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Supply chain woes have Canadian factories shifting to in-house production –



Global shipping and supply chain bottlenecks are encouraging Canadian firms to bring production back home, but some companies would have to absorb higher costs and build expertise in certain sectors for local manufacturing to pick up pace.

While carefully knitted global supply chains helped sectors from fashion to autos cut costs and boost margins in recent decades, COVID-19 has eroded those advantages and exposed weaknesses like shortages of semiconductor chips.

In Canada, supply chain woes, recent rail and weather disruptions, along with pressure to source ethically and locally to lower emissions, are leading companies to buy closer to home or produce in-house, executives say.

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Even before storms and Canada’s recent floods stranded two of its containers at the Port of Vancouver, Toronto-based Progress Luv2Pak was looking for more Canadian and U.S. suppliers due to soaring shipping costs and delays.

“In some cases, the value of the goods in the container are less than the freight,” said Ben Hertzman, president of Luv2Pak, which supplies shopping bags and other packaging for retailers.

He said about half of Luv2Pak’s seven-member buying team now focuses on North American sourcing, up from one part-time position just a few months ago, even though the company often gets better pricing and quality for products offshore.

Click to play video: 'Tips to avoid hitting a supply chain issue this holiday season'

Tips to avoid hitting a supply chain issue this holiday season

Tips to avoid hitting a supply chain issue this holiday season

Canadian manufacturing activity rose to a seven-month high in October, according to IHS Markit. Although it is too early to tell whether reshoring contributed to this rise, economists say companies are taking concrete steps toward buying local, unlike during earlier crises.

“This time around there’s not just talk of it, there’s actually action,” said Peter Hall, chief economist for Export Development Canada.

That’s driving cautious optimism that reshoring could bolster Canada’s manufacturing sector, which according to Statistics Canada data, has been in steady decline since the late 1990s.

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Quebec’s investment arm recently launched its first “buy local” campaign aimed at companies and supply chains.

“The number of calls our ‘Buy Quebec’ team gets from companies each week is probably around 10 times higher than what it was even three months ago,” said Stephane Drouin, an executive with Investissement Quebec.

Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said in an interview he is pitching the advantages of North American-based supply to U.S. automakers like Tesla as the resource-rich province targets batteries for electric vehicles as a sector where it wants to compete globally.

Click to play video: 'CP Rail reopens key line between Vancouver and Kamloops after extreme weather disaster'

CP Rail reopens key line between Vancouver and Kamloops after extreme weather disaster

CP Rail reopens key line between Vancouver and Kamloops after extreme weather disaster

Montreal-area furniture maker Artopex, which already sources mostly in Canada, is taking steps to make some components in-house that it once purchased in Asia due to delays and higher shipping costs, Chief Executive Daniel Pelletier said.

“It’s a major problem to not be able to have certainty over the timing of deliveries,” Pelletier said.

Montreal-based business jet maker Bombardier has already brought aerostructure work in-house from North American suppliers outside its home province of Quebec and is looking at further reshoring opportunities, a spokesperson said.

Bombardier saw fewer production delays and improved quality after it repatriated work, such as the machining of stringers used in aircraft wings from a U.S. supplier, spokesperson Marie-Andree Charron said. But policymakers warn reshoring is a “two-way-street” that risks hurting business if American producers eschew Canadians for U.S. suppliers.

“Firms in Canada may relocate production from offshore to Canada,” said Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Lawrence Schembri last week. “But other producers, for example the United States, may bring production from Canada back to the United States.”

Read more:
Supply chain woes threaten COVID-19 recovery for small businesses

Another challenge is a lack of expertise that would prevent Canada from quickly developing industries like semi-conductor chips, despite a global shortage.

“The auto industry is being held hostage by Taiwan and Korea,” Jerry Dias, the president of the country’s largest private sector union, Unifor.

Companies, however, like Luv2Pak see the benefits of local sourcing, given the uncertainty of imports.

“It would just be so nice to settle into some good supply lines that don’t have to come over an ocean,” Hertzman said.

