Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

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

Top headlines:

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.

Photo of the day

Coronavirus in Canada

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

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.

Globe opinion

More reporting

Information centre

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.

What are we missing? Email us: Do you know someone who needs this newsletter? Send them to our Newsletters page.