Coronavirus: Students at York University residence told to go into self-isolation

All students living in a residence building at York University have been advised to go into self-isolation after an individual began exhibiting “some symptoms similar to those of COVID-19.”

The notice was posted on the university’s website on Wednesday regarding Founders Residence.

The university, however, said the individual exhibiting symptoms does not have either a presumptive or confirmed case of COVID-19.

“York has carefully planned for this scenario and we immediately notified Toronto Public Health to ensure the person is receiving the appropriate care and that proper precautions are being taken to minimize the risk of transmission, including contacting anyone else they believe may be at risk,” the message read.

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“Students and employees sharing space with this individual have been provided additional communication on this matter.

“In addition, as a precaution TPH advised that all persons living in the residence should immediately go into self-isolation.”

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Bolivia extends closure of borders, declares health emergency for coronavirus

LA PAZ (Reuters) – Bolivia declared a national health emergency and extended its border lockdown on Wednesday, as the government seeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Interim President Jeanine Anez said in a public address that the border closure was extended to April 15 from March 31 previously. Anez said no one will be able to enter or exit Bolivia during that time.

Bolivia, which was already under a 14-day national quarantine, also tightened restrictions on movement, permitting only one person per household to go out between the hours of 7 am and noon on weekdays.

“In recent days, non-compliance with the quarantine has increased the risk of contagion,” Anez said, adding that the armed forces and national police would become more involved in enforcing the quarantine.

Bolivia has 38 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to government data.

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UK deaths from coronavirus outbreak rise to 463 as of March 25: Government

(Reuters) – The number of coronavirus deaths in the UK has risen to 463 as of Wednesday from 422 on Tuesday, the British government said, adding that more than 9,500 COVID-19 cases have now been reported in the country.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the UK have risen to 9,529 as of Wednesday, compared to 8,077 cases as of Tuesday, the statement added.

The government is anticipating a peaking of coronavirus cases in Britain in the coming weeks and has appealed to manufacturers to supply the National Health Service with the appropriate requirements.

Britain had been in talks with over 3,000 businesses about supplying ventilators to quickly increase the health service’s capacity. The country’s existing stock of about 5,000-8,000 ventilators is inadequate if cases jump as predicted.

Britain has ordered 10,000 medical ventilators designed at breakneck speed by vacuum cleaner-maker Dyson, according to an internal email to Dyson’s staff, which was seen by Reuters.

Separately, over 170,000 people have signed up to help the NHS tackle the outbreak.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Britons on Monday to stay at home to halt the spread of the virus, imposing curbs on everyday life without precedent in peacetime.

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Honduran government delivers food to 3.2 million people amid coronavirus lockdown

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Armed Honduran soldiers began delivering food to some 3.2 million people on lockdown in their homes on Wednesday, part of the government’s efforts stop the spread of coronavirus in a nation with few resources and a limited public health system.

So far, Honduras has reported 36 cases of the virus and no deaths. To prevent the virus from spreading, President Juan Orlando Hernandez has suspended public transportation, closed government offices and businesses, and ordered people nationwide to stay indoors at all hours.

“We are doing everything in our power to save lives. This includes making sure the most vulnerable have food at home on their tables,” Hernandez told a national television network.

The distribution of beans, rice, sugar, butter, cornmeal and spaghetti along with soap, detergent and hand-sanitizer for 6,000 families began in the impoverished Los Pinos neighborhood in the capital of Tegucigalpa on Wednesday. The army will gradually bring supplies to 800,000 families total in San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba and Choluteca, some of Honduras’ biggest cities, each of which have reported cases of coronavirus.

On Tuesday, residents in various parts of Tegucigalpa protested on the streets to demand food, saying they were unable to work or shop for groceries because of the lockdown.

“This situation has been sad because we didn’t have anything – there’s no transportation, no money. We didn’t have food anymore,” said Maria Montoya, 70, a Los Pinos resident who said her husband, a security guard, has not been able to work.

In Los Pinos, which is controlled by the violent Barrio 18 gang, uniformed soldiers in bulletproof vests and carrying M-16 rifles arrived in army trucks with supplies meant to last 15 days per family, and went on foot through steep narrow streets to deliver packages.

“We are going to go door to door. We want whoever needs it, who doesn’t have money, to have this food package, while this difficult situation lasts,” Hernandez said.

Many other families were going without aid on Wednesday, however, spurring further protests in various parts of the country, with residents blocking a road for several hours outside Tegucigalpa and demanding supplies.

