Coronavirus: St. Joseph’s Health Centre says ‘thank you’ to 2 Guelph businesses

St. Joseph’s Health Centre is saying thank you to two Guelph businesses for a pair of much-needed donations amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

They released a statement on Thursday that acknowledged Danby Appliances for donating a freezer to store COVID-19 testing kits and Dixon’s Distilled Spirits for donating personal hand sanitizers for caregivers.

“Both of these generous gestures are protecting the health and well-being of our staff, physicians and those we are privileged to serve, as our health centre cares for those who are at risk from the COVID-19 virus,” David Wormald, president of St. Joseph’s, said.

Guelph’s first confirmed COVID-19 case is a man in his 80s and a resident of St. Joseph’s in its post-acute unit.

The health centre stated that Danby answered the call when officials reached out expressing the need for a freezer.

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“Within a day, a 3.6-cubic-foot freezer was at the shipping dock,” St. Joseph’s said.

Dixon’s has confirmed to St. Joseph’s that it will supply enough sanitizer to fill 120 individually-sized bottles for caregivers to support their “rigorous hand hygiene protocols.”

Dixon’s started producing sanitizer earlier this month in an effort to support frontline workers with a product that is in short supply around the world.

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Lockdown, what lockdown? Sweden’s unusual response

While swathes of Europe’s population endure lockdown conditions in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, one country stands almost alone in allowing life to go on much closer to normal.

After a long winter, it’s just become warm enough to sit outside in the Swedish capital and people are making the most of it.

Families are tucking into ice creams beneath a giant statue of the Viking God Thor in Mariatorget square. Young people are enjoying happy-hour bubbles from pavement seating further down the street.

Elsewhere in the city, nightclubs have been open this week, but gatherings for more than 50 people will be banned from Sunday.

Compare that to neighbouring Denmark, which has restricted meetings to 10 people, or the UK where you’re no longer supposed to meet anyone outside your household.

‘Each person has a heavy responsibility’

On the roads in Sweden, things are noticeably quieter than usual. Stockholm’s public transport company SL says it saw passenger numbers fall by 50% on subway and commuter trains last week.

Polls also suggest almost half of Stockholmers are remote working.

Stockholm Business Region, a state-funded company that supports the city’s global business community, estimates that rises to at least 90% in the capital’s largest firms, thanks to a tech-savvy workforce and a business culture that has long promoted flexible and remote working practices.

“Every company that has the possibility to do this, they are doing it, and it works,” says its CEO Staffan Ingvarsson.

His words cut to the heart of the government’s strategy here: self-responsibility. Public health authorities and politicians are still hoping to slow down the spread of the virus without the need for draconian measures.

There are more guidelines than strict rules, with a focus on staying home if you’re sick or elderly, washing your hands, and avoiding any non-essential travel, as well as working from home.

“We who are adults need to be exactly that: adults. Not spread panic or rumours,” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said in a televised address to the nation last weekend.

“No one is alone in this crisis, but each person has a heavy responsibility.”

High level of trust

A majority of Swedes watched and approved of his speech, according to a nationwide survey for Novus, a major polling company.

Meanwhile, there is a high level of trust in public authorities in Sweden, which many believe is driving locals to adhere to voluntary guidelines.

Demography may also be a relevant factor in the country’s approach. In contrast to the multi-generational homes in Mediterranean countries, more than half of Swedish households are made up of one person, which cuts the risk of the virus spreading within families.

Meanwhile, Swedes love the outdoors and officials have said that keeping people physically and mentally healthy is another reason they’re keen to avoid rules that would keep people cooped up at home.

“We have to combine looking at minimising the health effects of the virus outbreak and the economic impacts of this health crisis,” says Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, CEO at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.

“The business community here really thinks that the Swedish government and the Swedish approach is more sensible than in many other countries.”

‘History will be the judge’

But as Swedes watch the rest of Europe grind to a halt, others are starting to question their country’s unique approach.

