Eleven-time national boxing champion Mandy Bujold is in isolation in Kitchener, Ont., after the Canadian team training camp in Montreal was cut short due to a positive COVID-19 case.
In a post on her website, Bujold said she was in isolation in a friend’s empty house in Kitchener, after driving home Wednesday from Montreal.
“It’s not fun but I guess it’s part of the process,” Bujold said in the post. “It’s unfortunate the camp ended early. We didn’t get to do the test matches and the things we went there to do.
“But . . . it’s actually a pretty important lesson for us. We now realize how hard it is to manage a group of that size and what each person is doing individually, while you’re in that environment. It’s a lesson that’s better for us to learn right now before we get too close to our qualifiers.”
WATCH | Mandy Bujold’s fight for more than medals:
After a disappointing result in Rio, Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold took a step back from competition to start a family. Now she has a new fire ready to take on the world in Tokyo. 3:42
Nineteen athletes were in camp in Montreal, working in small groups. The identity of the boxer who tested positive hasn’t been revealed.
The 33-year-old Bujold said she was in close contact with the athlete on Monday. She has since tested negative but is following quarantine protocols.
Boxing Canada said in a release that it was informed of a potential COVID-19 case within its training camp on Monday.
“There is an ongoing investigation and Boxing Canada has immediately taken necessary actions to protect everyone, including an interruption of all activities, preventive isolation and further testing,” the organization said.
“The collective health, well-being and safety of all our members remains our top priority and the measures are in place to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19.”
Latest setback in attempt to qualify for Olympics
Bujold said the positive test “could have happened to any one of us.” The worst part, she added, was being unable to see her husband Reid or daughter Kate Olympia.
It’s the latest setback for Bujold and her Canadian teammates, who have yet to clinch spots in the Tokyo Olympics. The continental qualifiers, scrapped last year due to the global pandemic, have finally been rescheduled to May 10-16 in Argentina. But being forced to isolate makes training difficult.
Bujold, a two-time Pan American Games champion, hopes to be the first female to box for Canada at consecutive Olympics.
An illness derailed Bujold’s dreams at the 2016 Rio Games. Hours before her quarterfinal loss to China’s Ren Cancan, she was in hospital on an I.V.
The plane was about to lose contact with Canadian soil, en-route to Paris, France when the pilot aborted with an abrupt stop followed by a sharp left turn on the runway in Toronto. Passengers onboard were confused and many scared. Sadly, the pilots explanation over the PA didn’t help alleviate anyones’ worries.
Among the roughly 60 people left on the plane was Canadian Olympic speed walker Mathieu Bilodeau. He was left to choose whether or not to continue to France for a competition that hadn’t yet been cancelled.
He chose to fly; after all, he had an Olympics to prepare for.
That was Thursday, March 12. By Sunday, he was back in Canada.
“Everything came so fast. I was in France enjoying a French baguette and the next day I was back on a plane(s) for roughly 50 hours. Then, the next day, I was working,” Bilodeau said.
So, when did the news sink in? That was Wednesday.
“I was like, oh my god, I was in the best shape of my life,” he explained with shock in his voice.
Keep going or call it a career?
Working toward his second Olympic Games, Mathieu had a decision to make. He took two weeks off to reflect.
“Maybe I should retire, maybe I should keep going? So, I was back and forth for about three weeks. But then, two weeks ago, I put my feelings aside and just keeping training,” Bilodeau said. “If Tokyo happens, I’ll go; if not, I’ll focus on Eugene 2022 [the IAAF world championships].”
He feels he may be better suited than many to face forced physical distancing and change.
“I’m struggling to be honest, to juggle [work and sport],” Bilodeau said. “[But] it’s always a struggle, so this doesn’t change much to me. I already had balance, so knew how to adapt to this new reality.”
It doesn’t hurt that Bilodeau’s a mature athlete of 36 years, married, and his athletic career has seen nothing but change. With professional aspirations, he’s dabbled in skiing, swimming, running, and triathlons.
