Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.
- COVID-19 killed the people they loved. Six families share their stories
- Hospitals in Ontario now face a shortage of one of only two drugs known to reduce mortality in critically ill COVID-19 patients
- Canada’s bank regulator is proposing a change to the mortgage stress test in an attempt to cool the country’s overheated real estate markets
In the last 7 days, 48,106 cases were reported, up 32 per cent from the previous 7 days. There were 209 deaths announced, down 1 per cent over the same period. At least 2,944 people are being treated in hospitals and 948,384 others are considered recovered.
Canada’s inoculation rate is 29th among 84 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.
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Coronavirus in Canada
- Ontario physicians have been urged to ration a key drug used to reduce mortality in critically ill COVID-19 patients, one of many challenges hospitals face as faster-spreading and more dangerous variants overtake older versions of the coronavirus. The province sent emergency alerts on cellphones, radios and televisions today. Peel Region, one of the province’s hot spots, will be accelerating the vaccine rollout by descending through the age ranges in five-year increments each week in order to get a handle on the rapid spread of COVID-19. Ontario reported 3,295 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
- In Quebec, doctors are warning that over the last several weeks, people in hospital are about 10 to 15 years younger than earlier patients in need of medical care after contracting COVID-19. Meanwhile, walk-in clinics have begun offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to those 55 and older. Residents in Montreal and the suburb of Laval are now restricted to an earlier 8 p.m. curfew.
- Alberta will provide vaccinations to about 2,000 workers at the Cargill meat-processing facility as part of an effort to target citizens most at risk of contracting COVID-19.
- British Columbia continues to delay acting on its commitment to provide priority vaccinations to 300,000 front-line workers, but the process for approving who gets a shot remains unclear. New funding will be available to businesses in British Columbia affected by the latest measures to fight the spread of COVID-19. And, a director at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control says that variant case numbers are being underreported.
More than 22,000 Canadians have died in the pandemic, leaving friends, partners, children and other family members in mourning – but without the usual rituals of grief. These are the stories of six people who died.
- “It was the hardest thing we had to do,” said Rhonda Ross, about celebrating Christmas and her granddaughter Emily’s birthday amid the raw grief of losing her husband to COVID-19.
- “She loved to make people feel good,” says Frédéricka Petit-Homme, about her mother, who died of COVID-19 last April. “She was joyous.”
- “Your mom plays a certain role in your life, and your dad plays a certain role in your life,” says Jay Cairns, whose parents both contracted COVID-19 and died last November. “Now that they’re both gone, there’s an awfully big hole there.”
COVID-19 restrictions: The Canadian Medical Association says continually changing COVID-19 rules have contributed to confusion and relaxed adherence.
Vaccine interval: Canada’s vaccine advisory panel stands behind the four-month wait between shots.
Coronavirus around the world
- A patchwork of advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine was emerging from governments across Europe and farther afield a day after regulators said there is a “possible link” between the shot and blood clotting.
- Taiwan worked with other democracies to help its diplomatic ally Paraguay get COVID-19 vaccines.
- The U.S. Federal Reserve plans to keep its bond-buying and low-rate policies in place even as data show the economy kicking into higher gear, as it warned about the recent uptick in COVID-19 infections.
Coronavirus and business
Canada’s bank regulator said it will take another crack at changing the mortgage stress test that determines whether borrowers qualify for a home loan, after that work was interrupted by the pandemic.
- The potential change to the mortgage stress test for uninsured mortgages would effectively raise the minimum qualifying rate to 5.25 per cent from 4.79 per cent.
- The change could begin in June and will likely exacerbate the market run-up over the next few months as borrowers race to qualify at the lower rate.
Also today: The global economy is recovering faster than expected from the COVID-19 crisis, according to the International Monetary Fund, which cautioned that a spike in interest rates could be especially painful for emerging economies.
And: Roots reported a $12.3-million profit even as the COVID-19 pandemic hampered sales.
- John Ibbitson: Canada’s handling of the pandemic has been average. Middle of the pack. Uninspired. But not awful.
- Elizabeth Renzetti: The best communications strategies are clear, flexible, and honest about the state of science and data. When public trust is eroded, we stop listening.
- The Editorial Board: There does appear to be a lingering hesitancy about COVID-19 vaccines. Governments must spread the message that the vaccines are safe and effective.
- Rob Carrick: The entire country benefits if a tougher mortgage stress test helps people bear this financial load.
- Dollhouses are the ultimate pint-size pandemic hobby
- Many Canadian workers do not see a full return to normal until 2022
- How well do vaccines work? Here’s what you need to know.
- Rob Carrick’s 10-point checklist of things you should have done by now to protect or improve your money situation. Tips for minimizing damage to your credit score; how to manage retirement anxiety during difficult times; and things to think about if you’re considering home delivery.
- Here are the expectations for self-isolation; tips for managing anxiety and protecting your mental health; and what to do if you think you have the virus. Wash your hands. How to break a bad habit (like touching your face). Is flying safe?
- The best foods to eat to maintain an immune system-friendly diet; and how to keep a healthy diet while working from home; four eating tips when working from home; and five mistakes that might cause you to gain unwanted weight. Here are the essentials to stock up on and how to shop safely for groceries; the best pantry staples and how to stop stress-eating.
- Find answers to your coronavirus and employment questions.
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.