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Shelters in Saint John relocating clients to maintain social distancing

Crystal Scott has worked with the Coverdale Emergency Women’s Shelter in Saint John for 12 years. In that time, she’s worked through a lot of challenges, but nothing like what she’s seen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Never, ever have I ever seen anything like this,” Scott says.

Both the women’s shelter and the Outflow men’s shelter in the city have temporarily relocated their clients to allow for social distancing.

Outflow is redirecting clients to the Boys and Girls Club on Paul Harris Street, with Coverdale moving clients into a middle school gymnasium.

“The bedrooms are very small here,” Scott says. “So you wouldn’t even be able to really stretch your arms out without touching somebody.”

Scott says staff have already implemented a number of procedures to protect clients and volunteers from falling ill, and that the current location will be used to house any of the clients who may need to self-isolate.

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Coverdale’s shelter is set up inside a townhouse.

There are two sets of bunk beds in two of the bedrooms, and one set in two additional rooms.

Scott says an uptick in clients over the past couple of years has meant they even have women sleeping on the floor at times.

The pandemic has only added to a list of concerns for those already vulnerable women, now being relocated for an indeterminate amount of time.

“We don’t have a time frame,” Scott says, “which is very hard to work with the ladies that are already in a situation where they don’t know what’s coming.”

Scott adds that empty shelves at grocery stores across the city are another concern for the Coverdale staff.

“Toilet paper is definitely something we are going through quickly,” she says.

“As everybody knows – it’s become a big joke and it’s really not a joke to us right now because we’re limited. The stores are limiting us to what we can get.”

Scott says donations of everyday items, such as snacks, food or cleaning products would benefit them in the rapidly changing climate of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I don’t even know if there are any Clorox or Lysol wipes anywhere,” she says, “but we could definitely use those.”

Donations can be dropped off or a pickup can be accommodated in most cases. Arrangements can be made by calling 506-672-6285.

With much left unknown, Scott says one thing is certain: “We’re not going to refuse anybody that’s sick,” she says.

“We have a plan.”

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Cases of COVID-19 surge in City of Kawartha Lakes as 3 more confirmed, 10 self-isolating: health unit

The health unit representing the City of Kawartha Lakes reports three new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and 10 self-isolating cases late Wednesday afternoon.

According to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge, District Health Unit update issued online at 4:40 p.m. March 25, the confirmed cases for which tests arrived on Tuesday include:

  • a man in his 70s at Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, who is self-isolating
  • a woman in her 60s at Ross Memorial Hospital, who remains hospitalized
  • a woman in her 80s at Ross Memorial Hospital, who remains hospitalized

Ten other cases reported on Tuesday are currently listed as self-isolating. They are all women in their 30s to 70s, according to the health unit.

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Coronavirus: Town of Cobourg, Ont. delivers pandemic response update

It wasn’t your typical news conference in Cobourg, Ont. on Wednesday morning.

There were no reporters in this live-to-tape update that was eventually posted to the the town’s new emergency control group YouTube page.

It was the first news conference since the town declared a state of emergency on March 19.

“Just recently, I declared a state of emergency that enables us to get additional resources and get provincial funds as required,” said mayor John Henderson.

The town’s emergency operations centre was activated on March 15, and with the call for the public to keep its distance, the emergency control group is meeting daily — virtually.

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“This new way of operating is proving to be productive and efficient in this ever-changing environment we’re working in,” said Mike Vilneff, town fire chief and community emergency management coordinator.

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CFL continues to discuss potential contingency plans amid COVID-19 pandemic

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the CFL continues to discuss potential contingency plans to its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

No decisions have been made yet but Ambrosie said league officials are aware the clock is ticking.

“We haven’t decided yet on a go, no-go date . . . (but) we know it’s out there,” Ambrosie said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “What we’re trying to do is educate ourselves and be in a position to make really smart, informed decisions when we have the information that’s needed.

“We’ve got a little bit of time and that time can be an ally in helping inform us.”

On Tuesday, the league postponed its global draft — which was slated for April 16 — and said it will now coincide with the opening of training camps. The CFL draft remains scheduled for April 30.

Earlier, the CFL cancelled regional combines in Montreal and Edmonton as well as its national combine in Toronto. Ambrosie said rescheduling the global draft was a no-brainer.

“If we’re going to take this initiative to the next level . . . we’ve got to give coaches and GMs an opportunity to evaluate these players,” Ambrosie said. “We’re convinced . . . this group of players is special and there’s many of them who can make contributions to CFL teams.”

