SNC-Lavalin withdraws financial guidance, works to cuts costs amid COVID-19 crisis

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is withdrawing its financial guidance for 2020 as it works to cut costs and manage its cash flow due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact of the company’s operations around the world.

The company says it has been able to continue work with clients from non-office-based locations, and to move work among different jurisdictions as required.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

However, it says where it’s not possible for employees to carry on productive client work, due to temporary shutdowns or the nature of the client service, actions are being taken, including reduced hours and employee furloughs.

SNC also says all of its executive leadership will be taking a 20 per cent reduction in salary and board members will take a 20 per cent reduction in cash compensation for the second quarter.

Source: Read Full Article

Covid-19 Aid: Aviation sector, which is critical to economic recovery, to get $750 million aid package

SINGAPORE – Singapore will retain a minimum level of air connectivity even as airlines continue to ground flights amid the Covid-19 pandemic so that Singaporeans can return home and supply lines for essential goods stay open.

It is also critical to keep the aviation sector going so that the economy can pick up again when the time comes, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament on Thursday (March 26), as he unveiled a $750 million aid packge for the industry.

He said: “Our aviation sector has significant linkages to the rest of our economy. If it collapses in a crisis, it will be very hard for the aviation industries to rebuild after the crisis is over, and the recovery of the rest of the economy will be impeded.

“We must therefore ensure that this temporary shock to our air hub does not become a permanent one.”

The aviation and tourism sectors have been the most badly hit by the outbreak.

As part of the Supplementary Budget, firms in the aviation sector will be able to tap an enhanced wage subsidy programme that will see the Government co-fund up to 75 per cent of wages for local workers. The support for the aviation sector will cost the Government more than $400 million.

In addition, the sector will get a $350 million enhanced aviation support package – more than three times the $112 million package announced earlier – to help them get over the “single biggest shock” the global aviation sector has ever experienced, Mr Heng said.

As part of the support extended, firms will get a total of 75 per cent wage offset for the first $4,600 of monthly wages, for their employees.

The $350 million aviation support package will fund measures to reduce costs for airlines, ground handlers and cargo agents so that they can continue to operate.

Airlines will get substantial cost savings on various fronts.

From April to end-October, they will get a 10 per cent landing charge rebate for all scheduled passenger flights landing in Singapore and 50 per cent rebate on rental paid for airlines’ lounges and offices within Changi Airport’s terminal buildings.

They will also get 100 per cent rebate on parking charges at Changi Airport from August to October – an extension of the rebate announced in the previous Stabilisation and Support Package.

Ground handlers will get rebates on rental paid for their lounges and offices within Changi Airport’s terminal buildings. Meanwhile, the cargo sector will get additional rebates on landing charges and rent, on top of what was previously announced.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) will also allow Singapore carriers and the airport operator to partially or fully defer payment of certain fees to CAAS between April this year and March next year. The value of the deferred fees is about $140 million.

More details will be provided to companies by Changi Airport Group and the CAAS.

Mr Heng noted that the profound impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the economy will be felt for years to come.

“State support for the private sector where there are critical national interests at stake is not unprecedented,” he added, citing previous examples in Europe and United Kingdom.

“We will support our aviation sector to ride out the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Source: Read Full Article

Quebec to provide update as tighter restrictions take hold to curb coronavirus spread

The Legault government is expected to provide an update Thursday afternoon on the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeping the province.

Three more deaths have been recorded in Quebec — including the first in Montreal — bringing the total to seven fatalities.

As of Wednesday, 1,339 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the province and nearly half of them are in Montreal. There are 78 people in hospital and 34 of them are in intensive care.

Premier François Legault said Quebecers are in the battle of their lives and he reiterated his call for people to stay home.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“Every action we take will bring us closer to victory,” he said.

In Montreal, public health officials confirmed there is an outbreak of the illness in two locations: a long-term care centre, or CHSLD, and a health-care facility.

A paramedic with Urgences-santé has also tested positive for the disease. The medical service, which serves Montreal and Laval, said in a statement that the man has been in self-isolation since he experienced symptoms and he is doing well.

