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World News

Coronavirus: Popular Kelowna trail changed to one-way path to support physical distancing

Call it a sign of the physical-distancing times: a popular outdoor trail in the Okanagan has been changed into a one-way route.

This week, the City of Kelowna announced that the Apex Trail at Knox Mountain Park is now one-way only until further notice.

Located just minutes from downtown and with its sweeping views of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake, Knox Mountain is a popular place for locals and visitors alike.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the park isn’t as busy as it normally would be, but it’s still an active place.

The city says park users can use the Apex Trail to travel up the mountain and Knox Mountain Drive to go back down. Directional signage will be in place to guide park users.

Knox Mountain Drive will remain closed to vehicle traffic until further notice.

For more information on Knox Mountain, click here.

For more information about the City of Kelowna and COVID-19, click here.


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World News

Number of coronavirus intensive care patients in Italy drops for first time

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy reported its lowest daily rise in COVID-19 deaths for nearly two weeks on Saturday and said the number of patients in intensive care had fallen for the first time.

Officials urged the country not to flout strict lockdown measures they said were starting to show results, although new cases rose by 4,805 on Saturday which was slightly higher than recent daily increases.

The Civil Protection department reported 681 deaths, bringing the total to 15,632 since the outbreak of the new coronavirus epidemic in northern Italy on Feb. 21. It was the lowest daily rise in deaths since March 23.

The total number of confirmed cases rose to 124,632 from 119,827 reported on Friday but for the first time, the number of patients in badly stretched intensive care units fell, with 3,994 patients being treated, down 74 from 4,068 on Friday.

“This is an important piece of news because it allows our hospitals to breathe,” Civil Protection head Angelo Borelli told a regular daily briefing where he has announced the grim daily tally of the world’s most deadly outbreak of the disease.

For days, Italian officials have said that broadly stable rises in the number of cases suggested that the outbreak had reached a plateau and that the numbers would begin to go down – if strict lockdown measures were respected.

But with Easter approaching and video footage circulating on social media of groups walking outside in cities including Naples, Rome and Milan, there were fears that the signs of progress were leading more people to flout the rules.

“Some images spread on social media, which show a relaxation in the behaviour of some people – fortunately only a few – , should not be taken as an example, they should be deplored,” said Domenico Arcuri, the government’s special commissioner for the coronavirus emergency.

“We can’t have the idea that we’ve already reached the moment to return to normal,” he said.

The government of Lombardy, the northern region at the epicentre of the crisis where more than 49,000 cases have been recorded, made a similar plea and issued a directive ordering people to cover their mouth and nose whenever they go outside.

Italy is still one of the countries worst affected by the new coronavirus, accounting for almost a quarter of worldwide deaths from COVID-19, the highly infectious disease associated with the virus.

Related Coverage

  • Ukrainian doctors fly to Italy to help combat coronavirus

But as more countries in Europe have reported severe outbreaks of their own, it has become less of an outlier.

As the case numbers have flattened in Italy, there has been increasing discussion about eventually rolling back a lockdown that has closed most businesses and slammed the brakes on an already fragile economy.

With the government looking at ways to protect the economy, a senior official said it planned to extend its powers to protect key companies from foreign takeover.

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World News

Mexican tequila makers, unlike brewers, plan to keep up production, exports

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican tequila makers have sought to dispel concerns that their exports to the United States will dry up, after two large brewers in the country suspended production to comply with government rules put in place due to the new coronavirus.

“Neither in the United States nor in Canada are there restrictions on manufacturing and selling alcoholic beverages,” the president of the Mexican tequila chamber, Rodolfo Gonzalez, said in an interview.

This week, Heineken and Grupo Modelo both said they would halt production in Mexico after the government declared a health emergency and ordered suspension of non-essential economic activity.

It caused a storm on social media and large lines in some local supermarkets as Mexicans sought to stock up on beer.

