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Life in the age of COVID-19 means that each day is more difficult to predict than the next. Whether students and educators will return to the classroom this fall still remains uncertain. Those already planning to return should expect a different classroom setting than they left behind. Many schools are even considering staggered learning schedules, all while navigating each student’s anticipated social and emotional adjustments to a classroom environment.

Michael Horn is the founder of the Christensen Institute, a non-profit partisan think tank that promotes “disruptive innovation” for understanding society’s most pressing issues, including education. Horn recently sat down with Joel Rose, co-founder of Teach to One: Math. Rose advocates for educational reform and presents Teach to One as a logical, data-driven approach to individualized math education. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on what K-12 schools might look like this fall, Rose argues that now is the time to transition away from the factory model classroom and toward the techniques implemented by Teach to One.

What does a Teach to One: Math classroom look like?

Horn opened the interview with a question about what Teach to One: Math looks like in action. Rose describes a TTO classroom as a large open space with several stations. Each station will tackle an instructional modality. Some modalities facilitate group learning, while some facilitate one-on-one lessons. Each student is placed, according to Rose, based on “where they are and where they need to be.”

Teach to One: Math is administered by a nonprofit called New Classrooms, which is located in New York City. Every day, each student exits the classroom after completing a daily assessment. These assessments are then sent to the organization to inform the design of the next day’s personalized lessons. Since each student’s curriculum is designed on the basis of their individual strengths and weaknesses, TTO’s tactics pivot students toward mastery.

What are Teach to One: Math’s policy limitations?

Since Teach to One disrupts the norms of traditional classroom learning, its implementation faces large policy barriers. Rose discusses these policy barriers in an essay titled “The Iceberg Problem.” The essay includes a case study of a seventh grader who enters their first day of math class without remembering any skills from both fourth- and fifth-grade math. How did these skill gaps go unnoticed by previous math educators? Rose argues that state testing requires schools to prioritize assessment preparation. Test preparation means that teachers do not have time to go back and review more than a year’s worth of material. The resulting “maximum exposure to grade-level content,” Rose finds, perpetuates gaps in math education.

Rose also points out that educators tend to interpret student growth in a restrictive manner. Educators typically assess a student’s growth by comparing how said student performs on the seventh-grade standardized test compared to the eighth-grade standardized test. This, Rose believes, is “too granular.” As a result, teachers continue to teach skills that their students either do not truly know, are not ready to learn, or already know. By failing to evaluate mathematical growth adequately, students continue to fall behind.

Where does Teach to One: Math fit into an educator’s post-quarantine concerns?

It is common sense for teachers to expect wider educational gaps heading into the 2020-2021 school year than in ordinary years. Rose is hopeful that this will catalyze thinking “about learning loss much more holistically.” For schools that were already using TTO prior to stay-at-home orders, teaching math at a distance was not a difficult concept to grasp. “Their delivery model was already evolved,” Rose concludes, which created space to promote the personalization that students required to stay on track.

A student’s mathematical mastery will be harder to assess this year. “We’re not gonna know how kids did after this year,” says Rose, pointing out that many schools were not able to carry out their math curriculum as planned. In response, Rose says that timing is everything. Diagnostics will not be effective if they are implemented before students feel safe and connected at school. This might mean waiting for one, two, three, or even more weeks before beginning the math curriculum. However, waiting is necessary if students are not yet adjusted.

How did Teach to One: Math come about?

In 2011, Rose founded New Classrooms Innovation Partners, a New York-based nonprofit. New Classrooms: Innovation Partners administers Teach to One: Math (TTO) as a school-based approach that integrates multiple learning modalities. The organization assists with the implementation of algorithms and classroom-specific information to organize a daily math curriculum for 10,000 students per day. The outcome is teacher-led mathematical learning experiences catered to each student’s individualized progress.

Gaps in math education pose serious threats to college preparedness and long-term educational success. Fortunately, Teach to One was designed with these gaps in mind. At the end of every lesson, a student completes an exit slip. The student’s performance on that exit slip determines whether the student will proceed to the next lesson. This approach demonstrates the flexibility to go back and spend time filling gaps without sacrificing state-level assessment preparation.

Novak Djokovic has become the latest tennis player to test positive for the new coronavirus.

Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all revealed they have tested positive for Covid-19 after playing at Djokovic’s Adria Tour competition.

The 33-year-old world’s No 1 played fellow Serb Troicki in the first event in Belgrade.

In a post on Twitter, Novak Djokovic said it had been “too soon” to stage the tournament.

“I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm,” he said.

He said the tournament had been organized with “a pure heart”, “good intentions” and a belief that they had “met all health protocols”.

“We were wrong and it was too soon,” he said.

The remaining Adria Tour events in Banja Luka and Sarajevo have now been canceled Novak Djokovic’s brother Djordje, who is a director of the tournament, has confirmed.

“Unfortunately, due to all the events that happened in the last few days, we have decided that the most important thing right now is to stabilize the epidemiological situation, as well as for everyone to recover,” he said.

A statement on Novak Djokovic’s website said: “Immediately upon his arrival in Belgrade [after the second event] Novak was tested along with all members of the family and the team with whom he was in Belgrade and Zadar. He is not showing any symptoms.”

There have been no ATP Tour events since February because of the global pandemic and the Adria Tour, which is not an ATP Tour event, was one of the first competitions to be staged since then.

The first leg in Serbia attracted 4,000 fans, and players were later pictured dancing close together in a Belgrade nightclub.

Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov played Croatia’s Borna Coric on June 20 in the second leg in Zadar, Croatia.

With Croatia easing lockdown measures, players were not obliged to observe social distancing rules and were seen embracing at the net at the end of their matches.

Photo Getty Images

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Pictures on the tournament’s social media site from June 19 showed Grigor Dimitrov playing basketball with Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic, while he also put his arm around Borna Coric before their match.

Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and Andrey Rublev, who also played in the Adria Tour, have tested negative, but suggested they will all now self-isolate for up to 14 days.

The ATP Tour season is set to restart on August 14 and the US Open will be held without fans from August 31 to September 13, despite some players voicing concerns about travelling to New York.

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Prince Joachim of Belgium has contracted coronavirus after attending a party during lockdown in Spain, the country’s royal palace says.

The 28-year-old prince traveled from Belgium to Spain for an internship on May 26, the palace said.

Two days later, Prince Joachim went to a party in the southern city of Córdoba, before testing positive for Covid-19.

According to Spanish reports, the prince, a nephew of Belgium’s King Philippe, was among 27 people at the party.