“I think people are prone to listen to the recommendations, but in this kind of critical situation, I am not sure that it’s enough,” says Dr Emma Frans, an epidemiologist based at Swedish medical university The Karolinska Institute.

She’s calling for “clearer instructions” for people on how they should interact in public places such as shops and gyms.

And while business is ticking over for some, others are struggling. Around the corner from Mariatorget’s busy bars, popular hipster barber shop Honest Al’s has seen customer numbers plummet, despite efforts to improve safety by staggering staffing and appointments.

“My wife is also having her own company, so we pretty much depend on ourselves. Business is bad. I still have bills to pay. We’re gonna have to call the banks,” says owner Al Mocika.

He’s putting his money on Sweden switching tactics and imposing a lockdown, something officials haven’t ruled out doing in the future.

Dr Emma Frans says history will be the judge of which politicians and scientists around Europe have made the best calls so far.

“Nobody really knows what measurements will be the most effective,” she says. “I’m quite glad that I’m not the one making these decisions”.

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Rick Zamperin: Manning and Brees, beacons of light in this uncertain time

There should be no debate as to whether Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are two of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the National Football League.

Where they rank on the all-time best QB list can be debated until the cows come home, but there’s no doubt that both men will be first ballot inductees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Their exploits on the gridiron are legendary and they have multiple Super Bowl titles between them and a number of NFL records to their name.

Away from the field, Manning and Brees are just as special and they each proved it this week as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manning, a University of Tennessee alumni, joined a virtual communication studies class on Thursday — 20 years after graduating from the school — and surprised Dr. John Haas’ class.

Haas was in on the fun and the students’ reaction was epic as Manning encouraged them to “keep a positive attitude” during this difficult time.

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Just as awesome is Thursday’s announcement from Brees and his wife Brittany, who committed $5 million for coronavirus hunger relief in Louisiana, which is believed to be the next major hot spot for COVID-19 in the United States.

Brittany and I are committing $5,000,000 to the State of Louisiana in 2020. The priority now is helping our communities get through this tough time. After considerable research and conversations with local organizations, we will be mobilizing our partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank, Ochsner Health Systems, Walk-Ons, Jimmy Johns, Smalls Sliders and Waitr to prepare and deliver over 10,000 meals per day throughout Louisiana for as long as it takes to children on meal programs, seniors, and families in need. Let’s all do our part, maintain hope, and get through this together.

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The money will be used to prepare and deliver 10,000 meals per day throughout the state for “children on meals programs, seniors and families in need.”

Two incredible gestures from two amazing individuals who should be heralded as much for their off-field exploits as for what they have achieved on the field.

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Alberta health officials to provide update on COVID-19 cases, response Friday afternoon

At 3:30 p.m. Friday, chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, will be providing an update on the COVID-19 situation in Alberta.

She will be joined by other provincial health officials for the daily update, which will be live streamed in this article.

They will also discuss the work being done to protect public health and steps being taken to support the health-care system as it responds to the pandemic.

On Thursday, Hinshaw said there were 486 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the province. Of those, 34 are believed to be the result of community transmission. Twenty-one people are in hospital and 10 of them are in the intensive care unit.

There were a total of 14 confirmed cases connected to the McKenzie Towne Community Care Centre in Calgary — where there was a fatality earlier this week.

Twenty-seven Albertans were reported to be recovered Thursday, Hinshaw said.

Alberta Health Services vice-president Dr. Mark Joffe said Thursday there are roughly 8,500 hospital beds in the province. About 2,250 of those are being set aside for COVID-19 patients. Those beds will come from the 8,500 total but AHS is also looking at closed hospital wards to see if those areas could be used.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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Taleban refuses to talk to new Afghan government negotiators

KABUL/PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN (REUTERS) – The Taleban declined on Saturday (March 28) to begin talks with the Afghan government’s new negotiating team in a setback to the US-brokered peace process for one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the militants could not talk to the 21-member team named on Thursday as it was not constituted taking into account all parties.

