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Coronavirus around the globe

Started by thaiga, March 25, 2020, 12:51:08 PM

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around the globe
all sorts of evil stories coming to light, Covid-19: Soldiers find bodies in Spain retirement homes as Spanish soldiers deployed to help fight the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak have found elderly patients abandoned, and some dead from the disease, at retirement homes, Spain's defence minister said on Monday.

"We are going to be strict and inflexible when dealing with the way old people are treated in these residences," Defence Minister Margarita Robles said in an interview with private television channel Telecinco.

"The army, during certain visits, found some old people completely abandoned, some even dead in their beds," she added.

An investigation has been launched, the general prosecutor announced.  nst.com

Australia begins Covid-19 lockdown which 'could last six months' were living in a different world it's like a dream or should i say a nightmare. 'Malaysia may face recession 'Economists believe Malaysia will suffer an economic recession if the Covid-19 outbreak continues to worsen and the Movement Control Order (MCO) is extended. Netherlands extends partial lockdown to June.

The Netherlands is extending a ban on all public gatherings from April 6 until June 1 to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 coronavirus, the justice minister said on Monday. as they have no other choice.

PETALING JAYA The health ministry says the 131st case of Covid-19 reported yesterday was among the 10,000 who had attended an Islamic missionary gathering at a mosque in Seri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur, from Feb 27 to March 1  freemalaysiatoday.com

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


(Reuters) - China reported 89 new coronavirus cases on April 13, down from 108 the previous day, the health authority said on Tuesday.
Of the total, 86 were imported, down from 98 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.

(Reuters) - Seven Northeastern U.S. states and three on the West Coast formed regional pacts on Monday aimed at coordinating a gradual reopening of their economies without a resurgence of coronavirus infections just as the outbreak appeared to be starting to wane.

(Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Monday that his administration was close to completing a plan to re-open the U.S. economy, which has been largely shut down to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

(Reuters) - Thousands of shops across Austria will reopen on Tuesday as it becomes one of the first countries in Europe to loosen its coronavirus lockdown, but the government is still telling the nation it is "not out of the woods" yet.

(Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced he was extending a virtual lockdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak until May 11, adding that progress had been made but the battle not yet won.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Europe's plans for going back to work start to take shape

European leaders are starting to sketch out their strategy for putting the economy back to work once the coronavirus has been brought under control.

Austria and Denmark are beginning to open up some schools and shops this week and President Emmanuel Macron on Monday night told the French that he wants to ease restrictions from May 11. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to discuss her plans with German state premiers on Wednesday while the European Commission has drafted a plan to coordinate the moves.

Governments are trying to balance the desperate need to halt the damage to the economy against the risk of a resurgence of the pandemic. The number of new cases in Europe has stabilized in recent days though more than 50,000 people have died on the continent and the fatalities continue to climb.

Italy has extended containment measures until May 3, and named the former chief executive officer of Vodafone Group to head a team that will help the country's firms to gradually restart activity. Spain reported the lowest number of new cases since March 20 on Tuesday, increasing pressure on the government to relax its state of emergency.

Even as leaders are planning a gradual removal of the restrictions on economic activity, the path is fraught with peril. The commission warned that they will have to be prepared to re-impose lockdowns if the number of infections starts to spike again.

In guidelines to be unveiled Wednesday, the commission will warn that the easing should be gradual and begin only when infections significantly decreased for a sustained period of time; hospitals have enough beds, drugs and equipment; and large-scale testing, tracing and quarantine capacity is in place.

Measures for older adults should stay in force for longer and the commission also recommends the use of mobile phone applications to warn people if they come near to an infected person.

"When will we be able to go back to the way things were?" Macron said in his television address. "In all honesty, in all humility, we don't have a definitive answer to that."

The crisis is widely seen as more serious than Great Recession of the late 2000s and there is little sense of international coordination among the Group of Seven or G-20 governments despite repeated talk of doing "whatever it takes." G-7 finance chiefs will hold a call later today.

The euro-area economy is set to shrink more than 10% in the first half of this year, according to Bloomberg's monthly survey. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire put his country's contraction at 8%.

As one of the first countries in Europe to shut down, Austria is now a much-watched example of how to go about the task of re-opening itself up again -- and it will be an agonizingly slow and complicated process.

Austrians lined up outside hardware and gardening stores on Tuesday morning as the country became one of the first to ease lockdown measures. Face masks are mandatory in all shops as well as in public transport. If there's no pickup in infections all other stores can reopen May 2 with schools to follow.

Volkswagen AG's Audi plans to reopen its factory in Gyor, western Hungary, on Tuesday, Kisalfold news website reports, citing a video message from board chairman Alfons Dintner.

On Wednesday, Denmark will reopen primary schools and hospitals will start to conduct non-critical procedures for patients suffering from conditions other than Covid-19.

One of the many effects of the virus has been highlighting the deficiencies of the bloc, with the old tensions between the frugal north and the debt-addled south returning. Italy and Spain, have been the worst-affected countries, and are looking for financial help and solidarity without the kind of conditions that the Dutch insist on.

Italy is considering allowing some companies in the automobile, fashion, design and metalworking sectors to reopen later this month but the priority remains the health of employees, according to two officials who asked not to be named discussing confidential plans. Unions are more reluctant than business managers to reopen, and the government is being urged to be cautious.

"Italy is pretty much like the first competitor to head down the ski run, because of our long lockdown," Luca Richeldi, a pulmonologist at Rome's Agostino Gemelli hospital and a member of the scientific and medical committee advising the government, said in an interview.

On the fringes of the European Union, the U.K. is the main laggard having delayed imposing tight restrictions and seen key officials including Prime Minister Boris Johnson infected. The U.K. is projecting that the British outbreak won't reach its peak until later this week and the government is due to review its exit strategy on Thursday.

Having spent years extricating itself from the bloc, the post-Brexit reality is that the U.K. is pursuing its own political experiment on how to manage the virus. Its future trade relationship with the U.S. and the EU is still entirely up in the air.

In Germany, the leader of Merkel's Christian Democrats, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that she's likely to scrap plans for a special conference to select a candidate for chancellor next year and will instead wait for the party's regular gathering in December.

Germany's public health authority sounded a note of caution too. Testing slowed down over the four-day Easter holiday weekend, making official case tallies less reliable, Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute, warned in a briefing.

Even when the number of fatalities across the continent show real signs of slowing down, there is a lingering feeling that when things turned bad, it was every nation for itself -- and that will be a political question mark hanging over the bloc in the future.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Trump attack on WHO rocks global efforts to unite against virus

Global efforts to join forces against the coronavirus faltered Wednesday after Donald Trump halted funding for the World Health Organization, igniting criticism from leaders who are urging solidarity in the face of a crippling economic crisis.

The US president's shock move came as a patchwork of countries experiment with loosening lockdown measures, ushering the planet into a new and uncertain phase of a pandemic that has killed more than 125,000 people worldwide and infected at least two million.

In Europe, Denmark became the first country on the badly-hit continent to start reopening schools, while Finland lifted a travel blockade on the Helsinki region.

Italy and Spain have also allowed some businesses to restart after signs both are finally flattening the curve following weeks of punishing death tolls.

But as leaders launch into delicate debates of how to jump-start economies without triggering new waves of infection, Trump rattled efforts at global solidarity by ramping up his blame-game with the WHO, the UN's health agency.

The president ordered the US to freeze funding pending a review into the WHO's role in "severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus".

Trump charged that the outbreak could have been contained "with very little death" if the WHO had accurately assessed the situation in China, where the disease broke out late last year.

Leaders around the globe fired back at the US president, who had initially downplayed the dangers of a virus that has now killed more people in the United Sates than any other country on the planet.

Beijing warned that the move would "undermine the international cooperation" at a "critical moment" in the pandemic.

Trump also earned a rebuke from UN chief Antonio Guterres as well as entrepreneur Bill Gates who tweeted that cutting funding was "as dangerous as it sounds".

