A new report indicates coronavirus infections originate in the nose
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill followed how the virus manifests in the respiratory tract and “found a gradient of infectivity that decreases from the paper to the lower respiratory tract: the most easily infected cells are in the nasal cavity” writes Nature.
The report concludes that if the nose is the initial site where a coronavirus infection takes hold, "these studies argue for the widespread use of masks" that can protect the nasal passages from "aerosol, large droplet, and mechanical exposure."
Coronavirus began spreading in the US in January — predating President Trump's travel restrictions and the detection of community transmission, CDC says
Nearly a month before community spread was first detected, "sustained, community transmission" of the coronavirus in the United States began in late January or early February, a report from the CDC says.
A "single importation" from China was followed by "several importations" from Europe, the study's authors found.
Antibody tests for Covid-19 wrong up to half the time, CDC says
"Antibodies in some persons can be detected within the first week of illness onset," the CDC says. They are not accurate enough to use to make important policy decisions, the CDC said.
"Serologic test results should not be used to make decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities," the CDC says.
Fact check: Mortality in the U.S. did noticeably increase during the first months of 2020 compared to previous years
Claim: The U.S. is not losing “tons more lives in 2020” compared to 2019 (18,433) ... the increase is virtually non-existent
Misleading: The author calculated the number of deaths that occurred during a time window in 2020 that was inappropriate for assessing whether the COVID-19 epidemic impacted overall U.S. mortality (70% of the time period is prior to the onset of COVID-19).
Lacks context: The post author neglected to explain that the CDC collects and reports death count data in a manner that results in underestimates in initial reports followed by rapid increases as new data becomes available.
"Lockdown was a waste of time and could kill more than it saved, claims Nobel laureate scientist at Stanford University" — U.K. Daily Mail on 24 May 2020.
Professor Levitt also said the modelling that caused the government to bring in the lockdown — carried out by Professor Neil Ferguson — over-estimated the death toll by '10 or 12 times'.
"Nobel Prize-winning scientist explains why COVID lockdowns may have cost more lives than they saved" — The Blaze, 24 May 2020
Nobel prize-winning scientist : the Covid-19 epidemic was never exponential — Unherd, 2 May 2020.
Unherd: "His observation is a simple one: that in outbreak after outbreak of this disease, a similar mathematical pattern is observable regardless of government interventions. After around a two week exponential growth of cases (and, subsequently, deaths) some kind of break kicks in, and growth starts slowing down. The curve quickly becomes "sub-exponential".
This may seem like a technical distinction, but its implications are profound. The 'unmitigated' scenarios modelled by (among others) Imperial College, and which tilted governments across the world into drastic action, relied on a presumption of continued exponential growth — that with a consistent R number of significantly above 1 and a consistent death rate, very quickly the majority of the population would be infected and huge numbers of deaths would be recorded. But Professor Levitt's point is that that hasn't actually happened anywhere, even in countries that have been relatively lax in their responses."
Global Research: "Will the Political Class be Held Liable for What They've Done? Politicians have effectively claimed a right to inflict unlimited economic damage in pursuit of zero COVID-19 contagion." — 25 May 2020.
"A Nobel Prize-winning mathematical modeller has slammed Australia as a 'standout loser' for damaging its economy with coronavirus lockdowns, but medical scientists and economists have blasted his ideas as 'dangerous'." — U.K. Daily Mail, 3 May 2020.
Counterpunch: Lockdown will not cost more lives than it saves. But reacting to a recession caused by one, with yet more austerity measures, may well do. — Al Jazeera, 24 April 2020.
The Chinese institute did not encounter the pandemic pathogen until December 30 when it was sent a clinical sample, director says. It also 'did not have a live sample' of another bat virus that is 96 per cent similar to Sars-CoV-2.scmp (LINK)
Coronavirus researchers warn 2-metre distance rule may not be far enough
A light wind can carry an infected cough three times further in just five seconds, study finds. More research needed into effects of temperature and humidity. Researchers also warned that shorter adults and children could be at higher risk if they were within the trajectory of droplets carrying the infection
Coronavirus testing is 'a mess' in the US, report says
Coronavirus testing in the United States is disorganized and needs coordination at the national level, infectious disease experts said in a new report released Wednesday. Right now, testing is not accurate enough to use alone to make most decisions, including who should go back to work or to school, the team at the University of Minnesota said.
If the country had begun locking down cities and limiting social contact on March 1, two weeks earlier than most people started staying home, the vast majority of the nation's deaths – about 83 percent – would have been avoided, researchers estimated. Under that scenario, about 54,000 fewer people would have died by early May.
COVID-19 and Vitamin-D: do the deficient risk a poorer outcome?
One mostly overlooked factor that could influence outcome of COVID-19 is the relative vitamin D status of populations. The government health agencies of Great Britain have recommended that people take vitamin D supplements through summer and autumn during this pandemic. Vitamin D supplementation could be especially important for older people as they are at high risk of poor outcome from COVID-19 and of vitamin D deficiency.
CDC updates guidance to say COVID-19 'does not spread easily' through touching contaminated surfaces
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance on COVID-19 to say that the disease "does not spread easily" on contaminated surfaces.
