China virus death toll nears 1,400, six health workers among victims

first_imgThe death toll from China’s virus epidemic neared 1,400 on Friday with six medical workers among the victims, underscoring the country’s struggle to contain a deepening health crisis.Nearly 64,000 people are now recorded as having fallen ill from the virus in China, with officials revealing that 1,716 health workers had been infected as of Tuesday.The grim figures come a week after grief and public anger erupted over the death of a whistleblowing doctor who had been reprimanded and silenced by police after raising the alarm about the virus in December. Some 80,000 medical workers were involved in combating the epidemic in Wuhan, the city government said earlier this month.After the death of whistleblower Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist in Wuhan, 10 academics circulated an open letter calling for political reform and freedom of speech in the Communist-ruled country.Under criticism over the handling of the crisis, the Communist Party sacked two top-ranking officials in Hubei, and replaced them with senior cadres with security backgrounds.New count Authorities in Hubei on Thursday started counting patients who were “clinically diagnosed” via lung imaging, in addition to those who undergo lab tests.The revision added nearly 15,000 patients to Hubei’s count in a single day, with officials explaining that past cases were included. The first cases emerged in December in Wuhan.On Friday, Hubei’s health commission said another 116 people had died and more than 4,800 new cases were reported. Of those cases, more than 3,000 were “clinically diagnosed”.The WHO said the numbers included cases going back weeks.The sharp one-day increase “does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak,” said Michael Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program.The move will ensure patients get treated as early as possible, instead of having to wait for laboratory tests, health officials said.”There have been some backlogs in testing and this is also going to help in ensuring that people get adequate care,” Ryan said.The National Health Commission said the new criteria would only apply to Hubei. The commission reported five other deaths and 217 new cases elsewhere in China, as the number of new patients outside Hubei fell for a 10th straight day.It also disclosed a statistical error, saying it removed 108 previous deaths in Hubei that had been double-counted. The nationwide toll still rose to 1,380.Authorities have placed some 56 million people in Hubei under quarantine since late last month, in an unprecedented effort to stop the new coronavirus from spreading.Some cities in Hubei tightened restrictions this week, sealing off neighborhoods in what they liken to “war-time” measures.Authorities have scrambled to deploy protective equipment to Wuhan’s hospitals, where doctors and nurses have been overwhelmed by an ever-growing number of patients.Some 26 billion Chinese yuan (US$3.7 billion) has been spent on medical equipment, protective gear and improving conditions in medical facilities, said Ou Wenhan, a finance ministry official.US criticism While the WHO has praised China’s handling of the epidemic — in contrast to its cover-up of the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003 — a top White House official on Thursday said Beijing should be more open.”We are a little disappointed that we haven’t been invited in and we’re a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, told reporters.Kudlow said President Xi Jinping had assured President Donald Trump that Beijing would accept US help, but “they won’t let us”.Kudlow’s comments contrasted with Trump’s apparent confidence in China, with the US leader telling a radio show that Xi is “extremely capable” and that the US was “working with them” and “sending a lot of people”.Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing has had an “open and transparent attitude” with the global community since the start of the epidemic.”The Chinese side has always a positive, open attitude toward cooperation with the US side,” Geng told reporters, adding that US and Chinese health departments have maintained close communication and exchanged epidemic information in a “timely manner”.Several countries have banned arrivals from China, while major airlines have halted flights to and from the country.The US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” about the vulnerability of China’s northern neighbor, North Korea, and offered to support aid work in the country. Topics :center_img The scale of the epidemic swelled this week after authorities in central Hubei province, the epicenter of the contagion, changed their criteria for counting cases, adding thousands of new patients to their tally.The health emergency in China has caused fears of further global contagion, with more than two-dozen countries reporting hundreds of cases among them. Three people have died outside mainland China.The United States has accused China of lacking transparency.The majority of cases of infections among health workers was in Hubei’s capital, Wuhan, where many have lacked proper masks and gear to protect themselves in hospitals dealing with a deluge of patients.last_img read more

