• The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada
    News
    The Canadian Press

    The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada

    The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern): 4 p.m.Passengers aboard two COVID-19-stricken cruise ships have been given the green light to disembark at a Florida port.American officials say they have reached an agreement to allow asymptomatic passengers to get off the MS Zaandam and MS Rotterdam.There are more than 200 Canadians on board the ships, which have been stranded for weeks because no country would accept them.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the Canadian passengers will be brought home on a chartered flight, and will have to stay in isolation.\---3:30 p.m.More than 200 cases of COVID-19 have now been reported in Saskatchewan.The Ministry of Health announced 13 new cases today, bringing the total to 206Two of the people infected are in intensive case.The government says to date, public health officials have performed more than 11,000 tests.\---2 p.m.Health care workers in Canada's federal prison system are on the verge of walking off the job in the next few days over a lack of personal protective medical gear, according to their union.The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada says there is a "real, escalating danger" that prison nurses won't show up for work, citing provisions of the Canada Labour Code that allow workers to refuse unsafe work.Union president Debi Daviau says her members understand there is a shortage of much-needed equipment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.But she says there is no need to have every medical staffer at work in every institution as the pandemic spreads.Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has asked the federal prison service and parole board to look at early release for some offenders.\---1:59 p.m.New Brunswick is reporting 10 more cases of COVID-19, for a provincial total of 91.The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says there is one community where five members of a church have tested positive.She did not identify which community or church, but again stressed the need for social distancing and avoiding mass gatherings.\---1:15 p.m.The B.C. government is increasing the monthly amount that people on income and disability assistance receive to help them with COVID-19.Anyone on those programs who is not eligible for the federal government's emergency support programs will get an automatic $300 monthly supplement for the three months, starting this month.Social Development Minister Shane Simpson says the supplement will also go to low-income seniors.As well, he says people who are getting assistance from the province will not see a reduction in their benefits if they also qualify for the new $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit.\---1:15 p.m. Quebec Premier Francois Legault is encouraging police to be less tolerant with people refusing to follow the COVID-19 rules of engagement.Legault says he's hearing of people who are flouting physical distancing rules or companies that remain open and is warning who aren't following public health regulations will be hit with fines ranging between $1,000 and $6,000.Quebec has seen another spike of the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, reporting 5,518 cases in the province today.That number represents an increase of 907 cases in the province since Wednesday.Authorities also reported three more deaths, bringing the provincial tally to 36.\---1:15 p.m.Melania Trump says she has spoken with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau to wish her good health as she recovers from COVID-19.The U.S. first lady says on Twitter that she spoke with her Canadian counterpart earlier today and expressed gratitude for what she calls the special relationship between the two countries as they address pandemic-related challenges.A readout of the call from the White House says Trump and Trudeau discussed the importance of maintaining the economic links between Canada and the U.S., and noted the $1.7 billion US worth of daily trade that crosses their shared border.The two also discussed the repatriation efforts that are ongoing to get Americans and Canadians home from cruise ships and other places around the world.\---1 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 20 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 193 confirmed cases.Health officials say five people are currently in hospital, while 16 people have now recovered and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved.Most cases in Nova Scotia are connected to travel or a known case, with one confirmed case of community transmission to date.Nova Scotia's cabinet met today by teleconference and agreed to ask the lieutenant governor to extend the province's state of emergency for another two weeks, with the order to take effect at noon Sunday, April 5th and extend to noon, April 19th.\---1 p.m.Prince Edward Island has one new case of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 22.Chief medical health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says the latest case is a man in his 50s and is related to international travel.Three cases on the Island are considered as recovered.P.E.I. has begun doing its own COVID-19 testing, reducing the reliance on the national laboratory.\---12:30 p.m.There are eight more positive cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, bringing the total to 183 in the province. Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, says 143 cases have been linked to a funeral home in St. John's where someone with the illness attended a service earlier this month.The eight new cases are in the Eastern Health region.Fitzgerald says 11 people are in hospital and four in intensive care.\---12:20 p.m.Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says 15 people living in Indigenous communities have been diagnosed with COVID-19.Miller says the virus is a unique challenge in communities that are remote and he says the government is trying to get equipment there to help.But he says COVID-19 is just one of the challenges Indigenous communities are facing this spring, including the risk of flooding.\---12:15 p.m.Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, says almost half of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Canada have occurred in long term care homes.Tam says at least 50 of the 111 deaths already confirmed took place in these high risk settings.She says we need to double down on efforts to keep the novel coronavirus from spreading.\---11:30 a.m.More than 11 million face masks have arrived in Canada in recent days, including a shipment of one million masks that arrived at a Hamilton warehouse overnight, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.He said workers are trying to quickly assess that they meet the needed standards, and that 10 million masks are already being distributed to provinces and territories.He also said the government has ordered hundreds of thousands of face shields from Bauer, the company that normally makes hockey equipment.\---10:35 a.m.Ontario is reporting 401 more COVID-19 cases today, including 16 more deaths.A Bobcaygeon nursing home is also reporting two more deaths of residents in a COVID-19 outbreak there, bringing the total to 16.In the province, there are now 2,793 cases of COVID-19, including 53 deaths and 831 resolved.\---6:10 a.m.A survey by an organization representing the Canadian restaurant industry says that over 300,000 restaurant jobs have been lost in Ontario as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.Restaurants Canada estimates that 800,000 jobs have been lost in the sector nationwide.The company said nearly one in 10 restaurants in Canada have already closed and nearly one in five expect to close if conditions don't get better in a month.Restaurant Canada CEO and President said the numbers are the worst he's seen since Restaurants Canada was founded 75 years ago.\---The Canadian Press

  • The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada
    News
    The Canadian Press

    The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

    The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 3:52 p.m. ET on April 2, 2020:There are 11,131 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada._ Quebec: 5,518 confirmed (including 36 deaths, 224 resolved)_ Ontario: 2,793 confirmed (including 53 deaths, 831 resolved)_ British Columbia: 1,066 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 606 resolved)_ Alberta: 871 confirmed (including 11 deaths, 142 resolved)_ Saskatchewan: 206 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 36 resolved)_ Nova Scotia: 193 confirmed (including 16 resolved)_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 183 confirmed (including 1 death, 10 resolved)_ Manitoba: 152 confirmed (including 1 death, 11 resolved), 15 presumptive_ New Brunswick: 91 confirmed (including 22 resolved)_ Prince Edward Island: 22 confirmed (including 3 resolved)_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed_ Yukon: 6 confirmed_ Northwest Territories: 2 confirmed_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases_ Total: 11,131 (15 presumptive, 11,116 confirmed including 130 deaths, 1,901 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Passengers on COVID-19-stricken cruise ships hope to be on land again soon