Even if the CFL draft goes ahead as scheduled, it’s difficult to see how the league can’t push back the start of training camps, and by default, the ’20 regular season. On Tuesday, the Tokyo Summer Games, which were scheduled to begin July 24, were postponed until 2021 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

CFL rookie camps are scheduled to open May 13 with training camps slated to begin four days later. The first exhibition game is set for May 24 with the regular season kicking off June 11.

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However, at the heart of any contingency plan would be the integrity of the regular season and how many games would constitute a valid campaign.

“We had that discussion this week,” Ambrosie said. “If you started with that idea, what do you need to have in order to be able to call it a legitimate regular season?

“We’re trying to not write these things down in indelible ink because what we’re trying to do is to keep talking about them with the hope by the time we finish the debate, we’ll have much more clarity and be able to make informed decisions.”

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Italy coronavirus deaths pass 7,500 amid fears of spread to south

ROME (Reuters) – More than 680 people have died from coronavirus in Italy in the last 24 hours, the Civil Protection Agency said on Wednesday, as concerns grew that the disease was spreading more towards the south of the country.

The death toll increased by 683 on Wednesday. That was lower than a spike of 743 on Tuesday but more than the totals of the previous two days and the third highest daily tally since the outbreak emerged in northern regions on Feb. 21.

Italy has seen more fatalities than any other country, with latest figures showing that 7,503 people have died from the infection in barely a month.

The northern region of Lombardy, by far the hardest-hit, showed a steep decline in the number of deaths and new infections on Wednesday, raising hopes that the epidemic may be slowing at its original epicentre.

However, optimism was tempered by warnings from the south, where contagion and deaths are far less widespread but are rising steadily, and could overwhelm a health service which is much less well equipped than in the rich north.

“At this point there is the real prospect that Lombardy’s tragedy is about to become the south’s tragedy,” Vincenzo De Luca, president of the Campania region around Naples, wrote in an open letter to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

“We are on the eve of a major expansion of infections which may not be sustainable,” he said, complaining that the central government had failed to provide Campania with promised ventilators and other life-saving equipment.

So far there have been 74 deaths in Campania, the worst affected southern region. The central region of Lazio, around the capital Rome, has registered 95 fatalities.

The total number of confirmed cases in Italy rose to 74,386 from a previous 69,176, the Civil Protection Agency said.

The rise of 7.5% was the lowest since the outbreak began, but only severely ill people are being tested and the head of the agency, Angelo Borrelli, said this week that the true number of infections was probably 10 times those officially recorded.

Borrelli was not present at the customary news conference to illustrate the latest figures because he came down with a fever on Wednesday and was himself being tested for coronavirus.

With Italy in lockdown for the last two weeks and its economy on its knees, Conte on Wednesday promised a second stimulus package in April worth at least as much as the 25 billion euro ($27.17 billion) one he adopted in March.

With his approval ratings at record highs, the prime minister appealed to the opposition to get behind the government’s efforts and halt its attacks on his handling of the crisis until it is over.

“There will be a time for everything, but now is the time for action and responsibility,” he told the Chamber of Deputies.

One source of potential conflict for Conte was defused on Wednesday when the government reached an agreement with trade unions who had threatened strikes because they wanted more companies shuttered to protect workers’ health.

Conte agreed to extend the production sectors that will be temporarily closed because they are not deemed essential to the country’s supply chain.

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U.S. auto sales in states with coronavirus lockdown orders to drop 80%: analysts

(Reuters) – Vehicle sales in U.S. states that implemented lockdown orders to curb the spread of coronavirus will drop 80% or more, analysts said on Wednesday.

Auto retail sales through the week of March 22 declined 22% nationwide on a yearly basis and as much as 40% in some cities on the U.S. West Coast, according to an analysis by research firm J.D. Power based on data from dealership stores around the country.

Last week’s data did not yet fully account for various U.S. states passing so-called shelter-in-place orders at the end of last week.

“We expect to see a much broader and wider impact from these restrictions next week with sales declining 80% or more,” said Tyson Jominy, the firm’s vice president of data and analytics.

Tyson said New York in particular, a market that has so far proven rather resilient, is expected to change dramatically over the coming week.

New York on March 20 ordered the state’s roughly 19 million residents to stay at home.

But Thomas King, J.D. Power’s president of data and analytics, said car buyers will likely bounce back after an extended shutdown, which will help the auto industry recover.

The crisis is also likely to accelerate the move to online sales by auto dealerships, a business practice car retailers have been slow to embrace.

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