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Got a Google Maps link on floods? Careful, it’s misinformation, says BNPB

first_imgThe National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has cautioned city residents over a widely shared link to Google Maps purporting to show flooded areas in Jakarta.Beredar secara luas peta banjir terlampir, ada juga yang diedarkan via link google maps. Peta tersebut adalah peta genangan banjir thn 2013. Peta yang update berdasar laporan masy bisa diakses di https://t.co/LhQnyCWoMx @BNPB_Indonesia @TurnBackHoax #banjir2020 #Jabodetabek pic.twitter.com/OHp6iffl9R— Agus Wibowo (@aw3126) February 25, 2020“The attached flood [area] map has been widely shared. It is also being shared as a Google Maps link. The map shows flooded areas in 2013. The updated flood map based on public reports can be accessed at petabencana.id,” BNPB spokesperson Agus Wibowo posted to Twitter on Tuesday. Following the link reveals that the map was created on Jan. 20, 2013. The map, which shows massive flooding across most of Jakarta, has been circulating via messaging apps and on social media since Tuesday morning.Google Indonesia did not immediately respond to The Jakarta Post’s request for comment.Residents once again awoke to widespread flooding on Tuesday, following heavy overnight rains in the capital and surrounding areas.Mild to severe flooding across Greater Jakarta has paralyzed traffic on several major roads and disrupted public transportation.Topics :last_img read more

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General mask use OK where hand-washing, distancing hard: WHO

first_imgRacism row Tedros also lashed out at “racist” suggestions from some scientists that Africa could be used as a testing ground for a vaccine, which is thought to be 12 to 18 months away.Two leading French doctors sparked a storm of criticism last week by discussing on television the idea of testing a coronavirus vaccine in Africa, citing its relative lack of resilience to the pandemic in its infrastructure.They insisted Friday they had been misunderstood and apologized for any offence caused.Africa has confirmed relatively few cases and deaths so far compared to other continents.But the WHO and others have long warned that it could be badly exposed should the virus, both in terms of preparedness and health care.”Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine,” Tedros said.”It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st century to hear from scientists…  this kind of racist remarks.”The hang-over from the colonial mentality has to stop. WHO will not allow this to happen.”We will follow all the rules to test any vaccine or therapeutics all over the world using exactly the same rules,” said Tedros, who previously served as minister of health and foreign affairs in Ethiopia. The WHO said Monday that asking the general public to wear facemasks could be justified in areas where hand-washing and physical distancing were difficult, but warned masks alone could not stop the coronavirus pandemic.World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also slammed suggestions that Africa should be used as a testing ground for a vaccine as racist.The global COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 70,000 people, while more than 1.2 million people have tested positive for the new coronavirus. A vaccine is thought to be at least a year away. “Countries could consider using masks in communities where other measures such as cleaning hands and physical distancing are harder to achieve because of lack of water or cramped living conditions,” Tedros told a virtual briefing in Geneva.Tedros said he understood that some countries had recommended or were considering the use of both medical and non-medical masks in the general population to prevent the spread of the virus.However, he stressed that the mass use of medical masks could exacerbate the shortage of protective equipment for healthcare workers, saying some were now facing “real danger”.And he said that outside of health facilities, medical masks were recommended for those who were sick, and their carers.center_img Free online concert Meanwhile the WHO teamed up with US superstar Lady Gaga to launch a giant coronavirus awareness concert on April 18 entitled “One World: Together at Home”.The free oTopics :last_img read more

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Bank Indonesia strikes $60b repo facility deal with US Fed as forex reserves drop

