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

Top headlines:

  1. Canada’s housing agency is sounding the alarm over rapidly rising mortgage debt as the work-from-home trend fuels a surge in housing prices
  2. Alberta’s revenues — gutted by the pandemic and a crash in oil prices — leave an $18.2-billion deficit for 2021-22, according to the provincial budget presented today
  3. Seven in 10 small businesses have taken on pandemic debt, averaging almost $170,000 each, according to a new report from a small-business lobby group

In the last 7 days, 20,717 cases were reported, up 2 per cent from the previous 7 days. There were 367 deaths announced, down 10 per cent over the same period. At least 2,072 people are being treated in hospitals and 806,022 others are considered recovered.

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About 84 per cent of the 2,043,599 doses of vaccine distributed to provinces have been administered. That’s 4.5 doses for every 100 people in Canada.

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

Motorists line up to receive the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic run by the City of Odessa and Medical Center Hospital on Thursday, Feb. 25 in Odessa, Texas.

Eli Hartman/The Associated Press

Coronavirus in Canada

New documents show how the alerts issued by Canada’s early pandemic warning system declined rapidly from 2009 to 2019, when key parts of the operation were curtailed.

  • According to an e-mail between PMO staff on Oct. 8, alerts issued by the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, or GPHIN, shows 1,598 alerts were issued between 2009 and 2019.
  • In 2009, GPHIN issued 877 alerts. By 2013, 198 alerts were issued.
  • By 2018, that number was just 21 – a drop of 97 per cent from 2009 levels.

Adverse reactions: A Canadian study aims to look at adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines.

Assault allegations: The Public Health Agency of Canada is looking into allegations that two returning travellers were allegedly sexually assaulted during their mandatory quarantine periods.

Coronavirus around the world

Coronavirus and business

About seven in 10 small businesses have taken on new debt because of the pandemic, with an average debt of almost $170,000 each, a new Canadian Federation of Independent Business survey says.

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  • Businesses such as restaurants and gyms have taken on much more debt compared to companies whose work is more remote-friendly.
  • In hospitality and recreation, about nine in 10 businesses have taken on debt – with an average amount of more than $200,000.
  • CFIB’s survey showed those in the professional services and real estate sectors were likely to take on debt, and reported lower debt loads.

Also today: As pandemic restrictions continue, consumers are looking for one-stop shopping trips at larger-format conventional supermarkets.

And: The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says household mortgage debt is growing at its fastest pace since the country emerged from the Great Recession.

Globe opinion

  • The Editorial Board: Canada’s vaccine rollout has been a humiliation for the Trudeau government, not to mention a serious setback for efforts to roll back the virus, save lives and return the Canadian economy to health.
  • Konrad Yakabuski: When probed on vaccine delays, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau only repeated his line about Pfizer’s commitment to delivering four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March. But that will still leave Canada well behind several peer countries in inoculating its citizens.

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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