Stock markets fall to close worst trading week since 2008 crisis

North American stock markets closed lower Friday to cap the worst trading week since the global financial crisis.

After starting the day stronger, markets dropped to end the week down by double digits compared to last week.

Other than last week’s strong push at closing on U.S. President Donald Trump’s promise of a massive stimulus program, markets have been down every Friday of the year, said Greg Taylor, chief investment officer of Purpose Investments.

“That’s just more of a sense of nervousness that investors are saying: ‘Well, I don’t really want to be long everything over the weekend in case things get more worse,”’ he said.

The S&P/TSX composite closed down 318.71 points, or 2.6 per cent, to 11,851.81. The market lost 1,865 points or 13.6 per cent in one week and is down 34 per cent off the record high set last month.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 913.21 points, or 4.5 per cent, at 19,173.98 to a level that wiped out all the gains since Trump took office. The S&P 500 index was down 104.47 points at 2,304.92, while the Nasdaq composite was down 271.06 points at 6,879.52.

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Canada now has more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus

Canada reached a grim milestone Friday as the country surpassed 1,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with at least 12 of them fatal.

Three provinces recorded new increases in their totals Friday afternoon: British Columbia reported 77 new cases, while Alberta confirmed 49 more.

Shortly after those two press conferences, Ontario — which had already reported 50 new cases — announced another 10.

That brings the national total to 1,044.

British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta also have the highest provincial totals of COVID-19 cases in the country. B.C. has 348 cases as of Friday, while Ontario has 311 and Alberta has 195. Quebec follows with 139.

All 10 provinces have now confirmed at least one case of coronavirus. None of the three territories have reported any cases as of Friday.

Twelve Canadians repatriated from abroad have also tested positive for COVID-19, contributing to the national total.

There are also several presumptive cases across various provinces that have yet to be confirmed, but are expected to push the national total even further.

Saskatchewan currently has 18 cases awaiting confirmation, while Nova Scotia has 10 presumptive cases. New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have reported four and two presumptive cases, respectively.

Only 18 other countries have surpassed 1,000 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Canada’s new total puts the country past Portugal and Malaysia, which have reported 1,020 and 1,030 cases, respectively.

The rest of those 18 countries are all located in Europe, with the exception of China, Iran, the United States and South Korea.

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Canada's stretched hospitals brace for impact

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s health system is preparing for an influx of coronavirus patients in the midst of a long-running bed shortage, calling doctors out of retirement and ramping down any treatment that can wait.

A shortage of beds during periods of peak demand, like the flu season, is a longstanding problem in the publicly funded system. While health spending has risen gradually in recent years, beds have not kept pace with population growth.

“You’ve got people in broom closets and auditoriums and conference rooms across the country,” said Michael Gardam, chief of staff at one Ontario’s newest hospitals, the 656-bed Humber River Hospital.

Canada has 925 cases of the COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, and 12 deaths.

A preliminary model published by Canadian researchers this week estimated that if cases increase by 7.5 percent each day, Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, will run out of ICU beds and ventilators in about 37 days.

Between Sunday and Thursday, daily case counts grew an average of 16% a day.

In British Columbia, which has seen the most virus-linked deaths in Canada, the majority of hospitals are running between 110% and 140% of their official capacity, said Christine Sorensen, president of the BC Nurses’ Union.

Most current Canadian hospitals were built between the 1940-1960s, under a federal program. Budget cuts forced closures, and in recent years, growing demand for long-term care has further strained the system.

Canada had 12.9 adult intensive care beds per 100,000 people, according to a study based on 2013-14 data, with variations across the country. British Columbia had only 10.5 beds, and the Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador had 21.8, according to a report from Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Quebec’s government recently said it has 1,000 ICU beds, or 11.8 per 100,000.

In contrast, the United States had 34.7 ICU beds per 100,000 as of 2009, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

CARE BY EMAIL AND IN HOTELS

With little time left to prepare, officials are moving to make the most of what they have.

British Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons put a call out to doctors who retired in the last two years to re-register under a special emergency class.

Ontario told hospitals this week to ramp down elective surgeries and non-urgent treatment. It also said it would invest C$100 million to increase capacity, but it is not clear how quickly that can be done.

An Ontario committee set up to address the crisis is looking at how to move more patients out of hospitals and into long-term care or home with care, a document obtained by Reuters showed.

Alberta is enabling doctors to bill for phone consultations, in an effort to keep patients at home.

Its College of Physicians and Surgeons told doctors that unregulated technology, like email and texting, may be justified under the “extraordinary circumstances.”

Some hospitals have the capacity to re-open beds that have been closed over the years, said Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, but that is not occurring quickly enough.

“So far we haven’t talked about approaching this virus with the intensity that the Chinese have,” said Hurley, citing China’s move to open up thousands of hospital beds in a matter of days to handle the influx of coronavirus patients. China assembled new hospitals in Wuhan using prefabricated buildings.

One top priority will be protecting healthcare workers, for their own safety and so they can continue to see patients.