    Passengers stranded aboard two COVID-19-stricken cruise ships said they're finally hopeful their ordeal is nearing its end as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged Thursday to ensure the Canadians would stay in isolation upon their return.Trudeau told reporters that a chartered plane would carry asymptomatic Canadian passengers aboard the MS Zaandam and the MS Rotterdam home in the coming days, though he didn't provide an exact timeline.But Catherine McLeod of Ottawa, who was on the Zaandam with her husband before they were transferred to the Rotterdam, said she's preparing to come home."It's kind of a done deal we're getting off this pleasure cruise," McLeod said in a phone interview from her cabin. "So we're very, very hopeful. I will feel 100 per cent better once the plane lifts off the runway. It's going to be one hell of a Hallelujah hoot going up then."She said that as of Thursday morning, she and her husband were waiting for a medical check-up to make sure they remained asymptomatic before getting their "disembarkation" papers."We haven't received anything saying what our flights are, but I imagine that will come," McLeod said. "I think what they're trying to do is get our fannies on a bus and outta here ASAP."Holland America, which operates the cruises, said it was still waiting for permission from the U.S. government to dock in Fort Lauderdale.For nearly three weeks, passengers have not been able to leave the ships, and four elderly passengers have died on the Zaandam — at least two from COVID-19, ship owner Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement.There are 442 guests and 603 crew on the Zaandam, and 808 guests and 583 crew on the Rotterdam, which was sent last week to take in some of the passengers and provide assistance to the Zaandam since it was denied permission to dock at ports in South America.Holland America said 97 guests and 136 crew members on the ships have developed flu-like symptoms.Initially, 248 Canadians were aboard the MS Zaandam, Global Affairs has said. As for what happens when they return to Canada, the details remain fuzzy."My understanding is they will be flown home on a charter flight but we are still looking for those details and we will ensure they are isolated when they get home," Trudeau said.He did not specifically say if passengers from the ships will be required to remain in quarantine at federal quarantine centres, like passengers from the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess were in February and March.Chris Joiner of Ottawa, who remains on the Zaandam, said in written messages that he's been told he may be able to disembark on Friday if Florida grants the necessary permissions."People are so bored. Some sleep all the time. I mean, booze is free but you can’t get drunk every day," Joiner said.He said the once-lively cruise ship has quieted in the last week."The only thing you hear is food being delivered, dishes picked up and the odd knock when your garbage can is emptied or they dropped off clean towels or booze," he said.Meanwhile, a Toronto couple who were transferred over to the Rotterdam said they were trying to keep their heads up before ultimately putting this disaster behind them."Here we are on day 24 of a 14-day cruise!" Kevin and Jeannette Balgopal wrote in an email on Wednesday. They said the cruise company and captain were providing as much reassurance as they could under the circumstances.The couple has been confined to their cabin for fear a half-hour of daily "fresh air time" would "jeopardize any attempts to get us to dock," the Balgopals wrote. "Life is not easy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2020.Liam Casey and Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

  • Stock market crash may force some investors to postpone retirements, say experts
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Stock market crash may force some investors to postpone retirements, say experts

    TORONTO — The biggest market downturn in more than a decade has rattled nerves and may ultimately force some investors to postpone their approaching retirements, say experts."I do see that this is going to be impactful for the average Canadian out there because you know, not everybody, unfortunately, plans," says Chris Gandhu, vice-president high net worth planning for TD Wealth Advisory Services.A well-developed plan designed years before the expected date of retirement can help to control these "black swan events."Even those that should be good on paper, including Gandhu's mother, may feel anxious about their plans."I think she's in a decently good spot. But of course, she's rethinking everything and wondering whether she needs to work a bit longer," he said from Calgary.The TSX/S&P Composite Index is down 25 per cent from its record high after losing as much as 38 per cent of its value in a little over a month as markets were rattled by the economic impact of the novel coronavirus.The swift market plunge has prompted workers to re-examine their plans to see if their post-retirement goals have changed.For example, those with dreams of travelling in the first couple years of retirement may no longer feel comfortable doing so because of the global pandemic."I don't know if many people are going to be looking to take a cruise in the next year or two," said Ed Lee, vice president of Morneau Shepell’s retirement practice.Even the most conservative investment strategy has netted a significant retirement cushion over the 12-year bull run but also fostered a sense of complacency.Adjusting expenses until a recovery occurs may be an alternative to delaying retirement, says Manmeet Bhatia, head of private wealth Franklin Templeton Canada."You might want to extend your working years a little longer, but you also may want to look at your spending habits," he said.He said investors can't count on a quick recovery. That's especially true for sectors such as the hospitality industry that could face significant layoffs.Bhatia said the best way to control large swings in the equity market is through a balanced portfolio that consists of equities, fixed income, a multitude of sectors and geographies."The reality is there's going to be major corrections that can occur at inopportune times — you know exactly like what we're facing now," he said.The situation is likely to be more stressful for those with defined contribution pension plans, rather than defined benefit plans that guarantee a retirement payout regardless how markets perform."The current market problems are much more impactful to people that are much closer to retirement, because those are the people that may be need the market to return to normal in three or six or nine months, but it might take two years for the market to fully rebound, to where it once was," said Joseph Nunes, co-founder and executive chairman of Actuarial Solutions Inc. and author of a paper entitled “The Power of Postponed Retirement.” Nunes suggests that the Canadian government should extend the age to invest in tax-sheltered securities to 75 from 71.In the meantime, Finance Minister Bill Morneau has addressed the impact of the virus on older investors by reducing the minimum withdrawal from registered retirement income funds by 25 per cent in 2020."It was an acknowledgment that forcing people to get money out of their retirement savings at age 71, 72, etc, especially when the markets have taken a hit is not necessarily in everyone's best interest for the long haul," Nunes said in an interview. Baby boomers aren't always the most financially secure despite their long employment records.They account for one out of eight consumer insolvency filings in Canada and have seen the largest increase in filings in the past five years, said Pierre Fortin, CEO of insolvency firm Jean Fortin & Associates.And now they will be among the most financially affected by job losses due to COVID-19 because as the most susceptible to contracting the virus, they may be forced to remain at home and would be the first to be laid off.While this cohort would have had an easy time in the near full-employment pre-COVID labour market, they will face stiff competition from many younger people looking for jobs if their employers cease operations."Postponing retirement to pay off consumer debts and mortgages was a necessity for many baby-boomers," he wrote in an email. "Post-COVID-19 will create hardships for everyone but more so for those 65+ age groups whose consumer debts surpass their net annual income.”The fact that some investors were forced to adjust their retirement date because of the recent market fluctuations means something went wrong with their retirement plan, says Sylvain Brisebois, national sales manager at BMO Private Wealth.That's because retirement is about cash flow that is visible several years in advance of retirement."You can be asset rich and cash poor and that's a deadly combination for retirement," he said.Retirement cash flow should come from interest payments, dividends and bond maturities that are predictable and secure.Asset sales could be part of the plan, but it should be flexible enough to put off any sales until the market recovers."If you are stuck selling assets, now, you've really you've really messed up," he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2020.Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

  • Spain Salutes Hospital Cleaning Staff During COVID-19 Pandemic
    News
    Jon Rumley

    Spain Salutes Hospital Cleaning Staff During COVID-19 Pandemic

    Cleaners are sanitizing health-care facilities to keep everyone safe.

