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WASHINGTON — Older people remain most at risk of dying as the new coronavirus continues its rampage around the globe, but they’re far from the only ones vulnerable. One of many mysteries: Men seem to be faring worse than women.And as cases skyrocket in the U.S. and Europe, it’s becoming more clear that how healthy you were before the pandemic began plays a key role in how you fare regardless of how old you are.The majority of people who get COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms. But “majority” doesn't mean “all," and that raises an important question: Who should worry most that they'll be among the seriously ill? While it will be months before scientists have enough data to say for sure who is most at risk and why, preliminary numbers from early cases around the world are starting to offer hints.NOT JUST THE OLD WHO GET SICKSenior citizens undoubtedly are the hardest hit by COVID-19. In China, 80% of deaths were among people in their 60s or older, and that general trend is playing out elsewhere.The graying of the population means some countries face particular risk. Italy has the world’s second oldest population after Japan. While death rates fluctuate wildly early in an outbreak, Italy has reported more than 80% of deaths so far were among those 70 or older.But, “the idea that this is purely a disease that causes death in older people we need to be very, very careful with,” Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, warned.As much as 10% to 15% of people under 50 have moderate to severe infection, he said Friday.Even if they survive, the middle-aged can spend weeks in the hospital. In France, more than half of the first 300 people admitted to intensive care units were under 60.“Young people are not invincible,” WHO's Maria Van Kerkhove added, saying more information is needed about the disease in all age groups.Italy reported that a quarter of its cases so far were among people ages 19 to 50. In Spain, a third are under age 44. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s first snapshot of cases found 29% were ages 20 to 44.Then there’s the puzzle of children, who have made up a small fraction of the world’s case counts to date. But while most appear only mildly ill, in the journal Pediatrics researchers traced 2,100 infected children in China and noted one death, a 14-year-old, and that nearly 6% were seriously ill.Another question is what role kids have in spreading the virus: “There is an urgent need for further investigation of the role children have in the chain of transmission,” researchers at Canada’s Dalhousie University wrote in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.THE RISKIEST HEALTH CONDITIONSPut aside age: Underlying health plays a big role. In China, 40% of people who required critical care had other chronic health problems. And there, deaths were highest among people who had heart disease, diabetes or chronic lung diseases before they got COVID-19.Preexisting health problems also can increase risk of infection, such as people who have weak immune systems including from cancer treatment.Other countries now are seeing how pre-pandemic health plays a role, and more such threats are likely to be discovered. Italy reported that of the first nine people younger than 40 who died of COVID-19, seven were confirmed to have “grave pathologies” such as heart disease.The more health problems, the worse they fare. Italy also reports about half of people who died with COVID-19 had three or more underlying conditions, while just 2% of deaths were in people with no preexisting ailments.Heart disease is a very broad term, but so far it looks like those most at risk have significant cardiovascular diseases such as congestive heart failure or severely stiffened and clogged arteries, said Dr. Trish Perl, infectious disease chief at UT Southwestern Medical Center.Any sort of infection tends to make diabetes harder to control, but it’s not clear why diabetics appear to be at particular risk with COVID-19.Risks in the less healthy may have something to do with how they hold up if their immune systems overreact to the virus. Patients who die often seemed to have been improving after a week or so only to suddenly deteriorate — experiencing organ-damaging inflammation.As for preexisting lung problems, “this is really happening in people who have less lung capacity,” Perl said, because of diseases such as COPD -- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- or cystic fibrosis.Asthma also is on the worry list. No one really knows about the risk from very mild asthma, although even routine respiratory infections often leave patients using their inhalers more often and they’ll need monitoring with COVID-19, she said. What about a prior bout of pneumonia? Unless it was severe enough to put you on a ventilator, that alone shouldn’t have caused any significant lingering damage, she said.THE GENDER MYSTERYPerhaps the gender imbalance shouldn’t be a surprise: During previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS -- cousins to COVID-19 -- scientists noticed men seemed more susceptible than women.This time around, slightly more than half the COVID-19 deaths in China were among men. Other parts of Asia saw similar numbers. Then Europe, too, spotted what Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus co-ordinator, labeled a concerning trend.In Italy, where men so far make up 58% of infections, male deaths are outpacing female deaths and the increased risk starts at age 50, according to a report from Italy’s COVID-19 surveillance group.The U.S. CDC hasn’t yet released details. But one report about the first nearly 200 British patients admitted to critical care found about two-thirds were male.One suspect: Globally, men are more likely to have smoked more heavily and for longer periods than women. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control is urging research into smoking’s connection to COVID-19.Hormones may play a role, too. In 2017, University of Iowa researchers infected mice with SARS and, just like had happened in people, males were more likely to die. Estrogen seemed protective — when their ovaries were removed, deaths among female mice jumped, the team reported in the Journal of Immunology.—-AP writers Nicole Winfield in Rome, Maria Cheng in London and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.___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.Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press
Whether it was the chilly start to the day, stricter rules from the province, or the constant messaging from health officials, people are responding to the calls to practice physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.Last weekend, high foot traffic locations like dog parks and walking paths in both of Alberta's major cities were flooded with people looking to get out of the house for some exercise or fresh air. But this weekend, city streets looked much different.Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson took to Twitter on Saturday to praise the actions of Calgary's city council, which announced on Friday plans to limit vehicle access on some roadways in order to make more space for people to walk, run, or cycle. Calgary's roads department, in coordination with the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, worked to identify roads where lanes could be reduced to give Calgarian's more space to be outside while maintaining physical distance.Sections of Elbow Drive and Crowchild Trail were part of the measure, among other popular walking spots in Calgary. But one city councillor previously told CBC this doesn't mean these spots should be considered walking destinations. "We're making sure that we're not sending mixed messages and declaring another Bow River Flow Festival," Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said."Because that's exactly what we're trying to avoid."Doctor's ordersThe need for people to physically distance in order to help flatten the curve has become a regular talking point of the daily updates from Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. At the same time, Dr. Hinshaw has urged people to stay active if they are feeling well and encouraged people to get outside in appropriately-distanced ways. Signs indicate Edmontonians have also heard that message. The staircase near the Glenora Club on River Valley Road, which is commonly used by walkers, runners and people who "run the stairs" was nearly deserted late Saturday morning. Many sidewalks in the downtown core and Whyte Avenue areas were sparsely populated.One of Saturday's busier areas was the Old Strathcona Farmers Market, where strict physical distancing rules were being observed.Donna Lohstraeter, the market's CEO, said everyone has been cooperative and willingly followed the rules. She is also happy to help some people maintain a small piece of their routine."That vendor who has always brought them their eggs or their carrots to market is still here to do that," Lohstraeter said. "I think it's really important that we've been able to maintain that for people."Previously 135 vendors would have packed into the market but now that has been limited to about 60. Lohstraeter said some vendors voluntarily pulled out due to their own limitations. The market also eliminated artisans and any other non-food vendors as well for the time being. This week the Province of Alberta announced further measures that put even tighter restrictions on gatherings, lowering the limit from 50 to 15 people. It also closed all provincial parks and recreation areas to vehicle traffic in an effort to limit the number of people accessing them. All none-essential businesses, including clothing retailers and hair salons, were ordered to close. As of Saturday there were 79 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Alberta, bringing the provincial total to 621.
