Posts Tagged "COVID19"


B.C. confirms 18 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 deaths | CBC News

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Another 18 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. and three more people have died. 

There have now been a total of 155 deaths and 2,507 cases of coronavirus in B.C., according to the latest numbers from the province released Friday afternoon.

Of that number, 310 cases are still active and 2,042 people have recovered. 

The three people who died are all in the Fraser Health Region. A total 41 people are currently in hospital, eight of them in intensive care. 

The outbreak that started in mid-March at the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver is now over.

There are no new outbreaks in health-care centres, but outbreaks continue at 14 long-term care or assisted living facilities, and two acute-care units have active outbreaks as well.

Every health region in B.C. has had patients with COVID-19, according to the joint statement from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix. 

Public health teams are continuing to provide support as community outbreaks continue at the two federal prisons, the Mountain Institution in Agassiz and the Mission Institution, the statement said. 

Support is also being provided as outbreaks continue at the Oppenheimer Group fruit and vegetable processing plant in Coquitlam, poultry facilities and with cases connected to the Kearl Lake oilsands site in Alberta.

The total number of confirmed cases released on Friday includes 10 people who were infected in Alberta in connection with the outbreak at the Kearl Lake oilsands project and self-isolated there before returning home to B.C. Those cases had not previously been included in B.C.’s numbers.

This week, B.C. entered the second phase of its restart plan, with businesses like hair salons, restaurants and libraries allowed to reopen or expand their services. 

This phase is about finding a “new balance” between protecting health and reopening and resuming businesses and activities, Friday’s statement said. 

Drive-ins limited to 50 vehicles

The province is limiting gatherings of vehicles ahead of the weekend. 

Gatherings remain restricted to 50 people, but this order has now been extended to limit gatherings of vehicles to 50 for outdoor drive-in events, with restrictions on the sale of refreshments.

Anyone attending a drive-in event must stay in their cars, unless they need to use the washroom, which must have running water for handwashing. 

“This week, we have seen British Columbians throughout the province using the WorkSafeBC public health guidelines and the rules for safe social interactions to increase their activities while protecting employees, customers, friends and family,” the statement from Henry and Dix said. 

“This approach — moving slowly, with patience and care — is our way forward. We have made great strides to flatten our curve, and we must continue with our efforts. Let’s keep going, together.”


B.C.’s top doctor advises against travel as 15 new COVID-19 cases and 3 deaths announced | CBC News

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The highlights:

  • 15 more people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 
  • 3 more people have died in the past 24 hours.
  • There have been a total of 2,392 cases and 135 people have died.
  • 1,885 people have recovered. 
  • 58 people are in hospital, 12 of them in the ICU.
  • No new community outbreaks.
  • No new outbreaks in long-term care homes.
  • 15 outbreaks continue in long-term care homes, 4 in acute care.
  • Superior Poultry Plant in Coquitlam reopens. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is asking British Columbians to avoid travelling during the long weekend as new cases of coronavirus continue to appear. 

The May long weekend may be the “unofficial” start to summer but this summer will be different, Henry said.

“This year, with the risk that we continue to have in our communities across this province, we need to look at plans on a much narrower frame,” she said.

“Let’s make this our summer of care and consideration for our families, our communities and our province. A summer for us all to remember to be kind, to be calm and to be safe.”

Although this would usually be the time of year to plan summer activities in advance, Henry said to think of the next couple weeks instead of months as COVID-19 continues to pose a threat.

Instead of travelling to other communities this weekend, she suggests hiking at a local park, visiting a farmers market or having a picnic.

On Thursday, B.C. Parks reopened facilities like front and backcountry trails, beaches, picnic areas, washroom facilities and boat launches for day use.

Campgrounds are set to reopen June 1. 

On Tuesday, the province will enter the second phase of its gradual reopening plan.

WorkSafeBC is working with the province to create guidelines for different sectors, as they prepare to reopen, to ensure staff and customers are safe.

Henry acknowledged that while some businesses and consumers are eager for the gradual reopening, hesitation remains. 

She said the province is “not going to get everything perfect” as it reopens, but that it’s doing everything it can and is learning from other parts of the world during this extraordinary circumstance.

“I think it’s going to be something we’re going to have to work through together,” Henry said. 