However, it was less than two years out from Rio 2016 that he found his stride. He began race walking and set his sights on the Olympics. Not surprisingly, many people said he wouldn’t make it.
Bilodeau’s response was “I’ll show you,” and he did.
However, Rio didn’t go as hoped.
“With my [Did Not Finish result] in Rio I feel like I need to keep going,” he explained. “I still have the passion, you know. The butterflies and like you want to be the best.”
So, training has started again, in earnest.
Training in place
Athletes are used to moving around a lot. Between competitions and training programs, the travel demands are extensive. This change of pace forced upon everyone by the physical distancing measures looks different for all of us. For Bilodeau, it has meant eight straight weeks at home, for the first-time ever. Thankfully, his wife of nearly seven years, Marie-Pier Blais, has always been his best training partner.
“She’s following me, basically. She’s 100 per cent here for me, so that’s pretty good,” he said with a smile. “She’s always on the bike, following me, giving me my fuelling. Even in Vancouver and training camps, she’s there, on her bike.”
Professionally, Mathieu is an accountant (CPA) and his wife is in human resources, both with Deloitte. “We’re pretty lucky,” Mathieu says as they work mostly from home, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
WATCH | How Mathieu Bilodeau has adjusted to life during the pandemic:
Race walker Mathieu Bilodeau of Canmore, Alta., was on an airplane that was about to take off when the COVID-19 lockdown changed his itinerary. 6:22
In essence, not much has changed for Mathieu other than having to stay home and spend more time walking.
“With this virus, maybe it’s a gift. I have more time now,” he says smiling. Although, he went on to describe training in Canmore, Alta., as difficult.
“Every time I look at my watch I’m like, ‘oh my god, I’m so slow, why?’ Then I load my route on my apps, and I’m like ‘ok, I was climbing pretty intense!'”
Bilodeau says for him to get better at his sport, he needs more focus, and the fact that the games have been pushed back may benefit him in the long term.
“I’m not close to [Canadian race walking star] Evan [Dunfee] yet, but with an extra year, I think maybe we can prove that we Canadians can be the best walkers on the planet,” he said.
“I’m just trying to put all the chances on my side, and if Tokyo happens, I will have better tools and better volume in the specific way of walking.”
Hitting his stride, Mathieu’s sights continue to be firmly set on his walk toward Tokyo. Now, it’s just a longer road than expected.
All travellers returning to Canada — with the exception of what the federal government is calling “essential workers” — will have to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine as of midnight to help slow the spread of COVID-19, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said this morning
“This new measure will provide the clarity for those re-entering the country about the essential need to self-isolate,” she told the Senate, where she was discussing the Liberal government’s emergency legislation to free up billions of dollars to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis.
Starting Thursday morning, Canada Border Services Agency officers will inform all returning Canadians and permanent residents of the new orders to begin isolation at home, and tell them that they are forbidden from stopping along the way.
Hajdu told the Senate that individuals who exhibit symptoms will be banned from taking public transit to their places of isolation — but later clarified that all returning travellers will be forbidden from taking city buses, trains and subways.
“For those travellers who are arriving at one of the four international airports and connecting, they will be asked to quarantine in place in those cities for 14 days and we will provide the accommodation and meals for those situations,” she said.
Hajdu said no one will be permitted to quarantine anywhere they can come into contact with vulnerable people; those who, for example, live with an elderly person or someone with a compromised immune system will have to quarantine elsewhere. She said the Public Health Agency of Canada will make arrangements for those people to stay somewhere else, such as a hotel.
“So all travellers who don’t have an opportunity to return in a private vehicle will be provided transportation to their destination,” she said.
The minister said officials will begin taking down contact information at the border to follow up with returning travellers and will be enforcing random inspections.
“My officials are working with CBSA right now to ensure that people know that this will be serious and that there will be significant penalties if people violate the quarantine,” she said.
A spokesperson for Hajdu said the maximum penalties include a fine of up to $ 750,000 and /or imprisonment for six months.
