Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.
- Alberta announces widespread business closings to control pandemic
- Ontario had $12-billion in contingency funds this fall: report
- Britain administers its first COVID-19 vaccinations today
In Canada, there have been at least 429,035 cases reported. In the last week 45,567 new cases were announced, 11% more than the previous week. There have also been at least 344,199 recoveries and 12,867 deaths. Health officials have administered more than 13,811,380 tests.
Worldwide, there have been at least 67,591,193 cases confirmed and 1,544,532 deaths reported.
Sources: Canada data is compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data is from Johns Hopkins University.
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Coronavirus in Canada
- This fall, as schools resumed with larger-than-recommended class sizes and COVID-19 testing centres were overwhelmed, Ontario had $12-billion in unspent contingency funds, according to a report from the province’s independent fiscal watchdog. Meanwhile, the province said it will provide proof of COVID-19 immunization, and those who do not get vaccinated could face certain restrictions. Ontario reported 1,676 new cases of COVID-19 today.
- Alberta announced widespread business closings – shuttering restaurants, bars, casinos and personal-care services – and tighter limits on in-person gatherings. The province has the highest infection rates in the country. Meanwhile, two churches are suing Alberta, saying the province’s restrictions infringe on constitutional rights and make life unbearable.
- Manitoba extended its restrictions on gatherings and businesses until at least Jan. 8, but loosened the guidelines to allow for drive-in religious services. The province reported 245 new COVID-19 cases and 13 additional deaths today.
- British Columbia is finally making use of rapid testing kits in a pilot project to screen care-home workers.
- In Quebec, Premier François Legault said his government is not ruling out additional restrictions as the province reported 1,564 new COVID-19 cases and 36 additional deaths today.
- Nova Scotia is set to participate in a vaccine dry-run exercise to test the distribution process – including tracking, shipping and storage – but will not include the actual doses. The first 1,950 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will arrive next week.
- Prince Edward Island says it is ready to administer the 1,950 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives next week. The province reported no new cases today, and has 13 active infections.
- Yukon reported one new COVID-19 case.
In Ottawa, the federal government took a pass on a private option for its plans to produce COVID-19 vaccine domestically by the end of 2020, instead investing in its own production facility that is now almost a year behind schedule.
- PnuVax, which sources familiar with the company say could have been ready to produce millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, did not receive any of about $600-million earmarked for the research or development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, under the Strategic Innovation Fund.
Still in Ottawa, the country’s top doctor said the first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are likely to be given at the 14 delivery sites identified by the provinces – and not at long-term care homes.
Coronavirus around the world
- In Britain, 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine today, as the country began a massive vaccination program on what the government has dubbed “V-Day.”
- In the U.S., president-elect Joe Biden introduced his health crisis team and set a goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office. He’s sworn in Jan. 20.
COVID-19 vaccines: Studies suggest AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe and 70 per cent effective.
Coronavirus and business
Tens of thousands of retailers across Canada have made the e-commerce shift out of necessity during the pandemic – and are now hoping online sales will help them to survive a make-or-break holiday shopping season.
- The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates 152,000 small businesses in Canada have begun selling online since March.
- Canadian e-commerce firm Shopify saw the number of new stores on its platform grow 71 per cent from the first quarter to the second this year.
Also today: The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions kept its domestic stability buffer constant on Tuesday, even as it warned that the country’s financial system still has vulnerabilities and faces uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And: Starting Jan. 11, Air Canada will cut more routes in Atlantic Canada, saying it is “increasingly difficult to continue to operate in this challenging environment.”
- Robyn Urback: “A harm-reduction approach to the holidays is obviously not the ideal way to deal with a worsening pandemic, but it may be the most practical approach when many Canadians have decided to simply ignore prohibitions on gatherings.”
- The number of people seeking to end their lives in the Toronto Transit Commission’s system rose sharply in the eight months since March.
- Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the government must do more to address the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Indigenous communities.
- When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available in Canada? How well do they work? Here’s what you need to know.
- Rob Carrick’s 10-point checklist of things you should have done by now to protect or improve your money situation. Tips for minimizing damage to your credit score; how to manage retirement anxiety during difficult times; and things to think about if you’re considering home delivery.
- Here are the expectations for self-isolation; tips for managing anxiety and protecting your mental health; and what to do if you think you have the virus. Wash your hands. How to break a bad habit (like touching your face). Is flying safe?
- The best foods to eat to maintain an immune system-friendly diet; and how to keep a healthy diet while working from home; four eating tips when working from home; and five mistakes that might cause you to gain unwanted weight. Here are the essentials to stock up on and how to shop safely for groceries; the best pantry staples and how to stop stress-eating.
- Find answers to your coronavirus and employment questions.
Sources: Canada data are compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins University and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data are from Johns Hopkins.