Josemaria Reports 2019 Results

VANCOUVER, Feb. 21, 2020 /CNW/ - Josemaria Resources Inc. (TSX:JOSE.TO - News) (OMX:JOSE.TO - News) ("Josemaria Resources" or the "Company") is pleased to announce its results for the year ended December 31, 2019. View PDF


  • The Company's primary focus is the advancement of its 100% owned Josemaría Copper/Gold Project in San Juan Province, Argentina by completing a feasibility study by the third quarter of 2020. The Company assembled an integrated engineering team led by Fluor Canada Ltd., who is responsible for overall project management, infrastructure and mineral process design and project cost estimation. Other internationally recognized consultants are also engaged to support the program with a focus on environmental studies and permitting, social and community engagement, mineral resource and reserve estimates, mine design and tailings and water management.

  • Changes were made to the executive team during the second half of 2019, with the goal of assembling a dedicated team with the capability to complete the technical and commercial feasibility work required to advance the Josemaría Copper/Gold Project towards development:
  • During the second half of 2019, work on the feasibility study focused on advancing project design concepts and engineering designs for on and offsite facilities. Analysis of samples for metallurgical and comminution testwork continued with a focus on increasing confidence in the expected metallurgical response and grinding characteristics of the mineral reserve. Pilot plant testing of a bulk sample was completed, and an analysis of the test results commenced. Work also commenced on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (the "ESIA") with the engagement of Ausenco (Vector Argentina S.A.) based in Mendoza, Argentina, to compile the baseline data and lead the development of the ESIA in support of future project permitting.

  • The Company commenced the Argentine summer field season test programs during the third quarter of 2019 to collect additional geological, geotechnical, metallurgical and hydrological information. Collection of baseline, archeological, community, social and environmental data to inform the ESIA was also commenced through 2019.

Commenting on the year Adam Lundin, President and CEO remarked, "In 2019 we transformed Josemaria Resources into a pure play development vehicle focused solely on the Josemaria deposit in San Juan Argentina. We are pleased with progress to date on the Josemaria feasibility study, ongoing work related to the environmental and social impact assessment ("ESIA") and field season activities focused on collecting additional information for both the feasibility study and ESIA. We remain committed to efforts aimed at permitting and ultimately developing this major copper and gold asset. Josemaria, once constructed, should play a measurable role in providing long term quality copper supply as electrification technology advances world wide."


  • On July 17, 2019, Josemaria Resources completed a previously announced spin-out of the Los Helados property (the "Los Helados Project") and certain other exploration properties into NGEx Minerals Ltd. ("NGEx Minerals") by a Plan of Arrangement under the Canada Business Corporations Act (the "Arrangement") and changed its name to "Josemaria Resources Inc."

Under the terms of the Arrangement, the Company transferred its wholly-owned subsidiaries that directly or indirectly held the Los Helados Project and other exploration projects located in Argentina and Chile, along with $7.3 million in cash to NGEx Minerals Ltd. in exchange for common shares of NGEx Minerals.  NGEx Minerals was incorporated on February 21, 2019 under the laws of CBCA as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company in connection with the Arrangement.  Pursuant to the Arrangement, the Company distributed 100% of the common shares of NGEx Minerals it received under the Arrangement to its Josemaria Resources shareholders on a pro rata basis, such that its shareholders received one common share of NGEx Minerals for every two common shares of Josemaria Resources held as of the record date.  NGEx Minerals began trading on August 20, 2019 on the TSX Venture Exchange ("TSX-V") under the trading symbol "NGEX".

  • Pursuant to the Arrangement and changes made to the Board of Directors during the year, the Company's board of directors is currently comprised of the following eight directors:


The Company is targeting completion of the feasibility study on the Josemaría Project by the third quarter of 2020, with the objective of advancing the Project towards permitting and eventual development.  Management also plans to continue environmental and social baseline studies that will provide information required to prepare an ESIA report in support of project permitting.  

Additional opportunities and next steps include:

  • Project optimization and Value Engineering;
  • Compilation and integration of field season results;
  • Offsite infrastructure assessments;
  • Concentrate transportation option analysis;
  • Environmental and social impact assessment;
  • Community engagement; and
  • Continued open dialogue with all levels of government.


(in thousands)

December 31, 2019

December 31, 2018




Working capital



Mineral properties



Total assets



Total liabilities





To support the advancement of the Josemaría Project, the Company arranged two new debenture credit facilities totaling US$30 million with Zebra Holdings and Investments S.à.r.l. ("Zebra") and Lorito Holdings S.à.r.l. ("Lorito") during 2019 and began drawing on the available debenture facilities to provide additional sources of financing to further advance its project and operations.  No interest is payable in cash during the term.  The Company issued 855,105 shares as consideration for the funds drawn on the facilities, with an additional 254,000 common shares issuable, resulting in $0.7 million in finance costs recognized for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019.  Lorito reports its security holdings in the Company as a joint actor with Zebra, and they collectively held more than 35% of the Company's issued and outstanding common shares as at December 31, 2019.  US$9.5 million remains undrawn on those facilities as of the date of this press release. 

The Company does not currently generate income from operations.  The Company anticipates that it will need further funding in order to advance the Josemaría Project, and for general corporate and working capital purposes. The Company is continuing to evaluate potential additional sources of funding. Historically, capital requirements have been primarily funded through equity financing, joint ventures, disposition of mineral properties and investments, and the use of credit facilities. On an ongoing basis, the Company's planned initiatives and other work programs may be postponed, or otherwise revised, as necessary.


 (in thousands, except per share amounts)

Three months ended

December 31,

Year ended

December 31,





Exploration and project evaluation expenses





General and administration ("G&A")





Gain on spin-out transaction





Net loss





Basic and diluted loss per share






Exploration and project evaluation expenditures are the most significant expenditures of the Company and relate mainly to conducting these activities on its Josemaría Project.  Exploration and project evaluation expense totaled $35.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $11.6 million for the prior year.  The increase in exploration and project evaluation expenditures for the 2019 year reflects the Company's key focus on advancing the Josemaría Project through the feasibility study including ongoing environmental baseline studies in support of future project permitting and the ongoing associated field programs.   With the completion of the reserve definition drilling in the first half of the year, the Company commenced foundation and in-pit geo-technical drilling, condemnation drilling as well as water well drilling with production scale testing in order to collect geotechnical data for the open-pit mine design and to determine site geotechnical conditions at planned locations for mine infrastructure, as well as to locate and characterize source locations for water to support the planned operation.

General and administration ("G&A") costs for 2019 increased from $3.4 million to $5.4 million.  The Company incurred additional professional and regulatory fees of $0.5 million to execute the spin out of NGEx Minerals and deployed additional Board and senior management personnel including the appointment of the Vice-President, Projects to manage and support the Josemaría Project.  Share-based compensation charges also increased during the year, compared to 2018, as the replacement options associated with the Arrangement fully vested as of the effective date of the Arrangement.

The Company recorded a $31 million gain for the year as a result of accounting for the spin-out of NGEx Minerals as a distribution in kind to its shareholders.  The distribution to shareholders was accounted for based on the fair value of net assets transferred to NGEx Minerals in accordance with IFRS, with the difference between that value and the carrying amount of the net assets recognized in the statement of comprehensive loss. The fair value was estimated based on the trading value of NGEx Minerals shares for the 10 day period subsequent to commencement of trading.  In addition to the $31 million gain on spin off transaction, the Company re-classified $1.3 million of cumulative other comprehensive loss to the P&L during the third quarter of 2019 to reflect the recycling of cumulative exchange differences attributable to the subsidiaries spun out to NGEx Minerals in connection with the Arrangement on July 17, 2019. 

For the year ended December 31, 2019, the Company's net loss totaled $10.9 million compared to $15.2 million for the fiscal 2018 year, with the difference largely attributable to the gain on the spin-out transaction which partially offset the increase in exploration expenses and G&A costs for the year.

Qualified Persons
Technical disclosure for the the Josemaría Project included in this press release, has been reviewed and approved by Bob Carmichael, P. Eng. (BC).  Mr. Carmichael is the Company's Vice-President of Exploration and a Qualified Person ("QP") under National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects.

About Josemaria Resources
Josemaria Resources Inc. is a Canadian natural resources company focused on advancing the development of its wholly-owned Josemaría copper-gold project in San Juan Province, Argentina.  The Company is a reporting issuer in the Provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec and its corporate head office is in Vancouver, BC. The Company's shares are listed on the TSX and on Nasdaq Stockholm under the name symbol "JOSE".

Josemaria Technical Report
The Technical Report dated December 19, 2018 and titled "NI 43-101 Technical Report, Pre-feasibility Study for the Josemaría Copper-Gold Project, San Juan Province, Argentina" with an effective date of November 20, 2018 (the "Josemaria PFS") is available for review under the Company's profile on SEDAR ( and on the Company's website (

This information is information that Josemaria Resources Inc. is obliged to make public pursuant to the Swedish Securities Markets Act. The information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact person set out below, on February 21, 2020 at 5:30pm Eastern Time.