The team is headed by Masoom Stanekzai, a former security chief and supporter of President Ashraf Ghani, and includes politicians, former officials and representatives of civil society.

Five members are women.

“In order to reach true and lasting peace, the aforementioned team must be agreed upon by all effective Afghan sides so that it can represent all sides,” said Mujahid.

The United States, which ousted the Taleban from power in 2001, signed a troop withdrawal deal with the group in February.

But progress on moving to talks between the militants and the Afghan government has been delayed by a feud between Afghan politicians, and disagreement between the Taleban and the government prisoner releases and a possible ceasefire.

Afghan ministry of peace affairs spokeswoman Najia Anwari said the Taleban’s stance was unjustified as the negotiating team was made after wide consultations among Afghan society.

Ghani’s political rival Abdullah Abdullah has not confirmed whether he will support the delegation, potentially important given his camp’s strong influence in the north and west.

Abdullah’s spokesman Fraidoon Khwazoon said that though the announced list was not final and there were “considerations that needed to be addressed”, it should not be rejected outright.

“All sides including the Taleban should try not to lose the available opportunity for peace, by make illogical excuses. The Taleban should not lose the current opportunity.”

The US Embassy did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed to mediate between Abdullah and Ghana to create an “inclusive” government during a visit to Kabul on Monday, and announced a US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) cut in US aid to Afghanistan, which he said could be reversed.

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Greece crisis: Islands in RUINS as ‘nightmare within nightmare’ scenario erupts

That is the stark verdict of human rights researchers who claim that Greece faces a “nightmare within a nightmare” if an outbreak occurs at a time when the country remains in financial ruin. has reported that around 38,000 refugees are currently living in horror camps, with no water or electricity to support them. The refugees are from Turkey, which allowed them to travel to the EU after disobeying its pact with the bloc over controlled migration.

Turkey’s reluctance to continue with the deal came as a result of Brussels’ flawed approach over where the refugees would be rehomed afterwards.

With thousands of people, many children, crammed into these destitute areas fit to home only 6,000, mass panic has erupted throughout the Aegean islands, where they are currently residing.

Locals and volunteers fear that at any moment, a coronavirus case could be contracted, leading to a rapid spread throughout the unhygienic camps. 

Earlier this week, the International Rescue Committee described the situation as a “tinderbox ready to explode,” before calling on EU member states to help move the refugees on to safe locations within the bloc.

But now, researcher group Human Rights Watch is demanding Greece take action to avoid a nightmare scenario, where cases of the infection starkly rise on its islands.

The HRW joined 21 other human rights organisations in condemning the Greek government, which has received millions in support from the EU in tackling the refugee crisis.

Eva Cosse, Greece researcher at HRW, said: “Restricting thousands of women, men, and children in severely overcrowded camps, where living conditions are unacceptable, makes it impossible to isolate people exposed to COVID-19 or to comply with minimum preventive and protective measures, even hand washing and social-distancing. 

“The Greek government urgently needs to move people to mainland Greece.”

JUST IN: Fury at EU after ‘disturbing’ response to Greece migrant crisis

Another concerned at the lack of action is Vassilis Kerasiotis, HIAS’ Greece country director.

He said: “The government must take the necessary steps in order to ensure that the thousands of asylum seekers and migrants living in claustrophobically congested RICs are protected. 

“They should be relocated to otherwise empty hotels and apartments where they can practice social distancing. In these hard times, no one should be left behind.

“It is not only a moral but also a prudent thing to do, since the fates of asylum seekers as well as those of the locals are inevitably bound together in the face of the pandemic.”

‘Ridiculous’ EU urged to ‘get their act together’ by ex-NATO chief (LATEST)
EU crisis: Germany to ‘increase controls’ at the border refugee issues (ANALYSIS)
EU on brink of refugee ‘disaster’ after Turkey ‘opens gates’ to bloc (UPDATE)

The IRC confirmed that so far no case of the coronavirus had been found within its refugee centres, but Greece had recently confirmed its infection.