  • Exclusive: Amazon to deploy masks and temperature checks for workers by next week
    News
    Reuters

    Exclusive: Amazon to deploy masks and temperature checks for workers by next week

    The company, which has reported virus cases among warehouse staff and faced several demonstrations, said it would start testing hundreds of thousands of employees a day for fevers. All locations will have surgical masks available by early next week, after millions were ordered weeks ago, according to Amazon. Particle-blocking N95 masks it has ordered will instead be donated to medical workers or sold at cost to government and healthcare organizations, it said.

  • Looking for work? These industries are hiring in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic
    News
    CBC

    Looking for work? These industries are hiring in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic

    As restaurants, bars and other businesses shut their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, laying off tens of thousands of people, there are other industries in the city looking to hire workers — and they're not just retail and cashier jobs. Sure, cashier positions are in abundance now at places like grocery stores, says Marc Belaiche, president of TorontoJobs.ca.But he urges job seekers to look closely at the postings coming out of Loblaw, Amazon and other companies like them experiencing a sudden hike in demand for online sales and deliveries from people who've been told to stay at home."Within those [companies] you have the other support mechanisms, like accounting, operations and management, that are all needed to handle [the retail] surge," said Belaiche, whose company deals with internet recruitment and staffing within the Great Toronto Area. There's also been a huge uptick in IT jobs as more people are working from home, says Belaiche. Digital ad agencies 'doing exceptionally well'"E-commerce focused companies and digital advertising agencies are also doing exceptionally well during this time," said Trina Boos, president of Boost Agents. Boos's company recruits candidates for mid- to high-level positions in the marketing, communications, digital and creative sectors. Jobs are being posted, but she warns that there could be a lot of competition. "There's a lot of talent in the marketplace, really great talent ... temporarily laid off. It is a good time for companies who are looking to pick up great talent," said Boos. Hourly rates higher during COVID-19 pandemicTo help the thousands of servers, bartenders and cooks currently out of work, the mobile employment app Hyr is trying to connect them with businesses that have short-term needs. The company says it's taking steps to help workers in the gig economy suddenly in need of temporary work get the cash they need quickly."We've eliminated our service fee," said Joshua Karam, CEO at Hyr. "All the money that flows through Hyr goes directly into the pockets of those who need it most … They get the money deposited into their bank account within 72 hours," said Karam. There are more than 25,000 Canadians currently using the app and Karam says that number is growing daily. Some of the jobs being offered through Hyr are grocery order fillers, delivery drivers and security guard positions. The best part, Karam says, is that most of these gigs are receiving higher hourly pay than usual."We're seeing it across the board," he said. Walmart, Dollarama and some food-delivery companies like Goodfood announced last month that they'd be hiring more people during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep up with demand.Recruiter tip: let people know you're out of workThe City of Toronto Recruiter tip: let people know you're out of work also looking to bring on staff to help support six newly opened shelters for people experiencing homelessness. Duties for these positions include on-site support and cleaning. If you are out of work and are planning on applying for the government's Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Belaiche says you should still let your professional circle know that you're out of a job, in case something comes up. He says opportunities could arise and if people know you're looking they could reach out to you directly. "Reconnect with old employers, former coworkers, update your resume and LinkedIn profile."

  • Coastal communities call for travel restrictions as visitors trickle in
    News
    CBC

    Coastal communities call for travel restrictions as visitors trickle in

    Leaders in small communities along B.C.'s Central Coast are calling on the province to restrict travel into the region, fearing that visitors will introduce COVID-19.Officials say there's been an influx of visitors travelling into the region. Health-care centres in communities near Bella Bella aren't equipped to handle the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Central Coast Regional District.For example, the lone hospital in Bella Bella only has one ventilator, said director Daniel Bertrand."We don't have health-care resources to handle an outbreak, and we're seeing people coming to their summer homes. We're at the start of our tourism season," said Bertrand."We're seeing RVs coming down the hill into Bella Coola, people travelling by yacht, even from as far away as Washington state," he added. "It's very easily noticeable in a small town when you seen an Alberta licence plate, a New York licence plate or a red sports car drive by a farm."The district's travel restriction order was removed by the province when Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth suspended all local states of emergency (except for the City of Vancouver) last week.It has since been calling on the province to prohibit non-essential travel into the region, largely out of concerns for a vulnerable population."Sixty-five per cent of our population in the regional district is Indigenous, and the vast majority of Indigenous language speakers are senior citizens," said Bertrand. "And they're really the national treasures of the First Nations in the region. And they disproportionately live in overcrowded housing and are susceptible COVID-19."Four Central Coast First Nations — Nuxalk, Oweekeno, Kitasoo-Xai'Xais and Heiltsuk — have implemented travel restrictions on their own, including a checkpoint on Highway 20. The province has not taken any action against them.Coastal communities urge distanceA swath of other communities along the central and south coast are also asking visitors to stay away, but haven't gone as far as to ask the province for a travel restriction.In March, Tofino issued a plea to vacationers not to visit, also fearing a stressed medical system. Mayor Josie Osborne said most have been respectful but a few have trickled in."There's probably a very, very small handful of operators — it's not unlawful to accept a visitor right now, but it really isn't the best decision for our community," sad Osborne.The population of Tofino generally triples once the spring tourism season hits.Leaders in the Gulf Islands have also asked tourists to steer clear.Destination B.C. vice president Maya Lange says communities that rely heavily on tourism are taking the pandemic seriously."Tourism is a $20 billion industry. It employs about 167,000 people, and there's about 19,000 tourism businesses. So it's extremely painful for the entire industry," she said."Our number one priority is making sure we can flatten the curve as quickly as possible so we can get back out to exploring British Columbia again," she said.

