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Canada's 'inevitable' second wave of COVID-19 cases – KitchenerToday.com

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No one knows when a fresh surge of COVID-19 cases will emerge in Canada, but experts agree numbers are poised to rise and could very well explode in surveillance blindspots.

One need only look to South Korea, where infections spread anew through Seoul’s nightclubs and bars, to see how quickly containment successes unravel when undetected cases spark flareups.

Of course, nightclubs remain closed in Canada, but the infection risk of a vast array of public spaces is being tested for the first time in coming weeks — retail stores, golf ranges, bar patios and some offices among them.

A “tried and true” principle with any respiratory virus is that infection risk is lower outside and in larger spaces where germs can dissipate, says Dr. Camille Lemieux, medical lead for the COVID-19 assessment centre at Toronto’s Western Hospital.

That’s opposed to small, confined areas with poor ventilation, but the speed of this novel coronavirus to find human hosts is what’s most concerning, says Lemieux.

“The one thing about COVID that I think has a lot of people stymied is the rapidity with which it spreads when it gets a foothold,” says Lemieux, also chief of family medicine at the University Health Network in Toronto.

Even with containment, the virus is circulating in the community thanks to a small percentage of people with mild and no symptoms who don’t even know they are sick, adds Dr. Gerald Evans, medical director of infection control at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

Evans says “second waves are inevitable” as regions open up, using the term loosely to mean any uptick big or small. He cautions against suggesting one sector of public life — such as the tennis court — is safer from the virus than others.

“If people start congregating around campfires and other things in parks, and then large groups of golfers are getting together and hanging out, that could facilitate transmission,” says Evans, also chair of the division of infectious diseases at Queen’s University. 

If Evans were to guess, he says a Canadian resurgence is very likely to start among younger adults who resume social activities, suggesting they’re more likely to risk exposure and will have been largely shielded from infection.

“They have been in literal isolation now for months,” Evans notes.

“So, when we start to open restaurants, and we start to open social venues, I think what we saw in Korea is a distinct possibility of what might emerge here.”

This may sound obvious but wherever it happens, it’ll be precisely where we are not looking, says Lemieux, which is why ramped-up testing and contact tracing measures are critical as millions of Canadians consider increased exposure.

She stressed the need for aggressive surveillance that can quickly respond to any signs of resurgence.

“The only way we can do that is by allowing broad-based testing of the public,” says Lemieux, a vocal critic of testing rates in Ontario.

“We really need to be on a seek-and-destroy kind of strategy right now where we’re actually actively going and looking for pockets of transmission of the virus.”

As with case numbers, relaxed measures vary from province to province — licensed daycares can reopen Tuesday in New Brunswick, some classroom activity has already resumed in Quebec, while hair salons and restaurant patios recently opened in Manitoba.

Evans suggests Ontario should have waited another “two to four weeks” before allowing a slew of reopenings set for Tuesday, which include construction sites, dog grooming, and some brick-and-mortar stores.

It’s clear though, that political and medical leaders are wary of possible setbacks: Premier Doug Ford urged businesses to only open if they were absolutely ready and asked residents to continue limiting their outings, while on Friday the Ontario Medical Association encouraged those who venture out to wear a mask.

Patrick Saunders-Hastings, an epidemiologist and consultant with the management consulting firm Gevity Consulting Inc., says a phased approach should allow public health to recognize and respond to warning signs before an exponential increase occurs.

And because the infection rate is on the decline, provinces should be able to stamp out threats posed by every new case.

“We are better able to conduct that sort of ‘test, trace and isolate’ framework than we were earlier on in this outbreak,” Saunders-Hastings suggests.

When it comes to labour risk, larger businesses have greater capacity than small ones to enforce public health guidelines and even augment them with their own contact tracing and staff education efforts, he says.

“We see a great degree of diversity in the types of strategies that are being looked at — whether it’s screening for fevers, whether it’s the use of phone applications to conduct contact tracing on site and adherence to social-distancing,” says Saunders-Hastings, adding that ongoing physical distancing rules mean most offices will only be able to bring back 20 to 40 per cent of employees.

While industrial settings such as meat plants have already suffered COVID-19 outbreaks, he cautions against assuming where the next workplace outbreak could occur, noting adherence to safety guidelines can falter anywhere.

