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

Top headlines:

  1. The Public Health Agency of Canada isn’t properly monitoring or tracking its COVID-19 border rules, Auditor-General says
  2. Federal government oversight failed to protect essential migrant workers from the spread of COVID-19, Auditor-General report finds
  3. 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.

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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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Skaters, most wearing face coverings to combat the spread of the coronavirus skate on the ice rink at the Natural History Museum in central London, today. The U.K. government on Monday will tighten virus restrictions in England as Omicron variant cases surge, including guidance to work from home and mandatory COVID-19 passports, it announced Wednesday. The news dealt a bitter blow to the nation's pubs, restaurants and nightclubs, just as they had begun to recover from the long-running pandemic lockdowns that had already ravaged business.HOLLIE ADAMS/AFP/Getty Images

Coronavirus in Canada

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

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

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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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