City of Kingston waives hourly parking fees in response to COVID-19 pandemic

The city of Kingston, Ont., has made the decision to waive all hourly parking fees on city streets in response to concerns over the novel coronavirus.

“We recognize that daily travel patterns for many in our community have changed and we want to ensure that parking remains available and accessible to those who require it,” a city news release read.

Until further notice, people parking on city street, in public parking lots and parking garages will not have to pay, the city said.

“All public parking will remain open to serve the downtown and hospital areas. Gates at city parking garages will be lifted to allow vehicles to enter and exit without making payment,” the city said.

These changes are effective as of Thursday afternoon.

Earlier this week, the city decided to cut transit services in half due to COVID-19 concerns. Some hospital workers complained this forced them to drive downtown, or travel to work on even more crowded buses, making social distancing an issue.

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Italian PM says EU must use 500 billion euro rescue fund during virus outbreak – FT

(Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in an interview that the European Union must use “the full firepower” of its 500 billion euro ($534.10 billion) rescue fund to confront Europe’s economic crisis during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Italian Prime Minister told the Financial Times newspaper that monetary policy alone is insufficient to combat the problem.

“Monetary policy alone cannot solve all problems; we need to do the same on the fiscal front”, Conte said.

“The route to follow is to open ESM (European Stability Mechanism) credit lines to all member states to help them fight the consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic,” he added.

Italy’s death toll from coronavirus overtook that of China, where the virus first emerged, on Thursday as hospitals said they were being overwhelmed and the government prepared to prolong emergency lockdown measures.

A total of 427 deaths were registered in Italy over the past 24 hours, bringing the total nationwide tally to 3,405 since the outbreak surfaced on Feb. 21.

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Could Ontario recreate South Korea’s success in containing coronavirus outbreak?

As Ontario grapples with rising COVID-19 case numbers, containment remains the key to battling the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease.

Countries like Italy, Iran and the United States continue to be overwhelmed trying to care for COVID-19 patients as worries grow that Ontario could soon be in the same situation.

South Korea, however, has emerged as a global beacon of hope after the country had major success in reducing its case numbers. After a peak of 909 confirmed cases on Feb. 29, South Korea’s numbers have rapidly dropped and are now in the single digits — on Tuesday, just 79 new cases were reported.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is looking at South Korea’s model.

While South Korea’s population is vastly larger than Ontario’s, its per-capita testing for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been much higher. The republic ramped up testing immediately after a handful of cases were first identified, and it has also made the process simple and easily accessible to its population.

More than a quarter-million residents have been tested for the virus, with the ability to conduct up to 20,000 tests a day at 633 sites. South Korea is utilizing pop-up facilities and drive-thru clinics.

“We acted like an army,” Lee Sang-won, an infectious diseases expert at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters.

South Korea has also aggressively pursued contact tracing, which, in turn, has resulted in case isolation.

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Manitoba Public Insurance building in Winnipeg to become drive-thru coronavirus testing site

Manitoba Public Insurance will leave one of its buildings Thursday so the province can transform it into a drive-thru testing site for the novel coronavirus.

As of Thursday, MPI employees will vacate their service centre at 15 Barnes St. at the corner of Bison Drive.

The location was chosen because it’s close to the Victoria General Hospital.

In a release, MPI said all remaining customer appointments scheduled at the location will be cancelled and impacted customers will be contacted directly and advised of alternative options.

“We’re all doing our part to flatten the COVID-19 curve and assist where we can,” MPI’s president and CEO Ben Graham said in a release.

“Our facility meets all health criteria and is located in the heart of the greatest testing volumes.”

The public insurer says affected MPI staff be relocated to other locations or allowed to work from home where possible.

As of Thursday morning, there were 17 presumed and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province.

One of those cases has been hospitalized in stable condition with mild symptoms, health officials said Thursday.

Like the other testing centres in Manitoba, the one at the MPI centre will operate on a referral basis, with Manitobans required to call Health Links-Info Sante for screening to determine whether they should be tested.

“I want to thank MPI for their community leadership and cooperation with this effort,” Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton said in the MPI release.

“These are challenging times, but we are all in this together and will overcome this challenge stronger than ever before.”

The province hasn’t yet said exactly when the new testing site will open, but Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Thursday it’s expected to open soon.

There are currently four other testing sites in Winnipeg, as well as ones in Brandon, Thompson, Selkirk, Flin Flon and The Pas.

