World News

Petition demands free hospital parking for B.C. health workers fighting coronavirus

A growing number of British Columbians are calling on the provincial government to waive hospital parking fees for health-care workers on the front lines of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Christine Sorensen, president of the British Columbia Nurses Union, says she’s heard of several members getting parking tickets while on duty.

“They’re getting ticketed when their meters run out because they’re working very long hours in the acute care facilities and other care facilities,” she said.

She adds health-care workers are spending more time disinfecting and decontaminating themselves to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to their families and the general public, further adding extra time to their shifts.

“The last thing that nurses or any other health-care provider needs right now is to worry about whether or not they’re going to get a parking ticket,” she said.

“Some members have told me they’re having to leave COVID-19 planning meetings to go and plug the meter or leave the bedside. That is just unacceptable.”

While Sorensen says those tickets have largely been cancelled after nurses dispute the charges and explain the situation, she says waiving the fees outright would save time and stress.

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She said the provincial government should be doing everything it can to support health-care workers while mobilizing the system’s resources to fight the pandemic and treat patients — and that includes making parking free and ensuring there are spaces to park in hospital lots.

Hospital parking fees have been an ongoing struggle in B.C. for years, with earlier petitions and campaigns calling for the removal of fees for not only health-care workers but also for patients and their families.

Dix called the issue “complicated” when explaining why he wasn’t yet removing the fees late last year, despite NDP members voting in favour of the measure at their latest convention.

“It’s a challenging and complicated issue but it’s one the premier has directed me to look at,” he said at the time.

Global News has reached out to the health ministry for comment on free parking for health-care workers.

Private companies operate the parking lots in most provincial hospitals and the province uses its profits either for health services or for community hospital foundations.

Those companies, including Impark, did not return requests for comment Sunday.

Dix said last year that the province brought in $40 million in gross revenues from hospital parking in 2017, a dramatic increase from 2002.

—With files from Richard Zussman

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Coronavirus: EasyJet founder in threat to oust board

The billionaire founder of easyJet is threatening to seek the removal of most of its board members unless it cancels a £4.5bn aircraft order that he warned could threaten its future amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sky News has seen a letter sent on Sunday by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou to John Barton, the low-cost carrier’s chairman, which said he would call an extraordinary shareholder meeting every seven weeks to remove one of its non-executive directors.

Along with other family members, Sir Stelios owns just under 34% of easyJet’s shares.

The entrepreneur is enraged at what he argues is easyJet’s lack of transparency about the order for 107 Airbus planes, which he labelled as “simply shareholder value-destroying”.

He informed Mr Barton that unless his concerns are met by midday on Wednesday, he would begin a rolling programme of calling EGMs every seven weeks to try to remove one of easyJet’s non-executive directors – beginning with Andreas Bierwith.

Prominent business figures who sit on the airline’s board include Moya Greene, the former Royal Mail Group chief executive, and Charles Gurassa, the Channel Four chairman.

Sir Stelios said the Airbus order had saddled easyJet with an existential threat at a time when the world’s aviation industry had effectively been grounded by the COVID-19 outbreak.

EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet and warned that it can no longer give investors guidanx

“Even with a resumption of air traffic, any income from passengers is likely to be too low to keep up with outgoings and would most likely render easyJet insolvent if it continues to pay Airbus for more aircraft,” he wrote.

“This crisis may result in the insolvency of easyJet PLC and if it transpires that a single penny from the company has been paid to Airbus between the grounding of the fleet and the date of the insolvency or any equity-raising which would prevent insolvency, I will personally sue all the easyJet directors for gross negligence and for defrauding easyJet’s creditors with the favouring of one creditor (Airbus with dubious rights to these monies) over all others.”

Sir Stelios’s declaration of war on the easyJet board comes just days after he received a £60m dividend payment from the airline.

In his letter to Mr Barton, he said he had offered to subscribe to new equity in easyJet as part of a wider share issue.

A number of institutional shareholders in easyJet are understood to have been informed of Sir Stelios’s plans over the weekend.

Sir Stelios gave the board until Wednesday to respond to his demands, which include the appointment of an independent law firm to serve notice on Airbus.

He also opposed public statements by easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren that the company was seeking a government loan on commercial terms to help it weather the coronavirus crisis.

Last week, Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, said any state support for airlines would need to be in taxpayers’ interest and would be available “only as a last resort”.

That comment implied that airlines such as easyJet would need to tap their own shareholders for funding before approaching the government.

Sky News revealed this month that Virgin Atlantic was seeking financial aid from the taxpayer.

It is not the first time that the easyJet founder has been in dispute with the company over the size of its fleet, having settled several disputes with uneasy truces.

Sir Stelios launched the airline in 1995, before floating it in 2000.

