Boris Johnson making ‘good progress’ in virus recovery as UK death toll nears 10,000

by admin

first_imgNews of his improvement contrasted with the latest official statistics showing Britain recorded nearly 1,000 daily COVID-19 deaths for the second consecutive day — one of the worst rates globally.The health ministry announced another 917 coronavirus hospital patients had died in the latest 24-hour period, down from the toll on Friday but still the country’s second highest yet.An 11-year-old was among the victims, according to England’s National Health Service (NHS).It brings the total number of COVID-19 fatalities in British hospitals to 9,875, while the number of confirmed cases in the country climbed by 5,234 to 78,991. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson was making “very good progress” on Saturday in his recovery in hospital from coronavirus, officials said, as the country’s deaths toll from the disease approached the grim milestone of 10,000.The 55-year-old leader was spending his second full day out of intensive care at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital, where he has been able to take short walks between periods of rest, according to Downing Street. “The Prime Minister continues to make very good progress,” a No. 10 spokeswoman said. That is thought to reflect only a fraction of the actual number of people infected because not everyone has been tested for the virus.”The prime minister continues to make good progress, but these stark figures highlight the gravity of this national emergency,” interior minister Priti Patel told reporters at a daily briefing.Despite the sobering statistics, Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director, said there was a “levelling off” in the number of new cases and “the first signs of a plateauing of people who unfortunately need hospitalization”.He credited a nationwide lockdown introduced on March 23 for halting the virus’ spread, but added the mortality rate would be “the very final thing” to decrease. “We are confident that if everybody follows the instructions… then that will begin to translate in the next weeks into a reduction in the daily deaths,” Powis said.”I’m afraid this year it has to be for all of us a stay-at-home Easter.”Queen Elizabeth II echoed that in what is believed to be her first pre-recorded Easter address, released by Buckingham Palace on Saturday evening.”By keeping apart we keep others safe,” the 93-year-old monarch said. “We know that coronavirus will not overcome us.”Her resolute comments came a week after a rare televised address to the nation in which she told people to unite to beat COVID-19.Johnson is the most high-profile leader to suffer from the coronavirus, and his hospitalization is unprecedented for a British prime minister during a national emergency in modern times.He was admitted Sunday for a persistent cough and high temperature 10 days after self-isolating with the virus. A day later he was transferred to the intensive care unit as his condition deteriorated.The Conservative leader left the unit Thursday evening in “extremely good spirits” and waving at staff “in gratitude”, his spokesman has said.The Mail on Sunday newspaper reported Johnson’s friends had revealed he came close to death while in intensive care and said he owed his life to the hospital’s medical team.It remains unclear when he might be discharged from hospital and how quickly he would return to work once out.Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been deputizing for Johnson. The prime minister’s spokesman stressed Friday that his recovery was “at an early stage” and he would act only “on the advice of his medical team”.The Sun tabloid reported that Johnson’s spirits had been lifted this week by his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds, who sent him “love letters” and scans of their unborn child.Symonds, who has also suffered from coronavirus symptoms in recent weeks, and the British leader have reportedly not seen each other for nearly a month. Their baby is due this summer.Meanwhile, it is also uncertain when Britain might be able to lift the stringent social distancing regime.Implemented for an initial three weeks, the measures are set for a formal review next week and likely to remain in place until at least the end of the month.Topics :last_img read more

