The COVID-19 Brief: Holiday 'double whammy'

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January 04, 2021

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The outbreak by the numbers (as of 9:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 4, 2021):
  • Globally: 85,218,022 cases  |  47,940,668 recovered  |  1,845,259 deceased
  • Canada: 601,653 cases  |  504,974 recovered  |  15,865 deceased
  • British Columbia: 51,990 cases  |  42,127 recovered  |  901 deceased
  • Alberta: 104,228 cases  |  84,827 recovered  |  1,046 deceased
  • Saskatchewan: 16,083 cases  |  13,084 recovered  |  158 deceased
  • Manitoba: 25,126 cases  |  19,528 recovered  |  683 deceased
  • Ontario: 190,962 cases  |  162,701 recovered  |  4,650 deceased
  • Quebec: 202,641 cases  |  172,047 recovered  |  8,226 deceased
  • New Brunswick: 618 cases  |  567 recovered  |  9 deceased
  • Nova Scotia: 1,486 cases  |  1,399 recovered  |  65 deceased
  • Prince Edward Island: 96 cases  |  90 recovered
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 390 cases  |  374 recovered  |  4 deceased
  • Yukon: 60 cases  |  59 recovered  |  1 deceased
  • Northwest Territories: 24 cases  |  24 recoveries
  • Nunavut: 266 cases  |  262 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 600,000. Since the last newsletter on Dec. 30, officials have confirmed more than 36,000 new cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including two days of more than 3,000 new cases in Ontario where the test positivity rate has been between 5 and 8 per cent.

Vacation loophole. The federal government says it will act to close a loophole that allowed some returning vacationers to collect hundreds of dollars in
financial aid during their 14-day post-travel quarantine period. Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez called the use of the provision, which is meant to prevent workers from infecting colleagues, "unacceptable."

Rich countries. As the first vaccines roll out in Canada and other wealthy nations, poorer countries who can't procure their own doses are left waiting. An international initiative called COVAX promises to get 2 billion doses to underserved countries by the end of the year, but how long will it take?
Click here for more from CTV's W5.

Economic rebound? Experts say the Canadian economy could make a comeback this year, in part thanks to "pent-up demand" and a saving rate among Canadians that has "gone through the roof." But don't expect anything spectacular just yet.  

Back to school. Or not. Several provinces have moved students online for the start of 2021 or extended the holiday break further into January. This poses added challenges for families that some experts say is "problematic" and "
not sustainable."  

'Bumpy ride' in January after holiday infections

Canadian health officials logged more than 75,000 new COVID-19 infections between Dec. 16 and Dec. 28, the height of the holiday season. It's likely that period led to more infections on New Year's Eve, said infectious disease expert Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, calling the combination of holiday celebrations a "double whammy."

"We do know that there was a significant amount of transmission that occurred around Christmas time, and unfortunately with New Year's being just about a week [after], you're at your most infectious," he told CTV News Channel. "I do think January unfortunately is going to be a bit of a bumpy ride for us in health care."

Lockdown measures remain the country's best defence against transmission, said Dr. Ronald St. John, the former director general for the Public Health Agency of Canada. "Now is the time to continue to follow the lockdown rules as necessary," he told CTV News Channel over the weekend. "It's not the time to get COVID and spread it to your parents or your grandparents or your children or anybody else."


The 'do as I say, not as I do' club

Officials from at least five Canadian provinces have now joined a growing list of politicians that have flouted their own government's travel guidelines and flown to the beaches of Hawaii, St. Barts, Barbados and others.

Current federal public health guidance says to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada. Last week, Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips resigned after news emerged that he vacationed in the Caribbean island of St. Barts, despite appearing on video conferencing calls with a Toronto background and tweeting support for the sacrifices made by Canadians and front line health-care workers.

Since then, reports of other Canadian politicians leaving the country for pleasure have surfaced.
Click here to read the growing list. 

#ABrightSide in dark times

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

#ABrightSide for Monday:

When lockdowns in Ontario closed community swimming pools, one father-daughter duo took to the lake. Steve and Kate Hulford pulled on their wet suits and dove into Lake Ontario to continue their training. Kate is hoping to make the Canadian Olympic swim team. "I'm not doing it only for competition, it’s also to make me happy. And it's fun spending time with my dad," she said.  

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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