Archive for January 29th, 2020

Samsung’s Q4 profit tumbles as Apple takes the lead in smartphones – CNET

January 29th, 2020

Travellers cover heads with plastic bottles during coronavirus outbreak – The Star Online

January 29th, 2020

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, officials in China are urging citizens to wear masks in public to stop the spread of the virus.

One man filmed at a train station in the city of Weifang in eastern China’s Shandong Province on January 26 was more inventive – he wore a face mask and a large plastic bottle covering his head.

Other travellers have been spotted using the same method.

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Japanese billionaire decides not to find girlfriend to fly around the Moon after all – The Verge

January 29th, 2020

Microsoft backs AI in healthcare with a $40 million program – Engadget

January 29th, 2020

Possible case of coronavirus reported in Las Vegas, Southern Utah health officials prepared – St George News

January 29th, 2020

Robin Addison, a nurse at Providence Regional Medical Center demonstrates how she wears a respirator helmet with a face shield, Everett, Washington, Jan. 23, 2020 | Photo by Ted S. Warren via the Associated Press, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A possible case of the virus that has been spreading quickly through China has been reported in a patient a few hours away from Southern Utah in Las Vegas.

The Southern Nevada Health District announced Wednesday that it was looking into a possible case of the new coronavirus, designated 2019-nCoV, in Clark County.

The patient is being monitored and tested at an undisclosed hospital in the Las Vegas area.

“The Health District is continuing its investigation and will release appropriate information as it is confirmed and as testing is completed,” SNHD spokesperson Jennifer Sizemore said.

Sizemore told St. George News the patient is a resident of Clark County. The patient arrived in Las Vegas from a trip to Asia on Jan. 14 and was admitted into a local hospital Tuesday.

Whether the virus reaches Southern Utah or not, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department will be ready, SUPHD Public Information Officer David Heaton said.

Heaton told St. George News the department has outbreak response plans in place, which they have been refining and practicing every year.

An image of the coronavirus shows the distinctive shape that gives the virus its name. “Corona” comes from the Latin word for “crown” or “halo.” | Photo courtesy the Centers for Disease Control, St. George News

We were able to respond quickly during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic with timely information and instructions for the media and the public,” Heaton said. “Our plans include teaming up with our many emergency response partners and agencies in the community if a large-scale health event occurs. “

The first known human infection of coronavirus was discovered a month ago in Wuhan, China, but has quickly spread. The new virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened in the country during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak. On Wednesday, the number of cases jumped to 5,974, surpassing the 5,327 people diagnosed with SARS.

The death toll, which stood at 132 Wednesday, is still less than half the number who died in China from SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. Scientists say there are many questions to be answered about the new virus, including just how easily it spreads and how severe it is.

St. George and its surrounding national parks are a popular stop for tourists from China, which also means it’s not immune to being a part of a pandemic thousands of miles away. Heaton said that fact is being taken into account by local health officials.

“We’ve factored in our tourism industry as well and have good working relationships with national park officials in case this coronavirus, or any other unusual health issue, arises,” Heaton said. “We would be contacted by any local medical provider if any suspect cases were seen, whether the patient was visiting or local.” 

A sales clerk at a pharmacy rings up a purchase of face masks as fears of the coronavirus continue, Friday, Jan 24, 2020, Chicago, Illinois | Photo by Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via Associated Press, St. George News

In a report published Wednesday, Chinese researchers suggested that person-to-person spread among close contacts occurred as early as mid-December. Based on the first 425 confirmed cases, the researchers estimate that each infection led to 2.2 others on average. That’s a bit more than an ordinary case of the flu but far less than some other respiratory diseases such as whooping cough and tuberculosis. The rate for SARS, a cousin to this new virus, was estimated to be three.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus itself starts out with symptoms similar to the common cold but can lead to lower respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. It is that progression that can become deadly, especially among older members of the population.

More than half of the cases in which symptoms began before Jan. 1 were tied to a seafood market in Wuhan, but only 8% of cases after that have been, researchers found. The average incubation period has been reported to be five days.

A man in Washington state who traveled from Wuhan was the first person diagnosed with the virus on Jan. 21, and four more cases have been confirmed since, including in the nearby states of Arizona and California.

However, considering the far greater death toll of more common diseases like the flu, the arrival of coronavirus is far from being a panic situation in the U.S.

“For perspective, this year’s seasonal flu has infected at least 15 million Americans, hospitalized at least 140,000 and killed at least 8,000 since October,” Heaton said. “While we are monitoring the coronavirus situation closely on the local, state and national level, it’s likely that our robust public health and surveillance system will prevent any large scale outbreak in the United States.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.