  • Coast Guard: Cruise ships must stay at sea with sick onboard
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Coast Guard: Cruise ships must stay at sea with sick onboard

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The U.S. Coast Guard has directed cruise ships to prepare to treat any sick passengers and crew on board while being sequestered “indefinitely" offshore during the coronavirus pandemic.The new rules outlined in a memo are required for ships in the district that covers Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Puerto Rico. They also come with a stiff warning: Any foreign-flagged vessels “that loiter beyond U.S. territorial seas" should try first to medically evacuate the very sick to those countries instead.Many South Florida cruise ships are registered in the Bahamas, where hospital capacity is limited and people are still recovering from last year's devastating Hurricane Dorian.The rules, which apply to vessels carrying more than 50 people, were issued in a March 29 safety bulletin signed by Coast Guard Rear Admiral E.C. Jones, head of the seventh district. All ships destined for U.S. ports were already required to provide daily updates on their coronavirus caseload or face civil penalties or criminal prosecution.Dozens of cruise ships are either lined up at Port Miami and Port Everglades or waiting offshore due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most have only crew aboard, but Carnival Corp., which owns nine cruise lines with a total of 105 ships, notified the SEC on Tuesday that it has more than 6,000 passengers still at sea.Federal, state and local officials have been negotiating over whether Carnival's Holland America cruise ships, the Zaandam and Rotterdam, would be allowed to dock at Port Everglades this week. But the company's Coral Princess is coming, too, with what that ship's medical centre called a higher-than-normal number of people with flu-like symptoms.Carnival said three of the 40 ships that were at sea when it paused its cruises last month are expected to arrive at port by week's end. In addition to the ships arriving in Fort Lauderdale, other ships are approaching Civitavecchia, Italy, and Southampton, England, spokesman Roger Frizzell said.Two of four deaths on the Zaandam were blamed on COVID-19 and nine people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Carnival's maritime chief officer William Burke told Broward County commissioners at a Tuesday meeting. The company said more than 200 have reported symptoms. More than 300 Americans, with about 50 Floridians, are on Zaandam and Rotterdam. Four children under 12 are on board.Gov. Ron DeSantis said he expected a resolution Wednesday after speaking with President Donald Trump, but port authorities later said discussions between the company and officials over the terms of docking were ongoing and they did not expect to update Broward County commissioners on Wednesday as foreseen at the Tuesday meeting.DeSantis maintained Florida's health care system is stretched too thin to take on the ships' coronavirus caseload, but he said he would accept the Florida residents on board.“My concern is simply that we have worked so hard to make sure we have adequate hospital beds,” he said.Trump had expressed sympathy toward the passengers on Tuesday.“They're dying on the ship,” Trump said. “I'm going to do what's right. Not only for us, but for humanity.”Passengers expressed their frustrations to The Associated Press on Wednesday.Andrea Anderson and her husband Rob coughed their way through a video chat from the Zandaam. Asked what she would say to Florida's governor, Anderson said, “How would he feel if his mother was on this ship? Would he still be saying, 'No they can't dock?'”Mary Beth Van Horn said she's “terrified” for her brother Tom Brazier, 77, of Ocean Park, Washington, who went on the South American cruise with his wife before he was supposed to begin a new bone cancer treatment in April. They weren't allowed to transfer to the Rotterdam with other apparently healthy people because they have portable CPAP machines and other mobility problems.“He is afraid. Last time, he told me 'I just don't see how this could end well,'" she said.For most people, the virus causes a fever and cough that can clear up in two to three weeks without hospitalization. Older adults and people with existing health problems are more likely to suffer severe illness and require oxygen to stay alive.Under normal conditions, a ship can call on the Coast Guard to medically evacuate people too sick to be cared for on board.Now a Coast Guard flight surgeon in the seventh district will decide if a transfer is absolutely necessary, but the cruise companies then would be responsible for arranging on-shore transportation and hospital beds.“This is necessary as shore-side medical facilities may reach full capacity and lose the ability to accept and effectively treat additional critically-ill patients," the memo said.___ Associated Press contributors include Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale and Julie Walker in New York City; Gomez Licon reported from Miami.___Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.Freida Frisaro And Adriana Gomez Licon, The Associated Press

  • Is it COVID-19 or the flu? Can it live on groceries? Top questions about coronavirus answered
    News
    Elisabetta Bianchini

    Is it COVID-19 or the flu? Can it live on groceries? Top questions about coronavirus answered

    Yahoo Canada asked a medical expert to answer reader questions on what we know about COVID-19 and precautions that people across the country should be taking to keep themselves safe.

  • Canada's COVID-19 infections skew younger than anticipated
    News
    Elianna Lev

    Canada's COVID-19 infections skew younger than anticipated

    In Canada, 66 per cent of COVID-19 cases are between the ages of 20 and 59, which is younger than forecasts originally suggested.

  • 6 tips to create an effective work-from-home model for your team
    News
    Team India

    6 tips to create an effective work-from-home model for your team

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered 1.3 billion Indians to stay at home for 21 days to stem the spread of this virus. One important aspect is to build specific guidelines for your team in order to collectively achieve business goals. Your remote employees will have questions that not everyone in the team instantly has the answers to.

  • News
    CBC

    B.C. farmers urge province to issue immediate at-home slaughtering licences

    Some farmers in B.C. are urging the provincial government for fast licences to allow them to slaughter their own animals at home. They say the COVID-19 pandemic has made the matter urgent because if food supply is disrupted they won't be able to deliver meat quickly and safely to customers by sending their livestock to a slaughterhouse — or abattoir — beforehand."There's concern about our own health and well-being, and concern about having to travel," explains Lisa Aylard, President of the Alberni Farmers' Institute, on Vancouver Island. The Institute represents around 30 farmers in the Alberni Valley, and serves to promote the well-being of local agriculture industries. There are around 30 other regional farming institutes in the province. Aylard said the demand for local meat has increased during the pandemic, and more customers want to know exactly where their meat is coming from."If our animals are slaughtered at home, they're 100 per cent traceable," she said.Institute requests two immediate licencesLast week, the Institute sent a letter formally re-requested the province agree to a request for the entire region to be automatically issued two slaughtering licences. (The regional district made the original request in 2017, but no decision was made, the Institute said.)Class D licences allow farmers to annually slaughter up to 25 of their own animals, or other peoples' animals, for direct sale to customers or food establishments.Class E licences allow on-farm slaughter of up to 10 animals, for direct sales that are restricted to the region the meat was produced.Currently, there are 18 non-designated areas where farmers can only apply for a Class E licence if an abattoir is located over an hour away. Aylard said there will soon be only two abattoirs on Vancouver Island, as one in Nanaimo is closing. To kill her livestock, she has to drive at least two hours away from Port Alberni, and the whole process can take days. The Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement that it is "deeply concerned with the potential impacts the COVID emergency will have on businesses," including farmers. It said a consultation with local governments around Class D licensing occurred from June to September of 2019, and a review of the province's rural slaughter capacity is ongoing.A BC-wide problemJanet Thony, President of the District A Farmers Institute, which covers all of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, said farmers across B.C. having been calling for the government to loosen the licensing restrictions since 2004, when they were instated in response to the mad cow disease outbreak. She said that while the Ministry of Agriculture may have concerns over safety and cleanliness, she argues home-slaughter is just as safe because "if you're not super clean when you're slaughtering, you're not doing it right anyways."Karen Persson, from K & G Persson Farms, in Golden, B.C., agrees. She says she's witnessed "bug-infested" slaughterhouses, and it's more than likely farmers are working in clean conditions, given that home-facilities are frequently inspected by the public health authority.In 2018, Persson and her husband spent over a year persuading the government for a Class E licence, which ultimately led the government to lower the travel time restrictions to one hour, instead of two.Thony said abattoirs are a hassle because most farmers slaughter their animals at the same time of year. "You've got to book months, sometimes a year in advance to get a [slaughter] date," Thony explained, adding that the stress animals are put under leading up to their slaughter can cause "adrenaline-laced meat." She said she's worried the government may close abattoirs as the pandemic continues, which would leave farmers without the proper licences with no options.