The European Union's foreign policy chief was similarly disapproving.

"There is no reason justifying this move at a moment when their efforts are needed more than ever to help contain and mitigate the coronavirus pandemic," Josep Borrell said in a tweet.

And African Union chief Moussa Faki Mahamat condemned Trump's decision as "deeply regrettable".

Trump's controversial attack came the world is facing down a looming economic catastrophe, which the International Monetary Fund has said could see $9 trillion wiped from the global economy in the worst downturn since the 1930s Great Depression.

Underlining the point, Europe's powerhouse Germany has been in recession since March, the government said Wednesday.

The virus-hit Chinese economy, second only to the US, probably contracted for the first time in around three decades in the first quarter, according to an AFP poll of economists.

Meanwhile finance ministers from the G20 -- the world's richest countries -- held virtual talks Wednesday about a possible debt mororatorium for poor states struggling to weather the costs of the pandemic.

With tentative hope the pandemic could be past its peak in some European hotspots, countries are gradually lifting restrictions -- to mixed reception.

European lockdowns easing

Children started returning to nurseries, kindergartens and primary schools in parts of Denmark, where other measures, such as the closing of borders, bars, restaurants remained in place.

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin also lifted a travel ban in the Helsinki region even as she urged residents to continue avoiding movement, saying "now is not the right time to go to the summer cottage".

Italy, the first European country to enter a full lockdown, is allowing bookshops, launderettes, stationers and children's clothing retailers to reopen.

And Spain, which saw another dip in its daily death toll, has permitted work to start some factories and construction sites, though most people remain under strict stay-at-home measures.

Yet warnings abound that a real return to normal is still a long way off.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the confinement was working but that "nothing will be the same until a vaccine is found".

Germany was also expected to extend its coronavirus restrictions to May 3, regional government sources said Wednesday.

- 'Unenforceable and unsustainable' -

Elsewhere, governments are struggling to enforce lockdowns in impoverished regions where shutdowns are spreading hunger among the poorest.

As the virus appeared to be on the retreat in some parts of richer Europe, it is slowly taking hold in Africa, which has seen 15,000 cases and 800 deaths continent-wide -- with fears over growing hunger and possible social unrest.

"You are condemning people to a choice between starving and getting sick," said Jakkie Cilliers at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS), wrning that lockdowns were unsustainable across much of Africa.

"It's not possible for 10 people living in a tin shack... to not go outside for three weeks."

A similar crisis is emerging in Ecuador, where hunger trumps fear of the virus for residents in rundown areas of the badly affected city of Guayaquil.

"The police come with a whip to send people running, but how do you say to a poor person 'Stay home' if you don't have enough to eat?" said Carlos Valencia, a 35-year-old teacher.

The city's mayor has warned that overstretched medical facilities mean many are dying without the chance to be tested -- a reality that could be be hiding the true extent of the carnage in many poorer places.

People are continuing to "collapse in their houses, in the hospitals, all over the place," said mayor Cynthia Viteri.

However, in parts of the world that saw early outbreaks, there were some hopefully examples of life going on as normal.

Though they were required to wear face masks and gloves, South Koreans nevertheless headed to the polls Wednesday and delivered a strong show of support for President Moon Jae-in, commending his handling of the epidemic.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Airlines helping with this crisis.

Due to this crisis and the demand for freight, the airlines are modifying their passenger A/C to carry freight especially for medical supplies,

SunExpress has begun all-cargo operations with its passenger planes

Air Canada is removing seats from three Boeing 777-300ERs to use these planes in cargo flights.

Taiwanese carriers join the forces to transport cargo in the passenger cabins of planes.

Other airlines doing the same, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific.

More here:  https://www.aircargonews.net/airlines/airlines-fill-passenger-seats-with-cargo-to-meet-demand/

And of course the famous Antonov An-225 Mriya Carried Out Its First Flight to Europe after a Long Period of Maintenance.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Global reaction to Trump withdrawing WHO funding  full article fijitimes.com


China urged the United States to fulfil its obligations to the WHO. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected nearly 2 million people globally, was at a critical stage and that the U.S. decision would affect all countries.


"Apportioning blame doesn't help. The virus knows no borders," Maas said on Twitter on Wednesday.

"We have to work closely together against #COVID19. One of the best investments is to strengthen the @UN, especially the under-funded @WHO, for example for developing and distributing tests and vaccines."


"At a time like this when we need to be sharing information and we need to have advice we can rely on, the WHO has provided that. We will continue to support it and continue to make our contributions," she said.


Morrison said he sympathised with Trump's criticisms of the WHO, especially its support of re-opening China's "wet markets", where freshly slaughtered animals are sold and where the outbreak first appeared in the city of Wuhan late last year.

"But that said, the WHO also as an organisation does a lot of important work including here in our region in the Pacific and we work closely with them," Morrison said.

"We are not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater here, but they are also not immune from criticism and immune from doing things better."


"Not the time" to reduce resources for WHO operations.

"Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences," he said.


"Withholding funding from the WHO is an attempt by the president to shift blame for his own failures to prepare our country for this crisis – and tragically, it will lead to more suffering and death around the world.

"While the president points fingers, others are taking action. We must do everything we can to help them, and Congress must not let this dangerous decision stand."


"Halting funding to the WHO is a dangerous, short-sighted and politically motivated decision, with potential public health consequences for all countries in the world, whether they are rich or poor.

"This pandemic is not over anywhere until it is over everywhere. Strong support from the United States has always been key for WHO's effectiveness, and must continue."


Pierre Somse, CAR'S health minister, said Trump's move was "a regrettable decision that will have harmful effects on the functioning of the WHO and on world health, because the WHO supports many countries in the health sector."


"With each passing day of this worsening crisis, the president is showing us his political playbook: blame the WHO, blame China, blame his political opponents, blame his predecessors – do whatever it takes to deflect from the fact that his administration mismanaged this crisis and it's now costing thousands of American lives," Democratic representative Eliot Engel.


Directed requests for comment to the White House.


Dr. Patrice Harris called it "a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier" and urged Trump to reconsider.


"The move sends the wrong message during the middle of a pandemic," said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases expert and senior scholar.

Adalja said the WHO does make mistakes, as it did in delaying the response to the Ebola outbreak in 2013 and 2014 in West Africa. He said reforms may be needed, but that work needs to take place after the pandemic has passed.

"It's not the middle of a pandemic that you do this type of thing," he said.

Adalja said the WHO collects information about where the virus is active in every county in the world, which the United States needs to help guide decisions about when to open borders.


"Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds," she said on Twitter. "Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs the WHO now more than ever."


"The strength of WHO is that it is able to bring together public health experts from around the world to exchange information, review scientific evidence, and make evidence based consensus recommendations on disease prevention and control.

"I have no doubt that WHO will continue to work in this manner during the COVID-19 pandemic."


Stephen Griffin, a Leeds professor, described Trump's move as "perhaps one of the least productive, most short-sighted, self-motivated and hypocritical acts I have ever witnessed".

"The situation in the U.S. and the world over amounts to a crisis, and one in which we must stand together. WHO is perhaps one of the best means of achieving this and deserves the support and respect of all countries."


Howard Catton, head of the Geneva-based ICN, which represents 132 national nursing associations, said: "The last thing we need now is for funding to be pulled and WHO to be undermined."

"Frontline nurses and other health workers will be shocked and angered and deserve better.

"At this moment when we are facing a pandemic unprecedented in modern times, we must support WHO, not cut off its oxygen supply. We must target the virus not WHO, if we are to beat it."


"This is nothing more than a transparent attempt by President Trump to distract from his history downplaying the severity of the coronavirus crisis and his administration's failure to prepare our nation," said Chair Leslie Dach, who served as the global Ebola coordinator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"To be sure, the World Health Organization is not without fault but it is beyond irresponsible to cut its funding at the height of a global pandemic. This move will undoubtedly make Americans less safe."