Existing prevalence of COVID-19 infections offer little guidance, too, says Evans, noting it’s tempting to assume infection risk is lower in his city of Kingston, Ont., than Toronto.

He fears what might happen if big-city dwellers hit the road for a day trip, bringing the virus to a region highly susceptible precisely because counts are low.

“If the virus were to be reintroduced either from, say, Toronto or Montreal where there’s more activity, then there is a larger population that could get it so a second wave would look potentially worse here.”

Story written by the Canadian Press.

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Pandemic-related restaurant closures take an emotional and financial toll – CBC.ca

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Michael Raviele agonized for hours over how to break the news to his loyal customers before finally announcing at 4:30 a.m. ET on May 15 that he was closing Il Gatto Nero, the Toronto Italian restaurant his father first opened some six decades earlier.

“I did that road for 18 years — up and down, every single day,” said the man with a tattoo of the restaurant’s logo on his arm. “I worked there every single day.”

Restaurants across Canada — from local institutions to newer spots hustling to establish themselves — have closed permanently in recent weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged an industry already plagued by razor-thin margins. Their owners face not only the emotional loss of their business, but also often large debt, little savings and an uncertain future.

Il Gatto Nero started as an Italian social club featuring pool tables and espresso more than 60 years ago. Raviele joined the business in the early 90s and slowly added to the club’s repertoire with a pizza oven, sandwiches and other tweaks.

Attempted shift

The club moved to Toronto’s College Street about 18 years ago. At the new location, they saw a lot of success — like when Italy won the FIFA World Cup in 2006 — as well as some down times — like the 2008 recession — that prompted Raviele and his father to dip into personal savings to keep the restaurant afloat. Raviele invested more money in the business in 2014 for a renovation and expanded to a second location, a small cafe in Etobicoke, in October 2019.

When COVID-19 hit and government ordered dining rooms to close, Raviele attempted to shift to take away, but eventually stopped. Bills piled up from utility companies.

“I obviously incurred some debt …,” he said.

But uncertainty over the future of dining was the final nail in Il Gatto Nero’s coffin.

‘Don’t see a future’

Raviele speculated he might be required to remove the restaurant’s 10 bar seats and slash his 65-seat capacity in half to comply with pending physical distancing rules, which would cripple his business.

“I don’t see a future for my business or for my family,” he said. “The model for opening any restaurant is based on feeding capacity versus space, and how many people can you do over the course of a night… I mean, if you have one bad weekend, it could be disastrous for many small businesses.”

He plans to focus on the small espresso bar, add a pizza oven and hustle to keep that business going, which he said he invested his second life into.

“I’m angry, because I wanted to do something good, and now the possibility of losing both is always there.”

Mohammed Bin Yahya, co-founder and chief executive at Plentea, found the coronavirus to be “just like the knockout punch” for his Toronto tea bar.

Shifting consumer habits may change retail forever

Dreams of growing

Before the pandemic, the company was struggling to pay some $5,000 in rent. When they shifted to takeaway to abide by health regulations amid the pandemic, foot traffic dropped dramatically.

The tea shop, which Bin Yahya opened in 2015 with dreams of growing to multiple locations, will close at the end of the month.

“The numbers. Straight up, the numbers don’t lie,” he said.

The company had to pay penalties when closing some of their accounts with cleaning companies, internet and phone providers, and others, he said.

“We are in debt,” he said, estimating they’ll owe some $40,000 in the end.

For now, he’s trying to minimize his expenses, and said he may have to find a side job and move in with family to help pay back the loans.

Cajun-and-Creole

But he’s keeping the dream alive. Plentea will continue selling tea online, he said, and — for now — he’ll keep the equipment in storage with the hopes of opening again.

With nearly four decades in the food industry, 77-year-old Frances Wood’s retirement plan relied heavily on the Cajun-and-Creole food restaurant she co-owns, Southern Accent in Toronto.

After 34 years in one location, Wood dipped into her nest egg to help cover a move to a new spot about three years ago. It took some time to build up a new customer base and Wood noticed in recent years, lucky restaurants made 10 per cent in profit.

Still, at the start of this year, she started seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel” in making the new location work.

