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Coronavirus around the globe

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

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Philippines now South-east Asia's new coronavirus hot spot, as economy plunges into recession
The Philippines is now the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in South-east Asia, even as it plunges into a recession with no hope of a swift recovery as a crippling lockdown continues to wipe out jobs and incomes.

The Health Ministry on Thursday (Aug 6) reported 3,561 new cases of Covid-19, raising the total to 119,460. It surpasses Indonesia's tally of 118,753, which till now had been the highest in South-east Asia.

However, the death toll in Indonesia stands at 5,521 against the Philippines' 2,150.

The Philippines now has the fourth most number of cases in Asia, after India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The latest figures came just hours after it was reported that the economy suffered its deepest slump on record in the second quarter.

The Philippines reached this grim milestone even though it had in place one of the strictest and longest lockdowns  in the world.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metropolitan Manila and the rest of the main island of Luzon – home to about half of the country's population of over 107 million – on lockdown in mid-March to slow the spread of the virus.

Health officials said the strict shelter-at-home restrictions allowed the country to "bend the curve", with infections hovering at an average 200 to 500.

With cases seeming to have become manageable and hospitals freeing more beds, Mr Duterte lifted the lockdown on June 1. Since then, however, cases have soared. Over 75,000 cases were recorded in June and July alone.

In recent days, hospitals have run out of beds, as they are swamped with Covid-19 patients. Some 80 groups representing 80,000 doctors and a million nurses on Saturday said the Philippines was losing the fight against the disease.

That forced Mr Duterte to put Metro Manila and four outlying provinces back on lockdown for at least two weeks starting Aug 4.

Former health minister Manuel Dayritt said he was not surprised that the Philippines would be saddled with the most number of Covid-19 cases in the region.

"If you look at South-east Asia, what you need to understand is that we have to look at the readiness of their health systems even pre-Covid," he said.

Vietnam and Thailand, for instance, doubled or tripled their investments in their health systems, he said.

The Philippines, by comparison, had a "pretty obsolete" public health infrastructure when the coronavirus began sweeping across the globe, he said.

Earlier in the day, the statistics bureau reported that gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of goods and services produced, shrank 16.5 per cent in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, the biggest contraction in 40 years.

GDP declined for a second consecutive quarter on a quarter-on-quarter basis, down 15.2 per cent, implying the economy was now in recession for the first time in 29 years.

"We're seeing these numbers because of the (two-month) lockdown (from mid-March)," National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa told reporters on Thursday.

At least 3 million lost their jobs during this period, as businesses, both large and small, were either closed or downsized. Three fourths of the economy were shut down.

Government economists estimated that the lockdown cost the economy roughly 1.5 trillion pesos (S$42 billion). The losses were reflected in Thursday's data.

The accommodation and food services sector saw a contraction of up to 68 per cent. During the lockdown, most hotels were emptied of guests and restaurants were limited to takeaway services. With mass transit halted, the transport sector saw a 59.2 per cent contraction.

"Our country is facing its biggest crisis in nearly eight decades," Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said at a news briefing on Thursday.

He said it was inevitable that the economy would take a hit, as infections began surging in March.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said while a swift recovery was unlikely, "we're beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel".

He said the contraction in manufacturing had begun to ease, from 39 per cent in April to 19 per cent in June.

Trade was also starting to recover, especially as China's economy gained steam. Exports to China grew 2.8 per cent in June after shrinking 55 per cent in April.

Mr Dominguez added that the Philippines remained "one of the strongest, most resilient and credit-worthy economies in the world".

That would allow it to fund the government's response to the pandemic till a vaccine could be made available by year's end or early-2021, he said.

He said he expects a "strong rebound" next year, provided the country could roll out a mass vaccination programme.

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


After two weeks of reopening, hospitals are full. Worst is yet to come, doctors say
On Friday morning, a man reached Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital. He wanted to inquire about the ambulance service. Not aware of who actually he was supposed to talk to, he had an altercation with the security guards. His gripe was that no one had sent an ambulance to pick him up.

Health workers at the hospital had taken his swab sample on Wednesday for a polymerase chain reaction test. The same evening officials at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division called him to inform him that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and that an ambulance would be sent to pick him up to take him to hospital.

"After waiting for two days at home for an ambulance, the man came to hospital on Friday," a paramedic serving at the hospital emergency told the Post. "What is worrying is he used two public buses to reach the hospital."

The man, in his early 30s, was finally admitted to the hospital.

"But we don't know how many people he met on his way home on Wednesday and while coming to the hospital on Friday," said the paramedic who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

With Valley hospitals already filled with infected people, authorities are asking people testing positive to stay home. But not everyone does, according to the paramedic.

An official at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division said that some officials, unaware of the fact that hospitals have been overwhelmed with a lack of beds and isolation facilities, could have told the person that he would be picked up by an ambulance.

The way the situation has been unfolding, soon the authorities will be unable to control the virus spread, public health experts say.

"Worst is yet to be seen, as the infection has spread rapidly," said Dr GD Thakur, former director of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division. "Number of cases will go up alarmingly in the coming days."

Officials at the Health Ministry say that coronavirus cases have been reported from most of the places in Kathmandu Valley, buttressing public health experts' argument that sealing of certain areas will hardly mean anything when it comes to containing the virus.

The situation has changed alarmingly since Minister for Health and Population Bhanubhakta Dhakal on July 27 said that the government was looking for Covid-19 patients with a torch light to bring them to hospital.

Public health experts say the situation, however, is contrary to what the health minister is saying.

"The reality is people infected with the coronavirus are now looking for the government with a torch light," Thakur told the Post.

In Kathmandu Valley alone, the number of cases has risen to 1,042, with more than 62 infections reported on Saturday, according to the Health Ministry. The total number of positive cases detected across the country on Saturday was 378. Seventy-three people, six in Kathmandu Valley, have died of Covid-related conditions so far.

Since the lockdown was lifted on July 21, 660 persons have tested positive for the coronavirus in Kathmandu Valley. The figure across the country is 4,598, as the nationwide Covid-19 tally reaches 22,592.

