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

Top headlines:

  1. The federal government has awarded contracts worth up to $631-million for COVID-19 border testing to three companies amid Omicron variant concerns
  2. Canada to manufacture Merck’s antiviral COVID-19 drugs, one of the first treatments for non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients, if Health Canada approves
  3. Malaria deaths jumped by 69,000 in 2020 due to COVID-19 disruptions, WHO says

In the past seven days, 21,956 cases were reported, up 10 per cent from the previous seven days. There were 127 deaths announced, down 11 per cent over the same period. At least 1,263 people are being treated in hospitals.

Canada’s inoculation rate is 18th 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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A woman is vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Hillbrow Clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday Dec. 6, 2021.Shiraaz Mohamed/The Associated Press

Coronavirus in Canada

COVID-19 border testing contracts worth $631-million were awarded to three companies by the federal government as concerns over the Omicron variant deepen across Canada.

  • Public Services and Procurement Canada said Switch Health, LifeLabs and Dynacare are carrying out testing of international travellers entering Canada at airports and land border crossings.

COVID-19 antivirals: Merck Canada inked a deal with Thermo Fisher Scientific to manufacture a COVID-19 antiviral drug at its facility in Whitby, Ont. The drug – one of the first treatments for non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients – is currently pending Health Canada approval.

Quarantine hotel: A fully vaccinated Canadian traveller returning from South Africa says he was forced to stay in a quarantine facility in Toronto even after receiving a negative test. Lennard Skead, of Brandon, Man., said he received the result on Saturday but wasn’t allowed to leave the hotel until the next day, when he was notified by a quarantine officer.

Extra curriculars on campus: Many of Canada’s largest universities say they will offer more on-campus activities and in-person lectures next term, as they come under pressure from students eager for a return to something resembling pre-pandemic campus life.

Coronavirus around the world

Coronavirus and business

Tyson Foods will pay about $50-million in year-end bonuses to front-line and hourly meatpacking workers starting this month after food-processing plants struggled to find enough workers this year due to the tight labour market and safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • About 59,000 workers were infected with COVID-19 through January at plants run by Tyson and competitors JBS USA, Cargill Inc, National Beef Packing Company and WH Group’s Smithfield Foods, according to a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee report.

Also today: Investors brace for potential hit to U.S. earnings because of Omicron

And: Bank of Canada rate decision expected to balance employment gains against risk of Omicron 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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