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

Top headlines:

  1. When the Winter Games begin in Beijing on Feb. 4, rhetoric will meet reality for a Communist state that wants the event to be a carefully staged show of soft power
  2. COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities have skyrocketed, but deaths are a fraction of last year’s toll
  3. Truckers and supporters protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates converge on Ottawa ahead of Saturday’s ‘Freedom Rally’

In the past seven days, 122,991 cases were reported, down 28 per cent from the previous seven days. There were 1,134 deaths announced, up eight per cent over the same period. At least 10,303 people are being treated in hospitals.

Canada’s inoculation rate is 13th among countries with a population of one million or more people.

The Globe and Mail

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

Supporters cheer on truck drivers in the trucker convoy headed for Ottawa from an overpass in Kingston, Ont., on Friday.Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

Coronavirus in Canada

The trucker convoy that has been gaining participants and supporters as it rolls across the country left Kingston, Ont., earlier today and has started to arrive in the nation’s capital.

  • While the size of the convoy has been a source of debate, Kingston Police said it had counted 17 full tractor-trailers, 104 big rigs without trailers, 424 passenger vehicles and six recreational vehicles.
  • Here’s everything you need to know about the so-called Freedom Rally.

Trucker Convoy: The head of security for the House of Commons warned MPs that some protesters may target their personal residences in the country’s capital.

Long-term care impact: The number of deaths and cases of severe illness caused by Omicron in long-term care homes have been much lower in recent months compared to previous waves.

Prime Minister in isolation: Justin Trudeau says he’s isolating because one of his kids tested positive for COVID-19.

Infectivity period: People infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus remain infected for a similar amount of time as those infected with other strains, says a report by Public Health Ontario.

Teens at high-risk of exposure: The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is now recommending teenagers with underlying conditions, or who are at high-risk of COVID-19 exposure, get a booster shot.

Rites of passage: What happens when we don’t gather to celebrate life’s changes? When we skip marking special occasions for fear of spreading COVID-19?

On The Decibel podcast: The promises and limitations of the new COVID-19 pill

Coronavirus around the world

  • Beijing’s Olympic plans are already mired in politics and threatened by COVID-19. As new outbreaks of the Delta and Omicron variants pop up – small by international standards, but a concern for almost COVID-free China – plans to allow local spectators inside the bubble have been dropped. The Globe’s Asia correspondent, James Griffiths, writes about what Canadians can expect from the Winter Olympics.
  • By closing its borders at the onset of the pandemic, the remote Pacific archipelago of Kiribati managed to keep COVID-19 at bay for nearly two full years. But a plane bringing home 54 of the nation’s citizens has triggered an outbreak, with more than half of the plane’s passengers, mostly Mormon missionaries who had been abroad before the pandemic began, testing positive. The total case count in Kiribati had climbed to 181 by Friday.
  • Five members of Team Canada’s delegation in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics are currently in COVID-19 protocol, the Canadian Olympic Committee said Friday. Team Canada’s 246-person delegation includes athletes, coaches and staff.
  • Nine members of Canada’s men’s cricket team have tested positive for COVID-19 at the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean. The team will have to sit out the rest of the tournament, as it no longer has enough players to compete.

Coronavirus and business

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the real estate market in Ontario, as elsewhere in Canada, with the counties girding the Greater Toronto Area experiencing an unprecedented run-up in prices.

  • Seismic shifts have transformed demand for residential and commercial properties in Ontario, but those shifts won’t be showing up in property assessments and tax bills for at least another two years.
  • The Ontario government has delayed the provincewide assessment originally slated for 2020, leaving property valuations moored in the market conditions of Jan. 1, 2016.

And: Canada’s Cineplex Inc. is asking a court to order Cineworld Group PLC to pay more than $2.8-billion in damages for abandoning a planned takeover during the pandemic. An Ontario court had previously awarded Cineplex $1.24-billion for the failed deal, but Cineworld is appealing the ruling.

Also today: H&M looks beyond the COVID-19 pandemic with drive to double sales by 2030

Globe opinion

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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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