The government is trying to increase the number of isolation beds in the Valley and it is also planning to convert quarantine centres at Kirtipur and Bhaktapur into isolation facilities, according to Dr Sameer Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson for the Health Ministry.

According to Adhikari, only 15 to 20 percent Covid-19 patients, who will be seriously ill, need to be taken to hospital for treatment.

Public health experts blame the high public mobility for the rampant spread of the infection in Kathmandu Valley, especially after the lockdown was lifted.

"People are not following safety rules in the Valley despite the fact that the infection rate is increasing," said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, chief of the Clinical Research Unit at the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital. "People are coming out without wearing face masks, meeting people without maintaining social distance, sharing cigarettes and even having panipuri and chatpate on the roadside."

Already on the backfoot, the authorities have introduced new measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Starting Thursday, odd-even vehicle rule has been enforced in Kathmandu Valley and other districts that have reported more than 200 active cases.

The government has also banned public and vehicular movements from 9pm to 5am and barred social gatherings-parties, seminars, feasts and public programmes-at hotels and restaurants.

On Friday, the Kathmandu District Administration Office decided to seal some commercial hubs of the Capital, citing high numbers of infections in those areas. The district administration offices of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur also said that they will be providing only essential services for 15 days starting Sunday to reduce crowds.

Multiple officials at the Health Ministry the Post spoke with said that the Capital is on the verge of a massive outbreak, as the spread of the infection is so high that it is becoming uncontrollable.

"It has been taken as a pandemic of the government," said Adhikari of the Health Ministry. "People should also be responsible and take precautionary measures."

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


World surpasses 20 million coronavirus cases, WHO warns against despair
(AFP) – The coronavirus pandemic chalked up another horrific milestone Monday as the world surpassed 20 million recorded cases of infection from the tiny killer that has upended life just about everywhere.

The number as of 2215 GMT was 20,002,577 cases, with 733,842 deaths recorded, according to an AFP tally of official sources.

In yet another staggering landmark, the death toll is expected to surpass 750,000 in a matter of days as the global health crisis that began late last year in China rages on.

As more things once unthinkable became harsh reality — having to wear a facemask in touristy spots in Paris, or reserve a spot on Copacabana beach in Rio via an app and then social distance on the sand — the World Health Organization urged people not to despair.

"Behind these statistics is a great deal of pain and suffering... But I want to be clear: there are green shoots of hope," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"It's never too late to turn the outbreak around," he said.

He gave examples of countries that had successfully clamped down on COVID-19, such as Rwanda and New Zealand, which said Monday it plans to open a virus-free "travel bubble" with the Cook Islands.

With much of the world caught in a cycle of dispiriting outbreaks and economically crushing lockdowns, all eyes are on the race for a vaccine.

A WHO overview said 165 candidate vaccines are being worked on around the world, with six reaching Phase 3 of clinical evaluation.

But the WHO's emergencies director Michael Ryan warned that a vaccine was "only part of the answer," pointing to polio and measles as diseases with vaccines that have not been fully eradicated.

"You've got to be able to deliver that vaccine to a population that want and demand to have that vaccine," he said.

Europe feels the heat

Infections have been rising ominously in Western Europe, which has also been sweltering through a heatwave, with temperatures soaring above 35 degrees Celsius (95 F).

The blistering heat sent crowds flocking to beaches at the weekend despite health warnings about the risk of infection.

In the Paris region, people aged 11 and over are now required to wear masks in crowded areas and tourists hotspots.

These include the banks of the Seine River and more than 100 streets in the French capital.

Marion, a 24-year-old in central Paris, said the masks are "restrictive" but necessary "if we want to avoid a second wave."

"Anything except a second lockdown," she added.

Several French towns and cities have already introduced similar measures, as well as parts of Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain.

In Berlin, thousands of children returned to school on Monday after the summer break, sporting masks, which are compulsory in common areas like school courtyards.

Greece meanwhile announced a night curfew for restaurants and bars in some of its top tourist destinations after its number of new cases increased.

In Italy, the coronavirus spikes of its neighbours caused alarm.

"France, Spain and the Balkans... Italy is surrounded by contagions," Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza lamented.

It was a different story in Pakistan, which allowed all restaurants and parks to reopen on Monday, after the country saw a drop in new cases over several weeks.

Grim US, Brazil milestones

As of Monday evening, the United States — the world's worst-hit country — had recorded 163,370 deaths and 5,085,821 cases of infection, according to the tracker at Johns Hopkins University.

As the caseload shot past five million on Sunday, President Donald Trump's Democratic opponent in the presidential election, Joe Biden, tweeted that the number "boggles the mind and breaks the heart."

The figure came as Trump was accused of flouting the constitution by unilaterally extending a virus relief package.

The package — announced by Trump on Saturday after talks between Republican and Democrat lawmakers hit a wall — was "absurdly unconstitutional," senior Democrat Nancy Pelosi told CNN.

But with the world's largest economy still struggling to dig itself out of an enormous hole, Democrats appeared skittish about any legal challenge to a relief package they see as seriously inadequate.

After the US, Brazil has the most cases, and over the weekend it became the second country to pass 100,000 fatalities.

President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the coronavirus threat, and after Brazil's latest milestone, the country's most widely viewed TV network Globo asked: "Has the president of the republic done his duty?"

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


New cases end New Zealand's 'COVID-free' status; Auckland back in lockdown
(Reuters) - New Zealand announced on Tuesday it was shutting down its largest city, Auckland, after four new cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the city, the first evidence of domestic transmission after being coronavirus-free for 102 days.

New Zealand's successful fight against COVID-19 was hailed globally and the Pacific island nation of 5 million was seen as one of the safest places, as the pandemic raged globally.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the four cases were within one family in South Auckland. One person is in their 50s. They had no history of international travel. Family members have been tested and contact tracing is under way.

News of the cases sent panic across the country with media reporting people rushing to supermarkets to stock up, and businesses preparing to shut.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland would move to level 3 restriction from noon on Wednesday as a "precautionary approach", which would mean people should stay away from work and school, and gatherings or more than 10 people would again be restricted.