The CDC says "the virus spreads easily between people" but "does not spread easily in other ways." Under the second section, the guidance reads: "It may be possible for COVID-19 to spread in other ways, but these are not thought to be the main ways the virus spreads."
The Lancet rebuts Trump's coronavirus claims about the WHO
In a letter published Monday, Trump's excoriated WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, saying the organization had "failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese government's official accounts".
"This statement is factually incorrect," The Lancet, a general medical journal, responded in a statement. "The Lancet published no report in December, 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China." The journal said the first reports it published were on Jan. 24, adding that the scientists and physicians who led one of the studies were all from Chinese institutions.
Sweden's Covid-19 strategy has caused an 'amplification of the epidemic'
Reported coronavirus deaths per million in Sweden stand at 358, according to Statista — even higher than the hard-hit US, at 267. The Swedish figure is dramatically worse than those of Denmark (93), Finland (53) and Norway (44). In Sweden, "we're seeing an amplification of the epidemic, because there's simply more social contact," said Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in the US.
"Social distancing on board (leaving the middle seat open) is obviated by the wearing of face coverings by all on board on top of transmission reducing characteristics of the cabin (everybody is front facing, air flow is from ceiling to floor, seats provide a barrier to forward/aft transmission, and air filtration systems that operate to hospital operating theatre standards)."
Coronavirus did not come from animals in Wuhan market, unreviewed study says
The team think the samples provide enough data to suggest it was unlikely coronavirus 'originated from an intermediate animal host, particularly if the most recent common ancestor jumped into humans as early as October, 2019' and that the 'SARS-CoV-2 genomes in the market samples were most likely from humans infected with SARS-CoV-2 who were vendors or visitors at the market.'
Multiple posts falsely claim that Thailand tops the Global Health Security (GHS) Index for COVID-19 response
As of May 15, 2020, Thailand has 3,018 confirmed cases on COVID-19, according to World Health Organization figures. Several regional countries — including Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka — all have lower levels of confirmed infections to date.
WHO Thailand specialist Dr. Richard Barrow told AFP by email on May 15, 2020 that "it is incorrect to say that Thailand has the lowest number of cases of COVID-19 globally". "Thailand has a total of 3017 cumulative cases confirmed to date and 56 deaths as of 12 May 2020. Looking at other countries in the region, where number of cases are lower than Thailand, Vietnam for instance has 288 confirmed cases and zero deaths. In Myanmar there have been 180 confirmed cases and six deaths."
Using Machine Learning Tools, Scientists Identify Markers Predicting Whether COVID-19 Patients Will Die with 90 Percent Accuracy More than Ten Days in Advance, Study Says
Using machine learning tools, scientists identified three markers in the blood that can predict whether individual COVID-19 patients will die more than 10 days in advance with more than 90 percent accuracy, they reported in the scientific journal Nature Machine Intelligence.
These three markers "can be easily collected in any hospital," the authors write. "In crowded hospitals, and with shortages of medical resources, this simple model can help to quickly prioritize patients." The authors developed a three-step decision tree – with specific threshold levels of each marker – to help doctors quickly predict the risk of death for a given patient.
The markers are lactic dehydrogenase (LDH), which can indicate lung injury and is particularly important in predicting risk of death from COVID-19; high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), which can indicate inflammation; and lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection.
With the same goal of helping doctors prioritize high risk patients, a recent study identified 10 predictors out of a field of 72 and developed an online calculator that doctors can use to assign a risk score when they admit patients to a hospital (JAMA). Two of the predictors – elevated LDH and a high ratio of neutrophils to lymphocytes – echo those in the Nature Machine Intelligence study (Business Insider).
In Wuhan, China, research shows 14%-19% of infected patients became severely sick. Among those critically ill cases, the death rate was higher than 60%.
What we know about the new Covid-19-linked illness in children
A rare, Kawasaki-like disease is striking kids who have coronavirus antibodies, a Lancet study from Italy shows. "Our study provides the first clear evidence of a link between SARS-CoV-2 infection and this inflammatory condition, and we hope it will help doctors around the world as we try to get to grips with this unknown virus," said Lorenzo D'Antiga, lead author of the study from the Hospital Papa Giovanni XXIII in Bergamo, Italy, in a statement. Lauren Henderson, an attending physician at Boston Children's Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, called it, "a very important study".
New Roche coronavirus test 'highly specific and 100 per cent accurate'
Public Health England (PHE) said that last week the scientific experts at its Porton Down facility had carried out an independent evaluation of a new antibody blood test developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company. The examination found that Roche's serology test was “highly specific” and had an accuracy of 100 per cent. The findings have been hailed as a “very positive development” in combating the coronavirus outbreak.
Men have higher levels of enzyme key to COVID-19 infection, study finds
Men's blood has higher levels than women's of a key enzyme used by the new coronavirus to infect cells, the results of a big European study showed on Monday – a finding which may help explain why men are more vulnerable to infection with COVID-19.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is found in the heart, kidneys and other organs. In COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, it is thought to play a role in how the infection progresses into the lungs.
