Spain extends coronavirus lockdown, in 'war' to buy medical supplies

By Nathan Allen and Inti Landauro
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Spain extends coronavirus lockdown, in 'war' to buy medical supplies

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Leganes

By Nathan Allen and Inti Landauro

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain extended its coronavirus lockdown on Thursday and said it was fighting a "real war" over medical supplies to contain the world's second-highest virus death toll, turning to China for many critical products, where officials reported fraud and massive price increases.

A further 655 people died overnight, pushing Spain's toll from the respiratory disease to 4,089, second only to Italy and further beyond China where the outbreak began.

Elderly nursing home residents have been particularly hard hit. In Madrid, the region worst affected by the virus, authorities pledged to assess each residence and take urgent action as infections and deaths among their vulnerable population mounted.

"Old people have been abandoned in an astonishing way," said

Carmen Flores, head of patients' rights group Defensor del Paciente.

In Madrid, Spain's capital and biggest city, located in the country's worst-affected region, an ice rink has been converted into a morgue and 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid said their Santiago Bernabeu stadium would be used to store medical supplies.

Coronavirus cases rose by 18% to 56,188, a slower rate than in the past few days. Health emergency chief Fernando Simon said the start of mass testing would reveal more infections, even as Health Minister Salvador Illa cautiously told parliament the data "make us think we are starting a stabilization phase."

With the world's fourth-highest number of cases, Spain is feeling the pinch of a global shortage of protective equipment.

"We are in a real war to get hold of ventilators, face masks and quick test kits," Budget Minister Maria Jesus Montero told Telecinco television. "All the countries are fighting to secure domestic production, fighting to get supplies from China," she said.

Spain has ordered 432 million euros ($471.4 million) of goods from China, asked NATO for help and pledged to support factories adapting their production lines to make more goods at home.

Separately, the government returned a batch of faulty Chinese-made rapid tests to the Spanish firm that supplied them. China's Embassy in Madrid wrote on Twitter that the manufacturer did not have a licence to sell. Spain countered that the products had European certification.

A diplomatic source told Reuters that prices had gone up 10-fold in some cases and Chinese firms were demanding payment upfront. A health authority source said there were queues of aircraft in some Chinese airports just to buy such supplies and middlemen often defrauded buyers.

The officials did not name those sellers, saying only they were usually smaller, private firms.


EMERGENCY EXTENDED

Parliament extended until April 12 emergency measures, including the lockdown that has confined people to their homes except to buy food or medicine and to work.

"It is not easy to extend the state of emergency," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told parliament. "I am convinced the only efficient option against the virus is social isolation."

Although the main opposition conservative People's Party supported the measure, its leader, Pablo Casado, chastised Sanchez for what he called a late and inadequate response.

While Spain's death toll is still well below Italy's 8,165, it has been rising faster, and has soared 10-fold since Spain declared the state of emergency on March 14.


(Reporting by Nathan Allen and Inti Landauro; Additional reporting by Paola Luelmo, Jessica Jones, Clara-Laeila Laudette, Emma Pinedo and Belen Carreno; Writing by Andrei Khalip and Isla Binnie; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)

  • 'That was the master plan': Why Harry and Meghan were going to California — just maybe not so soon
    News
    CBC

    'That was the master plan': Why Harry and Meghan were going to California — just maybe not so soon

    In the end, it really isn't a surprise.Maybe the timing is unexpected, but Prince Harry and Meghan's reported move to California in recent days seems likely to have been the inevitable end goal for the couple who this week officially started their life outside the senior ranks of the Royal Family."They were always heading to L.A. That was the master plan," Katie Nicholl, Vanity Fair's royal correspondent, said via email.But as with so much else in the world right now, the coronavirus pandemic may have prompted a change in their plans, and moved up the timing of their departure from Vancouver Island, where they had been living with their young son, Archie, since November."I think with North America shutting down because of COVID, they decided to move to California sooner," said Nicholl."Meghan wants to be near her mum [who lives in Los Angeles], which is understandable at this time, and they clearly have projects in the pipeline and wanted to get to L.A. as quickly as possible."Still, it's a move that raised some eyebrows in the U.K., and leaves lingering questions about why they decamped so soon from Canada, which seemed to be in line as their temporary home at least for a little while as they seek to carve out a new life of financial independence."Their early announcements suggest that they might have hoped to undertake royal duties on a part-time basis, and a home in the Commonwealth might have been part of the plan if Prince Harry had retained his role as a Commonwealth youth ambassador," Toronto-based royal author and historian Carolyn Harris said via email.But things didn't work out that way, with Harry giving up that role as part of the agreement for him and Meghan stepping back from official duties."Instead, they are pursuing independent careers in addition to their philanthropy," said Harris, "and are following outside opportunities such as Meghan's recent project narrating the Disneynature documentary Elephant."That documentary is set to premiere on Disney+ on Friday, and has received mixed reviews in the U.K. media, with comments ranging from the Telegraph calling Meghan a "snug fit for this sweet nature doc" to the Guardian saying she adds "schmaltz" to the "Disney yarn." Thanks to CanadaHarris said the short duration of their stay in Canada is also "perhaps surprising" given the fact that their last public appearance as senior members of the Royal Family came at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey earlier this month, and they visited Canada House in London in January to express their thanks for the hospitality they had received while in Canada over the holidays.WATCH | Prince Harry and Jon Bon Jovi meet at Abbey Road StudiosThe move to California, according to various media reports, may have taken place about 10 days ago. It also raised questions in some quarters in the British media about whether the couple should have considered going back to the U.K., given the serious circumstances surrounding the pandemic, and came at the same time as Harry's father, Prince Charles, tested positive for the coronavirus. (He has since come out of self-isolation, and a palace official has said he is in good health, the BBC reported.)Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams told Express.co.uk that the timing of their Hollywood move might be perceived by some as selfish.While the timing was driven by the "imminent closing" of the border between the U.S. and Canada, Fitzwilliams said "the image this will create is that they are on a journey for themselves at a time when their undoubted global reach could give some succour to others."Could have 'won praise'Fitzwilliams also suggested the couple missed an opportunity by not returning to the U.K. "If they had temporarily returned to Britain, whatever their personal feelings, this would have been a selfless move and it would have won universal praise."But returning to the U.K. might not have been easy — or perhaps realistic right now."Frogmore Cottage, their house in Windsor, would have been a very safe place to self-isolate, and Harry must, of course, be anxious about his father and his grandparents [Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip]," royal biographer Penny Junor, author of Prince Harry: Brother Soldier Son, said via email."But equally, Meghan's mother is in L.A. It must have been a tough choice, but having made their decision to step back, it would have been difficult to reverse that decision so quickly in order to show solidarity."Not right nowNicholl said she can't see Harry and Meghan moving back to the U.K. at the moment, given that they have just moved to L.A. "And with the royals in isolation, there isn't much they can do, although I suspect Harry will probably be feeling far from home right now," Nicholl said. "They won't want to take any risks by travelling, and their priority is to keep Archie settled and in a routine. I think they will come to the U.K. when it is safer to do so."There could also have been basic logistical challenges that kept them from crossing the Atlantic Ocean."A few weeks ago, a return to the United Kingdom certainly would have been a viable option for Harry and Meghan, but there are now fewer planes crossing the Atlantic because the United States has banned all but essential travel from the United Kingdom and Europe," said Harris.Such a trip could also have renewed focus on their travel, which was criticized last summer when they made four private jet flights within 11 days."If Harry and Meghan were to return to the United Kingdom at this time, they would likely attract criticism for travelling on a trans-Atlantic flight during a pandemic," said Harris.Other factors that could have played into the decision to go to California include questions of taxation and residency.Security considerations?"The decision to move to Los Angeles may also have been influenced by security considerations," said Harris. "During their time in Canada, Harry and Meghan received British and Canadian security, but they will engage private security services in the United States."President Donald Trump tweeted on the weekend that the U.S. wouldn't be paying for their security, and a spokesperson for the couple said they had no plans to ask for such support.As much as the move means Meghan, a former actor who grew up in Los Angeles, is back in familiar territory, questions also remain regarding Harry's feelings toward the move."I would be surprised if all of this has made Harry happy," said Junor.While he may be trying to make Meghan happy by taking her back to her home, her job and people she knows and loves, Harry is moving away from what is familiar to him, Junior suggested."But in so doing, he has left his home, his job and everyone he knows and loves. I fear there are going to be some very difficult times ahead for him."What's next for them isn't clear. In a social media post earlier this week, they told supporters "you've been great," and said they "look forward to reconnecting with you soon."

