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

Top headlines:

  1. Broader vaccine mandates may need to be considered by provinces to continue fighting COVID-19, Canada’s health minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Friday
  2. A new poll shows Canadians are very much in favour of getting booster shots, and a fair number of people would like to see the U.S.-Canada border closed to non-essential travel

In the past seven days, 293,224 cases were reported, up 49 per cent from the previous seven days.

There were 304 deaths announced, up 104 per cent over the same period. At least 5,491 people are being treated in hospitals. Canada’s inoculation rate is 16th among countries with a population of one million or more people.

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 chartsTracking vaccine dosesLockdown rules and reopening

Photo of the day

Bethany and Hans Stief supervise their twin six-year-old girls, Nora and Willa, during online school while also taking care of their toddler, Edith, amid surging COVID-19 cases caused by the coronavirus Omicron variant, in Hamilton, Ont., today.CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

Coronavirus in Canada

Provinces may consider implementing a broader vaccine mandate to counter rising COVID-19 cases, Canada’s health minister says.

  • Given the fragility of Canada’s health-care system and the aging population of the country, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said he thinks broader vaccine mandates will be considered by provinces over the next weeks and months, while stressing that it would be their decision to make.

Booster shots: The majority of Canadians polled say they will definitely get a vaccine booster shot as Omicron drives an increase in COVID-19 case counts across the country.

The Beijing Games: Getting Canada’s top athletes to China without testing positive for COVID-19 seems like the first round of competition.

Coronavirus around the world

  • Novak Djokovic might not be the only person hoping to take part in the Australian Open to face removal from Australia, as up to three other participants in the tournament entered the country under the same exemption framework, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
  • Two cases challenging the legality of President Biden’s vaccine-or-testing mandate for large businesses are in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Republican state officials and business groups asked the justices to block the administration’s rule, arguing the federal government exceeded its authority by imposing requirements not specifically authorized by Congress and failed to follow the proper administrative processes for issuing emergency regulations.
  • With infections breaking records almost daily as the Omicron variant sweeps across Europe, economic growth in the region is likely to take a hit even though governments have largely avoided the debilitating measures that brought their economies to a standstill a year ago.
  • New modelling from Sydney, Australia shows a peak in cases by the end of January. The country is experiencing infection rates higher than anywhere else in the Asia-Pacific region. In Sydney’s state of New South Wales, the premier has postponed non-urgent surgeries and reinstated a ban on singing and dancing in clubs and pubs.
  • North Korea said “hostile forces” and COVID-19 risks were the reasons why it won’t attend Beijing Games, the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, although the country’s athletes already weren’t eligible to compete.

Coronavirus and business

Canada has some of the strictest travel policies among G7 countries, prompting travel groups to push for more relaxed testing restrictions for foreign travellers like other countries have done recently.

  • “As we watch the loosening of other requirements, such as isolation periods, it would seem that loosening of requirements around travel should follow suit,” said Beth Potter, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. “We would love to get to the point where you only need to do a rapid test on arrival, then carry on.”

Also today: Over the last year, the tally of working Canadians jumped about 885,000 – a record annual gain that highlighted the economy’s rebound from the depths of the pandemic-induced recession. But, Omicron threatens the next round of employment data.

And: Grocery store executives have received multimillion dollar bonuses as sales and profits soar during the pandemic – even as they refuse to bring back pay ‘hero pay’ for employees. Unifor national president Jerry Dias says this needs to change.

Also see: The highly contagious Omicron COVID-19 variant is a concern for Canadian food production, farm groups say.

Globe opinion

More reporting

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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