Protect Our Care is a U.S. organisation working to protect affordable coverage for all Americans.


"This virus doesn't need passports. In a few short months it has travelled to all of the continents of the world except Antarctica. If there were ever an event that showed us how we need to work tougher as a global community, this is it," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


U.S. stocks soar after coronavirus drug trial shows early promise against severe symptoms

Stocks flashed green around the world as investors clung to early reports that an antiviral medicine appeared to successfully treat severe symptoms for coronavirus patients.

The Dow Jones industrial average surged roughly 600 points, or 2.5%, at Friday's open. The Standard & Poor's 500 jumped 2.0 percent and Nasdaq composite climbed 1.4%.

U.S. markets appeared headed toward their second straight week of gains, bouncing back from March lows that ended the 10-year bull market. The rally came a day after dismal economic numbers showed the United States had erased all job gains of the past decade due to the pandemic, which continues to force tens of millions of Americans to stay home and disrupt entire industries.

Even so, President DonaldTrump on Thursday released federal guidelines for a gradual return to normal in places with minimal coronavirus cases, even as lawmakers and health officials say the nation's testing capacity falls dangerously short of a reopening.

"There is also positive sentiment being generated by the White House's plan to begin slowly rolling back lockdown measures," said Kristina Hooper, global market strategist at Invesco. "It seems clear that, as of late, stocks have chosen to look through what is expected to be a dramatic drop in earnings, and forward to a resurgence in economic activity in the not-too-distant future."

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 popped 2.9%, the German DAX climbed 3.45%t and the benchmark Stoxx 600 gained 2.8%. Asian stocks finished the day with Japan's Nikkei 225 up 3.15%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng up 1.5%.

On Thursday, STAT news reported that severely ill coronavirus patients were responding well to remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug, at a Chicago hospital. The trial involved only 125 people and the preliminary results were not peer reviewed, but it was welcome news for investors looking for light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, and the economic recovery that will come with it. Gilead shares spiked nearly 10% Friday morning.

"Investors are looking past the economic abyss and accentuating the positives on the health care front," said Ed Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research.

Still, oil prices remain at an 18-year-low as airline travel, driving and manufacturing have slowed to a crawl. U.S. crude was selling near $18 a barrel Friday, a fraction of what oil producers need to make a profit. If prices remain depressed long term, many oil companies, suppliers and adjacent service industries will be gravely wounded, resulting in bankruptcies and potentially massive layoffs.

China said its economy contracted 6.8% during the first three months of the year amid its coronavirus shutdown. It also reported a significantly higher death toll in Wuhan, where the virus was first detected. As of April 16, 3,869 had died and 50,333 had been infected, according to a notification released by the Wuhan epidemic prevention and control center on April 17.

Last week, 5.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims, bringing the total to 22 million in the four weeks since President Trump declared a national emergency. The United States has not seen this level of job loss since the Great Depression.

On the earnings front, consumer staples bellwether Procter & Gamble reported a 10% jump in sales during the first quarter as Americans stored up everything from toilet paper to Pampers during the lockdown.

"Optimism about an effective treatment is driving prices higher," said Daniel Wiener, chairman of Adviser Investments, based in Newton, Massachusetts. "But it's still too early to get excited. We have a lot further to go before we can sound the all-clear."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Asia virus latest: Lockdown hampers cyclone relief, cruise ship leaves Australia

Cruise ship MV Artania is berthed at the port of Fremantle on an emergency mission with a sick patient being transferred to a hospital for coronavirus testing on March 27, 2020. (AFP photo)

Here are the latest developments in Asia related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

- Lockdown hinders Vanuatu cyclone relief -

Vanuatu's drastic virus lockdown is hindering critical relief efforts to rebuild the island country after it was pummelled by Tropical Cyclone Harold, aid agencies said.

Nearly two weeks after the deadly monster storm barrelled through the South Pacific, local media reported that newly homeless families were still sleeping in the open.

Foreign aid distribution has been hampered by strict quarantine requirements after Vanuatu -- one of the few remaining countries without confirmed Covid-19 infections -- closed its borders.

Aid agencies said around a third of the country's 300,000 people were in need of emergency shelter.

Thailand's tourism and export-reliant economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the state bank predicting growth will contract by a 22-year low of five percent this year.

- Indonesia's flag carrier slashes salaries -

Indonesia's national carrier Garuda said it was cutting employee salaries by up to 50 percent to keep the company afloat as the pandemic ravages the airline industry.

- Virus cruise ship leaves Australia -

After more than three weeks stranded in Australian waters, the Artania cruise ship set sail for Germany on Saturday to cheers by locals and relief from officials who had been keen to see the virus-stricken vessel leave the country.

The ship left Fremantle with a skeleton crew cleared to pilot the ship to Germany, and will first ferry about 300 staff and 11 passengers Indonesia before heading for Europe, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan told media.

Most of its passengers had already been flown home after the ship docked on March 27.

- Singapore infections surge -

Singapore announced more than 900 new cases of coronavirus Saturday, a new record high, with nearly all infections traced to packed dormitories housing foreign workers.

The affluent city-state had initially been held as a gold standard in the global fight against COVID-19, but a surge in the number of cases has left the government scrambling to contain the spread.

Around 200,000 mostly South Asian workers live in 43 dorms across the island, forming an essential part of the country's workforce.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Germany eyes some normality after bringing coronavirus outbreak 'under control'
World's fourth largest economy has emerged as a leader among European nations in the fight against the pandemic
On Monday, thousands of shops in Germany can reopen, followed by schools next month

Declaring that it has brought the coronavirus "under control", Germany will allow thousands of shops, bookstores, furniture stores and car dealerships to reopen on Monday in what amounts to a first significant step towards a return to normality in Europe's biggest economy.

But the cautious restart in Germany after a month of public lockdown – a reflection of its low Covid-19 death and falling reproduction rates – stands in sharp contrast to Spain, France, Italy and the UK. Lockdowns designed to slow the spread of the virus have been extended into May as the total numbers of deaths in those four major European countries rose ominously towards 80,000.

"The outbreak has become more and more under control and manageable every day," German Health Minister Jens Spahn said at a news conference in Berlin on Friday, comments that resonated against a backdrop of gloom coming from other parts of Europe.

More than 20,000 people have died each in Italy and Spain while the fatality numbers in France (19,349) and the UK (15,498) also continue to rise rapidly every day. Germany has the world's fifth highest number of infected (143,724) yet has only the eighth highest number of deaths (4,538) – behind the United States, Italy, Spain, France, UK, Belgium, and Iran.

full article scmp.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Singapore cases rise again; Europe's economy reels: Virus update
Singapore reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases again, while China reported no deaths for an eighth straight day. US President Donald Trump said he disagreed with the Georgia governor's decision to begin relaxing social-distancing measures this week, a marked shift in tone.

Nationwide lockdowns pushed Europe's economy into a record slump, while companies continued to reel as Unilever withdrew guidance and Credit Suisse Group took a $1 billion hit. Earlier, the WHO said 83 vaccines are in development globally, with six of them in human trials stage.

Germany agreed on a $10.8 billion package of further measures and Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a Europe-wide stimulus program to be financed by the European Union's budget. US lawmakers plan to convene on Thursday to give final passage to a $484 billion interim rescue plan.
Updates (latest first):

Trump's crisis handling has spiked number of undecideds

President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic collapse has shaken voters' confidence in him, with the percentage of undecided voters more than doubling in the last two weeks. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is also seeing voters take a second look at their support. With his campaign limited to a few livestream events a week, he hasn't been able to capitalise on Trump's newfound weakness.

Three weeks ago, only 5% of voters overall were undecided in the 2020 race. That number has jumped to 12%, and 16% in one Fox News poll, as voters appear to find both candidates wanting during a national emergency.

