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Kitchener drive-thru COVID-19 testing site to reopen by appointment only on Thursday

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KITCHENER —
Kitchener’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will reopen on Thursday, but people will need to book an appointment to get a test.

Anyone who needs a test should go online, pick a time slot and register with their name and health card.

The site was closed down early on Wednesday morning after staff reportedly faced verbal abuse and threats of violence.

A spokesperson for Grand River Hospital, which runs the site, said that the issue was compounded by traffic issues along the streets around the testing site.

Long wait times and lineups have created tension around COVID-19 testing as more people look to get tested amid fears of a second wave.

Some people arrived at the drive-thru site as early as 2 a.m. in order to secure a place there. Dozens of cars lined up Wednesday morning, and the line’s capacity was full by 7 a.m. Staff don’t start testing until 15 minutes after then.

By around 8:30 a.m., the site had closed for the day. Waterloo regional police posted about the closure on Twitter, asking for people to be patient and avoid the area.

Police said there were no arrests, but they did assist with setting up barricades.

Thirty minutes later, the hospital tweeted about the closure as well, citing “safety concerns.”

Everyone signing up for a COVID-19 test starting Thursday will need to fill out a separate pre-registration form, the Grand River Hospital said in a tweet. Only people who have pre-registered will be able to get a test.

Those who were still in line would still be tested, Grand River Hospital said. By 11 a.m., the site, normally backed up for hours at a time, was completely empty.

The difficulties of getting tested are not unique to Waterloo Region, as thousands of people face the same hurdles daily around Ontario. The calls for more accessible testing has led Premier Doug Ford to partner with pharmacies in order to allow more people to get tested.

On Wednesday, Ford announced that 60 pharmacies would be offering testing soon. None of them are in Waterloo Region.

The tests will be by appointment only for people without symptoms.

St. Mary’s General Hospital said Wednesday that people should only self-refer to the assessment centre if they have COVID-19 symptoms or if they’ve been directed to get a test because they’re a high-risk contact of someone else with the disease.

They said people can also come if they’ve been referred by a medical health professional to meet a ministry guideline, like visiting a long-term care home or having a medical procedure done.

Lee Fairclough, head of the region’s COVID-19 assessment centres and president of St. Mary’s General Hospital, said she’d like to see pharmacies doing tests at local pharmacies.

“We will certainly be open to how we do that within our region,” she said.

Fairclough said the region is also seeking out new locations for additional testing sites, but the main priority is to beef up the existing sites.

“The decision we are making right now is to move nurses, move physicians from other clinical services and practices, to do this testing,” she said. “That’s probably the biggest thing we are sorting through.”

The walk-in centres are busy, but sites offering appointments are also swamped.

“The numbers have gone through the roof,” said Dr. Joseph Lee from KW4 COVID Assessment Centre.

The clinic’s next available appointment isn’t until early October. Lee said he’s proposing turning his other two walk-in clinics into COVID-19 assessment centres as well.

Cambridge Memorial Hospital’s COVID-19 assessment launched a new phone number on Wednesday to help manage calls for appointments. The new number is 519.740.4975, but the centre said it’s best to reach through email at cmhcovidtesting@cmh.org.

Anyone calling can register for a booked appointment when arriving at the centre, schedule an appointment and cancel an appointment.

The centre said it’s prioritizing people with symptoms and anyone who’s been instructed to get a test by a public health official.

Source: – CTV Toronto

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Annual inflation rate up 0.5% in September – CityNews Toronto

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Statistics Canada says its consumer price index in September was up 0.5 per cent compared with a year ago.

The reading compared with a year-over-year increase of 0.1 per cent in August.

Economists on average had expected a year-over-year increase of 0.4 per cent, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

The statistics agency says that prices were up in six of the eight components of the inflation tracker, including increases in tuition fees as students headed back to school.

