British Columbians share what it’s like having COVID-19

Across the country, Canadians are being asked to make drastic changes to their lives in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Canadians have heard about how deadly the virus can be, strict social distancing measures needed to contain it, and the punishing effect it is having on the economy.

But what is it like to actually get COVID-19?

We asked three Canadians who contracted the virus — all of whom are under the age of 40 — to share their experiences, and what they want their fellow citizens to know.

Kyla Lee, 33

Vancouver lawyer Kyla Lee thinks she contracted the novel coronavirus on a recent trip to Ohio for a conference.

She’s been isolated at home ever since, and was diagnosed by a doctor via videoconference last week. Fortunately, she says her case is on the mild side.

Lee says once her symptoms began to manifest in earnest last Tuesday, they came on fast.

“First I started just having a dry cough, just a couple coughs here and there, nothing that you would ever really pay that much attention to,” she told Global News over Skype.

“Over the course of 24 hours it got a lot worse, to the point where I was having coughing fits, where it was getting hard to catch my breath, and then chest pains that don’t seem to go away but get worse at points, especially when I’m lying down and trying to sleep.”

There is no cure for COVID-19 and no drug has been officially recommended for treatment.

Instead, Lee has been told to manage her symptoms by taking Tylenol, staying hydrated, and walking around intermittently to prevent pneumonia from setting into her lungs.

She said one of the toughest aspects has been managing the anxiety that comes with COVID-19, noting she’s read scary stories online about otherwise healthy young people dying of the disease.

But she said her doctor has given her clear advice about when to go to the hospital if her symptoms worsen.

Her message to the public? Stay home, because you could be the one to unknowingly infect someone else.

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U.S. corporate crisis bailouts may prove bonanza for insider trading, new study warns

WASHINGTON/BOSTON (Reuters) – White-collar crime prosecutors and defense attorneys are likely to be busy following a massive economic stimulus package from the U.S. Congress aimed at mitigating the fallout from the coronavirus, according to a new academic study of insider trading.

The research, from scholars at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Stanford University, University of Cambridge and IESE Business School, found insider trading profitability jumped dramatically during the 2007-2009 global financial crisis and subsequent government bailout.

“Anytime the government picks winner and losers, there is a greater opportunity for insider trading by connected individuals,” said Daniel Taylor, an associate professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and one of the authors of the report.

The report analyzed trading by corporate insiders at leading financial institutions before and after Congress finalized its $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to purchase toxic assets from troubled lenders, the details of which were largely thrashed out by executives and government officials in private.

The study, published online this month in the Journal of Finance, found evidence of abnormal trading by politically connected insiders 30 days ahead of the TARP infusions, which either boosted or hit company share prices, depending on the situation.

The researchers examined open market purchases and sales by officers and directors at 497 publicly traded institutions between 2005 and 2011. They then compared the trades placed by insiders who appeared to have identifiable connections at regulators, the Treasury and Congress, with the trades placed by insiders who appeared to have no such connection.

During the period over which TARP funds were disbursed, the one-month-ahead future returns between purchases and sales by insiders with political connections was 8.89% versus 2.81% for those without, according to the study. It also identified a pronounced increase in the trading activity of politically connected insiders 30 days prior to the TARP announcement.

“I hope we can avoid repeating it this time around, but I am not optimistic,” Taylor said.

Wall Street rallied for a second straight session on Wednesday as the U.S. Senate neared a vote on a $2 trillion package to support businesses and households devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. The package will include a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries including airlines, and at least $100 billion for hospitals and related health systems.

Concerns are already growing that some individuals may have gained an edge amid the chaos by getting material information on the spread of the coronavirus and regulatory moves ahead of the rest of the world.

Most notably, the U.S. dollar pared gains moments before the Federal Reserve announced last week that it was launching a new dollar funding facility for nine central banks to ease a global dollar crunch, Reuters reported.

