Good evening, these are the top coronavirus headlines tonight:
- Some Canadian experts are cautioning that it’s too soon to declare the COVID-19 pandemic over, even though the World Health Organization said the number of deaths worldwide attributed to COVID-19 in the last week reached the lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic
- The Canadian government may be unable to recoup $5-billion or more of the $49-billion in emergency loans it extended to small businesses during pandemic lockdowns, according to briefing document obtained by The Globe and Mail
- As the employer-led push to return to the office grows, private and public sector unions are firmly taking a stance – and negotiating work-from-home clauses into collective agreements
An increasing number of health agencies have changed how they're reporting data on the coronavirus. A look at the current numbers in Canada for reported cases, deaths from COVID-19 and for hospitalizations can be found here.
COVID-19 updates from Canada and the world
- Coronavirus variants have traditionally cropped up during the fall and winter, leading to a surge in cases and deaths, said Dr. Fahad Razak, who headed up the recently disbanded group of scientists advising Ontario’s government on COVID-19. Dr. Razak says it stands to reason that could happen again this year. The cautionary comments are a response to a statement made earlier this week from the head of the World Health Organization, stating that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is “in sight.”
- A study co-authored by British Columbia’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, says at least 70 to 80 per cent of children and youth in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have been infected with COVID-19. The study was met with criticism from an advocacy group whose spokesperson called it “extremely damning” of Henry’s own policies and assurances to parents. Meanwhile, the latest COVID-19 numbers from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control show the number of people admitted to hospital with the illness is declining.
- Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, says there is ample supply of the Omicron-targeted COVID-19 vaccine. Ontarians aged 70 and older, long-term care residents, health-care workers, Indigenous people and their adult household members, immunocompromised people 12 and older and pregnant people are eligible for the Omicron-targeted booster now. All others 18 and older can book now for appointments starting as of Sept. 26.
- Newfoundland and Labrador is expecting to receive about 63,000 doses of the recently approved Moderna bivalent vaccine targeting the Omicron variant of the virus this month. The province’s chief medical officer of health said those will be available through clinics and participating doctors and pharmacies beginning Sept. 21.
- Yukon will soon receive a shipment of the Moderna bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, but Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says it’s unclear how much of the vaccine the territory will receive.
- France’s national health body warned today of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country, and urged people to continue to get vaccinated to protect themselves against the virus.
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- A note obtained by The Globe under the access-to-information law estimates $5-billion of the $49-billion in loans Ottawa provided to small businesses during the pandemic could be difficult to collect, and 100,000 borrowers could need to be chased down. CEBA was the first pandemic aid the government introduced for small businesses. It was designed and implemented quickly to help many enterprises weather the first few uncertain months. But some businesses were not eligible, and Ottawa tweaked the program multiple times.
- In Canada, unions are weighing firmly into the argument for remote work, with the aim of giving their members more leverage in determining how and where they work. “You’re going to see more language around remote work in collective agreements,” said Lana Payne, the newly-elected president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union. “The nature of work has changed. Now we need to get collective agreements to reflect that.”
- A new report says that men in Canada have become more accustomed to working from home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, are finding the experience positive and would like to continue remote work indefinitely.
- Canadian hotels will return to pre-pandemic revenues next year, two years ahead of the previous forecast, according to real estate firm CBRE.
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