Good evening, here are the COVID-19 updates you need to know tonight.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada isn’t properly monitoring or tracking its COVID-19 border rules, Auditor-General says
- Federal government oversight failed to protect essential migrant workers from the spread of COVID-19, Auditor-General report finds
- Number of surgeries performed in Canada fell by more than half a million during pandemic, according to new report
In the past seven days, 24,118 cases were reported, up 15 per cent from the previous seven days. There were 139 deaths announced, up 1 per cent over the same period. At least 1,408 people are being treated in hospitals.
Canada’s inoculation rate is 19th among countries with a population of one million or more people.
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.
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Coronavirus in Canada
- Three southwestern Ontario health units are recommending limiting indoor holiday gatherings to fully vaccinated guests, other than young children, to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. And, medical experts and opposition politicians say Ontario needs to get rapid antigen test kits into as many hands as possible and should make them widely available – free of charge – to anyone who wants to use them. The province is reporting 1,290 new cases of COVID-19 today and nine new deaths from the virus.
- Quebec unveiled its own plan for school-aged children Thursday, saying three million rapid tests would be distributed to preschool and elementary school students. The tests are meant to be used at home to check whether children who show symptoms of the virus are infected. Quebec is reporting 1,807 new COVID-19 cases today and one additional death linked to the novel coronavirus.
- Twenty-one people have tested positive for the the coronavirus linked to an outbreak at a St. Francis Xavier University grad event in Nova Scotia, health officials said.
- A British Columbia Health Ministry media release says about 85.8 per cent of residents aged five and up have received one COVID-19 vaccine and about 11 per cent of those aged 12 and up have had a third dose.
- Saskatchewan is aiming to reduce its surgery backlog caused by COVID-19 cases overwhelming hospitals by privatizing certain procedures. There are 35,000 people currently waiting for surgery in the province.
An Auditor-General report says the federal government failed to protect essential migrant workers from the spread of COVID-19, despite repeated warnings.
- Even after the government was informed of these problems and given an opportunity to remedy them – and long after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to better protect workers – matters only worsened, according to the report.
The Auditor-General also found that the Public Health Agency of Canada only has records to verify that one-quarter of the people who were supposed to isolate while they awaited negative test results actually did so.
- “Without verifying travellers’ compliance with mandatory quarantine orders, the Public Health Agency of Canada cannot know whether its approach to enforcing the orders is effective or to what extent its approach serves to limit the spread of COVID-19,” concludes one report on the enforcement of quarantine and COVID-19 testing orders..
Southern Africa travel bans: Canada is facing mounting global pressure to reverse its new border rules that are widely seen as discriminatory and unscientific for their ban on foreign visitors from 10 African countries.
Government-run quarantine facilities: The Conservatives are calling for the federal government’s expert advisory panel to give updated advice on Canada’s border restrictions and for clear assurances that basic necessities, like diapers, will be provided to quarantined travellers.
Number of surgeries fell: The number of surgeries performed at Canadian hospitals fell by more than half a million from March, 2020, to June, 2021, according to a new report that highlights the collateral damage caused by the pandemic.
Coronavirus around the world
- An inquiry into an alleged lockdown-breaching Christmas party at the offices of Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been announced after a leaked video showed senior staff members joking about the apparent event. One aide has resigned after the video surfaced.
- Legislation is being pushed that would overturn administration rules ordering businesses in the U.S. with 100 workers or more to require vaccinations or coronavirus testing for millions of employees.
Coronavirus and business
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland raised concerns about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in a push to get MPs to approve a new round of pandemic aid.
- As part of a $7.4-billion aid bill before the House of Commons, the Liberals are proposing to extend pandemic aid until early May to businesses still financially struggling from the pandemic and provide a $300-a-week benefit to workers subject to a lockdown
- Speaking to the House of Commons finance committee, Freeland said, “I don’t want to give Canadians the impression that I think our work is finished or that I think there are no concerns left with Omicron.”
Also see: Holiday resorts across Canada are offering Christmas and New Year’s Eve packages, for anyone who can prove they’ve been double-vaccinated.
Also today: Canadian dollar slips as increased COVID-19 restrictions weigh on global markets
And: IMF chief economist sees inflationary pressures, risks from Omicron COVID-19 variant
- Tom Rachman: When it comes to Boris Johnson, the joke isn’t funny anymore
- Canadian field hockey team headed home after being stranded in South Africa because of the new COVID-19 variant
- Raptors cancel practice out of ‘abundance of caution’ amid health, safety protocols
- Lululemon Athletica Inc raised its full-year revenue forecast on Thursday, as demand for athleisure clothing during the pandemic showed little signs of slowing.
- Everything you need to know about Canada’s travel restrictions for vaccinated and unvaccinated people
- Waiting for a second dose? We answer your COVID-19 vaccine questions
- 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.