The major concern is how quickly the virus will spread and whether Greece, which has been plagued with financial difficulties for years despite EU bailouts, will be able to control it.

Fotini Kokkinaki with HumanRights360 added: “When the virus hits overcrowded camps in Greece, the consequences will be devastating. 

“That will be a nightmare within an existing nightmare since the public health system has collapsed during the previous years of economic depression. 

“We must act now before it is too late.”

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City of Calgary to provide Friday afternoon update on COVID-19 response

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread across the globe, the City of Calgary is adjusting to a new reality in the face of the pandemic.

On Friday at 1:45 p.m., Calgary Emergency Management Agency chief Tom Sampson will address the city during a news conference.

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Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi will also be in attendance to provide updates on the steps being taken by the city in response to the growing pandemic.

Global News will livestream the update in this post.

Updates will be provided as they become available.

More to come…

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Glam coronavirus medic slams trolls who mocked her for wearing make-up

A glamorous NHS paramedic has let rip at the trolls who mocked her for wearing make-up on the job.

Laura Heath, 24, shared a snap of herself in her uniform writing that she was "proud to be a paramedic".

It comes as the heroic NHS fights the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 1,028 in the UK since its outbreak.

But Ms Heath was met with a wave of snide remarks by people who lashed out at her for wearing make-up.

One low-life wrote: "Wtf really (look at me I'm gorgeous an I work for the NHS) selfies for a few likes while people are dying smh."

"Another said: "Pride is a sin and so is VANITY."

While another said: "Seriously? I think that you've probably got better things to do than trout pout."

But Ms Heath hit back, telling site Tyla: "The unkind comments were mainly focused on my appearance and the fact I wear makeup. I was told I am the reason the death toll is rising (in reference to the coronavirus pandemic).

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"(People said) that I'm a glorified first aider and it's ok for paramedics during this pandemic as we get to go home after dropping a patient off."

She added: "The replies made me feel hurt and upset that people really think that shallow of me and judge my whole persona on one photograph.

"I've only been qualified for six months and I never thought I would me facing something of this magnitude.

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"When I took this photo I was feeling really low – as I struggle with mental health."

But she was also met by support, with one writing: "Go girl. Proud to be in the NHS.

"Proud to be part of the Ambulance Service. Ignore the haters. Do what you do. We're behind you."

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U.S. regulators give banks relief on accounting standard, derivatives rule

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. banking regulators announced Friday that banks would have the option of ignoring the capital implications of a new global accounting standard for two years in a bid to ensure banks continue lending through the pandemic.

The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also voted to allow banks to adopt early a new methodology for measuring counterparty credit risk in derivatives transactions, now functional at the end of March. Regulators said the early adoption could “smooth disruptions” in the market.

The regulatory tweaks mark the latest in a long-running effort by regulators to ease rules on banks amid the coronavirus pandemic, in a bid to ensure they continue lending and supporting the economy.

Specifically, regulators said banks will be able to ignore potentially higher capital requirements they might face under a new global accounting standard. The “current expected credit loss” standard requires banks to estimate potential future losses on loans, which banks have argued could be particularly problematic in the current stressed environment.

Banks now would have the option of delaying for two years the capital impact of the new standard, followed by a three-year transition period. The regulatory relief comes as Congress is poised to pass sweeping economic relief legislation that would have allow banks to ignore the standard for a year.

Separately, the regulators also agreed to allow banks to adopt their new rule on measuring counterparty risk a quarter early if they want. Regulators said by allowing banks to use the new rule sooner, beginning at the end of March, it would give firms access to a more risk-sensitive framework during a volatile time.

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Spain's coronavirus death toll rises by 769 overnight to 4,858

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s coronavirus death toll rose overnight by 769 cases to 4,858, the health ministry said on Friday, a new record in the number of fatalities recorded in 24 hours.

The total number of those infected rose to 64,059 from 56,188 on Thursday.

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