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  • Exported MERS cases 'very likely,' WHO warns; Canada on the lookout, PHAC says

    TORONTO - The World Health Organization is warning countries to be on the lookout for cases of MERS in people returning from Middle Eastern countries affected by the virus.

    In an updated risk assessment, the WHO notes there have been several recent instances where cases were exported to Greece, Malaysia, Jordan and the Philippines.

    The global health agency says it is very likely infections will continue to be exported in tourists, religious pilgrims or foreign nationals who travel to or work in countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    The WHO suggests countries increase awareness among travellers about the new disease, but it does not recommend border screening of travellers or the application of travel or trade restrictions against affected countries.

    A senior official of the Public Health Agency of Canada says federal authorities are in regular communications with provincial and territorial counterparts about the situation and the possibility of imported cases of MERS or avian influenza in travellers.

    Dr. Theresa Tam says since last September more than 3,000 people have been screened in Canada, but to date no cases of MERS have been found.

    "The whole system is on alert," says Tam, who is the head of the Public Health Agency's health security infrastructure branch.

    "Like Greece or France or Italy, it's possible to get a traveller for sure. And so the system is designed to try to pick that up."

    France, Italy, Germany and Britain have also diagnosed MERS cases in people who travelled to the Middle East or flew from there to Europe for treatment. Those events happened earlier in 2012 and 2013.

    The number of MERS cases has soared this month, fuelled by outbreaks in health-care settings in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

    The WHO has confirmed 254 cases, but at this point its tally lags far behind the numbers reported by affected countries. The combined case count announced by the countries has reached about 375 cases since the first known infections occurred in April 2012.

  • Penticton principals play musical chairs

    PENTICTON - The vice principal of Penticton Secondary School is saying farewell to staff and students as he embarks on a new adventure with School District 67 as principal of ConnectED Learning Centre.

    Todd Manuel took his post as principal at Penticton Secondary in 2011, however he started working at the school years before as a special education teacher. In addition to his teaching role, Manuel also served as the District School Completion and Transition Helping Teacher for two years. He offically takes the helm of his new position August 1.

    Manual has a master of education in educational practice and teacher certification from the Professional Development Program from Simon Fraser University.

    Doug MacDonald is the current principal at ConnectED. He retires July 31.

    MacDonald held the position for two years and prior to that worked at Summerland Secondary School, both as a vice-principal for nineteen years and a teacher for fifteen years.

    There was no word on who will replace Manuel at Penticton Secondary School.

    To contact a reporter for this story, email, call 250-488-3065. To contact the managing editor, email Marshall Jones at or call 250-718-2724.


  • Judge declares conditional discharge in border-crossing case

    PENTICTON—Two years ago, Jake Cross and his wife were crossing the Canada-U.S. border in Osoyoos on their way home from a road trip to Arizona. Cross, an avid collector of World War firearms and memorabilia, told the officers he did not have firearms or ammunition in his motorhome.

    A few months earlier, Cross’s name was put on a lookout list at the border control office after he mailed packages containing firearms pieces. Because of this listing, officers asked to further inspect Cross’s motor home. A detector dog was brought on board, and after some sniffing, officers found packages containing firearm parts hidden in cupboards and behind TV sets, among other places.

    After a year of investigations, Cross was charged with attempting to illegally bring firearms into Canada without a permit. He pleaded guilty to illegally importing goods without a permit.

    Now, two years after the offense, he has been sentenced to a conditional discharge in Penticton Provincial Court today.

    “I’m very sorry this happened. It won’t happen again,” said Cross, 71, a retired business owner of a contracting company in Fort McMurray, Alta.

    Prosecutor Nick Lerfold told Judge Gregory Koturbash he had his own doubts about the case.

    “I can’t say there was intention to (conceal the items),” but Cross did attempt to misinform border patrol.

    Koturbash said he was “hard-pressed” to believe Cross didn’t understand the import-export regulations and licensing.

    “One would need to be sleeping under a rock not to realize how heavily regulated firearms are in this country,” he said.

    Cross sent some firearm parts to his children in Canada from a gunshop in Arizona, but the gun shop fills out the permit, defense counsel Joel Whysall said.

    Cross does have a permit for these firearms, and he owned several of the same models prior to his border crossing mishap. The problem is he doesn’t have a licence to transport the items across the border.

    Whysall said the parts found at the border totalled between $200 and $300.

    “There’s no benefit here,” Whysall said. "He wasn’t trying to achieve anything."

    He is not as “blameworthy” as a commercial exporter/importer, he said. The parts Cross was caught trying to cross with wouldn't make a complete rifle, Koturbash said. The pieces were for the completion of models for which Cross has permits.

    Koturbash ordered a conditional discharge, meaning Cross will have a clean record as long as he follows the conditions of his 12-month probation sentence. The conditions were that Cross remain on good behaviour and keep the peace.

    “I trust that we won’t see you back here again,” Koturbash said.

    To contact the reporter for this story, email Meaghan Archer at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

  • Quake felt in Okanagan confirmed

    OKANAGAN – The Pacific Geoscience Centre in Victoria has confirmed that the large earthquake off the coast of Vancouver Island Wednesday evening was detected as far east as the Okanagan.

    Earthquake Seismologist Taimi Mulder says any quake over 5.5 will send “surface waves” out in all directions and can even be registered on the other side of the planet in some cases. According to Mulder, the first quake registered 6.6 and was followed by three smaller quakes within 35 minutes.

    “(Residents of Kelowna) definitely would have felt it,” she says. “It generated a lot of long, low, rolling waves through the earth. I think Kelowna is about the furthest away that it would have been felt.”

    According to Mulder, the larger the area that ruptures, the further away it can be detected.

    “Up at the 6.6 range, there is a lot of low frequencies generated and they travel a lot further,” she says. “This earthquake will be picked up by seismometer’s all around the world.”

    Mulder says the Geoscience Centre has received reports from several residents in Kelowna and Summerland, but hopes that others who felt the quake will register it on their reporting website.

    “We collect that information through the Did You Feel It? website and we use it as part of our studies,” she says. “To know how strongly people felt it and what effects it had is really important for us.”

    To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

  • Speeding likely cause of semi-truck accident

    OSOYOOS - Police are blaming speed for a collision at Bobcat Court Highway 3 in Osoyoos last weekend.

    Osoyoos RCMP say a semi-truck and trailer were moving at a high rate of speed before flipping onto its side April 18, 2014. A car was damaged in the accident when it hit debris from trailer. 

    The truck driver received minor scratches to his hip and the driver and passenger of the car were unhurt.

    The male truck driver, 41, from Surrey was charged with driving without due care and attention.

    To contact a reporter for this story, email, call 250-488-3065. To contact the managing editor, email Marshall Jones at or call 250-718-2724.