The restriction would be applied for three days until Friday, which she said would be enough time to assess the situation, gather information and make sure there was widespread contact tracing.

"This is something we have prepared for," Ardern said in a surprise news conference, adding that the increased caution was as the source of the virus was unknown.

"We have had a 102 days and it was easy to feel New Zealand was out of the woods. No country has gone as far as we did without having a resurgence. And because we were the only ones, we had to plan. And we have planned," she said.

New Zealand is set to vote in a national election on Sept. 19, in which Ardern is seen to winning comfortably, according to opinion polls, on the back of her handling of the pandemic.

But the return of the virus could backfire on the government.

Ardern said she has not given any consideration to the impact of the new restrictions on the polls at this stage.

"This will come as a shock to all New Zealanders who believed what we had been told – that we had got on top of this virus," the main opposition National Party leader Judith Collins said in a statement.

Parliament is scheduled to be dissolved on Wednesday to make way for the election.


Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said: "I am urging Aucklanders to come together like we did last time to stamp out community transmission. Please remain calm, please do not panic buy and please follow the lockdown rules."

Ardern said travel into Auckland, on the North Island, would be restricted unless you lived there.

She said the rest of New Zealand would enter alert level 2 from midday on Wednesday for three days. This would mean social distancing measures would be applied again and mass gatherings would be limited to 100 people.

New Zealand was placed under a tight lockdown for weeks after reported its first known case on Feb. 26 and the last case of community transmission was detected on May 1.

It marked 100 days without a domestic transmission of the coronavirus on Sunday, but warned against complacency as countries like Vietnam and Australia which once had the virus under control now battle a resurgence.

Bloomfield said the unknown nature of the new cases meant it was likely there would be more positive case in the coming days.

He said people should use masks in places where it was hard to physically distance.

"The case is a wake up call for any complacency that may have set in," Bloomfield said.

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


French PM: Coronavirus spread may get harder to control
(Reuters) - The renewed spread of coronavirus in France could become harder to control without a collective effort to stop a rise in the infection rate, its prime minister said on Tuesday.

The public was becoming careless, Jean Castex warned, speaking shortly before health authorities said new daily infections were up by 1,397 over 24 hours, almost twice as much as Monday, to reach 204,172.

"If we don't act collectively, we expose ourselves to the heightened risk that the rebound in the epidemic becomes hard to control," Castex said during a visit to a hospital intensive care ward in southern France.

A health ministry statement also reported 15 new deaths in hospital due the disease, compared to an increase of 16 over a three-day period between Monday and Saturday, with the total death toll standing at 30,354.

France's 7-day moving average of new infections climbed to 1,691 on Tuesday from 1,056 on July 31. The 7-day measure reached a post lockdown low of 272 on May 27, a little over two weeks after France eased one of Europe's strictest lockdowns.

But as in most neighbouring European countries, new clusters have mushroomed as people let their hair down on holiday, families hold reunions and workers return to offices and France is desperate to avoid another full-scale lockdown.

Britain has said it will not hesitate putting more countries on its quarantine list, including France, where hordes of Britons spend their summer vacations.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron held a video conference with top ministers from his Riviera summer retreat.

During the meeting, it was decided France would draw up new restrictions for the 20 largest cities to curb the rising infection rate and that a ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people would be extended until Oct. 31.

Some cities have already taken action. Paris on Monday joined Toulouse, Lille, Biarritz and others in imposing a mandatory face mask order in crowded outdoor zones. They are already compulsory nationwide in shops and banks.

The prime minister said testing was "more than satisfactory", with more than 600,000 tests being conducted weekly, but said more could still be done to target those with symptoms, the prime minister said.

Talking of the risk of another lockdown, Castex said: "no one wants to live through that again."

Later, on a visit to a Mediterranean seaside resort, Castex said he had started talks with employers and unions with a view to making mask-wearing in workplaces as widespread as possible.

Hospitals are not at this stage overwhelmed by the uptick in the disease, as the number treated for the infection fell by 33, to 5,012, after rising on Monday for the first time in 10 weeks. The total of COVID-19 hospitalisations reached a peak of 32,292 on April 14.

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


Australia suffers deadliest day of COVID-19 pandemic, cases rise
Australia recorded its deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday (Aug 12) and the biggest daily rise in infections in three days, denting hopes that a second wave gripping the state of Victoria may be stabilising.

Victoria reported 21 deaths - two more than the previous deadliest days earlier this week - and 410 new cases in the past 24 hours, ending a run of three consecutive days with new infections below 400.

A cluster of infections in Melbourne, the Victorian capital and Australia's second-largest city, forced authorities last week to impose a night curfew, tighten restrictions on people's daily movements and order large parts of state economy to close.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that while the number of cases were trending down, the impact of the strict new lockdown measures was yet to show up in the case numbers.

"We all know that a week is not the life cycle of this virus ... and our experts remain firm in the view that this will drive the numbers down," he told reporters.

Only Victoria and the country's most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), reported fresh COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with a total of 428 infections detected in the past 24 hours.

The coronavirus has been effectively eliminated outside of Victoria and NSW.

Authorities in NSW are scrambling to trace infections linked to a new cluster at a school in Sydney, which has raised fears of more widespread community transmission than previously known in the country's biggest city.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said businesses could face additional restrictions to prevent further clusters developing.

"We've given certainly a grace period for businesses, for organisations, for different establishments to step up their COVID safe plans and if they don't do that we will have to go a step further," Berejiklian said at a media briefing.

Australia has reported just over 22,000 infections and 352 deaths from the virus, far fewer on a per capita basis than many other developed countries.

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


"We have perfectly effective polio and measles vaccines, and we still struggle to eradicate or eliminate those diseases. You've got to be able to deliver that vaccine to a population that want and demand to have that vaccine," he said.

Virus pushes Britain into record recession, NZealand mulls election delay

Britain's economy shrank more in the second quarter than any other country in the Group of Seven

The global coronavirus pandemic pushed Britain into its deepest-ever recession, data showed Wednesday, as New Zealand warned the re-emergence of COVID-19 could delay its upcoming election.