Under Córdoba’s lockdown rules, a party of this size would be a breach of regulations, as gatherings of no more than 15 people are currently permitted.

Image source: alchetron.com

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Spanish police have launched an investigation into the party. Those found to have flouted lockdown rules could be fined up to €10,000 ($11,100).

Everyone who attended the party is said to be in quarantine. Prince Joachim, the youngest son of Princess Astrid and 10th in line to the Belgian throne, is said to have mild coronavirus symptoms.

Rafaela Valenzuela, a representative of the Spanish government in Córdoba, condemned the party, calling those who attended “irresponsible”.

She said: “I feel surprised and angry. An incident of this type stands out at a moment of national mourning for so many dead.”

The party was first covered by Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, which cited a document from the Andalucian authorities but did not name the prince.

Belgian media have since confirmed with the palace that Prince Joachim was in Spain, where he remains.

Prince Joachim is known to have a long-standing relationship with a Spanish woman, reported to be Victoria Ortiz.

Spain is in the process of emerging from one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe. It outlined a four-stage plan on May 4 to start easing the lockdown, which saw children under 14 confined to their homes for six weeks.

The country said it was moving to a second phase from June 1 for 70% of Spaniards, leaving only major cities under tighter restrictions.

Spain has among the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world. As of May 30, the country had 239,228 infections and 27,125 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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“Rather than being a human, be a humanitarian” – Kowtham Kumar

Are you pondering the importance of giving of your time and money to charitable organizations like NGOs and Non-Profits?

This quotation by Kowtham Kumar highlighted above, describes the raison d’etre of being human. Ergo, being human is to espouse humanitarian acts and principles.

What is a humanitarian?

 By way of answering this question, let’s examine the following definition:

A humanitarian is defined as a“person actively engaged in promoting human welfare and social reforms, as a philanthropist.”

Photo Source: www.tampabay.com

The new normal: Navigating the socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19

The world first heard of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the last days of 2019. Fast forward to May 2020, and very little is known about this virus. Consequently, scientists and medical professionals are struggling to predict the virus’s behavior.

What is internationally accepted is that one of the only ways to control its rampant spread is social isolation or social distancing. Therefore, over 50% of the world’s population is currently under a stay-at-home or lockdown order. All non-essential businesses have closed, and millions of people have either lost their jobs or been furloughed. As a result, the COVID-19 is responsible for a total shutdown of the global economy, costing the world at least $7 trillion (USD).

NGOs and non-profits like yadezra.net are still continuing to feed the vulnerable, poor, and needy during these challenging times. However, it is a challenge because they are feeling the financial strain from the economic challenges of the fallout from COVID-19. Thus, they need donations even more than before the world woke up to the “new normal.”

Reasons why donating to charities is an imperative

Now that we have established that donating to NGOs, non-profit organizations, and charities is an imperative, let’s consider two of the most important benefits of supporting NGOs and charities during this crisis.

Helping people less fortunate

It is our social, moral, an ethical imperative to help people less fortunate than ourselves. It does not matter how much we give, what matters is that we give. Many religious organizations espouse the edict of giving at least 10% of all income to a charitable organization.

The website, nonprofitsource.com, notes that “giving to religion (defined as giving specifically to congregations, denominations, missionary societies, and religious media) has consistently remained America’s single largest recipient of charitable giving.”

Thus, irrespective of what our personal beliefs are because this article’s intent is not to discuss religion, let’s consider a simple case study of giving to charity during these challenging times.

If by way of example, we use the principle of giving 10% of our income to charity, then the following figures apply:

For every $10 we earn, we only need to give $0.10 to charity.

Therefore, if we only earn $40 per month ($10 per week x 4), then the maximum amount that we need to donate to charity for a particular month is $0.40.

Image source: PxHere

Statistics show that, in 2017, the median US weekly salary was $857. Thus, an average American employee earned $3428 per month ($847 x 4 weeks). Therefore, 10% of $3428 is $342.80. Thus, the maximum amount suggested based on the 10% rule is $342.80.

While this sounds like a lot of money, in the bigger scheme of things it is only 10% of your salary. And, from personal experience, it is essential to make the donation as soon as you get paid; otherwise, it is easy to spend this money on something else.

Improves our mental, emotional, and physical health

The health benefits associated with generosity include increased self-esteem, improved mood, less depression, lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, and greater happiness.

Why?

Research studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health have found that giving to charitable organizations boosts the feel-good chemicals or endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are manufactured by the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands. They act as a pain reliever and a happiness booster.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that endorphins have a similar function in your body as opioids. In other words, endorphins act as natural opioids. The human body has special receptors that bind to the synthetic opioids when taken on prescription by a medical professional to manage short-term pain. And, the combination of the opioids and the body’s receptors blocks pain signals from reaching the brain.

Consequently, the more you give and help people who are less fortunate, the more endorphins your body will manufacture, the happier you will be. And, the happier you are, the healthier you are.

Final thoughts

It’s vital to remember that, while philanthropic behavior is essential to your health and happiness, it’s equally important to manage your budget carefully, save as much as you can, and not overspend on anything. Otherwise, you will end up in financial difficulties.

The consequences of overspending are directly juxtaposed to the positive benefits of giving and managing your finances properly. And, if you overspend, you will no longer be in the position to support charitable organizations. Thus, everyone concerned, including yourself, will lose out on the overall benefits of your charitable actions. 

The FDA has authorized emergency use of the Ebola drug remdesivir for treating the coronavirus.

The authorization means the anti-viral drug can now be used on people who are hospitalized with severe Covid-19.

A recent clinical trial showed remdesivir helped shorten the recovery time for people who were seriously ill.

However, the drug did not significantly improve survival rates.

Experts have warned remdesivir – which was originally developed to treat Ebola, and is produced by Gilead pharmaceutical company in California – should not be seen as a “magic bullet” for coronavirus.

Remdesivir interferes with the virus’s genome, disrupting its ability to replicate.

During a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day said the FDA authorization was an important first step.

Gilead would donate 1.5 million vials of the drug, he said.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn also said at the meeting: “It’s the first authorized therapy for Covid-19, so we’re really proud to be part of it.”

Emergency FDA authorization is not the same as formal approval, which requires a higher level of review.

Remdesivir did not cure Ebola, and the producing company says on its website: “Remdesivir is an experimental medicine that does not have established safety or efficacy for the treatment of any condition.”

Gilead also warns of possible serious side-effects.

However, President Trump has been a vocal supporter of remdesivir as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.

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In its clinical trial, whose full results are yet to be released, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) found that remdesivir cut the duration of symptoms from 15 days down to 11.

