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COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers crossing into Canada from U.S. takes effect

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A COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers crossing into Canada from the United States is now in effect, raising worries about future disruptions to the supply chain.

As of Saturday, Canadian truckers must be vaccinated if they want to avoid quarantine and a pre-arrival molecular test, while unvaccinated American big-riggers are to be turned back at the border.

Trucking industry groups accused the federal government of sparking confusion after the Canada Border Services Agency suggested earlier this week that Ottawa was backtracking on the rules, only to have that information refuted the next day.

The president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance says the application of the mandate could potentially cause some slowdowns at the border in the coming days if unvaccinated truckers have to turn their big rigs around.

As of Saturday, Canadian truckers must be vaccinated if they want to avoid quarantine and a pre-arrival molecular test, while unvaccinated American big-riggers are to be turned back at the border. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

But Stephen Laskowski says the bigger concern is over wider impacts on the supply chain caused by driver shortages, which are likely to be felt cumulatively in the coming weeks and months.

The news comes as provinces continue to grapple with rising hospitalizations due to COVID-19, including Ontario, which on Saturday reported nearly 4,000 patients in hospital.


What’s happening across Canada

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, the 2022 B.C. Winter Games have been cancelled over COVID-19 concerns.

In the Prairies, students in Manitoba are preparing to go back to in-person schooling on Monday, even as the two largest universities in Alberta are delaying a return to in-person classes until late February, and an epidemiologist is countering a claim made by Saskatchewan‘s premier that restrictions don’t curb Omicron.

In Ontario, nurses are calling for pay parity with police officers and firefighters amid a pandemic staffing crunch.

In Quebec, the health agency representing hospitals in the east end of Montreal confirmed on Saturday that it will soon be reducing more services as hospitals struggle to balance the care of COVID-19 patients alongside others.

A person arrives at a COVID-19 test site in Montreal on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

In the Atlantic provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed the province’s 25th death related to the virus; Nova Scotia announced it will not be following up with some people who tested positive for the virus due to high cases and testing demand; and some New Brunswick restaurants say they’ve been forced to lay off workers amid new restrictions.

In the North, the Yukon government is imposing stronger public health measures starting on Tuesday as it deals with the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the territory. The measures include gathering limits, earlier closing times for restaurants and bars and the closing of indoor organized events.


What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday, roughly 324.19 million cases 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, the Czech government will allow asymptomatic essential health-care workers and social service personnel who test positive for COVID-19 to keep working, the Health Ministry said.

WATCH | Half of Europe could be infected with Omicron within weeks, WHO says: 

Half of Europe could be infected with Omicron within weeks, WHO says

3 days ago

Duration 3:22

The World Health Organization says more than 200 million people in Europe could be infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the next six to eight weeks. 3:22

In the Americas, Uruguay has opened its borders to citizens and residents even if they are infected with COVID-19, a rare move amid surging cases worldwide. Passengers would need to travel in private vehicles across the border and be in a family “bubble.”

In Asia, Bhutan has reported its first 14 cases of the Omicron variant, a health official said, amid a surge of the pandemic in the Himalayan kingdom that has so far been relatively successful at keeping the disease at bay.

In Africa, the continent’s top public health body said it was in talks with Pfizer about securing supplies of Paxlovid, the drugmaker’s antiviral COVID-19 pills.

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