‘Finally, a virus got me.' Peter Piot, scientist who fought Ebola and HIV reflects, on facing death from COVID-19
"I hope that the World Health Organization [WHO], which is doing a great job in the fight against COVID-19, can be reformed to make it less bureaucratic and less dependent on advisory committees in which individual countries primarily defend their own interests. WHO too often becomes a political playground."
At least 85 kids across U.S. have developed rare, mysterious COVID-19-linked illness
Children with a rare but potentially dangerous complication thought to be linked to the coronavirus have now been identified in at least seven states and the Washington, D.C., area. Doctors say the increase does not necessarily suggest that the number of such cases has grown. Instead, they say, it is likely the result of increased awareness of the problem, which just this week got an official name: pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
New coronavirus spread swiftly around world from late 2019, study finds
Scientists at University College London's Genetics Institute found almost 200 recurrent genetic mutations of the new coronavirus – SARS-CoV-2 – which the UCL researchers said showed how it is adapting to its human hosts as it spreads.
Applying principles of behaviour change to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission
There are many actors whose behaviour is crucial to limiting the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. These include governments, health and social care organisations, businesses, media outlets and community groups.
Children in Geneva and Vaud ill with Kawasaki-like disease
Two children from the Vaud are in the Lausanne University Hospital, another three have been diagnosed as suffering from the disease though all five have not registered as positive for COVID-19. Another three are recorded in Geneva, all of whom had contact with the corona virus.
Coronavirus: over 70% of critical care patients in UK are men
More than 70% Covid-19 patients admitted to critical care in UK are men, according to a report presented by the UK's Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre. The finding is based on a sample of 7,542 patients. Researchers found that 5,389 of these patients were men and 2,149 were women. The report says that the percentage of men dying in the intensive care, 51%, is more than women, 43%.
Parties and funerals blamed for spikes in 21 U.S. states
More than a dozen states and the US territory of Puerto Rico have recorded their highest seven-day average of new cases since the pandemic began. In at least nine states, hospitalisation rates have also seen a steady increase.
U.S. coronavirus cases now over 2 million: Reuters tally
Total U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed 2 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as health officials urge anyone who took part in massive protests for racial justice to get tested. Nationally, new infections are rising slightly after five weeks of declines, according to a Reuters analysis. Part of the increase is due to more testing.
World leaders won't gather at UN for first time in 75 years
The president of the U.N. General Assembly said Monday that world leaders will not be coming to New York for their annual gathering in late September for the first time in the 75-year history of the United Nations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 100 Safest Countries In The World For COVID-19
Switzerland is the safest country in the world right now for COVID-19. South Sudan is, according to a massive 250-page report, the most dangerous nation. The United States? It ranks number 58, just behind Romania, and two places ahead of Russia.
Sweden now has world's highest death rate after it decided to ignore lockdown advice
The title, which was briefly held by the UK late last month, comes after Swedish officials decided to ignore the lockdown advice of countless health experts and kept the country largely open during the pandemic. The number of deaths per capita in Sweden is now more than four times that of its Nordic neighbours.
Can International Geneva survive the Covid-19 geopolitical fallout?
"We are at an inflection point in the international system. What is really new here is the emergence of non-state actors such as multinational companies [...] and transnational non-states actors that are increasingly challenging states' sovereignty on a global level."
The tally of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. has surpassed 100,000
The death toll is far higher than in any other nation in the world. [It] exceeds the number of U.S. military combat fatalities in every conflict since the Korean War. It matches the toll in the United States of the 1968 flu pandemic, and it is approaching the 116,000 killed in another flu outbreak a decade before that.
"The juxtaposition of images in the news of farmers destroying crops and dumping milk with empty supermarket shelves or hungry Americans lining up for hours at food banks tells a story of economic efficiency gone mad."
"The story begins early in the Reagan administration. [...In 2020] President Trump obliged the meatpackers by invoking the Defense Production Act. After having declined to use it to boost the production of badly needed coronavirus test kits, he now declared meat a 'scarce and critical material essential to the national defense'. The executive order took the decision to reopen or close meat plants out of local hands, forced employees back to work without any mandatory safety precautions, and offered their employers some protection from liability for their negligence. On May 8, Tyson reopened a meatpacking plant in Waterloo, Iowa, where more than a thousand workers had tested positive."
"Four companies now process more than 80 percent of beef cattle in America; another four companies process 57 percent of the hogs. A single Smithfield processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, processes 5 percent of the pork Americans eat. When an outbreak of Covid-19 forced the state's governor to shut that plant down in April, the farmers who raise pigs committed to it were stranded.
"Once pigs reach slaughter weight, there's not much else you can do with them. You can't afford to keep feeding them; even if you could, the production lines are designed to accommodate pigs up to a certain size and weight, and no larger. Meanwhile, you've got baby pigs entering the process, steadily getting fatter. Much the same is true for the hybrid industrial chickens, which, if allowed to live beyond their allotted six or seven weeks, are susceptible to broken bones and heart problems and quickly become too large to hang on the disassembly line. This is why the meat-plant closures forced American farmers to euthanize millions of animals, at a time when food banks were overwhelmed by demand."
