World News

Pembina Pipeline cuts capital spending plan by up to $1.1 billion

Pembina Pipeline Corp. is cutting its capital spending plan for this year by up to $1.1 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the plunge in oil prices.

The company now expects its revised 2020 capital budget to between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion.

The compared with an earlier plan to spend $2.3 billion.

Pembina says it’s deferring the Phase VII, VIII and IX expansions of the Peace Pipeline and its Empress co-generation facility.

It is also deferring its Prince Rupert terminal expansion and its investment in an integrated propane dehydrogenation plant and polypropylene upgrading facility.

Pembina says the deferred projects were expected to come into service largely in 2021 through 2023.

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World News

Coronavirus: Ikea Canada to temporarily close all stores

Ikea Canada announced Wednesday all stores across the country are closed until further notice due to concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Our top priority during these challenging times continues to be health and safety,” said Michael Ward, CEO and chief sustainability officer at Ikea Canada.

“Our communities are working hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to support these efforts, we will temporarily close all stores across the country to support social distancing efforts and based on recommendations from local health authorities.”

Preventive measures to protect staff and customers from COVID-19 had already been taken in recent weeks as the retailer had closed its restaurants, bistros, and play areas for children. Stores had also been cleaned and sanitized more frequently in recent weeks, according to the statement.

The retailer says customers will still be able to shop online during the closure and all commercial offers, such as their popular kitchen and bathroom event, will be extended until April 30.

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World News

Ontario government cancels EQAO testing due to coronavirus outbreak

Ontario’s education minister says EQAO, the province’s standardized testing, is cancelled for the 2019-20 school year amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“During the COVID-19 global pandemic, students are facing immense pressures in their academic journey. Given these extraordinary circumstances, the government is taking immediate action to continue protecting the health and safety as well as reduce the burden on students,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said.

Lecce said his ministry consulted with parents, students, educators and administrators for elementary and secondary students and decided that all remaining standardized tests for the school year are cancelled.

“I want to be clear: this cancellation will not impede student graduation,” Lecce added.

“We will continue to follow the advice of Ontario’s chief medical officer of health to ensure the safety of all students and staff.”

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World News

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit activates emergency response plan over COVID-19

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has activated its emergency response plan after the Ontario government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

This move allows local municipalities to set up emergency operation centres. The health unit is also enforcing actions ordered by the province, including the closure of libraries, licensed child-care centres, private schools, bars and restaurants.

Restaurants offering takeout and delivery options only can remain open.

“This is an unprecedented but warranted action for a very challenging time,” said Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, the health unit’s medical officer of health. “We need to do everything we can to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of our residents.”

The health unit is also encouraging all residents to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently. Anyone who feels ill should stay home. Residents are also encouraged to practise social distancing while out in public, staying at least two metres away from others.

Anyone who travels outside Canada should also self-isolate for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms.

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World News

TikTok joins forces with WHO to promote coronavirus facts amid pandemic

TikTok, the app that’s quickly becoming Generation Z’s favourite social media platform, says it’s working to communicate informational content to users amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The video platform with an estimated 800 million-plus users says it’s working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to share informational content related to COVID-19. 

“We’re focused on supporting our users by providing access to accurate information and resources from public health officials in the app,” a spokesperson told Global News by email.

This is particularly important for TikTok, whose audience is mostly under the age of 25

Users who view hashtags related to the pandemic are prompted to visit an in-app landing page with answers to common questions, safety tips, and mythbusters related to COVID-19. 

The questions answered range from “what is a coronavirus?” to “can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?” all of them answered by the WHO. 

While communicating public health information can help limit the spread of coronavirus, TikTok is also facing a challenge that’s common for social media apps: fast-spreading fake news. 

Multiple videos calling the COVID-19 pandemic a hoax have gained viral attention on the platform. A journalist from the Washington Post tweeted out one of these TikToks, which is no longer available on the platform. 

To track down these posts, TikTok says they are monitoring and removing misleading hashtags from the app. 

They are also relying on the community by reminding users to report content that violates community guidelines when they browse coronavirus-related content. These reports are reviewed by TikTok employees based in the U.S.

In an apparent attempt to fight misinformation and disinformation with facts, TikTok is automatically labelling coronavirus-related videos and offering redirect links to local health resources, the WHO website, and other trusted resources.