© 2021 Reuters

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Up to 10% of homes could now be 'uninsurable' because of flood risk. Could yours be one? –



Many homeowners are unprepared for flooding because they lack critical information thanks to murky real estate rules, incomplete floodplain maps and an insurance industry pulling back from high-risk areas, a Marketplace investigation has found.

Marketplace also found homeowners who lost their flood protection because of multiple claims or specifically because of the growing risk of climate change. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) warns it’s a situation more Canadians could find themselves in.

  • Watch the full Marketplace investigation tonight at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC-TV and CBC Gem

The IBC told Marketplace it estimates that anywhere from six to 10 per cent of Canadian homes are currently uninsurable due to flooding and that estimate could go up as more insurance companies update their risk assessments to account for the rising threat of climate change.

“As the risk from climate change increases, yes, more Canadians could become uninsurable,” said Craig Stewart, vice-president, federal affairs with the IBC.

According to a 2019 federal government report, Canada’s climate is warming at double the rate of the rest of the world, and the IBC estimates that currently 1 in 10 Canadian homes is at high risk of flooding and some face possible repeated flooding over the next 20 years.

But would prospective homeowners be warned about that risk? Going undercover, posing as new homebuyers in Ontario, a Marketplace team found there’s no Canada-wide requirement for agents or sellers to warn potential buyers that they’re moving into a flood-prone area. Marketplace was told on two occasions that homes were not in floodplains when public data showed otherwise. In another test, a producer posing as a prospective home seller also found agents didn’t always advise her to disclose past flood damage.

The recent flooding in British Columbia has made the issue of flood insurance coverage top of mind for many homeowners, as some residents there, unable to find coverage, turn to provincial disaster assistance, and others assess what coverage they have as the cleanup begins

‘They’re trying to protect their money’

But in some cases, even being prepared isn’t enough. Derrick Terakita knew his home in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto, was in a floodplain and thought he had adequate coverage, until he got his insurance renewal this year. In May his insurance provider informed him it was taking away his overland water coverage. The reason: the increasing severity of weather due to climate change.

“I was a little bit ticked off, but then it’s an insurance company, they’re trying to protect their money,” Terakita told Marketplace.

WATCH | Insurance nightmares: Many Canadians not protected from flooding disasters:

Murky real estate rules and insurance eligibility leaving Canadians with big bills after flooding

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Flooding is the most costly and common natural disaster in Canada, but risk-averse insurance companies and the lack of a nationwide requirement for real estate agents to disclose flood risk are leaving Canadians vulnerable. 2:16

Overland flood insurance typically protects homeowners from flooding from a body of water overflowing onto dry land. According to the IBC, protection from flooding due to burst pipes or appliances is typically included in most home policies. Sewer backup protection is also commonly available as an add-on. But overland flood insurance only became an option in Canada in 2015, following massive flooding in southern Alberta in 2013 that, at the time, was ranked as the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history

Marketplace connected Terakita with an insurance expert to better understand his situation. He then contacted his insurance broker to see if his provider could reinstate his coverage if he took steps to protect his home. The answer was no. 

‘Insurance will become a luxury for the rich’

“We can’t really offer the coverage because again, it’s no longer applicable to your territory,” the broker told Terakita over the phone as Marketplace cameras rolled. “Even if there was some sort of mitigation put into place, it’s still not going to be applicable.”

Insurance expert Jason Thistlethwaite says that if we don’t manage climate risk better, insurance may eventually become a luxury and unaffordable for most people. (Steven D’Souza/CBC)

Marketplace showed Terakita’s experience with his insurance company to Jason Thistlethwaite, an associate professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

“It’s unfortunate but insurance companies are businesses and they’re looking at their bottom line and they are going to make a judgment on their risk appetite,” said Thistlethwaite, who noted that flooding is the most costly and common hazard in Canada. 

Thistlethwaite worries that many more Canadians will soon find themselves in Terakita’s shoes. 

“Insurability — or markets where insurance is available and affordable — is eroding in Canada,” Thistlethwaite said. “Unless we make more effort to manage climate risk, insurance will become a luxury for the rich and unaffordable for most.”