As Wednesday gave way to Thursday, government data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed 5,000,038 people have now tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The number of deaths around the world also climbed to 328,172.
U.S. States ranked from the fewest coronavirus restrictions to the most
Least is South Dakota. The state has yet to fully implement a stay-at-home order, severe travel restrictions or non-essential business closures.
Strictest: Hawaii. Hawaii Governor David Ige instituted a stay-at-home order on March 25 that has since been extended through May 31. On April 16, Ige updated the order to include measures on face masks in public and closing all state beaches.
Washinton D.C. is Nr 3, New York is 7, Michigan 13.
Coronavirus: Universities fear fall in lucrative overseas students
In the UK, for example, undergraduate students from outside the UK and the EU can be charged annual tuition fees as high as £58,600 instead of the standard £9,000. So, while globalization for many means importing cheaper manufactured goods from around the world, for developed economies one of their greatest recent economic successes has been attracting students from overseas.
The rise of the middle classes around the world has been a godsend for Western universities, says Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Oxford. In the US, 360,000 Chinese students started the last academic year. The influx of foreign students is estimated to be worth as much as $45bn (£37bn) a year to the American economy.
USS Theodore Roosevelt gets underway after nearly 2 months quarantine with coronavirus
The ship was set to leave Guam for the first time since March 27 with a scaled-back crew of about 3,000 sailors, leaving roughly 1,800 crew on shore who are still in quarantine, the ship's commanding officer Capt. Carlos Sardiello told The Associated Press. The group left on shore includes at least 13 sailors who had recovered from the virus and tested positive again in recent days.
According to the first peer-reviewed analysis of the pandemic's impact on carbon-dioxide emissions, the most-polluting sector saw the smallest percent decline
Electric power plants are responsible for almost half of global CO2 emissions. At the peak of the global coronavirus shutdown—pinpointed by researchers as April 7—plant emissions were down only 7.4% compared to 2018 averages, from about 44.6 million metric tons per day to about 41.3 million.
Trump threatens to permanently cut off WHO funding, withdraw U.S. membership
President Donald Trump threatened to permanently cut off U.S. funding of the World Health Organization, in a letter dated Monday that he shared on Twitter.
Trump said that if the WHO "does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization."
It's not immediately clear how Trump would withhold those funds, much of which are appropriated by Congress. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding.
The letter echoes Trump's previous complaint that the WHO resisted issuing a travel advisory in the early days of the outbreak. When the agency declared the situation a global health emergency in late January, Tedros advised countries against imposing "measures that unnecessarily interfere with international trade or travel.""
Trump's letter also repeats growing scrutiny over how the WHO handled information reported by China. The president previously accused the agency of being "China centric."
"The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China ... I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America's interests,"the letter said.
The People's Republic of China has represented "China" at the United Nations and all its agencies (including the WHO), since 1971. During a brief period of detente between Taipei and Beijing that lasted from 2009 to 2016, Taiwan was invited to the WHA as an observer. That stopped when the island elected a president that Beijing deems unfriendly to its interests. — Quartz 16 May 2020 (LINK).
Reuters: Taiwan says did not receive WHO meeting invite, issue off the table for now
Despite strong efforts Taiwan did not get invited to this week's meeting of a key World Health Organization (WHO) body due to Chinese pressure, its foreign minister said on Monday, adding they had agreed to put the issue off until later this year.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses deep regret and strong dissatisfaction that the World Health Organization Secretariat has yielded to pressure from the Chinese government and continues to disregard the right to health of the 23 million people of Taiwan."
Xi defends China's Covid-19 actions and pledges $2 billion
China's president Xi Jinping has announced a major $2bn funding initiative for Covid-19 response in his opening speech at the World Health Assembly.
The pledge was among a number of new pledges by WHO member states, including Germany, to the epidemic response and WHO after the US government's freeze of its payments, worth about $430 million for 2020 and 2021. The World Health Organization runs on a two-year budget cycle. For 2020 and 2021, its budget for carrying out its programs is $4.8 billion, or $2.4 billion per year.
The Chinese President said that the new initiative would include «green corridors» to fast track customs and ensure vital health supplies reach Africa, partnering with 30 major African hospitals, a debt suspension initiative, and the ramping up of a Covid-19 vaccine.
During the preceding month, dozens of institutions announced furloughs, often accompanied by salary cuts, suspended capital projects, temporary layoffs and other cost saving measures to stem their financial losses. But to many observers, those measures were seen as just the first shoe to drop - a prelude to actions more severe and permanent, involving the termination of staff and faculty contracts. This week that other shoe dropped. Several universities have announced that layoffs will begin to take place or that a new round of terminations will be necessary.
Travel restrictions, funding gaps a bigger problem than PPE, humanitarian leaders say
"Obviously, we've moved to remote management in a number of areas, but it's actually domestic travel restrictions that are preventing the movement of local staff that is the greatest impediment at the moment," said David Miliband, president and CEO at the International Rescue Committee, in a Council on Foreign Relations conference call.
Amid pandemic, the world's working poor hustle to survive
More than four out of five people in the global labor force of 3.3 billion have been hit by full or partial workplace closures, according to the International Labor Organization, which says 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy "stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed".