The agency also says the back-to-school shopping season wasn’t as big as it was one year ago, noted by a year-over-year drop of 4.1 per cent in clothing and footwear prices.

Statistics Canada says the consumer price index would have increased by 1.0 per cent in September had a 10.7 per cent year-over-year drop in the price of gasoline not been factored in.

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Cathay Pacific to cut 5,900 jobs, end Cathay Dragon brand due to pandemic – Reuters

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Wednesday it would slash 5,900 jobs and end its regional Cathay Dragon brand, joining peers in cutting costs as it grapples with a plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline would also seek changes in conditions in its contracts with cabin crew and pilots as part of a restructuring that would cost HK$2.2 billion ($283.9 million).

Overall, it will cut 8,500 positions, or 24% of its normal headcount, but that includes 2,600 roles currently unfilled due to cost reduction initiatives, Cathay said.

“The actions we have announced today, however unpalatable, are absolutely necessary to bring cash burn down to more sustainable levels,” Cathay Chairman Patrick Healy told reporters.

Cathay shares jumped almost 7% during early trading and closed 2.3% higher, with broker Jefferies saying the announcement removed a key overhang on the stock.

Singapore Airlines Ltd and Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd have already announced similarly large payroll cuts, as the International Air Transport Association forecasts passenger traffic will not recover until 2024.

Cathay, which has stored around 40% of its fleet outside Hong Kong, said on Monday it planned to operate less than 50% of its pre-pandemic capacity in 2021.

After receiving a $5 billion rescue package led by the Hong Kong government in June, it had been conducting a strategic review.

The airline said it was bleeding HK$1.5 billion to HK$2 billion of cash a month and the restructuring would stem the outflow by HK$500 million a month in 2021, with executive pay cuts continuing throughout next year.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

BOCOM International analyst Luya You said she had expected more strategic insight from the airline on its fleet plans and route network as part of the restructuring.

“Had they revealed more on fleet planning for 2021-22, we would get a much better sense of their outlook,” she said.

Cathay will postpone the delivery of its 21 Boeing Co 777-9 jets on order beyond 2025, Healy said.

EXIT THE DRAGON

The decision to end regional brand Cathay Dragon is in line with rival Singapore Airlines’ pre-pandemic move to fold regional brand Silkair into its main brand, though in this case 2,500 Cathay Dragon pilots and cabin crew will lose their jobs.

Cathay Dragon, once known as Dragonair, operated most of the group’s flights to and from mainland China and had been hit by falling demand before the pandemic due to widespread anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Plans to merge Cathay Dragon into Cathay’s main brand earlier this year hit roadblocks from China’s aviation regulator because of infractions during last year’s pro-democracy protests, two sources told Reuters in May.

Cathay said the airline would cease operating immediately and it would seek regulatory approval to fold the majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes in Cathay Pacific and low-cost arm HK Express.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

Healy said there would be “substantial savings” from combining Cathay Dragon’s narrowbody fleet with Cathay Pacific’s longhaul fleet and focusing on marketing of a single premium brand.

In the short-term, the closure of the Cathay Dragon brand will result in it being unable to carry cargo to Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur and Fukuoka, and it will only send dedicated freighters to Xiamen, Chengdu and Hanoi, it told cargo customers in a memo, indicating the routes were cut for now.

Like Singapore Airlines, Cathay lacks a domestic market to cushion it from the fall in international travel due to border closures.

In September, Cathay’s passenger numbers fell by 98.1% compared with a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 36.6%.

Cathay shares have fallen 41% since the start of January.

The airline’s share register is dominated by Swire Pacific Ltd, Air China Ltd, Qatar Airways and the Hong Kong government, with only a 12% free float.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Additional reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing; Editing by Stephen Coates and Louise Heavens

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Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways slashes jobs, kills Dragon – Aljazeera.com

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Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Wednesday it would slash 5,900 jobs and end its regional Cathay Dragon brand, joining peers in cutting costs as it grapples with a plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline would also seek changes in conditions in its contracts with cabin crew and pilots as part of a restructuring that would cost 2.2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($283.9m), it told the stock exchange.