The trials involved 1,063 people at hospitals around the world – including the US, France, Italy, the UK, China and South Korea. Some patients were given the drug and others were given a placebo (dummy) treatment.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who runs NIAID, said that remdesivir had “a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery”.

However, although remdesivir may aid recovery – and possibly stop people having to be treated in intensive care – the trials did not give any clear indication whether it can prevent deaths from coronavirus.

As much remains uncertain about the treatment regime, Gilead suggests a 10-day dosing duration for patients on ventilators and five days for patients who are not.

The FDA’s jurisdiction does not stretch overseas so the authorization only applies to US. Experts also stressed that the emergency use is not the same as full approval.

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President Donald Trump has suggested he has seen evidence coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory.

Earlier the US national intelligence director’s office said it was still investigating how the virus began.

However, the office said it had determined Covid-19 “was not manmade or genetically modified”.

China has rejected the lab theory and criticized the US response to Covid-19.

Since emerging in China at the end of 2019, the new coronavirus has killed 230,000 people worldwide including 63,000 in the US.

The pandemic has seen at least 3.2 million people infected, a million of them Americans, since the virus spread from the city of Wuhan.

At the White House on April 30, President Trump was asked by a reporter: “Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?”

“Yes, I have. Yes, I have,” said President Trump, without specifying.

“And I think the World Health Organization [WHO] should be ashamed of themselves because they’re like the public relations agency for China.”

Asked later to clarify his comment, the president said: “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”

President Trump also told reporters: “Whether they [China] made a mistake, or whether it started off as a mistake and then they made another one, or did somebody do something on purpose?

“I don’t understand how traffic, how people weren’t allowed into the rest of China, but they were allowed into the rest of the world. That’s a bad, that’s a hard question for them to answer.”

Image source Flickr

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In a rare public statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees US spy agencies, said on April 30 it concurs with the “wide scientific consensus” regarding Covid-19’s natural origins.

The statement said: “The [intelligence community] will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”

It was the first clear response from American intelligence debunking conspiracy theories – both from the US and China – that the virus is a bio-weapon.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was founded in the 1950s, houses China’s first Biosafety Level 4 laboratory.

Such labs handle the most dangerous pathogens for which there are few available vaccines or treatments, and one of the areas the Wuhan facility studies is coronaviruses from bats.

President Trump has recently been escalating his war of words with China over the pandemic after what officials within the president’s administration had described as a truce with Beijing.

On April 29, he suggested China wanted him to lose his re-election bid in November.

President Trump has formerly accused Chinese officials of covering up the virus early on and saying they could have stopped the disease from spreading.

He has similarly criticized the WHO and withdrawn US funding for the global body.

China’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, has accused the Trump administration of trying to distract from its own problems tackling the crisis.

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The Coronavirus outbreak has affected virtually everyone on earth in some way or another, redefining social interaction, work productivity and our capacity to enjoy something as simple as the outdoors. With nationwide lockdown expected to go on for some time in countries inflicted severely by the outbreak, such as the UK and US, many people are looking at their governments and public health organisations as a source of complete truth and accountability.

Whilst research into the relationship of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 has been somewhat cloudy and inconclusive, the real facts and evidence on the virus are constantly being discovered and debated. Scientists and health professionals all over the globe are working across the clock to not just try and find a vaccine but to explore the intricate details of the virus and why it has become so deadly. Whilst this has been resoundingly applauded across society, the release of findings, guidelines and stance of governments have been an embarrassing mismatch of contradictory information.

We examine some of the claims voiced by experts and government officials regarding COVID-19 over the course of the last few months, whilst shedding light on certain lifestyle choices which could impact contracting the virus.

Clear As Mud

Let’s rewind back to the start of the year, when regular routine was operated across the globe, except in China where a newfound virus threatened to damage normality in all senses. With news bulletins partially mentioning the outbreak of this unknown virus, government officials played down the prospect of it having a catastrophic effect.

As the virus spread across the world, In the UK PM Boris Johnson ignored advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) to refrain from shaking hands by boasting he was in close contact with those affected, “”I’m shaking hands continuously. I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were actually a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody, you’ll be pleased to know. I continue to shake hands.” He went on to assert, “I want to stress that for the vast majority of the people of this country, we should be going about our business as usual.”

A large proportion of the news relating to COVID-19 over the course of early March, when the outbreak began to hit western nations, was that the disease only really affected elderly people and that younger, fit adults and children shouldn’t need to worry. Going by what we know now, this was greatly underestimated as despite the majority of deaths attributed to older people with underlying health conditions, younger people who are deemed healthy have still experienced severe symptoms of the virus and have required intensive care. A staggering 40% of patients requiring medical attention were in the age bracket of 20-54 in the US, according to CDC statistics.

Whilst the initial hypothesis that this disease affects older people far greater than younger age groups, there’s no denying that governments miscommunication on the severity of the virus on all age groups has potentially costs thousands of lives.

Furthermore, isolation and social distancing guidelines have become an increasingly contentious and confusing issue. In the UK under the sanctioned lockdown, citizens are required to self-isolate except to:

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home).
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times.

Despite the resounding nature of these measures, the clarity of rhetoric used can be construed in many ways. For example, it’s stressed that a person can go out to exercise once daily alone or with members of their household, but no time measures are attached. This essentially means under law, a person or family could stay outside for as long as they wish over a 24 hour period as long as they’re staying active.

As well as this, the fact that most unessential businesses have been forced to close highlights the seriousness of the situation, however construction workers are deemed to be key workers and obviously cannot conduct their work from home in the majority of circumstances. This has led many labourers having to go to work to make ends meet, whilst the 2m social distancing measure implied is nigh on impossible for many who have to work in close proximity. This complete lack of disregard for a huge sector of the economy has again put thousands of people at risk of contracting the virus.

Up In Smoke

Whilst governments and public health officials have been inconsistent in their approach to tackling the pandemic, in regards to smokers (who make up over 1 billion worldwide), the message has been resoundingly clear.

The WHO states, ‘Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.’

This is further echoed by UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock who says, “It is abundantly clear from the research into previous coronaviruses that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse.”

It’s also highly evidenced that smoking causes the immune system to weaken, whilst the fact that Coronavirus is a respiratory disease clearly highlights that smoking can have huge effects on those who have contracted the virus or developed symptoms.

This resonant assertion whilst respected, doesn’t cover the borderline product of e-cigarettes. Vaping is seen by many, including PHE, NHS, Cancer Research and The British Lung Foundation as a viable harm-reducing alternative to nicotine consumption. Yet many believe vaping could transmit COVID-19, especially through vape clouds.

Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs at PHE refutes this logic, “Public Health England’s 2018 independent evidence review found that to date, there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to bystanders. There is currently no evidence that coronavirus can be caught from exposure to e-cigarette vapour.”

In line with this, Leading academic Physician and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, Dr Neal Benowitz states,” It is my understanding that exhaled e-cigarette vapor consists of very small particles of water, propylene glycol and glycerin and flavor chemicals, not droplets of saliva. The vaping aerosol evaporates very quickly, while particles that are emitted when coughing or sneezing are large particles that persist in the air for a relatively long period of time. Thus, I would not think that vapers present any risk of spreading COVID-19, unless they are coughing when they exhale the vapor.”

Whilst vaping is only recommended for smokers looking to make the switch over, now could be the ideal time for those who smoke cigarettes to change over their habit. Vape Club’s dedicated guide section provides an extensive knowledge on all aspects of vaping for those unsure of the harm-reducing benefits when compared to tobacco.

Summing Up

Of course, many of us can feel like we’re left out in the cold with all of the differing opinions and claims floating around. It’s essential to be able to use common sense in the majority of social situations, with a large proportion of the population across the world adhering to guidelines and ultimately taking pressure of health services.

It’s also worth pointing out whilst the public couldn’t really conceive what was about to come in the early stages of Coronavirus, governments and health experts were briefed on the grimness of the situation about to hit as early as last year. This complete unpreparedness and lack of initiative has unfortunately paid dividends at the cost of thousands, potentially millions of lives, in what will inevitably come to be the biggest health crisis of our generation.

There is still a lot more to discover regarding COVID-19 and its existence, which will no doubt come to light in the ensuing months and years.

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The US passed a grim milestone, with more than a million cases of Covid-19 recorded.

There are now 3,098,391 confirmed cases worldwide and 216,160 deaths, Johns Hopkins University says.

The House of Representatives has abandoned plans to return to Washington next week. Several states, including Georgia and Texas, have pressed ahead with plans to reopen amid the infection rise.

President Donald Trump was speaking earlier at a White House event about supporting small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.

As he closed the event, President Trump expressed his pride at the work being done by his government and tried to compare the scale of the outbreak with the Spanish Flu pandemic.

He said: “We’re going through a period of time the likes of which we’ve never seen in this country before, certainly even if you go back into 1917 – it was the worst of all time but it was also not as bad here.

“It was very bad, it was very rough – it was a bad one. But it wasn’t quite like what we’re going through right now.”

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However, the Spanish Flu pandemic happened in 1918, not 1917. It also had a far higher death toll than the coronavirus pandemic has had so far.

According to Johns Hopkins University tracking, more than 50 million people died of Spanish Flu worldwide while the current death toll from the coronavirus is about 216,000.

Some 675,000 Americans died in the 1918 pandemic, while some 58,000 are thought to have died with Covid-19.

In other developments, the organizers of the Academy Awards have announced that they will bend their own rules to let films only released on streaming platforms be eligible for nomination.

Under current rules, films have to be screened in a cinema in Los Angeles for at least seven days to qualify for awards.

On April 28, Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement that their commitment to theatre releases was “unchanged and unwavering” but said the pandemic has made the rule change necessary.

The Academy’s new policy is only temporary while most cinemas are closed because of coronavirus.

Many scheduled movie releases have been completely delayed by the pandemic.

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New Zealand claims it has stopped community transmission of Covid-19, effectively eliminating the virus.

With new cases in single figures for several days – one on April 26 – PM Jacinda Ardern said the virus was “currently” eliminated.

However, officials have warned against complacency, saying it does not mean a total end to new coronavirus cases.

The news came hours before New Zealand moved out of its toughest level of social restrictions.

From April 28, some non-essential business, healthcare and education activity will be able to resume.

Most people will still be required to remain at home at all times and avoid all social interactions.

PM Ardern said at the daily government briefing: “We are opening up the economy, but we’re not opening up people’s social lives.”

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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New Zealand has reported fewer than 1,500 confirmed or probable cases of coronavirus and 19 deaths.

The country’s Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, said the low number of new cases in recent days “does give us confidence that we have achieved our goal of elimination”.

Ashley Bloomfield warned that “elimination” did not mean there would be no new cases “but it does mean we know where our cases are coming from”.

PM Ardern said there was “no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand”, adding: “We have won that battle.”

However, the prime minister said New Zealand “must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way”.

New Zealand brought in some of the toughest restrictions in the world on travel and activity early on in the pandemic, when it only had a few dozen cases.

The country closed its borders, started enforcing quarantine of all arrivals in the country, brought in a stringent lockdown and mounted an extensive testing and contact tracing operation.

Beaches, waterfronts and playgrounds were shut on March 26, as were offices and schools. Bars and restaurants were also closed, including for takeaway and delivery.

PM Ardern said modeling indicated New Zealand could have had more than 1,000 cases a day if it had not brought in the lockdown so early.

She said New Zealand could never know how bad it would have been but that “through our cumulative actions we have avoided the worst”.

The country’s remote location and easily sealable borders played in its favor when the virus broke out, experts say.

However, the government has also been praised for the clarity of its messaging throughout the crisis.

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According to recent figures from Johns Hopkins University, more than 200,000 people worldwide have now died with the coronavirus.

There are more than 2.8 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, the tally shows.

It comes after the US death toll passed 50,000, as Americans endure the world’s deadliest outbreak.

Chinese state media reported the first known death linked to the virus on January 11. More than 210 countries and territories have since reported cases.

Five countries have now reported death tolls above 20,000 although the way fatalities are counted varies widely.

The US, Spain and Italy have seen the highest number of reported fatalities.

France, which does include deaths in care homes in its statistics, said its toll had risen by 369 on April 25.

There have been 22,614 virus deaths in France since the start of March, but health officials say the mortality rate in hospitals is falling, and the number of people in intensive care has dropped for the seventeenth consecutive day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says patients who have recovered from the virus may not be protected against re-infection.

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Earlier this week, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted upward trends in Covid-19 cases in Africa, Eastern Europe, Central America and South America.

Dr Tedros said that while most of the epidemics in Western Europe appeared to be stable or in decline, for many countries the disease was just getting started.

He said: “And some (countries) that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases.”

One such country is Singapore, which was initially praised for its success in containing the virus, but has since seen a surge of infections linked to industrial worksites and tightly packed worker dormitories.