America's business of prisons thrives even amid a pandemic
Inmates have been cut off from family visits for weeks, but they get charged up to $25 for a 15-minute phone call – plus a surcharge every time they add credit. They also pay marked-up prices at the commissary for soap so they can wash their hands more frequently. That service can carry a 100% processing fee.
Coronavirus threatens to push Afghan Returnees into Deeper Poverty
"Returnees are among the high-risk groups afflicted by the present COVID-19 crisis as they have limited access to basic services, especially healthcare, and also face loss of income and livelihoods because of the countrywide lockdown."
"There may be as many as 100,000 people [...] stuck at sea, with no clarity on when they'll be able to go home. Some boats are within spitting distance of a port, while others are out in international waters."
Thai elephants, out of work due to coronavirus, trudge home
The millions of unemployed in Thailand due to the coronavirus include elephants dependent on tourists to feed their voracious appetites. With scant numbers of foreign visitors, commercial elephant camps and sanctuaries lack funds for their upkeep and have sent more than 100 of the animals trudging as far as 150 kilometers (95 miles) back to their homes.
Deutsche Welle COVID-19 news summary: Crisis leading to illegal drug shortages, says UN
Heroin, in particular, is in short supply in Europe, North America and Southwest Asia. Drug shortages in the past have also led to a rise in sharing needles, which can spread hepatitis and HIV as well as COVID-19.
The UN also warned that organized crime rings and drug traffickers are exploiting the pandemic "to enhance their image among the population by providing services, in particular to the vulnerable."
Food insecurity in West Africa could leave 43 million at risk as coronavirus hits
Well over 40 million people across West Africa face desperate food shortages in coming months, with COVID-19 restrictions a new factor adding to people's vulnerability, the World Food Programme (WFP) said.
ReliefWeb on South America problems from Response for Venezuelans (R4V)
"The situation of refugees and migrants who are returning to Venezuela is of grave concern to R4V partners. An increasing number of refugees and migrants are now returning to Venezuela from Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru as quarantine measures in host countries leave them without assistance nor means to provide for themselves."
"To date, at least 58 cases were reported, including 22 in Ecuador, 21 in Brazil, seven in Chile, two in Peru, two in Aruba, two in Colombia and two in the Dominican Republic. The situation of refugees and migrants is worsened by rising levels of xenophobia and discrimination against Venezuelans, especially those living on the streets during the pandemic, as they are accused of spreading COVID-19."
"As of 1 May, appealing organizations have received USD 50.6 million,representing 4% of the total financial requirements of the [Refugee and Migrant Response Plan] RMRP (USD 1.35 billion). "
IATA's Interactive Map To Tell You Which Countries Are Open for Travel
Regularly updated with the latest information, you can click on any country on the map and find out what you need to know about COVID-19-related travel restrictions, what's required to visit, and whether you're eligible to do so.
New evidence suggests Trump was wrong about the WHO and China
When President Trump announced his decision last month to pull the United States out of the World Health Organization in the middle of a global pandemic, he complained that "China has total control" over the agency. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said May 21 that China and the WHO “both tried to cover up what was going on” in the first weeks of the novel coronavirus outbreak. "They knew it; they had information. They knew there was this risk." New evidence has emerged showing that Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo are wrong about the actions of the WHO, a United Nations agency.
"In the second week of January, the WHO's chief of emergencies, Michael Ryan, said it was time to 'shift gears' and apply more pressure on China, fearing a repeat of the 2003 SARS outbreak, during which China actively concealed cases. 'This is exactly the same scenario, endlessly trying to get updates from China about what was going on,' he said. 'We need to see the data . . . it's absolutely important at this point.'"
Singapore rushes to build housing for 60,000 migrant workers after virus outbreak
The Singapore government is racing to create additional housing for about 60,000 migrant workers by the end of this year, as it seeks to reduce the density in dormitories which have seen mass outbreaks of the coronavirus infection.
The nation of 5.7 million people has more than 35,000 cases, one of the largest numbers in Asia, largely due to infections in cramped, bunk-bed accommodation that house more than 300,000 mostly South Asian workers.
US To 'Terminate Relationship' as WHO Launches 'COVID-19 Technology Access Pool'
Trump's declaration came hours after WHO's celebratory launch of a new 'Solidarity Call to Action', urging countries to make patents and data for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines freely available as 'global public goods'. Some 37 countries have supported the call.
Trump Quits the World Health Organization. The Victim Is the United States
"It was a Friday afternoon, when Washington swamp creatures think no one is paying attention. Minneapolis was on fire after the murder of a black man by white police, and all Trump could do was fan the flames. Twitter had to moderate his rant – 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' – which so many people interpreted as racist."
"Trump's big moment in space travel, the launching of the first “private enterprise” rocket to the intranational space station, was canceled by bad weather. What did he do next for a distraction?"
Facebook posts credit President Donald Trump with accomplishing a list of things that haven't happened — claiming, for example, that he "cancelled" a proposed House bill on contact tracing and "expelled WHO".