On Thursday the province announced another testing centre will open in Steinbach Friday.

–With files from Shane Gibson

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Vietnam health ministry reports rise in coronavirus cases to 85

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s health ministry reported an additional nine coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number in the Southeast Asian country to 85.

Weeks after Vietnam declared that all 16 of its coronavirus cases had recovered, the number of infected patients is on the rise following the reintroduction of the virus from overseas.

Vietnam’s health ministry has not reported any coronavirus deaths in the country.

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2 men each facing more than 230 charges in dozens of ATM thefts across southern Ontario

Two men from Six Nations are facing more than 200 charges each in three dozen ATM thefts throughout southern Ontario.

Brantford police say they began investigating last September, when two men began using a stolen pickup truck to commit robberies in Hamilton, Brantford, Burlington, Oakville, London, Cambridge, Kitchener, Guelph, Woodstock, Pelham, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Fonthill.

The thieves targeted a wide variety of businesses, from grocery stores to nail salons, stealing $100,000 in cash from ATMs and causing $180,000 in damages, police say.

On Saturday, Brantford and Six Nations police teamed up to execute search warrants at an address on First Line
Road in Six Nations, where they seized $45,000 in cash, a 2015 Dodge Ram pickup truck and 27 firearms.

Steven Wade VanEvery and Shawn Erwin Sandy, both of Ohsweken, are charged with more than 230 offences, including 36 counts each of break and enter with intent.

Two other Ohsweken residents are facing multiple charges as well.

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Coronavirus deaths in Italy overtake China as 3,405 dead in European country

Italy has overtaken China as the country with the most coronavirus-related deaths, registering 3,405 dead.

Deaths in the European country overtook China on Thursday, as cases in the country rose by 427 in a 24-hour period.

It represented a slight improvement form the day before, when Italy recorded 475 deaths from deadly COVID-19.

The total number of cases in Italy rose to 41,035 from a previous 35,713, the fastest rate of growth the country has seen over the last three days.

Italy's outbreak came to light in the north of the country on February 21, and shortly after the country went into lockdown.

Outbreaks soon followed in France and Spain, forcing governments to close schools, enforce strict fines and isolate individuals.

The United Kingdom is the latest to announce school closures, but has not yet implemented similar protocols as other European countries.

Boris Johnson's response to the virus has seen harsh criticism from world leaders who threatened to not let Brits into the country if he did not ramp up efforts.

Officials have labelled London a "city of super-spreaders" and said emergency measures were needed to contain the virus.

Despite this, Johnson today said he won’t consider closing pubs or public transport in the capital, despite half the virus deaths happening there.

Johnson said evidence suggests Londoners are doing well at obeying social distancing advice, although acknowledged that in some areas of the city it is "patchy".

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The death toll in the UK has risen to 137, with at least 2,626 confirmed cases – with almost 1000 of those cases in London.

Approximately four in 10 coronavirus-related deaths in the UK so far have been in London, PA reports, with 56 deaths occurring in the capital.

The news comes as Wuhan, the Chinese city where coronavirus originated, reported no new cases in one day.

It is the first time the country has recorded no new cases since the outbreak began in December last year.

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The Queen issues coronavirus statement to UK as disease crisis deepens

The Queen has issued an urgent message to the nation, pleading with the country to “work as one” during a period of “great concern and uncertainty.”

She assured Brits the Royal Family is prepared to "play its part" in beating the deadly coronavirus, which has killed over 100 people in the UK.

The 93-year-old was seen leaving Buckingham Palace as she headed to Windsor Castle for a week earlier than planned.

Prince Philip, 98, joined her there, after being helicoptered from Wood Farm in Sandringham.

The Queen paid tribute to medical practitioners, scientists and emergency services who are on the front line fighting the pandemic.

Her Majesty stressed each and every one of us has a "vitally important part to play as individuals" in the coming months.

She said: "Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe.

"I am certain we are up to that challenge.

"You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part."

Royal experts suggested Prince William could step in to cover her commitments as part of a coronavirus crisis plan.

Second-in-line Prince Charles wouldn't be able to take up this task due to him being over 70 and facing a potential four month period of self-isolation.

The Queen attended her last engagement in London yesterday, a private audience with two senior officers from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

There were no handshakes, just bows from the captain and the commodore, as they met and chatted with the monarch in the private audience room of the Queen's London home.

