Patients worry after coronavirus prompts closure of ‘life-saving’ addiction program

Liam was discharged from the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre’s substance use and concurrent disorders program on March 26.

The 22-year-old, whose last name Global News is not using for privacy reasons, was four weeks into a six-week inpatient stay when the program announced it was closing because of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The early discharge was an unwelcome shock, says Liam, but one he’s been able to adjust to because he has a supportive family willing to give him a safe place to stay. He’s more worried about the other people alongside whom he was receiving treatment.

“There are a number of people who have extremely unstable housing situations … and virtually no external support,” Liam says.

“One of the biggest parts of recovery, both in active recovery and people who have 10-15 years sober, is community support, and right now (with COVID-19), we’re seeing a total lack of support.”

The pandemic, with its uncertainty, anxiety and demands for physical distancing, time spent mostly at home and no group — including Alcoholics Anonymous — gatherings, puts a unique burden on people with substance use disorders.

The idea that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, people struggling have lost “an essential, life-saving inpatient program” significantly increases people’s risk of relapse, Elliot Hudson wrote in a letter to hospital leadership expressing his concerns with the closure.

Hudson, who has relapsed several times in the last few years and whose story Global News chronicled over 18 months, was admitted to the program in mid-February. He was discharged from the hospital on March 23.

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'This is a war and we want to survive,' says Polish retailer

WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish fashion retailers may not survive the coronavirus crisis if the government, banks and shopping mall owners do not help them bear the costs, a lobby group said on Friday, as Poland closed non-essential shops to stop the spread of the virus.

A new lobby group set up by the retail industry said it has asked the state to help pay out salaries, shopping mall owners to stop taking rents and banks to suspend loan payments. The group says it represents 100 companies and that 200,000 jobs directly depend on their survival.

“This is not even a crisis, it is difficult to name it. It is unlike anything that has happened before….This is a war and we want to survive. I do not care what the financial results will be,” Marek Piechocki, Chief Executive at Poland’s biggest fashion retailer LPP told Rzeczpospolita daily.

He said LPP, a home-grown rival to the likes of H&M and Inditex, had enough resources to continue paying salaries for the next 4-6 months. Before the crisis it had hoped to reach revenue of 10.5 billion zlotys ($2.73 billion) this year.

Tomasz Ciapala, the CEO and majority owner of Lancerto, a men’s suit maker, said that many workers in the industry are paralyzed with fear about their jobs.

“Our union comprises mostly family businesses. Most of our employees, who have been with us for a long time, are scared. This has wide social effects. Mental illness, depression, suicides – these are all side effects of joblessness,” Ciapala told a videconference on Friday.

Pawel Kaplon, a partner at Paan Capital private equity fund, has compared the functioning of fashion retailers to a large-scale restaurant which has hired suppliers and staff and bought products to prepare dishes for the next 100 days. And now has to shut down.

“We have done the cooking for the next half a year, we have payments ahead and we have nowhere to get the cash flow from,” Kaplon told the same conference.

Poland’s parliament is expected to adopt on Friday a package of legislation designed to help the economy and various industries survive the coronavirus crisis.

“The shopping malls, banks and us should participate in these costs together …as in the end each of us will win when this tsunami is over,” said Igor Klaja, the founder of popular sports wear brand 4F.

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Coronavirus sparks surge in demand for sex dolls from randy self-isolators

A top sex doll supplier has received a surge in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The disease has forced millions around the world to self-isolate to stop the spread of the bug.

That has led to a surge in self-isolators stock-piling, as people turn to home entertainment in a bid to keep themselves amused.

And for many, that has seen them seek out sex dolls to share their time holed up with 'company' during the crisis, according to doll firm Silicone Lovers.

Speaking exclusively to Daily Star Online, the company's boss Louie Love said that orders have been pouring in following the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of last year.

Mr Love told us: "We've definitely seen a spike in interest in dolls since the news of COVID-19 hit.

"Everyone seems in a bit of a panic to try and get a doll before they are possibly forced into isolation.

"I mean there are a lot of introverted doll owners anyway and existing doll owners are understandably quite smug that they are safe and already do not socialise too much.

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"Their dolls are disease-free and are no threat like the outside world.

"There have been initial concerns about shipping but as yet we haven't experienced any delays.

"It's business as usual and everyone is looking for some kind of indoor entertainment, and perhaps someone to cosy up with and watch the new season of Westworld!"

