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Ontario long-term care home logs zero cases of COVID-19 in first and second wave of pandemic – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
One Ontario long-term care home continues to weather the pandemic without a single COVID-19 case.

As long-term care homes continue to grapple with the second wave of COVID-19, the Mariann Home in Richmond Hill, Ont. has so far weathered the pandemic without a single case of COVID-19, which families and staff attribute to a number of safety measures taken earlier this year.

“I attest that to communication and due diligence by our staff,” said Mariann Home CEO and Administrator Bernanrd Boreland. “Policies and procedures that the government rolls out I’ve looked at and in all honesty I wasn’t satisfied and I made enhancements to it.”

Since Ontario allowed essential visitors back inside long-term care homes, Boreland initiated stricter measures, requiring all visitors to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within seven days of their visit.

“The way it’s set up in the government, families just have to attest – we know that people don’t always tell the truth and my job is to protect our seniors, so I put that policy in place that they must show us evidence of a COVID test.”

The home has taken it a step further, giving families the option of a drive-in test outside the nursing home, which is performed by Director of Care.

“Because I put certain procedures in place I wanted to make things easier for the families, so that’s why I offered a drive-in testing centre, which is available to all families who come on to our COVID testing program,” he said. “By requesting those tests puts our families and residents minds at ease.”

Visits must be booked in advanced and are only limited to an hour. When inside, families are educated on safety protocols, are not allowed to roam the facility and must wear personal protective equipment at all times.

Boreland has spent tens of thousands of dollars on personal protective equipment (PPE), which he began stock piling in mid-January before Ontario recorded its first positive case. Extra funds were used to purchase the PPE, which the home now has enough to supply staff until Februrary.

Early on in the pandemic employees had to commit to only working at the 64 bed nursing home and they were being screened symptoms every two weeks. The screening is now done weekly.

Staff are also divided into cohorts, so they are caring for the same residents in the same unit at all times.

Residents are checked for symptoms three times a day at the start of every shift. This includes a temperature check, which Boreland says is more than ministry standards.

“If there is one or two symptoms from the resident they right away get swabbed and we put them into isolation until there is a negative result,” said Erly Valera, the home’s Director of Care.

Boreland has regular teleconferences with family members to keep them updated on policies and enhanced safety measures.

“All of our staff and families are grateful,” he said.

Michael Gregory’s mother-in-law has been a resident at the home for four years and praises the staff for how they’ve handled the pandemic thus far.

“At her age she is the most vulnerable,” Gregory said. “We have all the confidence she is in good hands and we longer worry.”

Worried about potential exposure to employees outside the home, additional PPE is provided to staff who is transit and a grocery order program continues to be offered to prevent staff from having to travel to busy public places.

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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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