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IN PHOTOS: 12 notable Canadian stories in 2021 – CBC.ca

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From B.C.’s natural disasters to Olympic athletes to pandemic life, 2021 had no shortage of Canadian newsmakers and events. (Ben Nelms/CBC, Fernando Vergara/The Associated Press, Jason Franson/The Canadian Press, Evan Mitsui/CBC)

From the coronavirus pandemic to natural disasters to the two Michaels, 2021 had no shortage of Canadian newsmakers.

Here’s a look back at the notable stories that CBC photographers and others covered this year.

1. Mass vaccinations across Canada

At the start of the year, health officials prioritized COVID-19 vaccines for health-care and front-line workers. As vaccine deliveries ramped up in February, provinces began opening up vaccine appointments to seniors and working its way down the age groups.

Lisbeth Mendez, right, waits in line with Mario Parravano and his wife outside the Richmond Green Sports Centre, in Richmond Hill, Ont., on March 1. The Parravanos were among the first cohort of senior citizens aged 80 and over to get their shots.

(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Members of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation in British Columbia get their COVID-19 vaccines on March 10. 

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Eugene Anderson gets his shot on April 8 in Upper Hammonds Plains, a community outside Halifax, at the province’s first clinic specifically for Black Nova Scotians.

(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

2. Fairy Creek blockades: Fight to save old-growth trees

On southwestern Vancouver Island, the blockades around the Fairy Creek watershed to protect B.C.’s old-growth forests has become one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history. 

Protesters arrived there in August 2020 to prevent Teal-Jones Group from working. The Surrey, B.C.-based company obtained an injunction against the protesters on April 1, which the RCMP have enforced since mid-May. Over 1,100 people have been arrested.

(Mike McArthur/CBC)

RCMP and protesters stand face-to-face in silence on Aug. 26, before police pushed the group back to access a tree structure a protester was harnessed to.

(Adam van der Zwan/CBC)

3. Honouring residential school children

On May 27, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said preliminary findings from a survey conducted using ground-penetrating radar indicated potential burial sites of what could be 215 children on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. They later revised that number down to 200. It was the first of several such sites that would be uncovered in the following months. 

Following the announcement, people across Canada gathered in their communities to mourn and pay their respects.  

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

4. A hate-motivated attack

Five members of the Afzaal family were out for an evening walk on June 6 when they were run over by a truck, in what police say was a hate motivated attack. From left, daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, mother Madiha Salman, 44, grandmother Talat Afzaal, 74, and father Salman Afzaal, 46, all died. A son, Fayez, 9, survived.  

(Submitted by Afzaal family)

The killing of three generations sent shockwaves across Canada and beyond and prompted thousands of people — including politicians and community and religious leaders — to gather outside the London Muslim Mosque to pay tribute to the family on June 8.

(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

At a public funeral on June 13, mourners filled a parking lot at the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario and spilled over onto an adjacent soccer field to listen, pray and say goodbye.

(Turgut Yeter/CBC)

5. B.C. wildfires

Environment Canada has released its Top 10 weather stories for 2021 — a year that its senior climatologist Dave Phillips calls the “most destructive, the most expensive and the deadliest year for weather in Canadian history.”

B.C. bore the brunt of the weather events. On June 28, the town of Lytton smashed the Canadian record-high temperature of 45 C for the third time in a week, hitting 49.6 C. The same week, 90 per cent of the village, pictured July 1, burned to the ground in a wildfire, killing two people. 

(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Carli Pierrot, who works for the Skeetchestn Indian Band, watches firefighters working to control part of the Sparks Lake wildfire complex burning on Skeetchestn territory, near Kamloops on July 14. At about 95,980 hectares, Sparks Lake is still considered B.C.’s largest wildfire this season.

(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A burned hillside near Monte Lake, B.C., on Sept. 1.

(Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

6. Canadians and their Olympic wins

Maggie Mac Neil and Penny Oleksiak, seen in competition on July 24, led the early charge in the pool at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as women won Canada’s first 13 medals — and 18 of 24 overall. Oleksiak, 21, won three medals, becoming Canada’s most decorated Olympian with seven, having previously captured four in Rio. 

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

Canada’s Julia Grosso celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning penalty in a shootout against Sweden in the women’s soccer gold medal game on Aug. 6 at the Tokyo Olympics. 

(Fernando Vergara/The Associated Press)

Damian Warner, seen competing in the men’s decathlon javelin throw on Aug. 5, led the 10-leg competition wire to wire and shattered the Olympic record for total points, delivering one of the greatest performances in the history of his sport.

(Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

7. Federal, provincial elections amid pandemic

After a 36-day campaign and a $600-million election, federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau won enough seats in the Sept. 20 general election to form another minority government.

The final seat tally didn’t look very different from the composition of the House of Commons when it was dissolved in August.

(Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

Several territories and provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador, held general elections, too. Here, Andrew Furey speaks after his Liberals won a majority government in St. John’s on March 27.

(Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

8. Meng and the Michaels

On Sept. 24, a B.C. court dropped the extradition case against Meng Wanzhou after the Huawei chief financial officer reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government. Meng read a statement outside the B.C. Supreme Court following the ruling, which set in motion her departure from Canada after she spent nearly three years under house arrest in Vancouver.

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Canadians Michael Spavor, left, and Michael Kovrig — who were detained in China in what is widely considered a retaliatory act after Meng’s arrest in Vancouver in December 2018 at the U.S.’s request — were freed and flown back to Canada on Sept. 25.

(Colin Hall/CBC, Chris Helgren/Reuters)

9. Iqaluit water crisis

On Oct. 12, due to concerns about fuel contamination, Iqaluit issued a do-not-consume order for its tap water that lasted nearly two months. The city of 8,000 would eventually point to an underground fuel spill as the potential cause of the contamination.

After learning that the city’s water was not safe to drink, residents in Iqaluit collected water from the nearby Sylvia Grinnell River. The military was dispatched to help provide treated water from the river using mobile water treatment units. 

(David Gunn/CBC)

10. They’re back: Arts, sports and entertainment

As coronavirus cases declined and pandemic restrictions eased following the third wave, venues and events began to reopen. Visitors enjoy the Imagine Van Gogh immersive exhibition at the Edmonton EXPO Centre on July 9.

(Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Rider Maesa Morris is bucked off Twilight Moon in the ranch bronc event at the Calgary Stampede on July 14.

(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

After 600 days, the Toronto Raptors finally returned to playing at home on Oct. 20. But the Washington Wizards spoiled the Raptors’ long-awaited return to Toronto with a 98-83 victory.

(Carlos Osorio/CBC)

After a comprehensive overhaul that took years to complete, Toronto’s famed music venue Massey Hall reopened Nov. 25 with a concert featuring Canadian music legend Gordon Lightfoot.

(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

11. B.C.’s flood of floods

In mid-November, an “atmospheric river” dumped more than 200 millimetres of rain on parts of B.C. within 48 hours, putting entire communities underwater and forcing more than 17,000 people to evacuate their homes. The rain triggered mudslides that killed five people and stranded more than 1,000 others, as they severed and blocked every major highway connecting B.C.’s Lower Mainland to the rest of the province, along with other roads in the province, including this one in Abbotsford, B.C.

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

The hardest-hit communities included Abbotsford, Merritt and Princeton. Here, farmers carry their livestock out of a flooded barn in the Sumas Prairie area in the eastern portion of Abbotsford.

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Family photos in Rhonda Warner’s home, saved from the flooding in Princeton, are seen Nov. 16.

(Maggie MacPerson/CBC)

12. Warnings, restrictions amid Omicron fears

Travellers walk through Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Dec. 16, a day after health officials advised against holiday travel due to a surge in COVID-19 cases linked to the Omicron variant.