Lockdown pushes economy into record slump

Europe's economy suffered a massive blow in April when government restrictions to contain the coronavirus left companies fighting to stay afloat. An estimate of private-sector activity in the euro area plunged to just 13.5 from 29.7 in March, IHS Markit said Thursday. The drop was far sharper than economists had anticipated and marks a record low for the Purchasing Managers' Index.

Figures for Germany and France, the euro region's two biggest economies, also pointed to unprecedented slumps at the start of the second quarter.

Merkel urges Germany to support EU stimulus

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a Europe-wide economic stimulus program to be financed by the European Union's budget, making a national appeal that helping its partners would be good for Germany.

"A European growth program could support an upswing over the next two years and we'll work for that," Merkel said in a speech to the lower house of parliament in Berlin on Thursday. "We want to act quickly in Europe, and we, of course, need instruments to be able to quickly deal with the effects of the crisis in all member states."

Italy sees 2020 deficit soaring

Italy's government expects its budget deficit to spiral to 10.4% of gross domestic product this year as the economy, paralyzed by a nationwide lockdown, is seen shrinking by 8%. The government is set to request parliamentary approval for broadening the budget deficit by 55 billion euros ($59.4 billion) to fund a new stimulus package, according to officials, who asked not to be identified discussing a draft economic and financial plan. The plan is still being worked on and details could change, they said. The cabinet may meet to approve the program Thursday.

Cruise ship that triggered surge leaves Australia

A coronavirus-stricken cruise ship that's been the source of hundreds of cases and at least 20 deaths in Australia, leading to a criminal investigation, has began its departure from the country. The Princess Cruises-operated Ruby Princess left Port Kembla in New South Wales state on Thursday and is expected to sail to the Philippines where it will offload its crew, weeks after its passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney before test results were known.

Russia cases drop again

Russia reported fewer new coronavirus cases for a second straight day. New infections rose by 4,774 over the past day, down from 5,236, taking the total to 62,773. The death toll rose by 42 to 555.

The number of new cases has remained above 4,000 for seven days, but the daily increase in total cases has slowed down to 8.2% from over 14% a week ago.

Singapore has 1,000 new cases for fourth day

Singapore confirmed an additional 1,037 cases of coronavirus cases with the majority coming from foreign worker dormitories. This compares with 1,016 cases the day before. Initially seen as a global model for how to contain the pandemic, Singapore now has the most reported infections in Southeast Asia as cases among foreign laborers living in densely packed dormitories surged.

The city-state is "very likely" to see a sharper fall in GDP, trade and industry minister Chan Chun Sing said Thursday in an interview. "We are really concerned that worldwide, this is going to lead to a more serious problem than many had anticipated just a month ago."

UK is set to sell most debt on record

The UK will raise in four months of debt sales almost as much as it did during the height of the global financial crisis, as the government steps up borrowing to combat the economic chaos wrought by the coronavirus.

It will sell 180 billion pounds ($222 billion) from May to July. Together with the 45 billion pounds it plans on raising in April, offerings this year will likely dwarf the 228 billion pound record in 2009-10. Last month it estimated a total of 156.1 billion pounds of sales for the fiscal year.

SNB posts record $39 billion loss

The Swiss National Bank reported a record first-quarter loss of 38.2 billion francs ($39.3 billion) after its stock portfolio was hit by the market rout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The SNB, with the legal status of a corporation, said on Thursday that poor equity markets in the first three months of the year caused a 31.9 billion franc hit to its portfolio. The franc's appreciation against other currencies also contributed to losses. A valuation gain on its gold holdings and on fixed income securities, as well as interest and dividend income helped offset some of those losses.

German coalition agrees on package

Germany's ruling coalition agreed on a 10 billion-euro ($10.8 billion) package of further measures to dampen the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, as party leaders settled differences over how to tackle the next stage of the pandemic.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and coalition leaders sealed an accord to temporarily reduce value-added tax for restaurants and increase the amount of money paid as state wage support as part of a seven-point plan to fine-tune the government's crisis response. The agreement came after almost eight hours of wrangling in the chancellery in Berlin.

Unilever withdraws guidance

Unilever withdrew financial guidance for the year because of coronavirus-related disruptions to the food and household-products giant's global business. Like other consumer-goods companies, Unilever is benefiting from strong sales of cleaning products -- it owns the Cif and Domestos brands.

Credit Suisse takes hit

Credit Suisse Group AG is taking more than $1 billion in writedowns and provisions for bad loans after the coronavirus, joining US banks in taking an upfront hit as the outbreak pummels economic activity across the globe.

Hermes reopens mainland China stores

Hermes International reported a smaller decline in first-quarter sales than analysts expected. The company said it has reopened all of its mainland Chinese stores, preparing for a bounce back in demand after the coronavirus outbreak erased demand for luxury goods.

Hermes has been gradually resuming operations at its French workshops since April 14, having shuttered them a month earlier. With the majority of products produced in-house in France, Hermes could be among the brands most exposed to supply constraints when stores reopen.

German cases increase

The number of coronavirus cases in Germany rose for the second time in five days as the government considers how to tackle the next stage of the crisis.

There were 2,195 new cases in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, bringing the total to 150,648, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Fatalities rose by 229 to 5,315. The death rate is now at 3.53%, while the number of people who have recovered climbed to more than 103,000.

Australia to keep borders shut

Australia will keep its international borders closed for at least three to four months to protect itself from the coronavirus pandemic that continues to deepen in other parts of the world. Border restrictions would likely be the final measure lifted and would stay in place even if other rules were eased, according to Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported Thursday.

Six vaccines in human trial, WHO says

The World Health Organization said there are 83 coronavirus vaccines in development globally, with six candidates -- half of them in China -- already in human trials, as drugmakers race to find a cure for the deadly pathogen. That's an improvement from April 13, when the WHO said there were 70 vaccines in development, with three candidates in human trials.

South Korea prepares for second wave

The country will prepare for a second wave of novel coronavirus in the fall and winter as many experts have warned of the possibility, said Yoon Tae-ho, the director general of health ministry. There is a high chance of fast spread again as there is no vaccine or treatment yet and immunity in population hasn't been created.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


U.S. death toll passes 50,000 as some states begin lifting restrictions
The United States now has more than 50,000 deaths from COVID-19 -- roughly a quarter of all pandemic deaths worldwide. Yet parts of the country have begun to lift restrictions and reopen businesses, including Georgia, whose governor faced criticism from President Trump for his decision.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Disinfectant makers steer consumers away from Trump's coronavirus comments
(Reuters) - Makers of household cleaners on Friday took the unusual step of urging people not to drink or inject their products, after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested researchers try using them to cure COVID-19 patients.

Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L), the UK-based maker of Lysol and Dettol, issued the first warning, saying: "Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)."

Clorox (CLX.N), maker of bleach, soon followed, calling it critical for consumers to understand the facts.

"Bleach and other disinfectants are not suitable for consumption or injection under any circumstances," it said.

The comments came after Trump said at a Thursday news briefing that scientists should explore whether inserting ultraviolet light or disinfectant into the bodies of people infected with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus would help.

"Is there a way we can do something like that by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning?" he said. "It would be interesting to check that."

Trump later said he was being sarcastic, after his comments sparked swift and fierce rebuke from the international medical community and others concerned that people might poison themselves by ingesting products with harmful chemicals.

"We have a responsibility as a company to make sure people are using our products as intended and are following the guidance on the label and not unintentionally misusing them because of different suggestions," a Reckitt spokeswoman told Reuters. "We wanted to make sure nobody misinterpreted his comments."


Lou Colasuonno, who specializes in crisis communications, said speaking up was the right thing to do, even if it risked White House retribution for contradicting the president.

"If they'd been quiet during this, it could be construed as acquiescence," said Colasuonno, a senior managing director at FTI Consulting. He said the risk of White House pushback was low, given the reaction to Trump's comments.