“It’s going to be a burden on the staff; it’s going to be a burden on the system,” said Paul-Émile Cloutier, president of hospital advocacy group HealthCareCAN.

“The challenges of COVID-19 underscore the challenges that already exist in the system.”

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Second dog ‘tests positive for coronavirus after contracting it from owner’

A German Shepherd has tested positive for coronavirus making it the second dog to contract COVID-19, it has been claimed.

The pooch is likely to have contracted the virus from its owner in the Pok Fu Lam-area of Hong Kong, and not the other way around, according to TMZ.

The World Organization for Animal Health and the CDC have stated there's no evidence that house pets like cats and dogs can spread the virus.

They have urged pet owners to stop abandoning their animals out of fear.

The German shepherd has been quarantined along with another mixed-breed dog from the same home.

According to the the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the other dog has not tested positive.

Both of the dogs have not shown any symptoms of COVID-19.

The AFCD will continue monitoring the dogs, to make sure their conditions don’t worsen.

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The apparent second positive test comes just days after it was claimed the first known dog tested positive, a 17-year-old Pomeranian.

It was reported the Pomeranian died in Hong Kong after returning from quarantine.

The dog tested weak positive and was old, so animal welfare experts said the 17-year-old Pomeranian may have died from stress or natural causes and not from COVID-19.

This comes as Britain announced that pubs, gyms, leisure centres, restaurants, cafes and cinemas will close across Britain to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had avoided ordering establishments to close even as the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK climbed to 3,269.

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HALF of ‘most severe patients’ are under 65 – coronavirus affects young as well as old

The national death toll from the outbreak over the past 24 hours leapt by 627 to 4,032 – by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago. Italy overtook China on Thursday as the country to register the most deaths from the virus. Before Friday, it had never recorded more than 475 fatalities in a single day. Head of Lombardy’s crisis care unit Dr Antonio Pesenti has revealed 50 percent of patients in the ICU are under 65 years old.

Speaking to Sky News, Dr Antonio Pesenti said: “50 percent of our patients in the ICU are over 65 years old.

“But that means the other 50 percent is younger than 65.

“We have patients who are 20 and 30 years old.

“Those are severe like the old ones.”

Responding to the growing crisis, the northern region of Veneto shut parks and said residents could no longer go for walks, while adjacent Emilia-Romagna banned jogging and bicycle rides, saying people had to stay indoors to prevent infections.

Lombardy, at the epicentre of the epidemic, said about 100 soldiers would soon be deployed to help local police enforce the lockdown, and called on the government to impose new measures to keep Italians at home.

Officials are especially worried by the situation in Lombardy’s capital and Italy’s second city, Milan.

The country’s largest cities had so far been relatively lightly hit by the outbreak, but there are now 3,804 people infected in the financial hub and its hinterland.

The number of new cases in and around Milan rose by 526, or 16%, the largest daily increase for any province in Lombardy.

“The frontline is now in Milan,” Massimo Galli, head of the infectious diseases unit at the city’s Sacco hospital, told La Repubblica newspaper. “I am extremely worried by what is happening … there are still too many people out and about.”

The government last week ordered restaurants, bars and most shops to shut down nationwide until March 25.

In addition, it shut schools and universities and told everyone to stay at home for all but absolutely essential needs until April 3.

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Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday the measures would have to be extended, but gave no further details.

Looking to boost morale, all Italian radio stations, for the first time, simultaneously broadcast the national anthem at 11.00 a.m. (1000 GMT), followed by three iconic songs, “Azzurro,” “La canzone del sole” and “Nel blu dipinto di blu”.

However, the national mood has grown gloomier this week as the death toll has risen inexorably.

“It feels like we are in another world. I don’t know, it is a really bad feeling. I hope it will finish soon because really, this it is not good,” said Rome resident Anna Marcotullio, 53.

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UPDATE 1-Mexico central bank cuts rate out of cycle, unveils financial system liquidity measures

(Adds details about central bank measures)

MEXICO CITY, March 20 (Reuters) – The Mexican central bank on Friday announced a 50 basis points out-of-cycle cut that brought its benchmark interest rate to 6.50%, along with other measures to support financial markets roiled by the coronavirus outbreak.

Banxico, as Mexico’s central bank is known, also said it was cutting the rates on its additional ordinary liquidity facility, and reducing by 50 billion pesos ($2.06 billion) the monetary regulation deposit that private banks must observe.

Banxico, in a statement, added there was heightened uncertainty about the inflation outlook, with risks both on the downside and the upside, along with increased slack in the economy.

At the last monetary policy meeting on Feb. 13, Banxico shaved 25 basis points of its benchmark rate to bring it down to 7.0%. It was its fifth consecutive cut amid sluggish economic growth in 2019, when the economy contracted 0.1%.

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How Kingston is doing good, staying connected during the coronavirus pandemic

With the coronavirus pandemic hitting the country, everyone is trying to do their part to stay safe, to distance themselves from others and in some cases self-isolate.

In stressful times, it’s difficult to distance yourself from your friends and your community.