  • 'A surge is coming': Physical distancing critical as Ontario sees 426 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths
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    CBC

    'A surge is coming': Physical distancing critical as Ontario sees 426 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths

    Physical distancing measures are critical to keep Ontario from facing the scale of devastation seen in Italy as number of COVID-19 cases continue to climb, Premier Doug Ford said at a news conference Wednesday.Ford's comments come as Ontario confirmed 426 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, marking a 21.7 per cent increase in the total number of infections and the largest single-day jump there since the outbreak began."Right now, today, there is very little separating what we will face here in Ontario from the devastation we have seen in Italy and Spain," Ford said. "We know a surge is coming."Pressed by reporters, Ford declined to provide a specific date about when that surge could happen and defended the decision not to release a forecast of the potential number of novel coronavirus cases that the province could see, saying the models vary widely. Ford added that Ontarians must ultimately decide whether "we go the route of Italy and Spain," and stay home accordingly to stop the spread of the disease.Wednesday's new cases bring the provincial total to 2,392, including at least 37 deaths and 689 cases that are resolved, as of 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.There are now 145 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario hospital intensive care units. That's 20 more than the previous day, a 16 per cent jump. Of those in hospital, 98 patients are on ventilators. The number of COVID-19 patients in the province's ICUs is doubling every four days.And in what is being called the largest outbreak at a long-term care home in Ontario, a total of 14 residents and the spouse of a resident of Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon have died of the virus.The latest two deaths were reported on Wednesday.The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has said at least 24 staff members are also infected.Discrepancies in death reports expected to narrowAssociate chief medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe acknowledged at a news conference the provincial totals may not capture all of the deaths associated with COVID-19 because of some clusters at long-term care homes are not confirmed by testing.Yaffe said that should change due to a new directive on testing at such homes that would see anyone with symptoms tested for the virus, meaning any such deaths will be lab-confirmed.At the same time, she emphasized the need for local public health units to input any data into the province's integrated reporting tool to keep numbers as up to date as possible.A CBC Toronto analysis published Wednesday found that the death toll in long-term care homes is more than double what the province had officially reported this week.Another 3,135 people are awaiting test results, a drop of 1,145 since the last update. A total of 57,874 tests have been approved.The province provided this breakdown of the total cases since Jan. 15: * There's an even split when it comes to male and female patients. * The median age is 50, ranging in age from less than one to 105 years of age. * Greater Toronto Area public health units account for 56.0 per cent of cases. * 11.3 per cent of those who have COVID-19 were hospitalized.The Ontario Hospital Association said in a statement on Wednesday that as the number of COVID-19 cases in acute care units rises, many hospitals are experiencing the equipment shortage, with masks in especially limited supply.The association is calling on the federal and provincial governments to clearly communicate when new supplies will be provided to specific hospitals.'A race against time'In his daily briefing Wednesday, Ford announced a $50-million fund to help businesses retool their operations to produce medical equipment and personal protective gear for front-line workers.The Ontario Together Fund will go to the most viable, innovative proposals that can quickly provide medical supplies and equipment, including gowns, coveralls, face shields and ventilators, the government said in a news release. Ford also said the province has worked with the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association to get ventilators produced and Ontario recently ordered 10,000 of the machines from O-Two Medical Technologies.How soon those ventilators might become available, Ford didn't say explicitly, calling the process "a race against time."Ford also said the province is reviewing its list of businesses deemed "essential" and that updates could be coming.Given the current trends, Ontario's top doctor is imploring local health units to use their legal powers to "implement more aggressive" measures to ensure people with COVID-19 remain isolated, and to trace the contacts infected people have had are tracked more thoroughly."We must do more given the ongoing and increasing incidence of community transmission across the province," said Dr. David Williams in a memo to regional medical officers of health Wednesday.Toronto's medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said the city will be issuing those orders to those people, as well as others suspected of having COVID-19.Meanwhile, anyone being charged under the province's emergency powers is required to identify themselves, Ontario's solicitor general says.Sylvia Jones says people could face hefty fines if they refuse to give their proper name, date of birth and address if asked by a provincial offences officer. That includes police officers, First Nations constables, special constables and municipal by-law enforcement officers.Refusing to correctly identify oneself carries a fine of $750 or $1,000 for obstructing any person in exercising a power if a provincial offences officer issues a ticket.The temporary power was approved by the province yesterday, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.Further, failure to comply with an emergency order could carry punishments of up to one-year in jail or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for a director of a corporation, or $10,000,000 for a corporation itself."It is the responsibility of all Ontarians to do their part and respect the emergency orders in place," Jones said in a statement.The province is also changing testing guidelines at the province's long-term care homes to try to curb the spread of COVID-19.Under the new rules, which took effect Monday, every resident and staff member who shows symptoms of the virus must be tested, even after an outbreak has already been declared in the home.Previously, testing was only conducted on the first few symptomatic residents to establish the existence of an outbreak.Temporary COVID-19 unitA hospital in Burlington is building a temporary COVID-19 unit in anticipation of a surge of patients.Joseph Brant Hospital says the structure being built on hospital grounds will have 93 beds.The hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Ian Preyra, says the pandemic response unit will allow the hospital to keep its critical care and high acuity beds for the sickest patients.The Ministry of Health is also allowing all public hospitals to lease or acquire temporary space in institutions or other buildings such as hotels or retirement homes.The ministry says hospitals could use those spaces to house COVID-19 or other patients.

  • Trudeau to recall Parliament to unlock billions of dollars more in COVID-19 emergency aid
    News
    CBC

    Trudeau to recall Parliament to unlock billions of dollars more in COVID-19 emergency aid

    Calling it the "largest economic program in Canada's history," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today Parliament will be recalled to pass new legislation to deliver enhanced COVID-19 emergency aid measures.Business groups and the opposition Conservatives are saying delays are unacceptable and are demanding urgent action to get the money flowing fast.The government is reaching out to opposition parties to recall Parliament to pass legislation for the expanded measures, which include an expanded income support program and a boost in wage subsidies for all businesses, Trudeau said Wednesday at his daily briefing."This must be a Team Canada effort. Governments of all orders across the country are stepping up to fulfil their responsibilities to Canadians," he said."Canada hasn't seen this type of civic mobilization since the Second World War."Trudeau asked Canadians to do their "service" by following public health guidelines on physical distancing, self-isolation and personal hygiene. He could not provide any firm details on how long those disruptive practices will be required, saying only that it will be weeks or months.He also declined to say how many Canadians could die from infection, saying there are various scenarios.A senior government official said a time has not yet been set to reconvene Parliament but it's likely to happen early next week. While there are conflicting views on whether legislation is needed, the numbers are so large that the government thought it was right to put it before Parliament, the official said.Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said recalling Parliament recognizes the role of the opposition in Canada's parliamentary democracy, as well as the "magnitude" of the proposed measures.The federal government initially pledged a package worth $82 billion, including income supports, wage subsidies and tax deferrals.But that figure quickly swelled as the government expanded the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and increased the proposed wage subsidy, previously set at 10 per cent. The enhanced 75 per cent wage subsidy program will be offered to businesses of all sizes, non-profits and charities, rather than just small and medium-sized companies, as originally proposed.Wage subsidies expected to cost $71BProviding more details on that program today, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said it will cost an estimated $71 billion but will reduce the anticipated cost of the CERB to $24 billion.Calling the measures "very significant expenditures," Morneau said the income supports are in addition to billions of dollars in tax deferrals and other measures meant to ensure an economic rebound occurs as quickly as possible after the pandemic subsides."My message to Canada's employers is this: get ready to rehire people," he said.Morneau said employers will be eligible if they see a reduction of at least 30 per cent in revenues, compared to the same month last year. It will cover 75 per cent for the first $58,700 of salary, equalling about $847 per week per employee.The program will be available to all businesses big and small that are not publicly funded, as well as non-profits. Morneau said it will help the hard-hit hospitality and charitable sectors."We know non-profits and charities are facing similar difficulties. Canadians' needs for your services are going up, but your donations are going down. It feels like an impossible dilemma," he said.Morneau also warned of "severe consequences" for any bad actor who attempts to defraud the program."This is a high trust system we're putting in place. We will take decisive action against anyone who breaks that trust," he said.Morneau said the online application portal for the program should be up and running in about three to six weeks.The Conservative opposition and business groups say that's too long for struggling businesses."We're two months into this crisis. The government has had weeks to prepare a response, to see what's coming, what's happening in other countries," said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics. "This is going to be three pay periods at least for some people who are going to be relying on this kind of program."Scheer said the fact that the government needs to recall Parliament represents a "massive blunder" because its legislation didn't match the actual proposals."They recalled the House of Commons last week, attempted to grab power for themselves, and goofed up on their own legislation. So badly that now they need to recall Parliament just to fix the errors and the gaps that their original legislation had. This government is not instilling a lot of confidence in Canadians right now," he told P&P host Vassy Kapelos.The Liberals had failed in an attempt to pass legislation giving the government spending powers without parliamentary approval through to 2021.The Canadian Chamber of Commerce warned that a six-week wait could mean more businesses shutting down and more people thrown out of work."We know that many smaller businesses do not have enough cash reserves to wait another six weeks," the organization said in a statement. "Those affected will likely now place greater demand on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. We urgently need to get these funds into the hands of employers."The Chamber of Commerce also raised concerns that the requirement to show a revenue drop of 30 per cent will be difficult to comply with for many businesses, including those that rely on invoicing with uncertain payment schedules.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre also said the legislation passed in Parliament last week does not allow for the enhanced benefits.Recalling Parliament to 'salvage' promises"Parliament will need to be recalled to salvage the government's wage subsidy promise," he tweeted late Tuesday. "Trudeau's announcement is not legal under the law his government wrote last week."Poilievre said that requirement for a 30 per cent reduction in revenue is not written into the legislation. Canadians can begin applying for CERB on April 6 through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website, and the funds are expected to flow in about 10 days. Jobless Canadians will need to check in once a month to confirm they're still not working.People who already have applied for employment insurance (EI) do not have to reapply for CERB. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said there has been an "unprecedented wave" of applications for EI benefits, with 2.1 million applications in the last two weeks. In 2018-2019, there were 2.1 million EI recipients for the entire year.Qualtrough said CERB is targeting people with no sources of income, but the government is also looking for ways to fill the gaps that remain for others — such as people who are self-employed and face a reduction in income.The online portal to apply for benefits will work on a system ordered by birth date. People born in January through March can apply on April 6, those born in April through June on April 7, those born in July through September on April 8, and those born October through December on April 9.Businesses receiving the wage subsidy are expected to top up the remaining 25 per cent of employees' wages if they are able.Small business has praise, concernsThe Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) welcomed the confirmation that businesses will still qualify if they aren't able to cover that remaining amount, and called the wage subsidy an "incredibly important tool" that will help protect jobs.But the group shares the Chamber of Commerce's concern that funds won't be available for up to six weeks, since many are facing immediate cash flow emergencies.In a statement, the CFIB said the requirement to show a 30-per-cent reduction in revenue in the last year will also prove challenging for many firms, including seasonal businesses and those with tight profit margins."The goal of this unprecedented and positive move is to give employers the means and confidence to retain their staff during the COVID-19 pandemic," said CFIB President Dan Kelly. "If employers are not able to know with certainty whether they will qualify for the subsidy, many will be forced to lay off workers."Wages are so significant an expense that getting it wrong, or having your documentation of the revenue drop rejected on audit, would put small businesses [at] risk of bankruptcy."