On behalf of the board

Adam Lundin
President and CEO

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements made and information contained herein in the news release constitutes "forward-looking information" and "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of applicable securities legislation (collectively, "forward-looking information"). The forward-looking information contained in this news release is based on information available to the Company as of the date of this news release. Except as required under applicable securities legislation, the Company does not intend, and does not assume any obligation, to update this forward-looking information. Generally, this forward-looking information can frequently, but not always, be identified by use of forward-looking terminology such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events, conditions or results "will", "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will be taken", "occur" or "be achieved" or the negative connotations thereof. All statements other than statements of historical fact may be forward-looking information.

Forward-looking information contained in this news release includes statements regarding the anticipated timing and completion of a feasibility study and related studies of the Josemaría Project; the anticipated use of proceeds from the credit facilities and ongoing support from Lorito and Zebra; anticipated environmental studies; anticipated exploration and development plans and activities; anticipated cost estimates and other assumptions used in the Josemaría PFS and expectations from the Josemaría PFS; the assumptions used in the mineral reserves and resources for the Josemaría project; anticipated exploration and development expenditures; the timing and nature of any potential development scenarios; opportunities to improve project economics; estimations for copper, gold, silver and other commodity prices, estimations for mineral reserves and resources; estimated development costs; success of development and exploration activities; expectations with regard to the results of the feasibility study, ESIA and other studies; permitting time lines; surface and water rights, access and property interests; currency exchange rate fluctuations; requirements for additional capital; government regulation of mining activities; environmental risks; unanticipated reclamation expenses; title disputes or claims; limitations on insurance coverage; and other risks and uncertainties.

Forward-looking information is necessarily based on estimates and assumptions that are inherently subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, including but not limited to: risks and uncertainties relating to, among other things, the inherent uncertainties regarding cost estimates, changes in commodity prices, currency fluctuation, financing, unanticipated resource grades, infrastructure, results of exploration activities, cost overruns, availability of materials and equipment, timeliness of government approvals, taxation, political risk and related economic risk and unanticipated environmental impact on operations, as well as other risks uncertainties and other factors, including, without limitation, those referred to in the "Risk Factors" section, and elsewhere, in the Company's most recent Annual Information Form and the Company's most recent Management Discussion and Analysis, available under the Company's profile on SEDAR at, which may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information.

The Company believes that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking information included in this news release are reasonable but no assurance can be given that these expectations will prove to be correct and such forward-looking information should not be unduly relied upon.

The forward-looking information contained in this news release is made as at the date of this news release and the Company does not undertake any obligations to publicly update and/or revise any of the included forward-looking information, whether as a result of additional information, future events and/or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable securities laws. Forward-looking information is provided for the purpose of providing information about management's current expectations and plans and allowing investors and others to get a better understanding of the Company's operating environment. Forward-looking information is based on certain assumptions that the Company believes are reasonable, including that the current price of and demand for commodities will be sustained or will improve, the supply of commodities will remain stable, that the general business and economic conditions will not change in a material adverse manner, that financing will be available if and when needed on reasonable terms and that the Company will not experience any material labour dispute, accident, or failure of plant or equipment. These factors are not, and should not be construed as being, exhaustive. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that would cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated, or intended. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. All of the forward-looking information contained in this news release is qualified by these cautionary statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking information due to the inherent uncertainty thereof.

JOSEMARIA REPORTS 2019 RESULTS (CNW Group/Josemaria Resources Inc.)

SOURCE Josemaria Resources Inc.

View original content to download multimedia:

  • Venezuela elderly feel 'sentenced to euthanasia' under coronavirus quarantine

    Venezuela elderly feel 'sentenced to euthanasia' under coronavirus quarantine

    Venezuelan retirees Carlos Blanco, 81, and Olga Rodriguez, 78, have for more than a year been unable to purchase the diabetes medication they need, as the country's hyperinflation has left their monthly pensions insufficient to buy even a loaf of bread. Already at high risk in the coronavirus pandemic because of their age, the couple's untreated Type 2 diabetes leaves them at greater risk of any type of infection, as well as complications including blurred vision or diabetic comas. "Senior citizens have been sentenced to euthanasia," said Blanco, who lives on the fourth floor of a building in the Coche neighborhood of western Caracas.

  • One month in: Looking back at how Alberta has handled COVID-19

    One month in: Looking back at how Alberta has handled COVID-19

    Alberta's chief medical officer of health delivered news on March 5 that Albertans did not want to hear. The province had reported its first presumptive case of COVID-19."We are taking this extremely seriously," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. "Public health measures are already being put in place to prevent the spread of the virus."That day, the Alberta government asked anyone who had taken a Grand Princess cruise in the previous two weeks to self-isolate for 14 days after their return. That marked the beginning of a series of increasingly stringent restrictions on social and economic activities that have changed daily life in Alberta.A month later, it's amazing to look back and ponder the unprecedented speed at which those measures were implemented."They really have been doing things on the fly and doing things astonishingly quickly," said Lori Williams, a political science professor at Mount Royal University. "Anyone familiar with government, the pace and the evolution of policies, will be aware that this is something that can take years."That lightning-fast decision-making, on both the federal and provincial levels, has changed Canadians lives in previously unimaginable ways. Travel restrictions. Provincial and local states of emergencies. Businesses closed. Financial aid for those out of work. University campuses closed.And in what Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange called an "unprecedented" decision, the province shut down schools and daycares on March 15.Those decisions sparked a societal shift in how people interact with one another. The closure of schools and childcare centres forced many parents to work from home.Over the course of the last month, social gathering limits have progressively been scaled back from 250 people, to 50 people, to the current 15.Then on March 27, Premier Jason Kenney ordered all non-essential businesses to close. "The actions we are taking are tough but necessary to protect public health," the premier said that day. "We understand that behind every such decision lies tens of thousands of jobs and businesses, that will throw people into economic and financial anxiety."Over the past month, thousands of Albertans have been laid off. And the already bleak forecast for the oil industry has worsened, with record-low oil prices. But health experts emphasize that the social restrictions, the public health orders, are necessary.Most of Alberta's initial cases of COVID-19 were travel-related. But as the virus spread, health officials raised the alarm about community transmission, and those cases became an area of focus for health officials trying to slow the spread of the virus.The province reported its first COVID-19 death on March 19."As heartbreaking as this news is, it was expected," Hinshaw said that day. "This is a dangerous virus."We are doing all we can to fight the spread of this virus. But to do this, we will need everyone's help. Take this seriously. Stay home, unless it is essential for you to go out. Now is not the time for social gatherings."Public health modelling predicts the number of COVID-19 cases could peak in Alberta in early May.> This is a dangerous virus \- Dr. Deena HinshawAt that peak, the model predicts, about 250 people would be in Alberta intensive care unit beds with COVID-19.Kenney called last week was the "toughest" so far in dealing with the virus in Alberta. "Things will get worse before they get better," he cautioned.What about the next few weeks?Kenney has said the province expects the peak of the outbreak will likely come in mid-April, and drastic measures aimed at keeping the spread in check may need to be in place until the end of May.What is certain, according to experts, is the need for governments to provide the public with timely and complete information.So far, Williams said, federal and provincial governments seem to have earned the public's confidence, and many Albertans seem satisfied with the work being done by the province."I was struck by the fact that it looks like people would be appreciative of what both the federal and provincial governments were trying to do," she said. "And again, this is somebody who's watched the rollout of policies at the government level for some time being really struck by how much they're doing and how quickly. How amazing it is that they're able to put together the kinds of responses that they are."Now it's down to the implementation that might be different."

  • Canadians Can Wear Non-Medical Masks To Prevent COVID-19 Spread: Feds
    HuffPost Canada

    Canadians Can Wear Non-Medical Masks To Prevent COVID-19 Spread: Feds

    But let’s save the N95 and surgical masks for our health-care workers.

