Coronavirus: Saskatchewan athlete Brock Weston recounts falling ill with COVID-19

The possibility of having COVID-19 started to become real for Brock Weston as he drove home to Saskatchewan.

The Wisconsin college student had had fever sweats the night before. A stuffy nose and sore throat he thought were from dust in the air or maybe, at worst, a cold or flu had been hanging around for a couple of days.

“I had no appetite. I couldn’t smell. My eyes were hurting,” the 25-year-old told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.

“I thought, ‘OK, maybe this is a little more than just the flu.’”

Weston, who plays hockey and studies biology and chemistry at Marian University, had been packing for his trip home last week when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians abroad to hurry back.

While on the road, he called his parents about taking extra precautions for his arrival at the family farm near Maidstone, about a two and half hour drive west of Saskatoon.

When he got there, he still felt lousy. He was running a fever and coughing and noticed pressure in his chest when he took deep breaths.

“You read about the people that started with this mild chest pressure and all of a sudden they’re in the hospital and can’t breathe,” Weston said.

“I was definitely nervous once I started to kind of realize that I might have it.”

He did a self-assessment, which told him he should call for a referral. He phoned a clinic in town, which led to more calls until he was booked in for a test.

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When he arrived for testing in Lloydminster, Weston phoned from a parking spot and was directed to a building through a set of doors. He was instructed to sanitize and put on a mask.

Weston said a health worker took a swab resembling a large Q-Tip and inserted it high into both sides of his nose.

“It was mostly just uncomfortable,” he said.

“Kind of like a sneeze that would never come.”

He was told it could take a week for results, but three days later he received a call.

He had tested positive for COVID-19.

Weston is self-isolating in the basement of his parents’ house while they stay upstairs. He said he’s sharing the story of his symptoms and diagnosis so others will take the virus seriously, stay home and think of others.

COVID-19 certainly slowed him down, he said.

“I had absolutely no sense of smell and no taste. I had no appetite for five days. I lost over 10 pounds.

“I kind of got this migraine that just carried over four or five days that made my eyes just hurt. Couldn’t look to left, right, up, down.”

Weston said he’s now feeling almost 100 per cent, after lots of sleep and liquids.

And he’s helping out on the farm.

“It’s a little easier on the farm because I can stay six feet away from Dad outside.”

Weston is not entirely sure where he contracted the virus, but believes it was while he was in Nashville on a spring break with friends.

He has to have two negative test results to be out of quarantine. The first test is set for Saturday.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.


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Coronavirus: Dufferin County, Ont. declares state of emergency

Dufferin County, Ont. declared a statement of emergency on Thursday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to the rapidly changing conditions, it has become necessary to declare an emergency so that we may be able to address resident needs in a more timely manner,” Dufferin County Warden Darren White said in a statement.

County officials say the emergency declaration doesn’t change the rules that exist to ensure the municipality operates effectively.

“The county continues to provide essential services to the community,” officials say.

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“This includes, but is not limited to our long-term care home, income and community housing supports, waste and recycling pick-up, general maintenance of county roads, building permit applications and inspections.”

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 835 active cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario. There have been 15 deaths in the province.

Map of Canadian COVID-19 cases:

 

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Coronavirus: can immunosuppressive therapies save lives? London, Ont., researchers launch study

Researchers out of Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University in London, Ont., are trying to better understand the immune system’s response to the new coronavirus and whether or not immunosuppressive therapies can improve mortality rates.

According to the team, some early reports from scientists and physicians suggest that the virus can cause a cytokine storm in some patients, which is when the immune system goes dangerously overboard in responding to it.

“Some researchers are suggesting that mortality could be improved with immunosuppressive therapies,” said lead researcher Dr. Douglas Fraser.

“However, evidence to support this is severely lacking at this time.”

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Researchers are testing daily blood samples taken from London Health Sciences Centre patients presumed to have COVID-19 and looking for inflammatory biomarkers to track the changing immune response over time. Researchers will be comparing that data “to the immune response in patients with other infections, as well as in healthy controls.” The data will also be useful in future studies.

“This study could also inform why some people become critically ill and others do not, and help determine who will respond to certain therapies,” said Fraser.

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Coronavirus: Website launched to help people donate in Waterloo region, Guelph

One of the major coronavirus-related questions being asked by members of the Waterloo region and Guelph communities is ‘how can we help?’

With that in mind, a group of doctors in the area have launched a website called Covidhealth.ca, which will allow people to lend a hand.

