Lemon Curd Egg Cookies

The excerpted recipe by

Lemon Curd Egg Cookies

PHOTO CREDIT: MIKE GARTEN

Sweet-tart cookies with buttercream sandwiched inside make the perfect Easter treat. Edible arts and crafts project, anyone?

INGREDIENTS

1 batch Basic Sugar Cookie dough

1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest

1 2-inch egg cookie cutter

1 ½-in. round cookie cutter

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp

2 c. confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Pinch salt

1 11- to 12-ounce jar lemon curd

DIRECTIONS
  1. Prepare cookie dough, adding lemon zest to butter and sugar. Use a floured egg cutter to cut out eggs. Use a round cutter to cut out centers of half of the eggs. Bake and cool as directed.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare buttercream: Using an electric mixer, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and salt and mix to combine.
  3. Working 1 at a time, spread all of the cookies without holes with buttercream (about 2 tsp each). Top with cookies with hole cutouts. Fill each hole with lemon curd (about 1 tsp). Dust with additional sugar, if desired.
YIELDS:2 dozen
TOTAL TIME:1 hour 30 mins

EDITED FOR ILSTV

Ways to Stay Connected While Keeping Your Distance

Ways to Stay Connected While Keeping Your Distance

ShareCare

BY REGINA BOYLE WHEELER

For the foreseeable future, the COVID-19 pandemic is drastically changing the way we live. Public health officials continue their urgent calls for social distancing as this physical separation between you and other people is currently one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the virus and ease the mounting burden on the health care system. So, in these uncertain times, just when we need each other the most, we’re urged to keep our distance.

Even as schools, businesses, churches, and seemingly everything shuts down, staying connected is vital—even while we hunker down at home.

Make virtual connections
Thanks to 21st-century technology, connecting to others from a distance is easier than ever.

  • Use Skype, Zoom or other video conferencing platforms to have coffee or happy hour “with” friends or “lunch” with co-workers who are working from home. Host a virtual book club or card game.
  • Start a family group text and share jokes, news or videos of your silly dog.
  • Use FaceTime or similar video chat apps on your smartphone to virtually visit family or friends who live just around the corner, or on the other side of the world.
  • If you have a Chrome browser on a desktop or laptop computer, use Netflix Party to watch movies and shows with your friends simultaneously. Use the group chat function so you can talk about what you’re seeing as if you were in the same room.
  • Since most gyms are closed, many are offering free resources for people who want to continue their workouts virtually. Fitness chain Planet Fitness is live streaming free 20-minute “work ins” via Facebook at 7 p.m. ET daily.
  • Your religious life can be an even greater source of support now. Many religious institutions are offering either live-streamed services or taped versions. Check your organization’s website or Facebook page.

Take advantage of social media

In times like these, social media platforms can not only help you help others but also help you feel connected to the world around you.

  • Set up a neighbourhood Facebook or Nextdoor group so neighbors can post notices, share resources or alert others to someone who’s in need. Nextdoor has launched Help Map so neighbors can locate those who need food or supplies and people who are willing to pitch in.
  • Storytime is online too. Check out the Storyline Online YouTube channel. It features a variety of celebrities reading kids’ books.
  • Join Pinterest to find new recipes to make for your family or search for DIY projects to improve your home.
  • Check out #quarantinelife or #socialdistancing on Twitter to see how other people around the world are spending their time and connecting. Search for other hashtags that interest you.

Go retro

There are also low-tech ways that can help. Write letters, send care packages, pictures and the like, suggests Kozlov. “Not everyone has access to technology, so make sure you’re finding ways to send ‘mood boosts’ to those who don’t have access,” she says.

Older people, especially those with underlying health conditions, are at higher risk of complications if they get COVID-19. For their safety, nursing homes and long-term care facilities are tightly restricting or banning visitation. This is the same population that might not have access to technology and are at risk of social isolation, Kozlov says. So “old school” solutions like sending a card or making a phone call can really brighten their day.

Wondering if you could be exposed to COVID-19 through contaminated mail or packages? It’s very unlikely.

The chances of being infected by letters or boxes that have been “moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature” is low, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.”

That said, frequent handwashing, including after receiving and opening mail, is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for infection.

Bond with your pet
Your pet is an important social connection and can be a stress reliever, too. A 2019 study published in AERA Open found that even a brief time interacting with pets can help lower stress. Researchers divided about 250 college students into four groups: one petted cats and dogs for 10 minutes; one watched the activity; a third simply viewed a slideshow of the animals; and the fourth didn’t touch or view the animals at all. They found that the hands-on petters had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva than the other three groups.

Important to note: The CDC recommends restricting contact with pets if you get COVID-19 because the risk of transmission between humans and animals is not yet well understood.