  • 'Mask wars' risk setting back global fight against coronavirus

    'Mask wars' risk setting back global fight against coronavirus

    When the crisis is over, there will be tough questions to be answered and explanations to be sought over how so many leading countries found themselves short of masks and other life-saving protective equipment.For now, the Western world must contend with the consequences of their lack of foresight: including the unsightly "mask wars" that have pitted neighbouring countries, even U.S. states and levels of government, against each other in the rush to acquire them — prompting accusations of modern piracy.The country most often accused of undercutting the efforts of its allies in the so-called mask wars is the U.S., which not only attempted to halt exports of U.S.-made N95 masks to Canada and Latin America last week, but also stands accused of scuttling European deals to purchase them in China and elsewhere. But it isn't the only country out for itself.With the outbreak of the mask wars across shuttered Western borders, and alongside outright bans of exports of medical equipment, any hint of a unified global effort to fight the coronavirus is absent, beyond the work of scientists cooperating on a possible vaccine.The selfishness isn't a surprise under the circumstances, but the apparent desperation of some of the wealthiest countries on Earth is. It's a revelation that has justifiably raised eyebrows in less fortunate parts of the world, where some are now bracing for a similar spike in cases but with a fraction of the resources.Selfishness striking, says professorThe cutthroat tactics of the mask wars risks making this crisis worse for everyone. Rich countries on the front lines of the melee have learned early lessons about the vulnerability of their supply chains and about their neighbours and allies. What the competition looks like when the number of infected and dead rises further in the weeks to come is unsettling to contemplate."It's normal for countries to take care of their own citizens first," says Roland Paris, professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa and former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.But the selfishness and lack of coordination among leading countries, he says, "is striking." Instead of an international response "we're unfortunately seeing a mad scramble to grab whatever's available, to hell with the other guy."WATCH | Trudeau slams Trump's order to halt N95 masks to Canada:Closest to home, "to hell with the other guy" translated into Trump ordering Minnesota-based company 3M to halt exports of its masks to Canada and Latin America, using his authority under the Defence Production Act. The move caught Canada off guard, while the company pushed back against the order.European countries have shuttered their borders, with some like Italy and Germany among others cancelling deals to sell equipment to neighbours or blocking shipments at the last minute. Even more stark, the mask wars have seen American and other buyers scuttling European and Brazilian deals, some even snatching shipments already promised to other jurisdictions by outbidding them—even "on the tarmac" as planes prepared to take off. Some shipments reportedly just disappear.Lasting damageAmong a number of examples, officials alleged that 200,000 masks en route to Germany were intercepted in Bangkok to redirect them to the U.S., prompting Andreas Geisel, Germany's Secretary of Interior to call it an "act of modern piracy." The details of the disputed case are still murky and the company, 3M, has said it had no indication of any wrongdoing. Trump insisted there had been "no act of piracy."WATCH | Can cloth masks protect you from COVID-19? Two doctors weigh in:Berlin Mayor Michael Müller tweeted, accusing Trump of failing to show solidarity, and that such actions are "inhuman and unacceptable." The Brazilian health minister described it all as "a problem of hyper demand." Translation of Müller's tweet: The behaviour of the U.S. president is anything but solidarity [promoting] and responsible. It's inhumane and unacceptable. Even in the time of the corona epidemic, the German government must insist that the U.S. comply with international rules.European Union officials wouldn't comment on the specific allegations but called for better international co-operation."Now is the time for international solidarity and leadership, not isolation," said Brice de Schietere, chargé d'affaires of the EU delegation to Canada. The everyone-out-for-themselves behaviour prompts yet more questions: if this cutthroat competition is happening over protective equipment and tests, what happens when there's a vaccine? Reports in the German press that the U.S. was seeking exclusive access to a possible vaccine in development by a German company was an early ominous sign.  But even before we get there, the selfish approach now could lead to setbacks in the fight to flatten the curve and minimize the virus's spread, says Sarah Cliffe, director of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.Understandable, says Cliffe, that each country wants to protect its own citizens. But that could backfire when countries right on the front line "don't get the medical equipment they need," because "it's more likely the virus will spread in the future."WATCH | Dr. Samir Gupta explains what you should consider before putting on a mask against COVID-19:Worse, says Cliffe, the cutthroat competition seems to be echoing the experience of the 2007-2008 global food price crisis — when the price of food, initially pushed up by droughts and higher oil prices, only truly skyrocketed globally when countries began to compete to stockpile."When everyone is doing that at the same time, the unintended consequence could be to make the overall situation worse," she says.Naturally, the countries that suffered most — and waited the longest — were the poorest.Plenty of lessonsIt's proving the same in the struggle to find and buy masks. Now, the price of masks and other protective equipment has skyrocketed too, with buyers in some cases offering several times the high prices on offer.A French official likened the search to procure equipment abroad as a "treasure hunt." The Spanish health minister described the market as "crazy." All of it calls for a more co-ordinated international approach, said Cliffe.One possibility is the rotation of priority for global equipment to countries and regions that are at the height of their battle, "because if we help them to stop the spread, it helps countries that are next in the firing line," says Cliffe.There is little indication that will happen during this crisis. There is little evidence to indicate much cooperation among western countries at all. But there have been plenty of lessons.The Associated Press reported that Spain, which has suffered more than 130,000 infected and more than 12,000 dead, has started three weekly flights to China, the world's largest manufacturer of masks. The same report says Italy is using military planes to secure its shipments from China and other countries.WATCH | Ontario Premier Doug Ford reacts to U.S. clampdown on mask exports:The mask hysteria will lead to further more permanent changes in how countries source their medical supplies, says Cliffe. Many countries and regions will realize "they made a mistake in being so reliant on one unique global supply and that they want to, at the very least, diversify their sources of supply to avoid that problem in the future."The European Commission is centralising the stockpiling of ventilators, masks and other equipment to help member states, said de Schietere, and is, for the first time creating a European reserve of emergency medical equipment.It's also looking at other measures that could increase the EU's self-reliance, including the repurposing of existing factoriesFor Canada, the "sad lesson," says Roland Paris, " is that we can't rely even on our closest partner. "For better or worse, that lesson that will guide Canada's future decisions about supply chains and stocks of vital medical supplies."

  • At home with kids, pets and spouses, country stars play on
    The Canadian Press

    At home with kids, pets and spouses, country stars play on

    NASHVILLE — Country music’s biggest stars should have been on the carpet of the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday in Las Vegas, but like most of America, they were homebound because of the coronavirus. Still, the musicians played on, surrounded by spouses, kids and — in one case — a horse.“ACM Presents: Our Country,” a TV special aired on CBS in lieu of the delayed awards show, featured acoustic performances, special duets, clips from previous ACM Awards telecasts and a tribute to the late country icon Kenny Rogers. The country artists, spread out from coast to coast, shared details of their home lives, their hopes for the future and their best wishes for the emergency medical workers on the front lines.Keith Urban, the host for the awards show that now will air in September, started the special with an acoustic version of “Wasted Time” from his home studio, which he joked felt like his living room. The only thing missing was his wife and actress Nicole Kidman, who has been seen dancing in some of Urban’s social media videos lately.“Me, Nic, our girls, we all say thank you so much to all the first responders out there, everybody in the health care field all over. We thank you so much,” said Urban. “There’s an insurmountable amount of people who are out there on the front lines who are risking so much for so many.”Three-piece country group Lady Antebellum showed the new reality for many working-from-home parents when they were joined by their kids in their performance of “What I’m Leaving For.”Carrie Underwood, holding a glass of red wine sitting on a couch, sang an appropriately named song called “Drinking Alone,” finishing with a “Cheers!” and a sip.Canadian superstar Shania Twain did have a small audience for her performance of “Honey, I’m Home” and “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” which included a sleepy dog and a curious horse, who at times blocked Twain’s face from the camera.The casual performances were filled with little impromptu moments. Brad Paisley’s wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, played the role of camera operator as Paisley and Darius Rucker played together via video conference. Dierks Bentley’s stomps on his porch in Colorado jiggled the camera and an off-camera crow cawed at him. Thomas Rhett’s home security alarm chimed in his video.In the midst of the pandemic, the country music community has been hit hard with the death of Rogers, who personified “The Gambler,” as well as the deaths of Grand Ole Opry stars Jan Howard, 91, and Joe Diffie, who died at the age of 61 after contracting the virus. Country folk songwriter, John Prine, has been hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms.Paisley and Rucker started the tribute to Rogers with a performance of “Lucille” and “The Gambler,” followed by Luke Bryan who sang “Coward of the County.” Lionel Richie, who wrote one of Rogers’ biggest hits, “Lady,” delivered the night's final memory of Rogers.“Not only did we have a hit record, but I found one of the greatest friends I’ve ever had my whole life,” Richie said.Artists debuted new songs as well, including Eric Church, who played “Never Break Heart,” and Kane Brown and John Legend, who sang together via a video phone call on their new duet, “Last Time I Say Sorry.”“The important thing to remember is to not fear, to be brave and to endure,” Church said.Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani planned to play their duet, “Nobody But You,” at the ACM Awards, but instead they performed the song in front of a bonfire at their home in Oklahoma, bundled up in plaid and camouflage clothes.Miranda Lambert was accompanied by a bubbling stream on her Tennessee farm in her performance of “Bluebird.”“I want to remind everybody to lean into your music," Lambert said. “Lean into your guitars and your pianos and your voices and let that heal you.”___Online:ACM Awards: Kristin M. Hall at M. Hall, The Associated Press