The British economy -- the world's seventh in size -- contracted by an unprecedented 20.4 percent in the period from April to June, far worse than any of its European neighbours and also well below the so-called Group of Seven richest countries in the world.

By comparison, France's economy contracted by 13.9 percent in the second quarter, Canada 12 percent, Germany 10.1 percent, the United States percent and Japan 7.6 percent.

The news that the virus has knocked down a fifth of its economy came as Britain continues to grapple with one of the highest death tolls in the world from the pandemic, which some observers blame on the government's early dithering over the imposition of strict confinement measures.

Nevertheless, the subsequent lockdown brought activity shuddering to a halt particularly in the key services, production and construction sectors.

"It is clear that the UK is in the largest recession on record," said the Office for National Statistics, which compiles the data.

Even if some experts are still predicting a "V-shaped" rebound, Britain's economic woes could not come at a worse time as it still has to reach a trade deal with the EU following its exit from the 27-country bloc.

Experts agree that the absence of any trade deal with the EU would only further exacerbate Britain's problems.

- Second wave looms -

On the other side of the world, New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the upcoming election in September could be postponed as the coronavirus seems to have re-entered the Pacific country.

With 1.5 million people under stay-at-home orders, and millions more at risk of a wider outbreak, Ardern said she was seeking advice on delaying the election currently scheduled for September 19.

Parliament was due to be dissolved on Wednesday to allow the election to take place, but the centre-left leader held off the move until Monday to monitor how the crisis evolves.

"At this stage, it's too early to make any decision but this means there is some flexibility if required," said Ardern, who is well ahead in opinion polls and expected to win a second term.

With the number of coronavirus cases worldwide surpassing 20 million and the number of deaths fast approaching 750,000, the World Health Organization has warned that a second wave is "almost inevitable".

So, with no vaccine still in sight, countries across the globe are starting to reintroduce restrictions as the number of infections tick higher.

In Belgium, which is battling one of the most serious coronavirus outbreaks in Europe, authorities made the wearing of face masks in public compulsory in the Brussels region from Wednesday.

Belgium has one of the highest per capita death rates from COVID-19 in the world and infections are again rising after earlier success in bringing the epidemic under control.

In Italy, too, regions have begun to order new quarantines for people returning from higher-risk European countries such as Spain and Greece, as they hope to stem new outbreaks of coronavirus.

- Marathon cancellations -

In the sporting world, the organisers of the Paris marathon said this year's race has been cancelled.

The race through the French capital, moved from its original date of April 5 to November 15, joins a long list of elite marathons across the world to be cancelled this year.

The marathons in New York, Boston, Chicago and Berlin have been scrapped and London announced that it would only hold a race for elite runners because organisers say it would be unsafe for 45,000 runners to compete.

- Vaccine guinea pig -

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be a guinea pig for a controversial Russian coronavirus vaccine, his spokesman said on Wednesday, as the Southeast Asian nation emerged as a frontrunner for overseas clinical trials.

On Tuesday, Russia had claimed it had developed the world's first vaccine offering "sustainable immunity" against the coronavirus, despite mounting scepticism about its effectiveness.

President Vladimir Putin insisted the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had received the inoculation, dubbed "Sputnik" after the pioneering 1950s Soviet satellite.

But western scientists have concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.

The World Health Organization's spokesman in Geneva Tarik Jasarevic said it was in "close contact" with Russian health authorities but that it was too soon for any WHO stamp of approval.

"Pre-qualification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all the required safety and efficacy data," he said.

Indonesia is meanwhile launching a Phase 3 human trial of a vaccine candidate from China's Sinovac Biotech.

Phase 3 refers to trials involving large numbers of human test subjects and is usually the last step before regulatory approval.

The WHO says that 165 candidate vaccines are being worked on around the world, with six reaching Phase 3.

But emergencies director Michael Ryan warned that finding a vaccine would not automatically spell the end for COVID-19.

"We have perfectly effective polio and measles vaccines, and we still struggle to eradicate or eliminate those diseases. You've got to be able to deliver that vaccine to a population that want and demand to have that vaccine," he said.

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


Quote from: thaiga on August 11, 2020, 11:00:07 PM
New cases end New Zealand's 'COVID-free' status; Auckland back in lockdown
(Reuters) - New Zealand announced on Tuesday it was shutting down its largest city, Auckland, after four new cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the city, the first evidence of domestic transmission after being coronavirus-free for 102 days.


NZ races to track origin of new cluster as cases jump

A coronavirus cluster in Auckland has risen to 17 cases, New Zealand health officials said Wednesday, raising the prospect of an extended lockdown in the country's biggest city to battle the resurgent virus.

National health chief Ashley Bloomfield said there were 13 new confirmed infections, all linked to four family members found on Tuesday, ending New Zealand's record of 102 days without community transmission of the disease.

Police have been helping to implement a three-day lockdown in Auckland since midday Wednesday as teams of health workers raced to find the cluster's origin and ramped up testing in the city.

Bloomfield said among the new cases was a student at one of New Zealand's largest high schools, attended by more than 3,000 children.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more cases linked to the recent spike were expected.

"As we all learned with our first experience with COVID, once you identify a cluster, it grows before it slows," she said in a televised address.

Ardern said she was encouraged by the fact that all the cases so far were in a single cluster limited to Auckland.

"You can see the seriousness of the situation," she said.

"While it is serious, it is being dealt with in an urgent but calm and methodical way."

Bloomfield said authorities were urgently exploring all possible routes of transmission.

"We want to find out how large it is as soon as possible, so we've been testing all close contacts, casual contacts, workplace, family-related," he told TVNZ.

"This is what we want to do as quickly as possible to find out how extensive the outbreak is and who the first case might have been."

He said any decision on extending the lockdown depended on what the investigations uncovered over the next 24 hours.

"It's too early to say... we'll have a lot more information tomorrow," he said.

He played down one line of inquiry examining whether the virus was imported via freight, then picked up by a male member of the family, who worked in a cool room for imported goods.

"It's a possibility -- it's unlikely but it's something we need to rule out," Bloomfield said, adding that another focus was whether the infection came from managed isolation facilities.

"Yes we were becoming complacent and that's why our message over the last few weeks has been around avoiding that," he said.

