Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.
- Several members of the Alberta government have stepped down following public outcry over their recent vacations
- Testing rates in December dropped significantly in several provinces – raising concerns that cases are going undetected
- British scientists are concerned that vaccines being rolled out may not be able to protect against a new variant
In Canada, there have been at least 611,424 cases reported. In the last week 47,922 new cases were announced, 10 per cent more than the previous week.
There have also been at least 517,884 recoveries and 16,074 deaths. Health officials have administered more than 16,417,249 tests.
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
Photo of the day
Coronavirus in Canada
- In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney said he accepted the resignation of Tracy Allard, the municipal affairs minister, his chief of staff, and others following their international travel over the holidays.
- Ontario confirmed three new cases of the new COVID-19 variant. Meanwhile, the government won’t extend the deadline for the province’s COVID-19 long-term care inquiry. And, in Toronto, officials said businesses will now be required to report COVID-19 outbreaks of more than two people to public health.
- In Quebec, the provincial Liberal party stripped Pierre Arcand of his shadow cabinet position following a trip to Barbados. Meanwhile, doctors in Quebec and Ontario are bracing for the worst, as they start to see the effects of people flouting pandemic rules during the holidays.
- British Columbia’s top doctor ordered five major industrial projects to limit on-site staff in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Manitoba opened a “super site” in Winnipeg for COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Senate’s Conservative Leader Don Plett is now back in Canada after travelling to Mexico in December for personal reasons, his spokesperson said.
- Plett joins a growing list of politicians – including Ontario’s former finance minister, the municipal affairs minister in Alberta, and two federal Liberals – who travelled over the holidays despite pleas from both levels of government to avoid non-essential travel and have now have stepped aside from their duties.
Coronavirus spread: Scientists call on Canada to refocus efforts on addressing airborne spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 lockdown: Public-health experts in several provinces called for stricter COVID-19 measures and “intense adherence” to guidelines.
Coronavirus around the world
- The U.S. surpassed a sober milestone of 20 million confirmed cases.
- A new national lockdown for England was announced until at least mid-February to combat a fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus.
- Moderna says it doesn’t plan to distribute its vaccine in South Africa – causing health advocates to sound the alarm over a “vaccine apartheid” by wealthier countries hoarding the supply.
Coronavirus and business
A slew of questions remain about the federal government’s decision to require passengers returning to Canada to show a negative COVID-19 test.
- The new rule goes into effect this Thursday, but officials say without any interim orders, they are anticipating confusion for airlines and passengers.
Also today: December was Calgary’s best month for its residential real estate market since 2007, the city’s real estate board said, as the homebuying season was pushed back into the second half of 2020 because of spring shutdowns.
- André Picard: Canada – compared to Israel – is very slow at administering vaccines. The government rushed to get the first vaccines out for the sake of an impressive photo op. Now the rollout is moving with shocking lassitude.
- Gary Mason: Hubris gets the best of politicians, it seems. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s response to a growing concern over several of his members’ holiday travel is pathetic.
- Teachers in Ontario who are also parents of young children say they are being put in an impossible situation as they balance teaching and parenting responsibilities.
- Airlines and travellers say questions remain about the Canadian government’s decision to require passengers returning to the country to show negative results on COVID-19 tests taken abroad.
- Designated learning areas and break times: the best practices for virtual learning.
- When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available in Canada? How well do they 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.
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.