“We’re just going to have to take it slowly and err on the side of caution the best we can.”

Surgeries being rescheduled 

B.C. has the capacity to test 7,000 people a day and anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested. 

It’s still not known how the virus will behave in the future or how long immunity might last for those who have recovered, and B.C. does not have “herd immunity” to prevent transmission of the virus, Henry said.

B.C. has not had any cases of Kawasaki Syndrome that are related to COVID-19. The rare inflammatory illness can be an effect of the body’s reaction to viruses and other infections and has been linked to children’s deaths in the U.S.

Two serology tests have been approved for use in Canada and B.C. is currently validating which test it will want to use, Henry said. 

The province will be closely watching what happens in the next two weeks in terms of the virus spreading, she added. 

Until more questions can be answered through antibody testing or an eventual vaccine, measures like physical distancing will remain in place in some capacity in stores and on public transit, she said.

The number of people in hospital and critical care is coming down, said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

However, the occupancy rate in hospitals has gone up slightly — a sign, he said, that health care resources are being used for needs other than COVID-19.

The province is also working to reschedule 6,883 surgeries that were cancelled or postponed. People awaiting surgery will be contacted, Dix said. 

Several outbreaks over in Fraser Health 

On Thursday, Fraser Health provided updates on several COVID-19 outbreaks in the region.

The health authority rescinded the closure order it enforced on April 24 at Superior Poultry Processors in Coquitlam. An outbreak at the plant sickened more than 60 people, but it has met the requirements of the order and has reopened.

Plexiglass shields have been installed between workers, production has been slowed and PPE is being used, said Dr. Martin Lavoie, chief medical health officer for Fraser Health.

There remain two active cases at Mission Institution, where 120 inmates tested positive for coronavirus. There have been no new cases at the federal prison since May 1.

An outbreak at the Worthington Pavilion Rehabilitation Unit, an acute care site in Abbotsford, has been declared over. Outbreaks have also been declared over at Swedish Assisted Living Residence in Burnaby and Chartwell Cedarbrooke Retirement Residence in Mission.

In April, Fraser Health issued an order for gyms and fitness centres to close. Lavoie said the health authority is considering lifting that order “in the very near future,” but that details on how to reopen safely are still being worked out.

Fraser Health is also beginning to reschedule elective surgeries that were postponed. 

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca


3-pillar strategy to test for COVID-19 on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside | CBC News

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A team of more than two dozen people is testing and tracing residents on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Patricia Daly, Vancouver Coastal Health’s chief medical health officer, said Tuesday that the testing rate is over 40 people per 1,000, more than double the rate in other regions, and only a small number of cases have been found.

“It’s almost like detective work,” Daly said. “You have to do a lot of interviewing and follow-up with cases, but we have staff who are very good at this.”

The Downtown Eastside is one of the areas where health officials have concerns because other cities have seen outbreaks where people live in communal settings and the virus can easily spread, she said.

A man wearing a protective mask walks on the Downtown Eastside. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said people living in the area may also have several underlying health issues that would make them more at risk of having a severe infection.

Vancouver Coastal Health is implementing a three-pillar approach for prevention, testing and tracing along with support to reduce the impacts on inner-city neighbourhoods of the opioid overdose crisis and the pandemic.

Daly said the team proactively offers testing to anybody who might have symptoms and doesn’t wait for them to come to the clinic, she said.

“We have a very low threshold for testing.”

Tracing contacts

Testing and tracing have been ongoing for a number of weeks and confirmed cases of COVID-19 or potentially exposed contacts are followed-up daily by a public-health team, she said.

If someone on the team identifies a person who is positive for COVID-19, she said health officials try to trace all the close contacts.

“So, the first thing we do is interview the case. We find out where they’ve been in the period of time when they would have been contagious to other people, that’s from the start of the symptoms going back two days.”

If all the contacts of that person can’t be traced, she said health officials put out a news release.

“Early on in the pandemic, we had a case of a person who attended a dental conference in Vancouver and that case had a lot of people at the conference, so we put out a news release,” Daly said.

Health officials also put out a news release if they can’t identify the individual or if there is an outbreak that the public should be aware of, such as at the Vancouver poultry plant where 34 cases have been linked, she said.