Philippines’ oldest conglomerate to get out of coal by 2030

by admin

first_imgThe company joins a growing chorus of commitments by conglomerates, banks and governments to move away from coal, the most widely used and most-polluting fossil fuel for power generation. Southeast Asia is one of the last remaining growth markets for the fuel, as it’s seen as a cheap and reliable electricity source for rapidly developing economies.Ayala owns shares in two coal-fired power plants and a third that’s under construction. It plans to accelerate its transition away from coal as fast as possible, but needs to continue to serve its customers with reliable power as it builds up renewable capacity, an outside spokeswoman said by email.The company last year sold its stake in a 552-megawatt coal power plant in Kauswagan in the province of Lanao del Norte. In 2018 it sold a 60 percent stake of its thermal power unit, which owns a 632-megawatt plant in Bataan, and is building a 1.3-gigawatt plant, also in Bataan. It also owns a 35 percent stake in a 244-megawatt plant in South Luzon.AC Energy plans to grow its attributable capacity to about 1,500 megawatts this year, from 1,100 megawatts in the first quarter, Chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala said during the event Monday. Within that portfolio, the company aims to expand the share of renewables this year to 50 percent, from 44 percent in the first quarter, he said.A lockdown across the Philippines’ main island of Luzon from mid-March has caused power demand to decline by as much as 40 percent as most industries and businesses are put on hold, reducing uptake volumes for AC Energy, Francia said. So far, the company’s renewable projects have been mostly unaffected by coronavirus-related lockdowns as most of them are in the engineering, design and procurement phase, according to the spokeswoman.Topics : Ayala, the Philippines’ oldest conglomerate, aims to fully divest from coal by 2030, a rare rebuke of the fuel in a region where its use is expected to grow.Ayala’s power-generation unit, AC Energy Philippines, will also boost investments in renewable generation as it transitions to a low-carbon portfolio, President Eric Francia said in a live-streamed annual stockholders meeting in Manila on Monday.The company will “now focus on renewable investments and we will not be making additional investments in coal plants,” Francia said. However, it remains open to natural gas- or diesel-fired power “that complement our renewable assets and developments.”last_img read more

In quiet Jakarta, minimarkets become new target for criminals

by admin

first_img“The number of crimes at minimarkets in Jakarta was low from January to March but cases have been more prevalent since the beginning of April,” Yusri said on Wednesday.Most of the crimes occurred at night, with the offenders taking advantage of quieter streets in the capital, he said. Many of the minimarket robberies were done in groups, with each member playing a specific role.In the wee hours of April 16, police thwarted a burglary attempt by a group of four men at a closed minimarket in Duren Sawit, East Jakarta, during their regular patrol.Three of the alleged burglars were arrested while one — the driver in their operation — managed to flee the scene with all the stolen goods. One of the nabbed individuals was immobilized by an officer after he threatened the police with a machete. As most Jakartans are staying at home during the COVID-19 epidemic, minimarkets have become new targets of crime, the Jakarta Police have said.Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus said the number of crimes occurring in minimarkets in Jakarta had increased since the city administration imposed large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) on April 10, with the offenses ranging from petty crimes like shoplifting to burglary and robbery. The criminal group reportedly robbed five minimarkets in East Jakarta over the past month, especially in the districts of Duren Sawit and Jatinegara.Read also: Concerns arise as government undermines rule of law in pandemic responseIn a different case that occurred in broad daylight on April 20, police arrested two men for stealing nine cans of baby formula from a minimarket in Cibubur, East Jakarta.They were stopped by a cashier who told them to pay for the items, but they refused and fled the scene with a car.Local residents chased the two perpetrators, when patrolling police officers saw the incident and eventually arrested them.Police found an airsoft gun inside the car but said the two men had not used it to intimidate the cashier in the incident.“The police have been on alert about possible minimarket robberies since the PSBB was started. It, along with vehicle theft, mugging and internet hoaxes, is among four crimes likely to occur during the pandemic,” Yusri said.He refused to disclose the total number of such convenience store crimes in Jakarta in the past two weeks.But recent National Police data show that the number of crimes nationwide rose to 3,827 cases between April 6 to 12, from 3,423 cases in the previous week, marking an increase of around 11.8 percent, with robberies and theft being the most common offenses.To prevent convenience store crimes, Yusri said police had identified a number of hot spots in Jakarta and had analyzed the patterns of previous crimes to allow patrolling officers to identify potential offenses easier.“We will also deploy more officers at night to patrol locations where such crimes are most likely to happen. We also ask people to immediately inform us whenever they see suspicious events in minimarkets or other places,” Yusri said.Read also: COVID-19: State Palace braces for social unrestUniversity of Indonesia (UI) criminologist Iqrak Sulhin suspected that crimes targeting minimarkets happened largely because of financial stress due to the ongoing outbreak.Many people were unable to make ends meet as businesses encountered a major downturn during the PSBB. Some people could cope with such financial stress, but others might have found themselves in desperation, he said.“Frustration caused by the harsh economic condition might be the main reason why such crimes occurred during the past few weeks,” Iqrak said. “But I think such crimes were also committed by long-time criminals.”A case in point was police finding on Thursday that a group of five men had committed a number of burglaries at convenience stores in Jakarta and Banten’s Tangerang since December. Four of them were arrested recently, while the leader of the group was shot dead in a raid. Police confiscated a crowbar, 40 packs of cigarettes, two boxes of coffee, 26 cans of milk powder and 80 packs of fabric softener.Read also: Books seized, five arrested as police claim anarcho-syndicalists plan mass looting in JavaAs convenience store crimes have become more prevalent, Alfamart and Indomaret — two major minimarket chains in Jakarta — promised to improve security of their stores.Alfamart corporate communication general manager Nur Rochman said the retailer would check the quality of CCTV cameras installed at all Alfamart stores across Jakarta and would replace them immediately if they were not functioning well. The management said it had also asked police to tighten patrols around all Alfamart stores in the capital.Indomaret marketing director Wiwiek Yusuf said the management was trying to reach out to the police to improve surveillance on Indomaret stores in Jakarta.“I heard that the police will perform more daily patrols; we depend on them to maintain security [around] our stores in Jakarta,” Wiwiek said.Topics :last_img read more