Lysol toilet bowl cleaner's warning states: "CORROSIVE. Causes irreversible eye damage and skin burns. Harmful if swallowed. Do not get in eyes, on skin or on clothing."

Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble (PG.N), maker of Comet cleaner and Dawn detergent, referred to a statement from the American Cleaning Institute that "disinfectants are meant to kill germs or viruses on hard surfaces. Under no circumstances should they ever be used on one's skin, ingested or injected internally."

Since March, U.S. poison control centers have reported a spike in calls concerning bleaches and hand sanitizers, as Americans stay home and clean intensely.

full article reuters.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Singapore races to build beds

Changi Exhibition Centre, one of Singapore's largest isolation facilities

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Asia virus latest: Back to school in China; Japan expands easing

Students wearing face masks sit in a classroom with partitions on their desks as more students in Chongqing return to campus following the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, at a school in Chongqing, China on Monday. (Reuters photo)

Here are the latest developments in Asia related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

- Back to school in Shanghai and Beijing -

Tens of thousands of students returned to school in Shanghai and Beijing after months of closures as China's major cities gradually return to normality.

Shanghai students in their final year of middle and high school went back to classrooms, while only high school seniors in Beijing were allowed on campus again to prepare for the all-important "gaokao" university entrance exam.

- Bank of Japan expands easing measures -

The Bank of Japan ramped up its emergency monetary easing and cut growth forecasts for the world's third-largest economy.

The central bank said it would shift to unlimited government bond-buying and more than double its capacity to purchase corporate bonds and commercial papers -- a move to support financing as the country grapples with fallout from the virus.

Meanwhile, Asian markets rallied as the rate of deaths from the virus sank in several badly hit countries, while leaders stepped up plans to reopen their economies, though oil prices sank with supply glut fears overshadowing output reductions.

- New Zealand has won battle against transmission: PM -

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand had scored a significant victory against the spread of the coronavirus as the country began a phased exit from lockdown.

"There is no widespread, undetected community transmission in New Zealand," Ardern declared. "We have won that battle."

- Australians rush to download tracker app -

Nearly two million Australians rushed to download a new smartphone app designed to make coronavirus contact tracing easier, the government said, overlooking privacy concerns in the hope of speeding up the end of social-distancing lockdowns.

Health Minister Greg Hunt hailed take-up since the app was released Sunday evening as "extraordinary", saying 1.9 million people had downloaded the program in less than 24 hours.

- Malaysia criticised for jailing virus rule breakers -

Malaysia should stop jailing people who breach strict curbs imposed to halt the spread of the virus, because the practice places people at greater risk of infection, Human Rights Watch said.

Thousands have been detained for breaking the rules and some have been handed short jail terms. Authorities have established temporary jails to hold the extra inmates and said at the weekend that the first batch of 58 people had been sent to the prisons.

- China envoy warns of Australia boycott -

China's ambassador in Australia has warned that demands for a probe into the spread of the coronavirus could lead to a consumer boycott of Aussie wine or trips Down Under.

Australia has joined the United States in calling for a thorough investigation into how the virus transformed from a localised epidemic in central China into a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people, forced billions into isolation and torpedoed the global economy.

- Indonesian zoo animals 'face starvation' -

Thousands of animals, including Sumatran tigers and Bornean orangutans, are facing the threat of starvation at Indonesian zoos.

More than 90% of the archipelago's zoos only have enough feed until mid-May and not enough money to buy more owing to a lack of visitors, according to the Indonesian Zoo Association.

- Thousands of Afghan inmates ordered freed -

In Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani ordered the release of about 12,400 prisoners in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Ghani's decree comes on top of an earlier directive to release 10,000 prisoners for the same reason, and was unrelated to ongoing prisoner-swap negotiations with the Taliban.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


UK on track to become one of Europe's worst hit

Britain is on track to record one of the worst coronavirus death tolls in Europe, after data published on Tuesday (Apr 28) showed nationwide fatalities topped 24,000 nine days ago.

A day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of success in dealing with the outbreak, the new figures showed the week ending Apr 17 was Britain's deadliest since comparable records began in 1993.

The Office for National Statistics said 21,284 people had died in England by Apr 17 with mentions of COVID-19 on their death certificate. Together with figures from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the total United Kingdom death toll was at least 24,000 as of Apr 19.

"The United Kingdom is going to be right up there among the worst-hit nations in the initial surge," said Bill Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"With the most optimistic views of the amount of immunity that might be being generated, it would be still not be close to having enough to be able to return to normal," he told Reuters.

Unlike the hospital death tolls announced daily by the government, the fresh figures include deaths in community settings, such as care homes where overall fatalities have trebled in a few weeks.

Overall, Tuesday's figures for COVID-19 deaths in England and Wales up to Apr 17 were more than 50 per cent higher than the daily toll for deaths in hospitals initially announced by the government.

The figures underline the scale of the challenge facing Johnson as he returns to work after recovering from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and the dangers of relaxing Britain's lockdown too soon.

He warned on Monday that it was still too dangerous to relax stringent measures wreaking havoc on the economy, for fear of a deadly second outbreak.

In a reminder that much is still unknown about the novel coronavirus, health secretary Matt Hancock said some children with no underlying health conditions had died from a rare inflammatory syndrome which researchers believe to be linked to COVID-19.


The ONS bases its figures on mentions of COVID-19 in death certificates, including suspected cases rather than those who actually tested positive.

Scotland last week reported 1,616 deaths that mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate as of Apr 19. Northern Ireland posted 276 as of Apr 17. Another 1,016 had died in Wales.

A UK death toll of more than 24,000 puts it among the worst-hit in Europe, exceeding France - which also counts deaths in care homes - by around 5,000 at that point in time.

Britain's true toll is likely to be closer to Spain or even Italy, Europe's worst-affected countries, although their reporting of deaths outside hospital is patchy so exact comparisons are difficult.

The latest daily figures released by Britain's health ministry for COVID-19 deaths in hospitals hit 21,092 on Monday.

Including all causes of death, 22,351 people died in England and Wales in the 16th week of 2020, the biggest total since comparable records began in 1993, the ONS said.

This was 11,854 more than average for the week. Given that only 8,758 cases mentioned COVID-19 in death certificates, it is likely that even the comprehensive ONS data are undercounting the true toll.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


UK says some children have died from syndrome linked to Covid-19

Some children in the United Kingdom with no underlying health conditions have died from a rare inflammatory syndrome which researchers believe to be linked to Covid-19, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday (April 28).

Italian and British medical experts are investigating a possible link between the coronavirus pandemic and clusters of severe inflammatory disease among infants who are arriving in hospital with high fevers and swollen arteries.

Doctors in northern Italy, one of the world's hardest-hit areas during the pandemic, have reported extraordinarily large numbers of children under age 9 with severe cases of what appears to be Kawasaki disease, more common in parts of Asia.

"There are some children who have died who didn't have underlying health conditions," Mr Hancock told LBC Radio.

"It's a new disease that we think may be caused by coronavirus and the Covid-19 virus, we're not 100 per cent sure because some of the people who got it hadn't tested positive, so we're doing a lot of research now but it is something that we're worried about.

"It is rare, although it is very significant for those children who do get it, the number of cases is small," Hancock said.

Kawasaki disease, whose cause is unknown, often afflicts children aged under 5 and is associated with fever, skin rashes, swelling of glands, and in severe cases, inflammation of arteries of the heart.

There is some evidence that individuals can inherit a predisposition to the disease, but the pattern is not clear.

Parents should be vigilant, junior British interior minister Victoria Atkins said.

"It demonstrates just how fast moving this virus is and how unprecedented it is in its effect," Ms Atkins told Sky News.

Professor Anne Marie Rafferty, the president of the Royal College of Nursing, said she had heard reports about the similarity between cases in infants and Kawasaki syndrome.