The jump in cases has prompted the government to tighten restrictions to curb COVID-19. All non-essential businesses are physically closed until April 13.

In Gatineau, police handed down a $1,000 fine to a group of people not respecting social distancing on Wednesday night.

A new drive-thru testing centre is also opening in Côte Saint-Luc, an on-island suburb of Montreal, where several people have tested positive for COVID-19. The city declared a state of emergency last week and officials have been urging people to stay home.

— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier and the Canadian Press

Source: Read Full Article

Wall Street tumbles after stellar rally as virus fears grow

(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes fell sharply at the open on Friday, following the S&P 500 and the Dow’s best three-day run in nearly a century, as fears about the economic damage from the rapidly spreading coronavirus returned to the forefront.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 653.70 points, or 2.90%, at the open to 21,898.47. The S&P 500 .SPX opened lower by 74.20 points, or 2.82%, at 2,555.87. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 243.29 points, or 3.12%, to 7,554.25 at the opening bell.

Source: Read Full Article

Hospital overrun with coronavirus patients in corridors waiting 3 days for beds

A shocking video appears to show coronavirus patients lining the corridors of a hospital as the COVID-19 pandemic results in a three-day wait for a bed in Spain.

The clip was recorded in the Hospital of Albacete in the region of Castilla La Mancha, where 88 patients were hospitalised on Tuesday.

In the video, patients in gurneys can be seen lining the corridors of the hospital, with others sitting on chairs.

The woman recording can be heard saying “people are lying on the ground because they said they were exhausted”.

She says that she was sharing the images as a call for the authorities to react to the situation because the sick patients have no voice and are being ignored.

The hospital is a bottleneck for the local health centres, she says, adding that more beds are needed for the huge number of patients being admitted.

Condemning the government further, the health worker claims there is not enough protective equipment “so we keep putting our health and our loved ones at risk”.

The Integrate Attention Management of Albacete, which belongs to the Health Service of Castilla La Mancha, said the increase in the number of patients in the hospital had put pressure on the emergency services.

New measures were implemented on Tuesday after the video was shared – with an entire floor of the hospital now being used for those coming from the emergency room.

Another ward from the nearby Perpetuo Socorro Hospital is also available for use.

This comes just days after sick and coughing patients were filmed lying on blankets on the floor of a hospital in Madrid.

Spain has registered 49,515 cases of COVID-19 with 3,647 deaths according to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University.

According to the Spanish Health Ministry, 7,937 cases have been reported in the last 24 hours and in Castilla La Mancha there have been 2,780 cases and 315 deaths in the same timeframe.

Source: Read Full Article

California bighorn sheep illegally shot and killed near Kelowna

Conservation officers are investigating after a California bighorn sheep was illegally shot and killed in the Okanagan.

The ram was found northwest of Kelowna along Westside Road in the Shelter Cove area on Friday.

A motorist spotted the injured animal next to the road around 5 p.m. and called conservation officers, according to a news release.

The herd that lives near Westside Road consists of approximately 75 animals, according to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

“The population has been supplemented with additional animals via translocations on several occasions to help maintain viable numbers,” conservation officer Ken Owens said in a news release. “No licensed harvest of bighorn sheep occurs in this area.”

Owens said bighorn sheep are considered a “blue list” species in B.C., which means that they are a species of concern because of limited habitat options that keep their population low.

“Illegal kills of sheep have serious consequences for legal harvest, game viewing, and genetic quality of herds in the area,” he said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact conservation officers at 1-877-952-7277.

Source: Read Full Article

Crews sequestered 24-7 at Brandon water treatment plant amid COVID-19

The City of Brandon is sequestering a crew of workers at its water treatment plant in an effort to ensure the community has clean drinking water throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

In all, nine municipal water treatment facility operators and maintenance staff will remain inside the plant 24-7 starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, the city said in release.

Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest stressed the move should not be cause for public alarm and is being done proactively to protect the water treatment plant’s functions.

“We are doing all we can to ensure that we have a full contingent of healthy staff to perform critical functions at the municipal water treatment facility,” Chrest said in the release.

“I want to personally commend this group of water treatment facility staff, who have stepped up and put the comfort and security of their own lives on hold in order to ensure that our community’s supply of safe, potable water remains uninterrupted.”