The effort is being spearheaded by Dr. Sarah Rinaldi, who practices in New Hamburg, Ont., and Dr. Sharon Bal, who practices in Cambridge, Ont.

Rinaldi said it was born from hearing stories of people in the community looking to lend a hand.

“I’m a member of a bunch of social groups of physicians and every day I was just seeing more and more posts saying, ‘I have a friend who has a 3D printer and they’re looking to get involved’ or ‘I know this person in the community, they have boxes of masks or gloves. How can we donate them?’”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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

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Coronavirus: North York Longo’s store employee tests positive for COVID-19

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said a Longo’s store employee and a driver both tested positive for coronavirus. The driver works for Grocery Gateway, which operates out of a different facility. This story has been updated to reflect that.

Longo’s in North York says a store employee, along with a Grocery Gateway driver have both tested positive for coronavirus.

A statement on behalf of president and CEO Anthony Longo on Friday said Longo’s “confirmed our first cases of COVID-19 with one driver from our Grocery Gateway division on Wednesday, March 25 and one team member at our Weston Road location on Thursday, March 26.”

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The store employee was from a location on Weston Road. Grocery Gateway operates out of a separate facility where online deliveries are picked up by drivers to take to customers. These drivers do not pick up from Longo’s stores.

Once the store found out about the positive test, Longo said they took immediate action and closed the store until Saturday morning, while it, and the driver’s vehicle, undergoes a deep clean “above and beyond our already heightened sanitization procedures.”

He said they are working with public health officials to track down all points of contact from both employees and they will identify any other employees or persons who may have to self-isolate.

Longo said if it affects another employee, they will be compensated while they stay home.

“Longo’s stores and Grocery Gateway have remained proudly open and on the road as essential services, ensuring our communities have access to the food and necessities that they require during COVID-19,” the statement continued.

“As a family business, there is nothing that takes precedence over the wellbeing of our team members and our guests and we continue to take significant measures to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Longo’s has a dedicated webpage on both its websites to COVID-19. Information can be found here and here.

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Coronavirus: Uniformed Toronto police officer tests positive for COVID-19

A uniformed Toronto police officer has tested positive for coronavirus.

Meaghan Gray, a spokesperson for the service, said the case involves an officer from 14 Division who told supervisors on Thursday that they tested positive.

“We are working with public health authorities who are conducting an in-depth investigation related to the individual and their contacts,” Gray said.

“All proper notifications were made and immediate steps were taken. Enhanced cleaning measures, such as additional surface cleaning in frequently accessed areas, have been undertaken as has been recommended by public health officials.”

Gray said people who work in close proximity with the officer have been told to self-monitor.

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The news comes over a week after a civilian Toronto police member was confirmed to have had COVID-19.

On March 18, officials said that case involved a member of their team who did not have “a public-facing role.”

That same day, following similar steps taken at other police forces like Peel Regional Police and York Regional Police, Toronto police announced all of its stations and facilities would close to the public.

— With files from Nick Westoll

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Kingston woman raises donations to provide personal protective equipment to nurses

A Kingston woman is  raising funds to purchase masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff at the Kingston General Hospital.

Hospitals in Canada are beginning to face a shortage of face masks and other protective gear due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shortage of PPE has become more concerning to hospital staff as the number of COVID-19 cases rise throughout the world.

Even though the provincial government has assured Canadians that there is not a shortage, they are asking that businesses provide proper medical masks and other supplies if they are able to do so.

Now, Lynette Johnson, a Kingston woman, is taking matters into her own hands by raising funds to purchase masks and PPE for staff at the Kingston General Hospital — a hospital where she says her mother has worked for several years.

Johnson has created a GoFundMe page called Help nurses in Kingston purchase PPE.

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“I didn’t choose to become a doctor or a nurse so I can’t help in that way, but I can use technology to help gather resources and reach out to people,” says Johnson.

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Coronavirus: Resident at Toronto long-term care home tests positive for COVID-19

A resident at a long-term care home in Toronto has tested positive for COVID-19.

The case involves a woman at Kensington Gardens, located near Spadina Avenue and College Street.

“The 81-year-old woman is in isolation and is recovering in her room,” a statement from the home said.

“She does not require hospitalization at this time. Her family has been notified.”

The news comes just hours after officials confirmed two residents of Seven Oaks Long-Term Care Home in Scarborough died as a result of the virus.

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Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, said Toronto has seen 319 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city since the outbreak began.

A total of four COVID-19-related deaths have been reported in the city.

— With files from Jessica Patton

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