"As you'll recall, last week I was talking about when -- not if."

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


Take note. 29 May 2020  Philippines gears up to reopen tourism  businesstraveller.com

Philippines Reports 4,002 More Coronavirus Infections, 23 Deaths

(Reuters) - The Philippines' health ministry on Thursday reported 4,002 more novel coronavirus infections and 23 additional deaths in the country.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total number of confirmed cases in the Philippines had risen to 147,526, the highest in Southeast Asia, while confirmed deaths had reached 2,426.

The Philippines plans to launch clinical trials for a Russian coronavirus vaccine in October after Russia became the first country to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, drawing safety concerns over the frantic pace of its development.

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


Countries tighten rules as world coronavirus deaths pass 750,000
The total number of people killed by the novel coronavirus around the world passed 750,000 on Thursday, with some countries toughening control measures as caseloads once again creep up.

The Latin America and the Caribbean region remains the global epicentre, accounting for almost one-third of all deaths and housing two of the worst-affected countries—Mexico and Brazil.

However, fear is growing in other regions of new spikes, with countries including New Zealand and Italy tightening measures in a bid to secure hard-won gains in fighting the virus, which has now infected more than 20 million worldwide.

New Zealand, which earlier this week broke a streak of more than 100 days without a new infection, is scrambling to find the source of 17 new cases in its biggest city Auckland—which faces the prospect of a three-day lockdown being extended.

"As with our first outbreak, things will get worse before they get better," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a televised address.

Italy, one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, imposed mandatory coronavirus testing for all travellers arriving from some fellow EU nations and banned all visitors from Colombia.

Health officials worry that Italians returning from foreign holidays may bring home the virus and pass it on at summer events.

'Prioritise learning'

Elsewhere in Europe, the first case was reported in one of Greece's overcrowded island camps housing migrants and asylum seekers, and Spain's Galicia region banned public smoking and asked people not to remove their masks to smoke where social distancing was not possible.

The Finnish government reversed a long-held policy by recommending mask-wearing in public places.

And in secretive North Korea—which long insisted it had no cases—officials could be seen disinfecting underground train carriages, distributing hand sanitiser and checking temperatures of masked passengers at station entrances.

"We are stepping up propaganda activities as required by the maximum emergency system," said Jon Gyong Hui, a chief doctor at the railway station in capital Pyongyang.

There was some relief for watchers of the world's biggest economy, as new benefits claims for joblessness in the United States dipped below one million per week for the first time since March.

But around 28.3 million people were still receiving some form of government aid in the week ending July 25, far higher than the 1.7 million at the same time last year.

Europe's powerhouse Germany saw bleak news from two economic giants— conglomerate Thyssenkrupp reporting second-quarter losses of 678 million euros ($800 million) and tour operator TUI losing 1.4 billion euros over the same period.

Continued woes for the aviation and transport sectors mean global oil demand is likely to remain depressed throughout this year and much of 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

By December 2021, consumption will still be two percent lower than it was at the end of 2019, the Paris-based body said.

In a further sign of how tough it will be to safely return to normal life, the UN highlighted that 43 percent of all schools lacked basic hand-washing facilities before the pandemic.

"We must prioritise children's learning. This means making sure that schools are safe to reopen," said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore.

Playing it safe

Pharmaceutical companies and health authorities are still locked in a race to produce a vaccine or any effective treatment for the virus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed earlier this week his country had developed the first inoculation offering "sustainable immunity".

But Western scientists and the World Health Organization complained that vital data were missing—including a "Phase 3" trial with thousands of volunteers.

Moscow is pressing ahead with production and distribution and says it has pre-orders from 20 countries for one billion doses.

The Brazilian state of Parana signed a deal Wednesday to test and produce Russia's potential vaccine, though officials stressed they would have to be sure of its safety and effectiveness first.

And in a setback for the drug, Philippines' strongman president Rodrigo Duterte will not be among the first to test it, despite promising to be a guinea pig and declaring "huge trust in Moscow".

A government spokesman poured cold water on the plan, saying the "requisite tests" that would allow the president to take the drug would not be finished until May 1.

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


New Zealand virus outbreak spreads beyond Auckland
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to announce later Friday whether Auckland's lockdown will be extended.

New Zealand's resurgent coronavirus outbreak has spread beyond Auckland, health officials said Friday, in a major blow to efforts to contain the disease.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said there were 12 more cases of community transmission, and one probable, following the shock re-emergence of the virus in Auckland this week.

He said two of the infections were found in the North Island town of Tokoroa, around 210 kilometres (130 miles) south of Auckland.

The infections outside Auckland come despite a strict lockdown in New Zealand's largest city, including masked police blocking roads to seal its borders.

Hipkins played down fears the failure to ringfence infections to Auckland meant the virus could now be rampant elsewhere.

"All of the cases so far are connected, they are all part of one Auckland-based cluster, that's good news," he said, adding that the Tokoroa cases were identified quickly.

"We've seen no evidence of a COVID-19 case outside of Auckland that is unrelated to the cluster we are dealing with."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to announce later Friday whether Auckland's lockdown will be extended, and whether the area affected by the restrictions should be enlarged beyond the city.

The crisis erupted when four family members in Auckland returned positive tests on Tuesday, ending New Zealand's run of 102 days with no reported community transmission.

Case numbers have continued to rise as health authorities desperately scramble to find the source of the infection, which has still not been identified.

In just four days, New Zealand has gone from a transmission-free haven to contemplating national lockdown.

National health director-general Ashley Bloomfield acknowledged feelings were running high but urged the public not to take out their frustrations on frontline health workers.

"We've had reports of healthcare workers, who are doing their best to provide testing for people, being verbally abused and even attacked," he said.

"This is completely unacceptable," he added, declining to provide further details."

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


Stay or go? Britons in France face COVID-19 dilemma over 2-week quarantine
Half a million Britons holidaying in France were on Friday (Aug 14) faced with the choice of returning in a hurry or staying put, after the UK announced a two-week COVID-19 quarantine for travellers arriving from over the Channel.