If a person from the Downtown Eastside tests positive for COVID-19 and does not have adequate housing, he or she is offered a room in a hotel and monitored by public health officials, Daly said.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart had said BC Housing has secured hundreds of hotel rooms in Vancouver for people who are homeless or precariously housed and who need to self-isolate.

Contacts the person may have had are usually traced through interviews, she said.

“We can go to the building to find out who they shared a washroom with … so it’s working with the case but also working with others in the community.”


What do I do if my parents get sick? Your COVID-19 questions answered — kids’ edition | CBC News

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Today’s edition is a little different — We’ve teamed up with CBC Kids News to answer questions from, well, kids! So today’s FAQ is devoted to them. As always, you can continue sending us your questions about the pandemic via email to COVID@cbc.ca, no matter how old you are, and we’ll try our best to answer as many as we can.

What should I do if both of my parents catch COVID-19?

Nicholas is 12 years old and lives in Fredericton. He wants to know what happens if both of his parents catch COVID-19.

Nicholas in Fredericton wants to know what he should if both of his parents catch COVID-19. 0:09

Health Canada advises anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate. 

So what should you do if both of your parents get sick and need to self-isolate? Toronto-area pediatrician Dr. Dina Kulik recommends giving them space, so you don’t get the virus too.

“It depends on your age,” says Kulik, pediatric emergency medicine physician and founder of Kidcrew Medical, a pediatric clinic in Toronto. “If you are old enough to take care of yourself, cook your own meals, and don’t need your parents to care for you day-to-day, I would suggest isolating from them.”

However, every family should have a plan, and if the parents and child feel as though the child would be better off living with a friend or relative, then that’s an option too. But Kulik cautions that it’s possible the child could be asymptomatic, meaning a person has the virus but is not showing any symptoms, and that could put the other caregivers at risk.

If you are sharing a space with someone who’s sick, Kulik also recommends wiping down all high-traffic surfaces such as counters, door handles, and even the refrigerator, with products approved for use against the coronavirus including:  alcohol, peroxide, or a bleach solution. She also advises using a different washroom if possible, which should help contain the spread. —

Canada’s top doctor, Theresa Tam, told CBC Kids News, “It’s normal to feel frightened,” but make your parents know you’re worried, and remember you’re not alone. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family had to deal with the coronavirus, when his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive. She has since recovered. 

“It would be scary to have two sick parents, but it is not your job as a child to take care of them or make adult decisions for them,” says Alyson Schafer, family counsellor and parenting expert. “You only need to let other adults and professionals do their job of taking care of them and trust that everyone is helping people sick with COVID-19.”

This is a frightening disease, but most people recover, Schafer says. “Your mind may want to worry about future events that might happen, but we don’t know what the future will bring, so try to focus your mind on what the reality is at the moment.”

If you need support during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact Kids Help Phone.

Is the pandemic under control? When will it end?

A lot of people are sending us questions about when this will all be over, including 11-year-old Alexander in Calgary who wants to know when he can go back to school and continue learning. 

Alex in Calgary wants to know if this pandemic is under control and when he will be able to go back to school. 0:25

There is a lot we don’t know about this pandemic, and it’s not clear when Canadian kids can go back to their normal lives.

Other countries are already easing up some restrictions; for example, schools in Norway will welcome back students this week, while some schools in Germany have already reopened, after closing down in March. 

In Canada, schools remain closed, because provinces and territories will need to continue practicing social distancing for a little longer, experts say, in order to reduce the rate at which the virus is spreading.  

“COVID-19 started in December, and it is only April. It is a novel coronavirus, meaning it is new and therefore we don’t have long-term data on it,” says Kulik. 

Kulik said it usually takes about three months before the positive results of physical distancing become apparent.

“Most of Canada started this process in mid-March. So, if we continue to be cautious and minimize exposure to others, we are looking at lessening restrictions this summer,” she says, cautioning that Canada is still “months from going back to normal.”

New Brunswick and Saskatchewan are already planning to reopen parks and beaches, but both provinces say schools will likely remain closed until the end of summer.

“The more restrictive we are now, the sooner we can go back to normal. Jumping back to normalcy may lead to further months in lockdown,” Kulik says. 

