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COVID-19: What’s open and closed in B.C. as a result of the novel coronavirus – Surrey Now-Leader



As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Canada, here’s what’s open, closed and not advised, especially in B.C.

As of Sunday, there were at least 313 cases in Canada, 73 of those in B..

Lush closes all stores

Natural bath, skincare and cosmetics retailer Lush announced Sunday it’s closing all 258 of its North American stores from March 16-29.

“We believe it’s our duty as an ethical business to do what we can to slow the spread of this virus and minimize the impact on our hardworking healthcare professionals,” the company said in a statement.

Universities and colleges go online

Thompson Rivers University became the latest institution to cancel face-to-face classes from March 16-20. The Kamloops university is just the latest to announce changes as a result of COVID-19. Earlier on Sunday, BCIT said it was moving classes online or suspending the ones that could not be moved from March 16-22. The University of the Fraser Valley paused all classes Sunday afternoon and SFU, UBC and the University of Victoria have all begun the move to remote learning for the rest of the term.

READ MORE: Thompson Rivers University cancels face-to-face classes this week

Starbucks turning to ‘to-go’ stores

The coffee shop chain will nix all seating and close some high-traffic stores to adhere to health official recommendations of social distancing.

READ MORE: Starbucks Canada to nix seating, closing mall, university-based stores due to COVID-19

All travellers asked to self-isolate

In a Sunday update, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam asked all travellers coming into Canada to self-isolate for 14 days. Canadians are also being asked to avoid non-essential travel and events larger than 250 people.

READ MORE: No travel ban, but all travellers asked to self-isolate as Canada hits 313 COVID-19 cases

West Coast Amusements suspends tour

Usually spring marks the beginning of carnivals and amusement parks from West Coast Amusements, but this spring will be different. The company announced it is putting all events on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: West Coast Amusements suspends carnivals, events due to COVID-19

Surrey closes all rec facilities

The City of Surrey is closing all recreational facilities, including libraries, ice rinks and pools to slow the spread of COVID-19

READ MORE: City of Surrey to close all recreational facilities due to COVID-19 concern

Fraser Health limits visitors

The health authority is bringing in stricter rules for how many people can accompany patients to its hospitals as it seeks to prevent outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.

READ MORE: Fraser Health limits hospital visitors to slow spread of COVID-19

Schools close in Alberta but not B.C.

Alberta announced Sunday that it was cancelling all K-12 and university classes, as well as licensed childcare

READ MORE: Alberta to cancel school classes, licensed childcare to stop spread of COVID-19


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UBC researcher heading up team testing drug that might treat COVID-19 – CityNews Vancouver



VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A drug that might be a treatment for COVID-19 will soon be tested by an international team led by a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Josef Penninger says early infection may be blocked by medication targeting the virus, which is similar to SARS.

“Our previous work has helped to rapidly identify ACE2 as the entry gate for SARS-CoV-2, which explains a lot about the disease. Now we know a soluble form of ACE2 that catches the virus away, could be indeed a very rational therapy that specifically targets the gate the virus must take to infect us. There is hope for this horrible pandemic,” he explains.

The professor in the faculty of medicine is also the director of the Life Sciences Institute and the Canada 150 Research Chair in Functional Genetics at UBC.

The focus of the study, partially funded by the Canadian federal government, is trying to keep COVID-19 from infecting blood vessels and kidneys.

“We are hopeful our results have implications for the development of a novel drug for the treatment of this unprecedented pandemic,” Penninger says in a release issued by UBC.

Clinical trials for this anti-viral therapy called APN01 (human recombinant soluble angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 – hrsACE2) will be handled by the European biotech company Apeiron Biologics.

Emergency funding from Ottawa will focus on accelerating the development, testing, and implementation of measures to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

NEWS 1130 has reached out to the doctor in charge of the project but he is currently in Vienna.

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19 new cases of COVID-19 in the region –



The health department in Waterloo Region is reporting 19 new cases of COVID-19.

It brings the local total to 148 confirmed and presumptive positive cases.

29 cases have been resolved, and the region is awaiting the results from over 400 tests.

As well, there are six outbreaks that have been declared at long-term care and retirement residences: Forest Heights Revera Long Term Care in Kitchener, The Village at University Gates in Waterloo, Saint Luke’s Place in Cambridge, Sunnyside Home in Kitchener, and Kitchener’s Highview Residences.

Chartwell Westmount Long Term Care Residence was added to the list on Friday morning.

The region’s first two deaths related to the virus were confirmed earlier this week.

The acting medical officer of health told a news conference on Friday that so far the pandemic has been manageable – which is the primary goal – to make sure our healthcare system can cope.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang says we are still into the “early phases of the pandemic”, but measures that have been taken to date have had an impact.

She also added there’s a “long road to travel,” in the fight against COVID-19.

You can find more statistics on the region’s website.

Ontario now has over 3,200 cases.