The city says every crew member has volunteered for the duty, which is part of Brandon’s Water Treatment Facility Pandemic Preparedness Plan.

As part of the plan, trailers are on site to serve as personal accommodations for the crew.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Fourteen additional staff will remain on the job outside of the facility, the city said.

Source: Read Full Article

‘Everything is so surreal’: Global coronavirus cases surge as U.S. leads infections

The United States’ caseload of coronavirus infections surged to the most in the world and its capital reported more infections, as Italy shut most of its industry and masses of Indian day laborers received food rations after a lockdown put them out of work.

Increases in the number of cases have been expected as testing becomes more available. The U.S. passed China with more than 85,000 cases, and Italy also exceeded 80,000, the three countries together accounting for almost half of the world’s infections from the new virus.

Most of China’s patients have recovered, while places where the virus arrived later are now dealing with overwhelmed hospitals and supply shortages and are rushing to convert public spaces for treating the sick.

Washington, D.C., confirmed 36 new cases Thursday, raising its total to 267. The district is under a state of emergency, its major attractions like the Smithsonian museums and National Zoo closed and White House and Capitol tours cancelled. Police have blocked off streets, bridges and traffic circles to prevent crowds coming to see Washington’s blooming cherry blossom trees.

The stay-home order for India’s 1.3 billion people threw out of work the backbone of the nation’s economy — rickshaw drivers, fruit peddlers, cleaners and others who buy food from whatever they can earn in a day. The government announced a $22 billion stimulus to deliver monthly rations to 800 million people.

In some parts of India, people got rice rations or bank deposits from local authorities, and aid groups were working to expand their reach. The nation’s vital and massive train system was also halted, and jobless workers are now attempting to walk hundreds of miles to their home villages from India’s major cities.

Source: Read Full Article

Uzbek doctor, 39, dies after coronavirus self-treatment

TASHKENT (Reuters) – A doctor in Uzbekistan died on Saturday after unsuccessfully trying to treat a coronavirus infection that he kept secret, the Central Asian nation’s healthcare ministry said.

The 39-year-old man had been in contact with Uzbek “patient zero”, it said in a statement, who appeared to have infected him.

He was hospitalized on March 26 in grave condition and died two days later, becoming the second coronavirus patient to die in the former Soviet republic.

Uzbekistan has confirmed 104 cases of the virus and has locked down all of its provinces and barred citizens from leaving their homes except for work or essential shopping.

Source: Read Full Article

‘Biblical’ hail storms and floods hit China after coronavirus lockdown lifted

A series of weather events described as "biblical" have brought disruptions to homes in southwest China after the government announced lifting travel bans in the worst-hit coronavirus regions.

Daunting videos taken by local residents on March 25 capture a sudden hailstorm dumping tonnes of ice onto the city of Guiyang, in Guizhou province.

The pebble-sized ice pellets cover the fields, the road and even causing damage to cars and homes.

A villager claims the hailstorms lasted for about 40 minutes. He tells Beijing Times: "The tiles on the roof of my house are all damaged. Some of them are flipped and blown away by the strong gale."

He adds that the hail has destroyed much of his crops, which he shows in the footage, and he says: "Look at the crops, it's such a mess.

"I can't look at them, it is all damaged after the storm. The biggest [hailstone] I found is about the size of my thumb."

The city has been hit by the freak hailstorm twice in three days, the man told Beijing Times.

"It happened on the other day, then it stopped the next day, and came back the day after," he says.

But residents in the southwestern China said they have also been hit with gale-force winds and drenched with continuous downpours in the past few days.

They were forced to stay home as some claimed it is the most extreme hailstorm they have ever seen.

Some even deemed it as a "biblical" event, and claimed the storms have destroyed their "doomsday" crop.

One said: "COVID-19, locusts, now what? There is no way we can escape from all these disasters."

Another wrote: "I have never seen hailstorms in spring, this is so scary."

"Aren't we cursed to be staying home for a whole year?" a third commented while a fourth asked: "Are we sure we are not in the movie '2012'?"

Source: Read Full Article