Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.
- Flights to Mexico and the Caribbean will stop until the end of April, and airlines will work with those already abroad to co-ordinate a trip home
- Pfizer shipments will now be reduced over five weeks, rather than four weeks as previously announced
- The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has proven effective against severe COVID-19 illness and new variants
In the last 7 days, 33,391 cases were reported, down 20 per cent from the previous 7 days. There were 975 deaths announced, down 11 per cent over the same period. At least 3,740 people are being treated in hospitals and 695,679 others are considered recovered.
About 83 per cent of the 1,122,450 doses of vaccine distributed to provinces have been administered. That’s 2.5 doses for every 100 people in Canada.
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 • Canada’s vaccine distribution plan • Developing/approved vaccines • Pfizer’s vaccine, explained • Essential resources
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Coronavirus in Canada
- A provincial employee in Ontario who is accused of embezzling at least $11 million in COVID relief money is also being accused of kickbacks in an alleged fraud worth at least $30 million, court documents show.
- New Brunswick reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 and another COVID-related death as health officials warned that new variants of the novel coronavirus could trigger a third wave.
- Quebec identified eight cases of the more transmissible British variant, as the province ramps up efforts to track the new strains.
In Ottawa, the latest round of travel restrictions were announced today, which include suspending flights to “sun destinations” such as the Caribbean and Mexico from Jan. 30 until at least April 30.
- Testing is about to be mandatory for new international arrivals – that requirement will be in addition to the negative COVID-19 test required upon boarding.
- Following the second test, travellers will have to wait three days at a designated hotel for their test result, at a rate of more than $2,000 paid by the traveller.
Vaccine approvals: Health Canada is on track to give the green light to a third COVID-19 vaccine within the next two weeks, the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Race against variants: Vaccines may not be as effective against these new strains, making it a race to control and track the spread of variants before they become a dangerous new outbreak.
Coronavirus around the world
- Novavax researchers say the vaccine provides strong protection against the British and South African variants of the virus.
- Supplies of the right needles and syringes are running short, a problem impacting vaccinations in some countries in Europe.
- Drugmaker Novartis, located in Switzerland, has signed on to help make Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Coronavirus and business
Canada’s economy is showing resilience, according to new data from Statistics Canada. But the economy will be tested in the coming weeks by elevated caseloads of COVID-19, new variants of the virus and sluggish vaccination rollouts.
- Despite fear of a pullback last month, real gross domestic product rose almost twice as much as expected, by 0.7 per cent.
- But, if December estimates pan out, real GDP will have declined 5.1 per cent in 2020 – the worst hit in generations.
Also today: Hudson’s Bay is the latest retailer to see staff layoffs. More than 600 workers across Canada have received notice amid ongoing store closures due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
And: As many people try to bolster the livability and sense of safety in home environments that now double as offices, classrooms, daycares and fitness nooks, the concept of healthy condo design is booming.
- Robyn Urback: Perhaps for queue jumpers Rod and Ekaterina Baker, the discomfort of being exorbitantly wealthy and having a travel itch that can’t be scratched is comparable to the angst of languishing for months in an underserved long-term care home during a pandemic?
- Jillian Horton: It is perfectly normal for health care workers to find themselves regretting their choice of profession right now, during these abnormal circumstances. “To err, of course, is human – and ultimately, that’s what we all are.”
- Ethan Lou: “As candid as I’d been about my grandfather’s mortality before, when he actually died, I couldn’t bring myself to even tell anyone, not even those closest to me.” Restoring an old laptop changed all that.
- Gary Mason: B.C. Premier John Horgan looks back on a pandemic-marred 12 months: “We just need people to hang on for a bit longer. We’ve come too far to let our frustrations get in the way of doing the right thing now.”
- Cathal Kelly: The NFL did everything wrong, and it all ended up exactly right. Bizarrely, COVID-19 has been good to football.
- The pandemic has morphed time. Here’s why you should try something new
- Pregnant women are getting conflicting advice on COVID-19 vaccines from different health agencies
- Domtar president and chief executive John Williams has contracted COVID-19 and will take a temporary medical leave of absence
- Bayern Munich midfielders Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez have tested positive for COVID-19
- Public-health experts are calling on the provinces to speed up rapid-testing rollouts in workplaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19
- How well do vaccines work? Here’s what you need to know.
- Rob Carrick’s 10-point checklist of things you should have done by now to protect or improve your money situation. Tips for minimizing damage to your credit score; how to manage retirement anxiety during difficult times; and things to think about if you’re considering home delivery.
- Here are the expectations for self-isolation; tips for managing anxiety and protecting your mental health; and what to do if you think you have the virus. Wash your hands. How to break a bad habit (like touching your face). Is flying safe?
- The best foods to eat to maintain an immune system-friendly diet; and how to keep a healthy diet while working from home; four eating tips when working from home; and five mistakes that might cause you to gain unwanted weight. Here are the essentials to stock up on and how to shop safely for groceries; the best pantry staples and how to stop stress-eating.
- Find answers to your coronavirus and employment questions.