first_imgRead also: Indonesia sells Asia’s first 50-year dollar bond to fight pandemic“The Fed only works with a few emerging countries including Indonesia on such deals,” he added. “This shows a vote of confidence in Indonesia’s economic prospects.”The rupiah dropped around 15 percent against the US dollar in March, as investors pulled money out of emerging markets and fled to the safe-haven assets, triggering dollar liquidity shortages.On Tuesday, the currency appreciated 1.3 percent to Rp 16,200 per US dollar, while the yield on 10-year government bonds fell 4 basis points to 8.16 percent, the first decline in seven days, according to Bloomberg data. Bank Indonesia (BI) has reached a repurchase agreement (repo) worth US$60 billion with the United States Federal Reserve to boost dollar liquidity supply following a fall in Indonesia’s foreign exchange reserves in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic.Forex reserves dropped $9.4 billion last month to $121 billion as the central bank stepped up market intervention to stabilize the rupiah exchange rate amid heavy capital outflows, it announced on Tuesday.“This will be the second line of defense other than bilateral currency swaps in case we need dollar liquidity,” BI Governor Perry Warjiyo said in a teleconferenced meeting later on Tuesday, adding that the current forex reserves level was “adequate” for further market interventions and the central bank would use the second line of defense if necessary. BI has a $30 billion bilateral swap agreement with China, $22.7 billion with Japan, around $7 billion with Singapore and an undisclosed amount with Australia and other central banks to buffer the nation’s economy in the COVID-19 battle.Furthermore, the central bank has also sealed a $2.5 billion repo line agreement with the Bank of International Settlements and another $3 billion with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.Read also: BI to dominate ownership of ‘pandemic bonds’ as debt burden grows“Going forward, we see a higher risk of foreign reserve outflows mainly related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bank Mandiri chief economist Andry Asmoro wrote in a research note.The ongoing pandemic, he went on to say, caused uncertainty in the financial markets, which made investors dump Indonesian assets and delayed the inflow of foreign direct investment into the country as the global value chain has been seriously damaged.“It is also causing a global recession that weakens major commodity prices, disrupting Indonesia’s export performance,” Andry said, adding that the health crisis had heavily impacted Indonesia’s tourism.“We expect the current account deficit to widen to 2.88 percent of GDP and the financial account balance to notably decline,” he said. “If the pandemic keeps getting worse, we see the balance of payments in 2020 booking a huge deficit.”A group of economic researchers at the University of Indonesia’s Institute for Economic and Social Research (LPEM UI) said that massive capital outflows during the COVID-19 crisis had an impact on slowing money supply growth in the economy as liquidity dried up.Read also: Indonesia’s COVID-19 stimulus worth 2.5% of GDP, lower than Singapore, Malaysia“Considering banks’ liquidity is a central factor in the money circulation cycle, particularly in terms of loan creation, the threat of liquidity shortages needs to be addressed immediately,” the researchers wrote.”Looking at the trend of capital outflows, which suppressed forex liquidity during the pandemic, the rupiah will still be under pressure until the COVID-19 pandemic tapers off,” the LPEM researchers said, projecting that the rupiah would hover at around Rp 16,500 to Rp 17,500 against the greenback this year.Topics :last_img read more

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Five percent of Indonesia’s COVID-19 cases are children: Ministry

first_imgThe ministry was therefore devising a protocol for implementing the so-called new normal at schools to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus among children, Ciput said.Read also: 22-month old baby in N. Sulawesi may be Indonesia’s youngest COVID-19 related deathAs of Thursday afternoon, Indonesia has recorded 24,538 COVID-19 cases nationwide, 1,496 of which have turned fatal. Based on the ministry’s statement, that would mean roughly 1,200 children are infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the country.The Indonesian Pediatricians Association (IDAI) previously revealed that at least 584 children in Indonesia had tested positive for COVID-19, 14 of whom had died of the disease.Meanwhile, up to 3,324 children have been classified under the PDP status, which refers to people with COVID-19 symptoms who have not been confirmed as having the illness. As many as 129 of them have died.”We retrieved the data on May 18,” IDAI chairman Aman Bhakti Pulungan told kompas.com last week.Topics : According to the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry, around 5 percent of all people found to be COVID-19-positive in Indonesia are children below 17 years of age.”Normally, children’s immunity is lower than that of adults,” said the ministry’s deputy assistant for child protection in emergency situations and pornography, Ciput Eka Purwianti, on Thursday.According to the ministry’s preliminary analysis, many children are infected with the virus due to the lack of a clean and healthy lifestyle, indicators of which include frequently washing hands with clean water and soap, eating fruits and vegetables in sufficient amounts and doing physical activities on a daily basis.last_img read more

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N. Korea to cut communication lines to ‘enemy’ South: KCNA

first_imgThe links being cut also include “the East and West Seas communication lines” between militaries of the two sides, an inter-Korean “trial communication line” and a hotline between the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and South Korea’s presidential Blue House, KCNA said.Last week, the North threatened to close the liaison office with the South and threatened further steps to make Seoul “suffer.”Kim’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, also threatened to scrap a military agreement signed with Seoul unless the South stopped activists from sending the leaflets.KCNA said Tuesday that Kim Yo Jong, and another top official, Kim Yong Chol, have “stressed that the work towards the South should thoroughly turn into the one against enemy.”Pyongyang largely cut off contact with Seoul following the collapse of a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Hanoi last year that left nuclear talks at a standstill. North Korea will cut military and political communication links to “enemy” South Korea on Tuesday, state media said, after threats over activists sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets over the border.The threats come with inter-Korean ties at a standstill, despite three summits between the North’s Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in in 2018.Pyongyang “will completely cut off and shut down the liaison line between the authorities of the North and the South, which has been maintained through the North-South joint liaison office,” as well as other communication links “from 12:00 on June 9, 2020,” the Korean Central News Agency said. Topics :last_img read more