  • World
    The Canadian Press

    First COVID-19 case surfaces in northwestern Ontario Indigenous community

    A military hospital is needed in a remote Ontario Indigenous community now that the COVID-19 pandemic has reached the area, the chief of the First Nation said Monday.Harvey Yesno said word that a resident of the Eabametoong First Nation has tested positive for the virus has struck fear into the community 300 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, since fear of further spread is compounded by knowledge that the local health-care and social system is not able to cope with the strain of a serious outbreak.Yesno said that although Eabametoong has been preparing for COVID-19 for weeks, including restricting entry into the fly-in community and declaring a local state of emergency, military intervention is necessary now that the pandemic has struck."EFN requires a field hospital with medical supports to provide in-community isolation and treatment, since there is no adequate infrastructure or housing options for membership to self-isolate," Yesno said in a statement. "... EFN Chief and Council are not willing to wait around as limited resources are expended and under-resourced nurses at the local clinic are suddenly faced with life and death triage decisions."Yesno said the field hospital should have the capacity to isolate and treat between 50 and 100 patients. The Armed Forces did not immediately respond to request for comment.The community is also calling on governments to establish a testing centre, along with the staff and kits needed to make it operational. Neither the Department of National Defence nor the Ontario Ministry of Health immediately responded to request for comment.Eabametoong is one of the communities comprising the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a collection of 49 First Nations spanning about two thirds of the province.NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said the local COVID-19 patient recently returned to Eabametoong from Thunder Bay, where cases of the virus have already been confirmed.He said the man is self-isolating at home, but said the emergence of the virus is sounding alarms across NAN territory."This makes it even more real for all of us," Fiddler said in a telephone interview from Thunder Bay. "The urgency of it all, and the importance of our communities to continue practising what we've been told by public health experts."But Fiddler said heeding that advice is more difficult in Indigenous communities than elsewhere in Canada.The time-honoured advice to wash hands regularly, he said, will be difficult to follow in Eabametoong, which has been under a boil-water advisory since 2001.Self-isolation, too, poses a problem in communities plagued by housing shortages and chronic overcrowding.Fiddler said numerous NAN communities are looking into converting empty classrooms and vacant community centres into spaces where prospective patients could be kept isolated if needed.But public health officials warned that even with preventative measures in place, the medical system serving northern communities does not have the capacity to deal with the crushing load COVID-19 has placed on other parts of Canada's health-care apparatus.Dr. Natalie Bocking, a physician with the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, said most Indigenous communities wrestle with a shortage of personnel and equipment at the best of times. No communities, for instance, currently have ventilators on-hand.During a pandemic, she said, those shortages will be exacerbated and an already vulnerable population will face a heightened threat."Communities like Eabametoong experience a disproportionate burden of other chronic health conditions that put them at higher risk of becoming more sick with the virus," she said. "The worst-case scenario we are concerned about where there are multiple people getting quite sick without the care that they need."Bocking and Fiddler both said talks are underway with various levels of government to secure key supplies, including the personal protective equipment that's currently scarce across the province.Premier Doug Ford said Monday that Ontario is at risk of depleting its stock of masks, gowns, gloves and other gear within a week without a renewal of supplies.Canada's top doctor, meanwhile, acknowledged that the public health advice guiding the rest of the country can't be applied in the same way across Canada's Indigenous communities."We've issued guidance for public health actions in more remote and rural settings as well, and those do have to be adapted to the realities of what's on the ground," Dr. Theresa Tam told a Monday news conference without providing specific details of how guidelines have been revised.Bocking said health authorities have received acknowledgment that self-isolation is not possible in many homes in remote communities, such as three-bedroom houses with as many as 20 people living in them. Such messages, she said, have shaped conversations about how to create additional spaces for self-isolation.Fiddler said remote communities are increasingly concerned about the potential spread of COVID-19, which has surfaced in a number of cities that serve as key gateways to more remote First Nations. He said those include northern urban centres such as Timmins, Sioux Lookout and Dryden.The sorts of physical distancing measures that have transformed daily life across much of the country, he said, have taken hold in more remote areas over the past week-and-a-half."There's a growing sense that this is a real threat to our communities," he said. "We have to do everything we can to try and prevent it."This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2020.Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

  • Health
    The Canadian Press

    US company poised to start COVID-19 vaccine safety test

    A second U.S. company is poised to begin a small safety test of a vaccine against the new coronavirus.Inovio Pharmaceuticals said Monday that it has Food and Drug Administration permission for the study in 40 healthy volunteers in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri.The study is a first step to see if the vaccine appears safe enough for larger tests needed to prove whether it will protect. Even if the research goes well, it is expected to take over a year before any vaccine could be widely available.Last month, the first safety test in people of a different vaccine candidate began in Seattle. It was developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc.Numerous other research groups are attempting to make vaccines against COVID-19 using a variety of different methods in hopes at least one will offer protection.Inovio’s approach is what’s called a DNA vaccine, made using a section of the virus’ genetic code packaged inside a piece of synthetic DNA.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.The Associated Press

  • Should you wear a mask to prevent COVID-19? What experts say
    Yahoo News Canada 360

    Should you wear a mask to prevent COVID-19? What experts say

    The use of a mask is one of the most divisive issues for countries battling the spread of coronavirus. While some have managed to flatten the curve with mandatory mask-wearing orders, other countries are staying away from mandates to conserve the supply of medical equipment.

  • Ontario has only 1 week supply of 'critical' protective equipment left, premier says

    Ontario has only 1 week supply of 'critical' protective equipment left, premier says

    Ontario currently has just one week's worth of critical personal protective equipment for front-line health-care workers stockpiled, Premier Doug Ford said Monday.Ford said American officials recently stopped an order of around three million masks from coming to Ontario, but 500,000 N95 masks are being released today.Those 500,000 masks "will buy us another week," Ford said to reporters Monday."The hard truth is, our supplies in Ontario are getting very low," he said.Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration ordered key suppliers based in the U.S. to stop exporting protective equipment, drawing backlash from other leaders and from 3M, which produces N95 masks.Ford said he's feeling more optimistic that Canada will be exempted from Trump's order, after recent conversations with the U.S. Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland."We're putting pressure on the U.S. government from all sides," said Ford, who says they are "reaching out to everyone in the world" to try to secure equipment.The premier said they are "grateful for anything we can get out of the U.S."Mask production approved in Vaughan, Ont.Ford also said Health Canada has approved Woodbridge Auto in Vaughan, Ont. to produce N96 respirator masks  calling it "good news." He did not have a date for when they would be ready, but said production would be "ramping up."In an earlier statement, Ford said while Ontario-based manufacturers have started focusing on making personal protective equipment (PPE), much of it is still "weeks away" from being in the hands of health-care workers.Ford mentioned that Quebec is sanitizing and re-using masks. While Ontario is not "at that point right now," he said they are thinking about doing the same. Ontario is "desperately" counting on shipments the province has placed through the federal government's bulk purchasing program, Ford said.However, the premier concluded saying he is confident the province will get the necessary supplies."There is light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "We are going to get through this."ANGSTOntario hospital intensive care units now have nearly 2,000 beds equipped with ventilators to help care for COVID-19 patients, a nearly 50 per cent increase from March, according to data obtained by CBC News. On Monday, Ford also said the province is getting 900,000 COVID-19 testing kits from Spartan Bioscience.Emergency responders can see if people have COVID-19Meanwhile, the Ontario government issued a new emergency order that allows police, firefighters and paramedics to see if people they are coming into contact with have tested positive for COVID-19.The government says this is to allow emergency responders to protect themselves and the public, and help stop the spread of the virus."The information disclosed will be limited to an individual's name, address, date of birth, and whether the individual has had a positive COVID-19 test result," a statement said."Strict protocols will be enforced to limit access to this information and will only be used to allow first responders to take appropriate safety precautions to protect themselves and the communities they serve."First responders will not be able to access this information after the emergency declaration is over, the government said.309 new COVID-19 cases in OntarioEarlier Monday, Ontario confirmed 309 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 4,347. Monday's new case numbers are the lowest since March 31, said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of healthThe official tally includes 132 deaths, however CBC News has counted 150 deaths province-wide based on data reported by local public health units. Williams said he would like to be optimistic about the lower case count, but it's too soon to jump to any conclusions."One day is only one day," he said.Test backlog drops to 329Ontario's test backlog has dropped to just 329 — though some infectious disease experts have been critical of Ontario's testing capacity. The province has the lowest per capita testing rates in Canada. "We need to do better, we need to rapidly expand our testing. Not just in hospitals, but in out-of-hospitals settings as well," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto.Ontario public health officials have previously said they hope to be completing more than 5,000 tests per day in the near future. Over the last week, the province has been doing fewer than 4,000 tests per day. With less of a backlog, Yaffe said the province can increase testing.They are currently determining the priority groups, she said, such as long-term care residents and health-care workers.Assessment centres know there is now more testing capacity, Yaffe said, and are encouraged to test people they are concerned about.Watch: An infectious disease specialist says Ontario needs to rapidly scale up its testing capacityThe data reported today provides a snapshot of COVID-19 in Ontario as of 4 p.m. ET Sunday.Some 1,624 cases are now considered resolved, or about 37 per cent of all cases reported. Of the total cases in the province: * 589 people have been hospitalized (that's 66 more than the previous update). * 216 are in intensive care units (16 more than last update). * 160 are on ventilators (6 more than last update).At least 451 health-care workers in Ontario have tested positive for COVID-19, representing about 10 per cent of all cases in the provincePublic health units in the Greater Toronto Area account for more than 50 per cent of Ontario's COVID-19 cases.Online learning starts at schools this weekMeanwhile, online learning was set to start at schools across the province Monday to ensure students get some form of education during the COVID-19 crisis.School boards have been preparing for weeks to ensure that parents have devices and internet connections so students can take part.Some schools in the province began assigning work last week.Education Minister Stephen Lecce is asking parents to particularly help younger students through the transition. Parents can now apply for the government's previously-announced one-time support payments of $200 per child up to age 12, and $250 for those up to age 21 years of age with special needs, Ford noted Monday.More long-term care deathsPublic health officials east of Toronto say six COVID-19 patients at a long-term care home in Oshawa have died.The Durham Region Health Department says 21 others at Hillsdale Terraces are confirmed to have the novel coronavirus.Durham has seen 15 deaths in COVID-19 patients thus far, and seven have been in long-term care facilities.At least 46 long-term care facilities in Ontario have been hard hit by the virus, most notably Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon.As many as 26 residents of the 65-bed facility have died of COVID-19, while at least 24 staff members have also tested positive for the virus. Outbreak in Hamilton unit for premature babiesA hospital in Hamilton declared a COVID-19 outbreak after three of its health-care workers in the special care nursery tested positive.St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton has tested one baby and mother for COVID-19 and is the process of contacting two other families whose infants may have been exposed."No babies or parents in the unit are symptomatic. All are being monitored closely," the health unit said in a statement.One person had no direct contact with patients or families, while the other two had either limited contact or contact while wearing a protective mask. Neither were symptomatic while caring for the babies or family, the statement said."Contact tracing is underway to ensure all babies, family members and staff/physicians who had direct contact with the positive health-care workers are tested and appropriate measures will be taken to limit transmission," the statement said.The hospital has created a designated space for infants who may have been exposed, and the unit is being deep-cleaned, the health unit said.COVID-19 cases in remote First NationA remote First Nation in northern Ontario says it is the first such community in the region with a confirmed case of COVID-19.The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority says someone has tested positive in Eabametoong First Nation, also known as Fort Hope First Nation.The agency says this development is not unexpected, but highlights the unique challenges in dealing with a pandemic in First Nations.Health officials are recommending limiting all non-essential travel in and out of communities, with both road and air entrances under monitoring.1 of Canada's highest-profile court cases delayedA long-awaited murder trial was supposed to begin today but has now been delayed indefinitely.Alek Minassian, the man accused in the Yonge Street van attack that was carried out nearly two years ago, faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.The trial was scheduled to begin in front of a judge alone. However, COVID-19 has closed Ontario's courts, forcing Minassian's trial and many others to be rescheduled.Minassian's lawyer told CBC News that he can't predict when the trial will get underway, and he understands the uncertainty is hard for victims."I'm sure that there are a lot of victims and families who would like to get this matter dealt with as quickly as possible," said Boris Bytensky.  "The impacts on the victims are not lost on me, I don't think they are lost on anybody so for their sake I hope we can get this back as quickly as possible."The judge has said the case will turn on Minassian's state of mind at the time of the attack, as it's already certain he was behind the wheel.