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The coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China, at the end of last year and has gone on to ravage countries around the world.

More than 150,000 people have been infected with thousands of deaths.

In the UK, supermarket shelves have been left empty as people stockpile goods for the crisis.

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Manitoba should allow liquor with restaurant delivery, takeout orders during COVID-19: advocate

The Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association (MRFA) is calling out Manitoba’s government for not allowing restaurants to add booze to delivery and takeout orders during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Although similar delivery is currently available from beer, wine and liquor stores, we don’t understand what is holding up restaurants from participating in this measure,” said MRFA executive director, Shaun Jeffrey, in a release Friday.

“This would allow for some restaurants to rehire laid-off staff to get them back to work.”

The MRFA is a non-profit industry advocate representing 400 restaurant members and 100 associate members across Manitoba.

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Coronavirus: Worker at Hamilton McDonald’s charged after fake positive COVID-19 test closed restaurant: police

An 18-year-old woman from Hamilton has been charged after allegedly trying to get out of work at a local McDonald’s by submitting a fake doctor’s note claiming she tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to police.

On Saturday, McDonald’s said it closed down one of its restaurants on the Mountain after a worker reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson.

The restaurant chain alerted the public, saying the employee worked at the location at 20 Rymal Rd. E. just east of Upper James Street and was on duty between noon and 8 p.m. on March 15.

“We are in contact with Ontario Public Health to confirm this report. Out of an abundance of caution, McDonald’s Canada made the decision to immediately shut down the restaurant for a thorough cleaning,” spokesperson Ryma Boussoufa said on Saturday.

All staff at the restaurant believed to have been in close contact with the employee were told to self-quarantine until further notice.

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However, on Thursday, Hamilton police charged the woman with mischief over $5,000, fraud under $5,000, using a forged document and making a forged document.

“The fake note was presented to a restaurant supervisor on March 19, 2020. The McDonald’s restaurant, located on Rymal Road, took immediate safety actions by closing the store and sending all employees home to self-isolate,” Hamilton police said in a statement.

Investigators say they were tipped off about the fake note from Hamilton Public Health on Monday.

Police go on to say there was “significant impact” on the restaurant, local customers and employees.

The woman has been released and has a court date on May 18.

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Hamilton COVID-19 cases reach 50, one of the latest involves a Barton St. jail employee

The number of COVID-19 cases in Hamillton has reached 50.

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Bart Harvey confirms that one of the city’s latest cases involves an employee at the Hamilton Wentworth Detention Centre.

Dr. Harvey says Hamilton Public Health is working closely with jail staff and inmates through the staff “to identify individuals who may have had close contact with that individual and asking them to self-isolate for 14 days.”

The positive test result was confirmed on Wednesday.

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Brent Ross, a spokesperson for the solicitor general, has released a statement saying “our thoughts are with the staff member and their family during this time,”

He adds that the ministry has been in contact with the local public health unit and “upon receiving this information, the ministry undertook a deep clean of the area that the individual was working in. We have also notified staff of the confirmed COVID-19 positive result.”

Dr. Harvey confirmed that Hamilton’s total number of cases had reached 50, during an appearance on CHML’s Scott Thompson Show on Friday afternoon.

He also stressed that we’ve moved into a third phase as it relates to new cases.

He says the first phase involved people returning from cruise ships and other international travel and the second phase involved family members and close contacts of those patients.

“We no longer have travel history, we no longer have direct contact. We’re now seeing more and more individuals that we’re deeming as, you know, it was acquired through community transmission or community spread,” Dr. Harvey adds.

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Coronavirus lockdown sees two blokes organise toilet paper delivery by drone

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed a number of things about society that none of us had really thought about before. Such as the huge importance that people place on having an ample supply of toilet paper.

Bog roll is one of the most commonly-purchased items on panic buying sprees, with people emerging from supermarkets with armfuls of the stuff within hours of the lockdown being announced.

But not everyone remembered to stock up. San Francisco resident Ian Chan realised he was running dangerously low on supplies, and the city is under a rigorous lockdown at present in an effort to contain the deadly Covid-19 outbreak that is sweeping California.

But San Francisco is home to a larger-than-average pool of technical wizards, so Ian knew that someone would have a solution for him.

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He reached out to his friend David Chen. David, who is an “aspiring drone racing pilot”, had the two things Ian needed: toilet paper, and a lockdown-proof delivery method.

