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

Top headlines:

  1. The United States will require essential, non-resident travellers crossing U.S. land borders to be fully vaccinated
  2. Nearly half of Canadians plan to ditch physical distancing at holiday gatherings
  3. Canadians piled on debt to fund pandemic home renos. But with interest-rate hikes ahead, that debt will get pricier

In the past seven days, 17,941 cases were reported, up 5 per cent from the previous seven days. There were 151 deaths announced, down 20 per cent over the same period. At least 1,625 people are being treated in hospitals.

Canada’s inoculation rate is 16th among countries with a population of one million or more people.

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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

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Youth between the age of 12 to 17 wait to receive doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Hanoi, Vietnam.NHAC NGUYEN/AFP/Getty Images

Coronavirus in Canada

In Ottawa, a bill that lays out a more limited version of COVID-19 wage and rent supports for businesses in the hardest-hit sectors of the economy is being introduced this week – and the Bloc Québécois says it is prepared to offer its support.

  • Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced last month that the government was ending the Canada Recovery Benefit – which was paid directly to individuals who could not work because of COVID-19.

Throne Speech: Delivered by Governor-General Mary Simon, today’s Throne Speech outlined that “getting the pandemic under control” was one of the key priorities by the federal government.

Health care hurdles: Half of Canadians in need of health care had difficulty accessing services during the first year of the pandemic, according to a new survey by Statistics Canada.

Vaccine recognition: Pieter Cullis, University of British Columbia professor and co-founder of Acuitas Therapeutics, was named a co-winner last week of the 2021 Prince Mahidol Award for medicine for his work with mRNA vaccines.

Holiday gatherings: A Leger/Canadian Press poll found almost half of Canadians polled say they will “greet others with a handshake, hug or kiss” at Christmas parties and other holiday gatherings.

Coronavirus around the world

  • The United States will require all essential, non-resident travellers – such as truck drivers, government and emergency-response officials – crossing U.S. land borders to be fully vaccinated by January 22. The new requirement brings the rules for essential travellers in line with those that took effect earlier this month for leisure travellers.
  • France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex is being called out after video of him vigorously shaking hands with elected officials in an enclosed space at a Paris mayoral congress on Nov. 16 began to circulate. The government official has since tested positive for the coronavirus – a potential embarrassment for the French government and for President Emmanuel Macron ahead of April’s presidential election.

Coronavirus and business

Borrowing through home-equity lines of credit (HELOC) to fund home renovations has increased during the pandemic.

  • One certified financial planner says he’s seeing two categories of upgrades: those meant to make the space more functional for those spending more time at home, such as home offices; and those meant to make it more enjoyable, such as decks, pools and hot tubs – items that, before COVID-19, were not in wide demand due to the time and money required to maintain them.
  • Equifax Canada says the volume of new HELOCs increased by 56.7 per cent from Q2 2020 to a year later.

Also today: There’s been a dramatic increase in interprovincial migration to Nova Scotia, particularly among people leaving Ontario, Quebec and the western provinces during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, nearly 10,000 more people came to Nova Scotia from other provinces or territories than left Nova Scotia – a dramatic shift in traditional population migration patterns in Canada.

And: The COVID-19 pandemic has warped global supply chains, leading to product shortages, shipping delays, disruptions to manufacturing and soaring consumer prices.

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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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