EasyJet could not be reached for comment.

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World News

Australia curbs gatherings, locks down travellers, in new coronavirus measures

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s most populous states will restrict public gatherings to two people from midnight, state leaders said on Monday, as part of a wave of new measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus which has infected more than 4,000 across the country.

The neighbouring eastern states of New South Wales and Victoria account for most of Australia’s total COVID-19 infections and death toll, which stands at 17.

“It is only in exceptional circumstances that you should leave home,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in Sydney on Monday.

“We will get through this. We are in a position now which allows us to control the spread as much as possible.”

Police in neighbouring Victoria will issue fines of A$1600 ($984) to people who breach a limit of two people gathering in public, unless the group is from one household.

“Unless you want to be burying an elderly relative or your best mate, or your parents … do the right thing,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said in Melbourne on Monday.

The small island state of Tasmania also imposed a two-person limit on public gatherings from midnight, and became the country’s first state to ban people from alternating between their main home and their second home, if they have one.

“There will not be movement between your shack and your primary place of residence, allowing you to alternate and sleep nights in both,” state premier Peter Gutwein said, using the slang for holiday homes.

“You will need to make a choice,” he added.

Tasmania reported its first coronavirus death overnight, which took the country’s total deaths from the illness to 17. Confirmed COVID-19 cases are around 4,200 nationwide, although authorities said the rate of daily infections had halved in recent days.

Amid the extraordinary shutdown of businesses and resulting layoffs, the regulators and banks have taken measures to pause loan repayments for six months. Overnight, the federal government said it was putting a six-month moratorium on evicting renters.

All travellers arriving home in Australia from overseas meanwhile must go into monitored quarantine in hotels or other facilities for 14 days, under police supervision, according to measures implemented at the weekend.

Australia has swayed in recent weeks between policies designed to keep as many businesses open as possible, and a more aggressive push to lock down the country, causing some confusion.

Amid concerns distressed assets could be snapped up by overseas buyers, Australia said on Monday that all foreign investment proposals would be assessed by the relevant government agency during the duration of the crisis.

While most virus cases have been detected in major cities, clusters have also emerged in tourist destinations, such as in the Barossa Valley, a wine region in South Australia.

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World News

Britons warned some coronavirus lockdown measures could last months

LONDON (Reuters) – Some lockdown measures to combat coronavirus in Britain could last months and only be gradually lifted, a senior medical official said on Sunday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the situation will get worse before it gets better.

Britain has reported 19,522 confirmed cases of the disease and 1,228 deaths, after an increase of 209 fatalities as of 5 p.m. local time on Saturday compared with the previous day, the health ministry said.

“The important thing is this is a moving target,” Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said.

“If we do well it moves forward and comes down and we manage all our care through our health and care systems sensibly in a controlled way and that is what we are aiming for,” she told a news conference.

“This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months but it means that as a nation we have to be really, really responsible and keep doing what we are all doing until we are sure that we can gradually start lifting various interventions.”

Her warning came as Johnson wrote to 30 million households in Britain urging them to stick to strict rules to prevent the publicly funded National Health Service (NHS) from being overwhelmed by a surge in cases.

“We know things will get worse before they get better,” Johnson said. “At this moment of national emergency, I urge you, please, to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

The number of tests being carried out has hit 10,000 a day, senior minister Michael Gove said and authorities are trying to acquire more ventilators.

Related Coverage

  • UK coronavirus death toll rises to 1,228 people
  • With PM Johnson ill, coronavirus strikes at heart of British politics

Britain has placed an order for thousands of the devices to be made by a consortium of companies including Ford (F.N), Airbus (AIR.PA) and Rolls-Royce (RR.L).

The repurposing of industry echoes Britain’s Second World War effort, with housing minister Robert Jenrick saying that all parts of the country are now on an “emergency footing” as strategic coordination centers are established.

“This is an unprecedented step in peacetime,” he said.

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World News

Coronavirus lockdowns give Europe's cities cleaner air

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Air pollution has decreased in urban areas across Europe during lockdowns to combat the coronavirus, new satellite images showed on Monday, but campaigners warned city-dwellers were still more vulnerable to the epidemic.

Cities including Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Milan and Frankfurt showed a reduction in average levels of noxious nitrogen dioxide over March 5-25, compared with the same period last year, according to the Sentinel-5 satellite images.

That coincides with lockdowns in many European countries which have curbed road transport – the largest source of nitrogen oxides – and slowed output at gas-emitting factories.

The new images, released by the European Space Agency (ESA) and analyzed by the non-profit European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), show the changing density of nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory problems and cancer, like heat maps.

Daily weather events can influence atmospheric pollution, so the satellite pictures took a 20-day average and excluded readings where cloud cover reduced the quality of the data.

