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Posts Tagged "case"

16Oct

First case of vaping-related illness confirmed in B.C.

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The first probable case of vaping-related illness in B.C. has been confirmed.


Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty

The first probable case of vaping-related illness in B.C. has been confirmed.

In a news release Wednesday, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry confirmed a patient suffering an illness sought care and that the illness was linked to vaping.

Several other patients and their illnesses are being investigated by health officials, with Henry suggesting it’s possible those cases may be linked to vaping as well. Henry did not say whether the cases involving the vaping of nicotine cartridges or cannabis-oil cartridges.

“These are the first cases of vaping-related illness in B.C., but we fully expect there will be more as this is quickly emerging as a significant public-health issue,” Henry said. “Vaping is turning back the clock on decades of effective anti-smoking efforts and creating a new generation of young people addicted to nicotine.”

Related

Last month, Henry issued a notice that required doctors to report cases in which patients had a history of using e-cigarette or vaping devices within the past 90 days, had abnormal X-ray results, and whose illnesses couldn’t be linked to other causes.

Those reports are being forwarded to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and will be investigated by the public-health authority. Cases confirmed to be linked to vaping will be shared with the public.

Vaping has come under the spotlight recently, with at least 450 cases of acute vaping-related illness and 13 deaths reported in the U.S. to date.

While officials are still studying the cause and working to determine the exact reason vape users have been suffering breathing problems, it’s believed a contaminant created during the vaporization of oils in e-cigarettes has damaging effects on lungs. It remains unclear whether the illnesses are linked to vaping nicotine cartridges or THC cartridges.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has also promised to dramatically reduce the number of vendors that can sell e-cigarettes and vaping products in a bid to bring the problem under control.

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4Jun

‘Breathtaking’: Fake mortgage broker case reveals widespread problems | CBC News

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In a real estate market saturated with stories about money laundering, offshore conniving and even murder-related property depreciation — it’s easy for allegations against one unlicensed mortgage broker to get lost in the fray.

After all, British Columbia is used to stunning examples of greed and deception.

But the activity outlined in last week’s cease and desist order against Jay Kanth Chaudhary is something different entirely.

Not just because Chaudhary is accused of using fake financial documents to dupe lenders into giving out half a billion dollars worth of loans. But because an entire network of licensed professionals are being investigated for helping.

And because hundreds of customers were allegedly willing to turn a blind eye if it helped them get a mortgage.

“I guess to me what’s remarkable is the widespread apparent — there’s no word for it really other than ‘corruption’ — of licensed people,” says Ron Usher, a professor of property law at Simon Fraser University.

“To me, that’s a bit breathtaking.”

‘Tune-up to somehow fit new lending rules’

The case is by far the biggest allegation of so-called “shadow brokering” that B.C.’s Financial Institutions Commission has investigated to date.

But it’s by no means the only one in which investigators claim to have peeled back the layers of financing deals to reveal an unregistered puppet master pulling strings to get loans for people who wouldn’t otherwise qualify.

The consumers alleged to have used the services of a shadow broker appear desperate to get into the tight B.C. housing market. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

According to acting registrar of mortgage brokers Chris Carter, Chaudhary collected $6 million in fees from nearly 900 clients in the decade since his licence as a registered mortgage broker lapsed in 2008.

Carter says as many as 20 mortgage brokers and real estate licensees are currently under investigation for their ties to Chaudhary.

The case bears a striking similarity to the allegations against Vinita Devi Lal, an unlicensed woman facing a hearing for allegedly feeding altered tax documents through three licensed mortgage brokers to help secure loans for clients.

Usher, who is general counsel for B.C.’s Society of Notaries Public, says both cases are revealing for what they show about the desperation of people to get into the housing market.

And who is — and is not — able to get money without a little document doctoring.

“I suspect the bulk of this is going to be fraud for shelter,” he says. “People who don’t quite qualify in our tight market, who just need a ”tune-up’ to somehow fit new lending rules.”

Fish filleter, hairdresser, janitor

Usher notes that Blueshore Financial, the credit union that blew the whistle on Chaudhary, says none of the loans in question have resulted in loss or delinquency.

These are customers who are able to make the payments on a mortgage — they’re just not willing to tell the Canada Revenue Agency where most of their money comes from.

One of the people who allegedly used Vinita Lal’s services to obtain a mortgage was a janitor making around $10,000 of declared income a year. (Shutterstock)

The FICOM documents related to Lal included a self-employed fish filleter with an annual salary of $30,000, a self-employed hairdresser making $13,451 a year and a janitor earning $10,881.

