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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.

  • Mounties wonder what thief was after in Lake Country break and enter

    LAKE COUNTRY - A strange break and enter where nothing obvious was taken has police scratching their heads.

    The resident of a home on the 9000 block of Chase Road in Lake Country called RCMP after returning from an outing to find their home broken into. The incident happened sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. April 23.

    The thief apparently entered the house by breaking a lower rear bathroom window and crawling inside.

    Once in the home, the culprit rummaged through dresser drawers and closets in the bedrooms and living room. It's not known what was taken, and many electronics were left behind.

    A second break and enter happened the following day at the Cash Store on the 10000 block of Highway 97.

    A newspaper carrier making early morning deliveries noticed a smashed door and called police. An investigation revealed the secondary door had also been smashed and suspects were able to enter the business, break into an ATM machine and leave with an undisclosed amount of cash.

    Anyone with information about this crime or an other can contact the Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 1-800-222-TIPS, or post information online at Information could lead to a reward of up to $2000.

    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.

  • 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.

  • Mayoral candidate itching to return to politics

    VERNON - A 74-year-old Vernon man who has already worn many hats is now throwing his in for mayor.

    Klaus Tribes, a former City of Vernon councillor for 18 years, is running for mayor in the upcoming municipal election.

    “I want to get back at it,” he says. “I was retired and I didn’t like it. I want to look after the city 120 per cent.”

    Following an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2002, Klaus took a break from politics. After retiring from a 39 year career running a restaurant in Vernon, he got bored quickly and took a job as a breakfast ambassador at the Fairfield Inn. Now, he’s itching to get back into politics.

    “I love this city and I want to give back again to it,” he says. “Some people will complain and some will want to do something about it. I’m the latter.”

    Before moving to Vernon 40 years ago, Klaus was a police officer in Edmonton. He says he’s kept in shape all his life and isn’t going to let his age hold him back.

    “I'm not the ordinary 70-year-old,” he says.

    Expect to see him going door to door this summer introducing himself and outlining what his priorities would be as mayor. Key points on his agenda are building a trade and convention centre for Vernon, getting a new ice sheet to build on sporting opportunities, and encouraging development.

    “My attitude toward development would be we’re open for business,” he says. 

    He chose to run for mayor rather than councillor because one, he’s already done that for 18 years and two, he thinks it’s where he can make the biggest impact. His campaign strategy won’t involve criticizing the current council.

    “I’ve never criticized others, I simply tell people what I believe in and let them draw their own conclusions,” he says.

    To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

  • Debris flow prompts evacuation order in Shuswap

    SHUSWAP - An evacuation order remains in place for residents living by McIntyre Creek near Salmon Arm due to a large flow of debris Wednesday.

    Debris in the creek created flooding and slide concerns for people and property in the area, and as a precaution, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District has put residents living 50 metres on either side of the creek on evacuation order.

    The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is on site today clearing and repairing Sunnybrae Canoe Point Road, located about 15 km from the TransCanada Highway. The road will be closed for some time Thursday so crews can conduct repairs.

    Due to the instability of the area and other safety concerns, the public is asked to keep clear of the incident site and assist in lowering traffic flow until further notice.

    Uncertainty of debris stability, coupled with a 10 to 12 mm of rain forecasted for the Shuswap area by Environment Canada, were deciding factors in the decision to maintain the Evacuation Order until further assessment has been conducted.

    Those residents requiring Emergency Support Services are asked to report to the Reception Centre located at #2-480 Harbour Front Drive NE, Salmon Arm.

    To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.