As of March 17, the trending hashtag #safehands, launched by the WHO and TikTok, had garnered about 700 million views. Celebrities such as Nicole Scherzinger, and Mariah Carey have uploaded videos of themselves lip-syncing and washing their hands with the hashtag. 

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World News

How the novel coronavirus outbreak is impacting Montreal event planners

One of the industries hit hardest and earliest by the novel coronavirus outbreak has been the event-planning industry, as gatherings of more than 250 people have been banned by the Quebec government for over a week.

Le Château Classique owner Giulio Di Minno told Global News Morning that COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has essentially forced his entire industry into hibernation.

“Listen, we’re basically shut down,” he said.

While all large events have to be called off, Di Minno said most organizers are leaving it up to their clients to decide whether to hold smaller events.

Despite that technicality, he said: “Everything’s been cancelled.”

In the end, Di Minno said most of them have opted to cancel.

For the very few who are still going ahead with their events, Di Minno added that every precaution is being taken.

“We’re just making sure everything’s OK,” he said. “Everything’s being cleaned, everyone’s wearing gloves.”

Further complicating matters is the fact that many insurers are refusing to pay out for cancelled events, both in Montreal and around the world.

After the popular creative industry conference South by Southwest in Texas was cancelled earlier this month, organizers there made headlines when it was revealed their insurance policy didn’t cover cancellation due to health concerns.

Di Minno said many in Montreal are finding the same nasty surprise.

“Insurance companies are not stepping in at all. We’ve inquired, and there’s no compensation at the moment,” he said.

Another big question mark that continues to hang over the industry, Di Minno says, is what will happen after society starts to get back to normal once the outbreak has passed.

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World News

Coronavirus breakthrough: Italian town’s testing project sees rates drop to zero

Authorities in the small community of Vò, near Venice, took a no-nonsense approach to the virus shortly after it broke out in the region, rolling out large scale testing. While leaders in the UK and the Netherlands have leaned towards pursuing “herd immunity”, medics in Vò took a different approach. All 3,300 inhabitants were continuously tested for Covid-19 even if they were not displaying symptoms.

Anyone who had a positive test was ordered to self-isolate to prevent the viral disease spreading.

The results were phenomenal, as health authorities reported the infection rate in the town at the heart of the country’s outbreak had fallen from 3 percent to 0.3 percent in the space of 10 days.

Andrea Crisanti, an infections expert at Imperial College London, is part of the team conducting the project while he is on sabbatical at the University of Padua.

Speaking of the success rate of the experiment, he called on countries across Europe and the wider world to copy the policy being trialled in Vò to bring the spread of coronavirus to a halt.

Prof Crisanti told the Financial Times: “In the UK, there are a whole lot of infections that are completely ignored.

“We were able to contain the outbreak here because we identified and eliminated the ‘submerged’ infections and isolated them.

“That is what makes the difference.”

The first round of testing which showed 3 percent of the town had coronavirus was conducted at the end of February.

Interestingly though, half of those who tested positive did not show any symptoms.

All those diagnosed were cut off from having social contact and the second round of tests a week-and-a-half later showed only 0.3 percent of Vò’s residents were infected.

Rates of Covid-19 were kept down by sending six people into isolation after they tested positive in the second round, despite showing no signs of the virus.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged countries to focus heavily on testing individuals for the virus as a means of stopping it from spreading.

WHO bosses want to see programs rolled out similar to that in Vò which include repeat testing for everyone regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.

This approach would lead to the isolation of asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 who would otherwise not have known they are infected and possibly spread the sickness to others.

The WHO this week pointed to South Korea and Taiwan as examples of how stringent testing programs can have a huge effect on the overall number of cases.

Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday: “Our key message is: test, test, test.”

The results of the experiment come as a paper produced by the Imperial College Covid-19 Response Team, which is one of several groups advising the Government, showed how the UK had no choice but to change tactics in the face of a growing coronavirus crisis.

Slowing down the spread of the virus without more serious social measures – as were imposed on Monday – could have led to around 250,000 deaths in the UK and a health system so overwhelmed it could not cope, it said.

It warned that “surge limits” for both general ward and intensive care beds would be exceeded by at least eight-fold.

“In addition, even if all patients were able to be treated, we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in GB (Great Britain), and 1.1-1.2 million in the US,” it said.

The paper looked specifically at scenarios in the UK and the US, and concluded that suppression was the only answer.

It said mitigation policies (combining home isolation of suspected cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspected cases, and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of severe disease) “might reduce peak healthcare demand by two-thirds and deaths by half”.