Elsewhere in Asia, Chinese authorities reported no new deaths for the tenth consecutive day on April 25, and South Korea had its second day without a death.

Statisticians have cautioned that a reported death toll may not always give the full picture of a country’s epidemic.

The US has seen the most coronavirus deaths of any individual country, for example, but also has a far larger population than most.

With 330 million people, the US population exceeds the total number of people living in the five largest countries in Western Europe – the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Many European countries have reported more deaths per head of population than the US, and Europe as a whole has reported more deaths overall.

Death rates also depend on who is counted. Some countries are including deaths in care homes in their data, giving a fuller picture, whereas others only count deaths in hospital where Covid-19 has been confirmed.

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American medical community has lambasted President Donald Trump for suggesting research into whether coronavirus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body.

The president also appeared to propose irradiating patients’ bodies with UV light, an idea dismissed by a doctor at the briefing.

Another of the president’s officials had moments earlier said sunlight and disinfectant were known to kill the infection.

Disinfectants are hazardous substances and can be poisonous if ingested.

Even external exposure can be dangerous to the skin, eyes and respiratory system.

During April 23 White House coronavirus task force briefing, an official presented the results of US government research that indicated coronavirus appeared to weaken more quickly when exposed to sunlight and heat.

The study also showed bleach could kill the virus in saliva or respiratory fluids within five minutes and isopropyl alcohol could kill it even more quickly.

William Bryan, acting head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, outlined the findings at the news conference.

While noting the research should be treated with caution, President Trump suggested further research in that area.

He said: “So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous – whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light.”

“And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside of the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting,” he continued.

“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?

“So it’d be interesting to check that.”

Pointing to his head, President Trump went on: “I’m not a doctor. But I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what.”

The president turned to Dr. Birx and asked if she had ever heard of using “the heat and the light” to treat coronavirus.

“Not as a treatment,” she said.

“I mean, certainly, fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But I’ve not seen heat or light.”

“I think it’s a great thing to look at,” President Trump said.

Image source Wikipedia

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However, doctors warned the president’s idea could have fatal results.

Pulmonologist Dr. Vin Gupta told NBC News: “This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it’s dangerous.

“It’s a common method that people utilise when they want to kill themselves.”

John Balmes, a pulmonologist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, warned that even breathing fumes from bleach could cause severe health problems.

He told Bloomberg News: “Inhaling chlorine bleach would be absolutely the worst thing for the lungs. The airway and lungs are not made to be exposed to even an aerosol of disinfectant.

“Not even a low dilution of bleach or isopropyl alcohol is safe. It’s a totally ridiculous concept.”

President Trump has previously hyped a malaria medication, hydroxycloroquine, as a possible treatment for coronavirus, though he has stopped touting that drug recently.

This week a study of coronavirus patients in a US government-run hospital for military veterans found more deaths among those treated with hydroxychloroquine than those treated with standard care.

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Spain will allow children outside after six weeks of confinement, the country’s prime minister has announced.

Spanish children have been kept at home since March 14, under strict measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Now PM Pedro Sánchez aims to relax the rule on April 27 so they can “get some fresh air”.

Meanwhile, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who has young children herself, this week pleaded with the government to allow children outside.

Spain has seen more than 20,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic and almost 200,000 reported cases.

In a TV briefing on April 18, PM Sánchez said Spain had left behind “the most extreme moments and contained the brutal onslaught of the pandemic”.

However, the prime minister said he would ask parliament to extend the country’s state of alarm to May 9 as the achievements made were “still insufficient and above all fragile” and could not be jeopardized by “hasty decisions”.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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Another 410 deaths were reported on April 19 – fewer than the previous day. The latest death toll is well down from the peak of the pandemic, and the government allowed some non-essential workers to resume construction and manufacturing on April 13.

However, the main lockdown measures remain in place, with adults only allowed out to visit food stores and pharmacies or work considered essential. Children have been barred from going outside their homes completely.

Spain’s eight million children have already spent five weeks in confinement and there has been growing unease at the risk to their health.

The Spanish Children’s Rights Coalition has warned of mental and physical health problems for children as a result of such measures and called for boys and girls to be allowed outside to play and do some physical activity.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau demanded: “These children need to get out. Wait no more: Free our children!”

Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus originated last year, has raised its official Covid-19 death toll by 50%, adding 1,290 fatalities.

The city’s officials attributed the new figure to updated reporting and deaths outside hospitals. China has insisted there was no cover-up.

China has been accused of downplaying the severity of its virus outbreak.

Wuhan’s 11 million residents spent months in strict lockdown conditions, which have only recently been eased.

The latest official figures bring the death toll in Wuhan to 3,869, increasing the national total to more than 4,600.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, China has confirmed nearly 84,000 Covid-19 infections, the seventh-highest globally.

The new coronavirus has had a huge impact on China’s economy, which shrank for the first time in decades in the first quarter of the year.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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In a statement released on April 17, officials in Wuhan said the revised figures were the result of new data received from multiple sources, including records kept by funeral homes and prisons.

Deaths linked to the virus outside hospitals, such as people who died at home, had not previously been recorded.

According to the statement, the “statistical verification” followed efforts by authorities to “ensure that information on the city’s Covid-19 epidemic is open, transparent and the data [is] accurate”.

The statement added that health systems were initially overwhelmed and cases were “mistakenly reported” – in some instances counted more than once and in others missed entirely.

A shortage of testing capacity in the early stages meant that many infected patients were not accounted for, it said.

A spokesman for China’s National Health Commission, Mi Feng, said the new death count came from a “comprehensive review” of epidemic data.

In its daily news conference, the foreign ministry said accusations of a cover-up, which have been made most stridently on the world stage by President Donald Trump, were unsubstantiated. “We’ll never allow any concealment,” a spokesman said.

The April 17 revised figures come amid growing international concern that deaths in China have been under-reported. Questions have also been raised about Beijing’s handling of the epidemic, particularly in its early stages.

In December 2019, Chinese authorities launched an investigation into a mysterious viral pneumonia after cases began circulating in Wuhan.

The country reported the cases to the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s global health agency, on December 31.

However, WHO experts were only allowed to visit China and investigate the outbreak on February 10, by which time the country had more than 40,000 cases.

The mayor of Wuhan city has previously admitted there was a lack of action between the start of January – when about 100 cases had been confirmed – and January 23, when city-wide restrictions were enacted.

Around that time, Dr. Li Wenliang, who tried to warn his colleagues about an outbreak of a SARS-like virus, was silenced by the authorities. He later died from Covid-19.