Take a breather
Go outside for walks, exercise, fresh air and sunshine, if allowed in your community. You can pass people on the street (maintaining the safe six-foot distance) and wave hello and exchange a smile or a few pleasantries.

“The videos of people in Italy singing out their windows is so moving, and people in my neighborhood have taken to standing on their front steps at 5 pm and singing ‘We Are the Champions’ together,” Kozlov says. “This is a great way to feel like you are part of something bigger.”

That underscores the idea that social distancing can be reframed as an act of social cohesiveness. If we all do this, we’re protecting ourselves and others as well, Kozlov says.

She encourages people to adjust their thinking about this trying time in another way, too.

“Take this time and try to think of it as something other than ‘the time the country shut down.’ Maybe it can also be ‘the time I learned a new skill, the time I read all the books I’ve been meaning to read, the time I watched all the classic movies, the time I reached out to old friends and cultivated our relationships,’ etc. We are all very much in this together, so find your community (from a distance) and try to support one another.”

Edited for ILSTV

Wuhan reports no new virus cases, offering hope to world

By Ken Moritsugu And Nick Perry

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIJING _ Last month, Wuhan was overwhelmed with thousands of new cases of coronavirus each day. But in a dramatic development that underscores just how much the outbreak has pivoted toward Europe and the United States, Chinese authorities said Thursday that the city and its surrounding province had no new cases to report.

The news offered a rare glimmer of hope for the rest of the world as it battles the virus, and perhaps a lesson in the strict measures needed to halt its spread. It came as President Donald Trump likened the fight to  “a war” and invoked emergency powers that allow him to compel manufacturers to deal with the pandemic.

Wuhan was where the outbreak first took hold and thousands once lay sick or dying in hurriedly constructed hospitals. But Chinese authorities said Thursday that all 34 new cases recorded over the previous day had been imported from abroad.

“Today we have seen the dawn after so many days of hard effort,” said Jiao Yahui, a senior inspector at the National Health Commission.

Still, the virus continued to take its toll elsewhere, both human and economic. Stocks tumbled again on Wall Street on fears of a prolonged recession, falling so fast they triggered another automatic trading halt, while major U.S. auto manufacturers said they were shutting down their North American factories.

Italy was on track to surpass China by Thursday in the number of deaths related to coronavirus, a gruesome milestone that is being blamed on a perfect storm of Italy’s elderly population, its overwhelmed healthcare system and its delay in imposing a complete lockdown in the epicenter, Lombardy.

Elsewhere around the world, more borders shut, leaving some to wonder how they would get back home. In the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand shut out tourists, allowing only citizens and residents to return, while Fiji reported its first case, a worrying development in a region with poor healthcare.

The U.S. and Canada both closed their borders to all but essential travel and Trump said he plans to assert extraordinary powers to immediately turn back to Mexico anyone who crosses over the southern border illegally.

Russia and Mexico each reported their first death from the virus. Mexico closed its popular spring equinox visits to the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon at Teotihuacan.

While China did not report any new cases in Wuhan or Hubei province it did record eight additional deaths.

Jiao said the  “double-zero” increase, which followed several days of improving numbers, meant their control and medical treatment methods were working well.

Wuhan has been under a strict lockdown since January. Officials are moving to loosen travel restrictions, but only inside the surrounding province of Hubei where most checkpoints will be taken down. Wuhan remains cut-off, with only those with special permission allowed to travel in or out.

The lockdown will be lifted there only if no additional cases are reported for two consecutive weeks, which may happen next month, Li Lanjuan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, was quoted as saying.

The improvement in China contrasted with the situation in Italy, where another 475 people died, bringing the death toll close to 3,000. Italy has the world’s second oldest population after Japan and some 87% of those who have died have been over age 70.

Italy is on pace to overtake China’s approximately 3,250 dead when Thursday’s figures are released. Iran has also been hit hard, with more than 1,100 deaths.

The virus has infected more than 218,000 people worldwide and killed over 8,800. The United Nations warned that the crisis could lead to the loss of nearly 25 million jobs around the world.

More than 84,000 people overall have recovered from the virus, which causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough in most cases. Severe illness is more likely in the elderly and those with existing health problems.

Though China still has the largest number of cases, most of its patients have recovered. China even sent medical supplies to hard-hit France, returning a favour done by the French weeks ago.

Around the globe, governments took increasingly drastic measures to fight the epidemic and the threat of a recession, in some cases using emergency powers.

Czech authorities used emergency powers to raid a warehouse and seize hundreds of thousands of face masks. And Hong Kong widened the use of electronic wristbands that monitor people under self-quarantine.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed more than 1,300 points on Wednesday, or over 6%, and has now lost nearly all of the gains it had posted since Trump’s inauguration. Oil dropped below $21 per barrel for the first time since 2002. Shares in Asia continued their slide on Thursday.