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World News

Coronavirus sees UK brewery launch ‘pub in a box’ kit for punters in isolation

A British brewery has launched a “click and collect” service and “pub in a box” for punters who are self-isolating over the coronavirus outbreak.

Brewery Signature Brew – which runs three pubs in London – has come up with a way to allow people to enjoy the pub experience at home.

The brewery is launching the “pub in a box” which – at £25 – consists of a selection of their award-winning beers, glassware, beer mats, snacks and a music quiz.

It also features exclusive playlists curated by music journalists to accompany the beers themselves, and can be delivered straight to punters’ doorsteps.

Signature Brew Co-Founder Sam MacGregor said: “We think it’s best to remain calm, carry on with life, support local and to support artists however we can, without being alarmist but with a good eye on what the powers that be, advise us to do.

“We’re planning one hell of a p*ss–up in a brewery when all of this blows over.”

The brewery, which runs Blackhorse Beer Mile brewery bar, The Collab in Walthamstow and Taproom in Haggerston, is also launching a click and collect service at the pub.

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Sam added: “We have beer to deliver and want to support musicians however we can, especially in these tough times.

“For our drinkers who may be staying at home right now, we can’t think of anything better than receiving cold, brewery-fresh beers, hand-delivered by someone from a band we love.

“An eight can box costs £25, 16 cans cost £45 and it’s 24 cans for £60.”

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The launch comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Brits to stay indoors and not visit pubs, restaurants or theatres as the UK edged closer to a lockdown over the Covid-19 outbreak.

He told people to work from home, to self-isolate for two weeks if one person in the household has symptoms, and urged those over 70 or with underlying health conditions to stay indoors for 12 weeks.

The virus gripping Britain has so far killed 71 people, while another 50,000 are feared to have contracted the deadly disease.

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Sky giving away free mobile, TV and phone extras during the Coronavirus outbreak

Sky customers across the UK will temporarily get extra benefits during the Coronavirus outbreak.

As more of us are stuck at home in self isolation, the telecommunication company is offering additional perks for mobile, TV and phone users.

These include Sky Mobile customers getting an extra 10GB of data free of charge and Sky Go Extra will now be available to all customers for free.

The move also follows Sky's announcement that it will work with NBCUniversal to make a range of new film releases available to rent at home through Sky Store for UK customers.

The service will launch from Friday and Sky+ and Sky Q customers will be charged £15.99 for immediate rental of films on same day as official release.

The first film to be made available will be DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour on 6 April.

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Speaking about the move Stephen van Rooyen, EVP & CEO, Sky UK and Europe said: “We’re working hard at Sky to make sure we continue to look after our customers. We’re also introducing some things to help make life a little easier for anyone at home trying to work, stay connected to loved ones, or keep the family entertained.”

Other films that will also now be available through Sky on-demand includes recent releases The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma.

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What Sky free extras are available?

  • Sky Go Extra is available to all customers for free, giving homes access to Sky TV on three screens at the same time.

  • Calls to UK landlines at any time of day will be free for existing Sky Talk customers from this weekend to the end of April

  • All Sky Mobile customers will get an extra 10GB of free of charge.

  • Call centres and engineers will prioritise the needs of existing customers to ensure their service keeps running smoothl.

  • YouTube kids and Disney+ will be coming to Sky Q in the coming weeks, to give families even more entertainment choices

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World News

British schools struggle to stay open amid coronavirus outbreak

LONDON (Reuters) – Schools across Britain were struggling to stay open on Wednesday, with some forced to partially or fully close as staff and students stayed at home because of the spread of coronavirus.

The closures come amid confusion about why schools are being advised to stay open when the government has stepped up advice to curb social contact to try to slow the spread of the virus.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders union, said head teachers were saying they were struggling to keep their institutions open beyond Friday.

“Some very seasoned head teachers have been calling me to say they will not be able to manage much longer,” he told the BBC. “One said he had 17 members of staff call in sick. And I think this will be replicated around the country.”

Some schools are closing but offering to look after the children of parents who work in key public services like health or social care.

Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, defended the policy before a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, saying that school closures were “on the table”, but not a step the government should be taking at this time.

This comes as angry parents are refusing to send their children to school and are complaining that other countries were doing more to stop the spread of coronavirus.

On parliament’s website, a petition calling on the government to shut schools and colleges had attracted more than 671,000 signatures.

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