Jakarta can ease PSBB if low COVID-19 transmission rate maintained: Bappenas

by admin

first_imgJakarta can ease its large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and resume normal activities only if it maintains its current low basic reproductive number for the SARS-CoV-2 virus over a two-week period, according to the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas).The basic reproductive number, also known as R0, refers to the number of people who can catch COVID-19 from a single infected person in a population.Epidemiologists believe the outbreak will eventually die out if the R0 remains smaller than one – a point reached by Jakarta on May 19, as claimed by the Bappenas. “Jakarta has to maintain the condition for 14 days, starting from May 19, in order to ease the physical distancing measures and allow people to be productive again,” Bappenas head Suharso Monoarfa said during a teleconference on Thursday.Read also: Transmission won’t stop unless 80 percent of Jakartans stay at home: EpidemiologistsHe asserted that the implementation of strict health protocols, such as wearing masks and maintaining physical distance, would continue while the restrictions were relaxed, in what he called the “new normal”, as people had to adapt to the fact that COVID-19 would not disappear completely any time soon.Apart from having a low R0, a region should also have sufficient medical facilities and testing capacity before deciding to ease social restrictions. Suharso claimed the capital already had “sufficient beds for COVID-19 patients” and had also tested more than 5,000 people per 1 million population. The claimed testing figure is higher than the standard set by the WHO of 1,000 people per 1 million population.The ministry revealed Indonesia had a 2.5 R0 nationwide and had only managed to test 743 people per 1 million population as of May 19. The government has targeted to increase testing capacity to 1,838 tests per 1 million population by June 19 by conducting 10,000 tests daily.Read also: COVID-19: Jakarta extends PSBB until June 4 as Jokowi seeks to ease restrictionsWHO representative for Indonesia, Navaratnasamy Paranietharan, said Indonesia should increase its testing capacity to make its data on the transmission rate more reliable before the government moved to relax social restrictions.Among the ways to bring down and maintain the R0 below one for a long period time is to “maintain social distancing and [implement] health protocols,” said Paranietharan.Topics :last_img read more