WATCH: Hajdu says mandatory quarantine for travellers coming
Health Minister Patty Hajdu says all travellers returning to Canada — with the exception of what the federal government is calling “essential workers” — will have to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine as of midnight to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. 0:39
The government has been pleading with Canadians to self-isolate if they’ve returned from a trip since mid-March, but this move under the Quarantine Act makes it a legal obligation.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said detailed information on quarantine enforcement is coming later today.
“But let me emphasize, you should be doing this already,” she told reporters during a briefing on Parliament Hill Wednesday.
“It’s a serious further step.”
RCMP says it’s ready to help
Some provinces already have made arrests under their own emergency measures.
Nova Scotia has given police the power to enforce the province’s Health Protection Act, which bans gatherings of more than five people and allows for fines of up to $ 1,000 for individuals and $ 7,500 for business owners.
The RCMP said it’s already working with provincial and territorial health authorities and will provide assistance as required.
“This includes assessing law enforcement’s role and response in jurisdictions where provinces or municipalities have declared public health emergencies of states of emergency,” said RCMP spokesperson Catherine Fortin.
She said the federal Quarantine Act doesn’t give police any new powers, but peace officers will play an assistance role in response to requests from screening or quarantine officers.
WATCH: Travellers’ contact info will be taken to ensure quarantine compliance
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says that, starting at midnight, border officials will be taking the contact information of travellers entering Canada to ensure they are abiding by the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. 1:24
Hajdu has been signalling tougher measures under the Quarantine Act were on their way for several days now.
The federal Quarantine Act, which was updated in 2005 after the deadly SARS outbreak, gives the federal health minister the power to designate quarantine zones and fine or jail travellers who disobey quarantine orders.
If a designated quarantine officer believes that a traveller has refused to isolate themselves, they can ask a peace officer to arrest the traveller and bring them into quarantine.
On Sunday, Hajdu said the government was looking at all the measures in their tool box, including criminal penalties.
She has also suggested a “hotline” might be established to allow concerned Canadians to report cases of noncompliance.
Freeland said the issue of mandatory quarantines was debated at length during the Monday meeting of the cabinet coronavirus committee.
A young Ebola patient who took his college entrance exam while being treated in isolation has passed the demanding test, to the joy of many in Congo where his story is now well-known.
Claude Mabowa is among the nearly 3,000 people who have been confirmed to have Ebola in what has become the second-deadliest outbreak of the virus in history.
Now the celebrated Ebola survivor says he hopes he can realize his dreams and show other Ebola patients there is hope.
“I was very happy and joyful when I saw the Ministry of Education text message on my phone reassuring me that I have just passed … despite the precarious conditions,” he told The Associated Press. “Being sick in an Ebola centre, most people do not come back but also many people lose hope of living.”
Mabowa’s mother had died of Ebola, and he told the AP in July that her greatest hope was that he would attend college. That requires passing the secondary school baccalaureate, or “bac.”
“I was afraid that I was sick and that I was going to miss the exams, but fortunately the Ebola treatment centre officials had appealed for me to take the exams,” he said. “I had already lost six members of our family, including my mother, who asked me to continue with studies because that is the key to life.”
The 21-year-old was able to take the exam after staffers at the treatment centre run by the Alliance for International Medical Action, or ALIMA, in the eastern city of Beni came up with a solution.
They found a school official willing to proctor the exam as Mabowa took it safely behind a window. The papers were passed to him without touching him. After finishing, he held the pages up one by one to the window so they could be photographed with a smartphone and then emailed to officials for scoring.
Then his work and his pencil were incinerated.
This week Mabowa, who was released from the centre in July, celebrated with friends by throwing powder on each other’s heads, a local tradition when passing the exam.
His Latin teacher, Muhindo Bukangali Loboto, said he prayed for him every day.
“Claude was among the best-educated who loved his studies and he has shown us what he is capable of,” he said.
With nearly 2,000 confirmed deaths in eastern Congo, the Ebola outbreak is far from over. Health workers have been challenged by community mistrust and insecurity caused by years of rebel attacks.
Mabowa is a glimmer of hope.