The announcement comes as French authorities battle a spike in new infections and is likely to spark a mass exodus by hundreds of thousands of tourists before the measure kicks in early on Saturday.

France is one of several countries now facing a resurgent second wave of cases since the new disease emerged from China late last year, claiming more than 750,000 lives and unleashing global economic havoc.

"The indicators are bad, the signals are worrying and the situation is deteriorating ... The fate of the epidemic is in our hands," the country's national health agency chief Jerome Salomon told France Inter.

Britain had initially imposed a blanket quarantine on all visitors arriving in the country, but later carved out "travel corridors" which exempted travellers arriving from certain countries from having to self-isolate.

It reintroduced the self-isolation for travellers arriving from Spain in late July. France and the Netherlands were among several European destinations removed from the travel corridor list on Friday.

"If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days," British transport minister Grant Shapps wrote on Twitter.

Briton Paul Trower told AFP he decided to cut short his visit to France after receiving several messages from friends warning him of the quarantine measures.

"We looked and tried to book a ferry, cancelled our holidays and come home to avoid it because my wife works and I look after my granddaughter," he said.

Tony Samson, also from the UK, said: "I think it's very sudden. I think it could be a bit more gradual."

French holidaymakers in the UK will be left to grapple with a similar dilemma after Paris swiftly announced a "reciprocal measure", although it was unclear when it would be imposed.

With more than 41,000 deaths caused by COVID-19, Britain is the worst-hit country in Europe and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised over his handling of the crisis.

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


Returning Brits begin quarantine while Russia rolls out vaccine

VIDEO HERE wus-streaming

British travellers returning home from parts of Europe and beyond began having to quarantine on Saturday under new restrictions, while Russia said it has produced the first batch of its controversial coronavirus vaccine.

The UK opted to remove France, the Netherlands, Malta and three other countries from its list of places exempt from self-isolation rules, as a second wave of virus infections threatens more disruption and economic chaos on the continent.

The move announced late Thursday sparked a 36-hour scramble for plane, train and ferry tickets among some Britons desperate to get back before the 4 am (0300 GMT) change.

All arrivals from the blacklisted states after the deadline must quarantine for 14 days, with the measure already in place for people coming from several other countries including Spain and Belgium.

French student Antoine, 23, cut short his holiday to rush back to Bristol, in southwestern England, where he is at university.

"I'm a waiter in a small cafe near college, I can't afford to spend 14 days in the house," he said at London's St Pancras railway station after arriving on a Eurostar train.

France is facing a resurgence of the disease that emerged in China late last year and has so far infected over 21 million people globally and killed more than 760,000.

French authorities have reported more than 2,500 new cases on each of the past three days -- levels not seen since May when the country emerged from lockdown.

With cases still rising around the world, Moscow said the first consignments of its "Sputnik" vaccine had been produced, just four days after President Vladimir Putin announced Russia had won the global race to approve a vaccine.

It has drawn a sceptical response from Western scientists and the World Health Organization, which have said the vaccine still needed a rigorous safety review.

- 'Slow the spread' -

France has vowed to impose a "reciprocal measure" on Britain's quarantine move, leaving French holidaymakers set to face tough choices in the coming days.

The Netherlands said it would advise against all but essential travel to the UK, but will not introduce self-isolation measures for arrivals.

Germany added most of Spain -- where cases have surged in recent weeks -- to its list of regions from where arrivals must show a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for two weeks.

The restrictions include the island of Mallorca, a highly popular resort for German sunseekers.

Austria urged its citizens to return from popular Mediterranean destination Croatia before similar rules come into effect Monday, while Serbia introduced mandatory testing for travellers from four neighbouring countries.

And thousands of Albanians queued for miles in their cars at the Greek border before tougher entry requirements designed to brake mounting infections began.

The United States also said it was extending a ban on non-essential travel through border crossings with Canada and Mexico throughout most of September to slow the spread of the disease.

- 'Promising' vaccines -

A slew of data Friday revealed the scale of the economic impact of the virus and punishing lockdowns, with Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark all booking hefty hits to GDP in April-June.

Denmark and Hungary both reported their worst slumps since the early 1990s and Poland entered its first recession since the end of the communist era.

Hopes to break the cycle of outbreaks and lockdowns decimating economies have turned to a vaccine, with Britain announcing it has secured access to another 90 million doses of two "promising" vaccines.

Vietnam said it was looking to buy a bulk order of Russia's vaccine.

And Washington said it would distribute any inoculation proven to be effective to all Americans for free.

Mexico announced it and Argentina aim to have a vaccine available for Latin America -- now the region with the worst virus toll and most cases -- early next year under a production agreement with drug giant AstraZeneca.

Elsewhere, New Zealand is battling its second outbreak of infections and extended a lockdown of its largest city Auckland by at least 12 days, after officials detected a variant of the virus previously unseen in the country.

South Korea tightened restrictions in Seoul and its surrounding areas Saturday, as the country reported the highest number of new daily infections since March.

But in the US -- which has more registered infections than any other country in the world -- museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions in New York will be allowed to reopen later this month following a five-month shutdown.

Meanwhile, about 5,000 pilgrims attended the annual Assumption mass in the underground basilica in France's Lourdes Roman Catholic shrine Saturday -- with strict health measures in place.

"It's weird. There aren't many people this year," said Michel Clavel, a retired 66-year-old truck driver, who comes every year for the pilgrimage which usually attracts about 250,000 worshippers.

Face coverings have became compulsory in entire districts of the French capital, including large sections of central Paris, while Denmark said it will make them mandatory on public transport across the country from August 22.  AFP

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


U.S. coronavirus death toll hits 170,000 ahead of fall flu season
(Reuters) - The United States surpassed 170,000 coronavirus deaths on Sunday, according to a Reuters tally, as health officials express concerns over COVID-19 complicating the fall flu season.

Deaths rose by 483 on Sunday, with Florida, Texas and Louisiana, leading the rise in fatalities.

The United States has at least 5.4 million confirmed cases in total of the novel coronavirus, the highest in the world and likely an undercount as the country still has not ramped up testing to the recommended levels. Cases are falling in most states except for Hawaii, South Dakota and Illinois.