David loaded up his drone with a single roll of toilet paper and sent it across San Francisco for delivery to Ian’s doorstep.

And, of course, the pair captured the entire operation on video.

Ian says that while the drone-powered resupply was a lighthearted operation, the need to stop the spread of the virus is still very serious.

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He said: “There’s lots of people out there – here in US and other countries – in not good spots. I’m taking it very seriously.

“But hopefully this dumb tweet added some brief humour/happiness into your timeline/day. Stay safe & healthy everyone.”

The ingenious bog-roll re-up comes just a day after two pals managed to share a beer using a remote-control car to deliver the precious cargo while sticking to social distancing rules.

It’s a dark time, but in the midst of it all, people are still managing to keep their spirits up.

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Bank of America capital levels allow operational focus during crisis: CEO

(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) is better positioned to focus on operations rather than financial risk during the coronavirus outbreak, thanks to regulatory safeguards put in place after the financial crisis in 2008, Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said on Friday.

“What’s different this time is clearly our capital liquidity,” Moynihan said in a CNBC interview. “Everything that changed has led the banking industry be in a great condition to service clients continuously for the last few weeks as this thing has hit.”

The second largest U.S. bank by assets has extended more than $50 billion in loans this so far month to commercial clients looking for cash to survive the coronavirus recession. The retail division has fielded more than 150,000 requests to defer payments on mortgages and auto loans. Many requests are managed digitally, he said.

The bank has also been hiring and reallocating employees to the consumer bank to help manage a surge in requests related to the pandemic, according to a memo seen by Reuters. So far this month the Charlotte-based bank has hired 2,000 people and shifted 3,000 internal employees to support its consumer bank.

Bank of America followed its peers like Morgan Stanley (MS.N), Citigroup Inc (C.N) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) in reassuring employees that they would not be immediately hit by layoffs as a result of the pandemic. In the memo sent to employees on Friday, the bank said it “will not do layoffs or job reductions in 2020 due to coronavirus impacts.”

“We don’t want our teammates to worry about their jobs during a time like this,” Moynihan said.

(Corrects second-last paragraph to reflect that Wells Fargo did not suspend layoffs through 2020)

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Coronavirus conspiracy theories test government, evidence: experts

The novel coronavirus threatens the health of Canadians, but to some people the pandemic stokes fears of a government plot to subvert freedoms, say experts who study conspiracy theories.

Terrorist attacks, natural disasters, economic shocks and the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak are events that fuel conspiracy theories, says Edwin Hodge, a sociologist at the University of Victoria who studies far-right extremism.

“Believing that it just happened by accident doesn’t work,” said Hodge. “One of the things I found that a lot of conspiracy theories do is they provide a sense of order to a chaotic universe.”

He said this holds true across political and social spectrums.

Governments closing public and private places, urging physical distancing and requiring travellers to self-isolate for 14 days to slow the spread of COVID-19 would be viewed as state control tactics by those who believe in conspiracy theories, Hodge said.

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The ‘hidden’ coronavirus symptom many young patients are developing

We all know to watch out for a high fever or dry cough as telltale signs of coronavirus, but new research suggests many younger patients are reporting a completely different symptom.

Anosmia, meaning the loss of smell or taste, is now believed to be a "hidden carrier" of Covid-19 – even among people with no other symptoms.

The British Rhinological Society Profession and the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology partnered up to look into coronavirus cases overseas.

Approximately a third of patients who have tested positive in South Korea, China and Italy reported experiencing a loss of smell.

"In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases," the associations said in a joint statement.

Live updates on COVID-19 cases near you

England: 4,792

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Northern Ireland: 149

"There have been a rapidly growing number of reports of a significant increase in the number of patients presenting with anosmia in the absence of other symptoms.

"Iran has reported a sudden increase in cases of isolated anosmia, and many colleagues from the US, France and Northern Italy have the same experience."

Younger patients in particular seem more prone to anosmia without experiencing the more commonly known symptoms of a fever and cough.

"In young patients, they do not have any significant symptoms such as the cough and fever, but they may have just the loss of smell and taste, which suggests that these viruses are lodging in the nose," Professor Nirmal Kumar, president of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology, told Sky News.

The researchers have called for anyone experiencing a sudden loss of smell or taste to self-isolate in order to stop the transmission of the virus.

Coronavirus seems to present with a wide range of symptoms and severity, with some patients barely feeling ill at all to others requiring urgent hospitalisation.

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