  • Disney Parks Donates 150,000 Rain Ponchos to Hospitals and Medical Professionals Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
    News
    People

    Disney Parks Donates 150,000 Rain Ponchos to Hospitals and Medical Professionals Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

    The idea came from nurses who found that rain ponchos can protect their clothing and prolong the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • It's OK If You're Not Being Productive During The COVID-19 Pandemic
    News
    Maija Kappler

    It's OK If You're Not Being Productive During The COVID-19 Pandemic

    Some people are baking bread and learning new languages. Some of us are just trying to get through the day.

  • Loss of taste and smell key COVID-19 symptoms, app study finds
    News
    Reuters

    Loss of taste and smell key COVID-19 symptoms, app study finds

    Losing your sense of smell and taste may be the best way to tell if you have COVID-19, according to a study of data collected via a symptom tracker app developed by scientists in Britain and the United States to help monitor the coronavirus pandemic. Almost 60% of patients who were subsequently confirmed as positive for COVID-19 had reported losing their sense of smell and taste, data analysed by the researchers showed.

  • 40 dead from COVID-19 in Ontario nursing and retirement homes
    News
    CBC

    40 dead from COVID-19 in Ontario nursing and retirement homes

    At least 40 deaths of residents in Ontario nursing and retirement homes have been linked to COVID-19, almost triple the number that provincial officials reported on Wednesday. The death toll jumped by 11 over the course of Wednesday, including six new deaths at one Toronto long-term care home and two others at a nursing home in Bobcaygeon.The tally is based on information gathered by CBC News directly from Ontario's 34 local public health units. The public health units also say at least 41 facilities for seniors in the province are currently experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19, with an outbreak defined as one lab-confirmed positive test among a resident or staff member.  The growing number of outbreaks is raising fears that the pandemic will take more lives in long-term care homes. As of Wednesday, the illness caused by the coronavirus had killed at least 41 people in Ontario and 107 countrywide, according to CBC's own tracking of coronavirus data. The province's official tally stood at 37 on Wednesday afternoon.Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday afternoon that the province knows of 12 deaths among people in long-term care homes with confirmed cases of COVID-19, but acknowledged that local public health units have more up-to-date figures. CBC News found that in addition to the deaths of 14 residents and one volunteer worker at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon as of Wednesday, there have been another 19 COVID-19-related deaths at long-term care and retirement homes stretching from Sarnia to Orleans. "It's heartbreaking because people in those homes are very vulnerable," said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, which includes health care unions and patient advocacy groups.     "It's such a serious and deadly disease that I am very frightened for what's going to happen across Ontario's long-term care homes now."WATCH | Pinecrest physician Stephen Oldridge describes how devastating it has been to watch the outbreak sweep through the home:Virus may have spread by staff, visitorsSince the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, Ontario's Ministry of Health progressively ramped up measures to try to keep COVID-19 out of long-term care and retirement facilities, first recommending screening visitors for symptoms and travel history, then advising homes against allowing any non-essential visitors.However, there is concern that the virus may have been spread by staff or visitors who weren't showing symptoms or by others before the restrictions were enforced. "We acted immediately from the advice that we got from the chief medical officer of health," Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday when questioned about the speed of the province's response at his daily press conference."I just wish I had a crystal ball a month ago, a month and a half ago, to see where this was going. We're doing everything we can to protect the most vulnerable."The measures "were appropriately timed," said Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics for the Sinai Health System and a provincial advisor on seniors' health issues. "Now, we're learning things in real time that it might have been better to do a week ago. That's the reality of working in a pandemic."WATCH | Remembering a beloved friend who died of COVID-19 at Pinecrest Nursing Home:Urging mask use at all timesBased on fresh evidence from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control about asymptomatic transmission of the virus, Sinha is urging the province to further ramp up testing of nursing home residents and is recommending that long-term care staff wear masks at all times.The number of officially confirmed COVID-19 cases in some Ontario nursing homes is almost certainly fewer than the actual number of cases, because of a previous provincial policy that prompted some homes to stop testing after a few residents were confirmed to have the disease.For instance, at the Hillsdale Terraces long-term care home in Oshawa, where two residents have died, six have tested positive for COVID-19 and another 25 are showing symptoms of the respiratory illness but have not been tested, according to Glendene Collins, a manager in the Durham Region Health Department.     The province issued a new directive on Monday to homes to test everyone with symptoms in the event of an outbreak.  **The Ontario Health Ministry's official tally lags CBC's own tracking of coronavirus data, which is based on Health Ministry numbers and calls to health authorities around the province. As of Wednesday, that tally showed 40 deaths in Ontario.Sinha says Ontario should go further and test everyone in a long-term care home where there's an outbreak."That's important so that we don't miss cases that could allow us to further spread this virus around and potentially kill more people," he said, pointing to U.S. research showing many residents of long-tern care homes are testing positive for COVID-19 without having any symptoms.  At least 41 outbreaksThe growing number of officially declared outbreaks around Ontario and the rising death toll "are showing that nursing homes are like tinderboxes," Sinha said. "If the virus gets in, it can spread quickly and it can have devastating consequences."Mehra criticized the province for failing to have enough personal protective equipment, such as mask and gowns, available for staff of long-term care homes. "The response has been terrible — very slow and without any real explanation as to what happened and why," Mehra said. "I think everyone understands that we're dealing with a situation that no one anticipated. But I think we need a lot more information about what is the plan going forward. How are these things going to be dealt with?"

  • 'Some of us will die': India's homeless stranded by coronavirus lockdown
    News
    Reuters

    'Some of us will die': India's homeless stranded by coronavirus lockdown

    In a densely packed neighborhood of Delhi, hundreds of homeless people queued up this week as volunteers doled out rice and peas from a vat in the back of a van. There were no hand sanitizers or wash basins in sight and no social distancing. Volunteers say such scenes are playing out daily across India, as laborers and waste pickers - most of them homeless or too poor to afford a meal - are among the hardest hit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's three-week nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus.

  • 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."

  • Factbox: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
    News
    Reuters

    Factbox: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world

    * Italy's daily death toll on Wednesday was the lowest in six days, but the overall number of new infections grew and the government extended its national lockdown. * Britain's prime minister promised to ramp up testing, as a poll said more than a half of Britons think the government was too slow to order a lockdown.

