The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for March 19, 2021

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TORONTO — The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):

10.42 a.m.

Canada’s top doctor says an increase in more transmissible variants of the COVID-19 virus may be threatening progress in containing the spread of infections.

Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada has seen almost 4,500 variant cases, with 90 per cent related to the strain first detected in the U.K.

Tam says variants are threatening the country’s progress before vaccines can bring full benefits.

She adds variants of concern are making up a higher proportion of new cases in parts of Canada.

To date, more than 922,000 cases of COVID-19, including over 22,500 deaths, have been reported nationally.

10:30 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 1,745 new cases of COVID-19 today and 10 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 478 new cases in Toronto and 344 in Peel Region.

She also says there are 174 new cases in York Region and 116 in Hamilton.

More than 61,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province since the last daily report.

9:50 a.m.

Quebec is allowing everyone 65 and older across the province to sign up for a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Late Thursday, the province’s appointment portal opened up vaccinations in all 15 health regions, after opening it to Montrealers in that age bracket one week ago and Abitibi-Temiscamingue and Cote-Nord residents earlier this week.

The Quebec government intends to vaccinate five million people with a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the next 100 days.

9:40 a.m.

Ontario says that residents aged 75 and older can start scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments on Monday through the province’s booking portal.

Adults 75 and older were set to become eligible by the first week of April.

However, Premier Doug Ford says the province’s immunization effort is ahead of schedule.

Officials say more than 50 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and older have now received at least one vaccine dose.

A pilot program offering vaccines in some pharmacies is also expanding and will now offer the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot to anyone aged 60 and older.