Separately, two Republican U.S. senators were criticized last week for selling large amounts of stock before the coronavirus-induced market meltdown and after closed-door briefings on the coronavirus outbreak.

Legally, trades that may be based on information gleaned from political connections occupy a “gray area” since the information may be valuable, but may not relate to a particular company or sector, or even be very specific, said Taylor.

“I[t]s something that causes the insider to revise their beliefs about future value, but it’s not a hard piece of information. The legal definition of insider trading differs from the economic definition,” said Taylor.

On Monday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned executives against insider trading, noting the coronavirus disruption was increasing the number of people with access to material non-public information.

“I would not be surprised if enforcement activity picked up,” said Kathleen Ceglarski Burns, a partner in Nixon Peabody’s Litigation department. “I would expect the government will likely look closely at financial reporting, risk disclosures and corporate insider trading as well.”

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Coronavirus outbreak leads to UK weather forecasts ‘becoming less accurate’

The number of flights grounded over the coronavirus pandemic could mean our weather forecasts are less accurate for a while.

EasyJet is just one of many airlines to ground its fleet of aircrafts as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

It said it will operate rescue flights to "repatriate customers" as "required" by the government and will continue minimal "schedule of essential services from Tuesday.

Other airlines across the world have announced they will ground flights over the pandemic.

And now it seems the number of planes grounded will impact the accuracy of our weather forecasts.

According to one expert, this is because modern aircraft transmit weather data, which meteorologists use to predict the weather.

Keen storm-chaser Anton Seimon, a research assistant professor of geography and planning at the Appalachian State University, explained the reasons we're about to have less accurate weather forecasts in his STORM newsletter over the weekend.

"Modern aircraft transmit weather data continuously," Seimon said.

"Offering high levels of detail on the state of the atmosphere well above the surface.

"Given the fact that thousands of aircraft are continuously in operation around the global atmosphere, this data stream is of great value in helping the forecast models ascertain the initial conditions with considerable precision.

"Well, such was the case until last week.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly curtailed both domestic and international aviation, meaning that a key data resource for weather models is suddenly unavailable.

"As such, it is reasonable to expect both reduced forecasting accuracy and a higher degree of variation among successive model runs."

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Italy to shut all non-strategic business activities until April 3: PM Conte

ROME (Reuters) – Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Saturday that all Italian businesses must close until April 3, with the exception of those essential to maintaining the country’s supply chain, in the latest desperate effort to halt the coronavirus epidemic.

Italy recorded a jump in deaths from the virus of almost 800 on Saturday, taking the toll in the world’s hardest-hit country to almost 5,000.

“It is the most difficult crisis in our post-war period,” Conte said in a video posted on Facebook, adding that “only production activities deemed vital for national production will be allowed”.

Supermarkets, pharmacies, postal and banking services will remain open, Conte said, and essential public services including transport will be ensured.

“We are slowing down the country’s production engine but we are not stopping it,” he said.

The government is expected to publish an emergency decree on Sunday to make the latest crackdown immediately effective.

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BC Lions staffer tests positive for novel coronavirus

A member of the Canadian Football League’s BC Lions operations department has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Lions issued a statement Friday night announcing they were made aware of an employee who has the coronavirus. The person, who has not been named, is currently at home in isolation.

The team says the employee was last at club headquarters on March 13. The team remains in constant communication with doctors to determine the best course of action for ensuring the safety of other employees who have been in contact with the infected person.


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Coronavirus reaches African continent – and threatens to overwhelm it

Over the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic seemed to skirt around the African continent.

But the situation has changed and the people who live here are asking themselves if they can cope.

The first cases of COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa were announced just three weeks ago but the rate of infection in countries like South Africa is climbing swiftly.

With more than 200 people infected, the government has responded by shutting down schools and banning large gatherings. The police are arresting citizens who test positive to the virus and refuse to go into quarantine. Health officials have stopped church ministers from preaching to their flocks.