Luciana Infusino-Tomei has been left alone to care for her young daughter during the COVID-19 pandemic after her husband was sent to prison last year on a drug-related charge.The 38-year-old woman from Vaughan, Ont., is one of many worrying about the health and safety of their incarcerated loved ones, whose living arrangements make them particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus that has so far infected thousands of people and killed dozens across the country."Sometimes I find myself having to hold back my tears," Infusino-Tomei says. "My anxiety is through the roof, and so is my husband's, because he is away from us."She says she hasn't been able to get support in caring for their 19-month-old because her parents are older and in poor health.Her husband, Adrian Tomei, is serving a three-year sentence at Beaver Creek Institution north of Toronto, after he pleaded guilty last year to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.Infusino-Tomei says people like her 33-year-old husband — who have no other criminal history, were convicted of a non-violent crime and have a safe place to stay — should be released from prison, where she fears COVID-19 would spread uncontrollably."There is no excuse for making bad decisions," she says. "He is paying his dues. He plead guilty from the onset and he was a man from the beginning by standing up and facing the music."But she says prisoners are unable to self-isolate and have limited access to hygiene and sanitary products, so sending those who are not a risk to public safety may be the best thing during a pandemic."We know mass quarantines don't work because of those people left on cruise ships for weeks at a time," Infusino-Tomei says. "If something like that happens in prison, it's going to be far more dangerous, far more catastrophic on a far larger scale."She says her husband has applied for parole by exception and is working with a lawyer in Kingtson, Ont.Fergus J. (Chip) O'Connor, Tomei's parole lawyer, cites a section of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that allows early release for an offender for whom continued confinement would constitute an excessive hardship."My argument is that the pandemic is a public health risk for prisoners and the risk of getting the virus is a hardship that was not previously foreseen," O'Connor says.He says he has suggested to the commissioner of corrections and the Parole Board of Canada that efforts should be made to release non-violent prisoners soon, as the pandemic is expected to peak in Canada in the coming weeks.He, as well as other legal advocates in Canada, are also calling for the government to recognize parole officers as essential workers, since they play a key role in getting applications processed."I'm not asking that they let everybody out of jail," O'Connor says."But if they would just take that step, and if they had the political will to do so, then we could reduce the prison population significantly, put people in their homes and it would ... flatten the curve."He notes he has many clients who are older or have compromised immune systems that would cause major complications if they were to get the novel coronavirus.In a statement, the Correctional Service of Canada says measures such as a contingency planning for food, supplies and necessary medical equipment has been adopted."CSC has taken full inventory of existing personal protective equipment supplies and has worked with the Public Health Agency of Canada to purchase additional supplies as necessary," it says. "We have also distributed additional soap, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer to staff and inmates and we are educating staff and inmates on the prevention and spread of illness, including the importance of good hygiene practices."The CSC, as well as the office of Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, says there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the federal system.But, the province of Ontario confirmed Thursday that an inmate and corrections officer at the South Toronto Detention Centre tested positive. Saskatchewan announced Friday that two workers at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre also contracted the virus.It's something that worries Infusino-Tomei, who says it's just a matter of time before COVID-19 enters the federal system."If we want to get out of this with the fewest deaths ... the only way to do that is to give these inmates an opportunity to isolate," she says."Let's not look back and say we should have done something, let's do something now while there is still time to save lives." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2020.Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press
* Quebec has 2,840 confirmed cases and 22 deaths attributable to COVID-19. Seventy-two are in intensive care. * A drive-thru testing opened in Côte Saint-Luc today. Pedestrians are asked to use the clinic at Place-des-Festivals instead. * Travel into certain regions with vulnerable populations is being restricted by police checkpoints. * A first case has been reported in Nunavik, Que., according to the regional health authority.Quebec Premier François Legault said Sunday that the number of new COVID-19 cases in the province appears to be "stabilizing."There are now 2,840 confirmed cases in the province, an increase of 342 or about 14 per cent from the day before. Daily increases in cases last week had been over 20 per cent.There are currently 192 people hospitalized. The number of dead remains at 22."Public health authorities are telling us that our efforts are paying off, so don't give up," Legault said at his daily news conference in Quebec City.It was just over two weeks ago that Legault declared a public health emergency in the province, imposing an escalating series of measures to distance people from each other as much possible.Experts had said it would take at least two weeks for the effects of physical distancing to begin appearing in the provincial statistics. Public health officials in Montreal also said Sunday that the rate of increase in the city had stabilized in recent days, even though there is "sustained community transmission."Montreal and the Eastern Townships have been the two areas in Quebec hardest hit by the outbreak. Legault urged the public not to move between different areas in the province. Police checkpoints have been set up to prevent non-essential travel outside of southern and central Quebec.Those more remote areas have lower per-capita infection rates, and Legault said "we want to keep it that way." Not yet time to party: ArrudaQuebec public health director Horacio Arruda said today's numbers were encouraging, but added that "we can't draw conclusions based on one day."Arruda said that while the number of new cases didn't grow as rapidly over the weekend, "we have still not attained the plateau."Watch Arruda demonstrate how he wants to see the trend of infections move:But if the trend continues, he said, the province should avoid the worst-case scenarios it had been preparing for. He thanked those conducting tests, working in labs and ensuring health-care workers have the equipment they need."I hope that we are going to have a big party all together when things are going to be over," he said.More measure to protect elderlyHealth officials remain very concerned about outbreaks within elderly and long-term care homes. There have been several outbreaks in such facilities already, and they account for a number of the deaths.Legault said he will announce more measures on Monday to further limit who can enter these homes.The premier appeared more upbeat than usual at Sunday's news conference. He had taken a day off yesterday, his first since the crisis began. He said he was happy to see that people's spirits were up when he took a walk through Quebec City the day before."Keeping our physical distance, we are closer than ever," he said.
A growing number of imported coronavirus cases in China risked fanning a second wave of infections when domestic transmissions had "basically been stopped", a senior health official said on Sunday, while eased travel curbs may also add to domestic risks. China, where the disease first emerged in the central city of Wuhan, had an accumulated total of 693 cases entering from overseas, which meant "the possibility of a new round of infections remains relatively big", Mi Feng, spokesman for the National Health Commission (NHC), said. Nearly a quarter of those came from arrivals in Beijing.
As Global News first reported Friday, the clinical trial of a controversial drug is underway at the North Vancouver care home which has become the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in B.C. Sarah MacDonald explains why it's being tested since there's no proven therapy to treat the novel coronavirus.
WASHINGTON/ LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Sunday extended his stay-at-home guidelines until the end of April, dropping a hotly criticized plan to get the economy up and running by mid-April after a top medical adviser said more than 100,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus outbreak. The reversal by Trump, which he said would be disclosed in greater detail on Tuesday, came as the U.S. death toll topped 2,460 from the respiratory disease, according to a Reuters tally, with more than 141,000 cases, the most of any country in the world. "The peak, the highest point of death rate, is likely to hit in two weeks," Trump told a coronavirus briefing in the White House Rose Garden, flanked by top advisers and business leaders, "Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won."