Insurance industry responds

Stewart from the IBC agrees that insurance companies need to do a better job of giving incentives to customers like Terakita who want to be proactive in protecting their home.

Craig Stewart, seen here evaluating the aftermath of a tornado, is with the Insurance Bureau of Canada. He says the industry can’t shoulder all the risk for insuring high-risk homes and that a government-backed, high-risk insurance pool needs to be created. (Submitted by Craig Stewart)

He says in a competitive marketplace, customers like Terakita can shop around for coverage. Though he acknowledges that finding another option isn’t guaranteed and the industry has its limitations when it comes to overland insurance protection.

“The industry’s new to [overland flood protection] in Canada, but we’re only going to be able to provide a certain amount of protection. We are going to need to collaborate with the government, especially for those who will continue to reside in the highest-risk areas in the country.”

The solution the IBC proposes is a national high-risk residential flood insurance program, which would provide insurance to residents in the most flood-prone areas, funded by the federal government. 

It’s one idea the Liberal government is studying as part of it’s National Task Force on Flood Insurance and Relocation, which was formed last year. The group is also studying options to relocate people who live in areas with repeated flooding.

Stewart, a member of the task force through the IBC, says they’ll present recommendations to Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair in the spring, but programs aren’t likely to roll out until 2023 or 2024.

“We need all hands on deck, and insurers will absolutely play their part in addressing the problem, but we can’t do it alone,” Stewart said. 

Debris litters a road in the Sumas Prairie flood zone in Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov. 22. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Asked by CBC News about the insurance situation during a news conference in Ottawa last week, Blair said the recent flooding in British Columbia underscores the importance of the task force’s work.

“It does, I think, add an element of urgency to our work with the insurance industry and the development of a National Flood Insurance Plan,” Blair said. 

Government-backed flood insurance does come with its share of problems. In the U.S., the National Flood Insurance Program has a $20 billion US shortfall and is often criticized for using outdated information and incentivizing rebuilding in problem areas.

Homeowners unaware of the risk

Despite the stark warnings about the impact of climate change and the threat of flooding, the issue isn’t always top of mind. A 2020 survey by Partners for Action, a climate resiliency network based at the University of Waterloo, found only six per cent of Canadians living in designated flood-risk areas knew they lived in such an area, and only a quarter said their insurance company had discussed flood coverage options with them.

In Toronto, Woodee Aboy recently moved into his home but didn’t know the neighbourhood is a floodplain designated by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority until Marketplace knocked on his door. He was also unsure that his home insurance policy covered him against all types of flooding.

After Marketplace connected him with an insurance expert, he contacted his provider and found he was in fact fully covered for a range of flood scenarios, including overland.

“Gaining that confidence, gaining that peace of mind has been a very fulfilling experience to tell you honestly,” Aboy told Marketplace.

No Canada-wide requirement for disclosing future flood risk

Aboy and other homeowners Marketplace spoke with say they were not informed when they purchased their home that there was a risk of potential flooding. 

Toronto resident Woodee Aboy wasn’t aware his home was located in a flood-prone area until contacted by Marketplace. He later confirmed that his home insurance policy does protect him for a range of flood scenarios. (Steven D’Souza/CBC)

Part of the challenge, Marketplace found, is that disclosure rules around future flood risk are vague and vary across the country. It’s not information real estate agents may know how to find, or the flood mapping in the area may be out of date or incomplete.

In an undercover test, Marketplace posed as buyers looking at Greater Toronto Area properties situated in floodplains — areas designated in publicly available maps by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. The result: agents selling two of four properties denied the homes were at risk of potential flooding.

Marketplace: “I noticed there’s a waterway nearby. I’m just wondering, are there flooding issues, or is flooding a concern for that area?”

Agent: “For that property? No, it’s too far away.”

Marketplace: “So it’s not on a floodplain or anything?”

Agent: “No no no.”

Marketplace: “So we shouldn’t be worried about that?”

Agent: “No, no.”

Later, posing as a seller looking to unload a home that had had previous flood damage, a producer called agents in five cities: Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. Marketplace found nine out of 10 agents were clear that past flooding should be disclosed. But one agent said that if the cause of the flood had been repaired, then there was no need for disclosure.