  • Landslide closes Beachy Cove Road in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

    Landslide closes Beachy Cove Road in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

    A section of the waterfront along Beachy Cove Road in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's is closed after a landslide Sunday night.A worker on the Bell Island ferry heard a loud noise and saw something moving on the shoreline, according to local fire chief Fred Hollett.A significant chunk of land had caved into the water, leaving a hazardous scene for first responders."One of the power poles was left essentially hanging from the wires," Hollett said.Firefighters later handed the scene over to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and to Newfoundland Power.On Monday morning, barriers blocked the road from the Bell Island ferry terminal to West Point Road. Hollett said Newfoundland Power expects to be there most of the day, trying to find a way to fix the dangling pole."The problem they have is where that specific pole was sitting, there's no ground there now to set a pole in," Hollett said.People needing to reach the other side have to go around Old Broad Cove Road. Newfoundland Power is not reporting any outages in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's as a result of the slide.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • 'He loved the north': La Ronge community-builder Ron Mackay dies at 85

    'He loved the north': La Ronge community-builder Ron Mackay dies at 85

    Ron Mackay, who owned and operated Red's Camps in La Ronge for decades, has died at the age of 85 due to complications from COVID-19.His son Scott Mackay said he died early in the morning on March 31.Since then, Scott and his wife Michelle have received more than 300 text messages and calls from well-wishers, including many people they've never met before. Scott said his dad could talk to anyone."He was curious and he had respect for everyone. Everybody had a worth and he brought it out of them."Ron touched the lives of the people and communities everywhere he went.His first job as a resource officer was in Wadena, Sask. There, he started up a hockey league and joined the Kinsmen Club. When they moved to Cumberland House for his work, he got a minor hockey league and senior hockey league started.Ron had the biggest impact in La Ronge, though, where he eventually settled.Ron and his wife Evelyn bought Red's Camps in 1971 and continued to be involved in some form right up until two or three years ago, Scott said.He was on the committee that helped get the Mel Hegland Uniplex built and he helped start the local Kinsmen Club, the chamber of commerce, and the air cadet squadron. He was also a volunteer firefighter for about 20 years, Scott said.It was also at Red's Camps in La Ronge where he played host to celebrities, including Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash."[Jojnny Cash] liked La Ronge, he liked the people," Ron told CBC in 2006.He recalled down-to-earth chats with Cash and Evelyn Mackay said she'll never forget the day she answered a knock at her door and was met by a friendly woman with curlers in her hair."There was June Carter Cash," she said. "'I came to borrow a half a cup of sugar … would that be OK?' I thought that was just wonderful."Ron grew up in Semans, Sask. Ron's dad was a businessman and Ron was a town kid but he was drawn to nature."He was more for the life of adventure," Scott said. "He was out doing what he loved. He was in the field all day every day."Ron's daughter Mikki wrote a few lines for his obituary that Michelle and Scott said captures his spirit."He loved the north, the lake, and his island home. He loved his community, his friends, his politics and people. He loved bagpipes and 'Amazing Grace.' He loved the call of the loons in the quiet of the dawn. He loved his family most of all." 'Please be careful'Ron is survived by his wife Evelyn, his five children, 16 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.Both Ron and his wife Evelyn contracted COVID-19."We really have no idea how my parents contracted it so everybody out there please, please, please be careful," Scott said."The SHA guidelines they're setting out for people, they're there for a reason," Michelle said. "Stay home, don't leave."

  • Snowfall, freezing rain advisory issued for large part of Sask.

    Snowfall, freezing rain advisory issued for large part of Sask.

    A weather system moving in from Montana is expected to make roads treacherous across a wide stretch of Saskatchewan on Monday.In the south, a freezing rain warning was issued for the Swift Current area. Environment Canada said roads would remain an icy hazard until the ice starts melting later today.Further north, central and north-east Saskatchewan was expected to receive anywhere from 10 to 15 centimetres of snow today.Affected areas include Saskatoon, Rosthern, Prince Albert, La Ronge, Melfort, Cumberland House and Hudson Bay.The national weather service said the snow would start Monday morning and intensify by noon.The snow is expected to ease off as the low-pressure system moves into northern Manitoba.Drivers are asked to be extra cautious, especially during rush hour.

  • How to apply for federal COVID-19 benefits

    How to apply for federal COVID-19 benefits

    The federal government has launched a website and phone number where Canadians facing unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis can apply for emergency income support benefits.

  • UNB mathematics professor uses his expertise to track COVID-19

    UNB mathematics professor uses his expertise to track COVID-19

    A University of New Brunswick mathematics professor is part of an international team of experts trying to figure out how and when COVID-19 will strike, and who's at risk.James Watmough is a member of the Canadian COVID-19 Math Modelling Task Force, which is working to develop mathematical technologies to help in the fight against the coronavirus.He said modelling is being used to come up with predictions of how the virus will spread."If you're infected today we know there's a two week period where you're going to develop the infection and start ... potentially infecting other people," Watmough said."So, how many people can you potentially infect over that two weeks or three weeks, and so those two things together kind of give you a rough idea of how fast and how far the disease will spread."The task force, Watmough explained, is taking into account things such as how COVID-19 symptoms vary from person to person and how infection rates vary from place to place.There are a lot of unknowns right now because some people may have been infected but don't know it, and testing criteria vary from place to place.Watmough said details such as the age of the person and underlying health conditions are also important to factor into any modelling.He hopes the task force will be able to come up with numbers that can help health-care professionals plan for what's coming and determine the earliest dates a state of emergency might be able to be lifted."What can we do to make sure that we can lift all these restrictions and get back to normal without risking [or] over burdening the healthcare system?" he said.As a mathematician, Watmough is thinking about the people behind the numbers he works with every day, and what the models really mean."A two per cent mortality that you hear floating around doesn't seem that high but when you start thinking about how many people you know, and compounding that all together it does get rather scary," he said.The job of the task force is to assess the transmission risk and project outbreak trajectories of COVID-19.And there is still a lot of work to do."You look at these numbers and the real question is, 'When is it going to slow down and turn around?' And there are a lot of interesting factors that play into that."Sanjeev Seahra, professor and chair of UNB's department of mathematics and statistics, is also part of the Canadian COVID-19 Math Modelling Task Force.The research is being funded by a number of groups, including the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

