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Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines:

  1. Ottawa weighs response to new COVID-19 variant amid call to ban travel from Britain
  2. Mattamy, Brookfield reveal office COVID-19 testing program as more companies plan workplace screening
  3. Q&A with Bonnie Henry: Bubbles, personal attacks and the toughest year of her career

In Canada, there have been at least 506,508 cases reported. In the last week 44,383 new cases were announced, 3 per cent fewer than the previous week. There have also been at least 415,362 recoveries and 14,216 deaths. Health officials have administered more than 15,097,133 tests.

The Globe and Mail

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 reopeningCanada’s vaccine distribution planDeveloping/approved vaccinesPfizer’s vaccine, explained Essential resources

Photo of the day

Police officers wear face masks as they patrol a street during light snowfall in Montreal today as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Coronavirus in Canada

  • The Ontario government is poised to impose a province-wide lockdown starting Christmas Eve in an effort to combat a surge in COVID-19 cases, according to media reports. Even so, an online survey shows the majority of Canadians report feeling optimistic about the new year in light of the COVID-19 vaccines. Quebeckers were slightly more positive overall, with 87 per cent reporting some level of optimism, compared with 84 per cent in the rest of Canada.
  • Over the past year, there hasn’t been a public servant under more pressure in British Columbia than Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry. Globe columnist Gary Mason recently chatted with Dr. Henry about the toughest year of her career.
  • Mattamy Homes and Brookfield Asset Management have launched new office COVID-19 testing programs, which its creator hopes will be emulated widely to encourage workers to return to Toronto’s downtown offices.
  • Canada passes 500,000 COVID-19 cases. Saskatchewan pushed the country over the grim threshold yesterday, with 252 new cases and eight more deaths reported.

Coronavirus around the world

  • Several European countries have placed travel restrictions to and from Britain owing to concern over a new variant of the coronavirus that is spreading rapidly there. The Canadian government is weighing its response.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed a new Tier 4 of restrictions on London and other areas in southern England, which require all non-essential shops, hairdressers and indoor leisure venues to close right through Christmas.
  • The United States has rolled out Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, after approving it on Dec. 18. More than 3,700 sites are due to start receiving and administering shots as soon as tomorrow, vastly widening the rollout started last week by Pfizer.
  • There is concern among Muslims in Indonesia over the halal status of COVID-19 vaccine, since pork-derived gelatin has been widely used as a stabilizer to ensure vaccines remain safe and effective during storage and transport.
  • Thousands of people lined up for coronavirus tests near the Thailand capital of Bangkok as authorities scrambled to contain an outbreak that has infected nearly 700 people.

Globe opinion

  • Kelly Cryderman: “Deciding who will get the vaccine in the first part of 2021, before the large-scale rollout to general public, will be a much more difficult task. Soon, the social media images of someone getting the jab could induce envy instead of optimism.”
  • Marcus Gee: “The international health emergency over COVID-19 has produced a new blizzard of misinformation. This one may be the most dangerous of all.”
  • Amil Niazi: “COVID-19 has taken so much from us, but it’s also given us an opportunity to reshape how we live and how we care for each other. For the first time in two decades, I was under my mother’s care and it felt like a chance to meet her again as a person, to redress the distance that time and adulthood had created.”

More reporting

Bridget and Callie Hudson with their adopted pandemic dog GracieKailee Mandel/The Globe and Mail

Information centre

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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