"Actually there's far too little known about it and the numbers actually at the moment are really too small," told Sky News. "But it is an alert, and it's something that's actually being explored and examined by a number of different researchers." REUTERS 

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


pics ibtimes.com they have been driven by unfounded claims on social media that sunlight -- and the vitamin D it supplies -- can slow or kill the virus.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


The last places on earth without coronavirus
Despite infecting more than 3 million people around the world, there are still 34 countries and territories that are yet to report a single case of coronavirus.

As of April 20, 2020, 213 countries and terrorities of the 247 recognised by the United Nations have seen at least one case of the COVID-19. Of these, 186 have also experienced local transmission — where the virus is spread amongst the local community.

From the 213 countries that have cases, at least 162 have also confirmed at least one fatality.

However, just because a nation has not reported an infection, it does not necessarily mean there have been no cases. For example, North Korea has not reported any cases but it is bordered by China, Russia, and South Korea, all dealing with a high number of cases, meaning the virus may well have made it into the secretive state.

Countries and territories without any cases of COVID-19
Latin America
Bouvet IslandSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

North KoreaTajikistanTurkmenistan

Aland IslandsChannel IslandsSvalbard and Jan Mayen Islands

British Indian Ocean TerritoryComorosFrench Southern TerritoriesLesothoSaint Helena

American SamoaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsCook IslandsHeard Island and McDonald IslandsKiribatiMarshall IslandsMicronesia (Federated States of)NauruNiueNorfolk IslandPalauPitcairnSamoaSolomon IslandsTokelauTongaTuvaluUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsVanuatuWallis and Futuna Islands

All countries in North America and the Middle East have had at least one case of COVID-19.

Most of the places yet to report a case of the virus are small, hard-to-reach island nations, many in the Pacific. Several such as Nauru, Tuvalu, Pitcairn, Tokelau and Niue are some of the least-populated places in the world.

Only eight of the 29 countries and territories in Oceania have reported cases.

When looking at the countries by region, it becomes clear how the virus spread around the world. The first countries to deal with the virus were in Asia. Here, there seemed to be two waves of expansion across borders. In Europe, many countries started to report cases in the week from late February to early March. Latin America and Africa looked to be virus-free for January and February before the coronavirus spread rapidly through both continents.

Five countries and territories have managed to rid themselves of the virus after reporting cases. None has reported deaths or state any currently active infections, with previous cases fully recovered. Countries and territories where all reported cases have recovered

Anguilla Greenland Saint-Barthélemy Saint Lucia Yemen

As the contagion closes in and outbreaks grow in surrounding nations, the remote nations yet to report cases will hope to keep it that way. Some have closed borders and taken preventative measures in order to remain virus free as long as possible.

Editing: Simon Scarr.

Sources: World Heath Organization, United Nations, Reuters research.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Trump threatens new tariffs on China as U.S. mulls retaliatory action over virus
(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday his hard-fought trade deal with China was now of secondary importance to the coronavirus pandemic and he threatened new tariffs on Beijing, as his administration crafted retaliatory measures over the outbreak.

Trump's sharpened rhetoric against China reflected his growing frustration with Beijing over the pandemic, which has cost tens of thousands of lives in the United States alone, sparked an economic contraction and threatened his chances of re-election in November.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a range of options against China were under discussion, but cautioned that efforts were in the early stages. Recommendations have not yet reached the level of Trump's top national security team or the president, one official told Reuters.

"There is a discussion as to how hard to hit China and how to calibrate it properly," one of the sources said as Washington walks a tightrope in its ties with Beijing while it imports personal protection equipment (PPE) from there and is wary of harming a sensitive trade deal.

Trump made clear, however, that his concerns about China's role in the origin and spread of the coronavirus were taking priority for now over his efforts to build on an initial trade agreement with Beijing that long dominated his dealings with the world's second-largest economy.

"We signed a trade deal where they're supposed to buy, and they've been buying a lot, actually. But that now becomes secondary to what took place with the virus," Trump told reporters. "The virus situation is just not acceptable."

The Washington Post, citing two people with knowledge of internal discussions, reported on Thursday that some officials had discussed the idea of canceling some of the massive U.S. debt held by China as a way to strike at Beijing for perceived shortfalls in its candidness on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump's top economic adviser denied the report. "The full faith and credit of U.S. debt obligations is sacrosanct. Period. Full stop," White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Reuters.

Asked whether he would consider having the United States stop payment of its debt obligations as a way to punish Beijing, Trump said: "Well, I can do it differently. I can do the same thing, but even for more money, just by putting on tariffs. So, I don't have to do that."

Seeking to quell a damaging trade war, Trump signed a first phase of a multibillion-dollar trade deal with China in January that cut some U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for Chinese pledges to purchase more American farm, energy and manufactured goods and address some U.S. complaints about intellectual property practices.

Tariffs of up to 25% remain on some $370 billion worth of Chinese goods imports annually.

Trump has touted his tough stance on China trade as a key differentiator from Democratic challengers in the presidential race. Keeping tariffs in place on Chinese goods allows him to say he is maintaining leverage over China for a Phase 2 trade deal.

Speaking to reporters, Trump declined to say whether he held Chinese President Xi Jinping responsible for what he feels is misinformation from China when the virus emerged from Wuhan, China, and quickly spread around the world.

A senior Trump administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that an informal "truce" in the war of words that Trump and Xi essentially agreed to in a phone call in late March appeared to be over.

Washington and Beijing have traded increasingly bitter recriminations over the origin of the virus and the response to it.

Trump and his top aides, while stepping up their anti-China rhetoric, have stopped short of directly criticizing Xi, whom the U.S. president has repeatedly called his "friend."

Among the other ideas under consideration for retaliation against China are sanctions, new non-tariff trade restrictions and a possible effort to lift China's sovereign immunity, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Lifting sovereign immunity could allow the U.S. government and American citizens to file lawsuits seeking damages from Beijing in U.S. courts.

The options are being discussed, informally for now, across government agencies including the State Department, White House National Security Council, Treasury Department and Pentagon, two of the sources said.

The strongest pressure for action is coming from the National Security Council, including deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger, while Treasury officials are advising caution, the sources said.

full article nasdaq.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Drug approval, eased lockdowns bring hope

US and Japan bullish on Remdesivir, Spaniards get fresh air for first time in seven weeks

People exercise at Zurriola beach after adults were allowed out to exercise for the first time in seven weeks, in San Sebastian, Spain. (Reuters Photo)

US regulators have cleared the experimental antiviral drug Remdesivir for emergency use to treat Covid-19 patients, and Japan has also begun a special approval process for the treatment.

It is the first medication backed by early clinical data to be made available to fight the coronavirus disease that has infected 3.3 million people and killed 240,000 since December.

Optimism is stirring in some of the hardest-hit countries that they have turned the corner in fighting the disease and their people can begin to carefully resume some normal activities.

Spain on Saturday began allowing outdoor exercise for the first time in seven weeks as the number of cases and deaths in Europe continue to slow. Italy is ready to allow people to go outside starting on Monday, and Singapore will allow some schools and workplaces to resume operations later this month.

In the United States, Texas became the largest state yet to ease curbs, while anti-lockdown demonstrations were held in several states — including California, where officials closed beaches again on Friday to avoid a repeat of the previous weekend when crowds flocked to the shoreline.

In Japan, meanwhile, the government is preparing to lay out its plans on Monday for restarting economic activity.

Plea in Italy

Italy's emergency response commissioner begged Italians on Saturday not to lower their guard as the country prepares to ease the world's longest coronavirus lockdown.

"On Monday, Phase Two begins. We have to be aware that it will be the start of an even bigger challenge," Domenico Arcuri said.

After a two-month shut down to combat a virus that has killed over 28,000 people, Italians will be allowed to stroll in parks and visit relatives. Restaurants can open for takeout and wholesale stores can resume business.

Scientists will be closely monitoring the virus contagion rate as the lockdown lifts and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said it may be reintroduced in locally if the numbers begin to rise significantly again.