WATCH | Here’s how to protect your home from flooding:

Insurance expert Cheryl Evans explains how to flood-proof your home

18 hours ago

Cheryl Evans, a director at the University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, explains what steps homeowners can take to try and flood-proof their homes 2:00

The agent’s advice, however, seems to line up with information Marketplace received from the regulator in his home province, the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA). “If the defect is properly repaired, there is no longer a defect, and disclosure is not required,” RECA said.

The rules around disclosure in some provinces also leave some room for interpretation. For example, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), the regulator in that province, says that past flooding is “often” considered a latent defect — defined as “a physical defect that is not discoverable through a visual inspection.” RECO says sellers are only obligated to disclose these when the issue is “dangerous” or could make the property “uninhabitable,” though it notes the issue often ends up in the courts.

“It is to your advantage to be as truthful as you can, for your own protection, when you’re making these declarations,” one agent advised.

Marketplace producers also asked some of those agents whether disclosing future flood risk or floodplains was recommended, but answers were less clear. Some recommended disclosing, some said it was speculative and “buyer beware.”

Toronto real estate agent Chris Chopik wants to see more transparency in the industry around climate risk. (CBC)

The challenge, experts say, is that there is no Canada-wide requirement to disclose future flood risk.

“There’s a requirement to disclose known risks, so the question comes, what is known and what’s knowable?” said Toronto real estate agent Chris Chopik.

Chopik has been pushing for years for more transparency around climate risk in real estate. He’d like to see something akin to a walk score, but for climate: an easy-to-digest number assessing a home’s overall risk from the impacts of climate change.

Floodplain mapping lacking

In the U.S., the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and private companies like ClimateCheck have flood-risk maps, where a user plugs in an address and gets a flood-risk assessment.

The federal government has committed $63 million to improving floodplain mapping within three years, but experts say there’s a long way to go.

“I would describe floodplain mapping as saying, right now we’re at the Windows ’95 version of flood mapping,” said Stewart with the IBC. “What we need to do in pretty short order is get up to Windows 10. We are behind other countries.”

That means homeowners are left to navigate numerous sites from insurance companies, as well as provinces and local conservation authorities. Experts like Thistlethwaite at the University of Waterloo say some maps across Canada are inconsistent. Some are years out of date and lack the detail that some other countries provide.

Prince Edward Island recently launched a new coastal hazards platform, while a researcher at Western University in Ontario recently released what the university calls the first Canada-wide maps showing how floodplains may be affected by various climate change scenarios over the next 80 years.

Chopik says that while there are fears that more information about potential flood risk could devalue a home, ultimately more information will level the playing field and make potential buyers aware of climate-related risks.

“If we’re going to make this a fair marketplace where we have caveat emptor — buyer beware — we really need a place where everyone can look at the risk soberly and then make decisions.”

Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.

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Coronavirus: Femicide rate on rise, Canadian researcher says – CTV News



There has been a surge in femicide – the gender- and sex-related killing of women and girls – around the world in recent years, with the pandemic playing a role, says a Canadian gender-based violence expert.

Repeated lockdowns and limited access to services and shelters, as well as tense home environments, all a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, have contributed to a steady rise in femicide, according to University of Guelph researcher Mryna Dawson.

“The numbers are showing increases over the three years – pre-COVID-19, beginning of COVID-19 and as COVID-19 continues – and in that context, it is something that we should be concerned about,” she said in a news release.

“Not only because the numbers are increasing, but because these numbers are only capturing women and girls who were killed. This does not capture the increase in those who have and continue to experience violence.”

Those previously mentioned numbers paint a bleak picture. According to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, of which Dawson is the director, there were 92 women and girls killed in the first six months of 2021 compared to 78 during the same period in 2020 and 60 during the same period in 2019 across the country.

“That’s an increase of 32 women and girls killed from 2019 to 2021,” she said. “Canada is not the only country experiencing these continual increases in numbers. It’s a global trend.”