  • Gatherings restricted, schools closed: What's being done to fight COVID-19
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Gatherings restricted, schools closed: What's being done to fight COVID-19

    The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every province and territory. Medical officers of health and Canada's chief public health officer are encouraging people to wash their hands, give each other space and wear a mask if they're sick.Ottawa has put money into health-care research and the economy. It has also put restrictions on international travel and is enforcing 14-day quarantines for travellers returning to Canada to try to limit spread of the novel coronavirus.Classes are suspended or cancelled at schools throughout the country.Each province and territory also has its own emergency measures to detect cases and prevent spread of the virus.Here's a look at some of the ways different jurisdictions are responding:British ColumbiaB.C. declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18, a day after announcing a public health emergency.The measure gives the province authority to take any action necessary to protect people and communities, including charging people who ignore public health orders.The province has also prohibited reselling essential supplies such as food and cleaning material.All parking fees at B.C. hospitals starting April 1 will be cancelled to ensure safer access for patients and staff.Officials have prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people in one place, including restaurants, schools, places of worship, theatres, casinos, sports arenas and outdoor venues.Some provincial parks are closed.Officials have also issued fire restrictions as the wildfire season begins.Premier John Horgan says he is extending the state of emergency through the end of April 14.\---AlbertaAlberta declared a public health emergency on March 17.The province has given law enforcement agencies full authority to enforce orders and issue fines for violations.There are restrictions on mass gatherings of more than 15 people, both indoors and outdoors at places of worship, weddings or funerals. Any gathering must allow people to keep the two-metre distance from others.All non-essential businesses have been ordered closed, including personal service providers, clothing stores and furniture stores.Albertans are prohibited from attending public or private recreational and entertainment facilities. Restaurants have been ordered closed, except for takeout or delivery. Casinos are closed.Vehicle access to provincial parks and public lands is also prohibited to visitors.Albertans who have been ordered to quarantine cannot leave their property for 14 days. That also bars people who live in apartments to use the elevators.\---SaskatchewanPremier Scott Moe declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18.It directs all orders from the chief medical health officer be followed and gives police the authority to enforce them.Public gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.Nightclubs, bars and lounges are closed, but they are allowed to provide takeout food or alcohol.Recreational and entertainment facilities are closed. Personal service providers such as tattoists, hairdressers, estheticians and relaxation masseuses cannot operate.Dental, optometrist, chiropractic and podiatry clinics are closed — except for emergencies.\---ManitobaThe Manitoba government declared a provincewide state of emergency on March 20.The province has limited public gatherings to no more than 10 people, down from an earlier limit of 50.It includes any indoor or outdoor spot, places of worship or family events such as weddings and funerals.Non-essential businesses have been ordered to close. Salons, spas, bars and other establishments will be closed starting Wednesday. Restaurants can remain open for takeout or delivery only.The closures do not affect health-care facilities, government services and other institutions.Bingo and gaming venues as well as wellness centres and gyms are closed.\---OntarioOntario declared a state of emergency on March 24.All business except those deemed essential have been shut down.All bars and restaurants, except for takeout and delivery, have been closed.Also closed are recreational facilities, public libraries, private schools, licensed child-care centres, movie theatres and concert venues.Any public events of more than 50 people, including parades, events and services at places of worship, are prohibited.Provincial parks are closed.The City of Toronto has also shut down playgrounds, sports fields, off-leash dog parks, skateboard parks and picnic areas. Parking lots attached to parks are closed.\---QuebecQuebec declared a public health emergency on March 13 and renewed it a week later.The government has reduced non-priority services and prohibited indoor and outdoor gatherings.Quebec has also prohibited non-essential visits to hospitals, residential and long-term care centres or between children in foster families and their biological families.Designated clinics have been opened for anyone displaying symptoms.To give retail employees a break, stores will be closing on Sundays in April, with only pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and takeout restaurants remaining open on those days.Montreal's mayor has also declared a state of emergency to help authorities better manage the spread of COVID-19 among the city's homeless.\---New BrunswickA state of emergency was declared in New Brunswick on March 19.Businesses serving food and beverages have been restricted to takeout and delivery. Lounges and clubs are forbidden from allowing customers to enter.Customers are not allowed to enter retail businesses, unless they serve food, medication, fuel or other essential supplies.Many health services — such as chiropractors, dentists and optometrists — are prohibited from seeing patients in person unless absolutely necessary.No gatherings larger than 10 people are allowed and residents are urged to stay home as much as possible.Any unnecessary travel into New Brunswick is prohibited.\---Nova ScotiaThe province of Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency on March 22.It set out specific rules for self-isolation and self-quarantine for people returning from outside Canada.All schools and daycares are closed. Long-term care facilities and residential care facilities are closed to visitors.Casinos have closed and no business is allowed to operate a video lottery terminal.Restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery service only. Drinking establishments are closed.There are also restrictions on health professionals such as chiropractors and dentists.\---Prince Edward IslandPremier Dennis King declared a public health emergency on March 16.It included an order to Islanders to refrain from attending any public gatherings and a closure of libraries, child-care facilities, gyms and schools.Measures announced a week later included fines for anyone who doesn't comply with a direction to self-isolate.The public health officer recommends people who are self-isolating stay on their own property when outside.The government is working to open an out-patient clinic to allow for increased testing and to ease the load on hospitals.\---Newfoundland and LabradorThe province declared a public health emergency on March 18.It includes the closure of most businesses — with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other stores considered essential.Gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. That includes funerals and weddings.Anyone arriving from outside the province is required to self-isolate for 14 days.Health officials have the authority to restrict the rights and freedoms of people in a time of crisis. People who violate orders face fines.\---YukonYukon declared a state of emergency on March 27.Yukon residents flying into Canada with COVID-19 symptoms must quarantine at their arrival destination, and those without symptoms are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days when they get home.Yukon has asked everyone arriving in the territory, including mine workers, to self-isolate for 14 days.The government has closed bars and limited social gatherings to 10 people or less.Recreation facilities, libraries, museums and visitor centres are closed. School classes are suspended until at least April 15.Long-term care facilities are closed to visitors and volunteers, while all non-urgent or routine services, including lab tests, X-rays, physiotherapy and occupational therapy are suspended.All dentists must also suspend non-urgent treatment until further notice.\---Northwest TerritoriesThe Northwest Territories declared a public health emergency on March 18, which has now been upgraded to a state of emergency.It requires anyone who arrives in the territory from outside its boundary to self-isolate for 14 days.Travel through all points of entry into the territory — both air and road — is prohibited.The orders exclude essential service workers such as medical professionals or emergency services.The territory has asked that all indoor and outdoor gatherings be cancelled — regardless of size or number.Many businesses, including tour operators, gyms, museums and theatres, have been ordered to close.The government said it will help Indigenous families who want to head out on the land as an alternative to physical distancing. It will administer a $2.6-million grant to help families buy the proper gear and supplies to head out to fishing and hunting camps.\---NunavutNunavut declared a public health emergency on March 20.It has no known cases of COVID-19, but it has restrictions in place.There is a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period at one of four locations in southern Canada for any resident that wants to return to Nunavut.Critical employees who need to return to work must apply for an exemption.All non-essential medical travel has been cancelled.Public gatherings, including at playgrounds or parks and at religious, cultural or spiritual services is prohibited.\---Sources: Provincial and territorial government websitesThis report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2020The Canadian Press