(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

With just days to go before winter holidays, people in Ottawa wait in line at an LCBO for a free COVID-19 rapid test kit on Dec. 17. 

(Brian Morris/CBC)

On the same day, cars queue at a COVID-19 testing clinic in downtown Vancouver.

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

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Two Canadians die in shooting at Mexican Caribbean resort

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Two Canadians died of gunshot wounds after an argument turned violent at a resort near Cancun on Mexico‘s Caribbean coast, authorities said on Friday.

Both guests at the upscale resort on the Riviera Maya of Quintana Roo state had criminal records, said Mexican officials, citing information from the Canadian police.

Mexican police are searching for another person thought to have fired the shots who had a “long” criminal record in Canada, said the attorney general’s office in Quintana Roo, home to a stretch of white-sand beach resorts and lush jungles.

Quintana Roo’s head of public security, Lucio Hernandez, said on Twitter a gun was fired amid “an argument among hotel guests” at the Hotel Xcaret.

Three people were injured and taken to hospital, Hernandez said. He posted photos of the alleged shooter, showing a man in a gray track suit and black face mask wielding a gun in front of green landscaping.

Xcaret said the incident appeared to be “targeted and isolated” and that the hotel was helping the affected people. “We deeply regret the events that occurred at Hotel Xcaret this afternoon,” it said in a statement.

The Canadian government said it was contacting Mexican authorities and could not provide more details due to privacy considerations.

 

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, Lizbeth Diaz and Miguel Angel Gutierrez in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Denny Thomas in Toronto; Editing by William Mallard)

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Omicron wave has likely peaked in Canada: Tam – CTV News

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The latest COVID-19 wave driven by the Omicron variant may have reached its peak, with the average daily case count decreasing by 28 per cent compared to the previous week, says Canada’s top public health official. But hospitalizations and intensive care admissions, which lag behind infections, are still climbing.

“ICU numbers are still rising steeply,” said Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday.

“The January timeframe, the peak may occur, but the hospitalizations and the ICU admissions may continue to increase for some time. So that’s in February and I really hope that by the end of the next month, we’ll be in a better position.”

Hospitals are seeing very few cases of Delta or other variants, but the high volume of Omicron cases have resulted in an unprecedented number of new daily hospital admissions that exceeded historical maximums over the past week.

An average of more than 10,000 people with COVID-19 are being treated daily in hospitals while more than 1,100 people are in ICU.

“We still have some difficult weeks ahead and potential for more bumps along the way,” Tam said.

“Omicron can cause serious outcomes. We can not trivialize this virus. Many people, particularly those who are at higher risk, get very severely sick and indeed, many have died, and we need to do what we can to prevent those.”

The sheer volume of cases has also resulted in more reports of severe cases among children, but they are still “very rare in terms of rates,” said Tam, adding that the vast majority of severe illnesses still occur among those over the age of 60.

While there was a degree of underestimation due to changes in testing policies, the seven-day average for daily new cases was close to 27,000 as of Jan. 19, she said.

Tam reiterated the strong protective effects of the vaccine and encouraged the public to get their booster shots and vaccinate eligible children. More than 6.5 million eligible Canadians do not have their first or second dose yet and coverage for eligible children currently stands at 51 per cent with at least one dose, she added.

For administrative purposes, including international travel, entering certain public spaces, or doing certain tasks, Tam explained that the definition for “fully vaccinated” still consists of the primary series, or the first two doses for a two-dose vaccine and one dose of the Janssen vaccine.

“But we all know that it is very important to get the booster dose, particularly in the time of Omicron, so we began to switch terminologies now to the concept of being ‘up-to-date’” on all eligible doses, she said.

“Now is not the right time [to change the definition of fully vaccinated] because not everybody’s had the chance to get that additional dose or getting up to date – not in Canada and certainly not globally.”