However, the authorities can’t stop this virus from spreading and just about everyone in this country knows it, including South Africa’s health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.

“In any community, 60% to 70% of the community will be affected by the virus. We can’t hide that… most of us will have this virus,” he told a group of doctors in the capital Pretoria.

He asked the nation to adjust its collective expectations. South Africa has “unique dynamics” he said, with the world’s largest concentration of people with HIV, plus a significant number with tuberculosis.

Both groups are more susceptible to respiratory problems and may be at far greater risk from COVID-19.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, who directs HIV-AIDS research body Caprisa, said the greatest concern surrounds some three million people with HIV but who don’t take antiretrovirals (ARVs).

“Half a million suffer from low immunity and would probably get much sicker if they contracted the new virus,” he said.

We met a woman with HIV in an overcrowded Johannesburg township called Kliptown. Her name is Mandisa Madikane and we joined her after her monthly check-up at the local clinic.

She said COVID-19 was frightening.

“This is a major virus, it has taken over the world, taking people’s lives. Am I safe or not? It is like a virus on top of another virus.”

She added: “I love myself… I need to take care of myself.”

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Kenya's High Court holds open air hearings to slow spread of coronavirus

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Gloved judges heard applications for bail on Friday as Kenya’s high court held hearings outside the building to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is justice under the tree,” said High Court advocate Ham Lagat, who was applying for bail for a security guard accused of killing a student in a fight. “Everyone should be given a chance to – you know – participate in fighting for his right.”

After he spoke some of the court papers in the criminal case were blown away by wind and picked up by a plainclothes police officer.Kenya’s judiciary announced on Sunday that courts would scale down their activities for two weeks to “design appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus”.

Only serious matters are being heard. All appeals, hearings and mentions in criminal and civil cases are suspended and foreign travel was banned for judiciary staff.

Concern over unsanitary conditions in crowded jails also means that prisoners are not being presented in court. The Red Cross visited the prison service this week to try to help prevent the virus from reaching prison populations.

A number of countries have scaled down court activities or banned the public from attending cases over fears of the virus spreading. So far it has infected nearly 253,000 people across the world and the death toll exceeds 10,400.

Kenya has reported seven cases but instituted strict controls, including banning the entry of foreigners from countries that have reported cases.

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Lethbridge residents create supportive Facebook group to help most vulnerable

As a way to help the most vulnerable members of her community deal with both everyday struggles and the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Jenn Prosser and some of her friends decided to create a Facebook group called the Lethbridge Support Circle.

“Folks who need support reach out by posting or messaging someone and then the post gets replied to by members of the group, so we started the group Friday, recognizing it’s not accessible to everyone,” said Prosser.

If people need help getting groceries or shovelling snow, need a car ride or even just a person to talk to, they can reach out to others on the group.

One of the members shares some of the things she’s already helped out with.

“Supplying families with lunch food, there’s been a few things like that, like library drop-offs and picking up books, whatever I can do,” said Lori Harasem, a group member.

Both women note current austerity measures coupled with trouble getting access to supplies due to COVID-19 have greatly impacted some people with less financial resources available.

“Many of these needs have existed far beyond this virus and the things that are going on right now with that,” Harasem said.

“So, for me, it’s a way of taking some of the control from a situation that I can’t control and doing some good and I think that everyone has needs and things they can offer.”

“The one thing we’ve noticed is the people asking for help directly through the admins are people who were facing some pretty significant vulnerabilities, so these are folks who faced changes to their AISH — Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped — payments because of the changes made by the Alberta government,” Prosser said.

Both say they will continue their work with the Facebook group, and do what they can to help others during these trying times.

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Apple to close retail stores outside Greater China until March 27

(Reuters) – Apple Inc said late on Friday it will close all its retail stores outside Greater China until March 27, to minimize risk of coronavirus transmission.

“We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a letter posted on the company’s website.

“In all of our offices, we are moving to flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China,” he added. “That means team members should work remotely if their job allows.”

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