It’s possible the uptick may be the result of changing dynamics in the home due to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, which could have led to bad domestic situations for victims of violence becoming even worse.

“These orders do not suddenly turn previously non-violent men into violent men,” Dawson said. “Instead, it’s likely exacerbated the violence some women and children have already been living with and limiting their options in terms of dealing with it like they may have done before the pandemic.”

There are also fewer options available for those who may be in need of services and shelters due to restrictions brought on by the pandemic.

In addition, women have been more negatively affected than men during the pandemic in terms of job losses and reduced access to childcare.

“We know that a key contributor to male violence against women is gender inequality and the pandemic has significantly increased inequality,” Dawson said. “Throughout the pandemic, women have lost more jobs, are picking up childcare responsibilities and stepping in to educate children when schools close. This is what disaster patriarchy looks like. When there is a disaster, women are typically impacted more profoundly than men, materially speaking and in terms of experiences of violence. They are closely connected.”

Nov. 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It’s a day the United Nations kicks off 16 days of activism leading up to World Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. The federal government is encouraging Canadians to participate.

“Living in fear of violence is a reality for too many Canadian women,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement Thursday. “More than four in 10 women in Canada have experienced some form of psychological, physical, or sexual violence from an intimate partner. Some women and girls continue to be at a higher risk of gender-based violence due to the discrimination and additional barriers they face because of their sexuality, race, disability, or social and economic situation.

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been escalated rates of gender-based violence around the world. The social and economic impact of the public health emergency has resulted in a shadow pandemic. It has underscored the systemic issues that lead to violence, as well as the gaps in support to protect and prevent those at risk from harm.”

Trudeau highlighted some of the government’s efforts, including the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence and 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan.

Without real societal changes, Dawson says, rates of femicide will remain stable and possibly increase with variables such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the pandemic has changed the dynamics of violence in some ways, the experiences, consequences and solutions have not changed significantly, so everything that feminists and anti-violence against women organizations have been saying for decades still applies,” she said. “Gender equality or equity is key. We cannot fully prevent violence without addressing the contributions of misogyny and male entitlement.”


If you are experiencing domestic abuse and seeking help you can access the following service:

Assaulted Women’s Helpline: toll-free line 24/7 at 1-866-863-0511, or online Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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



The latest:

A slew of nations moved to stop air travel from southern Africa on Friday in reaction to news of a new, potentially more transmissible coronavirus variant.

“The last thing we need is to bring in a new variant that will cause even more problems,” said German Health Minister Jens Spahn, amid a massive spike in cases in the 27-nation European Union.

“Early indications show this variant may be more transmissible than the delta variant and current vaccines may be less effective against it,” British Health Secretary Sajid Javid told lawmakers. “We must move quickly and at the earliest possible moment.”

Within a few days of the discovery of the new variant, it has already impacted on a jittery society that is sensitive to bad COVID-19 news, with deaths around the globe standing at over five million.

The coronavirus evolves as it spreads, and many new variants, including those with worrying mutations, often just die out. Scientists monitor for possible changes that could be more transmissible or deadly, but sorting out whether new variants will have a public health impact can take time. Currently identified as B.1.1.529, the new variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong in travellers from South Africa.

The WHO’s technical working group is to meet Friday to assess the new variant and may decide whether to give it a name from the Greek alphabet. 

Israel, one of the world’s most vaccinated countries, announced Friday that it has detected the country’s first case of the new variant in a traveller who returned from Malawi. The traveller and two other suspected cases have been placed in isolation. The country said all three are vaccinated but that it is currently looking into their exact vaccination status.

The World Health Organization cautioned not to jump to conclusions too fast.

Speaking before the EU announcement, Dr. Michael Ryan, the head of emergencies at the WHO, said that “it’s really important that there are no knee-jerk responses.”

“We’ve seen in the past, the minute there’s any kind of mention of any kind of variation and everyone is closing borders and restricting travel. It’s really important that we remain open, and stay focused,” Ryan said.

It quickly fell on deaf ears.

Travel restrictions

The U.K. announced that it was banning flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries effective at noon on Friday, and that anyone who had recently arrived from those countries would be asked to take a coronavirus test.