Canada army reports horrific conditions in nursing homes hit by COVID-19

by admin

first_img“The greatest generation saw us through World War Two. We need to be there to support them properly through this global crisis.” The military report said that, in one extreme case, a patient was believed to have choked to death while being fed lying down. Attempts to revive him failed.Soldiers said they found “significant fecal contamination in numerous patient rooms” and dirty diapers often leading to “skin breakdown.”Medical charts were inaccurate and families were given wrong information.Residents who tested positive for the coronavirus were allowed to roam around their respective care homes, risking infecting others.Nurses and support workers were also observed not changing their masks and other personal protective equipment for several hours as they moved between patient rooms.Elderly care homes have accounted for about 80 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada, which topped 6,700 on Tuesday.Nearly 300 army doctors and nurses were sent to work in the Ontario care homes. Another 1,500 went to homes in Quebec. A second report was expected Wednesday on conditions at the Quebec facilities.”It’s gut-wrenching,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford about what he’d read in the first report, promising a probe into the “broken” elderly care system. Topics : Conditions at Ontario nursing homes hard-hit by COVID-19 outbreaks, as described by Canadian soldiers helping out there, are “deeply disturbing,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.The Canadian military deployed troops at the height of the pandemic in April to five elderly care homes in the nation’s most populous province to fill severe staffing shortages.In a report they said they found blatant disregard for infection control measures and “horrible” care of seniors that verged on abusive.center_img The soldiers said that among other forms of mistreatment, residents had been “left in beds soiled in diapers,” crying for help and forcefully fed, causing choking.”It is deeply disturbing,” Trudeau told a daily briefing.After reading the report, he said: “I had obviously a range of emotions of anger, of sadness, of frustration, of grief.””We need to do a better job of supporting our seniors in long-term care right across the country, through this pandemic and beyond,” he said.last_img read more

Snapchat curbs Trump for inciting ‘racial violence’

by admin

first_imgSnapchat on Wednesday became the latest social network moving to curb the reach of US President Donald Trump, claiming the president has been inciting “racial violence.”The youth-focused social network said it would no longer promote Trump on its Discover platform for recommended content.”We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover,” a statement from Snapchat said. Facebook looks away The move by Twitter last week prompted an angry response by Trump, who within days signed an executive order calling for heightened government oversight of social platforms.Trump accuses the platforms of “censorship” and limiting “free speech,” but his critics say the president has distorted the interpretation of those terms and is himself seeking to regulate online content.In contrast to Twitter and Snapchat, Facebook has defended his decision not to interfere with posts by Trump.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated his position in a call with employees this week, according to reports, despite criticism of the Facebook policy by civil rights activists.The coronavirus pandemic has put an abrupt stop to traditional US political means of courting young voters — forcing presidential candidates to turn to Snapchat instead.The photo-sending app that boasts 229 million users — better known for filters that turn your face into a puppy or a vampire — is a new battlefield for opponents Trump and Biden, both of whom are in their 70s.Last month, Ken Farnaso, the Trump campaign deputy press secretary, told AFP that Snapchat was an important element of the re-election effort and that the Republican was ahead of Biden on the platform.”It’s clear that we’re wiping the floor with Biden’s campaign,” Farnaso said of the Snapchat effort. “I am heartbroken and enraged by the treatment of black people and people of color in America.”The Discover feature at Snapchat is a curated platform on which the California-based company gets to decide what it recommends to users. No longer recommendedTrump’s account remains on the platform, it will just no longer be recommended viewing, according to Snapchat.”We will make it clear with our actions that there is no gray area when it comes to racism, violence, and injustice — and we will not promote it, nor those who support it, on our platform,” Spiegel said in the memo.Snapchat is particularly popular with young internet users, claiming that about half of the US “Generation Z” population tapping into news through its Discover feature.”There are plenty of debates to be had about the future of our country and the world,” Spiegel said.”But there is simply no room for debate in our country about the value of human life and the importance of a constant struggle for freedom, equality, and justice.”Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale denounced the move, saying that “Snapchat is trying to rig the 2020 election, illegally using their corporate funding to promote Joe Biden and suppress President Trump.”Parscale said in a statement: “Snapchat hates that so many of their users watch the president’s content and so they are actively engaging in voter suppression… If you’re a conservative, they do not want to hear from you, they do not want you to vote. They view you as a deplorable and they do not want you to exist on their platform.”center_img Topics : The move came days after Twitter took an unprecedented stand by hiding a Trump post it said promoted violence, heating up the White House war with Silicon Valley and social media.Snapchat parent Snap chief executive Evan Spiegel over the weekend sent a lengthy memo to employees condemning what he saw as a legacy of racial injustice and violence in the US.Snapchat will not promote accounts in the US that are linked to people who incite racial violence on or off the messaging platform, according Spiegel.”Every minute we are silent in the face of evil and wrongdoing we are acting in support of evildoers,” Spiegel wrote as companies responded to the outrage over the police killing of a black man in Minnesota.last_img read more