Around the world, people are finding new ways to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic and protect those on the front lines.Joelle Foster, the chief executive officer of North Forge, a Winnipeg-based tech company, says the people in Manitoba should be learning from these creative approaches."If you look at anything that has been eradicated — viruses, pandemics, it's all come around innovation, whether it's medical or physical. That's what has moved our world forward and has put us in such a position that we can live the lives that we now do," Foster said. "Without innovation, we'd still be living in the dark ages."Jason Kindrachuk, an associate professor at the University of Manitoba and Canada research chair in emerging viruses, says the pandemic is bringing people from different fields together — and that's a good thing."What we have is a crisis that's driving the merger of different disciplines to come up with really quick solutions to very complex problems," he said.Here are just a few of the ways individuals and companies are tackling these complex problems.Delegating tasksIn response to a need in Alberta, University of Calgary medical students were tapped to connect with people who have come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.That means public health officials are able to identify people who are sick, get them medical care and help people take action to protect others. The help from these medical students quadrupled the province's capacity to do contact tracing.Other countries that have done this, including South Korea, Japan and Singapore, have been able to slow the spread in their communities. Pharmacists in Alberta are also being paid to test people for COVID-19.Kindrachuk says jurisdictions should be doing more to tap into communities that are already equipped to do testing and research to reduce backlog in returning test results to people."It just simply does not make sense not to," he said.Making personal protective equipmentMasks, gowns and other personal protective equipment are in short supply all over the world, so some people are taking it upon themselves to fill that need.Dr. Tarek Loubani, a London, Ont., emergency room doctor, is using equipment from his medical supplies charity to make 3D-printed face shields from plastic, Mylar and elastic for his colleagues in Canada. Hundreds can be printed at a time.The shield covers the whole face, protecting the nose and eyes from droplets that may contain the coronavirus which causes COVID-19. Kindrachuk says personal protective equipment like face shields are "critically important.""We have to be concerned about our health-care workers whether they're physicians or respiratory therapists or nurses or even janitorial staff being protected from anything that could potentially infect them."Other businesses are working to fill that need too.Changing business directions to meet needsBauer, the hockey equipment manufacturing company, is shifting its business model to meet medical equipment needs.It's been given the green light by the government to make full-face, single-use masks for medical staff and first responders.Bauer is also in the process of developing visors that can be cleaned, disinfected and reused.Dyson is also talking about making the leap from vacuums to ventilators.The British government ordered 10,000 ventilators from the company to help deal with the rising numbers of patients with COVID-19.And Canada Goose, well known for its pricey but warm coats, is making scrubs and patient gowns for hospitals in light of the shortages."That's what we need right now," Foster says.Investing in researchA lab in Saskatoon has been researching and trying to come up with a vaccine for coronaviruses for nearly 40 years, but just lately got $23 million from the federal government.The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization - International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) at the University of Saskatchewan started as a veterinary lab in 1975.It's evolved to a point that it's now developing a pan-coronavirus vaccine for human use.Kindrachuk, who spent time researching at the VIDO-InterVac lab, says it makes sense to invest in people who have experience working in the field during a crisis like this. "I think it helps to inject some money into a system, look at all that could be built upon it, and hopefully help us prepare for the future," he said.Pooling tech resourcesA disease research organization based out of Washington University's St. Louis School of Medicine is asking people to share their unused computer power to help fight COVID-19.Folding@home is a distributed computing project for disease research. Volunteers contribute their unused computing power to help research potential treatments for various diseases, including the novel coronavirus.It brings together "citizen scientists" who volunteer to run simulations of protein dynamics on their computers when they're idling. From there, the data helps scientists better understand the complex biology, and provides new opportunities for developing therapeutics.According to Kindrachuk, necessity is indeed the mother of invention."Ultimately, [COVID-19] is driving innovation," Kindrachuk says."What we're seeing very quickly is this impetus to get different really smart, talented people together that maybe normally wouldn't work together, coming together to come up with some really smart solutions."
Companies in B.C. have rapidly reorganized in the last two weeks to start manufacturing essential medical supplies for health care workers on the front lines in the response to COVID-19.Hospitals and local health authorities say they've been overwhelmed by the number of calls and emails coming in from individuals and companies wanting to donate equipment.Vancouver-based LNG Studios usually works with the real estate industry producing 3D architectural renderings, but CEO Leon Ng says they're now using their 3D printers to make medical face shields."We're using about five printers right now printing approximately 30 to 40 a day."Ng says the company was able to shift to printing face shields thanks to an open source file that's been used in Europe to make them."Anyone that has a standard 3-D printer should be able to print it."Ng says doctors and nurses at Vancouver General Hospital, St Paul's Hospital, Lions Gate Hospital and Richmond General Hospital have already approved the shields. He is hoping to also send prototypes to Surrey Memorial Hospital and Burnaby Hospital to get them approved for health professionals in those facilities."We're trying to get these out there to the front-line workers as soon as possible," he said. "The traditional supply chains are just strained. It takes weeks for the hospital to get these."Ng says there's a need for 300 face shields a day in the region.Province supports shift to manufacture medical suppliesLocal health authorities like Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care say they've received so many offers that they're now directing them to the provincial government.B.C.'s Health Ministry said in an email to CBC News that it supports the federal government's plan to provide support to "those who want to retool their manufacturing facilities to contribute to this fight." It says companies can access funds through the Strategic Innovation Fund to retool their machines to produce needed medical equipment and supplies.Also in B.C., a company started just eight days ago by a group of medical professionals, mechanical engineers, software engineers and entrepreneurs, says it's produced a new ventilator prototype.'New ventilator from scratch'The company, called the Ocalink Emergency Ventilator Project, says the ventilator has been reviewed by independent doctors and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and is waiting on federal approval from Health Canada."Within eight days we've created a new ventilator from scratch," said CEO Corbin Lowe. "Not only do we have the supply chain but the manufacturing capability to produce a million units within 90 days." He adds that the prototype is specifically designed to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients.Lowe says they need at least $5 million in federal funding to start production in manufacturing facilities across the country as early as next Tuesday.Both Lowe and Ng hope their companies' efforts will inspire others to do what they can to support the health care community.
Moscow authorities will on Monday impose tighter restrictions on residents in an attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. "Gradually but steadily, we will keep tightening control as needed in this situation," Sobyanin said on his website. Russia has been relatively lightly hit so far, with nine deaths and 1,534 cases, but it recorded 270 new infections in the past day.
