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

Top headlines:

  1. Scores of unvaccinated workers are filing wrongful dismissal claims against employers, lawyers say
  2. Ottawa to go ahead with trucker vaccine mandate after stating it would scrap it
  3. N95, medical or cloth face masks: Which is best against the Omicron COVID-19 variant? Canada’s latest guidance explained

In the past seven days, 251,312 cases were reported, down 14 per cent from the previous seven days. There were 606 deaths announced, up 99 per cent over the same period. At least 8,701 people are being treated in hospitals.

Canada’s inoculation rate is 15th 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.

Coronavirus explainers: Coronavirus in maps and chartsTracking vaccine dosesLockdown rules and reopening

Photo of the day

A volunteer in personal protective equipment takes swab samples from a sex worker for a rapid antigen test amid the COVID-19 pandemic today in Bangkok, Thailand.ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA/Reuters

Coronavirus in Canada

The federal government says the vaccine mandate for truckers crossing into Canada from the United States will come into effect as planned, despite a previous statement from the Canada Border Services Agency that said Canadian truck drivers would be exempt.

  • Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said today that the CBSA statement was “provided in error,” and that Canadian truckers must be vaccinated if they want to avoid quarantine and a prearrival molecular test, starting this weekend.
  • Trucking lobby groups say up to 26,000 of the 160,000 drivers who make regular cross-border trips will be sidelined as a result of the mandate, adding further bottlenecks and potential price hikes to the flow of goods.

N95s, medical masks or cloth: What’s the most effective mask to stop the spread of COVID-19? Here’s everything we know about Canada’s latest mask guidelines.

Rapid tests in short supply: The federal government is struggling to make good on its promise to deliver 140 million rapid tests to provinces by the end of the month.

Incarcerated with COVID-19: Indigenous federal inmates are infected with COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates, representing “disturbing and entrenched imbalances.”

The mathematics of Omicron: The Omicron variant is forcing mathematicians to rework the models that have helped shaped Canada’s understanding of COVID-19, as well as the country’s response to the pandemic.

Coronavirus around the world

Coronavirus and business

Lawyers in Canada say they are being inundated with vaccine-related cases and claims of wrongful dismissal.

  • Labour and employment lawyers said that cases involving the termination of unvaccinated employees hinge on a number of factors, including whether employees are required to come into work.
  • There has been no definitive Canadian court decision on how vaccine mandates can be enforced in workplaces, which makes whether an employee can be fired for not adhering to an employer’s vaccine policy an especially complex issue.

Toronto’s population dropped by around 16,600 and Montreal by roughly 46,700 over a portion of the pandemic as work and living arrangements shifted under COVID-19.

  • Those figures confirm that remote work has redrawn the boundaries of where Canadians can live, unlocking new options for homeownership.

Also today: The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose in the first week of January amid raging COVID-19 infections.

And: Delta Air Lines said the Omicron variant will likely delay the recovery in travel demand by 60 days, but it expects the recovery to resume in February.

Also see: Office vacancy rates in downtown Toronto and Vancouver are rebounding for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

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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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