Luckily, despite encouragement from public health officials to practise social distancing, people in the Kingston region are still finding safe ways to connect and to be kind to each other.

In an effort to bring some good news to all the bad, we’ve compiled a list of kind things people are doing in the community to pull through the pandemic together.

Giving a helping hand

Every day, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., Lionhearts Inc., will be serving take-home meal options, grab-and-go snacks, fresh fruit, vegetables, pastries/fresh bread, hot chocolate, warm clothing, personal toiletries, fresh socks/towels, and a point of entry (listening ear) to access other required emergency services at Skeleton Park. The group says it is looking for volunteers.

For the last several days, SBT Comics have been filling their empty games room with donations of non-perishable items that staff can donate to those in need.

Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer for health for KFL&A Public Health, published the following list of emergency food service in Kingston as well.

Queen’s medical students are also offering free child care for health-care workers in the area until Friday, April 3.

“We may not be healthcare providers yet but we are trained to be leaders in our community and have the opportunity to help our colleagues,” the group says.

Those who want to volunteer can sign up here.

Freebies

Amaranth Stoneware is giving away free clay. For those with kids at home looking for something to do, this may be a fun activity.

The city of Kingston has lifted all hourly parking fees downtown and is offering free transit for the next few weeks.

Auto Service Kingston, in a bid to support local restaurants struggling during the pandemic, is buying gift cards from local favourites to give away to its customers.

Staying connected

Denis Faubert, the bagpipe man, will be playing Amazing Grace every day at noon at 160 Glen Castle Rd. He also will be accepting donations to the food bank at the same time.

Residents at Helen Henderson Care Centre in Amherstview and Gananoque’s Carveth Nursing Home have written personalized messages on pieces of paper that were then posted on social media by centre staff.

“This project was just a way to connect the residents with their families and friends. The families are very much missing them,” says Shannon Buell, the activity director for Carveth Nursing Home.

The Alibi is suggesting that those working from home, or who are self-isolating, step out of their houses once at noon to say “hello” to their neighbours.

“Stay at home and be safe, but know you are not alone.”

Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises will be sounding the horn of its Island Queen every day at noon to show support for health-care workers during the over the next few weeks. Kingston Trolley Tours streetcars will also be taking part in the initiative.

Cheery and helpful Facebook groups

CareMongering-YGK/Kingston: The group was created so people could share good news and helpful tips, and to create a space free from the constant stream of bad news related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We Care We Share Chat Room on Facebook shares good news, helpful tips, and ideas for those wanting to help each other out in the Kingston area.

This is an evolving list and will be updated with more information as it becomes available. If you have an event, service or group you’d like to highlight, please send details to [email protected]

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Punters watch Boris Johnson announcing pubs will close in a bar

Punters watched on in dismay as Boris Johnson announced the official lockdown of their local boozers in today’s live coronavirus update press conference.

The Prime Minister effectively closed down the whole country today.

He has ordered pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms to shut their doors in a bid to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

As the COVID-19 outbreak sweeps its way across the globe, Johnson said he understood just how distressing it was to take away the ancient rights of the British people to go to the pub.

However, he said it was absolutely essential to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The punters looked in shock as the Prime Minister announced the news.

Boris Johnson added: "I do accept that what we're doing is extraordinary: we’re taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub, and I can understand how people feel about that.

"It's a huge wrench to do that, everybody understands that. It’s heartbreaking to think of the businesses that will face difficulties as a result of the measures this country has had to take.”

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Some may be tempted to head down to their local tonight, or go out to a bar, but the Prime Minister has warned Brits to stay away.

According to the Guardian, punters are still at pubs with no signs of leaving.

Shortly after the announcement, with Johnson still speaking, the Guardian said that one punter rushed to call his friends and said: “Listen, you’d better hurry up and get here because all the pubs are shutting at 7pm. Hurry up.”

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His announcement came after scientists advised the Government to restrict and control the spread of the virus. They said the restrictions will need to be in place for most of the year at least.

The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling said while the severity of measures could fluctuate, “stricter” measures would need to be enforced for at least half of the year in order to keep cases at a level the NHS can cope with.

It comes as a further 39 people in England were confirmed to have died after testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the UK death toll to 183.

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Winnipeg man wanted in shooting death on College Avenue

Winnipeg police have issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant in connection with the shooting death of a man at a College Avenue home earlier this week.

Vincent Scott Ross, 24, was found shot in a multi-unit home in the 500 block of College Avenue around 3 p.m. Monday.

Ross was rushed to hospital in critical condition, where he later died.

The homicide is the city’s seventh of 2020.

On Friday, police said an arrest warrant has been obtained for Christian James Bruce, 28, of Winnipeg, on a charge of second-degree murder.

Bruce is five feet nine inches tall and roughly 146 pounds with a medium build.

Bruce has brown eyes and is believed to have black hair. He has various skull-related tattoos on both of his arms as well as tribal-style tattoos on his face.

Police warn not to approach Bruce.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call 911 and anyone with additional information that might help investigators should call 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS.

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