Public health officials and authorities are concerned about a possible fall resurgence in cases amid the start of the flu season, which will likely exacerbate efforts to treat the coronavirus.

Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield warned the United States may be in for its "worst fall" if the public does not follow health guidelines in an interview with Web MD.

Months into the pandemic, the U.S. economic recovery from the recession triggered by the outbreak is still staggered, with some hot spots slowing their reopenings and others shutting down businesses.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is anticipating an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the coming months, resulting in around 300,000 total deaths by December, and a nearly 75% increase in hospitalizations.

Worldwide there are at least 21.5 million coronavirus cases and over 765,000 confirmed deaths. The United States remains the global epicenter of the virus, with around a quarter of the cases and deaths.

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


New Zealand delays election as Japan economy sinks: Virus world update
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday postponed the nation's election to focus on fighting a coronavirus second wave, as data showed Japan's economy had endured a historic contraction.

With more than 21.5 million cases worldwide, a second wave of infections is also threatening further disruption in Europe where summer holiday-makers are helping fuel a resurgence of Covid-19.

The disease has killed more than 766,000 people globally, and the number of deaths hit 50,000 in India, which is still battling its first wave with 2.5 million infections -- the third-highest in the world.

The postponement of New Zealand's election to October 17 came after the shock discovery of Covid-19 in Auckland last week, ending the nation's 102-day streak without community transmission.

"This decision gives all parties time over the next nine weeks to campaign and the Electoral Commission enough time to ensure an election can go ahead," Ardern said.

She said the return of the virus -- which sent New Zealand's largest city into lockdown -- had rattled Kiwis and could have discouraged some from voting in a September election.

In South Korea, another country that had brought its initial outbreak largely under control, thousands of Protestant church members were asked to quarantine as authorities battled virus clusters linked to religious groups.

The largest of those current clusters is centred on the Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul, headed by controversial conservative pastor Jun Kwang-hun.

South Korean have authorities have filed two separate complaints against him for deliberately hindering efforts to contain the virus.

- Economic devastation -

Across the Pacific, less than three months out from the American presidential election, the surging caseload in the United States -- the worst in the world at more than 5.4 million with 170,000 deaths -- has forced the convention season online.

The Democrats' disparate factions are projecting a united front behind Joe Biden as their four-day virtual gathering gets under way Monday, as they seek to oust President Donald Trump -- who has been widely criticised for his handling of the pandemic.

The Trump administration and Congress are under increasing pressure to ease the economic pain unleashed by the virus, with tens of millions left jobless and the global economy facing a historic downturn.

Many countries have plunged into recession since the coronavirus first emerged in China late last year.

The latest evidence of the economic destruction emerged in Japan, which saw its economy shrink a record 7.8% in the April-June quarter -- the worst contraction in the nation's modern history.

- 'We're dancing' -

Italy -- once the global epicentre of the coronavirus -- has ordered the three-week closure of all dance venues after a pick-up in infections over the weekend blamed in part on young partygoers.

Wearing a face mask is also mandatory in public areas from 6pm to 6am.

"The contagion is on the rise but we're dancing," proclaimed the Corriere Della Sera newspaper, which slammed Sardinia's clubs as being "joyful contagion machines".

But government attempts to curb the spread of the virus in parts of Spain and Brussels have been met by scepticism and protests.

"They are forcing us to use a mask, they want us to stay home practically locked up," said Pilar Martin, 58, at a rally in Madrid that drew a variety of people, many promoting widely debunked conspiracy theories about the coronavirus being a hoax.

That came after Britain removed France, the Netherlands, Malta and three other countries from its list of places exempt from self-isolation rules because of the continent's second virus wave.

Wary of a similar resurgence, authorities in Australia's most populous state of New South Wales have banned children from playing the recorder and singing in choirs to stem the spread of the virus after infections were detected at several Sydney schools.

Dancing is also off-limits as Australia battles to contain a number of outbreaks after months of near-zero local transmission.

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


Philippines reports 4,650 new coronavirus cases, 111 additional deaths

(Reuters) - The Philippine health ministry on Wednesday confirmed 4,650 new coronavirus infections and 111 additional deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases have risen to 173,774, the highest in Southeast Asia, while deaths have increased to 2,795.

The government on Wednesday relaxed a strict lockdown in the capital and nearby provinces, allowing more business establishments to resume operations.  reuters.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Philippines reports 4,786 more coronavirus infections, 59 deaths

The Philippines on Friday recorded 4,786 new coronavirus infections, taking its total confirmed cases to 182,365 since the pandemic began, the highest in Southeast Asia.

In a bulletin, the health ministry also reported 59 more fatalities, bringing the country's death toll to 2,940.

"The infectiousness has increased because the strain has evolved," Health Secretary Francisco Duque said at a webinar on Friday.

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


South Korea tightens virus curbs as global deaths cross 800,000
South Korea ramped up coronavirus restrictions on Sunday to try to contain a growing outbreak, as many countries around the world battled worrying surges in infections.

The pandemic has killed more than 800,000 people globally, and continues to unleash destruction with areas such as Western Europe detecting spikes in infections not seen for many months.

Infections have soared past 23 million globally, and some countries are still facing their first waves -- such as India, which crossed three million cases on Sunday.

South Korea, which had largely brought its outbreak under control, tightened curbs to try to contain a new, growing cluster of cases.

"The situation is very grave and serious as we are on the brink of a nationwide pandemic," warned Jung Eun-kyeong, chief of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nightclubs, karaoke bars and beaches have been closed, with tight restrictions on large gatherings and religious services, after hundreds of infections were linked to Protestant churches.

Face masks will be mandatory in the capital Seoul's public areas from midnight.

Lockdowns, social distancing and face masks are among the few options available to governments with no effective treatment or vaccine available yet.

India, which imposed one of the world's strictest lockdowns, has relaxed it over recent weeks to help ease the pressure on its reeling economy.

But that has also led to a sharp rise in cases, taking its total past three million.

"We are seeing the virus spread across India," said K. Srinath Reddy from the NGO Public Health Foundation of India.

The World Health Organization, however, said Friday that the world should be able to rein in the disease in less than two years.

