Debunking Calgary COVID-19 myths: Are helicopters used to spray disinfectant across the city?

The City of Calgary took to Twitter on Tuesday to dispel some strange gossip apparently making the rounds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A tweet posted just after 7:30 p.m. said “we’ve heard rumours about how we are disinfecting the city. We are not spraying throughout the night or using helicopters to disinfect areas.”

Instead, the city again asked citizens to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus by washing their hands and maintaining a two-metre physical distance from the people around you when leaving the house.

The city is encouraging anyone who wants more information on their response to COVID-19 to visit Calgary.ca/covid19.

The City of Calgary remains under a state of local emergency, which was declared on March 15.

Alberta also remains in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The province declared a public health emergency on March 17.

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As of Tuesday, there were 358 in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alberta, including two deaths.

 

For more information, you can visit the province’s COVID-19 website.

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Coronavirus: Number of COVID-19 deaths in Spain surpasses China as total reaches 3,434

A total of 3,434 coronavirus patients have now have died in Spain – more than the recorded number of deaths in China where the outbreak began.

Spain now has the world’s second-highest tally of COVID-19 deaths after 738 more were reported on Wednesday, the country’s deadliest toll in one day.

With 3,434 coronavirus patients dead, Spain surpassed China’s toll of 3,285.

Italy still has the most deaths of any nation in the world with 6,820.

Infections in Spain rose 20% from a day earlier to 47,610.

Hotels in the country are being converted into hospitals and an ice rink in capital Madrid is being used as a temporary morgue.

More follows…

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Rainbow Cinemas closes for good in Saskatoon, employees ‘dismantling a home’

As she wipes down the concession counter at Saskatoon’s Rainbow Cinemas, Val Randall recalls an old Woody Guthrie song.

“So long, it’s been good to know you,” she sings with cloth in hand.

The 25-year employee at the second-run theatre is helping gradually close up shop. On Monday, Rainbow told Saskatoon moviegoers the theatre was closing for good.

“We’re dismantling a home. We’re dismantling an institution,” Randall said in an interview.

With the arrival of a new Cineplex theatre next door, staff expected Rainbow Cinemas to remain open until sometime in May. With the emergence of the novel coronavirus, however, a ban on large public gatherings ensued and the theatre closed.

The temporary closure is now permanent.

Randall has been reflecting on the theatre’s run and her involvement. She was hired in the days leading up to its opening in 1995.

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“I’d just moved into town. I was still kind of on welfare and looking for a job,” she told Global News.

Hired at 40 years old, she began working in the concession area before making her way through the ranks and becoming general manager. The vast majority of her employees and coworkers have been teenagers.

Randall considers them more like family.

“That’s the great joy of working in a movie theatre. You get to help people have fun and you hurt no one,” she said.

“You make great friends and it’s a great growing experience.”

One day, while behind the concession counter, she met a customer named Gene. They fell in love and got married. Gene was later diagnosed with cancer, and Randall compared the feelings she felt during her husband’s death to her emotions seeing Rainbow Cinemas close.

“We knew he wasn’t going to live,” Randall said. “It’s sort of like losing him all over again.”

On social media, patrons shared memories of the theatre, including the Saskatoon-centric mural that lines the walls. Others are adamant Rainbow Cinemas had the perfect popcorn recipe. The $5 admission was hard to argue with — even more so on toonie Tuesday.

Jill Staniec remembered going to the theatre in the late 1990s and early 2000s while living in residence at the University of Saskatchewan.

She saw the same Star Wars movie at least nine times with a group of friends from campus.

“Rainbow Cinemas was just that place where you could go to relax. It was affordable,” Staniec said.

Asked what she’d like her customers to know after 25 years, Randall replied: “You’ve made my life just great. You’ve made my life worth living.”

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G20 leaders to convene by video conference on Thursday about coronavirus

RIYADH (Reuters) – Leaders from the Group of 20 major economies will convene a video conference on Thursday to discuss the coronavirus epidemic, the Saudi secretariat said, amid criticism that the group has been slow to respond to the global crisis.

G20 finance ministers and central bankers agreed during a separate video conference this week to develop an “action plan” to respond to the outbreak, which the International Monetary Fund expects will trigger a global recession. A subsequent statement offered few details.