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Coronavirus: Phone data shows Canadians avoiding restaurants, transit, stores, offices – Global News



In mid-March, Canada started to shut down in response to the new coronavirus.

It was visible all around us, as schools and offices emptied.

And it was also visible to Google, as location data sent by our phones showed a quick and profound change to our way of life.

Starting in about the second week in March, Canadians’ phones started spending less time in workplaces, on transit and in retail stores, and more time at home, our phones told Google.

The data showed that we also started shopping much less than normal. The reduction was about 60 per cent for destinations like restaurants and movie theatres, but only about 35 per cent for grocery stores and pharmacies.

“It’s less appealing than before to go grocery shopping,” says Dalhousie University professor Sylvain Charlebois. “Most grocery stores, especially during peak hours, you have to wait outside. You go in, and you feel that pressure of doing as much as you can in an allotted time.”

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Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada considering using phone tracking to enforce social distancing?

Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada considering using phone tracking to enforce social distancing?

“Because of lineups, because of what’s been happening with online grocery shopping, people are actually forced to plan. If you have to plan, you don’t have to show up to the grocery store as often.”

Restaurants have been only allowed to serve customers takeout food in much of the country. To the extent that people use that option, they — and their phones — are spending much less time in restaurants than if they sat down for a meal.

“You show up at the counter, you’re trying to physically distance yourself from everyone else, and you want to get out as soon as possible. You’re not going to have a chat or anything like that. You’re just going to leave.”

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Data in Google’s reports come from users who enabled Google’s “Location History” feature on their devices. The company said it adopted technical measures to ensure that no individual could be identified.

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Google cautions that the accuracy of location tracking and their ability to put places into categories (like knowing that the place your phone is in is a grocery store) varies from region to region, so the company discourages using the data to compare countries with each other.

Coronavirus: Can we go hiking? Canadians are getting mixed messages

The data shows Canadians spending 16 per cent less time in parks than they did in mid-February, but this data is harder to interpret.

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The coronavirus has changed how Canadians use outdoor space, but in contradictory ways.

Some provinces, like Nova Scotia, have shut down parks entirely, while some cities have left them open as outdoor space, while closing features such as playgrounds.

On the other hand, public health officials say it’s fine to take walks outside, so long as people practise social distancing from people they don’t live with. And with many other outlets for spare energy closed off, there isn’t a whole lot else to do.

Also, the weather is much more inviting than it was in mid-February, confusing the data somewhat.

Here’s how patterns of daily life have changed in Quebec, at least so far the hardest-hit province:

On a global scale, the analysis of location data from billions of Google users’ phones is the largest public dataset available to help health authorities assess if people are abiding with shelter-in-place and similar orders issued across the world to rein in the virus.

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The company released reports for 131 countries, including Canada, with charts that compare traffic from Feb. 16 to March 29 to retail and recreational venues, train and bus stations, grocery stores and workplaces with a five-week period earlier this year.

Google said it published the reports to avoid any confusion about what it was providing to authorities, given the global debate that has emerged about balancing privacy-invasive location tracking with the need to prevent further outbreaks.

The data often correlated with the severity of outbreaks and the harshness and breadth of orders imposed by governments.

Italy and Spain, two of the hardest-hit countries, both saw visits to retail and recreation locations such as restaurants and movie theaters plunge 94 per cent. The United Kingdom, France and Philippines had declines of more than 80 per cent while India, which went into a sudden 21-day lockdown on March 25, was also notable at 77 per cent.

Why contact tracing is so important for tracking the coronavirus

Why contact tracing is so important for tracking the coronavirus

In the United States, where state responses have varied greatly, and in Australia, where good weather initially prompted many people to go the beach before social distancing measures were ratcheted up, the drops were less steep at under 50 per cent.

In contrast, in Japan and Sweden, where authorities have not imposed harsh restrictions, visits to retail and recreation sites fell by roughly only a quarter. While in South Korea, which has successfully contained a large outbreak through aggressive testing and contact tracing, the decline was just 19 per cent.

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Is giving up your phone privacy a fair trade if it slows coronavirus spread?

The data also underscores some challenges authorities have faced in keeping people apart. Grocery store visits surged in Singapore, the U.K. and elsewhere as travel restrictions were set to go into place.

The data also underscores how the mood of people around the world has shifted. In New Orleans, during its annual Mardi Gras celebrations Feb. 16-25, which has with hindsight been criticized for helping spread the virus, there were off-the-chart increases in traffic to transit stations, parks and businesses.

But three weeks later in Dublin, heart of the St. Patrick’s holiday celebrations, traffic was down at retail and recreational venues as the country ordered big events cancelled.

Why contact tracing is so important for tracking the coronavirus

Why contact tracing is so important for tracking the coronavirus

Google declined to comment on whether it has received any legal requests to share more detailed data to help with efforts to tackle the pandemic.

Facebook Inc., which like Google has billions of users, has shared location data with non-governmental researchers that are producing similar reports for authorities in several countries. But the social media giant has not published any findings.

With files from Reuters

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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