All were allegedly able to qualify for mortgages with the help of phony tax documents.

In the Chaudhary case, investigators interviewed a woman and her father whose application for a mortgage was declined after it was submitted by a licensed broker accused of working extensively with Chaudhary.

The woman’s husband was unemployed and on disability.

And yet, numerous applications filled with false or doctored documents were allegedly filed on their behalf in the hopes of securing financing.

So who is to blame?

It’s not the first time regulators have investigated Chaudhary. His licence was suspended for nearly four months in 2008 after an investigation into a string of almost identical allegations.

In that case, FICOM staff received an email from a senior investigator at TD Canada Trust “advising that he had received information from an unidentified source who stated that Chaudhary was committing fraud by paying bank employees secret cash in exchange for deals.”

Both sets of allegations against Vinita Lal and Jay Kanth Chaudhary involve altered taxation documents. (CBC)

So who is to blame?

The would-be homeowners who don’t ask why one fixer can secure a deal for them where no one else could?

The licensed brokers or real estate agents who deliver challenging customers to so-called shadow brokers — if it will help secure a deal?

Bank employees who allegedly take tips for business?

‘A whole lot more conversations’

And what are the consequences?

The maximum fine for shadow-brokering appears to be $50,000. One of the brokers who assisted Lal was banned for 10 years and the other two still face hearings.

Chaudhary could not be reached for comment and a call to his wife went unanswered. He has a right to appeal the cease and desist order. He is not facing any criminal charges.

FICOM says it works with other authorities, and Vancouver police officers accompanied investigators when they obtained an order to enter Chaudhary’s home in February.

But Usher suspects the investigation won’t go beyond the regulator.

“Partly, it falls like many of these kinds of cases into the too hard pile, the priority pile,” he says.

“And so, there are just a whole lot more conversations we need to have.”

At least until the next real estate story comes along.


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2Apr

Another measles case confirmed in the Lower Mainland

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Measles vaccine.


Eric Risberg/AP file photo

Another case of measles has been confirmed in the Lower Mainland, bringing the total number of cases in B.C. to 22, according to the Fraser Health Authority.

Dr. Shovita Padhi, a medical officer with Fraser Health, said the new case is unrelated to an outbreak in Vancouver earlier this year, and was acquired abroad.

Padhi wouldn’t specify where the person was infected, but said with measles cases rising dramatically across the globe, it’s crucial anyone travelling outside Canada ensures they have had two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).

The person used public transit March 27, while they were infectious, and an investigation determined when and where people may have been exposed:

• The No. 323 bus between 8 and 11 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m.

• The Expo Line between 8 and 11 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m.

• Lobby and elevators at 666 Burrard St. in Vancouver and the Ascenda School of Management, at the same location, between 8:55 a.m. and 2:05 p.m.

The 323 bus travels between Newton Exchange and Surrey Central Station.


Transit-users cue to board the No. 323 Coast Mountain bus at the Surrey Central Exchange.

Ric Ernst /

PNG

Padhi urges anyone who may have been exposed to keep an eye out for symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash that first develops at the hairline. If they seek medical attention, they should call their doctor’s office first to avoid exposing other people, she added.

Padhi said immunization in the Fraser Health region has improved this year, with public-health units administering 5,768 MMR vaccines since mid-February this year, compared with 2,882 of the vaccines during the same period in 2018.

Two cases of measles were reported by Island Health on March 29 and Interior Health issued two bulletins about possible public exposures in the area of 100 Mile House on March 9 and 22, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Another case was confirmed in the Fraser Valley earlier in March.

Twelve of the 15 cases in Vancouver have been directly linked to an outbreak that began at École Secondaire Jules-Verne and École Rose-Des-Vents, after a student contracted the disease during an overseas family trip. The remaining three cases were acquired while travelling, but not linked to the school outbreak.

Last month, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced $3 million in additional funding for the measles vaccine and a campaign to encourage immunization through the schools, health authorities and media.

-With files from Stephanie Ip and Vaughn Palmer

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11Mar

Whooping cough case confirmed in Duncan

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A Vancouver Island Health Authority office in Victoria.


Times Colonist

A case of whooping cough has been reported in Duncan, making it the second confirmed case on southern Vancouver Island in recent days.

After a laboratory confirmed that a Duncan adult had a case of pertussis, a letter was sent out by Island Health on March 8, agency spokesperson Jennifer Parisi said Sunday.

The letter went to areas where there might have been exposure. People were asked to watch for early signs of whooping cough and to follow up with their health care provider if they have any symptoms.

In that case, “There are no high-risk contacts and no further follow up is required by public health or the communicable disease team so there is no concern there,” she said.