Will it be safe to go swimming in the lakes this summer? 

This question comes from David, 10, who emailed CBC Kids News, because he wants to know if it will be safe to swim in lakes this summer.  

In theory, it should be safe to swim in lakes, but only if physical distancing restrictions are relaxed. Why? Because the virus is transmitted person-to-person, health authorities have closed beaches, boat launches and most marinas to reduce the rate of new COVID-19 cases by preventing crowds from gathering in recreation areas.

But, New Brunswick recently reopened its outdoor spaces, such as parks and beaches. And officials will allow gatherings of up to 10 people within two to four weeks, as long as they maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, and provided there is no significant new wave of infections. 

Saskatchewan also announced it is planning to reopen municipal parks and swimming pools, but the date is yet to be determined.

According to Canada’s Public Health Agency, provincial and territorial governments may issue more specific guidance about this in the coming weeks. 

As for pools? We’ve already tackled that question. You can read about it here.  

Can cats and dogs get sick from the coronavirus?

Rachel, 11 wrote into CBC Kids News with a question that’s also popular in our COVID@cbc.ca inbox.

While we know animals can become infected — even a tiger in a New York City zoo tested positive for the virus — Dr. Rebecca Archer, a clinical instructor of small animal medicine with the faculty of veterinary medicine at the University of Calgary, has said there is no evidence so far that we can catch the coronavirus from our pets. 

Here’s what Dr. Scott Weese, a veterinarian from the University of Guelph has to say about the coronavirus and our furry friends:

Dr. Scott Weese, a veterinarian from the University of Guelph, explains whether cats and dogs can get sick from the coronavirus. 2:10

Where does Coronavirus come from, and how does it spread? 

Six-year-old Liane wrote into CBC Kids News with a question about where the virus comes from, and how it spreads. 

There’s a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus, but scientists believe it jumped from an animal to a person. But there is no evidence to suggest that animals, including pets, are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19.

You can read more about where the virus originated here.

Respiratory viruses like the coronavirus are typically transmitted by touching your face or breathing in droplets that an infected person has just breathed out.

Here’s how you can stop the spread of COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Practice physical distancing.

  • Stay home if you are sick.

You can get more information for kids about COVID-19 and how to prevent it here. 

We’re also answering your questions every night on The National. Last night, your questions included: Should I wear a mask if I’m healthy? Watch below:

An emergency room doctor answers your questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, including the latest advice on whether healthy people should wear masks. 2:37

Friday we answered questions about herd immunity and ironing masks. Read here.

Keep your questions coming by emailing us at COVID@cbc.ca.


Woman with disability dies alone at B.C. hospital amid COVID-19 restrictions | CBC News

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The brother of a woman with cerebal palsy is angry she died without family or a caregiver at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, B.C., last Saturday because she couldn’t communicate without their help.

Fraser Health’s website says visitors are restricted to essential visits at all of its sites to minimize the risk of introducing the coronavirus during a worldwide pandemic.

David Knight said his sister, Ariis, was transported from her group home in South Surrey to the hospital on Wednesday after she suffered breathing difficulties.

He said she tested negative for the COVID-19 virus and should have been allowed to have a support worker with her.

“I don’t want people that have disabilities to be put in the same situation my sister was in. My sister didn’t need to die alone and she did. That is the angering part of everything,” David said.

“There was nothing that was stopping anybody from being with her except apparently the hospital.

Knight’s family said Fraser Health has been in touch and have been told the health authority is looking into what happened.

Knight, 36, who works as a nurse in Kelowna, said hospital staff left his father a voicemail about his sister’s rapidly declining health on Saturday night just before 8 p.m. She died by 9:45 p.m., as he was getting ready to travel to see her.

The CEO of Semiahmoo House Society that ran the group home where Ariis Knight lived, said staff members were not allowed to go into the hospital to support her.

Doug Tennant said Knight had lived there for a decade. He wanted to send someone to be with her while she was undergoing medical treatment, but was refused.

Ariis Knight lived in a group home run by the Semiahmoo House Society for ten years in South Surrey. (David Knight)

“Prior to COVID-19, our practice was always that if a person that we support in a group home goes to hospital, we deploy staff to be with that person 24/7 in order to assist the person in communication, to assist the person in informed decision making as well assist the person with their physical needs.”

