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Good evening, here are the COVID-19 updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines:

  1. Canada is imposing multiple restrictions on travel from countries in the southern region of Africa amid concerns about a new COVID-19 variant, known as Omicron
  2. The World Health Organization has designated the new variant, first detected in South Africa, a variant of concern ― the fifth to be given this designation
  3. News of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron rattled financial markets around the world on Friday, as North American stock benchmarks headed downward, including the S&P/TSX composite index, which closed down nearly 500 points.

In the past seven days, 19,743 cases were reported, up 16 per cent from the previous seven days. There were 138 deaths announced, down 19 per cent over the same period. At least 1,517 people are being treated in hospitals.

Canada’s inoculation rate is 17th among countries with a population of one million or more people.

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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 chartsTracking vaccine dosesLockdown rules and reopening

Photo of the day

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People line up to get on the Air France flight to Paris at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, today. A slew of nations moved to stop air travel from southern Africa on Friday in reaction to news of a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant that has been detected in South Africa. Scientists say it is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country's most populous province.Jerome Delay/The Associated Press

Coronavirus in Canada

In Ottawa, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced new restrictions on travellers coming from southern parts of Africa at a news conference on Friday.

  • Canadians and permanent residents who have right of entry to Canada and travelled in South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, or Namibia, will be tested on arrival and be required to quarantine upon entry.
  • All foreign nationals who have travelled to the region in the last 14 days will be banned from entering Canada.
  • Anyone already in Canada who travelled in the region over the last two weeks should get a COVID-19 test and stay in isolation until receiving a negative test result.

Health-care worker protections: The Liberal government introduced legislation today that proposes enhanced protections for health care workers in the face of violence and intimidation along with individuals seeking medical care, as well as 10 days of paid sick leave for federally regulated workers.

Vaccine clinics in schools: As vaccination efforts roll out across the country for children between the ages of 5 and 11, provinces are taking different approaches on vaccinating kids at school.

New Zealand relations: Canadian cabinet ministers and the New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister met yesterday and discussed many priority files, including the prolonged presence of COVID-19.

Coronavirus around the world

Coronavirus and business

Stocks fell sharply Friday on reports that a new virus variant from South Africa has been identified, threatening months of progress at getting the pandemic under control.

  • U.S. stocks dropped, with the Dow and S&P 500 suffering their biggest one-day percentage drops in months. By mid-afternoon, the TSX was down nearly 500 points.
  • Oil plunged about US$10 a barrel in the largest daily drop since April 2020.

Also see: ‘Fear has gripped the financial markets’: What investors are saying about the new COVID-19 variant

And: U.S. retail stocks slide on Black Friday as new COVID-19 variant worries arise

Also today: Canadian dollar hits two-month low on concerns over the new COVID-19 variant

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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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