  • What it's like to have COVID-19: Saint Johner breaks silence on illness

    What it's like to have COVID-19: Saint Johner breaks silence on illness

    Kym Murphy was careful. She washed her hands. She practised physical distancing. But the usually healthy, vibrant 54-year-old still contracted COVID-19. "I was so careful with hand washing," said Murphy, a motorcycle enthusiast and mother of one who works as a school bus driver in Greater Saint John. "I didn't go out. I went on walks with my dog. That's it. I didn't have any contact with anybody."I joked at the beginning that self-isolation wouldn't affect me because I stay home a lot anyhow."Nevertheless, she started experiencing "odd" symptoms on March 19, roughly one week after her last day of work on March 13. "It started with a congested headache," she said. Throbbing pain radiated from the back of her head up to her temples. Her mouth, throat and eyes were bone-dry. "I started to get extremely tired and achy with sweats and chills," she said. For the "surreal" week of March 21 to March 29, she struggled to get out of bed.Strange symptomMurphy knew she was sick. But she had none of the symptoms that warrant testing for COVID-19, according to New Brunswick's official diagnostic criteria. "I didn't have the fever, I didn't have shortness of breath, I didn't have the coughing," she said"But I just felt that there was something not right."What finally prompted her to call 811 was a symptom that didn't appear anywhere in the government of New Brunswick information."I could taste and smell nothing," she said. She placed a few drops of tea tree oil on her hand. Her nose barely registered the pungent aroma — a loss of sensation that could be, a friend warned, a symptom of COVID-19."When that happened to me, I called 811," she said. 'I'm going to die by myself'She got an appointment the next day, March 26, at a testing centre on Loch Lomond Road in east Saint John. The centre was like "a tented drive-thru," she said, staffed by security guards and nurses in hazmat suits. She went home still firmly believing she would test negative.  "I thought, I can't wait to get this negative news and get on with my life knowing that I just had a bad flu," she said. Until the following day. The phone rang. It was Public Health. "Once she said this is Public Health calling, I've got you on speakerphone and I'm sitting here with a doctor — that's when I knew."The psychological aspect of it was pretty freaky. There were times when I thought, 'Oh my god, when is it going to hit my lungs? I'm going to die by myself. What's going to happen to my son?"That whole gamut."1st community transmission caseMurphy spent "two to three hours" on the phone with Public Health that evening, retracing her every step over the past several weeks. Did she contract the virus on one of her walks with her dog, Lili Marlene? From touching a door handle? A stray cough from someone on the street? Murphy will likely never know. She said officials told her she was New Brunswick's "first case of community transmission.""They called me the province's puzzle," she said. "They can't figure out where I contacted it from."She didn't receive any prescriptions. No puffers. No pills to take. Just a daily phone check-in with a Public Health Nurse, and teas and herbal supplements she took on her own. "They told me to get lots of rest and drink lots of liquids. That was the only advice that I got," she said.She spent the following weeks in quarantine, not leaving the house for any reason. Re-testing concernsShe wants people to know the symptoms of COVID-19 aren't as clear-cut as many people believe."I'm quite shocked that even now when you go on the website, and you do the self-assessment, that [more] symptoms aren't there."Murphy is also concerned about re-testing for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 after their period of self-isolation ends. Murphy said Public Health advised her that her isolation would end on April 4. When asked when she would be re-tested, she said the nurse informed her Public Health was "not doing that anymore."A request to New Brunswick's Department of Public Health for comment was not immediately returned. "I'm not happy about that," Murphy said. "I don't want to go back out into the world without the certainty that I have tested negative." 'People are terrified'Murphy also experienced firsthand the stigma toward people with COVID-19. Sick in her bed at home, she scrolled through Facebook comments suggesting people who get the virus are "careless, or stupid, or travelled, or didn't practise the necessary precautions.""That is not the case. I was very careful."When Dr. Jennifer Russell announced on March 31 that community transmission had been confirmed in New Brunswick, Murphy was disturbed to see people "demanding to know where patients lived, demanding to know how people could be so careless.""There's ignorance, there's lack of understanding. People are terrified," she said. Despite her ordeal, Murphy considers herself lucky on two fronts. Before she called 811, the province had just announced "that they were starting to do wider testing," she said. "And so I think I was just one of the lucky ones to slip in under that format," she said.Second, she said, the ordeal has given her a "new sense of positivity about my life. Maybe I'll get more done, who knows."Murphy wants to go public with her private medical information to urge compassion toward people sick with COVID-19. "More than any other time that I've ever seen in my life, it's so important that we have compassion for one another," she said."There's a minority of people out there who aren't taking it seriously and they create this negative idea that careless people are transmitting this crazy disease," she said. "That's not the case. I really want people to understand that."

  • Banff seniors treated to delivery of high-end meals as shuttered restaurant gives back to community

    Banff seniors treated to delivery of high-end meals as shuttered restaurant gives back to community

    With zero tourism or visitors, Banff's economy has been "decimated" by a nearly complete shutdown of its businesses. But even after laying off nearly 90 per cent of its staff, one restaurant is giving back, providing high-end comfort food to those in need. The mountain town is experiencing up to an 85 per cent unemployment rate as businesses and people react to ordered closures and self-isolation directives, according to MLA Miranda Rosin."That entire economy has really crumbled in the last couple weeks," said the provincial representative for Banff-Kananaskis. "To not have any tourism or any visitors has completely decimated every business in town."But in the close-knit community, even hard-hit businesses are trying to help neighbours.The Grizzly House, an iconic lodge-style building on Banff Avenue, had to lay off 56 employees — many of them long-term staff — keeping just eight as the restaurant closed its doors. The restaurant has been serving its famous fondue for more than 50 years, and on March 17, general manager Francis Hopkins had to close the doors and say goodbye to staff."People raised families while working here," said Hopkins. Determined to make the best of a bad situation, the GM and owner went to the town to see how the Grizzly House and its fully functional but idle kitchen could help.The Town of Banff provided Hopkins a list of 50 people, many of them seniors, who would benefit from a comfort food meal delivered every other day.Sunday night's supper included roasted pork with stuffing and apple sauce, mashed potatoes and glazed carrots. Hopkins says they are feeling the love."It's amazing for us, we feel almost selfish for how uplifting and positive it is," says Hopkins.Restaurants, ski hill, hotels and other businesses in Banff have laid off about 5,000 people, according to Leslie Bruce president and CEO of Banff Lake Louise Tourism.The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, one of the town's largest employers, laid off 75 percent of its staff — 400 employees."This has had an unbelievable, unimaginable impact on people," says Bruce.With the community facing an economic shutdown people like Bruce are turning their minds to what a rebuild will look like. Bruce says travel is a force for good connecting people and she feels strongly, it will come back. But the new culture around connection and physical contact could have long term effects on places like Banff."How do we rebuild trust, how do we feel safe to travel, how do we feel safe to share a meal or a cup of coffee again?" says Bruce."It's not just going to be flipping a switch or turning the tap back on, we're going to have to figure out what's the best way to do this."'Elk poop on every sidewalk'Banff typically attracts about four million tourists a year.Right now, without visitors and a population of less than 10,000 and orders to stay home, the community, according to Rosin is "completely desolate.""It looks like a ghost town."But there is an increase in some foot —or hoof — traffic. The townsfolk say deer, elk and other wildlife are taking over Banff's main streets."There's elk poop on every sidewalk," says Hopkins. Hopkins says he fully intends to re-open the Grizzly House and hire back his staff. "It's not the right time for the people of Alberta to come here right now but we look forward to welcoming them back; we can't wait for them to come back when the time is right."

  • Anne Tyler talks Baltimore, her new book and social distance
    The Canadian Press

    Anne Tyler talks Baltimore, her new book and social distance

    NEW YORK — After more than 20 books, Anne Tyler still finds ways to challenge herself.Her new novel, “Redhead By the Side of the Road,” is, of course, set in her longtime home of Baltimore and features the family and romantic entanglements and other narrative touches Tyler fans know well. But the story's main character, a self-employed tech consultant/repairman confronting the fallout of decisions made years before, pretty much came out of nowhere.“This is the first book I’ve written where I began with no idea,” Tyler, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist known for “The Accidental Tourist,” “Morgan's Passing” and “Breathing Lessons,” told The Associated Press in a recent email. "I was wracking my brains for something to write about, and a single sentence popped into my head: ‘You have to wonder what goes through the mind of a man like ____ ____.' (I didn’t have a name for him yet.) I was baffled. Why should I have to wonder? I thought, and then up popped the next sentence: ’He lives alone; he keeps to himself . . . '”“The rest of the book was up to me, but at least I was on my way.”The computer man's name is Micah Mortimer. He lives alone and wonders if he's meant to be that way as he alienates his current girlfriend and unexpectedly reconnects with the woman he loved — and drove away — back in college. Tyler tries to minimize politics and topical references in her books, but is quite specific about locations, placing Micah in north Baltimore, in a three-story home near York Road, with an “incongruous front porch” and a “splintery front porch swing that nobody ever sits in.”During her recent AP interview, the 78-year-old Tyler discussed the mind of Micah, the book's tricky title, Baltimore and her life during the coronavirus outbreak.___On Micah, whom she describes in one passage as “narrow and limited” but still aware of the world's horrors, whether the 2018 at a Pittsburgh synagogue or the tragedies along the U.S.-Mexican border:“I found it easy to ‘be’ Micah, so to speak, throughout the book, but especially in that passage. We all have lonesome moments, after all; it’s no stretch to imagine those. But also the events that he’s reflecting upon here — the synagogue shooting, the plight of immigrant children — weigh so heavily on my mind these days, as I imagine they do on everyone’s, that I felt even Micah would have to be affected by them.”___On the book's title, based on a recurring hallucination of Micah's:“Several times I mistook the same object for another on my morning walk, although you’d think I would have learned after the first time. The experience started me thinking: How many other mistakes, more serious mistakes, do we repeat in the course of our lives? How often do we fail to realize that they were mistakes, even? I thought it would be fun to explore the issue.”___On life in Baltimore:"I guess it’s no secret that Baltimore is going through a hard spell. And yet it’s such a kindhearted city, paradoxical though that sounds. Just about everyone here, across all classes and cultures, behaves with grace and patience. Watch some trying episode in, say, a supermarket checkout line — a customer taking too long counting coins or a cashier who doesn’t know his produce codes. Baltimoreans stand by quietly, or they try to help out if they can. Not even an eye-roll! I think this has an influence on my writing. In such surroundings, how could I possibly invent a mean-spirited character?___On how Micah would handle social distancing?“I think he would have handled it the way I have. First I thought, `Oh, well, never mind; I basically shelter in place anyhow, and I already know about working from home — how you have to be sure and change out of your pyjamas.' But then after a few days I thought, `Oh. Wait a minute. I’m surprised at how often now I feel the need to step out on my front stoop and start a conversation with a passing neighbour.'___On how the book, completed well before the pandemic, might read now:“I haven’t read the book since the virus began. A friend asked recently, though, how I’d known to write pages 94-95, so I checked to see what she meant. Lo and behold, there was Micah on his early-morning run fantasizing, briefly, that the empty streets were due to some global disaster and he was the last person left alive. Then he comes upon two women talking up a storm together, and he’s extremely pleased to see them. I relate to that scene now much more than when I wrote it.”___On writing while sheltering in place:“For the first few days, I seemed to keep writing the same three pages over and over again. I just had a general feeling of distractedness. Eventually, though, I did sink back into my work. I happened to be writing about an Easter dinner with a lot of people attending, some of them behaving a bit snarkily with each other. I thought, Oh, now I remember why I write. I write because it makes me happy.”``As for whether the virus will turn up in my next book: Well, generally I don’t think current events make for very good literature. They have to mellow for a while. We need a little distance to see them for what they are."Hillel Italie, The Associated Press