In a statement to CBC News, Fraser Health said acute care staff typically ask a patient’s family for additional support if they feel they can’t communicate with the patient adequately.

“In this case, medical staff determined that additional support for communication was not required. When it became clear that this patient was coming to the end of their life, we proactively reached out to have the family come to hospital,” the statement read.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of our patient and we have offered our condolences to the family.”

‘She passed away without people who loved her’

Tennant said her death and the surrounding circumstances have been difficult for caregivers to deal with.

“She was a very vivacious young lady and I say young — she’s actually 40 years old — that she was a lot younger than some of the other people that we support in our group homes. Very sharp dresser. A smile that really lightens up a room.”

She didn’t have full use of her legs or arms and used a wheelchair. Tennant said she communicated without speaking and her caregivers could interpret if she was happy or sad.

Tennant said Knight’s last moments should have been with people who cared about her.

“She passed away without people who loved her and knew her and could have been with her telling her that she was going to be missed and that she was a valuable human being on this earth and that’s really sad,” said Tennant.

Support workers can be allowed

Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday there are exceptions for restrictions in long-term care and hospitals to ensure people with disabilities who have problems communicating have support.

“My expectation is that there is accommodation being made. It can be very difficult sometimes and of course people need to wear appropriate protective equipment in that setting so that both the health-care providers and the patients and the support people are protected,” said Henry.


Vancouver commercial break-ins up 147% during COVID-19 crisis | CBC News

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For Vancouver shop owner Jason Overbo, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a crisis of crime.

Since B.C.’s coronavirus restrictions went into high gear in mid-March, his Yaletown business, Brooklyn Clothing, has been broken into twice, including a stunning burglary on March 23 where three intruders smashed his windows and made off with clothing worth $20,000 retail.

After 15 years in business on Davie Street, he said he’s never had problems like this.

“This is absolutely the worst — not even close.”

Overbo’s experience is a dramatic example of a spike in commercial — and residential — break-and-enters that Vancouver has experienced during the pandemic, according to figures released by the Vancouver Police Department.

A security camera captured three suspects casing out Brooklyn Clothing in Vancouver’s Yaletown district just before they broke in and stole $20,000 worth of clothing. (Submitted by Jason Overbo)

In the four weeks between March 18 and April 15, compared with the same period last year, Vancouver saw a 147 per cent increase in commercial break-and-enters. Residential break-and-enters were up 51 per cent.

“Stores are left unoccupied and so it gives an opportunity to thieves to break in,” said Const. Tania Visintin, a spokesperson for Vancouver police.

Last week the police announced they had arrested 40 suspects in relation to commercial break-and-enters in the past few weeks. 

2 break-ins a week apart

There have been no arrests in the Brooklyn Clothing cases — not the $20,000 theft, or another exactly a week before, when his front window was also smashed and a display jacket stolen.

Overbo believes people struggling with addiction are more desperate right now, and with more people staying home there are fewer eyes on the street to notice crime. 

A hooded intruder, left, enters Brooklyn Clothing on Vancouver’s Davie Street early in the morning of March 23. (Submitted by Jason Overbo)

“If you’re up to something bad,  there’s no witnesses, it’s just easier” he said.  

Although the spikes in break-and-enter figures are high, they don’t tell the whole story in terms of the overall crime rate seen in Vancouver during the coronavirus crisis.

Overall crime is down 6.9 per cent compared with the same period last year. And calls to police for aid are also down. by 12 per cent  between March 30 and April 12.

Visintin said she can only speculate as to the reason police aren’t being called as much.

“I’m assuming people are home, and there’s not as many people out, creating crime,” she said. 

‘Disheartening…but stay positive’

People staying home is also the reason TransLink police give for a drop in break-and-enter files near SkyTrain stations, down 29 per cent between March 6 and April 6, according to spokesperson Clint Hampton.

But crime is still happening, including at the Broadway SkyTrain Station where Ajay Dhingra co-owns the Booster Juice. 

On April 16, Dhingra says a thief suddenly snatched  a $250 electronic tablet used for Skip the Dishes orders, off the counter.

