Fredericton Cab driver tests positive for COVID-19; other riders notified

A part-time driver with Fredericton’s Checker Cab company tested positive for COVID-19, the company has confirmed. Photo: Morguefile

Source:Daily Gleaner (April 01, 2020)

Adam Bowie | The Daily Gleaner

A part-time driver with Fredericton’s Checker Cab company tested positive for COVID-19 days after picking up a virus-positive passenger from the city’s airport.

Anne Mooers, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, confirmed the details Wednesday.

“Public Health has been working with the cab company to identify anyone who had been in close contact with the driver,” she said.

Cab company co-owner Patrick Tahan said officials informed the company on either March 20 or 21 the passenger had arrived back from a Sunwing vacation.

“Everybody on the plane was notified. We notified all our customers as well. As a precaution, [the driver] hasn’t worked since,” he said.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell previously reported a passenger on Sunwing Flight 169 from Punta Cana to Fredericton on March 18 later tested positive for COVID-19.

So far, the company has not heard of anyone in contact with the driver reporting any illness, Tahan said.

Co-owner George Youssef said the cab company’s new app for passengers needing rides is also ideal at keeping records of riders, so anyone who had contact with the driver has been notified.

He said his drivers are taking special precautions while on the job – sanitizing surfaces after every passenger to minimize the risk of transmission.

“They have a spray bottle. They have gloves. They’re wearing masks. We’re wiping down the machine before anybody uses it. I’ve asked all the drivers to do it in front of the customer, so that they’re not afraid to get into the car,” he said.

“We’re doing what we need to do to keep not only the customers safe, but also my drivers safe.”

He said cab companies are among those who have taken a hit to their bottoms lines, while trying to provide a service during the pandemic at risk to their own health.

“Considering everything, I think we’re very, very lucky [there haven’t been other cases],” said Youssef. “I hope we can stay open … This is an emergency service for people. I’m losing money by staying open, but we have to stay open.”

Tahan said the driver is now “almost cleared” of symptoms.

Feds: Social distancing will last ‘months,’ rules may get tougher in Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference where he announced plans to roll out a fiscal package worth three percent of Canada’s economy as it grapples with the fallout from COVID-19.
David Kawai/Bloomberg

Social distancing rules will be in effect for “months,” and if Canadians flaunt them, governments will take “more and more stringent measures” to limit the spread of COVID-19, Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu warned Saturday.

“We will be in this situation for a while, and I think Canadians need to understand that this isn’t about two weeks of social distancing, this is about months of social distancing,” she said, later adding a warning about people “playing [fast and loose] with the rules.”

“It does actually put our civil liberties at jeopardy,” Hajdu said.

“It makes governments have to look at more and more stringent measures to actually contain people in their own homes. So actually, our freedoms around the measures that we’re taking right now depend on people taking them seriously. Because politicians and governments will be pushed to take more and more stringent measures when people violate them and don’t take them more seriously.

“So I would encourage Canadians to think about that, and to think about their obligation to act collectively right now.”

It was a theme also mentioned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Premier Blaine Higgs, during separate COVID-19 briefings on Saturday.

“We must continue to follow the recommendations from our public health agencies and limit to a maximum the travel we do,” Trudeau said.

“Perhaps you’ll miss not going to the restaurant with your family and not going to the movie theatres with your friends, but to protect yourself, we must all make adjustments. And we must look after each other as well. That’s crucial, because it’s together that we’ll get through this very tough period.”

Higgs said “we know that the [COVID-19] numbers will continue to rise.”

“We have put measures in place here in New Brunswick to try to slow down the rising number of cases. With our province under a state of emergency, I am imploring people to continue to take this situation seriously.”

Higgs also said some New Brunswickers have been calling 911 to report others who aren’t follow the rules. A special phone line for people to report “concerns” about what other people are doing will be up and running some time on Sunday, he added.

Six more presumptive cases were announced on Saturday afternoon, mostly in the southern part of the province. That brings New Brunswick’s COVID-19 case count to 17: nine confirmed, eight presumptive.

Of the six new cases, four involved people who’d recently been on cruises.

The new cases involve:

• A man in his 40s from southern New Brunswick who was recently on a cruise;

• A woman in her 50s from central New Brunswick who’s been in direct contact with a COVID-19 patient;

• A woman in her 40s from southern New Brunswick who’d been on a cruise;

• A man in his 60s from southern New Brunswick who’d been on a cruise;

• A woman in her 50s from southern New Brunswick who’d been on a cruise, and;

• A woman in her 20s from southern New Brunswick who’s been in close contact to a travel related-presumptive case.

No information about whether they were travelling together, or how they returned to Canada, was provided.

Saint John Mayor Don Darling posted a message on Twitter referencing how five of the six new cases are from southern New Brunswick, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily from the Port City. COVID-19 cases are being reported by “zones,” with Saint John part of zone two, which extends from Sussex to Saint John to Stephen.

“I’m still seeing large crowds of people in grocery stores and we MUST do better. Keep your distance please!” Darling wrote.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical health officer, has declined to provide location details about COVID-19 cases beyond the zones, citing privacy concerns.

But New Brunswick’s Right to Information and Privacy Act contains a clause about the “mandatory disclosure” of information if there’s “risk of significant harm.”

“The head of a public body shall, without delay, disclose to the public, to an affected group of people or to an applicant, information about a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public or a group of people, the disclosure of which is clearly in the public interest,” the act reads.