The White House pressed Congress to swiftly pass a potentially $1 trillion rescue package to prop up the economy and speed relief checks to Americans in a matter of weeks.

Calling himself a “wartime president,” Trump invoked the Defence Production Act of 1950 to steer industrial output and overcome shortages of face masks, ventilators and other supplies as hospitals brace for an expected onslaught of cases.

The Korean War-era law gives the president extraordinary authority to compel industries to expand production and turn out vital materials.

California’s governor warned that martial law could be imposed. The mayor of New York said the city’s 8.6 million residents should be prepared for a lockdown.

Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, along with Honda and Toyota, said they will shut all of their factories in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The closing of Detroit’s Big Three alone will idle about 150,000 workers, who are likely to receive supplemental pay in addition to unemployment benefits.

At GM’s pickup truck assembly plant in Flint, Michigan, workers have been fearful since the virus surfaced in the U.S., said Tommy Wolikow, who has two young daughters.

“That’s the thing that I was scared the most about, being the one to bring it home to them,” he said.

The U.S. has reported more than 9,400 coronavirus cases and at least 138 deaths, about half of them in Washington state, where dozens of residents from a suburban Seattle nursing home have died.

Scientists have no doubt the true number of people infected is higher than reported because of the possibility that many mild cases have gone unrecognized or unrecorded, and because of the lag in large-scale testing in the U.S.

In the first breakdown of its kind in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the nation’s coronavirus deaths so far mirror what has been reported in other countries, with about 4 out of 5 fatalities occurring in people 65 and older, and no deaths in children.

Market Panic Over Coronavirus Isn’t Warranted, Says Allianz CEO

The excerpted article was written By 

Markets are overreacting to the threat of the rapidly spreading coronavirus and the global economy will only see a short-term impact, said the head of Allianz SE, Europe’s biggest insurer.

Chief Executive Officer Oliver Baete said the firm was more concerned about the safety of its clients than any impact to its business, in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Anna Edwards in London. He compared the virus with a “strong flu,” saying it hadn’t yet become a pandemic.

“There’s a lot of panic at that moment that’s not warranted,” said Baete. “Short-term economic activity will contract and it will have an impact on global GDP, but it’s not like the world will end tomorrow.”

Heightened fears surrounding coronavirus have roiled financial markets, with Asian stocks falling Wednesday after a rout on Wall Street. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans to prepare for a potential outbreak at home, while mounting cases across the Middle East, Europe and Asia sparked concern the outbreak is widening into a pandemic.

Allianz’s biggest potential risk would be from any bankruptcies in Europe spurred by the virus’s spread, due to its credit insurance coverage in the region, said Baete. While that business isn’t large in Asia, the firm has been cutting such exposure in China for the past two months, he said.

“The issue that may affect us is if you have massive bankruptcies in small and medium size companies, because we have the world market leader in credit insurance,” Baete said in a separate interview.

Baete has relied on cost cuts, inflows at Allianz’s asset management unit and smaller deals to lift profits as low interest rates and squeezed fees weigh on the industry. That’s recently been paying off, with the insurer managing to stop four straight quarters of bleeding assets at key investment arm Allianz Global Investors in the final three months of 2019.

Allianz recently bought two businesses in the U.K. — the general insurance business of Legal & General Group Plc and the 51% of LV General Insurance Group that it didn’t already own. Baete said that the firm doesn’t need to carry out any major acquisitions thanks to the health of its earnings.

“There is consolidation and there will be consolidation coming particularly with weaker participants,” Baete said. “Whether we will play a role, will depend on where the prices are and whether we can create value out of it. We have no urge to merge or to do anything.”

— With assistance by Anna Edwards

Source: Bloomberg

World isn’t ready for coronavirus outbreak, says Canadian WHO expert

By Laura Osman

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ The world is not ready for the global spread of the novel coronavirus, according to the renowned Canadian epidemiologist who led a team of experts to China to study the virus on behalf of the World Health Organization.

Dr. Bruce Aylward returned from a two-week mission to China, including the city of Wuhan where the spread of the coronavirus began, urging other countries to get ready for a potential outbreak within their own borders as soon as possible.

“This virus will show up,” he warned at a briefing Tuesday.

“This is going to come soon, potentially. You’ve got to be shifting to readiness, rapid-response thinking.”

Aylward led a team of 25 world experts, who operated independently of the WHO and their associated institutions.

There are more than 80,000 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide and 2,700 people are known to have died from it, the vast majority of them in China.

The team found that countries should be looking to China for expertise in how to manage and treat the illness now known as COVID-19, noting that country has taken an aggressive approach to testing, containing and treating people who contract the coronavirus.

China has all but locked down whole cities of millions of people in an attempt to keep COVID-19 from spreading and has instituted door-to-door checks of people’s temperatures to find sick people and order them into mass treatment centres.