Mexican tequila makers, however, interpret the newly imposed rules differently.

Gonzalez said the sector was still expecting growth rates of between 4% and 5% for this year – even as the new coronavirus is denting sales to bars, restaurants and hotels worldwide.

The United States and Canada are the largest export markets for the emblematic Mexican alcoholic beverage, with the chamber reporting about $2 billion in sales revenues across 118 countries every year.

Gonzalez said the labor-intensive harvest of the prized agave plant would continue because agricultural production is considered an essential economic activity, even if the production of alcoholic beverages is not.

Gonzalez said stopping crop production would have severe consequences for tequila makers.

“We have to finish planting all the agave for the 2020 cycle by next month,” Gonzalez added. “If we were to suspend our activities it would cause irreversible damage.”

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Politics

Coronavirus: Michael Gove admits ‘nature’ of Universal Credit may need to change

Cabinet minister Michael Gove has acknowledged the government may need to review “the nature” of its flagship welfare reform, after being asked whether Universal Credit can provide sufficient financial support to claimants.

More than a million new applications have been submitted since the UK imposed strict social distancing and travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The new welfare system is designed to provide an incentive for people to take up work, by enabling claimants to keep receiving benefit payments alongside income from a job.

However in normal circumstances, claimants are expected to actively seek work in order to qualify for financial support.

This has led to concerns about whether the system has enough flexibility to deal with the current circumstances where work is unlikely to be an option for the vast majority,

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster insisted the whole welfare system was kept under review, but asked whether the standard weekly claim of £94 per week was sufficient for people to live on, he indicated further changes could follow.

“I think we have to consider the nature of the system and whether or not we do need to ensure that we better support the vulnerable, we keep that constantly under review and I think it’s important that we do recognise that its a very very difficult economic time for very many,” he said.

The message from Mr Gove contrasts with comments made by the Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, who told a parliamentary select committee last month “the underlying principles of Universal Credit have not gone away”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently admitted he would not be able to live on £94 per week, which is also the rate of statutory sick pay.

However, Mr Gove was keen to stress that while Universal Credit was one of the mechanisms by which the government was offering support to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic, it was not the only one.

“It is not the only means the government is deploying, as you’ll be aware there are up to 1.5 million people in the most vulnerable category – the shielded vulnerable – who we are distributing food and prescription medicines to.”

He also pointed to a new task force led by Environment Secretary George Eustice, which is working with local authorities and charities to identify those who are vulnerable and in need in communities across the UK.

The Department for Work and Pensions is recruiting at least 5,000 more staff to increase its capacity to handle the surge in demand for Universal Credit.

Ministers have previously made clear that in addition to the standard claim of £94 per week, new Universal Credit claimants may be able to receive more money through housing and support additions.

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Health

New Brunswick RCMP member tests positive for coronavirus

A police officer in New Brunswick has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now self-isolating at home.

“At this time, the case is not believed to be related to frontline interaction,” RCMP said in a statement released on Saturday.

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In the meantime, police said there is no anticipated impact on frontline policing or deployability.

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Health

Winnipeg lab employee self-isolating after mistaken exposure to new coronavirus

A Winnipeg lab worker is now in 14 days of self-isolation after mistakenly being in contact with chickens that had been exposed to the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says on the morning of March 28, an employee, “well-trained in all aspects of animal care procedures” entered a large animal cubicle, mistakenly believing it “housed non-infected chickens.”

The staff member was wearing enough personal protective clothing for a room with non-infected animals, but not enough for infected animals, they said.

“Therefore, the personal protective equipment that was worn by the employee at the time was not sufficient for the room at that time. All prescribed room signage was in place,” said a statement from the CFIA.

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The chickens in the room had been inoculated with the coronavirus causing COVID-19, 11 days prior.