  • In Taiwan, anger at China over virus drives identity debate
    News
    Reuters

    In Taiwan, anger at China over virus drives identity debate

    Anger at being confused with China amid the coronavirus outbreak and Beijing's stepped-up efforts to assert sovereignty is stirring heated debate in Taiwan about how to further distance itself from its giant and often threatening neighbour. At its core is a debate about whether to drop "China" from the island's official name, the Republic of China. During the virus crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO), which considers the island part of China, has listed Taiwan's far lower case number under China's, and China has repeatedly insisted only it has the right to speak for Taiwan on the global stage, including about health issues.

  • 'Out of time': How a pandemic and an oil crash almost sank Newfoundland and Labrador
    News
    CBC

    'Out of time': How a pandemic and an oil crash almost sank Newfoundland and Labrador

    His province was reporting just four cases of COVID-19 when Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball wrote the prime minister to warn that his province was about to go under.It wasn't the health crisis that had Ball so concerned — though that clearly was a major worry. It was a financial crisis that had him reaching out to Justin Trudeau for help.In the March 20 letter, Ball warned that Newfoundland and Labrador had "run out of time," according to sources with knowledge of the events.The province with Canada's worst balance sheet had just been told that nobody wanted to buy Newfoundland and Labrador bonds. The government's attempts to finalize both its short- and long-term borrowing programs had failed.In other words, Newfoundland and Labrador couldn't get the money it needed in the face of a pandemic.Sources say the provincial government was on track to run out of cash by the middle of April."There is a point coming soon when this province will not be able to pay its public service," a senior provincial government official said of the situation at the time.Newfoundland and Labrador was spared that fate just days later, when the Bank of Canada stepped in with a plan to buy short-term provincial bonds to "support the liquidity and efficiency" of provincial funding markets."This should ease those financing constraints for the provinces, and at least give them predictability for their near-term cash flows," Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz told reporters in Ottawa Friday.It was a move to help all provinces deal with the coronavirus fallout. But the combined impact of COVID-19 and the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia was hammering resource-dependent provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan especially hard — and their borrowing costs were rising as a result.Poloz's move was a lifeline for Newfoundland and Labrador. Before Poloz stepped in, Ball's minority Liberal government was just days away from an emergency session of the House of Assembly to get approval to borrow $2 billion it wasn't sure it could raise.'We can make payroll'At a press conference in St. John's Wednesday afternoon, Ball confirmed that he wrote the letter, telling reporters he thought it was appropriate to draft some correspondence to reflect conversations he's had with the prime minister.The premier said the province's borrowing picture has brightened somewhat since March 20."We've had some success this week in the markets — of course, supported with the Bank of Canada by the changes that they had made to help provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador with their borrowing requirement," Ball said."So essentially, we can make payroll. We will continue to provide the services."Newfoundland and Labrador was in a weakened financial position even before the crisis. Its plight was only compounded by the collapse in oil prices and COVID-19. And as the virus spread around the world, economic contagion spread throughout the provincial economy.Newfoundland and Labrador's most recent budget (this year's fiscal plan has been delayed indefinitely) was betting on US$63 oil. On Monday, it fell below US$23.That price slump means hundreds of millions in revenues expected from producing fields are likely to evaporate in the coming year.  And future offshore projects — including the $6.8-billion deepwater Bay du Nord prospect — have now been put on hold.As many as 500 jobs were lost with the mothballing of Come By Chance oil refinery, which itself accounts for five per cent of the province's gross domestic product.The global slump also has lowered demands for the other key provincial exports — including fish, the backbone of the province's rural economy. The upcoming tourism season, with its cruise ships and conventions, is in peril. Construction work has been suspended on the Muskrat Falls hydro project and Vale's nickel mine expansion in Labrador. It all combines to create a cash-and-jobs crisis in a province that already had double-digit unemployment and no obvious floor under its free-fall in revenue. Newfoundland and Labrador doesn't receive equalization payments. Its balance sheet is completely exposed.The cash situation is so bad, Ball warned publicly last week that his government might not be able to participate in any cost-shared programs Ottawa may use to help spur the economic recovery."You cannot compare Newfoundland and Labrador to other provinces," he said. "We are unique."In the hours after the provincial legislature swiftly passed five pieces of legislation to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Ball warned about a looming "economic crisis" expected to follow the public health emergency — a crisis that almost certainly would require another plea to Ottawa for help."I think every single industry — every single key industry that's driving this economy right now — is having difficulty," Ball told reporters in St. John's."The federal government will have to be there to help provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador."

  • Businesses closed amid COVID-19 ask for help with rent
    CBC

    Businesses closed amid COVID-19 ask for help with rent

    For businesses forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic fear eviction with no income and rent payments due. 

  • Rouhani: U.S. has lost opportunity to lift Iran sanctions amid coronavirus
    News
    Reuters

    Rouhani: U.S. has lost opportunity to lift Iran sanctions amid coronavirus

    Iran's president said on Wednesday that, with the advent of the coronavirus, the United States had missed a historic opportunity to lift sanctions on his country, though the penalties had not hampered its fight against the infection. On Tuesday, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the possibility that Washington might consider easing sanctions on Iran and other nations to help fight the epidemic, but gave no concrete sign it plans to do so. "The United States lost the best opportunity to lift sanctions," Hassan Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting.

  • How to protect yourself and others from infection as COVID-19 cases increase
    News
    The Canadian Press