Thousands of health professionals call on world leaders to prioritize a greener future, post-pandemic
350 organisations and over 4,500 individual health professionals have called for a healthy recovery from coronavirus.
"We have witnessed death, disease and mental distress at levels not seen for decades," says the open letter to leaders of the "G20" world economic nations. "These effects could have been partially mitigated, or possibly even prevented by adequate investments in pandemic preparedness, public health and environmental stewardship."
The signatories of the letter suggest that to help embed policy shifts at the highest levels the G20 should involve chief medical officers and chief scientific advisors directly in the production of all economic stimulus packages.
United Nations launches 'Verified': global initiative to combat misinformation
Verified, led by the UN Department for Global Communications, will provide information around three themes: science – to save lives; solidarity – to promote local and global cooperation; and solutions – to advocate for support to impacted populations. It will also promote recovery packages that tackle the climate crisis and address sthe root causes of poverty, inequality and hunger.
The initiative is a collaboration with Purpose, one of the world's leading social mobilization organizations. It is supported by the IKEA Foundation and Luminate.
Wuhan bans hunting, eating wild animals in response to coronavirus crisis
Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus in China, announced Wednesday that eating and hunting wild animals within the city limits has been banned, declaring Wuhan a “wildlife sanctuary,” according to a report.
Local authorities in the city of over 11 million have said exotic animals are no longer allowed to be farmed, and breeders will be offered a one-time cash payment as part of a wider national scheme to end exotic animal breeding, CBS News reported Wednesday. This is the first national plan in China to stop the breeding.
Two provinces have reportedly agreed to the plan just one month after China also reclassified dogs from "livestock" to "pets".
Smithsonian Science Education Center With Support of the World Health Organization Launches New COVID-19 Guide for Youth
"The Smithsonian Science Education Center, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) — a partnership of 140 national academies of science, engineering and medicine — has developed 'COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others?', a new rapid-response guide for youth ages 8–17. The guide, which is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, aims to help young people understand the science and social science of COVID-19 as well as help them take actions to keep themselves, their families and communities safe."
Over 5,500 NYPD officers return to work after testing positive for coronavirus
The CDC considers immediate health risks from the coronavirus for law enforcement to be low, when they are performing routine duties. But, the pandemic has resulted in a "worst-case scenario" for the NYPD, as 1 out of every 6 officers were out sick in April, per the New York Times. 10.5% of the NYPD has received positive tests for the coronavirus, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a briefing on Wednesday. 17.1% of New York's fire department and EMTs have also tested positive.
Coronavirus: Belgian hospital staff turn backs on PM Sophie Wilmès
Staff at Saint-Pierre Hospital in Brussels have turned their backs on Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès during an official visit. Belgium's government has been criticised for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the country's high mortality rate. The PM has previously suggested that Belgium may be over-reporting the actual number of cases.
Doctors Without Borders Is Getting Cell Phones to New York's Homeless People so They Can Stay Connected During Coronavirus
The organization has distributed 1,000 phones [in New York City] so far to connect the homeless to shelter, healthcare, and financial help during the crisis. The city's 80,000 homeless people [...] are at greater risk for contracting COVID-19 due to their general living circumstances and likelihood of having pre-existing conditions.
For some world leaders, popularity grows along with coronavirus case numbers
In countries that contained outbreaks quickly, some leaders gained or regained the trust of voters. Before the coronavirus struck their countries, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had one thing in common: Their brightest days in office appeared to be behind them.
On International Nurses Day Red Cross and nurses' body speak out against attacks
"There are worrying reports of harassment and violence against nurses and other health care personnel linked to the COVID-19 response, including in public transportation and at health workers' own homes."
International Council of Nurses President Annette Kennedy said: “The pandemic has seen frontline nurses rightly recognised as heroes, but they are also ordinary mothers and fathers with their own families to protect. They deserve to be able to work free from fear, whether because of a lack of PPE or because of harassment and attack."
Librarian Volunteers Help WHO Make Sense of COVID Information
The effort began with Dr. Lina Moses, an epidemiologist and disease ecologist at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (TUSPHTM), New Orleans. In February, she was deployed by the school to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Geneva headquarters to help respond to COVID-19, as part of the WHO's Global Outreach Alert & Response Network (GOARN).
W.H.O.: Live animal markets shouldn't be closed despite virus
he World Health Organization said Friday that although a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan selling live animals likely played a significant role in the emergence of the new coronavirus, it does not recommend that such markets be shut down globally.
In a press briefing, WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek said live animal markets are critical to providing food and livelihoods for millions of people globally and that authorities should focus on improving them rather than outlawing them — even though they can sometimes spark epidemics in humans.
Coronavirus bailouts: Which country has the most generous deal?
By his calculations, Japan's response has been among the most aggressive, with a spending package estimated at roughly 20% of the country's economy. (It is topped only by Malta, which benefits from European Union funds.) That compares to rescue spending estimated at roughly 14% of GDP in the US, 11% in Australia, 8.4% in Canada, 5% in the UK, 1.5% in Colombia and 0.6% in Gambia.
Updated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan
UN issues $6.7 billion appeal to protect millions of lives and stem the spread of coronavirus in fragile countries.