She debated selling the restaurant after her five-year lease ended. But with about 1½ years to go, COVID-19 hit.

Southern Accent also attempted takeaway and delivery, but found with high delivery app fees, it was losing money each day it stayed open.

‘A miracle’

Wood and her co-owner decided to close permanently in April and have about $60,000 in loans and bills to pay back between them.

In what Wood called “a miracle,” their landlord released them from their roughly $10,000 monthly lease early, Wood said.

“I don’t know what we would have done. We would have to go personally bankrupt, I guess” had that not happened, she said.

The next phase of the septuagenarian’s life “doesn’t look very good.” Wood didn’t draw a salary for the past several years, but the restaurant did pay some of her expenses. She collects Old Age Security, the Canada Pension Plan and has some personal savings, but that hardly covers her monthly expenses.

“My livelihood, what I was expecting to have at the end of 37 years in the restaurant business was some money from the restaurant when I sold it to help with my senior years.”

She planned to sell the name and recipes, and help set the buyer up for success. She even kept the restaurant’s 1940s bar in case a buyer emerges. It’s tucked away in the garage.

Still, she considers herself lucky all things considered.

“I think, ‘OK, I’m lucky. I have my health.”‘

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Global stocks buoyant, dollar slips as economies start to unlock – Reuters

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – World stocks hovered near three-month highs and safe-haven government bonds inched lower as signs that Europe’s economic downturn has bottomed boosted risk appetite, despite worries over violent protests in the United States and unease over Washington’s standoff with Beijing.

President Donald Trump left a trade deal with China intact Friday despite moving to end Washington’s special treatment for Hong Kong in retaliation for Beijing seeking to impose new security legislation on the city.

China has asked state-owned firms to halt purchases of soybeans and pork from the United States in response, two people familiar with the matter said.

“The Trump rhetoric against China and trade impediments against Hong Kong could have been a lot worse, hence the performance of those markets this morning, which has helped the risk backdrop,” said Chris Bailey, European strategist at wealth manager Raymond James.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.29% following broad gains in Asia and Europe. The index .MIWD00000PUS is up more than 35% from its March lows.

In morning trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 114.39 points, or 0.45%, to 25,268.72, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 11.9 points, or 0.39%, to 3,032.41 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 24.20 points, or 0.25%, to 9,465.68.

Signs of a rebound from the global coronavirus lockdown helped bolster global equities and push safe haven assets lower. France’s manufacturing activity rose in May as the country began to emerge from a nearly two-month coronavirus lockdown, pulling the sector out of a nosedive that had seen activity hit a record low a month earlier, a survey showed on Monday.

An official business survey from China showed its factory activity grew at a slower pace in May but momentum in the services and construction sectors quickened.

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last fell 10/32 in price to yield 0.677%, from 0.644% late on Friday.

Bond investors suspect economies will need massive amounts of central bank support long after they reopen and that is keeping yields super low even as governments borrow much more.

FILE PHOTO – The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Staff

“Current unemployment numbers go far beyond what has been experienced in any post-war recession,” Barclays economist Christian Keller wrote in a note. “To the extent that some sectors may never return to pre-pandemic business-as-usual.”

A weekend of violent U.S. protests over race and policing could present another setback for the economy which was only just emerging from the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Following poor data on spending and trade out on Friday, the Atlanta Federal Reserve estimated economic output could drop a staggering 51% annualized in the second quarter.

The May jobs report due out on Friday is forecast to show the unemployment rate surged to 19.8%, smashing April’s record 14.7%. Payrolls are expected to drop by 7.4 million, on top of the 20.5 million jobs lost the previous month.

In commodity markets, gold added 0.5% to $1,735 an ounce XAU=. [GOL/]

Tensions between the U.S. and China weighed on oil prices. U.S. crude CLc1 recently fell 2.73% to $34.52 per barrel and Brent LCOc1 was at $37.70, down 0.37% on the day.

FILE PHOTO: A passerby wearing a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, walks past an electronic board showing the graphs of the recent movements of Japan’s Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

(Graphic: Global assets – tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl)

(Graphic: Global currencies vs. dollar – tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh)

(Graphic: Emerging markets – tmsnrt.rs/2ihRugV)

(Graphic: MSCI All Country Wolrd Index Market Cap – tmsnrt.rs/2EmTD6j)

Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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At the open: TSX starts flat as oil prices drop – The Globe and Mail

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Canada’s main stock index opened lower on Monday, dragged down by energy stocks on falling oil prices, as fears of low demand for crude offset OPEC and Russia considering extended production cuts.

