Good evening, here are the COVID-19 updates you need to know tonight.
- ‘It’s likely COVID-19′: Saskatchewan seeing spike in ER visits among children under age of five
- Canadians embrace travel as COVID-19 measures relax
- After two years of record-low interest rates, held down by the bank to support the Canadian economy through the pandemic, the Bank of Canada raised interest rate to 0.5 per cent
In the past seven days, 40,958 cases were reported, down 3 per cent from the previous seven days. There were 446 deaths announced, down 2 per cent over the same period. At least 4,726 people are being treated in hospitals.
Canada’s inoculation rate is 13th 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
- Saskatchewan is seeing a spike in emergency room visits among children between the ages of one and four. “It’s likely COVID-19,” said the province’s Chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab. The latest data from the Ministry of Health showed preschoolers were visiting emergency rooms at a weekly rate of 110 patients per 1,000, which is higher than the average rate from the previous six weeks for the same age group.
- Ontario’s vaccine certificate system covering restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas, and event spaces ended Tuesday, but many municipalities that enacted policies requiring employees to be double vaccinated or lose their jobs are keeping those mandates in place. Meanwhile, a court challenge launched by two southwestern Ontario churches over the province’s COVID-19 religious gathering restrictions has been dismissed.
- Quebec is reporting 20 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus today, for a total of 14,016 since the start of the pandemic.
- Alberta’s health minister says $300 million will be spent to add more intensive care beds in hospitals, adding the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the need to add more beds quickly.
It’s now easier for Canadians to take vacations they’ve put off amid the pandemic since rapid antigen tests can be used for re-entry instead of PCR tests and quarantine requirements have ended for children travelling with fully vaccinated parents.
- New recommendations that no longer caution Canadians to avoid travel for non-essential purposes came into effect Monday. Instead, they urge residents to “practise special precautions.”
Ottawa protests: Tamara Lich, one of the Ottawa convoy protest organizers, submitted an affidavit as part of a bail review saying that if she had known the judge who denied her release was a former Liberal candidate, she would have had her lawyer ask for a recusal.
Alberta border blockade: One of four people charged with conspiracy to commit murder following arrests at last month’s border blockade at Coutts, Alta., has been denied bail.
Coronavirus around the world
- U.S. President Joe Biden highlighted a new “test to treat” plan to provide free antiviral pills at pharmacies to people who test positive for the virus as part of the country’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
- New Zealand police ended an anti-vaccine mandate protest that had disrupted the capital for the past three weeks, dismantling an encampment outside parliament, towing away vehicles and arresting dozens.
- COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to fall around the world, according to a recent World Health Organization report. The organization says it is still too early to declare the pandemic over.
Coronavirus and business
The Bank of Canada’s decision today to increase interest rates to 0.5 per cent comes almost exactly two years after the Bank of Canada began the first in a series of emergency rate cuts that rapidly slashed the policy rate to 0.25 per cent from 1.75 per cent in response to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The central bank’s decision to start tightening monetary policy comes in response to the highest inflation in decades, which has eroded the purchasing power of the Canadian dollar and challenged the central bank’s credibility as an inflation fighter.
Also today: WestJet Group is buying Toronto-based Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations just as airlines attempt to rebuild after two years of COVID-19 border closures.
And: Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, home prices have climbed at a record pace with home buyers looking for roomy properties. Today’s interest rate increase isn’t expected to cool that.
- Andrew Willis: Sunwing deal is just the first as hospitality sector faces consolidation pressures
- Rob Carrick: A realist’s guide to winners and losers in the wave of interest rate hikes that just began
- Google mandates workers back to offices starting April 4
- 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.