    How to protect yourself and others from infection as COVID-19 cases increase

    COVID-19 is now impacting the lives of Canadians on many levels and people across the country are seeking answers to numerous important questions they have about the novel coronavirus. Below is a summary: WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?Health Canada says those who are infected with COVID-19 may have few, if any symptoms, or may not know they're infected because symptoms of the novel coronavirus are similar to a cold or flu.Those symptoms have included fever, cough and difficulty breathing.Other symptoms can include fatigue, mucus production, muscle or joint pain, sore throat, headache and chills. COVID-19 can sometimes escalate to pneumonia.According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 78 per cent of the people confirmed to have COVID-19 in this country have developed a cough, 57 per cent reported weakness, and 57 per cent have experienced headaches.Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. Health officials are still trying to determine whether the virus can be transmitted to others if someone is not showing symptoms. While experts believe this is possible, it's considered to be rare. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I HAVE SYMPTOMS?If you have COVID-19 symptoms, even if they're mild, stay at home and follow local health authorities' instructions to self-isolate.If you feel sick and must visit a health-care professional, Health Canada says you should call ahead or tell them when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness. You may be asked to wear a mask while waiting for or receiving treatment to prevent the spread of the illness.Tell them your symptoms and travel history and let them know whether you've had direct contact with animals or a sick person, especially if they've had symptoms. HOW SICK WILL I GET?Most people diagnosed with COVID-19 experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority of those who contract the virus recover.However, for some, especially older adults and those with pre-existing conditions, it can cause more severe illness, such as pneumonia. In some cases, it can be fatal.As of April 1, 64 per cent of all COVID-19 cases were related to community transmission, while 36 per cent were either exposed while travelling or exposed to a traveller returning to Canada.The World Health Organization has found that among patients in China, 80 per cent suffered mild cough and fever symptoms while 14 per cent suffered severe symptoms requiring treatment, including being placed on ventilators. A further one per cent lapsed into critical condition with symptoms that could include respiratory failure, septic shock and organ failure or dysfunction. HOW DO I KNOW IF I SHOULD BE TESTED FOR COVID-19?The best way to determine if you should go to a testing centre is to call your doctor or local public health office.Canada's chief public health officer Theresa Tam has said tests are prioritized for certain types of cases: travellers who have symptoms; those with severe respiratory illness, regardless of whether they've travelled; people in long-term care facilities with influenza-like illness; and hospital-related illness, including health-care workers who are sick.She emphasized, however, clinicians at assessment centres that are opening up across the country still have the ability to make their own judgement on who gets tested.Several provinces and the federal government have created online self-assessment tools that will advise you what to do. WHAT ABOUT TRAVEL?The government has closed the border with the U.S. for non-essential travel, and strongly advises Canadians to avoid travelling anywhere as many countries impose movement bans, quarantines, and airlines ground flights.All Canadian travellers returning from abroad are told they must self-isolate for 14 days after their arrival, regardless of whether they show symptoms, and monitor their health. HOW DO I SELF-ISOLATE?Ideally, self-isolation means halting all contact with others, and setting up a space dedicated solely to the person being isolated.Those who live with others should try to segregate parts of the home. Do not use common spaces at the same time; stay out of the kitchen; dedicate a separate washroom to that person if possible, and don't share towels or toiletries. Clean spaces where that individual has been and do not touch surfaces that person has touched before cleaning.Only leave the home if it's absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care.If you have to interact with others, keep it brief. Try to maintain a safe distance and wear a mask, the agency says. Avoid people with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and older adults. WHAT IS SOCIAL DISTANCING AND HOW CAN I PRACTISE IT?Social distancing involves taking steps to increase the physical space between people to prevent the virus from spreading. Public health officials say this is key to reducing the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.Officials insist people stay home as much as possible, and those who must go out should stay two metres away from others.Other tips include avoiding crowds and going to public places during off-peak hours. If you are sick, stay home. WHAT HOUSEHOLD ITEMS SHOULD I HAVE IN CASE I NEED TO ISOLATE?Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu has suggested that people gather enough food and other essentials, such as medicines and toiletries to last them through a two-week quarantine if needed.However, Hajdu and other public officials, including Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot, are also urging people not to stockpile or hoard these items, insisting it's not necessary.The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 outbreak has led to many stores being cleared of items such as toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and certain non-perishable foods. HOW ARE CANADIAN OFFICIALS RESPONDING TO COVID-19?Public health officials are working hard to identify and contain cases of community transmission.Many provincial governments are taking extraordinary measures such as prohibiting large gatherings, closing schools and shuttering restaurants, gyms and theatres.Several provinces have declared states of public emergency in response to the pandemic. WHERE CAN I FIND ADDITIONAL CREDIBLE INFORMATION?Check government websites — federal, provincial and municipal — as well as the World Health Organization for the latest, credible information regarding the novel coronavirus.For more information on an epidemiological summary in Canada visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/epidemiological-summary-covid-19-cases.html WHERE CAN I FIND PROVINCIAL TESTING INFORMATION?B.C.: 1-888-COVID-19 or healthlinkbc.caAlberta: alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertansSaskatchewan: saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirusManitoba: 1-888-315-9527 or gov.mb.ca/covid19Ontario: publichealthontario.ca/en/diseases-and-conditions/infectious-diseases/respiratory-diseases/novel-coronavirusQuebec: 1-877-644-4545 or quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirusNew Brunswick: gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/ocmoh/cdc/content/respiratory_diseases/coronavirus.htmlNova Scotia: novascotia.ca/coronavirusPrince Edward Island: 1-800-958-6400 or princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/covid-19Newfoundland and Labrador: gov.nl.ca/covid-19/Yukon: yukon.ca/en/information-about-novel-coronavirus-yukonersNorthwest Territories: 1-833-378-8297 or hss.gov.nt.ca/en/services/coronavirus-disease-covid-19Nunavut: gov.nu.ca/health/information/covid-19-novel-coronavirusThis report by The Canadian Press was published April 1, 2020. The Canadian Press

  • What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 1
    News
    CBC

    What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 1

    Recent developments: * There are 14 new cases of COVID-19 in western Quebec and five in the Belleville, Ont., area.Here's what's happening todayOttawa saw its biggest single-day jump Wednesday with 50 new cases. Ottawa Public Health says most of the new positive cases stemmed from samples taken on or before March 19, so health officials are blaming the sudden jump largely on a backlog.A new regional testing centre can now turn around tests in about two days. As of noon, non-essential travel into western Quebec is banned, including from Ontario. Police will be setting up random checkpoints to ensure motorists are complying with the order.It's an uncertain day for many tenants and landlords as monthly rent is due.OPH says nursing and retirement homes remain a top concern. There are four outbreaks at such facilities in the city, and the province is changing testing protocols at these homes. There's a fifth outbreak at a group home run by the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.WATCH: People pull loved ones out of nursing homesHow many cases do we have?There are currently 194 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa and more than 300 in the region, including seven deaths linked to the coronavirus. Confirmed cases are just a snapshot of the total because of the limits of testing. There are likely hundreds, even thousands more.Distancing and isolatingPhysical distancing means avoiding non-essential trips, working from home, cancelling all gatherings and staying at least two metres away from others when out for a walk.WATCH: Here's how to handle physical distancing faux pasTravellers who return to Canada must now enter a mandatory 14-day period of self-isolation: staying home and asking others to leave supplies at the door.Anyone who's had close contact with someone who has travelled, who is older than 70 or who has a compromised immune system should also self-isolate for 14 days.People who feel sick should self-isolate for 14 days or until their symptoms are gone for 24 hours, whichever is longer.How daily life is changingOntario and Quebec have ordered all non-essential businesses to close and Quebec is closing more businesses on Sundays.Parks are only open to walk through and bylaw officers are watching for gatherings in many communities.Ontario and Quebec schools are closed all of April.Public transit authorities are scaling back service. Essential services like garbage and recycling collection continue. WATCH: Ottawa ICU doctor shares mental health tipsThe health-care sectorThe Ottawa Hospital is doubling its intensive care beds and seeking donations of protective equipment at coviddonations@toh.ca.Ottawa family doctors have had to reduce in-person visits because of equipment issues. WATCH: Here's how companies are pivoting to produce pandemic equipmentWhat are the symptoms of COVID-19?They range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection. The most common symptoms include fever, fatigue and a dry cough.Older people, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes are more likely to develop serious problems.The coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.It can also spread through close, prolonged contact, such as touching or handshaking, and via surfaces such as door handles, mobile phones and light switches.Most people with mild symptoms can self-isolate and get better. If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Where to get testedAnyone concerned they have COVID-19 in Ontario can fill out its online assessment tool. OttawaOttawans who have a new or worsening cough or fever and have left the country — or have spent lots of time with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days — should visit the COVID-19 screening centre at the Brewer Arena.The centre is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 151 Brewer Way near Carleton University. You don't have to call ahead.Kingston, Ont.The assessment centre at the Kingston Memorial Centre at 303 York St. is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.Other communitiesThe public health unit in the Belleville area is asking people only call it at 613-966-5500 if they still have questions after the province's self-assessment.Same for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark's unit at 1-800-660-5853 extension 2499.It has testing sites by referral from a family doctor or the health unit only at the Brockville Memorial Centre and the Smiths Falls hospital.WATCH: Can food spread COVID-19?Hawkesbury, Ont., has an assessment centre at 750 Laurier St. open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and the WInchester, Ont., Lions Hall on Albert Street is opening another by referral only.Only people older than age 70 in that area or who have chronic health problems or compromised immune systems can call 613-933-1375 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to ask about a home visit from paramedics.Renfrew County is providing home testing under some circumstances.Call Telehealth, your health care provider or it at 613-735-8654 if you still have more questions.Anyone who doesn't have or can't reach a family doctor can call its new primary health-care centre at 1-844-727-6404 if they have questions, even if they're not related to COVID-19.In western Quebec:Outaouais residents should call 819-644-4545 if they have a cough or fever, whether they've travelled or not. You could be referred to Gatineau's testing centre.If your symptoms require a trip to the ER, call ahead if your condition allows to let them know your travel history.First Nations communitiesAkwesasne and Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (MBQ) have declared states of emergency to prepare for possible cases.With a confirmed case in Akwesasne, anyone returning from farther than 80 kilometres away is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.Anyone in MBQ who has symptoms can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurseKitigan Zibi and Pikwakanagan have scaled back non-essential services and ask residents to follow public health advice.For more information, visit:

  • News
    CBC

    City of Victoria allows camping in parks so homeless can physically distance

    The City of Victoria won't be enforcing rules on camping in parks, as part of an effort to let people experiencing homelessness follow instructions to physicially distance themselves from others during the COVID-19 pandemic.With the increase of homeless people camping along Pandora Avenue in downtown Victoria, the city is now allowing the homeless to sleep in tents in city parks.as a temporary measure.Victoria mayor Lisa Helps told On the Island host Gregor Craigie the city has chosen Topaz park and Royal Athletic park as designated sites where harm reduction services, food services and security will be set up. Both were also chosen because they have running water so people can wash their hands."The prime minister gets on his podium everyday and says 'stay at home.' Sadly for some Canadians, home is a tent so that makes this really, really complicated," said Helps.Helps said bylaws that outline what time a camper can set up and take down their tent will not be enforced by officers at any parks at this time. Moving insideHelps said the long-term plan is to get homeless people inside but with limited city-owned facilities that can be used, B.C. Housing has had to help find places like vacant motels for homeless people to stay. In her daily address on the City of Victoria Facebook page on March 31, Helps said B.C. Housing has acquired additional motel rooms for people to stay, bringing the total to number of secured spaces to 115.As for residents who are frustrated with the situation along Pandora Avenue, Helps said she wishes there was a simple fix for the problem but there just isn't one."Of course, when people don't have homes or when they don't have access to the supports they need, it doesn't look pretty for anyone," she said. B.C. Housing said in a statement it's in the process of finalizing agreements with facility providers. It said local health authorities will identify people who require self-isolation and the organization will work with them to make these spaces available to those people. There are now over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

  • Two-thirds of Lufthansa's staff to shorten work hours due to coronavirus
    News
    Reuters

    Two-thirds of Lufthansa's staff to shorten work hours due to coronavirus

    Two-thirds of Lufthansa's global staff will work reduced hours after the German airline grounded much of its fleet due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lufthansa said on Wednesday. Lufthansa has applied or will apply for state aid to keep around 87,000 staff working on shorter hours, a spokesman said. The move was first reported by Business Insider.