COVID-19: Five things experts know today

(source: Telegraph-Journal 03/15/2020)

There’s a lot we don’t yet know about COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has begun to spread rapidly through Canada after causing illness and death across the globe.

The World Health Organization (WHO) clinical trial registry lists nearly 400 different studies, asking important questions to find out as much as possible about something the world has never seen before.

Why does this disease spread so quickly? Why do children appear unlikely to get the virus? Are people who live through the virus immune to catching it again? How can we immunize against it?

For those answers among others, we wait. But for now, here are five things experts know, today, about COVID-19.

1. Some ways the virus is transmitted

The WHO is still conducting more research on this, but current research indicates that people catch COVID-19 from close person to person contact, via droplets from coughing or sneezing and touching surfaces holding these droplets and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth.

This is why the WHO suggests keeping at least three feet between you and someone who is ill.

Two papers featured in the journal Gastroenterology this week studied gastrointestinal symptoms and raised the potential fecal-oral transmission or potential GI tract infection with the virus. The WHO acknowledges the possible risk identified, but notes on their website they are still assessing the new research.

2. The possible symptoms

There is a range of symptoms, and it’s impossible to predict who will experience what from that list. But so far, the WHO reports the most common symptoms include dry cough, fever, and tiredness. Only those with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Aside from these symptoms, an early study of 138 patients hospitalized in Wuhan — where the virus began its course — in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests patients can less commonly experience other symptoms, such as anorexia, muscle pain or myalgia, mucus expulsion from the throat or lungs, pain in the throat, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, headache, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

3. The likely period before a case exhibits symptoms

Current estimates from the WHO for the period for symptoms is 2-14 days.

Some outliers to that range exist, with the longest reported incubation period of 27 days in Hubei province, according to the Hubei provincial government. Other studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the JAMA included cases with 24 and 19-day periods, respectively.

4. The number of deaths, and limitations of mortality rate calculations

The National Health Commission (NHC) of China gave mortality rate figures at a press conference in early February, but some experts caution against doing this calculation now.

A publication in the journal Swiss Medical Weekly notes that — especially during influenza season — many mild cases may go undiagnosed, meaning the rate may be skewed upwards with a higher focus on severe cases.

The authors add that death may not occur early into symptoms, and so a rate calculated early may leave out severe future outcomes.

Though we don’t know a global mortality rate, as of Saturday afternoon we do know 5,393 deaths have resulted.

5. Risk factors in catching the virus

Not all people seem to be equally at risk of catching this virus.

The WHO advises that, while research on risk factors is ongoing, they advise that elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

The Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19, while noting the limits to its early information gathering, shows a “relatively low attack rate” in those aged 18 years old and under, at 2.4 percent of cases at the time of publication.

The report notes spread in health care settings and prisons do not currently appear to be a major driver of spread, but says these special settings “warrant further study.”

COVID-19 Don’t fear the Reaper


André Faust  (03-11-2020)

What a wiener society we live in regards to COVID-19, we have to take the “P” out panic. Yes, take all the necessary steps, like with all other diseases, to lessen the spread, but don’t let the fear anxiety cloud rational thinking.
I am old enough to have gone through the Acquired Immune deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) era of the late seventies and early eighties. Having said that is that AIDS did share a common property that COVID-19 has, is that one could be infected without knowing it for months before they experienced any symptoms but during that period where contagious. The differences between the two are that AIDS had a high kill ratio, and the virus-like the common cold mutated every time an antibiotic was introduced.
Even to this day, there is not a cure for AIDS, what has been accomplished is control of the disease so the victim of the AIDS has a chance of living their statistical mortality life (for men 78 years, and women 88 years)
AIDS did not limit its self to the unhealthy and the age, for most contracting AIDS before it could be control was a death sentence. To point out that it took years to find a way to control the disease.

COVID-19 on the other hand for healthy people if they experience any effect at all, resembles the common cold. However, COVID-19 does have the potential of taking out those with respiratory issues and weakened elderlies, but so does influenza cull out the weak and elderly.

Yet contemporary society is showing more anxiety with COVID-19 than the society of the 70s’ and 80s’

The problem with mass hysteria over the disease is that the health care system becomes overwhelmed and cannot supply all the resources, both human and medical. Even though the illness has not shown itself in some communities, people experiencing cold or minor flu will automatically conclude that they have been infected with COVID-19 or suffering acute anxiety about contracting the disease and make their way to the emergency rooms.

It has been reported that at this moment, produces of respiratory masks cannot keep up and supply the demand for these masks. Yet, the jury is still out whether or not this mask is effective in controlling the spread of COVID-19 because the virus can be spread by other means besides airborne.  Over-reliance on these masks may create a sense of false confidence.

Remember, this is not the Bubonic plague, keep calm, stay rational, take reasonable precautions to limit the spread, and we will come through this crisis until the next time round of infections.



Union Busting AFIMAC out City of Fredericton and CUPE 508 Reach Tentative Agreement

The City of Fredericton and CUPE Local 508, which represents the City’s outside workers, have agreed to a tentative wage package tied to the Consumer Price Index for New Brunswick (CPI NB).

The five-year agreement is retroactive to January 2019 and will see the outside workers get a one-time wage adjustment of one dollar per hour, plus 2.13% CPI for 2019 in year one of the contract. Wage increases for the remaining four years of the contract will be based solely on CPI NB and aligns the CUPE 508 contract with the City policy of granting future wage increases equal to CPI.

Additional details related to the contract will be formally ratified at a future meeting of City Council. No other details of the agreement will be released until that time. CUPE Local 508 outside workers will return to work on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.