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2 Nova Scotians die at home due to COVID-19 complications, province reports 153 new cases – CBC.ca

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Two Nova Scotians with COVID-19 died at home due to complications related to the virus, provincial officials said Tuesday.

Both the people, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 70s, lived in the central zone, which includes the Halifax area.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said in one of the cases, health officials only learned the person had contracted COVID-19 after they died. He did not say when the two people died.

“This is indeed a very sad day,” Strang said at an afternoon briefing with Premier Iain Rankin.

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The province is waiving any ambulance fees for people with the virus who need to get to hospital in an emergency.

“Do not struggle at home,” Rankin said.

There are currently 37 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including eight in intensive care.

Nova Scotia’s intensive care units are treating more COVID-19 patients now than at any other point since the pandemic started, and the head of the provincial health authority has said hospitals are preparing to get busier yet.

Strang agreed the province is at a critical point. Not only are more people entering hospital with the virus, but patients with chronic issues are having surgeries delayed.

“We have a path, we’re at a crossroads. We put things in place — now, what path we end up on actually depends on how people comply with that,” Strang said.

While cases continue to remain high, Strang noted there’s usually a two- to three-week delay before a spike in hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths.

He said the Nova Scotia health-care system is now planning for that and figuring out how to deal with any fallout.

153 new cases Tuesday

There have now been 69 COVID-related deaths in Nova Scotia since the pandemic began, 53 of them at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax last spring.

The province reported 153 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. There are 139 cases in central zone, 10 in eastern zone, three in northern zone and one in western Zone.

There are 1,060 active cases in the province. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 90

Nova Scotia health authority labs completed 19,174 tests on Monday, the highest daily number yet.

People line up for rapid testing at the convention centre in downtown Halifax. (Robert Short/CBC)

Current lockdown measures include the closure of all schools, and orders to not leave the municipality in which you live and, except in a few exceptional circumstances, to not gather with anyone outside your household.

Strang said officials will assess things next week, but it’s a “safe assumption” restrictions will be extended.

Police have handed out dozens of fines, which now start at $2,000 per person, in just the past few days alone. Since the start of the pandemic last year nearly 800 tickets have been issued for violations of the Health Protection Act.

At a COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Strang said the new daily cases are still somewhat skewed by a backlog in processing tests and entering data at the health authority’s microbiology labs. On Tuesday, he said the backlog has been cleared. 

Testing options

Lab testing guidelines were modified last week when the backlog was announced. Previously available to all Nova Scotians 16 and up, lab tests are now limited to: 

  • Anyone with symptoms.
  • Anyone who has been notified that they are a contact of a known case, even if they are asymptomatic.
  • Anyone who has been at a publicly listed exposure location, or has been directly notified by Public Health they have been to an exposure site. This includes anyone who is asymptomatic, and those classified as a low-risk exposure. 
  • Anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, even if they are asymptomatic.
  • Anyone who has been scheduled to undergo testing before surgery.

Rapid testing is still available to everyone else at pop-up sites across the province. This week, rapid testing is scheduled in Halifax, Sydney, Bridgewater and Membertou.

Vaccine progress

As of Monday, 325,218 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Nova Scotia, including 36,687 second doses. That means about 33 per cent of the population has received at least one dose, and about 3.7 per cent have received both doses.

Vaccine eligibility is opening up by age and the province plans to open access to everyone 16 and up by the end of June, contingent on supply.

Currently, those 50 or older are eligible to book an appointment for any of the approved shots — Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna or AstraZeneca-Oxford — while those 40-49 are eligible for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, only.

Appointments are being booked online and by phone at 1-833-797-7772.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, at least three of them related to travel. There are still 56 active cases in the province.
  • New Brunswick reported four new cases Tuesday, and 850 people across the province in self-isolation. There are 141 active cases.
  • P.E.I. announced one new case Tuesday and the number of active cases has fallen to seven.
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Barrick Gold profit beats expectations as copper, gold prices surge

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -Barrick Gold Corp reported a 78% jump in first-quarter profit on Wednesday, beating analyst expectations thanks to rising gold and copper prices, and said it was on track to meet annual forecasts.

Production in the second half is expected to be higher than the first, the gold miner said, thanks in part to the ramp-up of underground mining at the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania and higher expected grades at Lumwana in Zambia.

Barrick’s first-quarter gold production fell to 1.10 million from 1.25 million ounces due partly to lower grades at its Pueblo Viejo mine in Dominican Republic.

Adjusted profit surged 78% to $507 million in the quarter ended March 31, from $285 million a year earlier, and Barrick announced a 9 cent per share quarterly dividend.

