Good evening, here are the COVID-19 updates you need to know tonight.
- COVID-19 cases in Canada top two million as hospitals brace for Omicron wave’s unknowns
- New COVID-19 cases rise in Quebec, dip in Ontario amid Omicron variant surge
- Pandemic puts ‘right to disconnect’ in spotlight as provinces inch toward new policies
COVID-19 data will return on Wednesday, Dec. 29.
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Coronavirus in Canada
- Ontario is reporting 9,418 new cases of COVID-19, which was down slightly from the record-breaking 10,412 new cases on Christmas Day.
- Quebec is reporting 8,231 new cases today. Quebec’s Health Minister is urging people to reduce contacts after the province saw hospitalizations climb by more than 140 over a four-day period.
- Manitoba is tightening public health restrictions on large gathering to curb the spread of COVID-19. As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, indoor and outdoor public gatherings must not exceed 50 per cent of the capacity or 250 people – whichever is fewer – even for those who are fully vaccinated. The province reported eight new COVID-19 related deaths and 2,154 cases for a three-day period since Christmas Eve.
- Newfoundland and Labrador has reached record-breaking single-day case counts of COVID-19 as officials report 357 new infections over the holidays. Previously, the highest single-day case count was 100, reported on Dec. 23.
- Nova Scotia health authorities are reporting an outbreak at the Halifax Infirmary site of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. They did not give details on how many patients have tested positive, but said fewer than five had been “impacted.” The province is reporting 581 new cases today.
Health care staff and governments are on edge as they wait to see whether the sharp rise in case counts will have a domino effect on hospitals and intensive-care units.
- A steady number of international studies show that the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 leads to fewer severe cases, but with the sheer number of infections, even a smaller ratio of people getting very sick could swamp hospitals.
- In Ontario, hospital admissions have begun to rise. On Sunday, Toronto’s University Health Network announced that it is reopening its COVID-19 unit because of the rise in admissions. However, intensive-care numbers in the province remain relatively stable.
NHL holiday break: After shutting down for a week, the NHL resumes play Tuesday with three games on the schedule amid hopes that its extended holiday break caused by a rash of positive COVID-19 test results will set the stage for the league to complete an already upended season.
Coronavirus around the world
- Australia reported its first confirmed death from the Omicron variant amid another surge in daily infections. But the authorities refrained from imposing new restrictions, saying hospitalization rates remained low.
- Thousands of U.S. flights have been cancelled during one of the year’s busiest travel periods because of crews out sick with COVID-19 and winter storms. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden pledged on Monday to ease a shortage of COVID-19 tests as the Omicron variant threatened to overwhelm hospitals.
- England will not be implementing any new COVID-19 restrictions before the end of 2021, British Health Minister Sajid Javid said today, as the government awaits more evidence on whether the country’s health service can cope with high infection rates.
Coronavirus and business
As the lines between work and personal lives blurred even further during the pandemic, provinces are inching towards “right to disconnect” policies.
- Inspired by a 2016 law giving workers in France the right to turn off electronic work devices outside of business hours, in 2018 Canada’s federal government started reviewing labour standards and mulling whether to give workers the right to ignore work-related messages when at home.
- Meanwhile, the average time Canadian workers spent logged onto a computer increased from nine to 11 hours a day during the pandemic, cybersecurity company NordLayer found in February.
And: Canadian airlines say weather, not staffing shortages, are behind post-holiday delays
- Editorial Board: What happens next with Omicron? That’s up to us
- Gus Carlson: Omicron or not, tourists are hooked once again on the Florida Keys – and local businesses are no longer reeling
- NBA changes COVID-19 protocols, shortens path to return to play
- Mikaela Shiffrin is latest elite skier to test positive for COVID-19
- Liverpool manager Klopp frustrated by EPL’s substitution rules as COVID-19 cases bite
- Everything you need to know about Canada’s travel restrictions for vaccinated and unvaccinated people
- Where do I book a COVID-19 booster or a vaccine appointment for my kids? Latest rules by province
- What is and isn't 'paid sick leave' in Canada? A short primer
- Got a vaccine 'hangover'? Here's why
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.