“The purpose of the study being undertaken was to determine whether chickens could become infected with the coronavirus causing COVID-19. Samples taken from the chickens on the day of the potential exposure tested negative, indicating that the risk of potential exposure was very low.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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

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World News

Britain secures 300 new ventilators from China

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain took delivery of 300 ventilators from China on Saturday and more will start being produced soon by a consortium of aerospace, engineering and Formula One teams, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said.

“We’ve been buying invasive ventilators from partners abroad, including Germany and Switzerland, and today 300 new ventilators arrived from China, I’d like to thank the Chinese government,” he told a news conference.

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World News

Ukrainian doctors fly to Italy to help combat coronavirus

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine, which expects a sharp rise of coronavirus cases in the coming weeks, sent doctors to disease-hit Italy on Saturday to assist their Italian colleagues and to gain field experience.

A team of 20 doctors, including surgeons, neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses, will be deployed to the region of Marche in central Italy for two weeks, Italian ambassador to Ukraine, Davide La Cecilia told Reuters.

“The national health service in our country is very stressed. So we badly need medical personnel and are very happy that Ukraine is sending this humanitarian aid,” said La Cecilia at Kiev’s airport, before the medical mission’s departure.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who accompanied the ambassador, said Kiev would send more medical aid and disinfectant to Italy in the coming days.

“It is an honour for us to help Italy during such tough times. We know that many Ukrainians live and work in Italy. By helping Italy, we are helping our citizens,” said Avakov.

Ukraine’s health ministry has reported 1,096 cases, including 28 deaths since March 3, when the first case was recorded. But as thousands of Ukrainians have recently returned home from abroad, the ministry expects a much bigger outbreak ahead. The daily tally of new cases increased to 154 on Saturday from 138 on Friday, up from 62 last Monday.

The head of the Ukrainian medical mission, neurosurgeon Andriy Miroshnichenko, said that all the team members volunteered to work in Italy.

“After they come back home, they will be able to treat patients and work having practical experience and knowledge about the disease,” said Miroshnichenko.

Asked whether the Ukrainian doctors were not afraid to catch the virus themselves Glib Bidyukov, a nurse, said it was “a consciously made choice”.

“When you choose healthcare, you understand that you put yourself in some danger… Each of us made a choice a long time ago,” Bidyukov said.

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Health

Coronavirus: 29 new cases confirmed in Nova Scotia

As of Sunday, Nova Scotia has 29 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total of cases to 236.

According to the province, those cases range in age from under 10 to over 80.

Four individuals are currently in hospital and 50 individuals have now recovered, and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved.

“Public health is working to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with the confirmed cases. Those individuals who have been confirmed are being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days,” the province said in a statement released on Saturday.

The province also noted that most of the confirmed cases have been connected to travel or a known case, but some are connected to community spread.

“This is expected and why the testing strategy continues to be adjusted,” said the province.

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Part of that adjustment is increasing lab capacity, which according to the government, will have processing at the lab move to 24/7 operations as of Monday.

The 29 new cases were identified on Friday after the QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed 800 Nova Scotia tests in one day.

“It is now more important than ever for Nova Scotians to strictly adhere to the public health orders and directives – practise good hygiene, maintain a physical distance of two metres or six feet from others, limit essential gatherings to no more than five people and stay at home as much as possible,” the province said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent

spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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

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Health

Manitoba health officials to provide COVID-19 update

Manitoba health officials will hold a press conference Saturday from the Manitoba Legislature to provide an update on the COVID-19 crisis. It’s scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m. CT.

On Friday, another Manitoban died due to the novel coronavirus bringing the province’s death toll to two.

A total of 15 news cases were declared on Friday, bringing Manitoba’s total to 182 probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Lanette Siragusa of Shared Health said eight companies have “responded to the province’s call for donations of medical supplies.”

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One day after putting out a call for supplies, the health system received donations of 2,570 N95 masks, 3,110 surgical and procedure masks, 9,300 gloves and 202 bottles of hand sanitizer, said the province.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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

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