It is not out of the ordinary to have two cases of whooping cough in the region, Parisi said.

Island Health sent another letter out this past week, informing the Mount Douglas Secondary community that a case of whooping cough had been confirmed at the school.

The pertussis bacteria can be spread through coughing, sneezing, sharing drinks or cigarettes, and kissing.

Small babies can be especially vulnerable to pertussis, said Parisi, who recommends that vaccination records be checked to ensure everyone is up to date.

Cold-like symptoms appear and the illness can advance to a severe cough with a whooping sound. Gagging and vomiting are also possible. Island Health said symptoms can continue for several weeks.

Antibiotics are used to treat whooping cough.


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7Mar

Measles: Latest case located in Fraser Valley, linked to outbreak

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13Feb

Second case of measles reported in the Vancouver area

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Students at Fleetwood Park Secondary School in Surrey are being told to stay away from class if their measles immunization is not up to date.


Sean Gallup / Getty Images

A second case of measles has been confirmed in the Vancouver area.

It was transmitted locally, meaning the patient was not infected while travelling abroad, Dr. Althea Hayden of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority said at a news conference on Wednesday. She would not give details about the patient but said they are a school-age minor.

The other case, acquired abroad, was confirmed on Saturday but past the point of being infectious. Hayden said there is no clear link between the two cases. Her health authority’s region includes Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore and the Sunshine Coast.

“We are working very hard to find out how measles may have been introduced into our community,” she said. “We would be much less concerned about it if we knew exactly where it came from.”

The health authority last released a public measles alert in September, after an infected person attended the Skookum Festival.

Spokespeople at the Fraser, Interior, Island and Northern health authorities said Wednesday that they had not heard of any suspected or confirmed cases of the disease in their regions.

In the State of Washington, a surge in measles cases prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency on Jan. 25. As of Wednesday, 54 cases had been confirmed. Health officials are urging residents to get immunized. Four more cases have been confirmed in Oregon.

Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to Vancouver Coastal Health. Complications can include inflammation of the brain, convulsions, deafness, brain damage and even death.

Infection does not require close contact and measles can survive in close areas, such as a bathroom, for up to two hours after an infected person has left. It causes fever, red eyes, coughing, a runny nose and a rash. Most people recover within a week or two.

Measles is easily prevented through vaccination, which Vancouver Coastal Health recommends. People who have previously had the infection do not need immunization.

B.C. children born in or after 1994 routinely get two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, one dose when they turn a year old and another before they start kindergarten.

People born before 1994 or who grew up outside of B.C. may need a second dose. People born before 1970 are likely immune; but if they aren’t sure whether they have had the infection, they can safely get the MMR vaccine.

The World Health Organization named “vaccine hesitancy” one of its top 10 threats to global health in 2019. Measles saw a 30 per cent increase in cases globally between 2016 and 2017, and a resurgence in some countries that were close to eliminating it, according to the organization.

“The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases,” according to the WHO. “Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.”

In Canada, immunizations are not mandatory. But Ontario and New Brunswick require proof of immunization for children and adolescents to attend school, according to Immunize Canada.

In the U.S., all 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws that require children entering childcare or public schools to have certain vaccinations. All state laws provide medical exemptions, 17 states allow religious or medical exemptions only, and five states expressly exclude philosophical exemptions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control tracks child immunization and reports that 82.1 per cent of children aged seven had been immunized for measles in 2018, compared to 88.4 per cent in 2017 and 90.2 per cent in 2016.

Across Canada, only a single new case of laboratory-confirmed measles was reported between Dec. 30, 2018, and Jan. 26, 2019, according to Health Canada’s most recent measles and rubella monitoring reports.

The agency said there have been large measles outbreaks reported across Europe which have affected many countries.

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9Feb

Measles case confirmed in Vancouver, not linked to Washington outbreak

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Reported cases of measles have spiked 30 per cent worldwide since 2016.


Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Health authorities have confirmed a case of measles in Vancouver.

The patient, a Vancouver resident, was diagnosed on Thursday as having the virus, but the period during which it is considered infectious has since passed, said Shaf Hussain, a spokesman for Vancouver Coastal Health. The patient is receiving care.

The health authority last released a measles alert in September, when a person who was infected attended the Skookum Festival.

The latest case is not believed to be linked to an outbreak of measles in the state of Washington, Hussain said. A surge in measles cases prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency Jan. 25. As of Saturday, 54 cases had been confirmed. Health officials are urging residents to get immunized. Four more cases have been confirmed in Oregon.

