Tag Archives: ‘devastated’

1st in Europe to be devastated by COVID-19, Italy redoubled its efforts, and they’re now paying off

When engineering student Sara Del Giudice returned home to Naples in late August from a short vacation with her boyfriend, instead of embracing her siblings and parents, she shut herself in her room.

“We’re a close family that hugs and kisses all the time, but I had a slight headache, a cough and achiness, and I just thought, better safe than sorry,” said Del Giudice, 23.

Several days later, she and her boyfriend tested positive for COVID-19. Despite both having negative antibody tests before their holiday on the island of Ischia, in the Gulf of Naples, her boyfriend was coming from Sardinia, where clusters of partying young people spread the virus with alacrity.

“Even though I thought was being cautious. I was too casual,” she said. “I should have known better.”

While Del Giudice is one of thousands of young Europeans who caught the novel coronavirus this summer, Italy has been far more successful than its neighbours at keeping them from passing it on.

As daily infections have recently flared as high as 12,000 in Spain and 16,000 in France, those countries have had to renew restrictions and urban lockdowns.

WATCH | As cases rise, COVID-19 restrictions reimposed in Europe:

A surge in COVID-19 cases across Europe has prompted many countries to start cracking down again, with restrictions ranging from local lockdowns to limits on social gatherings. More are likely in the days ahead. 2:02

But Italy, the first European country to be devastated by COVID-19 with almost 35,875 deaths, now has among the lowest infection and death rates in Europe. An average of 1,700 people a day tested positive in the past week, up from low hundreds in July, though they’re much lower than in other countries.

Britain registered its biggest jump in daily infection rates on Tuesday, less than a week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the soaring rates compared with those of Italy and Germany by saying people in his country find rules hard to follow because they love freedom more.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella responded, “We Italians also love freedom. But we know how to be serious, too.”

“Italy is doing well because we have implemented very strict rules, and we did so early,” said the country’s deputy health minister, Pierpaolo Sileri. “The situation today is a sum result of the quick and relatively long lockdown but also the gradual easing that allowed us to adjust protocols as we went along.”

Italians of all ages wear masks in the northern Italian city of Brescia, which was hit hard by COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic. Italy was an early adopter of mask-wearing and continues to have one of the highest adherence rates in Europe. (Megan Williams/CBC)

Airport gets top marks for hygiene

Unlike many countries, which appear to be taken off guard by flare-ups or second waves, Italy — after the trauma of coffins carried away by military trucks and people dying in hospital without funerals in late winter — got prepared.

From March to mid-August, the country almost doubled the number of ICU beds in hospitals from 5,400 to 10,000, Sileri said. It also increased the number of infectious and respiratory beds by up to eightfold and hired some 20,000 new doctors and nurses.

In late August, when young vacationers like Del Giudice were returning home infected from hot-spot areas such as Greece, Spain and Sardinia, screening was introduced at airports. (This month, Rome’s Fiumicino airport was the first airport in the world to receive a five-star top score by ranking site Skytrax as a result of hygiene and other preventative measures ranging from face-mask enforcement to enhanced terminal airflow and filtering.)

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte used emergency powers to shut down discos and made face masks mandatory, even outdoors, in places where people gather from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A man displaying artwork wears a face mask in Naples, Italy, last week after the southern Italian region of Campania made it mandatory to wear protective face coverings outdoors 24 hours a day, as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus. (Ciro De Luca/Reuters)

Last week, the larger-than-life president of the southern region of Campania, Vincenzo De Luca, went a step further and made masks obligatory outdoors at all times.

De Luca became a social media star for his cartoonish threats toward anyone breaking the rules, promising those planning illegal parties that he would “send in the police accompanied by flamethrowers.” While over the top, he was part of a strong, coherent message from government leaders.

Testing and tracing key to success

Especially important to Italy’s success, experts say, has been its testing and tracing system, where everyone within the social network of an infected person gets tested, whether or not they’ve been exposed, which has uncovered thousands of asymptomatic cases. Most of the testing is carried out through local community health centres with mobile units and home tests.

“Our experience in the first months of the epidemic [has taught us] to take people away from the hospitals for the diagnosis,” said Giuseppe Ippolito, scientific director of the Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital in Rome. “We need to be vigilant to avoid a future increase.”

A hairdresser and her client wear masks in Rome. Italy, the first European country to be devastated by COVID-19, now has among the lowest infection and death rates in Europe. (Megan Williams/CBC)

He said such measures at schools as the widespread testing of teachers, daily temperature checks and mask-wearing by students while not at their desks are already showing signs of being effective.