Indonesia’s COVID-19 death toll hits 2,000 as cases continue to rise

by admin

first_imgThe number of fatalities linked to COVID-19 in Indonesia reached 2,000 on Thursday, as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise amid plans by the central government to gradually ease restrictions ahead of the so-called “new normal”.Providing daily updates on COVID-19 cases, Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general Achmad Yurianto announced 979 new positive cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed infections nationwide to 35,259. He also reported 41 new fatalities linked to the disease, taking the total death toll to 2,000.Over the past few days, the Southeast Asian country has recorded a significant increase in daily reported cases, with its highest 24-hour increase reported on Wednesday with 1,241 new cases.The spike came as the country began its transition into the “new normal” as the government seeks to reignite the economy after COVID-19 restrictions and partial lockdowns were imposed in a number of regions in recent months.While the rise in new cases could be the result of increased testing, critics say the data show the health crisis is not yet over and that easing restrictions may cause a spike in infections.In East Java, for instance, authorities have decided not to extend large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in the provincial capital of Surabaya and its satellite regencies of Gresik and Sidoarjo, and have instead imposed two weeks of transitional restrictions ahead of the implementation of “new normal” measures, despite the province replacing Jakarta as the country’s newest COVID-19 epicenter.The capital begin its transition period on Monday with the reopening of offices, houses of worship and some workplaces, while extending large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) to the end of June.The Jakarta administration has also allowed public transportation and app-based ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers to resume normal operations. Many commuters have expressed concerns over their safety as crowded public transportation is considered fertile ground for coronavirus transmission.Topics :last_img read more

AP II sees passenger numbers surge as travel restrictions ease

by admin

first_imgState-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II (AP II) has recorded a jump in the number of passengers for both domestic and international flights, as the government relaxes restrictions on air travel.Recently issued Transportation Ministry circular letter no. 13/2020 allows for an increase in passenger numbers per flight to 70 percent of the respective aircraft’s capacity, up from the previous 50 percent.The new regulation came into force on June 8 and on June 10 the number of passengers in AP II’s 19 airports doubled to 14,700 passengers, from an average of 7,000 passengers on June 8 and June 9. Meanwhile, national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and its low-cost subsidiary Citilink are also operating their flights, and low-cost carrier AirAsia Indonesia is set to resume flights on June 19.“The number of passengers is lower than in normal conditions, but it has started to pick up in this adaptation period,” he said, referring to the country’s transition to so-called “new normal”.To prevent crowding at the airports, AP II is also planning to launch a mobile application called Travelation to allow passengers to upload the required documents to board and simplify the checking process.According to the new regulations, passengers need to provide a letter showing the negative result of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or a COVID-19 rapid test to travel. Rapid test result documents are valid for three days after the test is taken, while PCR tests are valid for seven days.Topics : “The number of passengers is slowly rising and stakeholders in our airports are working to ensure the health protocols are implemented,” the company’s president director Muhammad Awaluddin said on Thursday in an official statement.Pandemic-related large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) have severely limited demand for air travel. According to Statistics Indonesia (BPS), the number of domestic air passengers fell 85.18 percent year-on-year (yoy) in April to around 840,000, while international air passenger numbers fell 98.26 percent yoy.Airline companies were beginning to resume operations, Awaluddin said.The country’s biggest airline company Lion Air Group resumed its operations starting on June 10, after a temporary flight suspension earlier this month.last_img read more