Despite the massive outbreak in China, Aylward said China has seen some success repressing the spread of the virus, with the number of new confirmed cases on the decline.

But he warned the spread of the virus to other countries seems inevitable, and they will need to tackle it with the goal of tracing every case and stopping chains of transmission.

He urged all countries to make sure hospitals increase their bed capacities and have enough ventilators for the very sick. He said they should also prepare to quarantine large numbers of people who come into contact with those who have confirmed cases of the disease.

“There’s nothing on that list that countries can’t do,” he said.

Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Tuesday that Canada is already ahead of many countries because it has a pandemic plan in place and federal authorities have been co-ordinating with provincial health care providers about the COVID-19 response for months now.

Still, Canada has so far been focused on containing sick people coming in from abroad and must now start to prepare for the possibility of local spread.

“As it appears that containment is less and less likely to be successful globally, we turn our attention to our domestic preparedness,” Hajdu said.

The health minister had a warning of her own, for all Canadians.

“It’s important for Canadians to realize that this may cause disruptions in their lives. It might mean that if someone is ill in their family that people may have to be isolated, that businesses may have to have contingency plans,” she said.

Aylward’s final report, which includes findings about how the disease is transmitted, has not yet been released. It had been submitted to the WHO and Chinese authorities, who will be responsible for releasing it to the public

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

By Camille Bains

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER _ A legal challenge by the owner of a private clinic providing scheduled surgery for  “affluent” patients should be denied because it is based on a flawed constitutional argument, a lawyer for the B.C. government says.

Jonathan Penner said Tuesday that Dr. Brian Day’s bid to have the province strike down provisions of the Medicare Protection Act prohibiting double-billing amounts to an  “unlawful business model.”

Penner told B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Steeves that Day’s legal team has called the province’s position shocking, adding that’s based on a disregard for patients who can’t afford private care at clinics, such as the Cambie Surgery Centre, opened by Day in 1996.

“In my submission what truly is shocking is this complete and utter disregard for the situation of anyone who is not in a position to come up with the funds to pay them to provide rapid surgical services,” he said.

“They seek the privileged, those few privileged British Columbians who require scheduled surgery and have the resources to pay for private care,” Penner said, adding  “ordinary” people would have less access to care under a two-tier system Day has proposed.

The frail and elderly, patients with complex conditions, and those with severe mental illness and/or substance-use issues would be particularly disadvantaged because regulating a public-private system that could invite American-style insurers would come at a high cost and take money away from public health care, he said.

Waitlists for patients requiring palliative care as well as emergency and urgent services would also increase under such a system because doctors, anesthesiologists and nurses would be lured to clinics allowing them to earn money in both the public and private systems, he said.

Penner suggested physicians should no longer be enrolled in the Medical Services Plan if they choose to work in for-profit clinics.

Day, an orthopedic surgeon, has hinged his decade-long legal battle on arguments around patients having a right to pay for services if wait times in the public system are too long.

He has maintained that four plaintiff patients have been deprived of life, liberty and security under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms after suffering harms from waiting for surgery in the public system before they sought care at his clinic.

Penner called that argument “political theatre” and said Day’s legal team has failed to identify whether any harms the patients may have endured were related to wait times in the public system.

Hanna Davis, a lawyer for the federal government, said Day’s assertion that private health insurance could enable patients to access care at clinics like his would not apply to people who can’t afford premiums, especially if they have pre-existing conditions.

The same applies for employer-based insurance, which also would not be available to those who are retired, unemployed or not provided with such options at their workplace, she said.

Regardless, the underlying principle of the Canada Health Act is based on access to care based on need, not ability to pay, Davis said.

A two-tier scheme would weaken the public system, which would be left to deal with more complicated health-care cases while private clinics would take on easier surgeries as part of what is referred to as  “cream skimming,” she said.

The Canada Health Act does not explicitly require provinces to prohibit duplicative private insurance as a condition of federal health funding, she said.

“However, all Canadian provinces have either voluntarily prohibited or effectively restricted private health duplicative insurance as one of the main safeguards to protect the integrity of the public health-care system.”

Requiring people to have their own insurance would amount to discrimination against those who wouldn’t be eligible for it, Davis said.

When Day opened his clinic, he said surgeons who worked in hospitals were not getting enough operating-room time and profit was not his motive.

However, the facility has been operating since 2003 in violation of unproclaimed provisions of the provincial Medicare Protection Act.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000 for a first offence if they charged patients for publicly available services and that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach that allowed private-clinic surgeries and diagnostic tests to continue would no longer be permitted.

Day won an injunction at the B.C. Supreme Court that ordered the government not to enforce that section of the act until his constitutional challenge is dealt with.

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