And when backlogs and bureaucracy get in the way, creative solutions are often found.

When it became clear that single desks on wheels, ordered by the government, were not going to arrive in time for the start of the school year, teachers and students at the Alfonso Casanova Technical School in Naples pulled together in late summer and fashioned single desks out of the student tables.

WATCH | Students, teachers in Naples ready desks for school year amid COVID-19:

At Alfonso Casanova Technical School, students and teachers fashion new single desks out of tables to allow for physical distancing in the classroom. 0:48

There is still room for improvement in the country: Only six million of Italy’s almost 60 million inhabitants have downloaded its contact-tracing app Immuni, launched at the start of the summer.

“People were worried about privacy, which badly affected adherence,” Sileri said. “But if more Italians downloaded it, it would resolve our contact-tracing problem.”

He said test results need to be faster as winter approaches and colds and the flu season pick up. Right now, those who have been in close contact with an infected person must self-isolate for 14 days, but Sileri said he’d like that reduced to one week if they test negative.

Italy requires second negative test 

The government will also consider eliminating the now-required second negative test before infected people can leave quarantine, he said, although it will depend on the results of research.

Sara Del Giudice said she wishes she could have done without the required second negative result. She ended up having to spend more than 30 days in quarantine, the hardest experience of her life.

“I thought it would be like the first lockdown, but they were night and day,” she said. “The first lockdown with my family was fine, we almost enjoyed it. The second one on my own, where I couldn’t see or touch anyone for a month, was brutal.”

Yet Giuseppe Ippolito sees some of the changes brought by the coronavirus as positive.

Giuseppe Ippolito, scientific director of the Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital in Rome, says keeping testing away from hospitals has been key in order to avoid spreading infection. (Megan Williams/CBC)

“We will have less respiratory infections this winter,” he said, as a result of Italy’s widespread adherence to mask-wearing and physical distancing. “We have a new appreciation for human relations. This is all a real added value for the future.”

Ippolito said the country’s experience with COVID-19 has also provided a pleasantly surprising re-evaluation of Italians’ reputation for being, shall we say, culturally challenged when it comes to following rules.

“We are world leaders in food and wine. We have a wonderful sea and historical sites,” he said, adding that with the country’s newly discovered ability to follow strict protocols, “we can add another star in our carnet.”

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LeBron James Breaks His Silence Following Kobe Bryant’s Death: ‘I’m Heartbroken and Devastated’

LeBron James Breaks His Silence Following Kobe Bryant’s Death: ‘I’m Heartbroken and Devastated’ | Entertainment Tonight

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Queen Elizabeth Is ‘Devastated’ in Wake of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Announcement

Queen Elizabeth Is ‘Devastated’ in Wake of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Announcement | Entertainment Tonight

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Bahamas left devastated after 3 days of pounding by Hurricane Dorian

Debris is spread across several kilometres, and floodwaters still cover much of the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, with the archipelago’s prime minister calling it one of the worst disasters to ever strike the island nation.

Emergency workers were struggling to reach victims as search and rescue operations continued into Wednesday and the scope of the damage and humanitarian crisis unfolded.

“We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history,” Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told a news conference. “No effort or resources will be held back.”

News media reported early on Wednesday that some storm victims remained stuck on rooftops, waiting for rescue. The official death count of seven is expected rise in the coming days.

“We can expect more deaths to be recorded. This is just preliminary information,” Minnis told a news conference.

A family walks on a road after being rescued from the flood waters of Hurricane Dorian, near Freeport, Grand Bahama, in the Bahamas on Tuesday. (Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press)

“Marsh Harbor has suffered, I would estimate, in excess of 60 per cent damage to their homes,” Minnis said, referring to the port on Great Abaco.

“The Mud, as we know, has been completely destroyed or decimated,” he said referring to a shantytown known as the Mud and the Peas.

I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes, but I’ve never seen something just sit on us and just move at one mile an hour, and it just wouldn’t give up.– Bahamian Tim Aylen

Aerial video of the Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island revealed kilometres of flooded neighbourhoods, pulverized buildings, upturned boats and shipping containers scattered like toys. Many buildings had walls or roofs partly ripped off after being battered by the storm for three days.

Tim Aylen, a Bahamian who lives inland, told CBC News on Wednesday that his family considered going up in their attic or onto the rooftop, but that seemed like “a trap,” given how high the water was rising in the house.

