Good evening, here are the COVID-19 updates you need to know tonight.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defends vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers amid supply chain concerns
- Absences, snow day closures and internet outages as students return to class in Ontario
- British PM Boris Johnson to lift nearly all COVID-19 restrictions as resignation calls intensify
In the past seven days, 187,860 cases were reported, down 28 per cent from the previous seven days. There were 923 deaths announced, up 65 per cent over the same period. At least 10,577 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.
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Coronavirus in Canada
- Quebec’s Nunavik region moved into lockdown on Wednesday, as more than half the northern territory’s 14 Inuit communities were dealing with community spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, the final report into the care and service offered to seniors in the pandemic’s first wave was released Wednesday, highlighting a need to overhaul the provincial Health Department. The province is reporting 88 COVID-19 deaths and a rise of eight hospitalizations linked to the disease, bringing the total to 3,425 people in hospital.
- Ontario health minister Christine Elliott said today that COVID-19 cases are expected to peak this month, with a peak in hospitalizations and ICU admissions to follow. Meanwhile, Ontario school boards struggled with staff absences and classroom closings as most of the province’s students returned to in-person learning today for the first time in a month. The province reported 4,132 people in hospital Wednesday with COVID-19, and 589 people in intensive care.
- B.C. Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry warned that a peak of COVID-19 patients will be arriving in hospitals this week after infections in the community topped out earlier this month. Meanwhile, businesses forced to stay closed for at least another month to contain the spread of COVID-19 will be eligible for additional financial help, the province announced today.
- In Alberta, the Edmonton school board is planning to request the province to open vaccine clinics in schools as the number of students and staff infected with COVID-19 rises. Meanwhile, a total of 3,279 new COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday and nine new deaths. On Monday, the province said a child between five and nine years old was among those who died.
- Manitoba recorded another 12 COVID-19-related deaths today, while the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations reached 631, an increase of 11 in one day.
- In New Brunswick, a surge of hospitalizations and a shortage of health care staff has led the province to ask people to help with clinical or non-clinical work, such as vaccine administration. New Brunswick has a record 123 people in hospital with COVID-19.
- In Nova Scotia, eight people have died of COVID-19 in the last three days, and currently 12 patients are in intensive care.
- In Yukon, the government announced yesterday that is will no longer be issuing school exposure notifications for the virus. Instead the government will monitor COVID-19′s spread through schools based on higher-level absenteeism rates rather than waiting for individual cases to be tested and confirmed through interviews.
High rates of student and teacher absences have prompted school boards in Western Canada to shift an increasing number of classes online, highlighting the difficulties in maintaining in-person learning.
- In Alberta, dozens of schools in Calgary and Edmonton have moved classes online.
- Meanwhile Saskatoon Public Schools shifted two schools to remote learning this week, including one experiencing a nursing shortage for its medically fragile students with multiple disabilities.
Antiviral COVID-19 treatment: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the first shipment of the antiviral drug Paxlovid is making its way across Canada, but it is no substitute for vaccination against the rapidly spreading virus.
Homeless shelters and COVID-19: Staff at shelters and homeless agencies are struggling to support people living on the streets as the highly transmissible Omicron COVID-19 variant sweeps through communities.
Coronavirus around the world
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to remove almost all COVID-19 restrictions in England next week as he fends off calls for his resignation. Johnson has been under increasing pressure to step down over revelations that he and his staff repeatedly broke lockdown rules by holding a series of parties in his Downing Street office in 2020 and 2021.
- Swiss researchers have launched an early-stage study to test a COVID-19 vaccine arm patch.
- Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic bought 80 per cent of a Danish biotech company developing COVID-19 treatment in 2020.
- In a news conference marking his first year in office, U.S. President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the pandemic has left Americans exhausted and demoralized but insisted that he has “outperformed” expectations.
Coronavirus and business
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending the federal government’s decision to implement a vaccination mandate for truck drivers despite warnings that it could worsen price increases and shortages.
- Critics say the mandate’s rollout is poorly timed, coming in the winter, when Canadians rely on international supply chains for fresh produce, and that it will push already high levels of inflation even higher.
- Trudeau said on Wednesday that truckers have known for months the mandate was coming, and the U.S. will soon bring an an “identical” one into force to ensure truckers are vaccinated for international travel.
Also today: Canadian inflation hit a three-decade high in December, the latest sign of rising price pressures that the Bank of Canada may soon move to contain with its first interest-rate increases since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
And: Toronto’s apartment vacancy rate dropped to 3.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2021, down from a high of 9 per cent reached in the first quarter of last year, as students and other residents moved back to the city amid easing pandemic restrictions.
- Eric Reguly: As Omicron spreads, so does my fear and Europe’s rancour over vaccines
- Robyn Urback: Testing vaccinated air travellers on arrival is pandemic theatre at the border
- Roojin Habibi, Uchechukwu Ngwaba, Obiora Chinedu Okafor and Sanjay Ruparelia: The HIV/AIDS crisis showed us how to equitably overcome a pandemic
- NHL reschedules 98 postponed games, moves 23 more after COVID-19 disruptions
- Unvaccinated military face ‘steeper’ challenge than airman who refused anthrax shot
- Prior COVID-19 infection offered protection against Delta variant, but vaccines still best shield against the virus, study says
- Everything you need to know about Canada’s travel restrictions for vaccinated and unvaccinated people
- Where do I book a COVID-19 booster or a vaccine appointment for my kids? Latest rules by province
- What is and isn't 'paid sick leave' in Canada? A short primer
- Got a vaccine 'hangover'? Here's why
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.