Data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) showed a similar trend over March 16-22. In Madrid, average nitrogen dioxide levels decreased by 56% week-on-week after the Spanish government banned non-essential travel on March 14.

The EPHA said people living in polluted cities may be more at risk from COVID-19, because prolonged exposure to bad air can weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight infection.

“That connection is very likely,” Zoltan Massay-Kosubek, policy manager for clean air at EPHA, told Reuters. “But because the disease is new, it still has to be demonstrated.”

Air pollution can cause or exacerbate lung cancer, pulmonary disease and strokes.

China also recorded a drop in nitrogen dioxide pollution in cities during February, when the government imposed draconian lockdown measures to contain the raging epidemic.

In some regions of Poland, however, nitrogen dioxide levels remained relatively high during the period despite its lockdown, perhaps due to the prevalence of coal-based heating.

Countries that went into lockdown later – such as Britain, which did so on March 23 – look set for a pollution reprieve in coming weeks, EPHA said.

Air pollution causes around 400,000 premature deaths each year in Europe, EEA data show.

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World News

Coronavirus: B.C. grocery stores must have hand sanitizer stations, enforce distancing

B.C. grocery stores must have hand sanitizer stations, provide clean carry-out bags and enforce physical distancing measures as they continue to operate through the novel coronavirus pandemic, the province said Sunday.

Those rules and others were issued as the government attempted to clarify how food and grocery retailers can operate under provincial guidelines banning gatherings of more than 50 people, which is meant to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

A statement from B.C.’s COVID-19 joint information centre said that order does not directly apply to grocery stores, although “the spirit of the order should be followed.”

“This means that, for example, in large grocery stores where it is feasible to have more than 50 people present at one time, it is permissible to do so provided that appropriate physical distancing can be maintained,” the statement reads.

Customers should be discouraged from using their own bags or carry-out containers, and stores must use signage to keep customers from placing their own packaging on check-out counters.

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Hand sanitizer containing at least 60 per cent ethyl alcohol must be available in dispensers placed near doors, pay stations and “other high-touch locations” for customer and staff use within all stores, the province says.

Washrooms must be fully stocked with liquid soap, paper towels and warm water, while cleaning schedules and sanitization plans for all stores must be updated and increased.

Stores are also being forbidden from selling bulk items, except through gravity feed bins or where staff can dispense the items.

Staff must be educated in proper hand washing and to avoid touching their face, and anyone who displays symptoms related to COVID-19 must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.

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World News

France moves patients from swamped hospitals as death toll climbs

PARIS (Reuters) – France used two high-speed trains and a German military plane to move more than three dozen critically ill coronavirus patients on Sunday to ease the pressure on overwhelmed hospitals in eastern France.

The Grand Est region was the first in France to be hit by a wave of coronavirus infections that has rapidly moved westwards to engulf the greater Paris region, where hospitals are desperately adding intensive care beds to cope with the influx.

The number of coronavirus deaths in France since March 1 climbed 13% to 2,606 on Sunday, while the total number of confirmed infections rose above 40,000.

The specially adapted trains carried 36 patients to the Nouvelle-Acquitaine region in the southwest, where a line of ambulances waited outside Bordeaux station.

“We urgently need to relieve congestion in the region’s intensive care units, because you have to stay one step ahead,” Francois Braun, head of the SAMU paramedics, told RTL radio.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Saturday warned France’s 67 million people that the toughest weeks in the fight against epidemic were still to come, as the number of patients on life support rose to more than 4,600.

Hospitals are racing to add intensive care facilities, sometimes taking ventilators out of operating theaters as they build makeshift units. Student medics are being drafted in and retired doctors are returning to the wards.

President Emmanuel Macron has deployed the army to help to move the sick while a field hospital has been set up in the eastern city of Mulhouse.

Paramedics in hazmat suits loaded several patients on life-support into a German Airbus (AIR.PA) A400M aircraft in Strasbourg for transfer across the border to the German city of Ulm.

European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin hailed the German aid as a symbol of European solidarity, though she expressed frustration at the failure of European Union members to agree on how to mitigate the sharp economic downturn.

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World News

Woman, 26, ‘coughed and spat at police who came to shut down house party’

A woman allegedly coughed and spat at police officers as they responded to reports of a house party on Saturday.

The 26-year-old will appear in court after being arrested and charged with assaulting an emergency worker after the incident.

Officers were called to reports of a gathering in Bridgwater shortly after 7pm on Sunday.

It was one of three similar incidents that officers from Avon and Somerset Police officers faced over the weekend.

In Bath, a 42-year-old woman was charged with two counts of assaulting an emergency worker – one relating to an officer being spat at – just after 7.30pm on Saturday.

