Good evening, here are the COVID-19 updates you need to know tonight.
- When it comes to vaccinating children against the coronavirus, Newfoundland and Labrador leads the country with nearly 75 per cent of kids aged 5 to 11 at least partly vaccinated
- Canada to re-examine definition of fully vaccinated against COVID-19 once more people have had booster shots: Tam
- The pandemic has led to food supply shortages once again, showing the vulnerability of Canada’s food system
In the past seven days, 171,637 cases were reported, down 28 per cent from the previous seven days. There were 1,054 deaths announced, up 61 per cent over the same period. At least 10,618 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.
Photo of the day
Coronavirus in Canada
- Newfoundland and Labrador is leading the county in vaccinating children against coronavirus thanks to public health messaging that encourages children to protect their elderly grandparents.
- A news conference today with British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry comes one day after the BC Centre for Disease Control apologized for posting unanticipated changes to testing and isolation guidelines, saying they “led to confusion.” The Education Ministry is shipping 200,000 test kits to elementary and high schools in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- In “one of the first studies of its kind,” a new report shows that the annual rate of mental health and substance use visits by Ontario doctors increased 27 per cent in the first year of the COVID-19 crisis. The report raises concerns about the pandemic’s psychological toll on the medical profession.
- A record number of people in Alberta need acute care owing to the fast-spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19. The demand may force the province to rely on makeshift hospital beds as early as next week.
- For a second consecutive day, hospitalizations have decreased in Quebec.
There are positive signs the Omicron wave is peaking in Canada but we are not done with COVID-19 yet, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says.
- Testing limitations mean case numbers are no longer a great indication of the status of the pandemic, Dr. Tam says, but positivity rates and wastewater surveillance are all pointing towards the spread of COVID-19 slowing nationally.
Truckers’ vaccine mandate: The Canada Border Services Agency sent a statement (in error) last week to media saying that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated truck drivers crossing into Canada from the United States would remain exempt from the vaccine mandate. Here’s what we know about the botched communication.
Coronavirus around the world
- There were promising results from the first large U.S. studies to look at how booster shots held up against Omicron, with fewer emergency department and urgent care visits for those who had the third shot, as well as greater protection from getting the virus at all.
- Lunar New Year is known as a time for people in China to travel home for the holidays, but this year, those trips are coming with a warning from the government: If you spread COVID-19 when you travel, you might be punished.
- In Hong Kong, meanwhile, the government intends to cull 2,000 hamsters associated with a COVID-19 outbreak and warns those who are trying to save the rodents that it might become a matter for the police.
- A sub-lineage of the Omicron variant, dubbed BA.2, has been designated as a variant under investigation by the U.K. Health Security Agency. Also, a growing number of banks are reopening their offices in England – including JPMorgan, Barclays and Deutsche Bank – since COVID-19 restrictions were eased this week.
- The Olympics torch relay has been pared down over coronavirus safety concerns, confined to a three-day event taking place in the three competition areas of downtown Beijing, the suburb of Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou in the neighbouring province of Hebei.
Coronavirus and business
Food supply shortages, brought on in part by the pandemic, highlight yet again the vulnerability of Canada’s food system – one that has already shown signs in recent years of tremendous strain.
- COVID-19 outbreaks have resulted in significant disruptions at farms, where agriculture workers often live and work together in close conditions. Earlier this month, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in Ontario, where much of Canada’s greenhouse produce is grown, temporarily banned the arrival of new agricultural migrant workers because of outbreaks.
Also today: Despite widespread labour shortages, real wage increases have stayed fairly muted during the pandemic. That could change very soon.
And: The super-sprawl of the pandemic is being seen across Canada, especially in Oliver, B.C.
Also see: The economy still has yet to return to its pre-pandemic peak, but many economists are predicting that the Bank of Canada will usher in its first rate hike of the COVID-era next Wednesday.
- Robyn Urback: Why would the unvaccinated reject a COVID-19 vaccine, but accept a new antiviral pill?
- Barry Hertz: Let them eat popcorn: Ontario’s movie theatre snacks ban is latest nonsensical arts policy
- Lori Lee Oats: Newfoundland and Labrador’s culture has helped it achieve Canada’s highest vaccination rate
- Christina Colizza: How a group of young journalists got a taste of life in quarantine a decade ago
- Patrick Brethour: Federal recovery program to boost hiring gets little uptake from employers
- The Editorial Board: Does a vaccine mandate for truckers come with more costs than benefits?
- Adele postpones Las Vegas residency after crew members test positive for COVID-19
- London Metal Exchange shows signs of COVID recovery
- Credit the pandemic and the Queen’s Gambit for phenomenal growth in online chess
- Canucks stars Demko, Miller test positive for COVID-19
- 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.