In a statement posted online Friday, South Africa said that while it respects the right of other countries to protect their citizens, “the U.K.’s decision to temporarily ban South Africans from entering the U.K. seems to have been rushed as even the World Health Organization is yet to advise on the next steps.”

Germany said its flight ban could be enacted as soon as Friday night. Spahn said airlines coming back from South Africa will only be able to transport German citizens home, and travellers will need to go into quarantine for 14 days whether they are vaccinated or not. The country has seen new record daily case numbers in recent days and passed the mark of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday.

Italy’s health ministry also announced measures to ban entry into Italy of anyone who has been in seven southern African nations — South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini — in the past 14 days due to the new variant. The Netherlands is planning similar measures.

The Japanese government announced that from Friday, Japanese nationals travelling from Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho will have to quarantine at government-dedicated accommodation for 10 days and do a COVID test on Day 3, Day 6 and Day 10. Japan has not yet opened up to foreign nationals.

In Washington, top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci said no decision had been made on a possible U.S. travel ban. There was no indication that the variant was in the United States, and it was unclear whether it was resistant to current vaccines, he told CNN.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 9:30 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations to younger children as well as boosters for adults are expected to play key roles in helping to prevent a fifth wave of COVID-19, experts say: 

Kids’ vaccinations, booster shots key to preventing 5th COVID-19 wave

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Rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations to younger children as well as boosters for adults are expected to play key roles in helping to prevent a fifth wave of COVID-19, experts say. 2:01

What’s happening around the world

Medical personnel of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, load COVID-19 patients onto a plane during a transfer of patients out of Bavaria during the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday. (Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images)

As of early Friday morning, more than 260.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus database. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.1 million.

In Europe, the German air force will begin assisting the transfer of intensive care patients Friday as the government warned that the situation in the country is more serious than at any point in the pandemic. Citing the sharp rise in cases, Health Minister Jens Spahn said contacts between people need to be sharply reduced to curb the spread of the virus.

“The situation is dramatically serious, more serious than it’s been at any point in the pandemic,” he told reporters in Berlin.

Meanwhile, the European Union said on Friday that it will ease its restrictions on exporting COVID-19 vaccines.

The Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said that as of January it will no longer require vaccine producers to request special authorization to export outside the 27-nation bloc.

People wait in line outside a COVID-19 testing station on Friday in Berlin, Germany, where cases have been surging. (Omer Messinger/Getty Images)

Earlier this year when vaccines were still in short supply, the EU introduced a mechanism to keep some of the jabs it secured from AstraZeneca, the Anglo-Swedish drug company, from being diverted elsewhere. The export control system, aimed at making sure large drug companies would respect their contracts, was used by the EU in March, when a shipment of more than a quarter of a million AstraZeneca vaccines destined for Australia was blocked from leaving.

When the dispute with AstraZeneca broke, the EU was lagging well behind the United States and other countries in COVID-19 vaccinations. According to Stella Kyriakides, the commissioner for health, the bloc has now vaccinated over 65 per cent of the total EU population of some 450 million inhabitants.

In Africa, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will convene a coronavirus council on Sunday, as the country said the U.K.’s ban on flights from six southern African countries over the variant seemed rushed.

In the Americas, millions of Americans got booster shots at a near-record pace after the Biden administration expanded eligibility last week, but health officials concerned about climbing infections ahead of the winter holiday season urged more to get the additional protection.

WATCH | Should N-95s become the new mask standard? 

Should N-95s become the new mask standard?

2 days ago

With increased concern about the aerosol spread of COVID-19, new guidance suggests N-95s should be worn in high-risk situations, but experts say cloth masks still have their place and new manufacturing standards are improving the quality. 1:59

In the Asia-Pacific region, drugmakers Pfizer Inc. and MSD, known as Merck & Co Inc. in the United States and Canada, have agreed to give licences to firms in Vietnam to produce COVID-19 treatment pills.

In the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned of a looming “state of emergency” due to the new variant detected in South Africa.

-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 9:30 a.m. ET

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