A 36-year-old woman has also been charged with two counts of assaulting an emergency worker after officers were physically assaulted while attending a domestic-related incident in Bridgwater just before 8pm on Saturday.

Chief Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte said such incidents were particularly abhorrent amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Officers are simply trying to do their job to protect the public and keep our communities safe in these worrying times," she said.

"They do not deserve to be assaulted in any way, particularly being spat on and coughed at.

"Anyone who does this can expect to be arrested and as we have already seen elsewhere they could face a prison sentence as a result."

All three of the women arrested by Avon and Somerset Police on Saturday will appear before magistrates next month.

  • Coronavirus

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World News

Halifax police seize vehicle, issue ticket to woman violating COVID-19 emergency order

Halifax Regional Police have seized a vehicle and issued a ticket after finding a person violating the province’s emergency measures act in Point Pleasant Park on Sunday.

Nova Scotia’s parks and beaches are closed to the public under the province’s emergency measures act in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Halifax Regional Police (HRP) say at 1:12 p.m., officers were patrolling Point Pleasant Park when they located an unoccupied Toyota Yaris the park.

At approximately 1:53 p.m., a police service dog and handler located a 44-year-old woman on the shoreline of the park.

The woman, who is the owner of the vehicle, was determined to be violating the emergency measures act.

The fine associated with the ticket is $697.50.

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HRP are reminding residents to educate themselves on the restrictions under the act and to be mindful of the “unprecedented COVID-19 crisis we are facing as a community.”

They say they thank the “vast majority” of citizens who are complying with the rules.

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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Online cycling workouts proving a hit

LONDON • Cyclists deprived of their weekend ride out with friends and fitness fanatics who cannot get to the gym are turning to online cycling workouts to help them stay in shape during the coronavirus shutdown.

With professional racing closed down in Europe and club cyclists being advised against riding in large groups, the Zwift indoor training platform has seen a manic few weeks, according to spokesman Chris Snook.

Some of the best-known professional road cyclists have been making the most of their unexpected spare time to lead out virtual rides on Zwift’s fictionalised Watopia course, as amateurs join in from their home-based smart bike trainers.

“It’s providing a unique opportunity for cycling fans to not only ride alongside their heroes, but to ask questions,” Snook told Reuters.

“Guests have included (2018 Tour de France champion) Geraint Thomas, (German rider) Andre Greipel, (world champion) Annemiek van Vleuten and many more.”

Others who would normally prefer the gym have decided that it is time to buy a Peloton stationary bike, rather than risk going to group classes. These are the people who do not ride outdoors and so would not own a bike that they can transform into an indoor trainer.

“It seemed like a good opportunity for me to make an investment so I could exercise inside of my house, enjoy that exercise, and save money in the long term,” said Amanda Clare from San Francisco.

The 41-year-old normally works out at Barry’s Bootcamp but decided to drop that as the spread of the coronavirus forced people to stay home.

“I spend about US$500 (S$713 ) a month on Barry’s, so while the Peloton was an investment – it was $2,450 – that will be made up if I just move to working out on it,” she added.

Clare is crossing her fingers that the bike will be delivered as planned despite the disruption.

Jenn McCarron, 40, from Los Angeles has also decided to trade up by getting a Peloton bike after subscribing to its online classes for eight months.


It’s providing a unique opportunity for cycling fans to not only ride alongside their heroes, but to ask questions.

CHRIS SNOOK , Zwift spokesman, on fans being able to chat with champs on the apps. 


It seemed like a good opportunity for me to make an investment so I could exercise inside of my house, enjoy that exercise…

AMANDA CLARE , gym goer, on why she bought a Peloton stationary bike.

“What made me pull the trigger was quarantine and loss of control over my fitness routine, which 100 per cent takes place outside of my apartment,” she said.

“When the quarantine started happening last Friday, I started getting this low-level burn of urgency, like ‘wow, if we go in for two months I need that level of cardio’, and not just that – the community and the connectivity around it.”

Criminal defence lawyer Liza Rosado of San Juan, Puerto Rico is waiting for a Peloton bike that she ordered in the middle of last month. “Now that I’m gonna be stuck at home, I really wish I had it here,” said the 35-year-old.

Still, she is keeping things in perspective in light of the pandemic, which has led to a curfew across Puerto Rico and shuttered all non-essential businesses.

“I’m not going to be angry or mad about it – people are losing their jobs,” she said. “My clients are in jail. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We know they are one of the populations that’s most at risk (from Covid-19).”

Back in Britain, the British Cycling Race Series, starting this week, features eight 30-minute races in which amateurs and elite riders, often those self-isolating, can compete against each other from the safety of their own living room.

“We’re in an entirely unique situation that means there’ll be no racing for a while, but it’s important that we try to find some sense of normality in all this,” said British Cycling’s women’s endurance coach Emma Trott.


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