After year of fractious debate, anniversary of mosque shooting recalls a united Quebec –

January 29th, 2020

On the night following the Quebec City mosque shooting, several thousand people huddled in the cold, clutched candles and delivered messages of support to the province’s Muslim community.

That moment of unity was invoked, again and again, at events Wednesday marking the third anniversary of the attack, which left six people dead and several more injured.

Premier François Legault, in a short speech at a community supper, called the candlelight vigil in 2017 “the real face of Quebec.”

Speaking at the same event Wednesday night, Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume recalled the sense of pride he felt seeing his city come together after such a violent expression of hate.

And Boufeldja Benabdallah, the head of the mosque where the shooting occurred, said the sight of so many Quebecers, of all different beliefs, brought him a moment of “tranquillity” amid the trauma.

“We can’t forget that extraordinary beautiful moment,” Benabdallah said at a news conference earlier Wednesday.

But that sense of unity is no longer felt by many in the Muslim community, especially since Legault’s government passed a law last year that bans some civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work.

The law was passed over the fervent opposition of nearly every Muslim group in the province, who said it unfairly targets Muslim women who wear the hijab, prohibiting them working as teachers, government lawyers and police officers. 

“That hurt us,” Benabdallah said of the law, earlier this week.

Legault has sought to downplay the unease the legislation, also known as Bill 21, has caused.

“I think the [social] climate is good,” he said while speaking with reporters at the National Assembly.

Legault, centre, and Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume, right, join people raising a candle in a minute of silence to honour the victims, at a community dinner marking the anniversary of the mosque shooting. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

“I think the majority of Quebecers are happy about this moderate law and I think Quebecers have also been a welcoming people.

“I think right now it’s a way to make sure that we live all together and that there’s tolerance and a balance between integration and respect.”

As the premier spoke at Wednesday’s event, many women wearing hijabs looked away and did not applaud when he finished.

Benabdallah, in contrast, was given a standing ovation as he took the podium. “The road ahead is long if we are to re-establish the harmony within the Quebec people,” he said.

“I dream of a tomorrow where I, someone who has lived in the province of Quebec for 51 years, will no longer be called ‘You, immigrant.”

Addressing the diverse crowd in a suburban Quebec City church, he said: “Enough with this ‘You, immigrants.’ You are Quebec citizens. End of story.”

More political event than in years past

There was no mistaking the political tone of this year’s anniversary, which was more pronounced than in the two previous years, when attention was focused on the victims and the survivors.

The organizers said they wanted to stress the Islamophobic nature of the attack and its ongoing presence in Quebec society.

Legault, left, meets Boufeldja Benabdallah, right, president of Quebec’s Islamic Cultural Centre, where the shooting occurred. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

“The attack was part of a larger phenomena: Islamophobia,” said Sébastien Bouchard, a member of the citizens’ committee that organized the 2017 vigil and the annual commemoration events.

“That doesn’t mean all Quebecers are Islamophobic. But it exists; it has to be named, recognized and denounced.”

The emphasis on Islamophobia appeared to be a reply to controversial remarks Legault made around this time last year, when he said there is “no Islamophobia in Quebec.”

Bouchard was among several people involved in Wednesday’s commemoration events who criticized tabloid columnists and shock-jock radio hosts for stoking divisive rhetoric.

At the community supper, local hip-hop artist Webster asked the audience: “Are we going to let hateful columnists dictate who we are?”

That line was met with a loud round of applause, which only grew louder when he continued, saying “Are we going to let the government tell women what they can and cannot wear?”

By then, though, Legault had already left the building.

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Canada’s chief public health officer says no vaccine for coronavirus for a year – CTV News

January 29th, 2020

OTTAWA — Canada’s chief public health officer says it will likely take at least a year before a vaccine is developed to protect people against the new coronavirus that is spreading around the globe.

In the meantime, Dr. Theresa Tam says government and public health authorities should plan on having to manage the outbreak for some time to come.

More than 7,700 people in China have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus and 170 of them have died.

There are three confirmed cases in Canada.

Ontario public health officials reported Wednesday that a presumptive case of the new deadly strain of coronavirus reported earlier this week has been confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, bringing the number of confirmed cases in that province to two.

A presumed case in British Columbia was also confirmed by the national lab on Wednesday. Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, said officials are in regular contact with the individual who is in isolation at home.

All three of the Canadian cases are linked to recent travel in China.

Tam, who updated members of the House of Commons health committee on the outbreak, said the risk of catching the virus in Canada remains low.

And she said Canada and the world are much better prepared to deal with a potential pandemic than they were during the outbreak of SARS, another coronavirus that killed more than 700 people worldwide from 2002-04.

Among other things, she said international health regulations have been strengthened and Canada now has a public health agency that didn’t exist during the SARS outbreak, as well as improved laboratory and diagnostic capacity and better co-ordination among federal, provincial and territorial health authorities.