Stronger prices helped boost Barrick’s revenue from its copper mines in Chile, Saudi Arabia and Zambia by 31% from the fourth quarter. Overall earnings per share were $0.29, ahead of analysts’ estimate of $0.27.

“We expect a positive stock reaction to the earnings beat and strong cash flow,” said Credit Suisse analysts.

POTENTIAL FOR SOUTH AFRICA MERGER

Barrick CEO Mark Bristow, who has championed mergers across the gold industry, said he backed the idea of South Africa-listed miners Goldfields and AngloGold Ashanti combining.

Speculation has been swirling around the two companies and Sibanye-Stillwater, whose CEO Neal Froneman floated the idea of a three-way merger in March.

“I’m a South African, and this country has such a great mining history and it would be great to see a real gold business come out of the many failed discussions that we’ve seen,” said Bristow.

Goldfields declined to comment. In a statement, AngloGold Ashanti said it was focused on delivering on its growth plan to unlock value from its portfolio of gold assets.

Bristow also said he had met with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new mines minister and other officials and was continuing to work on getting $900 million belonging to its Kibali mine joint venture out of the country.

“We have a solution, it just needs to be sanctioned by the appropriate authorities which haven’t been around for a while,” he said, referring to a recent government overhaul by President Felix Tshisekedi.

(Reporting by Helen Reid in Johannesburg and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Bernadette Baum)

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Loblaw gets quarterly sales, profit boost from online demand surge

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Retailer Loblaw Cos Ltd beat market estimates for quarterly revenue and profit on Wednesday, as its online sales more than doubled on soaring demand from homebound buyers for groceries and other essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lockdowns and other virus-related restrictions in Canada, including reduced store capacity, during the first three months of the year pushed consumers to stockpile groceries and other essential items.

Loblaw, one of the biggest retailers in Canada, said that the momentum from the first quarter has continued into the current quarter, adding that it expects to exceed its own full-year profit expectations.

However, the company has warned that its food retail unit, which saw a surge last year at the peak of stockpiling, would not be as robust in the current quarter. In the first month of the ongoing quarter, food same-store sales have declined slightly, Loblaw said.

For the second quarter, the company expects to incur pandemic-related costs of about $65 million to $75 million, compared with $282 million a year earlier.

Net earnings available to its common shareholders rose to C$313 million, or 90 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter ended March 27 from C$240 million, or 66 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the retailer earned C$1.13 per share, beating the average analysts’ estimate of 87 Canadian cents per share.

Its revenue rose to C$11.87 billion ($9.67 billion) in the first quarter from C$11.80 billion a year earlier, surpassing analysts’ estimate of C$11.72 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

($1 = 1.2277 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Mehr Bedi in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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Bombardier in talks to amend bondholders’ agreement after breach claim on asset sales

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(Reuters) – Bombardier on Monday contested a bondholder’s claims that its recent sales of non-core assets breach the terms of certain notes, and said it would seek bondholders’ consent to amend terms on eight bond issues.

Bombardier has emerged as a pure play business jet maker after divesting assets including the sale of its transportation business to Alstom, which it completed in January, to pay down debt and boost earnings.

The company said it launched consent solicitations with respect to outstanding senior notes or debentures, following the claims by the unnamed bondholder that the asset sales constitute a breach of certain covenants under the indenture governing the 2034 notes.

Bombardier said in a statement these claims are without merit and it has not breached any covenant, adding that after evaluating various options it had determined requesting bondholders to amend the terms of the bonds was the most “expedient and efficient path” to maintain value and protect itself and its stakeholders.

If the amendments are approved, Bombardier will make a consent payment of $1.25 per $1,000 principal amount for applicable series of notes, and C$1.25 per C$1,000 principal of Canadian dollar-denominated 7.35% debentures due 2026, the statement said.

Bombardier also flagged early first-quarter revenue that would beat analysts’ estimates, as rising vaccinations encourage wealthy travelers to return to flying.

Bombardier reports earnings on Thursday.

The jet maker said it expects first-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) from continuing operations of $123 million, above analysts’ average estimate of $89 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company expects business jet revenue to rise by 18% to $1.3 billion in the first quarter, from a year ago, beating Wall Street’s estimate of $1.18 billion.

Bombardier stock closed up 3.3%.

While deliveries are roughly the same, Bombardier’s product composition is shifting toward its flagship Global 7500 jets, a revenue driver.

Bombardier said it remains on track to deliver between 110-120 business aircraft in 2021. The company’s full-year deliveries fell 20% to 114 jets in 2020.

 

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Karishma Singh)

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