He says now that he has survived Ebola and passed his exam, the next hurtle is going to a university. He said he hopes to study political science at the University of Kisangani, and he appealed for support.
Harold Lovell spent a week in an isolated room at a Calgary hospital emergency department waiting for a bed to receive mental health treatment.
He didn't get it.
The 22-year-old man with autism had turned himself in to authorities when he was experiencing violent thoughts. After his week-long stint in isolation — a secure space health officials use for patients who pose a danger to themselves or others — Lovell spent another day at the Foothills emergency room, this time in general population.
Then his mother had him discharged.
After eight days in the ER, he left without ever being admitted to hospital. He was simply given a referral to see a psychiatrist, according to his mom, Brenda Valerio.
"I did finally talk to a psych nurse who made it very clear to me that 'this is the way it is,'" said Valerio, who has the authority to make medical and financial decisions on her son's behalf.
"There are are no [free] beds. We don't have enough people. We're overworked … and there may not be a bed for a week or two," the nurse said, according to Valerio.
Not unusual for all mental health beds to be full: AHS
Alberta Health Services said it can't comment on individual cases due to privacy laws, but said generally patients deemed to be a danger to themselves or others are given "appropriate care" in a secure treatment space in emergency rooms.
In a statement, the health authority said it's not uncommon for all mental health beds to be full — there are about 200 acute care beds for adults in the Calgary area — and it's looking for ways to "better manage the increasing demand."
When he was four, Lovell was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified, which means he's on the autism spectrum but doesn't fit the criteria of another diagnosis.
'May as well be zero mental health support in Calgary'
Lovell said he was having violent thoughts earlier this month and it worried him so he turned himself into police, but he never acted on those thoughts.
His mother said an officer later took him to Foothills hospital where he was detained under provisions of the Mental Health Act.
Lovell said the isolated room he stayed in for a week was locked from the outside. Still, he was allowed visitors and saw his grandmother daily. While he had enough food and water, he had to ask for permission to use the washroom. He said a doctor stopped by once or twice a day to see how he was doing.
At one point, he said he was given a DVD player to watch a movie, but he said that was a rare privilege.
"There may as well be zero mental health support in Calgary," he said.
'Increasing demand for acute mental health care'
In its statement, AHS said its health care providers ensure every patient receives the care they need. Patients in emergency departments are assessed daily and "provided with appropriate medication and treatment while waiting for an in-patient bed."
"AHS Addiction and Mental Health is looking at all possible ways to better manage the increasing demand for acute mental health care in city," the health authority said.
"These include ensuring alternatives to hospitalization including outpatient and community programs are fully explored before deciding to admit patients and reassessing patients daily to ensure admission is still necessary."
Valerio said she regularly followed up with doctors and nurses about her son, and grew increasingly frustrated there were no beds available.
Son 'tied down' after becoming angry
On his seventh day in hospital, she says a doctor told her they planned to discharge her son, which she disputed, arguing her son needed to be admitted.
What she didn't know at the time was the staff had already told Lovell he was about to be discharged. Then, after doctors agreed with Valerio to keep him, her son became angry.
Valerio said her son was restrained on a bed and sedated for about eight hours. She saw him that day.
"He's tied down — his arms, his legs, his shoulders — he can't move," she said.
"And he said, 'mom, I don't know why they didn't discharge me. They told me I was going to go home and then they didn't let me go and no one's told me why.
"And I said, 'I'm sorry, honey, I didn't know they told you that. You weren't ready to go; you haven't had any treatment.' And he said, 'there is no treatment,' and I said, 'there is.'"
'He had already given up'
Valerio said her son hadn't brushed his teeth for a week, something his elderly grandmother hadn't realized during her visits. That night when she went home, she resolved to have him discharged the next day if there wasn't an inpatient bed immediately available for him.
"He had already given up that they could do anything for him," she said.
Valerio said the hospital stint was a glaring example of her struggles to secure care for her son with autism.
"He's been involved with every agency you could possibly imagine," she said.
"People are under the impression that there is a magical place [that could help Lovell and others like him] and there isn't."