The COVID-19 Brief: The variant is in Canada

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December 28, 2020

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The outbreak by the numbers (as of 11:00 a.m. Monday, Dec. 28, 2020):
  • Globally: 80,908,162 cases  |  45,786,428 recovered  |  1,767,187 deceased
  • Canada: 552,020 cases  |  457,193 recovered  |  14,963 deceased
  • British Columbia: 48,609 cases  |  37,784 recovered  |  808 deceased
  • Alberta: 97,481 cases  |  75,070 recovered  |  890 deceased
  • Saskatchewan: 14,814 cases  |  11,275 recovered  |  141 deceased
  • Manitoba: 24,145 cases  |  18,518 recovered  |  645 deceased
  • Ontario: 171,416 cases  |  147,178 recovered  |  4,377 deceased
  • Quebec: 185,872 cases  |  158,201 recovered  |  7,913 deceased
  • New Brunswick: 592 cases  |  549 recovered  |  8 deceased
  • Nova Scotia: 1,465 cases  |  1,364 recovered  |  65 deceased
  • Prince Edward Island: 94 cases  |  89 recovered
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 387 cases  |  359 recovered  |  4 deceased
  • Yukon: 60 cases  |  59 recovered  |  1 deceased
  • Northwest Territories: 24 cases  |  23 recoveries
  • Nunavut: 265 cases  |  255 recoveries  |  1 deceased
  • Trenton (CFB quarantine): 13 cases  |  13 recoveries
Follow the latest updates and read full coverage

Here's what's been happening in Canada

Cases pass 552,000. Since the last newsletter, officials have confirmed more than 25,000 new cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 2,005 in Ontario on Sunday, the thirteenth day in a row with more than 2,000 newly logged cases in the province.

U.K. variant. Several cases of the novel coronavirus variant first found in the U.K. have been identified in Canada, including a case on
Vancouver Island, and others in Ottawa and near Toronto. Experts say they are "not surprised" as it is likely the variant was circulating for quite some time before it was officially recognized.

Christmas 2020. With provinces under lockdown orders, Christmas looked a little different this year. Some families dropped off gifts on front porches and opened them over Zoom. Others gathered outdoors where the virus wouldn't spread as easily. Many more spent the holiday alone.
Click here to see a sampling of other pandemic Christmases. 

Moderna arrives. The first shipment of the Moderna vaccine approved by Health Canada last week arrived in Canada on Christmas Eve. A total of 168,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in the country before the end of the week as part of an initial allotment of 40 million Moderna doses guaranteed by the company by the end of 2021.  

Strain vs. variant: What's happening to the virus

The novel coronavirus is changing. But is it a strain? A mutation? A variant? Perhaps all of the above? The terms are being used interchangeably in certain settings, but some experts suggest they are distinct from one another.

The term "strain" is specific to the virus SARS-CoV-2, but not COVID-19, which is the disease caused by that novel coronavirus strain, said Jean-Paul Soucy, a PhD student at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health. The virus has developed a "specific group of mutations" to form a new "variant" of the original strain, but not enough mutations to be considered a new strain in itself. 

Importantly, the mutations are not enough to make a more deadly disease or to render COVID-19 vaccines ineffective, experts stress

What's in store for retail in 2021?

Apparel and fashion brands were among the most damaged businesses of the year as a result of pandemic restrictions closing stores. Those that survived 2020 might still be vulnerable in 2021, industry experts caution.

"They all took a blow," Farla Efros, managing partner with HRC Retail Advisory, told But those without an online "infrastructure" were hit the hardest. "They didn't have the ability to dial up," said Efros, making for a kind of survival of the fittest.

Click here for a deeper dive into the winners and losers of business in 2020. 

#ABrightSide in dark times

Find uplifting moments during the pandemic with the #ABrightSide series. 

#ABrightSide for Monday:

A high-end Toronto steakhouse has turned itself into a butcher shop to stay alive and keep its staff employed during the pandemic. Barberian's Steakhouse now operates mainly as Barberian's Butcher Shop, an online store providing "meal kits" containing raw steak, salad ingredients, pre-prepared sides and even wine pairings delivered right to customers.

"The butcher shop gives people something that they can't get at their grocery store," owner Arron Barberian told CTV News Toronto.

Share your tips for stories that provide "a bright side" of a dark time by emailing us at Please include your full name, city, and a phone number or email where we can reach you
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