A separate statement published late on Tuesday said Saudi Arabia’s 84-year-old King Salman would chair the meeting “to advance a coordinated global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its human and economic implications.”

One source said the G20 sherpas, who are the leaders’ emissaries, would speak on Wednesday to prepare. Summits typically take months to prepare, with deputies gathering in person to hash out differences before leaders arrive but in this case, because of health precautions, they are convening remotely, which could make reaching compromises harder.

The summit will be complicated by an oil price war between two members, Saudi Arabia and Russia, and rising tensions between two others, the United States and China, over the origin of the virus, which has infected nearly 400,000 people globally and killed more than 17,200. Click tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser for an interactive graphic on cases.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has welcomed the fiscal and monetary steps taken by some countries, but said more would be needed, especially in the fiscal arena. Surveys show the pandemic is battering the global economy.

Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said given monetary policy constraints, the G20 countries’ only option to support growth might be fiscal stimulus, but that could raise the risk of a debt crisis, with “devastating effect on global growth.”

“This is something that G20 leaders will have in mind if they go for stimulus packages,” Demarais added.

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What is lockdown? Britons, including senior minister, are confused

LONDON (Reuters) – The minister tasked with explaining lockdown to Britons sowed more confusion on Tuesday as he contradicted himself on children moving between households, was unclear about the status of construction sites and said toy and clothes deliveries could carry on.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ratcheted up Britain’s attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus on Monday, announcing strict curbs on ordinary life. He ordered people to stay at home, shops to close and all non-essential interaction to halt.

Senior minister Michael Gove appeared on radio and television shows on Tuesday to say people “wherever possible” should stay at home to try to prevent the state-run NHS health service being overwhelmed.

But when asked if people could order toys and clothes online and have them delivered, requiring work by distribution center workers and drivers, Gove said: “yes”.

The government’s restrictions say that people should only travel to work when “absolutely necessary”.

Gove had to correct the advice he gave on air about whether children of separated parents could move from one household to the other, initially saying it should stop but then saying it was allowed.

Major construction work could also continue, he said, but work in homes that involved “intimate contact” with the householder would not be appropriate, he told ITV, adding that the rules were “clear”.

Photographs on Tuesday showed builders congregating at sites such as housing developments.

“Construction work that takes place in the open air on new sites, that is appropriate,” Gove said.

Later on Tuesday, London’s transport authority temporarily suspended work on construction sites for the capital’s new Crossrail project.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, a candidate to be leader the opposition Labour Party, said the government urgently needed to provide more clarity, including a tightly defined list of workplaces.

“There’s a whole range of essential functions, and then there are non-essential functions like ordering nice things online,” she told BBC radio.

When asked about people who did not do an essential job, but whose employer insisted they went to work, Gove said: “Wherever people can work from home, they should.”

Britain has lagged other European countries in introducing strict curbs on ordinary life.

Italy, where more people have died as a result of the epidemic than anywhere else, ordered the closure of all industrial production and almost all private and public offices on Sunday.

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Coronavirus: Hamilton’s emergency director ‘disheartened’ to see kids in parks during pandemic

Hamilton’s director of the emergency operations centre (EOC) is urging parents to keep their kids away from city parks and playgrounds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paul Johnson said he was “disheartened” when he saw photos of gatherings across the city’s conservation areas and parks over the weekend.

 

“It’s not a time for play dates with kids. It’s not a time to allow your kids to go and play with a basketball in the local park. This is all stuff that shouldn’t be happening,” Johnson told Global News.

The EOC director says when he came in Monday morning, he was met with a deluge of e-mails from concerned residents telling stories about large gatherings not practising “social distancing” in the city’s parks and conservation areas.

“They are a bit disheartening because it’s not three or four people getting together and a little too close. They’re talking about 30, 40, 50 people. They’re talking with thousands of people at a park.”

Johnson says although greenspaces in city parks are still open to the public, park equipment and play structures are not. Playground structures have been closed until further notice since the city can not assure they are completely sanitized for use.

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Woman with no symptoms of coronavirus lost her sense of hearing, taste and smell

A woman who contracted coronavirus says the virus made her go deaf in addition to losing her sense of taste and smell.

Julia Buscaglia moved to Florence in January and said she had a wet cough and no pre-warned symptoms were present.