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The US now has now overtaken Italy to have the highest death toll from Covid-19 in the world.

According to the latest figures, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, more than 20,000 people in the US have now died from coronavirus.

The grim milestone comes shortly after the US became the first nation to record more than 2,000 virus deaths in a single day.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on April 11 the state’s death toll appeared to be stabilizing.

Announcing a 24-hour figure of 783 new deaths, Governor Cuomo noted the last several days had seen around the same number.

He said: “That is not an all-time high, and you can see that the number is somewhat stabilizing but it is stabilizing at a horrific rate.

“These are just incredible numbers depicting incredible loss and pain.”

New York has become the epicenter of the outbreak in the US, recording more than 180,000 of the country’s nearly 530,000 cases.

As of April 11, every single US state has declared a disaster in response to the outbreak.

More than 100,000 have now died with the new virus around the world since the pandemic broke out in China in December.

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According to the Johns Hopkins tally, as of April 12, Italy reported 19,468 deaths while the US had 20,608.

There are now at least 529,951 confirmed cases of Covid-19 across the US.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has said the US is “starting to see the leveling off and coming down” of cases and deaths but says mitigation efforts such as social distancing should not be pulled back yet.

Federal social distancing recommendations, issued by President Donald Trump, are currently in place until April 30.

President Trump is facing twin pressures from the outbreak: with at least 16 million jobs lost in recent weeks as virus restrictions cripple the US economy.

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Press release

The coronavirus pandemic has already delayed the planned jury trial this month for Ed Bosarge, the Houston billionaire accused of trying to cheat his wife of 30 years out of their shared fortune.

Now the 80-year-old Houston medical center pioneer says he has COVID-19. The medical breaking news came just as the Wall Street Journal highlighted the contentious legal battle that exposes the way the uber rich try to hide their money.

The headline: “A Houston billionaire is accused of using a complex web of trusts and limited liability companies to prevent his wife from accessing cash and the 13 homes they acquired together.”

Ed and Marie Bosarge bought mansions, yachts and even a Bahamian island during their 30-year marriage. Marie Bosarge says she never knew Ed Bosarge was secretly moving everything, even down to kitchen sponges, into secretive South Dakota trusts to cut her out, all while he was spending lavishly on his young Russian girlfriend.

Image source: edbosarge.com

Judge Chip Wells had set the high-stakes divorce case for trial in April, but the case is being delayed. The health of Ed Bosarge is now a front and center issue.

Wells has blasted lawyers for Mr. Bosarge in recent court hearings.

“I don’t think the laws of South Dakota, the State of Texas or anything that we might imagine somehow frees him of an obligation that he has undertaken at the time he married Mrs. Bosarge,” Judge Wells angrily told Ed Bosarge’s lawyers. “Scheme may be the key word… We can play this game… with regard to fraud on the community estate… I promise you it’s not going to go well… I don’t have to tolerate your disrespect.”

Attorney Bucky Allshouse says if Ed Bosarge gets away with his plan then no wife would be safe.

“I want him to be fair. You know, we made our money in Houston. It’s community property. It’s fifty-fifty. I want what’s fair,” said Marie Bosarge.

More than 6.6 million Americans filed jobless claims in the week ending April 4, the Department of Labor said.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits has surged for a third week as the economic toll tied to the coronavirus pandemic intensifies.

To shore up the economy, the Fed said it would unleash an additional $2.3 trillion in lending.

The deepening economic crisis comes as the number of Covid-19 cases in the US soars to more than 430,000.

Over the last three weeks, more than 16 million people have made unemployment claims, as restrictions on activity to help contain the virus force most businesses to close and put about 95% of Americans on some form of lockdown.

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said: “Today’s report continues to reflect the personal sacrifice being made by America’s workers and their families to slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

The surging unemployment rate is a stark reversal for the world’s biggest economy where the unemployment rate had been hovering around 3.5%. Economists now expect that rate has hit the double digits.

Photo Getty Images

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The crisis has prompted dramatic government relief efforts.

The Fed programs on April 9, which include loans to local governments, are the latest actions by the central bank, which has also slashed interest rates, eased banking regulations and announced other programs aimed at supporting home loans, currency markets and small businesses.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the bank is using its emergency powers to “unprecedented extent”.

He said: “We will continue to use these powers forcefully, proactively and aggressively until we’re solidly on the way to recovery.”

The Congress has also passed a roughly $2 trillion rescue bill, which funds direct payment for households, assistance for businesses and increased unemployment benefits. Lawmakers are now discussing further relief.

However, the number of people and companies seeking assistance has overwhelmed rescue efforts so far.

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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged unity, as the UN’s health agency comes under continued fire from President Donald Trump.

Speaking on April 8, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended the WHO’s work and called for an end to the politicization of Covid-19.

The Ethiopian also said that he had received deaths threats and has been subjected to racist abuse.

President Trump said he would consider ending US funding for the World Health Organization.

The US president  accused the WHO of being “very China-centric” and said they “really blew” their pandemic response.

Dr. Tedros has now dismissed the comments, insisting: “We are close to every nation, we are color-blind.”

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

After first attacking the WHO the previous day, President Trump renewed his criticism at his news briefing on April 8, saying the health agency must “get its priorities right”. He said the US would conduct a study to decide whether it would continue paying contributions,

Also answering questions at the briefing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration was “re-evaluating our funding” of the WHO, adding: “Organizations have to work. They have to deliver the outcomes for which they were intended.”

The new coronavirus first emerged last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has just ended an 11-week lockdown. An advisor to the WHO chief earlier said their close work with China had been “absolutely essential” in understanding the disease in its early stages.

President  Trump’s attacks on the WHO come in the context of criticism of his own administration’s handling of the pandemic, especially early problems with testing.

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The WHO approved a coronavirus test in January – but the US decided against using it, developing its own test instead. However, in February, when the testing kits were dispatched, some of them didn’t work properly and led to inconclusive results.

Public health experts say the delay enabled the virus to spread further within the US.

Dr. Tedros said: “Please, unity at national level, no using Covid or political points.

“Second, honest solidarity at the global level. And honest leadership from the US and China. “

“The most powerful should lead the way and please quarantine Covid politics,” he appealed, in comments seen as a response to President Trump, who said on Tuesday the WHO appeared to be “very biased toward China”.

President Trump said: “They called it wrong. They really – they missed the call.

“And we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it, and we’re going to see.”

The US is one of the WHO’s largest voluntary funders, with WHO data suggesting they contribute 15% to its overall budget.