Five years ago, Jennifer and Trevor Lightfoot celebrated the end of a sunny cruise and boarded a flight from Miami to Toronto before connecting home to Halifax.Jennifer was eager to get back to her job as a registered nurse and Trevor, a minister, to the pulpit at his church in Bedford, N.S. Both were excited to see their three sons, Braeden, Rylin and Jace.The Air Canada flight on March 29, 2015 was uneventful until they started circling the Halifax airport due to poor visibility. The pilot announced they would try to land in the snow storm. The Lightfoots weren't worried. Nobody braced for an emergency."I remember looking out the window, because I like to watch the landing," she says. "I actually quite enjoyed flying. It was dark and it was a blizzard, so you couldn't see very well, but I said, 'I see ground.'"The gusting wind had pushed the plane off its flight path. It hit power lines before slamming into the ground 200 metres short of the runway. The jet bounced, tore through a navigation antenna, bounced again, losing its landing gear, before skidding to a stop in a shower of sparks.'There was stuff flying everywhere'The impact dislodged her entire seat, throwing her around the aircraft. She bashed into things. "I couldn't look forward, because I was scared I'd see what was going to impale me," she says. "There was stuff flying everywhere."Trevor gripped his arm rests and expected the plane to burst into flames. He realized they had survived. His wife fell off the slide leading out of the plane. At some point, she dislocated her shoulder.The crew and passengers waited by the wrecked plane in the storm for 50 minutes before the airport could transport them inside. That night, the Lightfoots thought they'd miraculously survived the crash without serious injury and went home to their sons, while two dozen of the 133 passengers went directly to hospital.The problems started when they woke up the next day. "I started feeling very unwell. Incredibly severe headaches. I couldn't see straight, I couldn't walk. I was off-balance. It was quite dramatic," Jennifer says.She lost part of the vision in her right eye. She started doing physical and mental therapy, hoping she could soon get back to normal.'My eyes cause me a lot of trouble'But as the years went by, she realized this was her new normal. She had hundreds of seizures. Unable to work, she took permanent long-term disability leave from nursing."Life now is completely different. I struggle going to activities with the children. I get frequent headaches; noise and lights are very troublesome. My eyes cause me a lot of trouble."Her husband found himself struggling to stay focused and felt tired all the time. Three years after the crash, they ventured on a family vacation that involved a gentle ride on a little boat. The ride stopped."I froze up. We were in this dark cave area," he says. "It wasn't anything extreme, but I felt confined and it really shot my anxiety up."People keep telling them how lucky they were to survive."A lot of people think it was just a bumpy landing, because that's how it came out in the news, and that it was not a big deal and that it hasn't really impacted people. But in the long run, it has impacted a lot of people," Jennifer says.Before the crash, the couple split chores and work down the middle. Now, there are times when she can only handle five per cent of the family workload."She no longer is the person she used to be. She was always very energetic, a go-getter, always doing things for family and for others," her husband says. "That has a huge impact on our children, too. Someone who was so involved in their lives now can't be involved in the way she used to be."Her youngest at times says to her, "Mommy, I don't remember what you were like before the accident."Class-action lawsuitAir Canada sent them and the other passengers a few thousand dollars right after the crash. The Lightfoots say the airline offered them a chance to negotiate with its insurance adjusters, but that would be a final deal. They joined a class-action lawsuit instead.Air Canada hasn't been in touch with them since 2015. The company said it couldn't comment on the case while the class-action lawsuit is active.Ray Wagner, the lawyer leading the class-action, says his firm could not reach a settlement, so is pursuing litigation. The case is inching along and due back in court June 9. But with courts largely shut down during the COVID-19 outbreak, that could easily be pushed back.Wagner's firm represents 131 of the 133 passengers on AC Flight 624. He says several parties bear responsibility for the accident: Air Canada, Airbus, Nav Canada, the Halifax International Airport Authority, and Transport Canada. He holds out hope for an out-of-court settlement, but either way it could be later this year or 2021 before it's resolved."How they split it up, we really don't care, so long as they pay the claims," he says. "Everybody suffered a harm. It's just the degree that has to be assessed in each individual case."Trevor admits he struggled at times to help others as his own situation deteriorated."It's my faith that has helped me to maintain a balance, the best I can. My faith and a sense of hope that at some point, all this will be rectified so we can begin to live and function a bit more normally. I don't think our lives will ever be the same."Things started looking up in February, when friends helped them pay for a trip to see a specialist at Calgary's Foothills Hospital. The flight was uneventful."Flying will never be the same. It's terrifying. It brings back awful memories and you can't help but think, What if? That sense of fear will always be there," Jennifer says.COVID-19 outbreak delays plansBut she learned more about her condition and got a reference to a specialist in Halifax. In early March, the Lightfoots were optimistic. It looked like she might get surgery for her shoulder, which is currently in a splint as it regularly dislocates. Then COVID-19 shut everything down."I haven't seen the specialist here in Halifax yet, and it doesn't look like I will for a little while," she says with a rueful laugh. "I feel like we've been practising this for a while, this social isolation."Her husband says the global shutdown makes it seem like everyone is now caught in the same plight as they are."Every so often throughout history, times come along that cause all of humanity to pause, take stock, and consider what is most important to us," he says. "Jenn has been in that kind of state for the last five years. It's a difficult time and place to be in."They hope after the pandemic, she will get shoulder surgery and see the specialist. "At this point, a reduction in everything would be wonderful. I don't know that there is a cure," she says.MORE TOP STORIES
Some lockdown measures to combat coronavirus in Britain could last months and only be gradually lifted, a senior medical official said on Sunday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the situation will get worse before it gets better. Britain has reported 19,522 confirmed cases of the disease and 1,228 deaths, after an increase of 209 fatalities as of 5 p.m. local time on Saturday compared with the previous day, the health ministry said. "The important thing is this is a moving target," Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said.
Some independent contractors in the Ottawa area are asking whether they need to be considered an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the Ontario government released a list of essential workplaces that were permitted to remain open beyond the province's deadline of 11:59 p.m. on March 24.The list includes "construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors." Some contractors like David Sheard, however, think that definition is too broad."If somebody had a hole in the roof or a plumbing leak or backup, then yes, [workers] should be allowed to go in, because that's considered an emergency service," said Sheard, who's decided to close down his business during the pandemic. However, Sheard said he's seen people posting requests on social media for non-emergency work like kitchen or bathroom renovations — and also contractors willing to take them up."My opinion [is that] renovating a bathroom or renovating a kitchen at this time should not be considered essential," he said.Families worry tooMegan feels the same.Her husband is an electrician who is still going to work. CBC Ottawa has agreed to use only her first name in order to protect his job. "We're doing everything right. And it's almost like there's no point to that, if he's going to be out and about [and] then coming back home," she said."So I know he is kind of considering [whether he should] be isolating himself away from us."While her husband's boss offered to lay him off, Megan said they worry about paying their bills since she's already receiving employment insurance due to the COVID-19 outbreak.She also wonders if creditors will give them a break if he chooses to take time off. 'It's pretty scary'For those like plumber Kevin Villeneuve, who've been out handling emergency calls, the hope is that all contractors and potential clients are taking precautions."It's pretty scary. We're working and in some pretty bad scenarios," said Villeneuve, who owns Plumbing Express. Villeneuve said most of his emergency calls are for blocked drains, which can be filled with bodily fluids.He said his team is wearing gloves and disinfecting both equipment and their own hands before and after calls. They also now ask clients questions about their health and recent travel, and only accept digital payments.And while he agrees with the decision to declare his industry essential, that doesn't make his work any less frightening. Some people are still asking for service even though they're in quarantine, Villeneuve said."We're really close to a lot of germs." Jiffy, a larger company that co-ordinates independent contractor calls, has kept working during the pandemic — as has the majority of its contractors."They obviously rely on this income," said co-founder Paul Arlin."And while some of them have chosen to just kind of shut down temporarily for the time being, the vast majority of them are taking the necessary precautions and helping homeowners."Up to each business, says province In an email, the province's ministry of labour said while it takes the well-being of all Ontarians seriously, it must also maintain critical infrastructure."Business owners, including non-profits and service delivery organizations, should review the list of essential business which are authorized to stay open, determine whether they fit into any of the categories and, if they do, make a business decision as to whether to stay open." the statement said.The ministry did not directly explain why all contractors were put on the essential list.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the nation's poor for forgiveness on Sunday, as the economic and human toll from his 21-day nationwide lockdown deepens and criticism mounts about a lack of adequate planning ahead of the decision. Modi announced a three week-lockdown on Tuesday to curb the spread of coronavirus. "I would firstly like to seek forgiveness from all my countrymen," Modi said in a nationwide radio address.