The 20-year-old posted on Twitter explaining how she returned home from hard hit Italy, where more than 6,000 people have died from coronavirus, at the beginning of March.

Julia said she was able to travel back into the United States, where not a single airport official asked where she had been.

After testing positive she said: “My jaw DROPPED. How was I positive? I didn’t have the symptoms on the news.

“I flew home, and not a single person asked where I had been. Not even at customs. They didn’t blink an eye at me. I had layovers in LARGE cities. Again, there was no doubt in my mind that I didn’t have the virus.”

Her post has gone viral, with more than 175,000 likes.

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Julia woke up ‘in agony’ and gave more precautions to her followers: “My head was pounding, my ears throbbing, and it felt as if my throat was on fire. My body ached, I had chills, and I had a fever of 100.2. I took over the counter anti-inflammatories and stayed in bed the entire day.”

She explained how saw a doctor the following day who told her she had a cold.

She said: “At this point, I had begun to lose hearing in my left ear, I figured it was congestion. Still I had NO cough.

“As Italy was starting to become a place of concern our program urged us to return home.

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“At this point I lost all ability to taste and smell, yet I did not have a runny nose or cough.

“I had a headache constantly during the day which I just treated with Tylenol. I left the next morning to return to America.”

Julia travelled back to the US by March 5th, and had to self-quarantine after officials did not even ask where she had come from.

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On March 14th, Julia was tested for the virus, adding: “I was not planning on being tested. However, members of my family work in health care and wanted to be sure before returning to work. We had to ask to be tested, they refused until we asked repeatedly.”

Julia was told she had tested positive for COVID-19, despite having 'no symptoms, and only a slight remaining cough’.

She warned her followers: “I guess why I’m telling you all of this is because what they are telling you are symptoms are not ALL symptoms.

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“And you do NOT have to have the symptoms to be positive. The only symptom I had that was similar was a fever.

“But this is not a joke anymore. Please cancel your trips.

“I am completely healthy right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m cleared.

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"And the same could be true of you. So please stay indoors. Be safe and smart.

"Limit your contact with individuals, because this is going to get worse before it gets better.

“To those of you in the same situation as me, I wish you all a speedy recovery and to stay healthy.

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"Drink fluids and wash your hands. Please remember, just because you are not showing symptoms does NOT mean you do not have it.”

The number of UK coronavirus cases have risen rapidly, with the death toll soaring to 422.

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The Department of Health and Social Care reported a further 84 people who tested positive for the virus have died.

This is the record number of people to die in a single day.

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Coronavirus: Nearly 1 million Canadians applied for EI last week

Nearly a million Canadians have filed for employment insurance (EI) as the novel coronavirus outbreak ravages Canada’s economy.

The number of jobless claims received by the government between Monday, March 16 and Sunday, March 22 has reached 929,000, a source with knowledge of the data confirmed to Global News.

The new figure represents a near doubling of claims since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press release on Friday, March 20 that weekly unemployment applications had reached the half-a-million mark.

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Greece dubbed ‘tinderbox set to EXPLODE’ as coronavirus sparks EU crisis

Some 38,000 people have found their way from Turkey to Greece, with many now camped out in tents surrounded by rubbish in a space fit to only house 6,000. Many are children, some with close relatives currently residing in the UK, who now face a “hopeless future” as the reality of Turkey’s insistence on disobeying its pledge with the EU four years ago to help control migration to the bloc bites. But perhaps most starkly is the genuine concern that this once understanding set of islands could soon be overrun with cases of coronavirus, which has so far claimed more than 14,000 people’s lives across the globe, with hundreds of thousands also contracting the infection.

Imogen Sudbery, the International Rescue Committee’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, told Express.co.uk, that if more isn’t done to stem this trend of people coming to the Greek islands without others being moved on, a “tinderbox is ready to explode” on the isles, which could cause devastation for years.

At present, Ms Sudbery said there had been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus within the camps of refugees in Greece.

But she did warn that just one case coming into the camp could spread to such dangerous levels that it could be hard to control.

She said: “You can imagine that when we’re all familiar with the social distancing measures that we are all supposed to be taking and the sanitary measure in terms of simple things like hand-washing, that is entirely impossible to put in place inside these centres on the Greek islands.

“So we’re really looking at a tinderbox which is just ready to explode.