  • Lost in translation: Newcomers need COVID-19 information in their own languages, advocates say
    News
    CBC

    Lost in translation: Newcomers need COVID-19 information in their own languages, advocates say

    Language barriers are preventing critical information about the COVID-19 pandemic from reaching many Edmonton newcomers in low-income housing, warn advocates.They're calling on authorities to act quickly to address the gap."God forbid if something happens in those housing premises — all of us will pay dearly," said Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society (SCCS). "That would be a breeding ground for disaster."Part of the issue, said Ibrahim, is that many newer Edmontonians live in close proximity in affordable housing.The other problem is daily briefings from the provincial government are only translated into print in a handful of languages such as Punjabi and Arabic, he said.That leaves many Albertans without direct access to rapidly changing information, such as recent updates on financial aid and increased restrictions, Ibrahim said.It's the reason SCCS has joined other groups to establish a task force to assist the 35,000 Somali-Albertans across the province. Callers can leave messages on the hotline, 1-403-907-0340, about rental or business concerns related to the pandemic. They are also producing educational videos, which Ibrahim said will be more accessible than text to many.'Hard to self-isolate'On Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, laid out new rules for people in mandatory self-isolation.Anyone in quarantine after returning from outside Canada or being in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, must remain on their own property. People who live in multi-unit buildings must stay inside their apartment and cannot use the elevators or stairwells to go outside.But advocates worry that not everyone is hearing the message. "All these directions that have been given — as to what to do and what not to do — are not well-communicated because there are no services," said Akram Shamie, chair of the United Communities of the Ethiopian Diaspora in Alberta.He said it's largely fallen on resource-strapped community groups, volunteers, mosques and churches to do what they can.Shamie knows of two cases where organizations like his were asked to donate money so families living in crowded conditions could self-isolate in motels for two weeks."If one group is affected by the coronavirus … it's a chain reaction — it could affect everyone," Shamie said. "Particularly if you are living in an apartment with three or four kids — it's very hard to self-isolate."'There is a gap'Capital Region Housing Corporation, Edmonton's main affordable housing provider, says it's trying to find ways to accommodate those who aren't native English speakers. In an emailed statement, chief operating officer Mark Hoosein said tenants are receiving timely health and safety information by way of emails, social media and posters, but improvements are on the way."We recognize there is a gap in our non-face-to-face communication to tenants for whom English isn't their first language, which we can address and improve upon," Hoosein wrote."Our future plans include a translation option on our website for languages other than English."To help facilitate translation, Hoosein said the corporation has partnered with several immigration and settlement agencies — the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, C5 North East Hub and the Somali Canadian Cultural Society.Community groups launched this COVID-19 pandemic information video in Somali But Ibrahim said SCCS has not had any communication with the Capital Region housing agency about COVID-19 or working together on translation.Alberta Health Services has developed information sheets on self-isolation and physical distancing in 15 languages apart from English and French, as well as signage in a handful of languages.The health authority also offers videos and answers to frequently asked questions in Arabic and Tigrinya. The City of Edmonton urged groups connected to Edmontonians who need translation services to support each other or access free online services."Given how many different languages are spoken by residents, and how quickly COVID-19 updates are happening, we need to ask our community to support each other," city spokesperson Ashish Mohan wrote in an email. 'Unhealthy living space'Rules to prevent the spread are also forcing some families to spend all of their time in apartments where mould and repeated flooding are a problem, said Ibrahim.In the case of one family, Ibrahim raised concerns prior to the pandemic in an email to Capital Regional Housing that included photos of mould and flooding in the home. A letter from a physician that said "the dust and unhealthy living space" put the safety of the family at high risk and could be a factor in their toddler's chronic cough.Ibrahim said he did not hear back about his response. Capital Region Housing has not yet responded to a request for comment from CBC News. Mohan said options to address concerns about landlords can be discussed with the Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board."We expect all landlords to fully comply with health regulations," Mohan said.

  • COVID-19 causes concerns for construction workers
    News
    CBC

    COVID-19 causes concerns for construction workers

    People in New Brunswick's construction industry are watching developments in the COVID-19 crisis with growing alarm.John Landry, executive director of the Construction Association of New Brunswick, estimates about 15 per cent of his member companies have temporarily shut down their operations so far.Many companies, he says, are carrying a lot of overhead costs."It's scary for all our members across the province," said Landry. "If it lasts only another couple of weeks, our industry will be fine, but if it's more than that you are going to see people start to close their doors forever."While 15 per cent seems a small number when compared to sectors like hospitality, some of the province's biggest construction projects are included in that number.Building Trades of New Brunswick president Jean-Marc Ringuette said about 60 per cent of the province's unionized tradespeople are going to be without work scheduled to take place over the next several months.That represents around 6,000 men and women.He cites physical distancing measures taken by Irving Oil at the company's Saint John refinery as an example.That reduced the regular workforce on site from about 700 to somewhere under 200, he said.He's worried the refinery's annual maintenance 'turnaround' could now also be postponed."The large turnaround, I'm sure it's in question not only with the COVID–19 virus but the supply chain issues that are going to probably come after that in order to get the materials and all that to carry on," said Ringuette.The refinery's annual turnaround creates jobs for several hundred tradespeople while pumping anywhere from $50 million to $200 million into the economy, depending on the year.Irving Oil did not respond to a CBC request for comment on the status of the 2020 turnaroundPoint Lepreau postponedAnother big project that has been postponed is a $53 million, six-week maintenance shutdown at NB Power's Point Lepreau generating station that had been scheduled to begin this month.Ringuette said it is important that physical distancing guidelines be followed on construction sites.But he is not advocating for a shutdown of the construction industry altogether. He said those companies that have recognized a COVID-19 safety issue have shut down already.Union members, he said, not only need the hours, they also depend on family health benefits that can extend well beyond their employment periods, depending on the length of time worked.The start of construction on a new school for Hanwell is another concern.A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said tender plans for the project will go ahead as scheduled in "coming weeks."In the meantime, at his daily COVID-19 press conference, Premier Blaine Higgs gave no indication of plans to shut the industry down overall.But he did issue a warning."Certainly, if they cannot follow the rules of the safe distancing rules, as we put in place, then they are not to be performing their duties as they normally would," said Higgs. "So if they are violating those rules, we will need to shut them down."WorkSafe New Brunswick has a link from its website offering COVID-19 guidelines for job sites.The only one that makes specific mention of the construction industry is under Frequently Asked Questions.It suggests construction workers should travel separately to the work site if possible."If there is more than one person in the vehicle, all persons in the vehicle will need to wear surgical masks," it states. "Please note that surgical masks are for one-time use, which means that a new mask will be necessary on the return trip."It recommends frequent cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles, suggests anyone feeling ill should remain at home, and says during breaks only one person at a time should sit in a vehicle.