Being isolated at home, without the ability to see friends or get out of the house for any reason, is tough. For a subset of Canadians, though, it can be deadly."I remember being so disappointed when there was a PA day or a day off school," says Rifaa Carter. "School and homework, those were things that gave me a little bit of relief from the abuse."Growing up in an abusive home and with a jobless parent, it was a really scary and hopeless situation," she adds.Carter is a survivor of childhood physical abuse, who now advocates for other women facing violence, through an organization called WomenattheCentrE.She got out of her dangerous situation, but thousands of women in Canada continue to experience abuse in their homes.In fact, every six days in Canada a woman is killed by her partner, according to The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. Statistics Canada adds that in 2018, the number of attempted murders of women by intimate partners was the equivalent of one every five days, and more than 155,000 cases of violence against women in households were reported to police.And in this time of imposed isolation and self-distancing, they are at a higher level of risk because they are confined in a space with the very person who is hurting them."We know for some women, their homes are not safe," says Marlene Ham, executive director of The Ontario Association of Interval and Transitional Houses. Last week, Prime Minister Trudeau recognized the potential danger in his daily press address, and announced an additional $50 million in new funding to help."For anyone fleeing domestic or gender based violence, we will boost funding for shelters that provide sanctuary when self-isolating at home is not an option," he said on March 18.Marlene Ham was one of the people relieved to hear that. She runs Ontario's 95 abuse shelters and says the federal support is very much needed."This is a very scary time for many women," says Ham. "Trudeau's statement certainly does send a message that governments are paying attention, they understand our needs, they are working with us. And we are at a time where we really do all need to work together."Ham says that since the repeated requests for people to isolate were made, she has already seen intake requests at shelters rise. Currently, 6,000 women sleep in shelters for domestic abuse in Canada on any given night, and Ham expects those numbers to rise significantly due to the effects of self-isolation on already-troubled households.Also, the way shelters and agencies like The Ontario Association of Interval and Transitional Houses support women is having to change."None of us have been through this before," says Ham. "Every policy, every procedure, and every way of moving through the world has drastically changed, so we're in a place of having to figure out new ways to cope."Some of those new strategies include support workers who can no longer do face-to-face meetings shifting to phone and skype calls with clients, where possible. However, even those approaches can prove difficult in situations where women are confined to small spaces with their partners and aren't able to communicate freely.Ham's organization has been working to help women who they know are in the most dangerous situations first, and then working down their lists according to the most pressing needs.Deepa Mattoo, executive director of The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic in Toronto, says it's the isolation itself that is heightening the risk for women."We always say that women experience escalation of violence when they're isolated. So any kind of isolation is the breeding ground, and that's what we are fearful of," says Mattoo. "There is potential for her also feeling that she cannot access the services or access supports she needs."The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, which offers legal support to victims of violence, has also adapted in the past few weeks and has changed the way it is supporting clients.Even little features on the clinic's website can make a huge difference. For example, there's an icon where women can exit the site immediately by pressing a big red LEAVE button if their abusers unexpectedly enter the room behind them when they are on the computer. It's a little thing, but something that Matoo thinks can deescalate a dangerous situation."This is just the perfect storm," Mattoo says. "This is really challenging us to think outside the box."The clinic also has links to emergency services on its website, is offering support counselling and advice services online or over the phone, and is offering women updated safety planning and tips if they need to flee their homes quickly. And it expects all these services will be used."We have a high-risk team which is working on the ground still, and it's absolutely very, very hot. We are all looking at 12-hours-a-day kind of days," says Mattoo. "There will be a larger number of calls coming to us as compared to what we were dealing with before."Mattoo has partnered with other community agencies, and has also made sure her centre's services are shared on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms so that as many women as possible know that help is out there and how to reach it.Rifaa Carter, who knows what it's like to live in an abusive home, thinks the more agencies reach out directly to women who are at risk right now, the better."All the red flags are going to be missed. No one is going to notice that you didn't show up at work, no one is going to notice that you're not being yourself today, or any of the other things people notice and say 'hey what's going on is everything ok?," she says.
Beaches are deserted, go-go bars stand empty and cabarets have shut their doors in Thailand's tourist haven of Pattaya, as business has ground to a standstill after worldwide travel restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. For one of the world's most famed - some might say infamous - tourism hotspots, the economic devastation is near-total and business owners say haven't seen anything like it for four decades. Pattaya is a tourist city, we rely mostly on them.
Mexico's president finally warned Mexicans at the end of this week to stay home and avoid contact with others, as COVID-19 cases in the country jumped to 848 on Saturday, 131 more than the previous day. "If we don't stay inside our homes the number of infections could shoot up, and it would saturate our hospitals. It would be overwhelming," said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as "AMLO" to Mexicans.The tone was serious and new. In some other recent comments, the president focused on supernatural, rather than scientific, solutions to COVID-19.As Mexico moves to Phase 2 of its pandemic response plan, the country's medical workers can only hope that its federal government has now finally been scared out of its complacency, and will stop sending messages that make it harder to fight COVID-19."We think we're about two weeks behind the U.S.," said Dr. Mauricio Trevino, a specialist in reconstructive surgery in Monterrey who's volunteered to help treat COVID-19 patients."It was the World Health Organization that made us move to Phase 2," he said. "The president and the government have been telling everyone not to worry."Trevino said that in his city at least, the most meaningful efforts have come from local politicians and private enterprise, not from lawmakers in the capital.He said many medical professionals feel foreboding and indignation at the attitude taken by some politicians and business leaders who've minimized the epidemic, and even promoted crackpot theories."It's a disgrace what they've been doing," said Dr. Trevino.'Disease is not serious'Mexico's reaction to COVID-19 has been starkly at odds with those of its neighbours, including most countries in North and South America. To the south, Guatemala has closed airports and brought in a 4 p.m.-4 a.m. curfew. But the Mexican government has seemed more concerned about preventing panic or economic damage than preventing contagion, putting out public messages that encouraged Mexicans to continue their normal routines, attend work and school, and even high-five when they meet.One such ad, entitled "COVID-19 is not an emergency situation," exhorted Mexicans that "there is no need to cancel mass events," because: "Remember, the disease caused by coronavirus COVID-19 is not serious."'The poor are immune'Even members of the ruling Morena Party were dismayed when Luis Miguel Barbosa, governor of Puebla state, told a news conference that only rich people get coronavirus.Puebla is Mexico's fifth most populous state and a centre of its automobile industry.At the news conference to discuss 38 confirmed cases in his state, Barbosa argued that "the majority are well-off people, eh? If you are rich, you are at risk. If you are poor, you are not."We the poor are immune," he said, using an unusually wide definition of poverty to include himself.The comments were widely ridiculed and condemned, but Barbosa's message was only a more extreme version of one that has at times come from AMLO himself, as in a news conference a week ago, where he revealed his personal protection plan."The protective shield is the détente (a prayer card or patch of cloth with a religious message). Do you know what that is? The protective shield is honesty. Not permitting corruption," the president said.He then reached in his pocket and pulled out a small red prayer card, which he squinted at for several seconds of silence. "People give these to me," he said, pulling out another one. "These are my bodyguards."Among other amulets AMLO displayed and claimed will protect him from COVID-19 were a picture of a six-leaf clover, and a $2 US bill.Cartoon superheroNow that Mexico has moved into Phase 2 of its response plan, the federal government is at last encouraging Mexicans to practice physical distancing.A new cartoon superhero, "Susana Distancia" has appeared to spread the message — her name is a play on the words "sana distancia" or "healthy distance."AMLO himself seems to be heeding the new message. He announced on Friday he would not be holding mass rallies this weekend and would no longer hug and kiss supporters as he visited parts of the country.At a news conference this week, a presidential aide stood and squirted hand sanitizer onto everyone entering the stage. While other officials diligently scrubbed hands, AMLO has made a point of breezing past, sometimes giving the aide a cheery pat on the arm.The director of Human Rights Watch in the Americas, Jose Miguel Vivanco, called AMLO's conduct "an extremely dangerous example that threatens the health of Mexicans."Dr. Trevino believes the rate of infection is still lower in Mexico than in the United States. But he said wide disparities in the official count on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border mean little, "because there's really very little testing being done here." "There are patients coming forward with symptoms that strongly resemble coronavirus, but since there's no test they're not registered as such," he said. Can't afford not to workDr. Trevino's sister Sofia has lived for almost 30 years in Quebec. Her work for WIEGO, a U.K.