  • Migrant workers fear massive Singapore dormitory lockdown is coronavirus time bomb

    Migrant workers fear massive Singapore dormitory lockdown is coronavirus time bomb

    Migrant workers living in vast Singapore dormitories cut off from the outside world due to the coronavirus outbreak fear their cramped and squalid quarters are fast becoming a hotbed for infection. Singapore on Sunday said it had quarantined nearly 20,000 workers in two dormitories, made up of mainly Bangladeshi and other South Asian manual workers, after they were linked to at least 90 infections. The government said the action was needed to prevent broader transmission in the city-state - which is closing schools and offices this week due to a spike in cases - and said it had taken measures to reduce worker interaction in the dormitories and ensure they received salary, meals and medical support.

  • Coronavirus has forced Albertans online but rural communities are feeling left behind

    Coronavirus has forced Albertans online but rural communities are feeling left behind

    While many are logging on to stay connected online, many Albertans are being left behind in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.In Twin Butte, Christy Newcomen-Randall said it took years of troubleshooting to get a reliable internet plan to fit her family's needs.But now she's home with her husband who needs a connection for work and three children all trying to access class online."It's just frustrating," Newcomen-Randall said, "Knowing that, you know, kids who live in town or have availability of better internet. They're at more of an advantage than, you know, kids that live in rural areas."Because of where they live, the best option so far has been a wireless internet hub — which means connecting to the internet over cell networks. These hubs are more common in rural settings because they don't require the same infrastructure that fibre or cable would.> We haven't moved fast enough … we're still leaving a lot of Canadians behind across the country. \- Barb Carra, CyberaBut just like a cellphone connection, hubs aren't always reliable because they depend on a line of sight from the infrastructure delivering that signal. And, unlike other forms of internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic, some users with these services haven't had their usage caps eliminated."Providing unlimited usage to all Turbo Hub, Turbo Stick and MiFi customers would put wireless network performance at risk during a critical time for Canadians," Bell's website reads.Newcomen-Randall said they were already paying a lot for their internet before the pandemic hit. On the family cellphone plan they have unlimited data, but they get ramped-down speeds once they hit a 40-gigabyte threshold — speeds that would remind urban users of the pre-high-speed internet era, where movies could take hours to download and streaming is out of the question. Once that kicks in, the kids won't even be able to load a photo in a timely fashion, let alone use Google Hangouts or other online-learning tools.She said now, if it comes to it, her family will be hopping into a car, devices in hand, to snag some wireless in Pincher Creek, more than 20 kilometres away."I'm hoping it doesn't come to that though," she said. Most rural communities don't have adequate accessIn 2016, the CRTC declared broadband internet a basic telecommunications service. The national regulator ordered internet providers work toward boosting internet service and speeds in rural areas.The CRTC created a $750-million fund to partner with companies with a goal to close the so-called digital divide. In 10 to 15 years, the CRTC strives to give all Canadians access to internet with speeds of 50 megabits (Mbps) per second for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads.In 2016, roughly 18 per cent of Canadians didn't have access to those speeds or data.Currently, 60 per cent of rural communities don't have adequate internet access, according to the CRTC.Barb Carra is the president and CEO of Cybera, an Alberta-based not-for-profit overseeing the development of Alberta's cyber-infrastructure. She says the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting a known issue: cities are fibre and infrastructure rich, and there is a lot of choice to meet consumers' needs but outside of city centres choice is limited.Now, more than ever, Carra said connectivity is important, especially as distance learning becomes the new normal during the pandemic.And in more rural settings, the smaller providers don't have access to the resources and cash flow it takes to scale up quickly."We haven't moved fast enough … we're still leaving a lot of Canadians behind across the country," Carra said. "It's almost a call to action. If there's ever a time to actually make some changes. You know, you never waste a crisis."Carra said now is the time for everyone to get involved in some short and long-term solutions, government and community alike. She said funding needs to be opened up, and there need to be measures to get people online and connected."You'll see things like parking lot WiFi, initiatives pop up across the province … allowing students to go to parking lots and quickly download what they need to their devices, and then take it home and do their homework," Carra said "Those aren't long-term solutions." Newcomen-Randall said she wants the government to step in and help families like hers."It's really frustrating like, with everything that's going on, right now with kids being home, my husband working from home, you know, the fear of getting sick and all that, like, it just I don't feel like this should be on our list of stress — but it is."

  • Health

    What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on April 6, 2020

    THE LATEST: * B.C. recorded 63 new cases over a 48-hour time period, and one additional death. * A total of 1,266. COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in B.C. * 783 of those cases have recovered from the illness. * 140 patients are hospitalized, with 72 in intensive care. * 39 people have died. * 23 long-term care homes now have cases, along with two B.C. prisons. * The City of Vancouver has made 14,300 visits to businesses to make sure they're following public health orders. * One business licence has been suspended in Vancouver and 19 orders to comply have been issued. * Monday will see further reductions in TransLink service.B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 63 new coronavirus cases in the province on Monday, bringing the total number of identified cases to 1,266.The update reflects two 24-hour time periods, with 26 new cases recorded between Saturday and Sunday, and 37 new cases recorded between Sunday and Monday.One more person has died from the virus. As of Monday afternoon there were 140 people in hospital in B.C., with 72 people in intensive care.The application portal for the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit is now open for eligible Canadians who have lost their income because of COVID-19. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 240,000 people had already successfully applied for the benefit within the first few hours after the process opened Monday morning.The emergency financial aid offers $2,000 a month for up to four months to help businesses and families struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic, including those not eligible for EI, contract employees and freelancers.The application window has been staggered by birth month. People born in January, February and March can apply Monday. People with birthdays later in the year will have their days later this week.Speaking just after 8 a.m. PT, the prime minister said changes will be announced in "coming days" to offer help for people who aren't currently eligible for the CERB, such as students and people whose hours have been reduced but not cut entirely."There are groups of people who aren't benefitting from the [CERB] who probably should," Trudeau said.B.C. must stay committed to distancing: Dr. Bonnie HenryHenry said that B.C.'s curve appears to be flattening, with the percentage of cases no longer increasing daily.She said this tentative bit of good news is thanks to luck, timing and early preparation on B.C.'s part. She said B.C. recorded some of the earliest cases of COVID-19 in the country and was able to implement measures earlier on.But Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix urged B.C. residents to remain steadfast in their commitment to social distancing, especially as temperatures rise and a number of religious holidays come up over the long weekend.Henry also announced an additional outbreak in a federal correctional facility in B.C.With the goal of physical distancing in mind, the City of Vancouver says staff have made 14,300 visits to local businesses to make sure they're complying with public health orders. Staff have issued 19 orders to comply with those orders, and suspended the licence of one business.Meanwhile, they've also completed 500 inspections of construction sites, and handed out nine warnings about keeping workers at a distance from each other.Transportation reductionsStarting Monday, there will be a further reduction of transit services in Metro Vancouver on bus and SeaBus due to plunging ridership and financial pressure. The SeaBus will only run every 30 minutes, all day long, instead of the usual 15-minute intervalsAs of Wednesday, West Coast Express Train 4 will be cancelled. Buses with very low ridership will have reduced service.Further passenger limits for BC FerriesThe federal government is bringing in further measures to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 on commercial passenger vessels and ferries.Ferries and essential passenger vessel operators are to immediately reduce the maximum number of passengers carried on board by half in an effort to comply with physical distancing rules.Transport Canada said operators will also implement alternative practices to reduce the spread of the virus, such as keeping people in their vehicles.It said the measures will be in place until at least June 30.BC Ferries chopped its service by half this weekend after it said ridership was down by 80 per cent.In response, Harbour Air said it is resuming daily flights between downtown Vancouver and Nanaimo to bridge the service gap. A statement said the flights are only to "support essential travel for a community that now has limited options" and anyone who does not need to travel should stay home. Top stories todayImportant reminders:Health officials widely agree the most important thing you can do to prevent coronavirus and other illnesses is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. The World Health Organization said more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are estimated to be mild.What's happening elsewhere in CanadaThere are now more than 15,800 test-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, with cases recorded in every province and territory except Nunavut. As of 7:30 a.m. PT on Monday, CBC News has counted a total of 307 COVID-19 related deaths in Canada. The provinces and territories that offer information on people who have recovered listed more than 3,280 COVID-19 cases as resolved.The numbers, which are updated at least daily by the provinces and territories, are not a complete picture, as they don't account for people who haven't been tested, those being investigated as a potential case and people still waiting for test results. For a look at what's happening across the country and the world, check the CBC interactive case tracker.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Stay home. Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep at least two metres away from people who are sick. * When outside the home, keep two metres away from other people. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Masks won't fully protect you from infection, but can help prevent you from infecting others.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at

