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Coronavirus Ireland: Varadkar announces closure of all pubs and bars

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced the measure, which will see pubs and bars banned from opening for at least two weeks, late Sunday. He also urged people not to go to house parties and to avoid contact with the elderly and other at risk groups if they decided to go out. It comes after the Irish Government launched a series of drastic measures to help curb the spread of coronavirus earlier in the week, including the closure of schools and childcare facilities. 

It means people will not be able to celebrate St Patrick’s Day on Tuesday March 17 at their local pub.

Last year an estimated two million people attended St Patrick’s celebrations in Ireland.

Health Minister Simon Harris acknowledged the decision would have a huge effect on the hospitality sector, but said the move was in the best interests of the public. 

Cafés, restaurants and hotels will remain open, but hotel pubs will be asked to close.

Announcing the news on Twitter, Mr Varadkar wrote: “Following discussions today with the Licenced Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), the Government is now calling on all public houses and bars (including hotel bars) to close from this evening (Sunday 15th March) until at least 29 March.

“The LVA and VFI outlined the real difficulty in implementing the published Guidelines on Social Distancing in a public house setting, as pubs are specifically designed to promote social interaction in a situation where alcohol reduces personal inhibitions.

“For the same reason, the Government is also calling on all members of the public not to organise or participate in any parties in private houses or other venues which would put other people’s health at risk.

“The Government, having consulted with the Chief Medical Officer, believes that this is an essential public health measure given the reports of reckless behaviour by some members of the public in certain pubs last night.

“While the Government acknowledges that the majority of the public and pub owners are behaving responsibly, it believes it is important that all pubs are closed in advance of St Patricks’ Day.

“The Licenced Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) both supported this decision and urged all their members to close in line with the Government’s request.”

It comes as 40 new cases of the virus were confirmed on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the Republic of Ireland to 169.

The National Public Health Emergency Team will meet on Monday 15 March to continue its review of Ireland’s ongoing preparedness to COVID-19.

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The UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said Boris Johnson has not ruled out introducing similar lockdown measures in Britain, including the closure of pubs and restaurants. 

When asked if the UK could end up closing all non-essential shops, Mr Hancock told BBC’s Andrew Marr: “We haven’t ruled that out.

“We will do what is necessary because the top priority is to protect life and you do that by protecting the vulnerable and protecting the NHS.”

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Albertans overseas race to find ways back to Canada as travel restrictions grow more stringent over the coronavirus

Albertans who are abroad are scrambling to figure out plans to come back to Canada as countries around the world begin to impose stricter travel restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

This comes after the foreign affairs minister urged Canadians who are out of the country to return home while commercial means are still available.

Sheila Ethier of St. Albert is in Bucerias, Mexico with her significant other and friends. The group arrived at the end of January and are currently scheduled to come home April 7.

However, the group has been watching the developments around the coronavirus and is looking to come back to Alberta sooner rather than later. Ethier is a nurse.

“I felt I needed to be back at work and also, just because I’m in a foreign country and the fear that the way things were happening so fast, that the airlines wouldn’t be able to fly anymore or they would cancel flights,” she said.

Ethier has been trying to re-book her flight and is concerned that she will be left stranded in Mexico.

“I’m loving my vacation here. It’s wonderful. But given the uncertainty with the markets and the way things are rapidly changing, watching what may or may not happen to airlines across the world…it makes you more concerned about getting home,” she said.

Ethier said she is currently waiting for a call back from her airline to change her flight.

“I’m actually not afraid of the virus as much as I am not being able to get back home,” she said.

“I think the last three days, you wake up in the morning and there’s a feeling of, ‘Is this real?’ You don’t look at it in terms of relaxing on the beach. It’s more of a panic to get home because you’re not sure of the future.”

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Shaw opens up ‘Go WiFi’ hotspots to Canadians for free during COVID-19 outbreak

Shaw Communications has made the move to offer its “Go WiFi” program free to Canadians where it’s available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement, made Saturday, will see all the hot spots opened up, meaning even if users aren’t Shaw customers, they will have access.

“Shaw customer or not, we know that it is important to stay connected, especially in times like this,” said a news release from the company.

The Calgary-based organization has also added access to a number of free channels to its customers, including news and children’s programming.

Rogers, Telus and TekSavvy have also responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and have suspended data limits for home internet customers. Shaw said its customers do not have a data limit.

Shaw “Go Wifi” hotspots span across Canada from Vancouver Island to Ottawa. The full list of locations is available on the Shaw website.