With expectations that the virus will be here for a long time to come, Tam also addressed questions around the possibility of a fourth vaccine dose. She acknowledged that there are a number of unknowns, but the priority right now is to prevent serious outcomes, even as health officials look at a longer-term approach to tackling the virus.

“Influenza, for example, that’s now an annual vaccine people have that I’ve had for decades every year,” she said.

“There are very good examples of where vaccines can be given time and again over the course of our lives.” 

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday – CBC News

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The latest:

Ireland is to scrap almost all its COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday after a major surge in infections did not lead to a significant increase in the numbers requiring intensive hospital care, a senior minister said.

Ireland had the second-highest incidence rate of COVID-19 in Europe just last week but also one of the continent’s highest uptake of booster vaccines, which has helped keep the number of seriously ill people well below the previous peak.

Following advice from public health officials, the government decided that bars and restaurants will no longer need to close at 8 p.m., a restriction put in place late last year when the Omicron wave struck, or to ask customers for proof of vaccination.

Capacity in indoor and outdoor venues is also set to return to full capacity, paving the way for full crowds for next month’s Six Nations rugby championship.

Some measures, such as the need to wear a mask on public transport and in shops, will remain in place for now.

“I am so pleased to be able to say that as of 6 a.m. tomorrow, the vast majority of restrictions that have been in place for almost two years now, on and off, will be lifted,” Justice Minister Helen McEntee said in a video posted on Instagram following a government meeting.

“I don’t think any of us thought we’d actually be getting to this point as quickly as we are now.”

Prime Minister Micheal Martin was due to make a televised address to announce the measures.

The changes would put Ireland back in line with Northern Ireland, which had less-severe restrictions over Christmas and agreed to scrap vaccine passes on Thursday and reopen nightclubs next week.

Ireland’s hospitality sector, which has been particularly hard hit by one of Europe’s toughest lockdown regimes, welcomed the decision.

Nightclubs opened their doors for the first time in 19 months in October only to be shut again six weeks later.

While the economy recovered rapidly last year, around a third of employers have chosen to defer tax payments and the wages of one in 12 workers are still being supported by a state subsidy scheme set to end in April.

-From Reuters, last update at 12:50 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Ontario eyes gradual reopening as experts warn Omicron isn’t over yet: 

Ontario eyes gradual reopening as experts warn Omicron isn’t over yet

18 hours ago

Duration 2:00

Ontario is among the provinces eyeing steps toward reopening as COVID-19 hospitalizations level off, but health officials and experts are warning there is plenty of pandemic still to come. 2:00

With lab-based testing capacity deeply strained and increasingly restricted, experts say true case counts are likely far higher than reported. Hospitalization data at the regional level is also evolving, with several provinces saying they will report figures that separate the number of people in hospital because of COVID-19 from those in hospital for another medical issue who also test positive for COVID-19.

For more information on what is happening in your community — including details on outbreaks, testing capacity and local restrictions — click through to the regional coverage below.

You can also read more from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which provides a detailed look at every region — including seven-day average test positivity rates — in its daily epidemiological updates.

In British Columbia, health officials on Friday said they are shifting their approach to managing the spread of the novel coronavirus. At a midday press conference, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said health officials in the province must change their way of thinking in light of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

“Right now, with the level of transmission in our community, we have to assume we have been in contact with someone with COVID-19,” Henry said.

“We cannot eliminate all risk, and I think that’s something we need to understand and accept as this virus has changed and has become part of what we will be living with for years to come. But we can use all the layers of protection to keep our settings safe.”

Henry said contact tracing is no longer an effective way of managing COVID-19’s spread. She encouraged people to check themselves every day for symptoms and stay home as necessary. She urged anyone who has not been vaccinated to do so immediately.

In Central Canada, the provincial COVID-19 dashboard in Ontario on Friday showed 4,114 hospitalizations — up by 53 from a day earlier — and 590 people in intensive care units. The province also reported a total of 64 additional deaths and 7,165 additional lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The update comes after Premier Doug Ford announced plans on Thursday to begin a gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions over a period of months, with the first step to begin at the end of January.