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Brit ‘selling anti-coronavirus juice’ at cafe in India questioned by police

A British national has been questioned by Indian cops after putting up a sign offering "anti-coronavirus juice" at his cafe.

He allegedly put up an advertising board outside his cafe offering the "juice" for 150 INR, the equivalent of £1.72.

The unnamed Brit, 60, runs the a cafe in the tourist town of Varkala, in the southeastern Indian state of Kerala, reports local media.

Local residents are said to have reported the sign to the police who went to the scene to question the owner about the board.

He reportedly told the officers that the juice was made up of ginger, lemon and gooseberry and that he had decided to label it anti-coronavirus to highlight the general medicinal properties of the herbal juice, saying it had no proven resistance to the virus.

According to the police, he had not sold any of the juice and he was released after receiving a strong warning from the authorities who said he did not have any “dubious intentions” with the advert.

Reports state an Italian tourist who had stayed in Varkala tested positive for the virus.

The confirmed number of coronavirus positive cases in India increased to 184 after fresh cases emerged from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Chattisgarh, India Today reports.

In the UK there have been 2,626 confirmed cases, and 104 deaths, according to the government website.

The risk to the UK has been raised to high and the government advises if you have symptoms to stay at home for 7 days.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.

This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.

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Spanish letter campaign offers solidarity with virus patients

Messages of support and solidarity are flooding in to Spain’s hospitals, aiming to raise spirits among patients.

Madrid, Spain – Spaniards have been urged to write letters to coronavirus patients in hospital. 

Alone in isolation wards and with only limited contact with medical staff, some patients have become depressed, said the organisers behind the letter-writing campaign, who hope the messages will help lift spirits.


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The initiative, “We will beat coronavirus”, has drawn huge support with children and adults sending letters by email to hospitals across Spain.

The move came as health authorities said more than 13,700 people tested positive with coronavirus in Spain on Wednesday, with the national death toll standing at 598.

The number of people diagnosed with the disease has risen by 2,500 in just over 24 hours. Spain has the world’s fourth-highest number of cases after China, Italy and Iran.

Spanish medical staff have asked letter-writers to include some information about themselves if they want to help the recipients to imagine who is writing to them.

Natalia Silva, a doctor at Hospital San Juan de Deu, near Barcelona, told Al Jazeera: “In our hospital, like many others, there many people with coronavirus, some in intensive care.

“One of the problems is that these patients live in complete isolation. They are alone, far from their families. Some know that their relatives are also in isolation in an equally bad situation. The doctors can only see them once a day.”

Dr Silva added: “This situation has caused sadness and terrible anxiety and for those who have been cured, post-traumatic stress.”

She said at the hospital where she worked, medics and administrators were struggling to cope with the rising number of patients showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Fifty patients there were being treated for coronavirus, and five had died. There was also a lack of protective masks and alcohol which is used as a disinfectant, said Dr Silva.

Una de nuestras escolares, madre de uno de nuestros alumnos, nos invita a participar en una bonita iniciativa: escribir cartas a enfermos que están aislados. Ha preparado un texto que os copio.⬇️ Incluye un correo al cual enviar los mensajes. Cómo no unirnos!
Muchas gracias!

After the initiative was launched, 30 letters arrived at the Barcelona hospital within hours.

One message said: “My name is Kim, I am French and the mother of three children.

“A person at the hospital explained how difficult it is to live in isolation and without doubt you feel lonely and abandoned.

“I would like to tell you many people are thinking of you and how brave you are fighting against this illness. The doctors, even though they cannot be with you all the time, are there caring for you and fighting with you.

“We wish you all the best and remember that if you keep your spirits up it also helps to fight infections. Try to think this will be over soon. Don’t let this get you down.”


Another letter read: “These words are addressed to you but it could be me who is in your place now.

“I know you want to be close to your loved ones because the encouragement of their love is irreplaceable. From my side, I want to send you all my support and love. I am encouraged by the way people in this country have become aware and are spreading love.

“I want you to know that you are not alone, that we think of you every day.”

Lorena Balsells, the coordinator of the Foundation Antonio Cabre, a charitable foundation in Barcelona involved in the letters project, told Al Jazeera: “We have asked the community to stand with these patients by sending letters, drawings or by donating face masks.

“One company which has face masks for industrial painting has donated them to the hospital to help the medical staff.”

Children have also sent in drawings to cheer up patients.

One showed three doctors with the message: “Solidarity with medical staff.”

If you would like to join the campaign, email: [email protected]

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