Although typically there is crime at the station, he says this one hurt. Dhingra says his outlet is not making any money by staying open — he is doing so just to serve the community, 

Ajay Dhingra, the co-owner of Booster Juice on at the Broadway SkyTrain station, is keeping his shop open to help the economy but says his juice bar isn’t making any money at this time. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The theft did not cause a security-of-information breach, he said.

“It was disheartening,” he said.  “It’s kind of sad to see people doing these things … but we’ve got to be optimistic and stay positive.

Crime statistics in the rest of Metro Vancouver are varied — or not yet available.

A security video snapshot shows a thief reaches for and then makes off with a $250 electronic tablet from the counter at Booster Juice at the Broadway SkyTrain Station. (Submitted by Booster Juice)

Most other major police forces are run by the RCMP, which is not releasing its data until the end of April for a quarterly period. 

Meanwhile, at Brooklyn Clothing, things have changed a lot. The store is locked and there are bars on the window.  It is still open, but due to physical distancing, only one customer is allowed in the store at a time. 

Insurance covered the cost of the clothing, but not the retail value. 

With files from Belle Puri



Judge says mother’s COVID-19 washroom worries unwarranted | CBC News

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A Pitt Meadows woman has been ordered to return her children to their father in Prince George after she failed to convince a judge the need to use the bathroom during the drive home would place them at increased risk of catching COVID-19.

The woman — known as T.S. — refused to send the children back to her ex-partner after they spent spring break in the Lower Mainland.

As justification, T.S. filed a series of reports about fatal cases of children contracting the novel coronavirus. 

But Prince George Provincial Court Judge Cassandra Malfair wasn’t biting.

“She argues that asymptomatic people could be using the public washrooms,” Malfair said.

“Despite that risk, I note that health authorities have not sequestered everyone to their houses and banned all public outings. Rather, safety protocols have been implemented to mitigate the risk of transmission.”

‘Need to eat and use the washroom’

T.S. has a history of ignoring court orders related to child custody since splitting from her ex-partner — J.V.S. — in 2014.

The father is the primary caregiver for the three children, who spend Christmas, spring break and summer vacations with their mother.

In keeping with that arrangement, J.V.S. dropped the kids off in Pitt Meadows on March 15. But when spring break ended, T.S. refused to send them back to Prince George.

A judge in Prince George has ordered a woman in Pitt Meadows to return her children to their father, who lives in Prince George. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

“The proposed method of transportation is that the children would be in the private motor vehicle of their parents from their mother’s residence in Pitt Meadows to their father’s residence in Prince George, with the children being exchanged between the parents part way,” the ruling says.

“T.S. argues that returning the children to Prince George is nonetheless unsafe because they would need to eat and use the washroom during their eight-hour journey, which would expose them to the risk of transmission of the virus.”

Custody and COVID-19

The ruling is part of a rapidly growing body of decisions considering the implications of COVID-19 for the various types of activities involved in custody agreements. 

Judges have been asked to decide whether parents can open their houses to prospective home buyers and whether nurses should be able meet their children in person.

Malfair said the issue of food and snacks could be easily solved by T.S. packing something for the children to eat before they leave Pitt Meadows.

A growing body of judicial decisions looks at the implications of COVID-19 on custody cases. (auremar/Shutterstock)

Even then, the judge noted that the government has not closed down restaurants for take-out service.

“With respect to the children’s need to use washrooms, there are numerous rest stops and gas stations on the highway between the Lower Mainland and Prince George,” Malfair said.

“The public health authorities have not considered such amenities to be of sufficient risk of viral transmission to warrant their closure. Indeed, numerous truckers and delivery persons continue to use these facilities during the course of this pandemic to keep the vital supply chains open.”

‘They should go home’

The judge gave T.S. a chance to find some directives or evidence relating to the specific dangers of public washrooms, but beyond a reminder that washing hands after using the bathroom was a good idea in or out of a pandemic, the judge was not impressed.

She said the children could use roadside rest stops so they don’t have to go into gas stations.

“The children could be given disposable gloves or towelettes to use as makeshift gloves when making contact with handles, lids, and paper rolls in the course of using the washrooms.  They can lay down a toilet paper lid before they sit. They can wash their hands thoroughly upon completion,” Malfair said.