Virus-hit Beijing tightens outbound travel; Shanghai demands quarantine

by admin

first_imgBeijing banned high-risk people from leaving the Chinese capital and halted some transportation services on Tuesday to stop the spread of a fresh coronavirus outbreak to other cities and provinces.China’s financial hub of Shanghai demanded some travellers from Beijing be quarantined for two weeks, as 27 new COVID-19 cases took the capital’s current outbreak to 106 since Thursday.That makes it the most serious flare-up in China since February, stoking fears of a second-wave of the respiratory disease which emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year and has now infected more than 8 million people worldwide. Governments in many parts of China have imposed quarantine requirements on visitors from Beijing, concerned about contagion risks.One suspected case who flew from Beijing to southwestern Sichuan province has become a confirmed case, health authorities said on Tuesday, and local officials are rounding up 111 close contacts for observation.Hebei province reported four new cases, with two having come into direct contact with a virus carrier in the Chinese capital, and one being an operator at the Xinfadi market.Shanghai on Tuesday started to require travellers from medium-to-high risk COVID-19 areas in China to be quarantined for 14 days.The stakes are high for Shanghai, which has been invited to host two Formula One races this season. U.S. airlines are also poised to resumes flights to the city.’Wartime’ modeWhile not in a Wuhan-style lockdown, the Chinese capital has gone into a “wartime” mode on a district level, with local neighborhoods instituting 24-hour security checkpoints, closing schools and banning wedding banquets.”Beijing will take the most resolute, decisive, and strict measures to contain the outbreak,” Xu Hejian, spokesman at the Beijing city government, said at a press conference on Tuesday.Overnight, some parts of Beijing including the city’s old-style hutong neighborhoods were fenced up, with entry and exit restricted to a few round-the-clock security checkpoints.”We work as usual, but neighborhood checks have become more strict,” said Beijing resident Jin Rong, 23.”I’m not worried that Beijing will be like Wuhan, because the current epidemic control measures have kicked in very quickly, and have been very strict. People also have a strong sense of self-protection.”  Topics :center_img The latest outbreak has been traced to the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food center in the southwest of Beijing where thousands of tons of vegetables, fruits and meat change hands each day.Beijing had designated 22 neighborhoods as medium-risk areas as of Monday. Medium-risk areas are required to take stringent measures to block the potential entry of infection.All high-risk people in Beijing, such as close contacts of confirmed cases, are not allowed to leave the city, state media reported on Tuesday, citing municipal officials.All outbound taxi and car-hailing services have also been suspended. Some long-distance bus routes between Beijing and nearby Hebei and Shandong provinces were suspended.last_img read more

South Korea backs remdesivir for COVID-19, urges caution with dexamethasone

by admin

first_imgSouth Korea has added Gilead’s anti-viral drug remdesivir to its coronavirus treatment guidelines in its first revision of recommendations since the outbreak began and urged caution in the use of the steroid therapy dexamethasone.South Korea, widely praised around the world for its handling of the pandemic without a full lockdown, has reported 12,602 coronavirus cases as of Thursday midnight, with 282 deaths.Remdesivir is designed to hinder certain viruses, including the new coronavirus, from making copies of themselves and potentially overwhelming the body’s immune system. The drug previously failed trials as an Ebola treatment. “An excessive use of dexamethasone can trigger different side effects as it tamps down the immune system along with inflammation, possibly leading to even cataract or glaucoma,” said Dr. Song Dae-sub, professor of pharmacy at Korea University.Korean health authorities also advised the dropping of hydroxychloroquine after a study found the decades-old malaria drug, which US President Donald Trump touted a possible treatment, did not provide any benefit.There are currently no approved vaccines or treatments for the coronavirus, which has killed more than 488,467​ people globally, but about a dozen vaccines from more than 100 candidates globally are being tested on humans.  South Korea’s updated guidelines come after a study showed that the cheap and widely used dexamethasone reduced deaths in very sick COVID-19 patients. They advised doctors to take caution until a full study is published.”It seems appropriate to administer (dexamethasone), limited to severe cases with acute respiratory syndrome, as the doctor monitors the patient’s condition,” Kim Young-ok, director general of pharmaceutical safety bureau at the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, told a briefing on Friday.There was enough domestic supply of the dexamethasone, widely used since the 1960s, with the production of approximately 43 million tablets and 60 million injection ampoules a year, said Kim.Doctors in Europe will soon be able to treat patients with the drug after the healthcare regulator’s endorsement put it on track to become the first therapy for the disease on the continent.center_img Topics :last_img read more