Measles is highly infectious and spreads through air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Vancouver Coastal Health. Complications can include inflammation of the brain, convulsions, deafness, brain damage and death.

Infection does not require close contact and measles can survive in close areas, such as a bathroom, for up to two hours after an infected person has left. It causes fever, red eyes, cough, runny nose and a rash. Most people recover within a week or two.

Vancouver Coastal Health recommends vaccinations. People who have previously had the infection do not need immunization.

B.C. children born in or after 1994 routinely get two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, one dose when they turn a year old and another before they start kindergarten.

People born before 1994 or who grew up outside of B.C. may need a second dose. People born before 1970 are likely immune; but if they aren’t sure whether they have had the infection, they can safely get the MMR vaccine.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control tracks child immunization and reports that 82.1 per cent of children aged seven had been immunized for measles in 2018, compared to 88.4 per cent in 2017 and 90.2 per cent in 2016.

Across Canada, only a single new case of laboratory-confirmed measles was reported between Dec. 30, 2018, and Jan. 26, 2019, according to Health Canada’s most recent measles and rubella monitoring reports.

The agency said there have been large measles outbreaks reported across Europe which have affected many countries.

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2Feb

The curious case of the misplaced curb

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Some Vancouverites may call it an engineering mishap. Others may refer to it as a bureaucratic boondoggle. 

If you’re wheelchair user Gabrielle Peters, you would call the new curb on the northwest corner of Yukon Street and SW Marine Drive an insult. 

“My real reaction to the city is, how dare you — how dare you think this is acceptable?” Peters said. 

“This isn’t something that they should be doing wrong in 2019.”

The problem for Peters was that, after months of construction in front of two new luxury rental condos, last week the sidewalk was reopened to pedestrians to reveal this:

The new crosswalk at SW Marine Drive and Yukon Street left some Vancouverites scratching their heads. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC News)

After CBC News contacted the city and the developer, Concord Pacific, to notify them of the issue, the developer’s workers quickly built a new curb cut to match up with the crosswalk, and blocked the other one off.

Vancouver’s director of streets and planning, Taryn Collards, acknowledged the city’s mistake. Collards said the ramp was placed to align with the intersection’s final configuration, which should be finalized in a few months.

Concord said it would pay for the temporary curb out of its own pocket.

But Peters says it should have been built correctly in the first place, keeping safety in mind for everyone who uses it whether the intersection be finished or not. 

Advocates like Peters say the curb at that intersection is indicative of a broader problem across the city — sidewalks designed without wheelchair users, strollers and other mobility-restricted people in mind. 

“I was appalled, but not shocked, because the design flaws around intersections in the city are far more common than the design successes,” she said.

“There’s a different reaction when it’s something new — and it does sting.” 

New curbs coming

The intersection is in front of the relatively new Marine Gateway station of the Canada Line, in South Vancouver.

Tall condo towers are quickly growing around the station, including developer Concord Pacific’s new W1 buildings across the street where the new sidewalk is.

Concord describes the condos as “prestigious” and “luxurious” on its website. Two-bedroom rental units start at $3,060 per month.

The developer says it worked with the city to build amenities like sidewalks. Collards says city engineers would likely have signed off on the final placement and design. 

“I can definitely understand the public’s confusion and sort of questioning as to what’s going on there,” Collards said.

The city does prioritize accessibility, Collards says — adding that in July 2018 council agreed to spend more money on installing new curb ramps throughout Vancouver.

This ramp just slipped between the cracks, she says.

‘Lack of comprehensive design’

Stan Leyenhorst, an inclusive design specialist who works with cities like Vancouver, says the problem was probably caused by miscommunication between city departments and the developers.

Leyenhorst says he was impressed that the developer acted so quickly to build a temporary ramp to line up with the crosswalk. 

“There has been a movement to do better. And I think the desire is there, but I do believe that there is a lack of comprehensive design or consideration, and communication between the parts that are doing the developing,” he said.

Watch Leyenhorst describe the problems with the intersection, and what he thinks should be done about it:

Universal access consultant Stan Leyenhorst explains how to design a better sidewalk. 1:06

Inclusive design can be a moving target, Leyenhorst says, because new features are constantly being developed.

Nonetheless, Leyenhorst would like to see cities like Vancouver implement an accessibility master plan that would make it more predictable for wheelchair users like him to predict how they’ll get around.

“I get frustrated,” he said. “I run into longer distances because I realize I can’t get down off the curb.” 

Leyenhorst says the focus in design circles days is less about accessibility for specific groups of people and more about building cityscapes that work for everyone — seniors, children, wheelchair users and more.




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