Since the plan was first launched on 25 March, $1 billion in generous donor funding has been raised. This includes $177.4 million from OCHA's pooled funds to support efforts across 37 countries, with $95 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund and $82.4 million from 12 Country-based Pooled Funds.
Countries Pledge 7.36 Billion Euros Towards Global COVID-19 Response – Nearly Reaching Goal
Countries from around the world committed 7.36 billion Euro for the global coronavirus pandemic response Monday, nearly reaching the ambitious 7.5 billion Euro initial goal that had been set out only a week ago in a press conference with heads of state from Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the World Health Organization. The United States, the world's biggest global health donor and country with the most COVID-19 cases and deaths, was noticeably absent in this show of multilateralism, at the pledging event hosted by the European Commission.
African startups funding is set to drop by nearly half in 2020
Startup accelerator AfricArena estimates total funding in African startups this year could drop by as much as $800 million or 40% with a severe slowdown expected to become more visible in the next two quarters of the year. The report's worst case scenario also suggests effects of the economic slowdown could last through 2021 with recovery only expected to come full circle by 2022.
Middle-income economies in Caribbean and Pacific islands "in free fall"
U.N. Secretary-General tells New York High-Level Event on Financing for Development: "Existing mechanisms are stretched to capacity, and the resources of the International Monetary Fund may not be enough."
"A rush to safety has triggered an outflow of capital from some key emerging economies. The economic fallout from the pandemic threatens to cause a wave of defaults in developing countries. Widespread debt crises will set back the response to COVID-19 and impede sustainable development for many years to come. The countries affected would have no prospect of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals."
"Thanks to early and decisive action, [island Caribbean and Pacific states] have largely been spared the health impact of COVID-19. But many are heavily indebted, and their economies are now in freefall.
"Small island states rely heavily on tourism and remittances. Both are now at a standstill. Households that had a secure income are at imminent risk of poverty and hunger."
"Many developing and even middle-income countries are highly vulnerable and already in debt distress — or will soon become so, due to the global recession. Alleviating crushing debt cannot be limited to the Least Developed Countries."
Mexican workers in US are sending record money home despite coronavirus-related economic shutdowns
The 11.2 million people of Mexican origin living in the United States together send upwards of US$38 billion to Mexico each year. This money, called remittances, supports the basic necessities and financial investments of 1.6 million Mexican households – some 10 million people.
In March, analysts at BBVA bank predicted that migrant remittances to Mexico could fall as much as 21% because of stay-at-home orders and record unemployment in the U.S. Instead, remittances reached a record high in early 2020, the Bank of Mexico recently reported. Mexico received $4.02 billion in March 2020, a 35.8% increase over March 2019.
Hertz announcement: "The impact of COVID-19 on travel demand was sudden and dramatic, causing an abrupt decline in the Company's revenue and future bookings. Hertz's principal international operating regions including Europe, Australia and New Zealand are not included in today's U.S. Chapter 11 proceedings."
Axios: "Hertz locations will remain open for now, and the company says it has over $1 billion in cash on hand to support operations."
Without the usual seasonal workers, U.K. farmers worried they won't be able to reap what they've sown
Through "Pick for Britain", the British government is hoping to find 70,000 Britons who are willing to help farmers pick fruit and vegetables this summer. Initial figures show that of 50,000 applicants, just 112 people took a job and 900 turned down offers after learning about the rigours of the work.
Human development on course to decline this year for the first time since 1990
Global human development – which can be measured as a combination of the world's education, health and living standards – could decline this year for the first time since the concept was introduced in 1990, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) warned.
With school closures, UNDP estimates of the "effective out-of-school rate" — the percentage of primary school-age children, adjusted to reflect those without Internet access — indicate that 60 per cent of children are not getting an education, leading to global levels not seen since the 1980s.
With schools closed and stark divides in access to online learning, UNDP estimates show that 86 percent of children in primary education are now effectively out-of-school in countries with low human development — compared with just 20 percent in countries with very high human development.
Implementing equity-focused approaches would be affordable. For instance, closing the gap in access to the Internet for low- and middle-income countries is estimated to cost just one per cent of the extraordinary fiscal support packages the world has so far committed to respond to COVID-19.
Nearing Bankruptcy, Sears Claimed Fast-Food Workers and Baristas as Employees to Keep Tax Breaks
Politicians who helped draft Sears' tax deals said they were designed to retain thousands of corporate jobs. Contractors, landscapers and temporary employees who worked in Sears' buildings were never meant to help the company qualify for tax breaks.
Geneva Airport: from 40-60K to 50-300 passengers a day
Geneva [was] a major hub for Swissair long-haul flights. But in 1996 most of these were switched to Kloten, despite fierce protests from political and business leaders in western Switzerland. It was not until the Swissair grounding in 2001 that Geneva Airport switched direction to refocus its strategy on the low-cost airline Easyjet, which now accounts for 45% of traffic, versus 15% for Swissair's replacement Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS). Geneva Airport also worked to rebuild its network of long-haul connections with other airlines.
The coronavirus pandemic means the airport only welcomes around 50-300 passengers a day, compared to 40,000-60,000 normally; the low figures are comparable with those of 1935-46.
