Good evening, these are the top coronavirus headlines tonight:
- Pediatric hospitalizations continue to be a concern nationwide, with an earlier flu season combined with RSV and COVID-19.
- Billions of dollars of COVID-19 payments might not be paid back properly, warns Auditor-General.
- In the U.S., a pandemic hangover is prompting a lot of shoppers to push debt concerns aside and break new spending records, writes Gus Carlson.
COVID-19 updates from Canada and the world
- Ontario is extending a program providing free rapid tests for COVID-19 to the end of June next year.
- The last week of November saw the highest number of pediatric hospitalizations for a single week in the past decade, a Montreal doctor says, noting that flu season started earlier this year alongside RSV and COVID-19.
- Quebec’s public health director Dr. Luc Boileau warned on Monday that December will be a difficult month as COVID-19, influenza and RSV hit the province hard.
- The family of Brazilian soccer great Pelé said the three-time World Cup winner has been hospitalized since Tuesday to treat a respiratory infection aggravated by COVID-19.
- A New Zealand court temporarily took away medical custody of a baby from his parents on Wednesday after they refused blood transfusions for him unless the blood came from donors who were unvaccinated against COVID-19.
- The Canadian government paid out more than $210-billion to individuals and businesses between early 2020 and mid-2022 as large swaths of the Canadian economy were forced to shut down or scale back during the pandemic. Now the Auditor-General says there may be billions that were ineligible and the main federal bodies responsible for the programs are doing a poor job of identifying which should be returned.
- Meanwhile, Scotiabank economists say Ottawa’s COVID-19 spending played a small role in driving inflation up and a larger impact on increased interest rates.
- China, the last major country trying for “zero COVID,” rolled back rules on isolating people with the virus and dropped test requirements for some public places Wednesday in a dramatic change to a strategy that confined millions of people to their homes and sparked protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign.
- U.S. defense chief Lloyd Austin said he wants to keep the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place to protect the health of the troops.
- Pfizer Inc and Clear Creek Bio Inc announced on Tuesday a collaboration to identify a potential drug candidate and develop a new class of oral treatment against COVID-19.
- Frank Ching: As China snuffs out its protests, the U.S. watches from the sidelines
- Gus Carlson: Pandemic hangover is pushing U.S. shoppers to put debt concerns aside and just live it up
Dr. Heather Patterson has been using her camera to capture health care’s continuing surge in child admissions. Her goal: to capture the joy and pain she sees daily – and to spark discussions on solutions. She and two colleagues reflect on the hard realities they face on their shifts.
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Thank you for subscribing to our Coronavirus Update Newsletter. As the pandemic eases, we plan to wind this down and eventually cease sending, but have many other newsletters to keep you informed, including Globe Climate, Carrick on Money and Breaking News.
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