  • Father says lack of internet access at rural home hurting daughters' education

    Father says lack of internet access at rural home hurting daughters' education

    Gord Hiebert says he's tried to get the internet installed at his house — roughly 18 kilometres outside of Saskatoon — numerous times.But because he's in a rural area, it has either been too slow or too costly. While some service providers, including SaskTel, have said the installation is possible, Hiebert says he was told it would require the installation of a 20-foot tower on his house — something he worries may be toppled by the Saskatchewan wind, which blows fiercely around his Valley Road home, or cause damage to his roof.The installation also comes with a hefty price-tag. Hiebert said it would have cost him hundreds of dollars, as he would have to cover the cost of equipment, travel and installation.Using the hotspot on his cell phone, he's been able to circumvent the issue, allowing his two daughters to access the internet when he gets home from work. But now, with some students across Saskatchewan continuing their education remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he says the lack of internet access is hurting his daughters' education. "It makes me feel like my kids are being discriminated against, really," said Hiebert, whose children attend the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.Hiebert said he wants his children to take advantage of the remote learning framework but he has concerns about making his daughters start their school days in the evening, a time he says is usually reserved for family."I want to spend a little time with them," he said. "If they've got a full day of school work to do, I don't want them to start it at 6 o'clock when I get home from work. So yeah, it's tough for them." Hiebert said he would be open to seeing technology, like internet-enabled laptops, deployed to families who want to participate in the province's voluntary learning framework, but don't have access to internet or technology."There should be one for every kid and there should be internet available for every kid," he said. Hiebert said he's recently received emails from the Catholic school division detailing what his children's education plan will look like. These included an email asking parents what kind of access they have to technology. In a statement from the GSCS, the division said while supplemental learning plans do have a "heavy online component," it recognizes that "access to the internet is a barrier for a significant number of students." "That is why plans include multiple modes of communication and access to learning. Teachers and staff are in the process of determining access and needs of each student and developing plans accordingly," said the statement. "We're in the early stages of this and don't have solutions for every scenario yet." In the statement, the GSCS said paper copies of lesson plans and assignments are an option for those without internet access, noting they are working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority to ensure safe handling of physical copies.The division notes it has already started lending out tablets and Chromebooks to some students, and is working with service providers to ensure families without Internet access are able to go online. "If parents have concerns about access to learning, we ask that they contact their teacher or school directly to find solutions and ensure all students have access to learning," the GSCS said in the statement. The Saskatoon Public School Division, the province's largest, has also started to gauge how much access its students have to technology, with teachers already reaching out to families."That is the first-order of business that we are doing," said the division's deputy director of education, Shane Skjerven. Using data collected by teachers, Skjerven said the division hopes to have a solid idea about access levels by early this week and will be working with its staff in education technology to develop a plan around access for students. Skjerven said while the internet is important to education, the division is still examining alternative methods for delivering education. "We don't want to get into a situation where we are unable to provide learning to families that don't have access to technology," he said, noting the school division is examining how to safely deliver different learning methods while following recommendations from health officials.This includes "paper and pencil" learning materials.  "It may not be as fancy," said Skjerven. "But it can still be effective in terms of getting at the learning outcomes that are in our curriculums." He said the change has been a difficult one for everyone involved, including the division's front-line staff and teachers. "Our teachers want to be in the classroom. They want to be working with students. They cherish the opportunity to get to do that everyday," he said. "Now that they don't have the opportunity to do that face-to-face, I think it is something our folks are a little bit disappointed [about]." However, the division understands the public health orders are in place for everyone's protection and says they want to make sure they're following the recommendations fully.For Hiebert, he says the dispatching of technology to students might address issues around accessibility in the short-term, but SaskTel, a Crown corporation, should be doing more to ensure all of Saskatchewan's residents have access to the internet."We — as a province — we own SaskTel. Why do we not have better infrastructure for our rural communities? It's terrible," he said. "A lot of the rural communities, they paid the bills to build SaskTel." SaskTel said in a statement to CBC that it understands how important internet access is for its customers during this time. The statement said since 2010, it's invested roughly $3 billion in its networks, technologies and services, noting its internet coverage reaches 99 per cent of the population using both wired and wireless technology. While SaskTel offers wired access to 450 communities in Saskatchewan, there are some areas where wired internet is still not an option. In these cases, SaskTel will use its wireless network for internet access, but this requires "line of sight" between the customer and a tower. "In cases where there are obstacles between the end customer and the tower (such as terrain, trees, and/or man-made structures) it could be necessary for a customer to erect a small tower to ensure their equipment can acquire and maintain 'line of sight' with the tower," the statement said. The Crown corporation also said it will waive domestic data overage fees for all wireless services from March 17 to April 30, because the pandemic has caused customers to rely heavily on home internet connections.In a statement, the Ministry of Education said individual divisions are responsible for developing supplemental learning plans for their students. While the Ministry of Education says models of delivering instruction could include anything from paper and phone calls to "sophisticated online environments," the divisions will determine what methods will be used to meet the needs of their students.

  • Health

    'This is not the time': Heiltsuk Nation tells yachters they can't visit during COVID-19 pandemic

    Despite daily exhortations from health-care officials to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and repeated pleas by remote communities to stay away, the Heiltsuk Nation on B.C.'s Central Coast says travellers in yachts and sailboats are still trying to access their shores — and being turned away.On March 27, the Heiltsuk issued a bylaw banning non-residents and non-Heiltsuk from entering their territory, including Bella Bella, to avoid bringing infection into the community. Essential workers including health-care staff are exempt.On Saturday, the First Nation turned away two sailboats en route to Alaska, and have stopped other vessels from docking, said Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett."I know that people are scared and trying to find a place of refuge, and maybe get away from the urban centres, but our community of Bella Bella is highly vulnerable to a COVID-19 outbreak," she said."This is not the time to visit Bella Bella."Many small communities have pleaded with travellers not to come during the COVID-19 pandemic, from cottage country, to coastal getaways, to vulnerable First Nations communities. Slett says for her community, the travel restriction isn't a request, but a bylaw under Heiltsuk self-governance, and it will be enforced.One of the pleasure crafts looking for supplies did get groceries delivered by a neighbouring community, she said, but was not allowed to stop in Bella Bella."They were provided with our bylaws and our travel restrictions, and we have our guardians out there monitoring, and certainly our community is taking this very seriously."'Confusion, panic and fear'Indigenous communities have every reason to take the pandemic seriously, not just because of limited access to health care and vulnerable elders, but because of a long, difficult history of diseases introduced by outsiders — from smallpox to measles to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic."What we are experiencing in today's time gives me a greater insight into the ... sense of hopelessness and helplessness that our ancestors must have experienced during times of epidemics in the past when many of our people died," said Heiltsuk elder Pauline Waterfall, 76, in a video posted this week.Waterfall said her mother heard stories from her grandmother about the Spanish flu, and how so many people died each day that proper burials couldn't be done.She "described this time as utter chaos, confusion, panic and fear," said Waterfall.There are no cases of COVID-19 recorded in Bella Bella to date.However, there are only 10 hospital beds available in the community of 1,400 people, if the virus does spread there."While we have a stellar medical team in place, our health-care system will collapse if an epidemic hits our community," said Waterfall.Slett said contingency plans are being made — including taking over the community school gym for patients, should it be needed — but outsiders should know there's little health care available, and an urgent air ambulance to Vancouver takes more than an hour.Watch Heiltsuk community leaders share advice on social distancing:Heiltsuk leaders are also telling their own people to self-isolate for 14 days when they return to the community, and avoid trips to Port Hardy for groceries — or any other non-essential travel — instead relying on BC Ferries to bring supplies in weekly by freight.BC Ferries is still travelling to Bella Bella and other coastal communities, at winter service levels, but with a warning to travellers to check advisories from local communities, including Bella Bella, before visiting.Pacific Coastal Airlines, which normally serves Bella Bella, has suspended flights on all routes until May 2.Slett says so far, the people turned away from Bella Bella have understood."It's a hard thing for us to do, be we are thinking of everybody's safety."

  • Police cracking down on physical distancing violations

    Police cracking down on physical distancing violations

    Police and bylaw enforcement officers are issuing tickets to people and businesses who are not complying with physical distancing rules meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Walmart security guard run over by man frustrated by COVID-19 measures

    Walmart security guard run over by man frustrated by COVID-19 measures

    A security guard at a Walmart in Sherbrooke, Que., is in critical condition after being hit by a driver frustrated by the store's COVID-19 prevention measures.