Global trade expected to decline 27% in value in 2020 second quarter
The coronavirus pandemic cut global trade values by 3% in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest UNCTAD data published in a joint report by 36 international organizations. The downturn is expected to accelerate in the second quarter, with global trade projected to record a quarter-on-quarter decline of 27%, according to the report by the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA).
World's Biggest Container Shipper Warns of 25% Slump in Volumes
A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, which controls about one-fifth of the global fleet used to transport goods by sea, says the fallout from Covid-19 will drive volumes down by as much as 25% this quarter. Copenhagen-based Maersk said the coronavirus pandemic has already "had a significant impact on the activity level." The company now sees the global container market contracting this year, compared with a previous forecast for growth of somewhere between 1% and 3%.
Coronavirus lockdown: Why garden centres reopened first
"As an industry we have missed probably the best spring that any of us can remember," says Boyd Douglas-Davies, president of the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and director of British Garden Centres, a 57-branch chain. What that means behind the scenes for many of the UK's growers has been devastating.
France agrees 140 million euro wine distillation support plan
France approved support for French winemakers on Monday to distil wine surplus into alcohol following a slump in demand because of restaurant and bar closures and lower exports due to extra U.S. tariffs, but the measures fell short of union requests. It also cleared exemptions from social security contributions for small and medium companies.
Bank of England warns UK set to enter worst recession for 300 years
Central bank predicts 30 per cent drop in output in first half of 2020 but opts against new stimulus.
The longer-term economic projections were more upbeat, with the BoE expecting "only limited scarring to the economy". The bank's back-of-the-envelope scenarios assumed long-term damage to the economy would be only 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product and would come from missed business investment in 2020. Otherwise it predicted the economy would bounce back in a V-shaped recovery.
Europe's tourism industry in chaos: No one knows if summer tourists will arrive, or how businesses will survive if not
The European commission estimates that the EU's hotels and restaurants will lose half their income this year (LINK). Tourism revenues fell by 95% in Italy and 77% in Spain in March, according to the banking group UBS. Tourims accounts for 20% of GDP in Greece, 18% in Portugal, 15% in Spain and 13% in Italy, according to the World Bank.
Lowest paid in Switzerland suffering 50% partial unemployment
The President of USS, the Swiss trade union movement, says over 50% of the lowest paid are on partial unemployment, compared to 5% of the top salaried. He called for a reduction in health insurance premiums.
Why are Africa's coronavirus successes being overlooked?
Senegal is developing a Covid-19 testing kit that would cost $1 per patient, which it is hoped will, in less than 10 minutes, detect both current or previous infection via antigens in saliva, or antibodies. A leaflet that came through my door in London this week offered me a private testing kit for £250.
[Senegal's] Covid-19 response planning began in earnest in January, as soon as the first international alert on the virus went out. The government closed the borders, initiated a comprehensive plan of contact tracing and, because it is a nation of multiple-occupation households, offered a bed for every single coronavirus patient in either a hospital or a community health facility. As a result, this nation of 16 million people has had only 30 deaths.
The Safest Way To Take A Road Trip While Social Distancing
About 1 in 3 Americans are planning to take a road trip this summer, according to a recent survey conducted by travel app GasBuddy. (The lower gas prices of the last few months have made road travel extra alluring, but don't get too used to it. As states reopen, gas prices are slowly creeping back up.)
Trump's New COVID-19 Czar Holds $10 Million In Vaccine Company Stock Options
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has slammed COVID-19 vaccine czar Moncef Slaoui's “huge conflict of interest” after required federal filings revealed he holds $10 million in stock options in one of the companies working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Warren demanded that Slaoui “divest immediately.”
Obama criticizes leadership on coronavirus response, gives three pieces of advice in virtual commencement addresses
"This pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge," the 44th President said during a virtual commencement address for historically black colleges and universities.
Visiting even one friend can undo all the good work that social distancing has accomplished.
"Visiting even one person without enforcing strict distancing measures, including:
allowing children to play together,
having a teacher or tutor come over, or
close physical contact between two adults who live in different households,
can significantly increase the connectedness between many households that would otherwise be completely isolated."
"If one person in each household visits only one person from another household, the connections that arise lead to large clusters of connected networks, greatly increasing the spread and reach of an infectious disease like COVID-19."
"The average household is now connected to 36.8 other households within 3 degrees of separation, compared to just 4.2."
The article gives a full explanation of the statistics involved.
Chinese state media releases animated propaganda video mocking US coronavirus response
Entitled Once Upon a Virus, the short animation — released by China's official Xinhua news agency — takes the form of a back-and-forth between China and the US with China being represented by a Lego terracotta warrior and a team of hazmat wearing characters, and the US by the Statue of Liberty.
The video purports that the US did not heed warnings from the Chinese Government but later accused China of "giving false data".
'The New United Nations Coronavirus Social Distancing App Doesn't Even Work'
On Wednesday the UN announced its app 1point5 to help people social distance. But it doesn't perform the most basic of tasks — "die to how it informs users when they are near any other device which uses Bluetooth, rather than only mobile phones."