Easing in Singapore

Singapore will allow some schools and workplaces to resume operations in the next couple of weeks as the city-state eases restrictions to improve supply chains and the provision of essential services.

Students sitting for national exams and those at some higher-education campuses will be allowed to return to school in small batches from May 19, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said on Saturday.

Some businesses that play a crucial role in supply chains will be allowed to resume operations from May 12, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said. These include food manufacturers, home-cooking businesses, and retail outlets for deliveries and takeaways, and laundry and hairdressing services. Companies that restart must ensure workers maintain a safe distance from each other.

Chinese traditional medicine stores will be allowed to provide some acupuncture services from Tuesday and will be able to sell some retail products if a registered practitioner deems it essential.

About 85% of Singapore's workforce is now working at home after the city-state imposed "circuit-breaker" measures including the closure of schools and most workplaces in early April.

The fight against infections remains challenging and ministries are still studying what measures will be rolled out in June, Wong said.

Restrictions on the movement of foreign workers at domitories will be extended to June 1 as the country continues to battle a spike in coronavirus cases. An additional 447 infections were confirmed on Saturday — the vast majority work-permit holders residing in crammed dormitories — bringing the Asean-leading tally to 17,548 with 16 deaths in a population of 5 million.

'Slow, phased' reopening

Like the United States, governments around the world are struggling to balance the immense political and economic pressure to ease lockdowns with the need for public health measures against the spread of the virus.

Several European countries, including Austria, have begun to ease restrictions with authorities in some of the hardest-hit parts like Spain reporting signs that the pandemic there was slowing.

Britain announced that it had hit its target of conducting 100,000 coronavirus tests a day, a step toward eventually lifting lockdown rules in the UK — which this week overtook Spain to record the world's third-highest death toll.

Ireland, however, extended its lockdown by two weeks to May 18, with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar saying the nation will reopen "in a slow, phased, staged way" after that.

Mandatory tracking in India

India has mandated that all public and private-sector employees use a government-backed Bluetooth tracing app and maintain social distancing in offices as New Delhi begins easing some of its lockdown measures in lower-risk areas.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government on Friday said India - the country with the largest number of people in lockdown - would extends its nationwide control measures for another two weeks from Monday to battle the spread of the coronavirus, but allow "considerable relaxations" in lower-risk districts.

As part of its efforts to fight the deadly virus, India last month launched the app Aarogya Setu - meaning Health Bridge - a Bluetooth and GPS-based system developed by the country's National Informatics Centre. The app alerts users who may have come in contact with people later found to be positive for Covid-19 or deemed to be at high risk.

"Use of Aarogya Setu shall be made mandatory for all employees, both private and public," India's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a notification late on Friday.

It will the responsibility of the heads of companies and organisations "to ensure 100% coverage of this app among the employees", the ministry said.

Officials at the technology ministry and a lawyer who framed the privacy policy for Aarogya Setu told Reuters the app needs to be on at least 200 million phones for it to be effective in the country of 1.3 billion people.

The app has been downloaded around 50 million times on Android phones, which dominate India's smartphone user base of 500 million,.

Compulsory use is raising concerns among privacy advocates, who say it is unclear how the data will be used and who stress that India lacks privacy laws to govern the app.

New Delhi has said the app will not infringe on privacy as all data is collected anonymously.

On Friday, the government said that offices re-opening will also have to implement measures like gaps between shifts and staggered lunch breaks to contain spread of the virus.

India has reported over 37,000 cases and 1,218 deaths from the virus.

Caution in China

A northeastern Chinese city of 10 million people struggling with the country's biggest coronavirus cluster shut dine-in services at restaurants on Saturday, as the rest of China eases restrictions.

While mainland China reported only one case on Saturday and crowds returned to some of its most famous tourist attractions for the 5-day May holiday, Harbin in the northern province of Heilongjiang is hunkering down to prevent further clusters from forming.

Of the 140 local transmissions in mainland China, over half have been reported as from Heilongjiang, according to a Reuters tally.

Heilongjiang province borders Russia and has become the frontline in the fight against a resurgence of the pandemic, with many new infections from citizens entering from Russia, where infections have soared past 120,000.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Armed protesters enter Michigan's state capitol demanding end to coronavirus lockdown

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Stocks rise for second day on oil rally, vaccine news
Stocks rallied for a second day on Tuesday as economies slowly emerged from pandemic isolation and the race accelerates toward a coronavirus vaccine.

The Dow Jones industrial average cooled in the last hour after being up more than 400 points during the day. The Dow finished at 23,883, a 133-point gain, or 0.6 percent. The broad Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 0.9 percent to finish at 2,868, with health and technology the leading sectors.

The Nasdaq composite gained more than 1 percent, finishing at 8,809. The tech-heavy index surged in midday trading and nearly cracked the break-even mark for the year. It is now off 11 percent from its all-time high and down 1.1 percent on the year.

Market analysts are closely watching consumer behavior as May gets underway. Twenty-four states are partially reopening this week as stay-at-home orders expire and governors allow certain retail establishments, including restaurants, to resume service.

"People are continuing to feel we are on the other side of this mountain and that the worst may be behind us," said Ivan Feinseth of Tigress Financial Partners. "They think the coronavirus treatment remdezivir has promise and that work on a vaccine is advancing."

Tuesday's finish follows a Monday session that saw the Dow pull itself out of a 362-point hole and eke out a 26-point gain, as investors worried about a resumption of U.S.-China tensions over the origin of the coronavirus. Warren Buffett sent airlines stock skidding when he announced that Berkshire Hathaway had dumped all its holdings in the sector due to the outbreak. But investors rallied around tech, with Microsoft, Facebook and Apple helping to lift all boats.

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Oil prices posted a 20 percent gain Tuesday on increased gasoline consumption as Americans slowly resume driving. U.S. crude oil was trading at $25 per barrel, more than twice the $10 price it was selling for two weeks ago.

Oil supply has been out of whack most of the year, resulting in a supply glut that sent prices below the $50 price that most companies need to make a profit. The oversupply became a devastating glut with the coronavirus lockdown and the ensuing grounding of commercial air traffic and cutback in driving.

The glut reached a frenzy two weeks ago when holders of oil contract futures paid would-be buyers to take crude off their hands. There is so much oil now that tankers have become giant storage depots, roaming in oceans with no place to unload their supply.

Oil prices hit bottom a month ago and have doubled since last week.

U.S. domestic oil production is rapidly shutting down, which is expected to reduce output to 10 million barrels per day by next month. That is down from a record 13.1 million barrels the U.S. was producing just weeks ago. Shale oil drillers, many of which are burdened by heavy debt, are closing because they cannot make money at current oil prices.

"There is a sense in the market that the worst is behind us in terms of oil demand destruction," said John Kilduff of Again Capital. "We are going to have to see how successful the reopenings are. That will determine the oil price comeback. The Big Oil companies appear to be in the process of weathering the storm, especially with gasoline demand picking up."

Oil giant Chevron was one of the Dow's best performers on Tuesday, up 1.6 percent. Nike, UnitedHealth and Home Depot also had good days. Boeing was a big Dow drag at a loss of 4.6 percent.

Dow component Pfizer jumped 2.5 percent after the drugmaker announced that it had began testing multiple versions of an experimental coronavirus vaccine this week in the United States, a first step toward establishing the safety, dosage and most promising candidate to take into larger trials that will test effectiveness. The treatment is being developed with the German company BioNTech, and they aim to have a vaccine ready for use in high-risk groups by the fall.

There are at least eight other vaccine candidates being tested in people worldwide, according to a tracker by the Milken Institute.

Global markets were mixed as public health orders overseas started to relax. The German DAX gained 1.8 percent and Britain's FTSE rose 1.7 percent. Hong Kong's HSI jumped 1.1 percent, but markets in Japan and India couldn't hold the trend. The Nikkei index fell 2.8 percent and the BSE Sensex dropped 0.8 percent.