  • Child custody in the COVID-19 era: Judges ask for 'realistic solutions'
    News
    CBC

    Child custody in the COVID-19 era: Judges ask for 'realistic solutions'

    COVID-19 has turned up as an issue in a family law case for the first time in British Columbia — as a father asked a judge this week to order his ex-partner to return their children from Germany as soon as international travel restrictions are lifted.The judge declined to make the order — finding in part that a ruling would have had little immediate effect anyway — but the decision speaks to a rising number of cases in which issues related to the novel coronavirus are being raised as urgent matters.In one Ontario case, a father feared his ex-spouse was going to expose their 10-year-old son to COVID-19 by trying to sell her home through an open house.And in yet another, a woman applied to have her former partner's custody privileges revoked because she didn't want their nine-year-old son leaving her home for any reason."Judges won't need convincing that COVID-19 is extremely serious, and that meaningful precautions are required to protect children and families. We know there's a problem," Ontario Superior Court Justice Alex Pazaratz wrote in a decision last week that has already been widely cited in family law cases."What we're looking for is realistic solutions."'Not urgent'The B.C. case involved a Swedish father and a German mother whose children were both born in Canada during the significant amount of time their parents have spent working and studying here.The mother has applied for permanent residency and owns a home in Pemberton, where the children attend school.She left for Germany in January and had originally intended to return at the end of February but was delayed because of "issues."Then COVID-19 hit and as Justice Nathan Smith notes "current international travel restrictions obviously preclude any immediate return."The father applied for an order for the children's return, which the woman objected to — despite her stated intention to come back — because she argued the court had no jurisdiction as Germany was her natural home and that of her offspring.Courts across the country have suspended regular operations to curb the spread of COVID-19. In B.C., Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson has directed that only essential and urgent matters should be heard.Smith said the case didn't rise to that level."I have concluded this matter is not urgent," he wrote. "An order requiring return of the children to British Columbia would have no immediate practical consequences. [The father] recognizes that it could not be implemented until current international travel restrictions are lifted and no one knows when that may be."'Inconsistent with 'social isolation''By contrast, Pazaratz — the Ontario judge — found "potentially urgent" issues in the case involving the father who worried about his former partner's plans to sell her home."He is concerned about prospective purchasers coming into the house (and likely into the child's room) to view the premises," Pazaratz wrote."He worries that having multiple strangers coming into the residence is inconsistent with the 'social isolation' safety precautions strongly recommended in this COVID-19 era."Fears of a parent's inability to maintain physical distance from a child also factored into a decision in which an Ontario child services society argued that a mother should not be allowed to have face-to-face visits with the children she had agreed to be placed in foster care."When I asked how she would remain socially distant from her child if the child was permitted to have face-to-face access, she did not have an answer," wrote Ontario Superior Court Justice Sonya Jain."She assumed that she and the child would not have to maintain social distance and that they would just stay inside and only have to maintain social distance from others outside her household."'We are all going to have have to try a bit harder'But even with the very real concerns around COVID-19, judges are having to make nuanced decisions around parental rights.In one ruling, another Ontario judge ordered a father to have virtual visits with his children until he moved out of a communal recovery home. And then all parties must follow strict handwashing and physical distancing guidelines when face-to-face visits begin after a period of isolation.In his precedent-setting decision, Pazaratz said the concerns of a woman who didn't trust her former partner to follow instructions were not urgent.He said family courts should also be careful about issuing "blanket" orders that would put the lives of children "on hold" and deprived them entirely of the love of one parent a a time when they most need support. "Every member of this community is struggling with similar, overwhelming COVID-19 issues multiple times each day," Pazaratz wrote."None of us have ever experienced anything like this. We are all going to have to try a bit harder — for the sake of our children."

  • Sask. grocery stores ramp up physical distancing measures amid COVID-19 concerns
    News
    CBC

    Sask. grocery stores ramp up physical distancing measures amid COVID-19 concerns

    Grocery stores across Saskatchewan are ramping up measures to enforce physical distancing among shoppers and employees, but one Regina resident says the current measures are still not enough.Bonnie Balaski wants to see one-way aisles implemented in all grocery stores. She has been in self-isolation for two weeks and has not seen her family. She has only left her home to buy necessary supplies at grocery stores."All they keep saying is social distance … social distance ... but in the one place where we have to be together, it seems like it's just been left and looked over and I don't understand," Balaski said. "Although they have the markers at the till … by the time you get up to the till and you're two meters apart from the people in front and behind you, you've already passed them in the aisles."Lakeview Fine Foods in South Regina implemented one-way aisles last week. Balaski said it's the only store she's visited with that system so far. When customers walk up to the front doors, they are met by signs indicating that it's a one-way traffic zone. There are coloured arrows on the floor directing people how to go up and down the aisles."We figured it would be easy and safe ... so we thought we'd get ahead of the curve and get on it right away," said Charles Tooke, owner of Lakeview Fine Foods. "We realized that the aisles are not that wide. When you have people coming in both directions, as they cross they are getting very close to one another."Tooke says customers have been happy to comply with the new arrangement. "We've noticed that most people are pretty respectful of it and are kind of following without much enforcement … it really hasn't been a problem yet ... Everybody has understood the need for it," said Tooke.More to comeLoblaws said in a statement it will pilot one-way lane traffic in some of its stores, including Your Independent Grocer locations, by the end of the week.Balaski said she is happy to see the company taking physical distancing in aisles seriously."I wish it wouldn't take them until the end of the week, but I understand how busy they are … I'm hoping once one store will do it, the rest will follow."Like Loblaws stores, Lakeview Fine Foods limits the amount of people in the store at any one time, has extra employees on-staff working to enforce physical distancing guidelines and has installed screen shields at its tills.Tooke says his grocery store will be flexible as the COVID-19 pandemic continues."We're open to doing more if there's more that needs to be done. But right now it feels like we're kind of striking the right balance so far."Online shoppingAn increasing amount of Saskatchewan residents have begun ordering groceries online, as indicated by lengthened wait periods. Some stores, such as Real Canadian Superstores in Regina, are showing pick-up times ranging from three days to a week after the order placement date, depending on the size of the order.Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Saskatchwan, one-day wait periods were common. Loblaws said it has reduced its store hours for both it's grocery stores and Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies across Canada to provide employees with more time to restock shelves, sanitize and rest.

  • Delaware Nation at Moraviantown is closing off community to battle COVID-19
    News
    CBC

    Delaware Nation at Moraviantown is closing off community to battle COVID-19

    Delaware Nation at Moraviantown is closing off its community in an effort to protect itself from the spread of COVID-19.Council decided on Tuesday that only residents and emergency services will be allowed to enter the community, with residents only allowed to leave for essential reasons. About 550 people live in Moraviantown, located in Chatham-Kent, Ont. "We are currently dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic by exercising our governing authority to maintain the health and the wellness of our community," said Delaware Nation Chief Denise Stonefish. She explained that the community will be setting up two access points, and the remaining roads leading into the community will be blocked off with concrete barriers."Our community members are like anybody else. We still have to go out and get groceries for our families. We still also have a significant elderly population who require their medications," Stonefish said.Community volunteers and the Moravian First Nation Police Service will be monitoring the access points. Furthermore, as of end-of-day Tuesday, all community businesses that had remained operational up until this point, like gas and confectionery stores, were also asked to close.Community has been 'waiting for this'"The community, as far as I understand and have been hearing, they have been waiting for this," Stonefish said. "They probably wish that we would have acted sooner upon this, but we did not want to put the fear factor and the scare factor in there, because we know that the COVID-19 virus is very detrimental and it now knows no age group. So I'm sure that the community is quite satisfied that the council has made that decision."Up until this point, the First Nation had already closed its administration building, while most employees were sent home, with some essential staff continuing to work as needed. Community members are also practising self-isolation and physical distancing."Right now we do not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community and we would like that to remain that way," Stonefish said. "We know that we're not exempt from any exposure, but we just want to be sure that we are doing things that are going to maintain the health and safety of our community members."While the community itself has no cases of the virus, the municipality of Chatham-Kent has six confirmed cases as of Tuesday morning.

  • CNN's Cuomo, with coronavirus, completes show from basement
    News
    The Canadian Press

    CNN's Cuomo, with coronavirus, completes show from basement

    NEW YORK — A bleary-eyed Chris Cuomo, saying he wanted to be a cautionary tale for his audience, anchored his CNN show from his basement Tuesday after testing positive for the coronavirus.Via remote link, he interviewed Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, an emergency room nurse and CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who expressed worry about one of Cuomo's symptoms.“Brace yourself,” Cuomo told viewers, “not for a hoax. But for the next few weeks of scary and painful realities. This is a fight. It's going to get worse. We're going to suffer.”Cuomo looked pale, his eyes watery and red-rimmed. He took a few deep breaths to compose himself. He repeated himself. Even Gupta said he didn't look good, and said he'd call later to talk about a tightness Cuomo was feeling in his chest.The 49-year-old newsman, whose brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has logged just as much television airtime lately with daily briefings on how the disease is affecting his state, said earlier that he knew it was a matter of time because of how often he was exposed to people. He said he's staying in the basement of his Long Island home to protect himself from his wife and children.The New York governor, who appeared with his brother on CNN by remote link the night before, also used the personal story to warn others during his press briefing Tuesday. He noted that he had scolded Chris for having their 88-year-old mother, Matilda, visiting Chris' home two weeks ago.“It's my family, it's your family, it's all of our families," he said. “This virus is so insidious, and we have to keep that in mind.”Chris Cuomo said he thought his mom would be safer at his house than in her New York City apartment, but his brother persuaded him to have her stay at his sister's place in Westchester County.Some competitors, including Sean Hannity and Geraldo Rivera of Fox News Channel, and Joy Reid and Ali Velshi of MSNBC, sent best wishes to Cuomo through social media Tuesday.He said he appreciated the sympathy from well-wishers but tried to deflect it.“Hopefully, I'll be able to keep doing the show,” he said. “But who knows?”One of the most unsettling things about the disease, he said, is hearing from doctors that there really isn't much he can do now except “suck it up.”“The best medicine is not to get it — prevention,” he said in a pre-show discussion with colleague Anderson Cooper.Most people who get the virus have mild to moderate symptoms and recover. But for older people, and those with underlying medical conditions, the disease can be dangerous. More than 3,000 people have died in the U.S. alone.Andrew Cuomo, 62, and the CNN anchor are sons of the late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, and that teasing big brother-little brother dynamic often enlivens their appearances together. The governor called him his best friend.“He is going to be fine,” he said. “He's young, in good shape, strong — not as strong as he thinks he is, but he will be fine.”Chris got a measure of revenge Tuesday night, referring to his brother as “Captain Banana Hands.”David Bauder, The Associated Press

