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Premier's 'Stay the blazes home' inspires music, merchandise, memes –



As Premier Stephen McNeil concluded a COVID-19 update on Friday, he offered a stern warning that may well become the mantra of his political career: “Stay the blazes home.”

The phrase has taken on a life of its own online, inspiring music, merchandise and memes. 

“We looked at each other like, ‘Did he just say blazes?’ And we both sort of laughed, like, no he must not have said that,” said Emma VanRooyen, who wrote a song using the now-famous phrase with her husband.

“And then when he said it again, both of us looked at each other and were like, ‘That’s a country song.’ We kind of laughed about it, but then as soon as we were done work, we sat down and started brainstorming.”

They wrote the song, recorded it and posted it to YouTube.

As of Saturday afternoon, the video titled “Stay The Blazes Home! A Tribute to Stephen” had more than 8,200 views.

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“I think this is kind of a strange time in our lives and people feel very disconnected from each other. So when we can find something that brings us together, people sort of flock to it,” VanRooyen said.

“That is what we were doing really, was recording something so we could reach out to people because we don’t actually get to see our friends and family all that much.”

She said the phrase was “quintessential Nova Scotian.”

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. But then if you really need to get a point across, figure out how to say it in a Nova Scotian kind of way,” VanRooyen said.

“And I think saying, ‘Stay the blazes home’ — we all know what he’s getting at, but it also makes everybody laugh and doesn’t just make you feel like you’re being yelled at.”

She said the Annapolis Region Line Dancing Club, which is doing free online classes with local songs to help people stay active during the pandemic, reached out to ask if they could use the song.

Twitter user @AdamNFAber also released a song where he sings and plays the accordion. He sings about spending a week in pyjamas and working from bed.

“Don’t go out, stay the blazes home,” he sings. “Just sit down and watch the news. I’m not going out.”

The video was posted at 8 p.m. Friday and has had close to 14,000 views so far.

Stephen McNeil memes have picked up steam too.

Twitter user @seandmcmullen posted an Uncle Sam-style photo of the premier issuing his warning.

During the press conference on Friday, McNeil said a few things that reminded people of Liam Neeson’s character in the movie Taken.

In the movie, Neeson says “I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.”

In a similar way, the premier said on Friday, “The virus will find you, then it finds your loved ones.”

McNeil also mentioned data from Google that suggested people were still going to public parks despite an order to stay home.

Someone made a meme with McNeil as talk show host Maury Povich delivering a lie detector test result.

A “Stay the blazes home” shower curtain available for purchase on (Strangershirts/

Finally, a few industrious people began making merchandise using the phrase

Within hours of the news conference, T-shirts, pillows and shower curtains with the premier’s face next to “Stay the blazes home.” became available at

The McNeil shower curtain retails for $74.89.

If you’re looking for a shirt without McNeil’s face, but with the phrase — My Home Apparel has you covered.

According to the company, profits from sales of this shirt will be donated to the QEII Home Response Fund, Shelter Nova Scotia and Feed Nova Scotia.

The shirts go for $35.

As for Premier Stephen McNeil, he appears to be pleased with how the phrase has caught on.

“The weekend is here, and we need to be vigilant,” McNeil tweeted on Saturday.

“Wash your hands. Walk to exercise, not to socialize. Stop looking for loopholes. Please, just stay home.”

Attached to the tweet was a picture with the “Stay the blazes home” slogan.


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COVID-19 study linking hydroxychloroquine, death risk retracted from medical journal – Global News



Three of the authors of an influential article that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients retracted the study on Thursday, citing concerns about the quality of the data behind it.

The anti-malarial drug has been controversial in part due to support from U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as implications of the study published in British medical journal the Lancet last month.

READ MORE: Medical journal questioning findings of hydroxychloroquine coronavirus study

The three authors said Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, would not transfer the full dataset for an independent review and that they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”

The fourth author of the study, Dr. Sapan Desai, the CEO of Surgisphere, declined to comment on the retraction.

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The observational study published in the Lancet on May 22 looked at 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, some treated with the decades-old malaria drug. It claimed that those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death and heart rhythm problems than patients who were not given the medicines.

WHO halts hydroxychloroquine clinical trials

WHO halts hydroxychloroquine clinical trials

Several clinical trials were put on hold after the study was published. The World Health Organization, which paused hydroxychloroquine trials after The Lancet study was released, said on Wednesday it was ready to resume trials.

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Many scientists voiced concern about the study. Nearly 150 doctors signed an open letter to the Lancet last week calling the article’s conclusions into question and asking to make public the peer review comments that preceded publication.

Hydroxychloroquine doesn’t prevent COVID-19 in people exposed to the virus, study finds

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“I did not do enough to ensure that the data source was appropriate for this use,” the study’s lead author, Harvard Medical School Professor Mandeep Mehra, said in a statement. “For that, and for all the disruptions – both directly and indirectly – I am truly sorry.”