Quebec cannot begin loosening COVID-19 restrictions because the situation in the province’s hospitals remains too fragile, Premier François Legault said Thursday.

“The situation will continue to be difficult for the next few weeks. I understand that we are all tired, but lives are at stake,” Legault said. “We are currently at the limit in our hospitals.”

The province on Friday reported 3,351 hospitalizations, down 60 from a day earlier. Quebec’s daily COVID-19 situation report showed 265 people in intensive care. The province also reported an additional 59 deaths and 5,995 new lab-confirmed cases.

WATCH | Montreal hospital launches virtual pilot project to treat COVID-19 patients at home: 

Montreal hospital launches virtual pilot project to treat COVID-19 patients at home

22 hours ago

Duration 5:11

Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, head of CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, discusses new pilot project which will offer COVID-19 patients virtual care at home. 5:11

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday that the province has likely still not seen the peak of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“But our ability to manage the situation is improving, thanks to the dedication of multiple teams,” he said, noting that the province is seeing some positive signs, including a return of some health workers from isolation and a reduction in contacts.

The province, which is currently under tight COVID-19 restrictions, recently put out an urgent call for volunteers and workers to help with the pandemic response. The province saw a “huge” response, Higgs said, and work is underway to match offers to help to areas where assistance is needed.

New Brunswick health officials on Thursday said total hospitalizations had increased to 124, including 12 people in intensive care units. The province also reported an additional three deaths and 488 additional lab-confirmed cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador students will be back in classrooms next week, officials said Thursday at a COVID-19 briefing. Students will have to take two rapid tests before returning to school. One of the tests is to occur 72 hours before they return and the other on Tuesday morning, before classes begin.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, who reported two additional deaths and a total of 20 COVID-19 hospitalizations, said Thursday that at this time, “the benefits of being in school for children outweigh the risks of COVID-19.” The province also reported an additional 360 lab-confirmed cases.

In New Brunswick, officials reported two new deaths and 124 hospitalizations on Friday. Twelve of those patients are in intensive care units.

In Nova Scotia, health officials reported three additional deaths on Thursday. In an update posted online, the province said there were 85 people in hospital who were admitted because of COVID-19 and receiving specialized care, including 12 people in ICU. The province also reported an additional 696 lab-confirmed cases.

In Prince Edward Island, health officials on Thursday said in a statement there were 10 people in hospital being treated for COVID-19, including two in intensive care. Three other people were in hospital who were positive for COVID-19.

The province, which has now seen a total of three recorded COVID-19 related deaths, also reported an additional 249 cases.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba health officials on Friday reported 827 new cases and said a total of 664 hospitals, with 50 people are in intensive care units. The province also reported seven additional deaths.

Saskatchewan on Thursday reported 215 hospitalizations, with 23 people in intensive care units. According to the province’s COVID-19 dashboard, there were no additional deaths and 1,158 additional lab-confirmed cases.

Six of Saskatchewan’s largest unions representing 113,000 front-line workers are demanding more safety measures to blunt the rise of hospitalizations.

In Alberta, health officials on Thursday said there were 1,131 people in hospital with COVID-19 — the highest level the province has seen during the pandemic — with 108 in intensive care units. The province also reported eight additional deaths and 3,527 additional lab-confirmed cases.

To prepare for a swell of hospitalizations, the government said it is building additional bed capacity, maximizing the workforce with nursing students and opening COVID-19 community clinics.

Alberta Health Services CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said the number of patients receiving care for COVID-19 has increased by about 40 per cent over the last week. Admissions to intensive care have jumped by about 18 per cent.

There are also more health-care staff having to isolate than in previous waves, she said. About five per cent of AHS staff are off sick at any given time and between 18 and 20 per cent of shifts are being missed daily due to challenges related to the pandemic.

“It has been a long two years, but now is not the time to let your guard down,” said Yiu.