“There aren’t any first confirmed cases inside the camps on the islands though there have been among the asylum seeking population.

“But we know that we have had the first confirmed case on Lesbos and there are two more suspected cases so of course we are really concerned that once this hits such overcrowded spaces with very little health provision and very, very low hand-washing facilities this could wreak absolute devastation.”

The root of this problem stems from the deal that was struck in 2016, which saw Europe allow third-world countries to manage migration to the EU.

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According to the IRC, Turkey opened its borders earlier in March which saw waves of people arrive in Greece to hopefully move on and seek asylum in the bloc.

But the organisation reports a worrying trend where, as Ms Sudbery described, citizens who were once “very welcoming” have “lost their patience because their islands have changed into really different places leading to huge overcrowding and an untenable situation”.

The Greek government, which has received millions in funding from Brussels, has also decided to make a stance – no longer processing applications for refugees who have made the “dangerous trip often from war-torn countries in the hope of a better future”.

It has left many in limbo – something that could explain the IRC reporting nearly 50 percent of those who made the deadly journey to Greece contemplating suicide.

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Ms Sudbery argues that other EU member states must act “while they still can,” especially ahead of a potential virus outbreak within the destitute camps and centres.

However, she did admit that securing any full agreement with the EU has “proved impossible” as the bloc had been “at a deadlock for months, even years” over what exactly needs to be done to stem the worrying situation.

Ms Sudbery said: “Once Turkey decided it didn’t want to do this anymore, the EU was completely unprepared because we didn’t have a system where you could share the responsibility with different countries.

“So Greece has effectively decided it is no longer going to go along and process the asylum claims for people who are arriving and the situation now risks becoming even more of a crisis when something like coronavirus hits.”

In images shared by the IRC, young children can be seen living out of battered tents, with towering piles of dusty water bottles nearby, sleeping bags strewn across their patch and washing lines decorated with gloves and old hooded sweatshirts hanging high above them.

She did set out how easy it would be to save the children currently stranded on the island, though.

Although a small number for each member state of the EU take on, she was aware that more children – and adults – would continue to risk their lives in the name of making it to Greece.

Ms Sudbery continued: “The trouble is this didn’t need to be a crisis on the island at all from the beginning. If the right response had been in place from European countries and all EU member states it would have been very manageable and have very small numbers if you divided the number of people arriving between all the different EU member states.

“There are thousands of unaccompanied children who are on the island and who haven’t been able to move to safe accommodation.

“If each EU member state were to just take their fair share of those children it would only be 70 children per country.”

But as the numbers of people who continue to try and flee to Greece and its iconic strip of islands rapidly rises, Ms Sudbery did welcome the fact that some countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Portugal had made a concerted effort to remove some of those most in need on the island.

Ms Sudbery added: “European leaders must immediately relocate the most vulnerable people trapped on the island.

“We welcome the recent decision of at least seven EU member states to evacuate 1,600 unaccompanied minors.

“But this represents just a fraction of real needs on the ground, as people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, the elderly and families with children are still left in limbo, facing an uncertain future.

“Safe relocation of the most vulnerable is all the more crucial to protect health and lives in the light of the Europe-wide developments related to the coronavirus pandemic.”

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South Korea says Trump asked for equipment to fight coronavirus

SEOUL (Reuters) – President Donald Trump asked South Korea to send medical equipment to the United States to fight the coronavirus, promising to help Korean companies gain U.S. government approval, South Korea’s presidential office said.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in offered to send the equipment if his country has any spare, his Blue House office said in a statement late on Tuesday, after the 23 minute phone call, which it said was arranged at Trump’s urgent request.

The request for help highlights the diverging paths the two countries took since both discovered their first coronavirus cases on the same day.

South Korea rolled out widespread testing within days, swiftly launching an aggressive program to isolate confirmed cases and trace their contacts.

After a big early outbreak, it won praise for slowing the spread of the disease with comparatively little disruption and just 125 deaths, and has brought the number of new infections per day to below 100 for the past 13 straight days.

The United States did little testing initially, and has now been shutting parts of the country en masse, with fast-growing outbreaks in a number of states and thousands of new cases per day.

Moon told Trump that South Korea “will provide as much support as possible, if there is spare medical equipment in Korea”.

Trump told Moon he would help Korean producers obtain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their equipment, the Korean statement said.

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