“I mean, there was no point staying in the house and waiting for a rescue,” he said.

Aylen, a photojournalist who has documented many news events, was still taken aback as he welcomed the passing of the storm.

“I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes, but I’ve never seen something just sit on us and just move at one mile an hour, and it just wouldn’t give up,” he said. “So this is a huge relief and although we haven’t washed or eaten or done anything in a couple of days, it’s just good to be dry.”

On Wednesday morning, Dorian was a Category 2 storm packing maximum sustained winds of 165 kilometres per hour and moving north-northwest at 13 km/h, as it churned about 155 kilometres east-northeast of Daytona Beach, Fla., the NHC said.

Watch as a woman offers a first-hand account of the storm from Freeport:

Kimberly Mullings tells CBC News about how people are trapped in their homes in Freeport, Bahamas. 1:20

“On this track, the core of Hurricane Dorian will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast and the Georgia coast through [Wednesday night],” an earlier NHC advisory said.

“Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days,” the NHC said.

Heavy rains and storm surge waters moving inland could cause life-threatening flash floods, the agency warned. The risk extended from Jupiter, Fla., north to Surf City, N.C. Tornadoes are possible along the Florida coast until Wednesday night, with the risk later moving to Georgia and South Carolina.

Long lists of missing

With telephones down on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, residents posted lists of missing loved ones across social media.

A single Facebook post by media outlet Our News Bahamas seeking the names of missing people had 1,600 comments listing lost family members since it went live on Tuesday morning.

Watch as injured people are transported to Nassau via U.S. Coast Guard helicopter

The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people injured on Abaco Island in the Bahamas to the capital, Nassau, as Hurricane Dorian battered the country. 0:53

The exact toll in the Bahamas will not be clear until the storm passes and rescue crews can get to devastated areas, said Theo Neilly, the Bahamian consul general in Washington.

“We expect it to be very devastating and the damage to be extreme,” Neilly said. Dorian has battered the Bahamas for the past three days.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said, in the strongest storm ever to hit the Bahamas.

An aerial view shows a row of damaged structures in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian moved north. Dorian made landfall on Aug. 31. (U.S. Coast Guard/EPA-EFE)

Food may be required for 14,500 people in the northern Bahamas’ Abaco Islands and for 45,700 people in Grand Bahama, the UN World Food Programme said in a statement. The preliminary estimates were based on an assessment by representatives of Caribbean nations, the WFP and other groups.

The Canadian government announced it would give up to $ 500,000 in emergency assistance to support experienced humanitarian organizations, while a handful of officials, including an engineering specialist, were in the Bahamas to provide expertise and help assess needs.

“We continue to work closely with [the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency] and the Government of the Bahamas to identify how Canada can best support the provision of emergency assistance,” a statement released by Global Affairs Canada.

The U.S. Agency for International Development said on Twitter it was air-lifting critical relief items, such as plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, and water containers, from Miami to the Bahamas. The U.S. Coast Guard said four of its helicopters were assisting in humanitarian efforts.

Dorian, which killed one person in Puerto Rico before striking the Bahamas on Sunday, is tied for the second-strongest Atlantic storm to make landfall with Gilbert (1988), Wilma (2005) and the 1935 Labour Day hurricane.

Tropical-storm-force winds and rain squalls were already lashing parts of the Florida coast early on Wednesday, with winds and heavy surf likely to hit the Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coasts by late on Thursday. More than a million people were ordered to evacuate coastal counties in those states.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for South Carolina on Tuesday, freeing funds, other federal resources and manpower to assist during the storm and aftermath recovery.

Emergencies have already been declared in Florida and Georgia.

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Denis Ten's death leaves figure skating community devastated

Back in the day, when my beat was covering figure skating on the Bold channel for CBC Sports, I would be responsible for providing commentary for every skater in every discipline from many ISU events.

This wasn't easy work and not all of the skating was good. The good news was it made me take note of names and faces of future stars, and with every competition, observe their evolution and progress.

Enter Kazakhstan's Denis Ten.

Having watched Denis skate at the ISU Four Continents championships in Vancouver, where he finished in ninth place in 2009, his was one of the performances I looked forward to during my marathon commentary sessions from the world that same year.

Ten who was a two-time world medallist, 2014 Olympic bronze medallist and Four Continents champion may have struggled in competition, but not in terms of his expression and authenticity as an artist. I loved watching him skate and I'll admit to pulling for him to have a "good day" every time I saw his name on an entry list.