The WHO chief said that he had been at the receiving end of racist comments for the past two to three months.

He said: “Giving me names, black or negro.

“I’m proud of being black, or proud of being negro.”

Dr. Tedros then said he had got death threats, adding – “I don’t give a damn.”

Referring to the abuse, the WHO chief said it had originated from Taiwan, “and the foreign ministry didn’t disassociate” itself from it.

However, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen dismissed this, saying her country is against discrimination.

“For years, we have been excluded from international organizations, and we know better than anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated,” Reuters quoted her as saying.

Taiwan, which is excluded from the WHO because of China’s objections to its membership, has said it has been unable to access important information during the coronavirus outbreak. The WHO denies this.

On April 8, Dr. Tedros played down the financial threat, saying he believed that US funding would continue.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres had earlier added his voice to the defense of the organization. He described the outbreak as “unprecedented” and said any assessment of how it was handled should be an issue for the future.

He said: “Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.”

French President Emmanuel Macron also reportedly offered his support to the WHO in a call to Dr. Tedros on April 8.

“He reaffirmed his trust, his support for the institution and refuses to see it locked into a war between China and the USA,” a French presidency official told Reuters.

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Scrutiny over New York’s coronavirus outbreak response has deepened after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state recorded its highest single-day increase in virus deaths on April 7.

New York reported 731 deaths bringing the total to 5,489 deaths and 138,836 infections.

Authorities faced questions over their actions for at-risk people after an infected inmate at Rikers Island jail died.

Michael Tyson, 53, died waiting for a hearing over a non-criminal offence.

As of April 5, 286 inmates and 331 staffers in New York City’s jails have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The outbreak in NYC’s jail system is one of the worst at correctional facilities throughout the US, just as New York state leads the country in both total coronavirus cases and deaths since the virus reached the US.

Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

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Governor Cuomo disclosed that New York, which has been the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, saw its highest number of fatalities in a 24 hour period between April 6 and April 7.

The change came after New York had seen two days of slowing infection rates and fewer deaths.

However, Governor Cuomo said the three day average for cases had fallen. However, he warned that New Yorkers must continue to follow health guidelines to socially distance and stay indoors.

He also asked people to avoid large gatherings as religious holidays Passover and Easter approach.

Governor Cuomo has so far ordered the release of at least 1,100 prisoners. Responding to questions on Tuesday, an aide to the governor said the state was “continuing to evaluate” the situation in New York’s jails in relation to the virus.

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UK’s PM Boris Johnson has been admitted to the intensive care at a central London hospital after his Covid-19 symptoms worsened.

He was moved to the unit on the advice of his medical team and was receiving “excellent care”, Downing Street said.

Boris Johnson has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputize “where necessary”, a spokesman added.

The 55-year-old prime minister was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital with “persistent symptoms” on April 5.

According to Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II has been kept informed about Boris Johnson’s health by No 10.

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World leaders – including President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron – have expressed their support for Boris Johnson.

On April 7, cabinet minister Michael Gove said the prime minister was not on a ventilator.

A Downing Street statement read: “The prime minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.

“Over the course of [April 6] afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital.”

The staement continued: “The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.”

Boris Johnson was initially taken to hospital for tests after announcing 11 days ago that he had the coronavirus. His symptoms included a high temperature and a cough.

President Trump said Americans “are all praying for his recovery”, describing Boris Johnson as “a very good friend of mine and a friend to our nation” who is “strong” and “doesn’t give up”.

Prsident Macron said he sent “all my support to Boris Johnson, to his family and to the British people at this difficult moment”.

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President Donald Trump has warned Americans to prepare for the “toughest week” of the coronavirus pandemic yet, predicting a surge in deaths.

At his daily briefing, the president said “there will be death” in a grim assessment of the days ahead.

Donald Trump sought to reassure the worst-hit states, promising medical supplies and military personnel to combat the virus.

However, in contrast to his warning, President Trump suggested easing social-distancing guidelines for Easter.

At a news conference at the White House on April 4, he said: “We have to open our country again.

“We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months.”

President Trump’s calls to relax restrictions on life came on the day confirmed coronavirus infections in the US surpassed 300,000, the highest number in the world.

Image source Flickr

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As of April 4, there were almost 8,500 deaths from Covid-19 in the US, with most in New York state – the epicenter of the outbreak.

On the same day, New York state recorded 630 more Covid-19 deaths, another daily record that takes its toll to 3,565. New York state now has almost as many cases – over 113,000 – as the whole of Italy.

The president gave a candid assessment of what lies ahead for the US in the coming weeks.

He said: “This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week, and there will be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn’t done but there will be death.”

To support states in their fight against Covid-19, President Trump said his administration would be deploying a “tremendous amount of military, thousands of soldiers, medical workers, professionals”.

The military personnel will “soon” be advised of their assignments, the president said, adding that “1,000 military personnel” were being deployed to New York City.

President Trump also addressed his use of the Defense Production Act, a Korean-War-era law which gives him powers to control the production and supply of US-made medical products.

He said he was “very disappointed” with 3M, a US company that makes masks, saying it “should be taking care of our country” instead of selling to others.

However, the president rejected accusations that the US had committed an act of “modern piracy” by redirecting 200,000 Germany-bound masks for its own use.

On the question of easing social-distancing restrictions, President Trump reiterated a familiar theme.

President Trump has said: “The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

Elsewhere in the world, there has been cause for optimism as the number of new infections and deaths from coronavirus has started to gradually diminish.

Globally, more than 60,000 people have died and more than 1.1 million have been infected, Johns Hopkins University says.

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China has observed a three-minute silence for the victims of the coronavirus outbreak.

A day of remembrance was declared in China on April 4 to honor the more than 3,300 people who died of Covid-19.

At 10:00 AM local time, people stood still nationwide for three minutes in tribute to the dead.

Cars, trains and ships then sounded their horns, air raid sirens rang as flags were flown at half-mast.

The first cases of coronavirus were detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province at the end of 2019.

Since then, the virus has swept the globe, infecting more than one million people and killing nearly 60,000 in 181 countries.

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In Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s outbreak, all traffic lights in urban areas were turned red at 10:00, ceasing traffic for three minutes.

The Chinese government said the event was a chance to pay respects to “martyrs”, a reference to the 14 medical workers who died battling the virus.

They include Li Wenliang, a doctor in Wuhan who died of Covid-19 after being reprimanded by the authorities for attempting to warn others about the disease.

Wearing white flowers pinned to their chest, China’s President Xi Jinping and other government officials paid silent tribute in Beijing.

