moderna is safe for use in Canada.  

Dec. 26: Ontario confirms its two first Canadian cases of a more contagious variant of COVID-19 first identified in the United Kingdom. The province also re-enters a lockdown that shutters non-essential businesses and closes schools to in-person learning for at least two weeks.

Dec. 28: Canada surpasses 15,000 deaths related to COVID-19.

Dec. 30: The federal government announces plans to require air travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before landing in Canada. 

Jan. 3, 2021: Canada surpasses 600,000 total cases of COVID-19.   

Jan. 6: Quebec becomes the first province to announce a curfew to curb soaring COVID-19 infections. The provincial government says it’s to be enforced for four weeks.   

Jan. 8: A new variant of COVID-19 that first surfaced in South Africa is reported in Alberta. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick tighten their boundaries, requiring people entering the provinces to quarantine for 14 days.   

Jan. 9: The Quebec curfew comes into effect, barring most residents from leaving their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Jan. 11: Ontario’s death toll surpasses 5,000.  

Jan. 14: A stay-at-home order takes effect in Ontario days after the daily case tally nearly hit 4,000. Among the added measures is a requirement for people to wear a mask inside businesses and restrictions on the size of gatherings. All non-essential retail stores may only open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.   

Jan. 15: Pfizer says it will temporarily cut vaccine delivery to Canada because of issues with its European production lines.   

Jan. 16: Canada surpasses 700,000 cases of COVID-19.

Jan. 23: Health Canada confirms it’s approved a rapid COVID-19 test from Spartan Bioscience for use across the country. The company had previously recalled its rapid testing technology last spring over concerns expressed by the federal agency. 

Jan. 24: New Brunswick’s Edmundston region enters lockdown in a bid to quash a rise in local COVID-19 case numbers.  

The Canadian Press

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