Here in Canada the COVID-19 omicron and delta variants are now reaching record numbers of cases. Armed Forces personnel being deployed to Quebec to help with vaccination efforts. Kids and teens — and even newborns — are now among the rising number of Canadians being hospitalized with COVID-19 as Omicron infections keep surging across the country to unprecedented levels. Locally testing kits were widely available but supplies did not last long. N95 masks are still hard to find.

Ontario health officials said the province would delay all surgeries deemed non-urgent starting Wednesday as Ontario deals with the dual pressures of rising admissions and increased staff absences. Most hospital cases with omicron are not generally reaching ICU and patients are recovering. Delta is more virulent which has led to a few ICU admissions.

The International Monetary Fund is expected to downgrade its global growth forecast due to the emergence of the omicron variant. The IMF has delayed the release of its World Economic Outlook until the end of January in order to take the impact of omicron into account.

Locally there are several thousand cases and hospitals are struggling to contain the outbreak. Already local hospitals are keeping patients in hallways due to a lack of available rooms. The new cases bring the total number in B.C. to 266,710 cases, while the death toll has risen 2,427. Of the new cases, 1,458 were reported in Fraser Health, 329 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 270 in Interior Health, 125 in Northern Health and 360 in Island Health.

WHO says vaccine inequality undermines economic recovery: It’s ‘a killer of people and jobs’. World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the unequal distribution of vaccines the biggest failure of 2021. Tedros said low vaccine coverage in many countries of the world contributes to the emergence of new variants, which can undermine global economic growth.

Businesses need to ensure protection measures are in place, including immunization, proper use of masks, keeping a distance, having fewer people in the same location at once, and staggering shift days or start times and break times. Immunization has not stopped delta or omicron at all.

Some grocery stores may be understocked as staff are off sick from omicron. Stores suggests 3 weeks will began to see more product on shelves as staff return to work.

Meta (Facebook) has moved return to the office until late March. They also want staff to have booster shots.