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Passenger who flew from Gatwick to Toronto tested positive for coronavirus: WestJet

WestJet is advising anyone seated on certain rows of a flight returning to Toronto from England on March 11 to self-isolate and call medical authorities after one of their passengers tested positive for coronavirus.

“Guests who were seated in rows 10-16 of WestJet flight 4, returning to Toronto Pearson Airport from London Gatwick (LGW) are directed to self-isolate and call Peel Public Health immediately at 905-799-7700 (or at 905-584-2216 if in Caledon),” they said in a statement.

“Guests on flight 4 are also being advised to self-monitor for signs of cough, fever or respiratory issues and call Peel Public Health if symptoms arise within the next 14 days,” they said.

WestJet said they were told by the Public Health Agency of Canada that a passenger tested positive shortly after returning on Flight 4 from the London Gatwick airport to Toronto Pearson International airport on Wednesday.

Last week, WestJet sent out a notice to guests outlining comprehensive cleaning measures and increased training for its staff amid the coronavirus outbreak that include hospital-grade filters and Clorox wipes and sprays.

“WestJet has standard procedures in place for dealing with illness and is working with PHAC, Peel Public Health, Toronto Pearson Airport and Gatwick Airport,” they said. “The safety of our guests and crews is our top priority.”

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St Patrick’s Day cancelled as Ireland tells pubs to shut amid coronavirus fears

Ireland's Government has ordered all its pubs to close their doors at midnight tonight.

In a statement released today, the government called on pubs and bars to shut from midnight until “at least March 29”.

The drastic measure was announced in a bid to keep people safe during the coronavirus crisis.

It added: “For the same reason, the Government is also calling on all members of the public not to organise or participate in any parties in private houses or other venues which would put other peoples’ health at risk.

“The Government, having consulted with the Chief Medical Officer, believes that this is an essential public health measure given the reports of reckless behaviour by some members of the public in certain pubs last night.

“While the Government acknowledges that the majority of the public and pub owners are behaving responsibly, it believes it is important that all pubs are closed in advance of St Patricks’ Day.”

The Irish Government is not delaying in taking action after the number of cases rose to 129 in the Republic with two having died from the disease.

It comes one day after the UK Government leaked that pubs would be asked to shut their doors in the coming days as part of extraordinary moves to contain the coronavirus.

The temporary closure of pubs, bars and restaurants is one of a series of extreme measures being prepared by the government to prevent the healthcare system from being devastated by COVID-19.

It will come into effect some time after next weekend, when the ban on mass public gatherings is enforced, according to ITV's political editor Robert Peston.

The hashtag #CloseThePubs had already been circulating on social media for much of yesterday, with many Brits calling for drinking establishments to shut their doors and encourage social distancing.

Other measures include hotels and other buildings being repurposed as makeshift hospitals, private hospitals being requisitioned as emergency hospitals and the manufacturing of respirators for the acutely ill.

Some schools will also be closed for perhaps a few weeks, with a skeleton staff continuing to work and provide childcare for NHS workers and members of the police.

  • Coronavirus
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Coronavirus gives sex cam girls a business boom as randy customers stuck at home

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing many businesses to close – but one profession is benefiting from the health crisis.

Cam girls and adult performers are enjoying a boom in business as quarantined customers make the most of their services.

"If you're trying to sell porn, having the entire country cooped up at home with nothing to do is kind of a dream scenario," Los Angeles-based porn star Kate Kennedy told the New York Post.

Kennedy, 25, created an OnlyFans account a week ago, and now has users paying $10 (£8) a month to watch her perform sex acts, fold laundry in the nude and brush her teeth.

She now has 100 subscribers and has made four figures in tips and payments, typically what she would make in a month.

"Cam girls and content creators are doing business like crazy," she said.

Joslyn Jane from Miami is another OnlyFans star who sells sexy solo videos and "partner performances".

She says she's currently making about $1,700 (£1,385) a week, up from her previous average weekly earnings of $1,050 (£855).

"There is a lot going on," she said. "And we are definitely taking fans' minds off this."

However not all sex workers are able to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak.

Some strippers who work in clubs are finding themselves low on cash after cancelling performances in the interests of public safety.

"I have decided to stay as far away from all clubs," said dancer Tyler Faith.

"I have cancelled quite a few appearances. Have to be safe in these times."

The internet has been flooded with coronavirus-themed porn showing quarantined patients and doctors in erotic situations, the creators of which have claimed is meant to educate people about proper hygiene practices.

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China state media accuses U.S. politicians of spreading 'political virus'

BEIJING (Reuters) – Some United States politicians are using coronavirus as a weapon to smear China, the Xinhua official news agency said on Sunday, as a war of words escalated between the two countries over China’s handling of the epidemic.