-based organization that seeks better conditions for women working in the informal economy, often takes her back to Mexico where WIEGO runs projects focused on helping female domestic workers."I'm in constant conversation with the different informal workers groups. Domestic workers are 2.2 million women in Mexico. Most of them are being dismissed without compensation," said Sofia Trevino.Sixty per cent of Mexican workers work in the informal economy, she said, and tens of millions of Mexicans do not have bank accounts. Trevino said AMLO has "downplayed" COVID-19. "His response has been uneven, unco-ordinated, and he's now using amulets."But she says understanding the lives of informal workers is key to understanding why it's hard to put the Mexican economy on ice, as Canada has attempted to do."These are the people that have to work on a day-to-day basis and they're still going out," she said. "A billionaire like [telecom magnate] Carlos Slim — he's put $45 million into his foundation and he's said he'll pay his workers while they're on quarantine. However, what about the thousands and thousands of informal workers he has on the street selling his phone cards? Street vendors are not stopping their work."Class divisionsBoth Trevino siblings describe a Mexico where the middle and upper classes are aware of the dangers of COVID-19, and take precautions, while the poor fend for themselves."If we think about the vulnerable people," said Sofia Trevino, "and how the populations are gathered, say in shantytowns where there's not even the infrastructure to wash your hands … they're not equipped to cope."Monterrey, where Mauricio Trevino lives, is in the state of Nuevo Leon, which is run by Gov. Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, known as "El Bronco." The Trevinos say he's been more active than the federal government."It's left to the governors and mayors to take action. In Nuevo Leon, Bronco implemented better measures. He closed parks, schools, bars, restaurants, movie theatres and casinos, big gatherings, and he dispatched police to the streets to make sure businesses are complying," Sofia Trevino said. Mauricio Trevino, who often operates on people injured in motor vehicle accidents, says accidents have almost ceased as Monterrey shuts down. He hopes those local measures will slow the spread of disease — along with the weather."Here it's fairly hot right now, around 33 C. That won't stop the virus. But there is evidence that higher temperatures do make it more unstable, which can slow transmission."But he shares the view of his sister in Canada that a wave of contagion is building just under the surface."I feel like there's a tsunami coming," said Sofia Trevino, "and they're not even preparing themselves."
WARSAW/KRAKOW (Reuters) - Poland's Krzysztof Penderecki, one of the world's most celebrated composers, died on Sunday at the age of 86, his family said. Penderecki was known for his film scores, including for William Friedkin's "The Exorcist", Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" and David Lynch's "Wild at Heart", for his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and the largely atonal St Luke's Passion. "After a long and serious illness, Krzysztof Penderecki -- one of the greatest Polish musicians, a world authority in the field of classical music died," Poland's Ministry of Culture said in a tweet.
As Islanders hunker down in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Island internet companies are dealing with increased demand on their networks. "I have experienced probably 15 to 25 per cent increase in traffic during the day and evening," said Chris MacFarlane, owner of Red Sands Internet. MacFarlane, anticipating the increase, purchased additional bandwidth early on from his supplier to maintain the quality of connection for his users. But as people attempt to stream content, work from home and communicate with others all at the same time, it can create a strain on the system. "They may periodically experience some slowness in the evenings when it does get busy but that is ... one of the things that I try to monitor," he said. MacFarlane said he might have to buy additional bandwidth to deal with the demand.'Doubled everybody's network speed'Wicked Eh?, another Island-based Internet company, said it has seen roughly a 10 per cent increase in its daily usage. Normally, the Wicked Eh? network sees peak hours when people get off work or school, said Rob Nelson, chief technology officer with the company. But as more people are staying home, Nelson said traffic on their network has increased through all hours of the day. "What we are seeing is that the bandwidth is being utilized 16 hours a day instead of only four or five," he said.Nelson said in anticipation of this spike, the company took some precautions."We went ahead across the entire network and doubled everybody's upload speed," he said. "That's going to help with uploading schoolwork or work documents or getting a good quality Facetime video with your family."Nelson said the company did not charge its customers for the extra speed.Wicked Eh? also offers free wifi hotspots in the Charlottetown area. That's where the company said it's seen the most growth in demand on the network."In this time of year we only see maybe three or four hundred at a time during the week but we're already seeing an increase in the total number of users, five to ten thousand people on a daily basis connected to the network even if it's only for 15 or 20 minutes," he said. Part of larger trendWhat both Wicked Eh? and Red Sands Internet are experiencing is part of a larger trend across Canada, as more Canadians are staying home to combat the spread of COVID-19. In an email to CBC News, Bell Aliant said it's seeing increased usage across networks — with home internet usage up to 60 per cent higher during the day, and 20 per cent higher than normal during the evening.Eastlink has also been experiencing a similar increase. In an email, the company said it's experiencing a 25 per cent increase in home internet usage. Eastlink added it has made improvements to its network over the past number of years that have helped it deal with this increase in traffic but said it is "monitoring the network closely and adding capacity where required."More from CBC P.E.I.
"We're all in this together."It's one of those phrases that's been tossed around long enough to become a cliché, the stuff of song lyrics and pre-game pep talks.Now it's mysteriously started popping up on posters across Toronto.The phrase is written in a font mimicking the storefront signs of iconic Bloor Street West mega-shop Honest Ed's —shuttered long before the pandemic when the city looked and felt a little different — and scrawled in all capitals, as if being shouted by a crowd in unison.The posters are in the windows of shuttered shops, held up by painters' tape on restaurant doors or clinging to the front glass at convenience stores.The owner of one such west-end corner store, still open amid the mass closures, and selling everything from bananas to dog food to cartons of milk, says someone recently popped in and offered to post it in the front window."Dreeem," a Toronto artist, was that someone.CBC News agreed to withhold his identity because of concerns about reprisals for his street art projects being on public property.On March 15, as the impact of the global pandemic was starting to hit home — Ontario declared a state of emergency just two days later — Dreeem designed the posters amid a looming sense of what was to come."I looked at the news from China and Iran, and I looked at the streets outside my window, at a city going about life as usual, and I just knew it was all about to change," he said. "And the virus wouldn't stop at imaginary borders, and soon people would be going through the same radical disorientation."An emotional wave, he calls it: Shock, fear, then anxiety."I wanted to do something about that," Dreeem said.Dreeem quickly printed a batch of posters and dropped them off at local businesses, some already closing down and others set to follow.The homage to Honest Ed's, was intentional, he said, citing the store's "corny idealism" as a signal of what Toronto can be at its best."That place represented a side of Toronto that's really special, hopeful, a sign of community — blind optimism and faith in our neighbours," Dreeem said. "You walked in that place, and you'd find people of all walks of life buying two-dollar socks."The artist said he's printed more than 200 of his nostalgic posters so far, offering them to businesses along main routes like Yonge Street, Church Street, and Dundas Street. More recently, he's spotted them in storefront windows of shops he hasn't even stopped by yet, each sharing the same message.It's one that's taking on new meaning in Toronto as several million residents hunker down and wait for an invisible menace to one day disappear.'Its power comes from its truth'With people across the country practising physical distancing, the new normal is meant to be nipping out only for essential food and supplies.That means video conferencing friends instead of attending a birthday party, and phone calls or visits through windows instead of dropping in at loved ones' homes.It's not a comfortable lifestyle. But public health experts say there's really no other choice.Staying largely in our homes and apart from each other could break our collective spirit, some fear.But individualism — going about our business while potentially spreading the virus — could overwhelm our health-care system, leaving scores of people to die if hospitals are suddenly flooded beyond capacity with critically-ill patients, experts warn."Every single person" needs to stay away from others for the foreseeable future to help keep people alive, the Ontario Hospital Association's president and CEO Anthony Dale urged last week."This is not a drill," he continued. "This is the single biggest public health emergency in Ontario's history."On the west coast, B.C. health minister Adrian Dix shared a similar sentiment: "This is really for all of us, as individuals and as a society, the greatest fight of our time."It's a battle that could last far longer than anyone would like, pushing local shops out of business and leaving workers unemployed."This isn't about two weeks of social distancing," federal health minister Patty Hajdu recently warned. "This is about months of social distancing. This is going to be hard for us."Of some comfort, then, may be the well-worn phrase now hanging in many Toronto windows."Its power comes from its truth," Dreeem says. "Something can happen in a city in China, and the whole world can be going through that two weeks later, three weeks later, a month later."Amid that ripple effect, we're now all giving up our daily routines in pursuit of a collective goal. It may feel like an insurmountable ask.But, as the saying goes: "We're all in this together."