  • News
    CBC

    Windsor Star printing facility halts production after worker tests positive for COVID-19

    The Windsor Star printing plant is down after a worker tested positive for COVID-19.Last Thursday, an employee came to work sick, said Sandy Matheson, president of Unifor Local 517G. The employee was tested and results came back Sunday, which is when the employer contacted Matheson."He did have symptoms when he came in and it's disappointing that one of our members would come into work while having symptoms," said Matheson.The facility was closed on Sunday and cleaned, but has yet to restart production."The paper is being printed in Islington and work for the other group is being done in London," he said. "It's being done until further notice at this point."Matheson hasn't spoke to the worker but said the employee was told to self-isolate. Other workers are following suit, with many concerned for their fellow employees."They're worried about themselves too, because obviously if the person had the symptoms we all know now that someone could have been contagious long before that," Matheson said.Unifor Local 517G has 37 members working at the Windsor plant, but two other unions have workers there. Matheson said 24 full-time employees will be paid, but the 13 part-time employees would be laid off.

  • In Syria camp fearing coronavirus, young teachers adapt again
    News
    Reuters

    In Syria camp fearing coronavirus, young teachers adapt again

    After bombs forced him and his students from their homes, Ahmed Hadaja began teaching in a tent in northwest Syria. Doctors fear the worst if the coronavirus hits Syria's northwest, the last big rebel bastion, where hospitals lie in ruins and camps overflow with people devastated by nine years of war. As the virus forces the world's big cities into lockdown, tens of millions of people face grave risks in refugee camps and makeshift settlements, from Syria to Bangladesh.

  • News
    CBC

    'Trying to protect this little town': Baddeck pharmacist blasts visitors

    A pharmacist in the tourist village of Baddeck, N.S., is begging come-from-aways to stay away, until the restrictions around COVID-19 have been lifted.Graham Mackenzie took to Twitter over the weekend, admonishing people who were visiting the area and potentially bringing COVID-19 with them.In an interview with CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton Wednesday, MacKenzie told host Steve Sutherland he was exasperated by the number of visitors in the community."When you come into Baddeck, people know if you're from around here or not, and your licence plate doesn't lie," said MacKenzie.He said that some may have been trying to get away from areas where there are COVID-19 cases, and others may have been opening up their cottages."I think people were forgetting just exactly how successful this virus is at spreading," he said."Trying to protect this little town, trying to protect this province, I felt it was just time to say something and remind people to stay home."MacKenzie, the owner of Stone's Pharmasave, and one of three pharmacists working at the store, said the pharmacy has taken its own precautions to keep people safe.He said a staff member called police one day about a group gathered outside the store.MacKenzie said the store is also limiting the number of customers in the pharmacy to two at a time.And he said they recently turned away a customer they know lives with someone who is self-isolating after travelling.Can't afford to get sickMacKenzie said one of the store's pharmacists is already in quarantine, so he and the other remaining pharmacist cannot afford to get sick."The virus really doesn't know what the guidelines are, so if you're in the house with somebody and there is a possibility that that person might be infected, we have to assume the same of you," he said."This business has to remain running. If we get sick, the store closes."MacKenzie said he knows the local economy depends heavily on tourists and other visitors, and he thought about how his message on social media might be perceived.Strang urges tourists to stay homeIn a press conference on Tuesday, the province's chief medical officer of health echoed the pharmacist's message to tourists and cottage owners from outside Nova Scotia. "Certainly we don't want people coming from other parts of Canada," said Dr. Robert Strang. As of March 23, anyone from outside Nova Scotia is being instructed to self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in the province. Those who fail to obey the isolation order could be fined $1,000 per day.Some travellers are exempt from the self-isolation rules, including truckers, medical staff and people travelling over the provincial border for medical treatment."This is not time to be travelling across the country, to be moving from one part of the country to another," Strang said Tuesday."People need to stay in their home community and their home province as we try to ride this COVID-19 issue out together." Strang said that if people from other parts of Nova Scotia want to go to their cottage, they need to make sure they are self-sufficient at that location."People need to understand if they go to a more remote area [and] if they become sick, there may be more challenges around accessing care."MORE TOP STORIES

  • News
    CBC

    Nunavut schools, daycares to stay closed until April 20

    Schools and daycare centres in Nunavut will remain closed until April 20, the Department of Education announced Tuesday.This is a two-week extension of a previous three-week closure that started on March 17, as recommended by Nunavut's chief public health officer because of concerns related to COVID-19. For now, the territorial government is not ready to cancel the entire school year.Education Minister David Joanasie said he'll have a better idea at the end of this extension of what the plan will be for schools, and, if classes are cancelled, what the plan would be for grades — whether or not students would be held back or pushed forward to the next grade."Wait for another two weeks and we may have a definitive answer at that time whether schools will continue to stay closed," Joanasie said. "It's hard to say — it's a day-by-day, week-by-week, it's changing rapidly." In Iqaluit, there was to be no classes for these weeks anyway, due to staff training and spring break.The Iqaluit District Education Authority says classes will resume on April 21 as planned, unless the department gives other directions.Right now, Joanasie says his department is looking at ways to make sure high school students still get their grades. "We're still trying to determine how to support their learning needs so they're on track for graduation," he said.  The department is not passing out take-home work for students right now. But to help with at-home learning, it has a new website geared toward younger ages. Students and families can visit angirrami.com for Inuktut e-books and language tools for talking and writing. This website includes work used in Nunavut schools for Inuktut-language education. It also has tools for stress management and mental health. The department is working to make Inuktut learning options available first. "I know it has not been easy. We must all do our part. My department has been working hard to make this website available," said Joanasie.Nunavummiut watching CBC's live stream of the government's daily press conference on Facebook wanted to know what would be offered to students and parents with limited access to a computer or internet, or couldn't print off practice sheets."The aim is that all students have access to learning materials, whether it's electronic or paper-based," Joanasie said. "We're looking at ways to meet those needs."

  • OC Transpo driver tests positive for COVID-19
    News
    CBC

    OC Transpo driver tests positive for COVID-19

    An OC Transpo driver has tested positive for COVID-19.John Manconi, the head of the transit agency, wrote in a memo on Tuesday the unnamed driver has been in self-isolation since developing symptoms on March 20.They had been driving earlier that day.Manconi said buses driven by the operator March 18, 19 and 20 were removed from service at an unspecified date and will get cleaned and sanitized before returning to service.Rear boarding and physical separation of the driver from most of the rest of the passengers was in place by then.OC Transpo said it has been working with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) to find people who had been in close contact with the driver, including other OC Transpo employees.OPH told the city the "key dates are the period 48 hours prior to the first day the employee showed symptoms."OC Transpo said the operator drove 5 buses on March 18, 19 and 20, serving the following routes:March 18 * Route 19: St-Laurent station at 2:27 p.m. to Parliament station 3:14 p.m. * Route 63: Tunney's Pasture station 3:36 p.m. to Innovation Park & Ride 4:28 p.m. * Route 63: Innovation Park & Ride 4:30 p.m. to Tunney's Pasture station 5:12 p.m. * Route 57: Tunney's Pasture station 5:25 p.m. to Bayshore station 5:47 p.m. * Route 85: Bayshore station 5:47 p.m. to Terrasses de la Chaudière 6:39 p.m. * Route 85: Terrasses de la Chaudière 6:50 p.m. to Bayshore station 7:36 p.m. * Route 85: Bayshore station 7:41 p.m. to Terrasses de la Chaudière 8:23 p.m.March 19 and 20 * Route 64: Lincoln Fields station 11:24 a.m. to Innovation Park & Ride 11:51 a.m. * Route 64: Innovation Park & Ride 11:53 a.m. to Tunney's Pasture station 12:41 p.m. * Route 50: Tunney's Pasture station 12:55 p.m. to Lincoln Fields station 1:24 p.m. * Route 85: Lincoln Fields station 1:44 p.m. to Terrasses de la Chaudière 2:20 p.m. * Route 85: Terrasses de la Chaudière 2:26 p.m. to Bayshore station 3:23 p.m. * Route 85: Bayshore station 3:32 p.m. to Terrasses de la Chaudière 4:25 p.m. * Route 85: Terrasses de la Chaudière 4:32 p.m. to Bayshore station 5:30 p.m. * Route 57: Bayshore station 5:42 p.m. to Tunney's Pasture station 6:08 p.m. * Route 75: Tunney's Pasture station 6:15 p.m. to Barrhaven Centre 6:42 p.m.OC Transpo customers who have concerns about possible exposure to the operator can contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 or visit their website. Other city employees who have tested positive include two Ottawa police officers, an Ottawa paramedic and a staff member in the city's Constellation Drive offices in Nepean.