At 9:30 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 15.22 points, or 0.1%, at 15,177.61.

U.S. stocks opened lower on Monday after a strong showing last month, as investors turned cautious amid country-wide protests over race and a flare-up in tensions between Washington and Beijing.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 40.12 points, or 0.16%, at the open to 25,342.99. S&P 500 fell 11.46 points, or 0.38%, at 3,032.85.

The S&P 500 opened lower by 3,044.31 points, or 100.00%, at 0.00. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 18.45 points, or 0.19%, to 9,471.42 at the opening bell.

World stocks hovered near three-month highs and the dollar was flat on Monday as optimism over economies opening up again boosted risk appetite, despite worries over mass protests in the United States and unease over Washington’s standoff with Beijing.

Having risen a whopping 35% from a late March trough, stocks looked set to kick off June with more gains. The MSCI world stocks index has recovered two-thirds of the losses it incurred in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak.

Investors were also relieved that President Donald Trump left a trade deal with China intact despite moving to end Washington’s special treatment for Hong Kong in retaliation for Beijing seeking to impose new security legislation on the city.

China has asked state-owned firms to halt purchases of soybeans and pork from the United States, two people familiar with the matter said, following Washington’s move over Hong Kong.

In Europe, stock markets were up 0.8% led by virus-hit sectors such as travel & leisure, banks and miners but volumes were subdued as Germany, Switzerland and Austria were closed for holidays.

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“The Trump rhetoric against China and trade impediments against Hong Kong could have been a lot worse, hence the performance of those markets this morning, which has helped the risk backdrop for the European open,” said Chris Bailey, European strategist at wealth manager Raymond James.

In Asia, stocks closed higher, led by China on signs that parts of the domestic economy were picking up. Hong Kong managed to rally 3.4%, while Chinese blue chips put on 2.7%.

An official business survey from China showed its factory activity grew at a slower pace in May but momentum in the services and construction sectors quickened.

Japan’s Nikkei added 0.8% to also reach a three-month peak.

The safe-haven dollar, meanwhile, hit an 11-week low dented by risk-on mood among investors and protests in major U.S. cities over race and policing.

“I agree the riots are not good but the perception is that this is a local issue…and the uncertainty has spilled over into a lower dollar,” Bailey added.

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In Philadelphia, one of the cities that had instituted a curfew due to protests there, Nasdaq Inc said it postponed Monday’s planned reopening of its PHLX options trading floor, which had been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The turmoil in the U.S. was a fresh setback for the economy which was only just emerging from a downturn akin to the Great Depression. Following poor data on spending and trade out on Friday, the Atlanta Federal Reserve estimated economic output could drop a staggering 51% annualised in the second quarter.

The May jobs report due out on Friday is forecast to show the unemployment rate surged to 19.8%, smashing April’s record 14.7%. Payrolls are expected to drop by 7.4 million, on top of the 20.5 million jobs lost the previous month.

“Current unemployment numbers go far beyond what has been experienced in any post-war recession,” Barclays economist Christian Keller wrote in a note. “To the extent that some sectors may never return to pre-pandemic business-as-usual.”

Bond investors suspect economies will need massive amounts of central bank support long after they reopen and that is keeping yields super low even as governments borrow much more.

Yields on U.S. 10-year notes were trading steady at 0.66% having recovered from a blip up to 0.74% last month when the market absorbed a tidal wave of new issuance.

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German bund yields were stuck near minus 0.42%.

In currency markets, the euro was last up at $1.1114, after climbing 1.8% last week. The Australian dollar hit a four-month high.

Much of the dollar’s recent decline has come against the euro which has been boosted by plans for an EU stimulus package. The European Central Bank is also widely expected to say on Thursday that it will raise its asset buying by around 500 billion euros to 1.25 trillion.

In commodity markets, gold added 0.5% to $1,735 an ounce .

Brent crude futures were off 8 cents at $37.76 a barrel, while U.S. crude fell 35 cents to $35.14

Reuters

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