TORONTO — Ontario has introduced steep fines for price gouging and reduced the maximum size of gatherings as it works to curb the economic impact of COVID-19 while stemming its spread.Premier Doug Ford announced Saturday that he was slashing the number of people allowed to gather at a time from 50 to five, and introduced major fines for companies involved in price gouging."There's very few bad apples in companies, but they're out there. And I think it's disgusting," Ford said. "How can you take advantage of people in this time? Times that we've never seen in our province or around the world. And there's actually opportunists out there, trying to gouge the people? I'm coming after them with a vengeance."He made the announcement as Ontario's Ministry of Health reported 151 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 1,144.Another patient with the virus died on Saturday, bringing the total number of deaths to 19. That number includes two people who are not confirmed to have had the virus but are linked to an outbreak at a long-term care home. Medical officials say 63 people are currently in intensive care in hospital.Ford said his efforts to prevent the artificial inflation of prices for products such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes include fines for company heads as high as $500,000 and a year in jail.Corporations involved in gouging could face fines as high as $10 million, Ford said.He urged Ontarians to report any cases of price gouging to a provincial hotline, saying each report would be looked at on a case-by-case basis, and that the focus would be on products sold at five or six times the normal price, rather than a few dollars more.The measures come days after Ford took specific aim at specialty foods store Pusateri's, which had been charging $30 for Lysol disinfecting wipes. The product had been in short supply elsewhere.Pusateri's apologized, saying it was a mistake and that anyone who bought those wipes can get a full refund.As for the smaller sizes of gatherings, Ford said there would be some exceptions.Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather at funerals, and child-care centres looking after the kids of front-line workers can have up to 50 people on site. There's also an exception for households with more than five people.Meanwhile, the province's top public health official said they're making steady progress in the number of tests they're able to complete per day.Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, said the province was able to complete about 4,100 tests per day, just shy of a goal for 5,000 tests which was set for the end of this week."We're getting close to that number," Williams said.Dr. Barbara Yaffe, deputy medical officer of health, said they're aiming to have the capacity for close to 19,000 tests per day by mid-April as new testing centres open."As we add new labs, they have to go through testing to ensure that their tests are valid," said Yaffe."So the first 500 tests that each lab does has to be verified by the Ontario Public Health Lab," she said.The province has also been making headway on a backlog of people waiting to be tested. Earlier in the week, there were over 10,000 cases that remained under investigation, but that number has since dropped to about 8,700 tests by Saturday evening.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2020.Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press
It should have been the trip of a lifetime for Ottawa residents Catherine McLeod and Paul Innes, but it has turned into a nightmare as they remain trapped on a cruise ship where COVID-19 has taken hold and four people have died.McLeod and Innes left Ottawa and boarded a cruise in early March, before the spread of novel coronavirus became a pandemic, and they now find themselves without a clear way to get home.The MS Zaandam is anchored off the coast of Panama, and no one can leave because until Saturday, no country would accept them. Holland America, the company that owns the ship, said two people on board have tested positive for COVID-19 while 53 passengers and 85 crew have flu-like symptoms.Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Saturday night that his counterpart in Panama agreed to allow the ship to pass through the Panama Canal and on to its final destination in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.He said Global Affairs Canada will continue to work with Holland America to bring asymptomatic Canadians home.But for now, 1,243 passengers and 586 crew remain on board and more tests are being done every day, the company said.Among them are McLeod and her husband, retired teachers. In an email to The Canadian Press, McLeod said what had been a mostly enjoyable trip was turned on its head last weekend."The boom hit last Sunday when we were asked to return to our staterooms and not exit," McLeod recounted. "Many passengers and crew members had reported to sick bay with flu-like symptoms."That's where the couple have been — in their room awaiting news of a way out — ever since."The first few days we hoped it was just the flu," McLeod said. "We were still hopeful that we would get through the Panama Canal and dock in Fort Lauderdale. Then that hope was destroyed when Panama would not allow us passage."Email is the only way to communicate with family, said Patricia Morrell, one of the couple's children."We have good contact with them, but they're really frustrated because the information I'm giving them is different from the information on the ship," Morrell said.Michael Kasprow just wants his mother off the cruise ship and back home.Julie Kasprow, 81, of Thornhill, Ont., left for the 30-day cruise in early March — before the Canadian government warned against travelling on cruise ships due to fears of contracting the emerging coronavirus that has spread around the world."I just want her home in her stupid chair for 14 days so we have everybody in the same area and I can talk to her from the end of the driveway," said Kasprow, who lives in nearby Toronto.Like Innes and McLeod, Kasprow's mother is healthy and effectively shut inside her room with her friend, he said.But her anxiety — and his — has grown."My mom's demeanour certainly changed in the past 24 hours from, 'This will be OK,' to hearing news that people on board had passed away," Kasprow said."My mom is my superhero and is incredibly circumspect when it comes to things like that, but it's really stressful and scary to her, and this definitely rocked her a bit."The crew checked on her yesterday and plans to move the healthy and asymptomatic to its sister ship, the MS Rotterdam, that recently anchored nearby.But Morrell said her parents — 68 and 69 years old — don't fit the criteria for moving to the ship, which is reserved for those 70 and older and in good health.So Innes described her daily routine — washing their hands every hour, waiting for meals to be left at the door. The couple has secured a set of cutlery and glasses they keep in the room and they try to wipe down everything that comes in.McLeod said news of the deaths have left her feeling powerless."I fluctuate from being thankful that we are in a balcony room to thinking that I will never get the hell home to my kids and grandkids," McLeod wrote. "I just hope and pray that no others die and that someone lets us dock and we can board a plane ASAP."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2020.Sidhartha Banerjee and Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
ATLANTA — The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a veteran civil rights leader who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought against racial discrimination, died Friday, a family statement said. He was 98.A charismatic and fiery preacher, Lowery led the SCLC for two decades — restoring the organization’s financial stability and pressuring businesses not to trade with South Africa’s apartheid-era regime — before retiring in 1997.Lowery, considered the dean of civil rights veterans, lived to celebrate a November 2008 milestone that few of his movement colleagues thought they would ever witness — the election of an African American president.At an emotional victory celebration for President-elect Barack Obama in Atlanta, Lowery said, "America tonight is in the process of being born again."An early and enthusiastic supporter of Obama over then-Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, Lowery also gave the benediction at Obama's inauguration."We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union,” he said.In 2009, Obama awarded Lowery the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour.In a statement Saturday, Obama said Lowery “changed the face of America.”