  • Science summary: A look at novel coronavirus research around the globe
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Science summary: A look at novel coronavirus research around the globe

    Thousands of scientists around the world are working on problems raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a summary of some recent research from peer-reviewed academic journals and scientific agencies:\---The most recent figures from the World Health Organization list 50 candidates for a novel coronavirus vaccine. There are two ready for clinical trials, one from an American company partnering with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and one from a Chinese group at the University of Beijing. Another 48 candidates are at the preclinical evaluation stage, which determines safety and dosage levels. Two of those candidates are at the University of Saskatchewan. Dozens of other efforts are at less advanced development or are seeking ways to treat patients already suffering with COVID-19.\---The travel ban enacted by the city of Wuhan, China, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic — which suspended public transport, entertainment and large public gatherings — probably averted hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 infections, says research from Science magazine. A study of the first 50 days of the infection found the actions delayed the arrival of the coronavirus in other cities by almost three days. Cities that used the time to prepare before the virus arrived had about one-third fewer confirmed cases. The authors estimate that without those measures, China would have seen about 744,000 cases instead of the 29,839 it reported.\---At Toronto's York University, researchers have reviewed current studies on COVID-19 to break down the most common symptoms of the illness. They say 82 per cent of sufferers had a fever, 61 per cent had a cough and 36 per cent felt muscle aches and fatigue. Shortness of breath appeared in 26 per cent of the cases, followed by a headache in 12 per cent and a sore throat in 10 per cent. Gastrointestinal symptoms appeared in nine per cent of patients. The statistics were drawn from nearly 60,000 patients in 11 countries.\---The British medical journal The Lancet has crunched through data from China to give a more thorough and exact profile of the novel coronavirus's effects. The death rate from confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country is estimated at almost 1.4 per cent. Those rates vary from 0.0016 per cent in children up to nine years old to 7.8 per cent for people 80 and older. Sickness also increases with age, going up rapidly at age 50 and over. Hospitalization rates nearly double — from 4.3 per cent in 40-to-49-year-olds to 8.2 per cent in 50-to-59-year olds. Nearly one in five patients in their 80s have gone to hospital while about one in 100 patients in their 20s got that sick. \--- COVID-19 spreads too quickly to be contained by manually tracing the contacts of those carrying the virus, says research in Science magazine. Using data on how the virus was transmitted on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the authors conclude the normal approaches for epidemic control — isolating the sick, tracking down their contacts and quarantining where necessary — take too long and are too hard to scale up. They say a cellphone app that records personal contacts and notifies people when one of their contacts has tested positive would be much faster. Such apps have already been deployed in China. The authors note that such an app raises important ethical questions about use of the data.\---Research at York University in Toronto suggests U.S. states that are responding more quickly and effectively to COVID-19 also seem to have higher levels of social capital and citizens who trust more in their governments and health agencies. The research, published in the journal Contexts, found that states with the most social capital and trust were the ones that tended to have higher testing rates. This was regardless of household income, income inequality, racial diversity or whether the states had a Republican or Democratic leaning.\---Computer engineers at the University of British Columbia have developed a computer model they say can eventually help society ease back into normal life while minimizing the risk of new outbreaks. Their model compares the impact of reduced social distancing and other measures against the availability of resources such as hospital beds. The goal is to allow for as much social and economic activity as possible without overwhelming the health-care system.\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2020Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

  • Zero-waste lifestyles challenged by COVID-19, but virus impacting environment
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Zero-waste lifestyles challenged by COVID-19, but virus impacting environment

    When Katrina McGuire began aspiring to a zero-waste lifestyle two years ago, she found that bringing her own containers to grocery stores was a small but significant step in reducing her reliance on disposable plastic.Now that the COVID-19 outbreak is causing Canadians to revert back to single-use material in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, McGuire and other zero waste advocates are facing some challenges.McGuire, a Toronto resident who runs the Danforth Reduces project in the city's east end, says that while a widespread increase in the use of plastic bags could be troubling, there are other ways to maintain environmentally-friendly habits. "There's concern for sure," McGuire said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. "But the zero-waste movement isn't just relegated to doing groceries in a zero-waste way. It's all about repairing and repurposing and re-homing second hand."So I think those activities can definitely still continue without too much interruption. And I don't think the community is going to stop wanting to participate in those activities."McGuire doesn't reduce all her trash to a single mason jar like some in the zero-waste movement, but she does aim to limit it whenever possible. She's still opting for reusable bags — washing them afterwards in the laundry or with soap and water in the sink to ward off possible contamination — and repurposes plastic and other materials.With Canadians buying more non-perishable items to limit grocery trips during the pandemic, McGuire said it's more important now to think about ways to repurpose. Using an empty plastic bag from frozen veggies as a liner for a trash can is one example. Better yet is buying fresh and flash freezing at home."Zero (waste) is the goal, but it's also pretty unrealistic," McGuire said. "Most of us are just trying to reduce waste in ways that average people are not doing at this current moment."And every time you learn a new tip or new way to reuse, it's like you've unlocked an achievement. That's the fulfilling part of it."Paul Mensink, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Western University in London, Ont., also sees the rise of single-use plastics as a potential problem.He worries it could have an impact beyond the pandemic, with peoples' suspicions of reusable items lingering for months amid safety concerns."As a society we were really making a lot of progress on (reusable) bags and that sort of thing," Mensink said. "This is going to last for a pretty long time and even afterwards, getting people to switch back, that's going to be tough."Mensink sees another issue with bulk shopping though — Canadians buying too much food and throwing out more than they normally would.That food waste, he says, is "one of the biggest problems in terms of emissions.""If we take that waste and throw it into the garbage can, then that goes to the landfill and produces methane, which is way more potent than CO2," Mensink said, adding that organics should be composted whenever possible.While the use of plastics may increase over the course of the coronavirus outbreak, Mensink said one of the bigger environmental issues — air pollution — is down considerably.He credits work from home policies for that.People aren't driving to work — or anywhere else — while practising social distancing measures, and strict travel restrictions have meant less airplane traffic as well."Our biggest emitter, at least in London, is fuel from automobiles, so that is reduced immediately," Mensink said. "Commercial and office buildings are also shut down and so just purely from an emissions perspective, it's been a huge drop."While Mensink fears a rebound effect could happen once the pandemic is lifted, he's hopeful that it could lead businesses to keep work from home abilities in place, even on a part-time basis."I think that's where there could be quite a lasting effect, limiting automobile trips," he said. "Hopefully it does get people to say: 'Whoa, maybe we don't have to have all this air pollution. How can we keep this going?' This doesn't have to be a temporary stop. Hopefully it leads to something more long lasting."McGuire isn't quite convinced the steps taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 will benefit the environment in the long run."It's still gonna be a fight, I don't think that this pandemic is going to change too, too much ... but there is a bit of hope," she said. "I think people should use this to energize themselves to continue fighting for whatever they were fighting for before, or join the fight."McGuire also added that the zero-waste "journey" will continue, whether or not plastic bags have to be used in the meantime."It's a daily action and a daily choice, but it's really about the long game," she said. "And if you get caught up in the daily guilt of perhaps using a disposable, don't, because it's not worth it. You want the hope of continuing on."This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • Help heads to NYC as experts predict over 100,000 US deaths
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Help heads to NYC as experts predict over 100,000 US deaths