“In short, with the smallest precautionary measures, I can see no reason why the children cannot use a washroom safely during the eight- to nine-hour drive to Prince George.”

T.S. also pointed out that public health officials were discouraging non-essential travel. But the judge said she considered travel back to their primary home to be essential.

“They should go home,” she said.

And just in case, she gave RCMP the power to enforce her order.


COVID-19 measures present unique set of challenges for visually impaired | CBC News

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A lot of people are finding the physical distancing measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic tough, but for the visually impaired, who often rely on tactile navigation, there are additional challenges. 

Elizabeth Lalond, the executive director of the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind in Victoria, B.C., says touch is an extremely important sense for the visually impaired to navigate the world, but when there is a directive for people to stay 2 metres apart from everyone, she’s asking people to verbalize their presence.

“I had actually had someone email me and say that people are getting into their personal space, you know, when they’re walking with their guide dog or when they’re walking with their cane,” Lalond said to host Kathryn Marlow on CBC’s All Points West.

“It’s always a challenge when people don’t verbalize to us and I know that for some people, that can be hard to remember but  talk to us … rather than reaching out and touching us.”

Creative solutions 

But it’s not just navigating the outside world that can be tough.

The school, which teaches independent living skills to blind adults, has had to shut down like many others around the country. 

Instead of the tactile learning they would normally participate in like learning braille and going through skills like navigation, she says the instructors have come up with creative solutions. 

“Instead of cane travel, [which] we can’t do with the person, [we’ll] do it in theory and say ‘how you would get to a certain place?’ [and] look it up online,” she said. “[Or] go around your house and identify different objects and tell us what you find.”

Another challenge is technology. Lalond says many in the community have come to rely more heavily on screen readers adapted for their computers.

These screen readers can have issues even during normal conditions, but it becomes even more challenging when people run into trouble with essential tasks like ordering groceries online or filling out government benefit forms.

“A blind colleague of mine said they had lost their job, like a lot of people had, and they went on to the form, and they ended up having to get some assistance with that,” she said.

Fighting isolation

But most crucially, Lalond says many in her community are making an extra effort to stay connected and fight isolation made worse by COVID-19 measures.

“With the blind community and the disability community in general, there’s a lot of isolation at the best of times,” Lalond said. 

“Whatever we can do to bring people together and feel that they’re in a network can help so much.”

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  


60-room care facility unveiled in Downtown Eastside as area braces for COVID-19 | CBC News

by admin

A 60-room COVID-19 care facility is being created in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, in a pre-emptive strike to stop the spread of the coronavirus among the city’s poorest residents.

The facility has been set up in an unnamed hotel, which has been leased by B.C. Housing and is being operated by Atira Property Management.

The goal is to provide rooms for those with mild symptoms who might need to be isolated, but don’t require hospitalization — and in the process, keep the virus from spreading on the street.

Medical care will be provided four hours each day by Vancouver Coastal Health. 

It’s one of 23 such sites being set up across B.C., the provincial government announced Tuesday.

The converted hotel already has its first patient — a homeless man from another neighbourhood, who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We’re just lucky so far it hasn’t made its way down here,” says Janice Abbott, chief executive officer of Atira. “Facilities like this will help slow the spread.” 

Janice Abbott of Atira Property Management says there’s no way to predict what the extent of the need will be on the Downtown Eastside. (CBC )

900 self-isolation spaces

The Downtown Eastside facility is among 900 self-isolation spaces planned by the B.C. government.

“These new spaces are a critical part of how we can support those who are vulnerable in our community,” said Housing Minister Selina Robinson in a statement Tuesday. 

The minister says some hotels are reserved for people who have COVID-19 but don’t require emergency care and need a place to self-isolate while they recover.

Others are for non-coronavirus patients who need some medical care but don’t need to take up much needed beds in hospitals.

A photo released by B.C. Housing shows the interior of one of the hotel rooms that will be used to house COVID-19-positive patients on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. (Twitter/B.C. Housing)

Neighbourhood at high risk 

As yet, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Downtown Eastside — but Abbott says “my assumption is there will be.”

The area is considered high risk for the spread of the illness.

Many of its estimated 15,000 residents live in single-room occupancy hotels (SROs) with limited facilities, often sharing bathrooms with other tenants. Hundreds of others live on the streets and in tents in Oppenheimer Park.

