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Flight Cancellations Grow on Christmas Day as Omicron Disrupts.

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A flurry of flight cancellations continued on Christmas Day, with U.S. airlines scrapping nearly 1,000 flights as the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus caused crew members to call out sick.

The cancellations affected more than 10 percent of the flights scheduled by Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and JetBlue. American Airlines had canceled less than 5 percent of flights, according to FlightAware, which provides aviation data.

By midday on Saturday the number of cancellations had already exceeded the total cancellations on Christmas Eve, a setback for travelers and airlines hoping this holiday season would be a return to relative normal. Globally, more than 2,500 flights scheduled for Christmas Day were canceled.

“A number of Covid-related sick calls led us to make the difficult decision to precancel some flights scheduled for today,” said Derek Walls, a spokesman for American Airlines, which had about 90 cancellations on Saturday. “We proactively notified affected customers yesterday, and are working hard to rebook them quickly.”

And the problems are expected to continue. Delta, which said weather in some parts of the country was also causing problems, expected to cancel more than 300 flights scheduled for Sunday. And FlightAware said other U.S. airlines had already canceled 150 flights for Dec. 26.

The cancellations come during one of the busiest travel periods of the year, and Americans are flying nearly as much as they were prepandemic, with about 2 million people streaming through screening checkpoints each day in the week leading up to Christmas Eve, according to the Transportation Security Administration. At some points the number of travelers this year even exceeded the number of passengers who flew in 2019, according to the T.S.A.’s data.

The travel period also came during a fresh surge of Covid cases. The U.S. is averaging almost 200,000 new cases each day, according to The New York Times’s coronavirus tracker, more than the average case load during this summer’s peak.

An airline trade group asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday to shorten the recommended isolation period for employees who test positive for Covid-19 from 10 days to “no more than five days,” with a negative test to return. “The Omicron surge may exacerbate personnel shortages and create significant disruptions to our work force and operations,” the group, Airlines for America, wrote in a letter to the C. D.C’s director.

But the Association of Flight Attendants has pushed back on that request, telling the C.D.C. on Thursday that “we support your agency’s current recommendation to isolate for 10 days” and that decisions to reduce isolation times “should be made by public health professionals, not airlines.”

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Teladoc Tumbled 38% After Big First-Quarter Loss. Is It Just a Pandemic Play?

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After pandemic drop, Canada’s detention of immigrants rises again By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Two closed Canadian border checkpoints are seen after it was announced that the border would close to “non-essential traffic” to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the U.S.-Canada border crossing at the Thousand Isla

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is locking up more people in immigration detention without charge after the numbers fell during the pandemic, government data obtained by Reuters shows.

Authorities cite an overall rise in foreign travelers amid easing restrictions but lawyers say their detained clients came to Canada years ago.

Canada held 206 people in immigration detention as of March 1, 2022 – a 28% increase compared with March 1 of the previous year. Immigration detainees have not been charged with crimes in Canada and 68% of detainees as of March 1 were locked up because Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) fears they are “unlikely to appear” at an immigration hearing, according to the data.

The rise puts Canada at odds with Amnesty International and other human rights groups that have urged Ottawa to end its use of indefinite immigration detention, noting CBSA has used factors such as a person’s mental illness as reason to detain them.

A CBSA spokesperson told Reuters that “when the number of entries (to Canada) goes up, an increase in detention is to be expected.” CBSA has said in the past it uses detention as a last resort.

A lawyer told Reuters her detained clients have been in Canada for years.

In the United Kingdom, too, immigration detention levels rose last year after dropping earlier in the pandemic, according to government statistics. Unlike Canada, the United States and Australia, European Union member states have limits on immigration detention and those limits cannot exceed six months.

The rise in detentions puts people at risk of contracting COVID-19 in harsh congregate settings, refugee lawyers say.

Julia Sande, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner with Amnesty, called the increase in detentions “disappointing but not surprising,” although she was reluctant to draw conclusions from limited data.

The number of immigration detainees in Canada dropped early in the pandemic, from a daily average of 301 in the fourth quarter (January through March) of 2019-20 to 126 in the first quarter (April through June) of 2020-21.

FEW NO-SHOWS AS DETENTIONS DROPPED

Detaining fewer people did not result in a significant increase in no-shows at immigration hearings – the most common reason for detention, according to Immigration and Refugee Board data.

The average number of no-shows as a percentage of admissibility hearings was about 5.5% in 2021, according to that data, compared to about 5.9% in 2019.

No-shows rose as high as 16% in October 2020, but a spokesperson for the Immigration and Refugee Board said this was due to people not receiving notifications when their hearings resumed after a pause in the pandemic.

Refugee lawyer Andrew Brouwer said the decline in detention earlier in the pandemic shows Canada does not need to lock up as many non-citizens.

“We didn’t see a bunch of no-shows. We didn’t see the sky fall … It for sure shows that the system can operate without throwing people in jail,” Brouwer said.

He added that detainees face harsh pandemic conditions in provincial jails – including extended lockdowns, sometimes with three people in a cell for 23 hours a day.

Refugee lawyer Swathi Sekhar said CBSA officials and the Immigration and Refugee Board members reviewing detentions took the risk of COVID-19 into account when deciding whether someone should be detained earlier in the pandemic but are doing so less now.

“Their position is that COVID is not a factor that should weigh in favor of release,” she said.

“We also see very, very perverse findings … [decision-makers] outright saying that individuals are going to be safer in jail.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Nasdaq futures rise as market attempts comeback from April sell-off, Meta shares soar

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Stock futures rose in overnight trading as the market shook off the April sell-off and investors reacted positively to earnings from Meta Platforms.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 70 points or 0.2%. S&P 500 futures gained 0.7% and Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 1.2%.

The moves came as shares of Meta surged more than 18% after hours following a beat on earnings but a miss on revenue, a sign that investors may see signs of relief in the beaten-up tech sector. Shares were down 48% on the year heading into the results.

Meanwhile, shares of Qualcomm gained 5.6% in extended trading on the back of strong earnings while PayPal rose 5% despite issuing weak guidance for the second quarter.

“I think a lot of people want to believe that earnings are going to pull us out of this, but earnings are not what got us into this,” SoFi’s Liz Young told CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime” on Wednesday. “… But the reality is there are so many macro headwinds still in front of us in the next 60 days that the market is just hard to impress.”

The after-hour activity followed a volatile regular trading session that saw the Nasdaq Composite stoop to its lowest level in 2022, as stocks looked to bounce back from a tech-led April sell-off. The index is down more than 12% since the start of April.

In Wednesday’s regular trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended at 12,488.93, after rising to 1.7% at session highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.75 points, or 0.2%, to 33,301.93 propped up by gains from Visa and Microsoft, while the S&P 500 added 0.2% to 4,183.96.

Investors await big tech earnings on Thursday from Apple, Amazon and Twitter, along with results from Robinhood. Jobless claims are also due out Thursday.

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