    NEW YORK — With refrigerated morgue trucks parked on New York City's streets to collect the surging number of dead, public health officials projected Tuesday that the coronavirus could ultimately kill more than 100,000 people across the U.S. Some states that have become hot spots warn they're running low on ventilators, while two cruise ships pleaded for Florida to allow them to dock to carry off the sick and dead.The number of U.S. deaths could range from 100,000 to 240,000 even if Americans continue to stay home and limit contact with others, experts predicted at a media briefing with President Donald Trump. But they said they hope the figure won't soar that high if everyone does their part to prevent the virus from spreading.“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” said Trump, who has extended social distancing guidelines to April 30. “We're going to go through a very tough two weeks.”Elsewhere around the world, hard-hit Italy reported that the infection rate appears to be levelling off and new cases could start declining, but that the crisis is far from over. Spain struggled to fend off the collapse of its hospital system. Vladimir Putin's Russia moved to crack down on quarantine violations and “fake news” about the outbreak. And China edged closer to normal as stores in the epicenter city of Wuhan began reopening.Worldwide, nearly 860,000 people have been infected and over 42,000 have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Italy and Spain accounted for half the deaths, while the U.S. had over 185,000 infections and about 3,900 dead. That's above the official toll of about 3,300 in China, where the virus began.New York was the nation's deadliest hot spot, with about 1,550 deaths statewide, most of them in New York City, which braced for things to get much worse in the coming weeks.At Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, critically ill COVID-19 patients are filling intensive care units, surgical floors and operating rooms and waiting in the emergency room for beds to become available, said Dr. Eric Wei of the city's hospital agency.“I’ve practiced emergency medicine for a long time, and I’m seeing things that I never could have imagined in terms of the things this virus can do to all ages, including people who were previously healthy,” he said.A 1,000-bed emergency hospital set up at the mammoth Javits Convention Center began taking non-coronavirus patients to help relieve the city's overwhelmed health system. A Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds was expected to accept patients soon.The indoor tennis centre that is the site of the U.S. Open tournament is being turned into a hospital as well.The city worked to bring in 250 out-of-town ambulances and 500 paramedics to deal with a crush of emergency calls. The fire commissioner said ambulances are responding to double their normal daily total of 3,000 calls to 911.New York authorities also sought more volunteer health care professionals and hoped to have them on board by Thursday. Nearly 80,000 former nurses, doctors and others are said to be stepping forward.Around the city, workers in protective gear have been seen putting bodies of victims into refrigerated trailers. At some hospitals, like Lenox Hill in Manhattan, the trucks are parked on the streets, along sidewalks and in front of apartments. Cars and buses passed by as corpses were loaded by forklift at Brooklyn Hospital Center. People captured some of the scenes by cellphone.Meanwhile, two ships carrying passengers and crew from an ill-fated South American cruise are urging Florida officials to let them dock. Dozens aboard have reported flu-like symptoms, and four people have died. Two of the deaths have been blamed on COVID-19, and nine people have tested positive.Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida’s health care resources are already stretched too thin. Trump said he would speak with DeSantis and “do what's right."Figures on deaths and infections around the world are supplied by government health authorities and compiled by Johns Hopkins.But the numbers are regarded with skepticism by public health experts because of different counting practices, a lack of testing in places, the numerous mild cases that have been missed, and perhaps government efforts to downplay the severity of the crisis.For example, in Italy, where the death toll was put at about 12,400, the country's emergency co-ordinator, Domenico Arcuri, acknowledged that officials don’t have a handle on how many people are dying at home or in nursing homes.Still, there was a glimmer of hope there: Dr. Silvio Brusaferro, head of Italy's institutes of health, said that three weeks into a nationwide lockdown, the hardest-hit country in Europe is seeing the rate of new infections level off.“The curve suggests we are at the plateau," he said. But "arriving at the plateau doesn’t mean we have conquered the peak and we’re done. It means now we should start to see the decline if we continue to place maximum attention on what we do every day.”With the country's health care system buckling under the pressure, a field hospital, built in just 10 days, was unveiled at the Milan fairgrounds.“We made a promise and we kept it,” said the head of the project, former civil protection chief Guido Bertolaso, who ended up catching the virus while on the job and had to work from his hospital bed.In Russia, lawmakers approved harsher punishments, including prison sentences of several years, for violating quarantine rules and spreading misinformation. The chief doctor at Moscow’s top hospital for coronavirus patients said he tested positive, a week after shaking hands with Putin.Spain reported more than 840 new deaths, pushing the toll above 8,000 and forcing Madrid to open a second temporary morgue after an ice rink pressed into service last week became overwhelmed.Dozens of hotels across Spain have been turned into recovery rooms, and authorities are building field hospitals in sports centres, libraries and exhibition halls.Israel’s Defence Ministry said it has converted a missile-production facility into an assembly line for ventilators.The hot spots of Louisiana and Michigan were running out of ventilators, despite promises by the White House of more equipment.Louisiana's governor said the hard-hit New Orleans region is on track to run out of breathing machines by the weekend and hospital beds a week later. The Trump administration has committed to sending 150 ventilators from the national stockpile, but the state hasn’t received an arrival date. Michigan said it needs 5,000 to 10,000 more.For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia.Among the few positive signs: In Britain, where the number of dead reached nearly 1,800, the medical director of the National Health Service's operations in England said there is evidence that social distancing is working. And China reported just one new death from the coronavirus and 48 new cases, all of them from overseas.___Rising contributed from Berlin, Long from Washington. Associated Press writers around the world contributed.___Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakColleen Long, Karen Matthews And David Rising, The Associated Press

  • Coronavirus killers: What countries that 'flattened the curve' did right
    News
    Ahmar Khan

    Coronavirus killers: What countries that 'flattened the curve' did right

    What Canada — and the rest of the world — can learn from the countries who've seen the best results.