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Real Madrid move top of La Liga with win over Sociedad

first_imgReal Madrid took control of the Spanish title race by beating Real Sociedad 2-1 away on Sunday to move top of La Liga above Barcelona after a second-half high on controversy.Madrid captain Sergio Ramos broke the deadlock in the 50th minute by converting a penalty after Vinicius Jr went to ground in the area following contact from Sociedad’s Diego Llorente.Sociedad thought they had levelled with a strike from Adnan Januzaj from outside the box but the goal was ruled out after a VAR review showed Mikel Merino obstructing the view of Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois without touching the ball. Their sense of injustice deepened a minute later when Karim Benzema doubled Madrid’s lead in the 71st after controlling the ball with the top of his arm although Merino ensured an exciting finish by lashing in off the crossbar in the 83rd minute.However, Zinedine Zidane’s side clung on for the win to move level with Barca on 65 points after 30 games but climbed above the Catalans, who were held 0-0 at Sevilla on Friday, due to a superior head-to-head record. Sociedad are sixth on 47.Madrid’s trip to San Sebastian was full of intrigue after Barca failed to beat Sevilla and the Catalan side’s defender Gerard Pique said the title was now Madrid’s for the taking.He appeared to suggest decisions had gone Madrid’s way in their 3-0 win over Valencia last Thursday. Zidane’s team had benefitted from a Valencia goal that was chalked off for an offside against a player who had not touched the ball and there was a tangible sense of deja-vu when Januzaj’s equaliser was ruled out due to Merino’s position.”We’re angry with everything but mainly with the way we lost, because the little details and the big moments went against us,” said Merino.”I was at least five metres from Courtois when I was flagged offside. I don’t know if the same thing would have happened had it been in the other area but the flag went up and we feel that we have been wronged.”Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde, however, felt the three points were deserved.”In my opinion we were the superior team against a very tough opponent, we knew how to cope with them and how to hold on to our lead,” said the Uruguayan.”We’re so happy because it was such a hard game and when you win a game like that you should enjoy it.”Topics :last_img read more

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‘The others won’t sleep’: Klopp wants even more from Liverpool

first_imgLiverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side will need to keep improving to hold off the chasing pack next season after lifting the Premier League trophy.The Reds clinched the title last month, but finally got their hands on the silverware after a 5-3 win over Chelsea on Wednesday.Chelsea have already strengthened ahead of next season with the signings of a long-term Liverpool target Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech. “Chelsea is such a talented team, we had to bring everything on the pitch tonight. Man Utd, Man City [will contend], there are no guarantees for anything, but we will try.”Liverpool also beat Chelsea to lift the UEFA Super Cup at the start of the season to go with the Premier League, Champions League and Club World Cup and Klopp admitted he will take time for a special moment after an incredible run of success.”We are champions of England, Europe and the world. We won four trophies, really big ones, so I couldn’t be more proud,” he added.”I’m usually not a person who needs pictures but I will have a picture with all four trophies because it doesn’t happen often, so we should.”Jordan Henderson had the honor of becoming the first Liverpool player to lift the Premier League trophy and the Reds’ captain believes the manner of victory over a Chelsea side, who needed a result to confirm their place in the Champions League next season, bodes well for what can be achieved next season.”It’s been a journey and to finish it off like this is really special,” said Henderson.”After this, next season is going to be a big challenge for us. But I thought tonight we showed the mentality to come and perform again and get the result we did.” Klopp also expects Manchester City and Manchester United to bolster their squads.But the German believes there is still improvement for his players to make despite becoming English, European and world champions over the past 14 months.”We should not stop, we have internal challenges to improve,” said Klopp.”We have the chance to make another step, but we have to because the others will not sleep.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Rescue of 35 child workers triggers probe in India’s garment factory hub

