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Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines:

  1. Alberta announces widespread business closings to control pandemic
  2. Ontario had $12-billion in contingency funds this fall: report
  3. 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.

Open this photo in gallery:

New deaths in Canada, Dec. 8.The Globe and Mail

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.

Coronavirus explainers: Coronavirus in maps and charts Lockdown rules and reopening Mask-wearing rules Back to school guide Essential resources

Photo of the day

Open this photo in gallery:

Matthew Virgi, right, helps Josh Kraus to select a Christmas tree at a seasonal sales lot on Tuesday in Chicago. Sales of Christmas trees have been up as people around the United States are looking for ways to lift their spirits during the pandemic.Scott Olson/Getty Images

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

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.”

Globe opinion

  • 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.”

More reporting

  • 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.

Information centre

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.

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