Above all, Denis was one of the most genuine human beings I've ever met.  

That's what made Thursday's news of Denis' death even more tragic.

Gracious in victory and defeat, Denis always made time for a video, a chat or a picture backstage at events. His candour in interviews allowed me (and the fans) to get a glimpse of the man, his relationship to skating and his special collaboration with long-time friend and choreographer Lori Nichol.

"He was to have arrived in Toronto next week to choreograph a short program. I was so looking forward to Denis' genius on the ice and his infectious laughter, and our deep conversations," said a devastated Nichol.

"I can't believe that no one will ever have that brilliant light again. We must now do everything we can to celebrate everything he did for skating, his family, his country and anyone blessed enough to have known him. It's an unimaginable loss to his family, skating and the world. I don't even know how to express my heartache for his family and his mother Oksana and for Denis' coach Frank Carroll."

Whether it was bringing skating shows to Almaty, Kazakhstan or helping his country promote its bid for the Olympics, Denis Ten's name was everywhere. Articulate, intelligent, friendly, creative and above all else, kind, I can tell you firsthand that his loss leaves a gaping hole in the figure skating community.

Skating didn't just lose one of its brightest and best today. The shock of Denis Ten's senseless death is overwhelming and felt around the world. 

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From devastated to determined, De Grasse now sets sights on 2018

It didn’t take much longer than the two-hour flight from Munich to London for Andre De Grasse to decide what didn’t kill him would make him stronger.

In an exclusive interview with the CBC, the 22-year-old Canadian sprinter said he was “devastated” when he emerged from a German doctor’s office with the news he would be unable to compete in the track and field world championships because of a hamstring injury.

But when he deplaned in the British capital, site of the event that begins Friday and runs through Aug. 13, the 22-year-old Markham, Ont., resident was already looking for the bright side.

“When I landed and said, ‘I’m going to talk to my therapist, Alvin,'” De Grasse told CBC on Thursday. “So I said, ‘I guess we’re just going to have to scrap it and get ready for next year.’

CBC exclusive interview with Andre De Grasse2:18

“I think this is a learning experience for myself and, you know, for my whole team, and we’re just going to get better from this. And I think even next year we’re going to come back stronger, and everything’s going to be back to what it was, and even better.”

De Grasse suffered a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring while training Monday. He received treatment in London on Tuesday before travelling to Munich on Wednesday for a treatment that he hoped would allow him to compete.

Instead he was told that competing could jeopardize his entire sprint career, and the decision was made to shut him down.

The injury will keep De Grasse from challenging Usain Bolt in the final 100-metre race of the Jamaican’s illustrious career. De Grasse won bronze behind Bolt’s gold in the 100 a year ago at the Rio Olympics and had geared his season toward not only dethroning the 30-year-old Bolt of his 100-metre title, but running the table with two other events he was to race.

‘I wanted to win the 100 and 200’

“I wanted to win the 100, win the 200, and, you know, the guys were looking really strong, so I felt like we had a great strong 4×100 as well,” De Grasse said. “But, you know, things happen for a reason. I think I’m not going to dwell on it. I’m just obviously going to learn from this experience.”

He said he’s grateful for the support since revealing the news on Wednesday.

“I just appreciate all the support,” he said. “I think everyone’s been really supportive of me, whether it’s my family, my friends, Canada, they’ve all, you know, come to me and said ‘It’s going to be all right, we’re going to get better, it happens to the best.’

“I think that was really words of encouragement for me that helped me get over this experience. So for me, I’m just really happy that Canada is behind me, and all my family and friends have just been really, supportive. And yes, I was devastated when I heard the news, but as days go on it’s getting better.”

Sweden Diamond League Athletics

Andre De Grasse was leading the Diamond League standings in the 100 metres, and his 9.69 time in June, while wind-aided, showed he was ready to seriously challenge Usain Bolt for title of world’s fastest man. (Anders Wiklund/Associated Press)

De Grasse, who led the Diamond League standings in the 100 and was second in the 200, now faces five or six weeks of rehab that will force him to miss the rest of season schedule. But he said he’s looking forward to competing next year.

“Next year’s going to be a big year, you know the [NACAC] championship in Toronto, that’s going to feel like a whole new experience again just like the [2015] Pan Am Games was, so I’m definitely looking forward to that next year,” he said. “It’s tough a little bit to sit on the sideline and watch this one, but, you know, I’m okay with it.

“I think things are going to pan out for the best.”

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