Across the North, Nunavut on Friday reported 20 new additional lab-confirmed cases, with no additional deaths. Health officials in the Northwest Territories and Yukon had not yet provided updated information for the day.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 3:20 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

WATCH | Europe loosening COVID-19 restrictions despite high case numbers: 

Europe loosening COVID-19 restrictions despite high case numbers

19 hours ago

Duration 2:02

European countries are starting to loosen their COVID-19 restrictions with Britain at the front of the pack despite the presence of some staggeringly high case numbers and concern from experts that it’s too soon. 2:02

As of Friday afternoon, more than 344.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.5 million.

In Europe, health ministers in the European Union will try to find a common line on Friday over a potential fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines, amid a surge in cases sparked by the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, daily new coronavirus infections in Russia reached an all-time high Friday and authorities blamed the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova on Friday noted “intensive spread of the Omicron variant” and said the authorities “expect it to become the dominating” variant driving the outbreak. The state coronavirus task force Golikova heads reported 49,513 new infections on Friday.

Record numbers of new cases were reported respectively in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city. In light of the surge, health officials in St. Petersburg on Friday limited elective outpatient care.

Golikova on Friday urged Russians who received their vaccinations or recovered from the virus more than six months ago to “head to a vaccination point again in order to protect yourself from the virus” with a booster.

Also Friday, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin ordered cabinet members to hold meetings online and have their staff work remotely “where possible.”

Just about half of Russia’s 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, despite the fact that Russia was among the first in the world to approve and roll out a COVID-19 vaccine. In Russia, everyone who received their primary vaccination more than six months ago has been eligible for a booster shot since July.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Bangladesh closed all schools and colleges for two weeks to counter an “alarming” rise in infections, just four months after ending a lengthy year school closure imposed due to coronavirus.

Japan acted to contain a record surge in cases with a return to curbs that have, however, shown diminishing results, while a laggard vaccine booster program leaves many people vulnerable to breakthrough infections.

A girl receives a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at her school in Kathmandu last week. Classrooms are being closed in the face of rising Omicron cases. (Niranjan Shrestha/The Associated Press)

Nepal’s capital shut schools, ordered citizens to carry vaccination cards in public, banned religious festivals and instructed hotel guests to be tested every three days as it battles its biggest COVID-19 outbreak.

The chief government administrator of Kathmandu issued a notice on Friday saying all people must carry their vaccination cards when they are in public areas or stores.

Nepal, however, has only fully vaccinated just over 40 per cent of its population, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. The notice did not say how unvaccinated people will be able to do tasks such as shop for groceries.

The government says it has enough vaccines in stock, but a new wave of COVID-19 cases propelled by the Omicron variant has created long lines at vaccination centres, with many people unable to receive shots.

People walk through Shinjuku area on Friday in Tokyo, Japan. As Japan sees a surge in COVID-19 infections due to the more transmissible Omicron variant, the government has implemented measures such as reduced hours for bars eateries in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. (Yuichi Yamakazi/Getty Images)

In Africa, the World Bank has approved a loan of $750 million US to South Africa linked to COVID-19, aiming to help protect the poor and support economic recovery from the pandemic. South Africa’s health ministry on Thursday reported 3,962 additional cases of COVID-19 and 139 additional deaths, though officials noted a data cleanup was contributing to the increased death figures.

In the Middle East, Israel will ditch mandatory quarantine for children exposed to COVID-19 carriers, the government said on Thursday, citing a need to relieve parents and schools as case numbers spiral due to the fast-spreading but low-morbidity Omicron variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that as of Jan. 27, children will instead be required to take twice-weekly home antigen tests for the virus and, if they prove positive or feel unwell, absent themselves from school until they recover. The home kits will be supplied free of charge, he said.

In the Americas, President Joe Biden will urge U.S. mayors to use more of their state and local COVID-19 aid funds to expand their workforces, a White House official said, an effort partly aimed at easing economic bottlenecks and inflation.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

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