Many have addiction and mental health issues.

“Even being housed in an SRO can be risky,” Abbott said. “It’s a community that compresses people into 10 by 12 [feet] rooms.”

There are approximately 15,000 residents of Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Hotel staff faced layoffs

Atira, which also runs a not-for-profit women’s resource centre, is instead using its for-profit property management company to run the co-ed facility.

But Abbott says this is not a money-making venture.

Atira’s staff will deliver meals, make house checks, ensure the rooms are clean and will provide “emotional support,” she said. 

She says the hotel’s 11 former staff members faced layoffs in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, but Atira offered them jobs to stay on in the converted facility. 

All but two accepted the offer and received a day of training from Vancouver Coastal Health.

Latest move to avert DTES crisis

The creation of the treatment facility is just the latest move to try to head off a COVID-19 crisis in the Downtown Eastside.

Last week, the City of Vancouver announced it had secured contracts to provide regular cleaning and meals to residents of 21 SRO hotels in the area for the next two weeks.

The city also said the Coal Harbour and Roundhouse community centres are now operating as emergency response centres to house more than 140 people to aid in social distancing.

Meanwhile, the province announced an additional $300 a month for people receiving income or disability assistance.

Atira has also teamed up with the city to open a warehouse distribution centre at 41 East Hastings St., in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, to provide the community with supplies to encourage residents to self-isolate.

Atira has appealed to the public for cleaning supplies, gloves, playing cards, books and magazines, as well as small TVs and microwaves.

Abbott concedes all of these measures might not be enough.

“There’s no way to predict what the need will be,” she said. “In two weeks there could be one person in there, or there could be 60.”

“If we’re not on top of the first case, it will spread quickly.”


“COVID-19 has just made everything harder” says Aldergrove truck driver with new cancer diagnosis

by admin

Around the same time the world was shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Luke Harris’s world came crashing down when he was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.

In the last week of February, the normally healthy 36-year-old started feeling off. He thought he had the flu so started taking Tylenol and kept working. When things didn’t improve he took himself to a walk-in clinic where the doctor ordered blood work and a CT scan. By this stage, Harris had developed excruciating stomach pains.

The doctor called Harris back to his office.

“My proteins were really high so I either had an infection or I had a blood clot or something. He told me I need to go to the hospital ASAP,” Harris said.

Another round of testing at the hospital showed his blood work to be normal, so they handed over the clinic test results and he was rushed in for emergency surgery.

Harris had a four centimetre-wide tumour removed that had broken through the side of his colon wall. The cancer had also spread to his bowel and lymph nodes. 

His girlfriend, Ashley Ferguson, was with him through it all. 

“His body was going septic and that’s why he had such excruciating abdominal pains,” she said.

Harris is now back home with a colostomy bag. “I call it my poop bag,” he says. 

“We try to make light of it, try to make some humour out of it,” Ferguson adds. 

But the full scope of the situation was still to come.

“The cancer spread to my liver, and into my lymph nodes. I’m starting chemo on Monday and doing some naturopath things to try and combat it the best I can,” Harris said.

The prognosis at this stage is sobering. Without chemotherapy treatment, he was given three months left to live. 

“If I do the chemo and it stops everything where it’s supposed to be I might get five years, which is kind of a hard pill to swallow,” he said.

Harris is a truck driver and is now on medical Employment Insurance. When that runs out, he’s hoping to get on disability. Ferguson owns a residential cleaning business but she says that with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and Harris’ treatments, “I haven’t worked pretty much since we went into the hospital.”

The diagnosis combined with the COVID-19 pandemic have made things not only emotionally tough, but financially.

“COVID-19 has just made everything harder, you know just even financially to try and sell something like a vehicle or something to help with the cost of things, nobody will come look at anything,” Harris said “It’s more stressful just to add everything together and it’s a lot to take.”

Harris says he is determined to beat his diagnosis. One of the biggest changes is switching up his diet. 

“The doctor says you need to eat plant based foods and cut out meats and do all that,” Harris said. “I’ve done it and it wasn’t easy at first but i’m getting used to it.”

The couple has also set up a GoFundMe to help with the cost of specialized treatments, medications, medical supplies etc.

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