The speed with which the three cases in Canada have been identified, diagnosed and managed “is a testament to how the system has improved over time,” Tam told the committee.

That system will be tested as the virus spreads.

For now, the only treatment available for those who catch the virus is “supportive care,” Tam said. But she said countries around the world are collaborating to see if any existing anti-viral remedies are useful in this case.

A number of vaccines have previously been developed for other coronaviruses and she said countries around the globe are pulling together to see if they can accelerate development of a new vaccine that would protect against this particular strain.

“But what I can say is that even with the most rapid acceleration, I don’t believe we are going to see a vaccine that is ready probably for a year,” Tam said. “So at least we have to plan for the fact that we’re going to be managing this particular virus with no specific vaccine.”

Tina Namiesniowski, president of the Public Health Agency of Canada, told the committee it is to be expected that there will be travel-related cases in Canada and that the number of confirmed cases will rise.

At the three airports that receive direct fights from China — Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal — information screens in the customs areas have been set up, advising people to self-report to customs officials if they are experiencing any symptoms of the novel coronavirus. At electronic kiosks, a question has been added, requiring travellers to specify if they’ve been in the Chinese province at the heart of the outbreak.

By the end of the week, Namiesniowski said more public health officials will be in customs areas at the three airports to help border officials.

The federal government, meanwhile, announced Wednesday that it has chartered a plane to evacuate 160 Canadians who’ve been trapped in China due to strict quarantine measures imposed by the Chinese government in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.

Details are still being worked out about how and when the evacuation will take place and whether those returned to Canada will have to be quarantined once they arrive.

Not everyone who wants to come back to Canada may be able to leave, Tam warned.

“The Chinese authority will not let anyone who might be infected on the plane,” she told the committee.

Some airlines have halted all flights to China as a result of the outbreak, including British Airways and several Asian carriers, while Air Canada is only cancelling select flights to China.

The Canadian government is advising against all travel to China.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2020

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Netflix continues anime land grab with live-action One Piece series – The Verge

January 29th, 2020

Netflix has ordered a live-action show based on One Piece, the colossally popular Japanese manga and anime franchise, as first reported by Deadline. It’s said to be a ten-episode series from publisher Shueisha and Tomorrow Studios, the studio also working on Netflix’s forthcoming Cowboy Bebop show.

Steven Maeda (The X-Files, Lost) is reportedly the showrunner as well as writer and executive producer, with Matt Owens (Luke Cage, Agents of SHIELD) also writing and executive-producing. Further executive producer credits go to One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda and Tomorrow Studios’ Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements. Plans for the series were first announced in 2017, though Netflix wasn’t on board at that point.

“I know I announced the production of this back in 2017, but these things take time,” Oda says in a handwritten note posted to Twitter. “Preparations have been slowly progressing behind the scenes, and it seems that I can finally make the big announcement: Netflix, the world’s leading streaming entertainment service, will be lending us their tremendous production support! This is so encouraging! How far will the story progress over the 10 episodes of Season 1? Who will be cast?! Please be patient a little longer and stay tuned!”

I’ve somehow never watched or read any One Piece-related content, but it and its characters are truly ubiquitous in Japan. From what I gather, it involves pirates, treasure (the titular One Piece), and a cute reindeer named Chopper. The manga series holds a Guinness World Record for the most copies ever published.

The new series is a further move by Netflix to court manga and anime fans. The company has already produced live-action adaptations of properties like Death Note, made high-profile acquisitions of the rights to Studio Ghibli movies (outside the US) and Neon Genesis Evangelion, and produced its own series like Aggretsuko and Castlevania. Just this week Netflix released the first trailer for its new CGI version of Ghost in the Shell.


Global National: Jan. 29, 2020 | Coronavirus outbreak response around the world – Global News

January 29th, 2020

Abigail Bimman looks at how Canadians in Wuhan, China are faring as the federal government looks to get them out of the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. And, Heather Yourex-West reports on the World Health Organization revisiting the possibility of declaring a global health emergency.

Mike Le Couteur has an exclusive Global News investigation on the heightened concerns about money laundering at Ontario casinos.

David Akin reports on one independent panel’s recommendations for Canada’s media and telecommunications sector.

Dawna Friesen explains why a satellite-tracking company is sounding the alarm about a potential close encounter in space.

And Amanda Jelowicki shares how Australian firefighters are benefiting from some heartwarming homework by Quebec students.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Racism against Asian community rises as coronavirus spreads – Global News

January 29th, 2020

The novel coronavirus outbreak is taking a toll on the Asian community, which is facing racism reminiscent of the 2003 SARS outbreak. As Robin Gill reports, experts say there’s a history of xenophobia during a disease outbreak.

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