The editorial accused Robert O’Brien, the U.S. national security adviser, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of spreading a “political virus” and using it to put China down.

O’Brien said last week that China had reacted slowly to the coronavirus, probably costing the world two months when it could have been preparing, in remarks that angered China.

Pompeo has said the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak had been hindered by what he called imperfect data from China.

However Xinhua said China’s actions including strict quarantine of millions of people had earned the world “precious time” to prepare for the epidemic, which has been recognized by the international community.

It added that the U.S. efforts to deal with its own virus cases had been widely criticized.

It accused the United States of having double standards when it came to evaluating the lockdown in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus that emerged in December last year, compared with its view of the recent lockdown in Italy.

Ties between Washington and Beijing are already strained over issues including trade, intellectual property rights and press freedom but they have been further tested by the virus outbreak.

Xinhua also attacked the U.S. politicians for calling the virus the “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese virus”.

Beijing has disputed the widely held belief that COVID-19 originated in China, and comments by a foreign ministry spokesman that it could have been brought to the country by the U.S. military have further fanned tensions between the two.

On Friday the U.S. State Department summoned the Chinese ambassador to the United States to protest against those remarks.

The virus has infected more than 156,000 people globally and killed more than 5,800. It has also pummeled financial markets, halted industry, brought flights to a standstill and led to the closure of schools in many countries.

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Youngest UK coronavirus victim confirmed as Britain’s death toll rises to 35

The deadly coronavirus epidemic has claimed its youngest victim in Britain as tributes poured in for the tragic man.

Nick Matthews, 59, died at 3am this morning after being rushed to Bristol Royal Infirmary with the virus.

He is believed to have suffered from underlying health conditions.

His heartbroken wife Mary paid tribute to her “soulmate” on Facebook.

She wrote: “Today at 3am I lost my life partner and soulmate but most of all my best friend.

“Charlotte, Ben and I are beyond proud to have had such a big character in our lives.

“As a family we are still currently in isolation until the coronavirus test results come back.

”Someone will post again when we have more information.

“In the meantime, I know some of you would like to visit, but please for you and your families safety, stay away until we get the all-clear.”

  • Brit coronavirus panic buying out of control with fighting in supermarkets

A spokesman for University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust said: "Sadly, we can confirm that a man who was being cared for at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, and had tested positive for Covid-19, has died.

"The patient who died was in his late-50s and had underlying health conditions.

"The family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time. We will not be commenting further and ask that everybody respects the family's privacy."

It comes as the number of coronavirus deaths in the UK leapt to 35, as the total number of cases hit 1,372.

Officials at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) posted the update on social media at about 3.40pm.

A spokesman tweeted: “Update on coronavirus (COVID19) testing in the UK: As of 9am on 15 March, a total of 40,279 have been tested.

“38,907 negative and 1,372 positive.”

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Coronavirus: Ottawa reports 5 new cases of COVID-19, bringing city total to 10

Ontario health officials confirmed five new cases of novel coronavirus in Ottawa Sunday morning, bringing the total in the city to 10.

It is the biggest single-day jump in cases in the city since the outbreak began.

The ages, gender, hospital location, and transmission source is listed as “pending” for all of the new cases, with the patients all reported to be in self-isolation.

The news comes after two new cases were confirmed in Ottawa on Saturday.

Meanwhile, provincial health officials announced a total of 39 new cases in Ontario Sunday morning, bringing the provincial total to 142, which marked the biggest single-day jump in the province.

The transmission source was listed as “pending” for all but one of the new cases Sunday morning.

The Ministry of Health told Global News the province still has no confirmed cases of community transmission, though “pending” means they are still gathering information.

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4 more presumptive cases of coronavirus identified in New Brunswick

There are four more presumptive cases of coronavirus in New Brunswick, according to the province’s chief medical officer of health.

Dr. Jennifer Russell says all of the presumptive cases are connected to the province’s first case, a woman between the ages of 50 and 60 who recently returned from France. That case was announced on Wednesday and confirmed the next day.

A second presumptive case of coronavirus was identified in New Brunswick on Saturday. Both patients are said in self-isolation and all their close contacts have been traced and informed.

Russell says of the four new presumptive cases, two are men between the ages of 20 and 30, while the two others are a man and woman between the ages of 50 and 60.

There are now five presumptive cases in New Brunswick and one confirmed.

More to come.

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

Health officials say the risk for Canadians is low.

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.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

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

–With files from Graeme Benjamin 

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