  • Both parents have COVID-19. The challenge now is to keep their boys healthy
    News
    CBC

    Both parents have COVID-19. The challenge now is to keep their boys healthy

    For Dana Elliott, her COVID-19 challenge has been threefold: first, she was caring for her husband who got sick with it. Then, she's had to fight it herself — all the while trying to prevent her two teenage sons from getting ill too.That's meant a lot of leaving her two boys alone to fend for themselves, and a lot of cleaning."The kids are locked in their rooms, playing Xbox," said Elliott, 46, of Kamloops, B.C."I text with them, or talk to them from the hallway."Her family's experience is something many households may go through battling COVID-19, and health officials have created a guide to prepare for: how to look after a loved one at home who has the highly-infectious virus, while keeping it at bay from everyone else in the family."Its been taxing. I've felt stretched pretty thin," said Elliott.Both Elliott and her husband, Keith Elliott, have tested positive for COVID-19. So far, their two teenage sons, ages 15 and 13, have no symptoms. One briefly had sore throat, was tested and came up negative. The other hasn't been tested, said his mom, as he didn't meet the criteria.Husband in ICUThe familly of four is in isolation and not sure how long it will last.Keith Elliott, 48, started showing some symptoms March 12. Twelve days later, he landed in the Intensive Care Unit at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. He was on oxygen, but did not have to go on a ventilator."Pretty scary stuff," said Keith Elliott.  He works as a carpenter for the Merritt School District, and notified the district as soon has he had a positive test, on March 20. He's now on the mend, and was discharged home March 28. Meanwhile, Dana Elliott, who works as a pharmacy technician at the hospital, started to notice she was feeling unwell March 23. Her symptoms were milder than Keith's — a headache, tightness in the chest, pink eye, shortness of breath, and some burning in the lungs. Overall "being tired has been the biggest," she said.'Didn't fit the typical profile'Dana Elliott already had earlier alerted her workplace about her husband's results, and self isolated immediately.No one in the family had been travelling, nor come into contact with anyone they knew had the virus or was sick. "There's no way of knowing that we had it. We didn't we didn't fit the typical profile," she said.She says she too is starting to feel better now. But all along, and especially while sick, it's been a  struggle to keep her cooped up boys from getting sick too."Anytime I come into contact with things that the kids are going to be in contact with I wipe it down," she said.High touch areasDr. Michael Schwandt, a medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health, acknowledges it is hard for families to keep from infecting each other if someone in the home has COVID-19."There is a lot of challenge to it," he said.Schwandt emphasized that  frequent hand washing remains key, and also regular disinfecting "high touch" areas, such as taps, toilets, and door knobs. He also says that if families can maintain a physical distance of two metres between each other in the home when someone is sick that is best.  He also suggests having separate dishes.  Schwandt notes the virus only stays on surfaces for a few hours.  It can last longer in fabric, however. He says washing clothes in laundry soap and hot water is enough, but advises when washing a sick person's clothing or bedding one should use gloves. Frequent hand washing makes sure that  "even if there is some accidental contamination of the hands we're not in turn transmitting any virus to those surfaces that someone else might come across,"  he said.Caged animalOne of the hardest things for the Elliott sons is that both want to get out and hang with their friends, especially the oldest one, says their mom."He's feeling a little bit more like a caged animal. He keeps asking me how much longer do we have to be in the house," said Dana Elliott.Schwandt says that the asymptomatic teenagers can go outside while they are in isolation but must stay on the family's property and be completely away from others. For Dana Elliott the whole experience has been an eye opener. Not just with the amount of cleaning, but in how easily transmission can happen."Just be aware that it's such a contagious virus and you can get it anywhere, so be safe," she said.With files from Eric Rankin

  • Two Alberta men gunned down in what may have been random attack
    News
    CBC

    Two Alberta men gunned down in what may have been random attack

    Update: A man has been arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder, RCMP said Wednesday afternoon.Autopsies have confirmed the two deaths were homicide and the manner of death was by gunshots.On the last day they were alive, Jake Sansom and his uncle took a selfie. Smiling, arms around each other, the two men were out in the bush on Friday near Siebert Lake, 265 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.They had shot a moose and were celebrating a successful hunt that would put food on the table.Early the next morning, Sansom and Maurice Cardinal were found dead from gunshot wounds near Sansom's truck.The black 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup was spotted at around 4 a.m. at an intersection at Township Road 622 and Range Road 84, near the farm that belongs to Cardinal's stepson. After hunting on Friday, Sansom and Cardinal took the moose to that farm where they were joined by Sansom's brother Mike. They worked on the carcass inside a closed shop throughout the day and into the evening. Mike Sansom said he left the farm around 8 p.m. His brother and Cardinal departed later in the evening. They were planning to take back roads to head east back to Bonnyville. A short distance down the road, the two men stopped at a T-intersection, prepared to make a right turn. Mike Sansom said police have told him they believe his brother and uncle were ambushed at the intersection."That is one of many investigational avenues that we are currently looking at," RCMP Cpl. Ron Bumbry told CBC News in an email. "At this time, the investigation is in its preliminary stages and we don't know for certain." The family is reeling."I just don't get why somebody could murder two people for no reason like that," Sansom said. "They didn't rob them. The cops said nothing was missing. They pulled up just to kill them, just because. I just don't understand that."'They weren't thieves, they weren't drug addicts' Jake Sansom, 39, was married and had three children. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had been recently laid off from his job as a heavy-duty mechanic at Suncor.He was a volunteer firefighter, a motivational speaker and taught jiu-jitsu to children in Bonnyville. According to his brother, he had no enemies. "I mean if anybody broke down, he'd always stop and make sure he'd help fix their vehicle and get it going again," Mike Sansom said. "Anybody who needed help, they'd help them. Even my Uncle Maurice. They'd give you the shirt off their back if they could. If they thought that you needed it."In a message posted on Facebook, Nobleford and District Emergency Services wrote: "Jake Sansom was a gentle person, who had a big heart and always wanted to help anyone he could. Firefighter Sansom was always willing to be involved in the department, community, fundraisers, and continually showed his love for his family and fellow firefighters." Mike Sansom said his uncle Maurice Cardinal, 57, was equally devoted to his family. The grandfather of five with three stepchildren often helped out with babysitting. A long-time friend of both victims is horrified the two men were gunned down.  "I just don't get it," Blair Inscho said. "They weren't thieves, they weren't drug addicts. They're not anything like that." Autopsies on the two men were performed Tuesday but the results have not been made public. RCMP said the nature of the gunshot injuries and the number of gunshots would not be released to protect the integrity of the investigation. Police are seeking anyone with footage of the area — including range roads 84 and 90, as well as township roads 614 and 620 — between 8 p.m. Friday and 4 a.m. Saturday. That includes trail cameras, dash cameras or video surveillance.On the last day his brother and uncle were alive, Mike Sansom said he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. "When we came back from the lake to go to Jason's, there was nobody around," he said. "We didn't see anybody at Siebert Lake. We didn't see anybody on the road back. There was nobody coming or going."Siebert Lake is about 40 kilometres east of Lac La Biche.

  • Saint John med students offer to pair with hospital workers to provide personal support
    News
    CBC

    Saint John med students offer to pair with hospital workers to provide personal support

    Medical students in Saint John have started a program to pair themselves with health-care workers who could use some help with personal tasks during the COVID-19 response. Students who want to volunteer fill out a form, indicating what kind of help they can provide free of charge — whether it's child care, walking pets or running errands, including trips to the grocery store to pick up orders. "As students, it's really hard to have to sit back and watch our future colleagues put so much effort in," said Kathleen MacMillan, a first-year student in the Dalhousie University medical program in Saint John. "So we're just trying to help in any way we can."MacMillan said the project isn't run by the school. She said this is a student-led initiative, co-ordinated by medical students in Halifax and New Brunswick.And it's not limited to Dalhousie medical students.'Scrambling for child care'In Saint John, the program has also attracted volunteers from the social work programs and nursing school at University of New Brunswick Saint John, said MacMillan.Freddy Lee, the program's co-lead in Halifax, said the response there has been terrific. He said there are about 80 people in the volunteer pool and many are being called upon to provide child care."A lot of people here have been scrambling for child care," said Lee. "Their need is really urgent and we're happy to help out."MacMillan said child care is not the most pressing issue in Saint John. In New Brunswick, some daycares have remained open to provide spaces to children of essential workers, as mandated by the province. Risk mitigationMacMillan said volunteers are screened to reduce the risk of spreading any infection.If they've travelled within the past 14 days or if they're in close contact with someone who has travelled recently, they cannot participate. Each student is restricted to just one family and can't work with any seniors or volunteer in any other settings. They can transport items but not people and they must obey physical distancing. As another precaution, MacMillan said she can see all the correspondence between a volunteer and their match."We get copied on all the messages that are sent between them and that way, we can monitor if things are going okay," she said. "We also do check-ins with the student to make sure they're keeping up with their classes. It's a pretty-well monitored program."MacMillan said students are still taking courses online, even though the campus is closed.The group is working to launch a Facebook page, Dal Students for Healthcare Professionals. But in the interim, they're relying on word of mouth, posters, google forms and an email, dalstudentsforhcps@gmail.com