Overall, it will cut 8,500 positions or 24 percent of its normal headcount, but that includes 2,600 roles currently unfilled due to cost reduction initiatives, Cathay said.

“The global pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on aviation and the hard truth is we must fundamentally restructure the group to survive,” Cathay Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang said in a statement.

“The future remains highly uncertain and it is clear that recovery is slow,” Cathay said in Wednesday’s statement. “The management team has concluded that the most optimistic scenario it can responsibly adopt is one in which, for the year 2021, the company will be operating at well under 50 percent of the passenger capacity it operated in 2019.”

Cathay’s announcement came a day after Hong Kong said its unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent for the July-September period, its highest level in almost 16 years, from 6.1 percent from June to August.

Devastating fallout

The coronavirus has had a devastating effect on aviation. As many as 46 million jobs are at risk, and airlines alone face about $420bn in lost revenue this year.

Singapore Airlines Ltd and Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd have also announced large payroll cuts, as the International Air Transport Association forecasts passenger traffic will not recover until 2024.

Cathay was struggling with losses before the pandemic as anti-government protests in Hong Kong led to a sharp reduction in traffic last year and a change in management. The pandemic pushed the carrier into survival mode, forcing it to cut capacity and offer its staff voluntary no-pay leave.

The airline, which has stored about 40 percent of its fleet outside Hong Kong, said on Monday it planned to operate less than 50 percent of its pre-pandemic capacity in 2021.

Cathay Pacific has stored about 40 percent of its aircraft outside Hong Kong [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

After receiving a $5bn rescue package led by the Hong Kong government in June, it had been conducting a strategic review that analysts expected would result in significant job losses.

The airline said it was bleeding between 1.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($193.6m) to 2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($258m) of cash a month and the restructuring would stem the outflow by 500 million Hong Kong dollars ($64m) a month in 2021, with executive pay cuts continuing throughout next year.

BOCOM International analyst Luya You said she had expected a more strategic insight from the airline on its fleet plans and route network as part of the restructuring.

“Had they revealed more on fleet planning for 2021-22, we would get a much better sense of their outlook,” she said.

The decision to end regional brand Cathay Dragon is in line with rival Singapore Airlines’ pre-pandemic move to fold regional brand Silkair into its main brand.

Dragon’s end

Cathay Dragon, once known as Dragonair, operated most of the group’s flights to and from mainland China and had been hit by falling demand before the pandemic due to widespread anti-government protests in Hong Kong that deterred mainland travellers.

Low-cost regional carrier Cathay Dragon will cease operating immediately under Cathay Pacific’s cost-cutting plan [File: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg]

Plans to end the brand earlier this year hit roadblocks from China’s aviation regulator because of infractions during last year’s pro-democracy protests, two sources told the Reuters news agency in May.

Cathay said the airline would cease operating immediately and it would seek regulatory approval to fold the majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes into Cathay Pacific and low-cost arm HK Express.

“Now that Cathay has decided on staff count and the elimination of the Dragon brand it knows the size of the airline and the structure going forward and can complete its new fleet and network plan,” said Brendan Sobie, an independent aviation analyst.

Like Singapore Airlines, Cathay lacks a domestic market to cushion it from the fall in international travel due to border closures.

In September, Cathay’s passenger numbers fell by 98.1 percent compared with a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 36.6 percent.

Singapore and Hong Kong said on October 15 they planned to open their borders to one another for the first time in almost seven months, with quarantine replaced by coronavirus testing. The travel bubble could start with one flight per day according to Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau.

Cathay shares have fallen 43 percent since the start of January. In July, it reached an agreement with Airbus SE to delay the delivery of A350s and A321neos and said it was in advanced talks with Boeing Co about deferring its 777-9 orders.

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