first_imgTiruppur’s top official K Vijayakarthikeyan said the local administration had since been carrying out more factory visits in the major garment hub to search for cases of child labor.”We are conducting an enquiry and have instructed all our staff to update us on a daily basis,” Tiruppur’s district-in-charge told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.”A probe against the mill has been initiated and all efforts are being made to ensure this rare case doesn’t happen again.”As India slowly opens up after months of lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19, activists are concerned that more child workers will be recruited and exploited as industries re-open. Efforts to tackle child labor in garment factories in southern India are being ramped up after the rescue of 35 children from a spinning mill, officials said on Thursday, amid concerns of an increase in trafficking as coronavirus restrictions are eased.In one of the first cases of child labor reported in India since the pandemic, 32 girls and three boys were rescued in Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu state last week following a tip-off to staff at Childline, a toll-free emergency helpline for children.The children were forced to work 14 hours-a-day and given no days off, according to the district’s child welfare committee. “Adolescents are likely to be aggressively recruited as industries unlock and the focus is on getting the economy restarted,” said Prithviraj Sinnathambi, director of charity Community Awareness Research Education Trust (CARE-T).Indian labor laws ban the employment of anyone aged under 15 but children are permitted to support family businesses outside of school hours. This provision is widely exploited by employers and human traffickers, child rights campaigners say.India’s home ministry last month issued an advisory asking state governments to protect children from traffickers and help identify and rescue missing residents.The rescue in Tiruppur prompted social worker C M Sivababu to file a legal action asking authorities to identify and help other victims of child labor in garment factories in the area.He said labor agents had taken advantage of schools being closed and job losses leaving families on the brink of poverty.The Madras High Court responded on Thursday by directing police and labor officials to inspect local garment factories and present their findings at the next hearing in the case.Tiruppur officials said they this week received letters from parents asking them to bring home their children from factories.”One of the girls who was rescued and went back home has shared details of her work conditions with other families,” said Bhaskaran Mahalingam, project manager at charity Centre for Social Education and Development.”This has caused alarm and more parents are reaching out for help to bring back their children home safely.”About 2,400 human trafficking cases were reported in India in 2018, with nearly half of the victims aged under 18, according to the latest available government crime data. Topics :last_img read more

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Retailers optimistic annual sale season will jump start consumer spending

first_imgAt a press conference, Deputy Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Angela Tanoesoedibjo said the pandemic and subsequent large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) had driven down demand in the tourism and retail sectors.According to National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) data, the purchasing power of Indonesian dropped Rp 362 trillion in the weeks between March 30 and June 6 due to the pandemic.“[The COVID-19] pandemic and PSBB measures have affected demand for non-essential products. However, we hope the situation will improve in the third and fourth quarters of 2020,” she said.Besides ramping up household spending, it is also hoped that the HBDI will help retailers sell their excess stock, which has sat unsold during the closure of malls and shopping centers from late March to mid-June in Jakarta.“As shopping centers were closed during the Idul Fitri holiday season, we hope this event can help retailers sell their Lebaran stockpiles such as sarongs and Muslim attire,” Indonesian Shopping Centers Tenants Association (Hippindo) chairperson Budihardjo Iduansjah told journalists.“This is the right moment to empty our warehouses as we’re currently being helped by the government and online marketplaces during the event.”Hippindo and HBDI are working together with e-commerce giants Tokopedia, Lazada, Blibli.com and technology decacorn Gojek for event promotion and product marketing. Topics : The committee set a sales target of Rp 24 trillion (US$1.6 billion) during last year’s HBDI event, a 20 percent increase from the first HBDI target in 2017, according to Kompas.This year’s HBDI will offer special prices for consumers, with discounts reaching up to 75 percent from Aug. 14 to 30 both in-store and on online marketplaces.Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of the production of goods and services, was down 5.32 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the second quarter, the steepest decline since the first quarter of 1999, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) announced Wednesday.Household spending, which accounts for more than half of GDP, fell 5.51 percent yoy in the second quarter. Apparel consumption, included under the household spending category, also fell 5.13 percent yoy during the period. Hopes are high the annual Indonesian Discount Shopping Days (HBDI) will give a much needed boost to household spending, which has been well down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, providing retailers with an opportunity to sell their excess stock at below-market prices, officials have said.HBDI committee chairperson and president director of state-owned retailer Sarinah, Fetty Kwartawati, told The Jakarta Post Friday that a sales target had not been set for this year’s event, but that it was more focused on simply reviving consumer spending.“While we can’t predict exactly what the sales will be like because of the pandemic, we are certain this event will jump start retail activities,” she said during an online press conference.last_img read more

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