Surgisphere was not immediately available for comment.

The Lancet in a statement said, “there are many outstanding questions about Surgisphere and the data that were allegedly included in this study.”

© 2020 Reuters

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N.B. to welcome Canadians with immediate family, property in province –



New Brunswick plans to open its borders to Canadians who have immediate family in the province or who own property, starting June 19, provided they self-isolate for 14 days, Premier Blaine Higgs announced Thursday.

Cabinet and the all-party COVD-19 committee have also deemed attending funerals in New Brunswick essential travel, he told reporters during a news conference in Fredericton.

The decision to loosen restrictions comes the same day New Brunswick had its first COVID-19-related death and a new confirmed case —  both linked to a long-term care facility in the Campbellton region, where there is an outbreak.

Daniel Ouellette, 84, who tested positive for COVID-19 at the Manoir de la Vallée in Atholville last week, died Thursday morning at the Campbellton Regional Hospital.

Four other elderly residents and four employees have also tested positive for the respiratory disease, including the latest case, a health-care worker in their 20s.

They are among a cluster of 15 active cases now in the Campbellton region, also known as Zone 5.

Daniel Ouellette, 84, was one of 15 people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Campbellton region. He died Thursday morning. (Submitted by Michel Ouellette)

Higgs said he, like all New Brunswickers, received the news “with a heavy heart” and offered his condolences.

But the rest of the province will move forward with the next phase of the yellow level of the COVID-19 recovery plan tomorrow, as scheduled, he said. The Campbellton region will remain under the stricter orange phase.

“We are grieving today, but we are also moving forward today,” said Higgs, describing it as a “combination of sadness and hope.”

On Tuesday, Tide Head Mayor Randy Hunter said there were more vehicles with Quebec licence plates in the area than there should be considering COVID-19 restrictions. (Google Maps)

Officials have linked the outbreak that started May 21 to a medical professional who travelled to Quebec for personal reasons and returned to work without self-isolating for the required 14 days.

Dr. Jean Robert Ngola told Radio-Canada’s program La Matinale on Tuesday he’s not sure whether he picked up the coronavirus during the trip to Quebec or from a patient he saw in his office on May 19 who later tested positive.

Ngola, who has been suspended and is under investigation by the RCMP, said he made an overnight return trip to Quebec to pick up his four-year-old daughter because her mother had to travel to Africa for her own father’s funeral.

He drove straight there and back with no stops and had no contact with anyone, he said, and none of his family members had any COVID-19 symptoms at the time.

He did not self-isolate upon returning, he said. He went to work at the Campbellton Regional Hospital the next day.

“Maybe it was an error in judgment,” said Ngola, pointing out that workers, including nurses who live in Quebec, cross the border each day with no isolation required.

Minister defends northern border crossing

The province’s public safety minister is defending a border crossing that residents of a small village near Campbellton fear is letting in too many people from out of the province.

On Tuesday, Tide Head Mayor Randy Hunter said there were more vehicles with Quebec licence plates in the area than there should be considering COVID-19 restrictions and that the province is giving the wrong impression about how much traffic there is at the crossing.

“The premier’s reporting and the news is reporting perhaps 60 to 70 cars a day, well that is not factual,” said Hunter.

Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart said he’s convinced there isn’t a security issue at the border. (CBC)

“I know people that work for public safety there and the average [number of cars] on that bridge is about 200 a day.”

The checkpoint is located on the New Brunswick side of the border, a short distance from the bridge to Matapédia, Que.

But Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart said there was a bit missing in that interpretation.

There are about 200 vehicles making that crossing every day, but only 65 of them would be private vehicles.

“Approximately 65 [private vehicles] the other day and then 130 commercial. So you’re looking at approximately 200 all together,” said Urquhart.

Urquhart said public safety officers are the ones that determine whether someone can come into the province or not, but that commercial vehicles are checked to make sure they’re actually making deliveries.

Urquhart said he’s convinced there isn’t a security issue at the border, and while he would love to send more public safety officers up there, they’re needed elsewhere.

“If I had a lot more people I could put them all over the province,” said Urquhart.

“You have to work with all you have.”

What to do if you have symptoms

People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment on the government website at 

Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: a fever above 38 C, a new cough or worsening chronic cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, new onset of fatigue, new onset of muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell, and difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.

People with two of those symptoms are asked to:

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Study authors retract influential Lancet hydroxychloroquine article – National Post



NEW YORK — Three of the authors of an influential article that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients retracted the study on concerns about the quality of the data in the study.

They said that Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, would not transfer the full dataset for an independent review and they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”

The study was published in British medical journal the Lancet last month. (Reporting by Michael Erman Editing by Chris Reese)

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