April marked Wall Street's best month in 33 years, with the S&P 500 surging 12.7 percent, despite a rash of dismal economic developments. Economic output slumped 4.8 percent in the first quarter, and more than 30 million Americans lost their jobs within weeks of the pandemic's arrival, pushing the U.S. unemployment rate toward Great Depression levels.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Officials said parents decades ago had gone to "chicken pox parties" to allow unvaccinated children to get the disease while they were younger and become immune. However, the officials stressed that they don't know if COVID-19 parties would produce the same results.

Walla Walla County officials warn against COVID-19 parties to expose non-infected people

officials are warning people against throwing COVID-19 parties in an effort to expose people to the virus.

The county's Department of Community Health said it had been receiving reports of parties where people who were not infected were interacting with infected people in an effort to contract the virus. Officials advised against these parties in a Monday release, saying some people are at higher risk to develop a severe illness from the disease.

"As COVID-19 cases in Walla Walla County continue to rise, health officials strongly recommend you remain vigilant with physical distancing to limit community transmission of the virus," the department said in the release.

As of Tuesday morning, the county has reported 94 cases of coronavirus and one death. Washington state as a whole has documented 15,594 cases and 862 deaths, according to the state health department. According to a New York Times analysis, the number of new cases in the state has decreased since the original spike at the beginning of April but is now slowly increasing.

Officials said parents decades ago had gone to "chicken pox parties" to allow unvaccinated children to get the disease while they were younger and become immune. However, the officials stressed that they don't know if COVID-19 parties would produce the same results.

Department officials cautioned that "there is much we don't know about COVID-19," including whether immunity exists and if so, how it works.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Brave New World: Could Pandemic Lead To Positive Change?

Major social advances have often emerged from the depths of disaster: the Black Death brought an end to serfdom, and Britain's welfare state emerged from the ruins of World War II.

As the coronavirus outbreak took hold, many governments brought in policies previously dismissed as "utopian", such as backing wages or housing the homeless.

But as emergency measures are eased, and the world tries to get back a semblance of normality, there is debate about which, if any, could -- or should -- be kept.

In Britain, as elsewhere, the crisis has shone a light on the plight of underpaid delivery drivers, teachers, nurses and other key workers who have been vital to the response.

The government has stepped in to guarantee salaries of the five million self-employed because of fears that without statutory sick pay they would continue to work while ill.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak has already begun talking about scaling back the measures, which back 80 percent of someone's average monthly salary up to ?2,500 ($3,100, 2,850 euros).

But David Napier, professor of medical anthropology at University College London, said withdrawal could prove problematic given the imbalances the virus has highlighted.

"The strong have been depending on the weak for their survival," he told AFP.

In the United States, 30 million people have already lost their jobs because of the pandemic's economic impact.

To keep the economy afloat, President Donald Trump's Republican administration has included direct cash payments of up to $3,000 per family in its stimulus package.

Oxford University historian Timothy Garton Ash noted that a concept like basic universal income was considered "radical, if not utopian" not so long ago.

But a recent study from his university indicated that 71 percent of Europeans now supported the idea.

Doctors and nurses on the frontline of tackling the global pandemic have campaigned for years to get pay rises and more resources.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron initially said there was no "magic money" for the sector but later promised more investment.

In Britain, the state-run National Health Service has been hit by a decade of cuts in funding and staffing following the 2008 financial crisis.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose Conservative party has been accused of wanting to privatise the free service, has become one of its staunchest defenders.

He was treated at an NHS hospital for COVID-19 and credits its doctors with saving his life.

But Mark Harrison, a professor of economic history at Warwick University, said even that has policy implications.

"The simple story of the PM who got saved by the NHS is very powerful, it will be hard for the Conservatives to try to go back on that type of commitment."

Elsewhere, the British government moved to house homeless people in empty hotels and hostels, because of the risk of them contracting the virus.

Ministers have said some 5,400 people or 90 percent of those who usually sleep on the streets and are known to local authorities have been housed.

The charity Crisis puts the total number of homeless at 170,000, and said many more were on the verge of being evicted from rented accommodation because of the outbreak.

But Jasmine Basran, from Crisis, called the government's response "incredible".

"It shows what is possible if there's political will," she said.

As the full impact of the crisis becomes known, there are calls for the government to guide industrial policy, similar to the Marshall Plan for reconstruction after World War II.

The director of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, has urged world leaders to prioritise green energy as they try to kick-start their economies.

Germany has made state aid conditional on firms pledging climate targets and France has said a seven-billion-euro bailout of Air France is dependent on a cut in short-haul flights and emissions.

But business leaders are resisting attempts to introduce initiatives to cut waste and the use of plastic.

For Warwick professor Harrison, the crisis "has the potential to change people's perceptions" for the better over the long term.

But Sankalp Chaturvedi, a professor of organisational behaviour and leadership at Imperial College Business School in London, said goodwill would only go so far.

"This generosity will come with higher taxes," he said, predicting that short-term help would lead to anxiety and frustration.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Shanghai Disneyland Tickets to Reopening Sell Out in Minutes
(BLOOMBERG) - Shanghai Disneyland sold out of tickets for its May 11 reopening after a four-month shutdown, a sign that consumers in China are prepared to spend as the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The theme park is implementing safety measures, including limiting visitors to one-third of the normal capacity of 80,000. Shanghai Disneyland was the first of Walt Disney's parks to close on Jan 25 as the coronavirus began to spread from Wuhan, 840km west of the country's business capital. full article  straitstimes.com

Shanghai Disney Resort, the first Disney resort in Mainland China and the sixth worldwide, celebrated its historic Grand Opening on June 16, 2016.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


As deaths mount, Trump tries to convince Americans it's safe to inch back to normal

In a week when the novel coronavirus ravaged new communities across the country and the number of dead soared past 78,000, President Donald Trump and his advisers shifted from hour-by-hour crisis management to what they characterize as a long-term strategy aimed at reviving the decimated economy and preparing for additional outbreaks this fall.

But in doing so, the administration is effectively bowing to - and asking Americans to accept - a devastating proposition: that a steady, daily accumulation of lonely deaths is the grim cost of reopening the nation.

Inside the West Wing, some officials talk about the federal government's mitigation mission as largely accomplished because they believe the nation's hospitals are now equipped to meet anticipated demand - even as health officials warn the number of coronavirus cases could increase considerably in May and June as more states and localities loosen restrictions, and some mitigation efforts are still recommended as states begin to reopen.

The administration is struggling to expand the scale of testing to what experts say is necessary to reopen businesses safely, and officials have not announced any national plan for contact tracing. Trump and some of his advisers are prioritizing the psychology of the pandemic as much as, if not more than, plans to combat the virus, some aides and outside advisers said - striving to instill confidence that people can comfortably return to daily life despite the rising death toll.

On Friday, as the unemployment rate reached a historically high 14.7 percent, Trump urged Americans to think of this period as a "transition to greatness," adding during a meeting with Republican members of Congress: "We're going to do something very fast, and we're going to have a phenomenal year next year." The president predicted the virus eventually would disappear even without a vaccine - a prediction at odds with his own science officials.

A White House spokesman defended the status of testing by pointing to comments in mid-April by two of the medical professionals on the task force, Anthony Fauci and Adm. Brett Giroir, saying there have been enough tests to safely reopen the country.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also backed the administration's response, saying, "President Trump is committed to a data-driven approach to safely reopening the country. His steadfast leadership has saved American lives, and the American people recognize his leadership."

Some of Trump's advisers described the president as glum and shellshocked by his declining popularity. In private conversations, he has struggled to process how his fortunes suddenly changed from believing he was on a glide path to reelection to realizing that he is losing to the likely Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, in virtually every poll, including his own campaign's internal surveys, advisers said. He also has been fretting about the possibility that a bad outbreak of the virus this fall could damage his standing in the November election, said the advisers, who along with other aides and allies requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

lots more here washingtonpost.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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