“He carried the baton longer and surer than almost anybody. It falls to the rest of us now to pick it up and never stop moving forward until we finish what he started — that journey to justice,” he said.Obama said he and his wife, Michelle, were grateful for Lowery's “personal and spiritual support he offered us from the early days of our campaign ... and for the friendship and counsel he provided ever since.”In another high-profile moment, Lowery drew a standing ovation at the 2006 funeral of King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, when he criticized the war in Iraq, saying, "For war, billions more, but no more for the poor." The comment also drew head shakes from then-President George Bush and his father, former president George H.W. Bush, who were seated behind the pulpit.Lowery's involvement in civil rights grew naturally out of his Christian faith. He often preached that racial discrimination in housing, employment and health care was at odds with fundamental Christian values such as human worth and the brotherhood of man."I've never felt your ministry should be totally devoted to making a heavenly home. I thought it should also be devoted to making your home here heavenly," he once said.Lowery remained active in fighting issues such as war, poverty and racism long after retiring, and survived prostate cancer and throat surgery after he beat Jim Crow.“We have lost a stalwart of the Civil Rights Movement, and I have lost a friend and mentor,” House Majority Whip, U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn, in a statement Saturday. “His wit and candour inspired my generation to use civil disobedience to move the needle on ‘liberty and justice for all.’ It was his life's work and his was a life well lived.”Former President Bill Clinton remembered walking with Lowery across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on the 35th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. “Our country has lost a brave, visionary leader in the struggle for justice and a champion of its promise, still unrealized, of equality for all Americans. Throughout his long good life, Joe Lowery's commitment to speaking truth to power never wavered, even in the hottest fires.”His wife, Evelyn Gibson Lowery, who worked alongside her husband of nearly 70 years and served as head of SCLC/WOMEN, died in 2013.“I’ll miss you, Uncle Joe. You finally made it up to see Aunt Evelyn again,” King's daughter, Bernice King, said in a tweet Friday night.Lowery was pastor of the Warren Street Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, in the 1950s when he met King, who then lived in Montgomery, Alabama. Lowery’s meetings with King, the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy and other civil rights activists led to the SCLC’s formation in 1957. The group became a leading force in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.Lowery became SCLC president in 1977 following the resignation of Abernathy, who had taken the job after King was assassinated in 1968. He took over an SCLC that was deeply in debt and losing members rapidly. Lowery helped the organization survive and guided it on a new course that embraced more mainstream social and economic policies.Coretta Scott King once said Lowery "has led more marches and been in the trenches more than anyone since Martin."He was arrested in 1983 in North Carolina for protesting the dumping of toxic wastes in a predominantly black county and in 1984 in Washington while demonstrating against apartheid.He recalled a 1979 confrontation in Decatur, Alabama, when he and others were protesting the case of a mentally disabled black man charged with rape. He recalled that bullets whizzed inches above their heads and a group of Klan members confronted them."I could hear them go 'whoosh,'" Lowery said. "I'll never forget that. I almost died 24 miles from where I was born."In the mid-1980s, he led a boycott that persuaded the Winn-Dixie grocery chain to stop selling South African canned fruit and frozen fish when that nation was in the grip of apartheid.He also continued to urge blacks to exercise their hard-won rights by registering to vote."Black people need to understand that the right to vote was not a gift of our political system but came as a result of blood, sweat and tears," he said in 1985.Like King, Lowery juggled his civil rights work with ministry. He pastored United Methodist churches in Atlanta for decades and continued preaching long after retiring.Born in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1921, Joseph Echols Lowery grew up in a Methodist church where his great-grandfather, the Rev. Howard Echols, was the first black pastor. Lowery’s father, a grocery store owner, often protested racism in the community.After college, Lowery edited a newspaper and taught school in Birmingham, but the idea of becoming a minister "just kept gnawing and gnawing at me," he said. After marrying Evelyn Gibson, a Methodist preacher’s daughter, he began his first pastorate in Birmingham in 1948.In a 1998 interview, Lowery said he was optimistic that true racial equality would one day be achieved."I believe in the final triumph of righteousness," he said. "The Bible says weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”A member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Lowery is survived by his three daughters, Yvonne Kennedy, Karen Lowery and Cheryl Lowery. He died at home in Atlanta from natural causes unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak, the family said.While plans are underway for a private family service in alignment with public health guidelines on social distancing amid the pandemic, the family said late Saturday, a public memorial will be held in late summer or early fall.___This story has been corrected to show that one of Lowery's daughters is Cheryl Lowery, not Cheryl Lowery-Osborne. The spelling of the Edmund Pettus Bridge also has been corrected.___Errin Haines, a former staffer of The Associated Press, was the principal writer of this obituary.The Associated Press
Health authorities in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec have confirmed a case of the coronavirus known as COVID-19.The Public Health Department of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services confirmed a woman in the region of an unspecified age had tested positive in a release sent Saturday night.The release does not identify the woman's location. However, Kativik Regional Police confirmed in a news release the case is in Salluit, a hamlet of about 1200 people on the Hudson Strait.A curfew, restricting movement between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., was subsequently put in place.The release from the board says the patient is currently in self-isolation "and will continue to do so until instructed otherwise," despite "sharing a house with others.""The patient … is isolated in a specific room and hygiene measures are being strictly applied," it says."Ever since the patient has been tested, she was put under home isolation and a list of contacts was gathered," Dr. Marie Rochette, regional director of public health for the board, is quoted as saying.Health authorities will now contact those individuals who are believed to have been in close contact with the individual, described as having spent "a period of at least 15 minutes at a distance of two metres or less.""Instructions will be given to the close contacts and health professionals will follow up with them daily," the release continues."The health authorities are ensuring all proper follow-ups with everyone concerned," it says."Action has been taken in a timely manner; all appropriate public health measures are in place. All physical and psychosocial needs are currently being addressed."Community locked down In addition to the curfew, Kativik Regional Police said all flights in and out of Salluit have been cancelled, and the airport is closed to traffic except for "extreme exceptions.""Local leaders are asking that citizens refrain from stigmatizing those who fall victim to the coronavirus," the police release reads. "They urge citizens to be well informed of the symptoms and follow the proper means to protect themselves."Police and officials from the village of Salluit will be ensuring residents "comply with the curfew, practice social distancing and refrain from taking any actions that may threaten the well-being of others," it says.In its release, the health service urges residents across the region to continue hygiene measures such as washing hands frequently, keeping a distance of two metres, staying at home as much as possible and avoiding visiting friends and family members in close spaces.Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 are asked not to visit the local health centre, but call ahead or contact the Info-Health line at 1-888-662-7482."The [board] acknowledges that this period is highly stressful and wishes to reassure the population that thorough measures are in place to ensure a strict control on the situation," reads the release.