The commemorations coincide with the annual Qingming festival, when millions of Chinese families pay respects to their ancestors.

China first informed the WHO about cases of pneumonia with unknown causes on December 31, 2019.

By January 18, 2020, the confirmed number of cases had risen to around 60 – but experts estimated the real figure was closer to 1,700.

Just two days later, as millions of people prepared to travel for the lunar new year, the number of cases more than tripled to more than 200 and the virus was detected in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

From that point, the virus began to spread rapidly in Asia and then Europe, eventually reaching every corner of the globe.

However, in the past few weeks, China has started to ease travel and social-distancing restrictions, believing it has brought the health emergency under control.

Last week, Wuhan partially re-opened after more than two months of isolation.

On April 4, China reported 19 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, down from 31 a day earlier. China’s health commission said 18 of those cases involved travelers arriving from abroad.

As it battles to control cases coming from abroad, China temporarily banned all foreign visitors, even if they have visas or residence permits.

As the coronavirus crisis in China abates, the rest of the world remains firmly in the grip of the disease.

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Peru has imposed strict new measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease, restricting public movement by gender.

According to new measures, men can only leave home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; women can do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, no-one is allowed out.

Panama introduced similar restrictions earlier this week.

Peru has recorded more than 1,400 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 55 related deaths.

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On April 2, President Martín Vizcarra said that previous control measures had given good results “but not what was hoped for”.

Calling for an “extra effort to control this disease”, the president said the new gender-based restrictions should halve the number of people circulating in public at any one time.

He added: “We have to get fewer people on the streets every day.”

The new rules came into effect on April 3 and will last until April 12, when a nationwide lockdown imposed on March 16 is scheduled to be lifted.

Peru’s Interior Minister Carlos Morán warned that the police and armed forces would be enforcing the new measures.

He said: “On Sunday everyone has to be at home.

“Banks will not work and supermarkets, markets and shops will be closed. There will also be no pharmacies. No-one has justification for leaving.”

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Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has warned of a “very painful two weeks” ahead, as the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak hit the US.

He said US deaths could reach 100,000, as the global infection toll rises above 800,000.

The president urged Americans to follow guidelines, calling it “a matter of life and death”.

The US death toll surpasses 4,000 and there are fears as many as 200,000 people could die there.

On March 31, the White House said projections show between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans could die with Covid-19.

The projection is based on some people not doing everything they can to stop the spread, US coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx explained.

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US infectious disease chief Anthony Fauci said that “as sobering a number as that [100,000] is, we should be prepared for it. Is it going to be that much? I hope not and the more we push on mitigation the less likely it would be that number.

“But being realistic, we need to prepare ourselves… it will be difficult – no one is denying we are going through a very difficult time right now.”

President Donald Trump is expected to help businesses in America by allowing them to delay payments on certain tariffs.

The US imposes tariffs – fees for importing certain products from overseas – on a raft of goods, including steel from China.

However, the president is expected to waive payment of these fees for 90 days to help improve US companies’ cashflows as they struggle with lockdowns.

The 90-day breathing space will apply to specific goods from “most-favored nations”, although these are not expected to include imports from China or Europe.

Around 400 chief executives of small, medium, and large companies in the US urged President Trump in a letter on March 31 to delay the collection of these fees for up to 180 days.

The cash would normally be paid direct to the US government.

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UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both tested positive for coronavirus, which causes the Covid-19 disease.

It comes after the UK government’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has said he is self-isolating after experiencing symptoms of coronavirus last night.

Prof. Chris Whitty has led the UK’s medical response and appears in the government’s public information films. Known symptoms of the virus include a persistent dry cough and a raised temperature.

PM Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus after displaying “mild” symptoms.

He is continuing to work in his Downing Street office although he will not be taking part in March 27 daily government briefing.

Boris Johnson’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds, who is several months pregnant, is self-isolating elsewhere.

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A total of 759 people have now died of the coronavirus in the UK, while 14,579 have tested positive.

The death toll jumped by 181 on March 27 – a rise of 31% – making it the biggest rise in deaths that the country has seen so far, surpassing March 26’s record of 115.

In England, patients were aged between 29 and 98 years old.

According to health officials, all but four patients, aged between 82 and 91 years old, had underlying health conditions.

The UK has the seventh highest number of recorded deaths in the world after Italy, Spain, China, Iran, France and the US.

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Image source Wikipedia

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US has surpassed any other affected country’s on March 26.

With more than 86,000 positive tests, the US has overtaken China (81,782 cases) and Italy (80,589), according to the latest figures collated by Johns Hopkins University.

However, with almost 1,300 Covid-19-related fatalities, the US death toll lags behind China (3,291) and Italy (8,215).

The grim milestone came as President Donald Trump predicted the nation would get back to work “pretty quickly”.

Asked about the latest figures at a White House briefing on March 26, President Trump said it was “a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing”.

VP Mike Pence said coronavirus tests were now available in all 50 states and more than 552,000 tests had been conducted nationwide.

President Trump also cast doubt on the figures coming out of Beijing, telling reporters: “You don’t know what the numbers are in China.”

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Later, the president tweeted that he had had a “very good conversation” with China’s President Xi Jinping.

He said: “China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”

President Trump has set a much-criticized goal of Easter Sunday, 12 April, for reopening the country. That plan seemed to gather impetus on March 26 as it emerged an unprecedented 3.3 million Americans have been laid off because of the virus.

At March 26 briefing, he said: “They [the American people] have to go back to work, our country has to go back, our country is based on that and I think it’s going to happen pretty quickly.

“We may take sections of our country, we may take large sections of our country that aren’t so seriously affected and we may do it that way.”

He added: “A lot of people misinterpret when I say go back – they’re going to be practicing as much as you can social distancing, and washing your hands and not shaking hands and all of the things we talked about.”

President Trump promised more details next week.

In a letter to state governors on March 26, President Trump said his team plans to release federal social distancing guidelines that may advise some regions to loosen restrictions.

He wrote of a “long battle ahead” and said “robust” testing protocols might allow some counties to lift their safeguards against the coronavirus.

President Trump said the “new guidelines” would create low, medium and high risk zones that would allow the government to advise on “maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place”.

On March 26, President Trump phoned in to Fox News host Sean Hannity’s program and said he believed Iowa, Idaho, Nebraska and parts of Texas could reopen earlier than other states.

The plan emerged as new research on March 26 estimated Covid-19-related deaths in the US could top 80,000 over the coming four months – even if people observe strict social distancing.

According to the study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, as many as 2,300 patients could be dying every day by April.