Italy -- once the European epicentre of the virus -- said Saturday it had registered more than 1,000 new infections in the past 24 hours, the highest level since the end of a punishing lockdown in May.

The story is similar across Spain, Germany and France.

The Rome region also said it had recorded a record number of cases in the past 24 hours, a rise health officials blamed on people returning from holiday.

Most of those infected are young people who are not showing symptoms, the Italian capital's health official Alessio D'Amato said, warning them to stay at home.

"Don't feel invincible," he urged them.

The virus lockdowns and social distancing measures have unleashed vast economic destruction and impacted all types of social activities, including sports games and concerts.

In Germany, a university has launched a series of pop concerts under coronavirus conditions, hoping the mass experiment with 2,000 people can determine whether large events can safely resume.

But with no vaccine yet, economies in hard-hit regions like Latin America are struggling to contain the staggering costs of the pandemic -- with a rise not only in poverty but political turmoil and crime too.

The United States remains the worst-hit country in the world, with nearly 5.7 million infections and deaths approaching 180,000.

The run-up to the presidential election has been dominated by the coronavirus, with President Donald Trump facing intense criticism for his handling of the crisis.

The pandemic is set to impact the electoral exercise itself, with Americans expected to vote by mail in massive numbers instead of visiting polling centres.

But that has caused another political standoff, with the postal service warning most states it could not guarantee on-time delivery of mail-in ballots.

He has repeatedly and baselessly linked mail-in voting to election fraud.

Biden's fellow Democrats in the US House of Representatives approved a $25 billion infusion for the USPS on Saturday, but it is likely to die in the Senate -- which is controlled by the Republicans.

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


No wonder they have a problem in the UK - you have the rest of your life to get educated but if your life is no more :spin

UK government health advisers say missing school is greater risk to kids than COVID
(Reuters) - The chief medical officers of the United Kingdom have said children should return to school after the summer holidays, warning that missing out on their education posed much bigger risks to them than catching COVID-19.

The rare joint statement from the top health advisers to the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland represents a boost for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who has said getting children back to school is a national priority.

Confidence in the government's approach to schooling during the coronavirus pandemic took a hit last week when education minister Gavin Williamson was forced into an embarrassing U-turn over examination results.

"Very few, if any, children or teenagers will come to long term harm from COVID-19 due solely to attending school," they said. "This has to be set against a certainty of long-term harm to many children and young people from not attending school," the CMOs said in a joint statement published late on Saturday.

Evidence showed that a lack of schooling increased inequalities, reduced opportunities and could exacerbate physical and mental health issues, the statement said.

By contrast there was clear evidence of a very low rate of severe disease in children, even if they caught COVID-19, and an exceptionally low risk of dying.

"The percentage of symptomatic cases requiring hospitalisation is estimated to be 0.1% for children aged 0-9 and 0.3% among those aged 10-19, compared to a hospitalisation rate of over 4% in the UK for the general population," the statement said.

Johnson has said reopening schools in September is a social, economic and moral imperative, insisting they would be able to operate safely despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Separately, England's chief medical officer was quoted as saying it would be foolish to count on a coronavirus vaccine being ready for use this year.

"I think if we look forward a year, I think the chances are much greater than if we look forward six months and we need to have that sort of timescale in mind," Chris Whitty told Sky News.

"So planning for the next winter, it would be foolish to plan on the basis we will have a vaccine."

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


S. Korea faces hard choices of near-lockdown as coronavirus resurges

Street appears empty in Myeong-dong, a tourist district in central Seoul, on Monday afternoon. (Yonhap)

South Korea now stands at a coronavirus crossroads. It must quickly decide whether reintroducing intense physical distancing is necessary, as infection numbers rise again to initial levels seen nearly half a year ago.

With public health authorities anticipating a worse trajectory this time, talks of mitigation actions akin to a lockdown are being floated.

The anti-virus scheme of an unprecedented intensity will come at heavy economic costs, according to some forecasts.

The Bank of Korea's Aug. 18 report said "a job crisis of a significant magnitude" may be on the horizon if the country were to withstand a lockdown. The report said about 35 percent of all jobs are "nonessential, low-skilled positions" or in a sector that cannot telecommute.

For most, the damages from March and April when the country went into "intensive" physical distancing are still fresh.

A 30-year-old cafe owner in Siheung, Gyeonggi Province, said she was already experiencing a decline in customers since the infection clusters at cafes. "Food businesses are struggling as it is," she said.

"I don't think the smaller companies will be able to survive another phase of social distancing," said a 28-year-old who works in a film distribution company. He said he saw little to no projects during the months the distancing orders were in place.

President Moon Jae-in said on Monday that "failing to stem the spread at this stage would mean having to step up the restrictions." "This will translate to life coming to a stop and a devastating toll for the economy," he said, urging people to heed the safety protocols.

Several medical societies, including the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases, Korean Society of Epidemiology and Korean Society for Critical Care Medicine, called for more public health interventions in a joint statement Sunday, saying that physical distancing of a stringent degree appeared "inevitable" to avoid a health care system collapse.

Only 35 percent of all coronavirus beds in the capital were available as of Sunday, data showed. A Seoul woman in her 70s died at her home Thursday waiting to be admitted at a hospital, marking the first such death since the earlier peak. At least five people had died in Daegu, the former epicenter of the country's epidemic, without ever receiving care due to bed shortages.

Health pundits say the resurgence is projected to be even tougher to contain.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Kim Woo-joo of Korea University Hospital in Guro, southern Seoul, said that unlike in Daegu where the vast majority of the cases were found among followers of the Shincheonji church, the recent spike has been characterized by "multifocal outbreaks" across the country.

"Outbreaks of varying sizes are occurring all over now, rendering them harder to trace," he said. For over one-fifth of cases confirmed last week, the point of infection was unknown.

Despite counting 11 straight days of triple-digit daily numbers, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this is only the beginning of a further jump. Leading the state health agency, Jung Eun-kyeong said in a briefing there may be a "substantial proportion of undetected cases in the capital."

Sociologist Chang Duk-jin, who sits on the government's advisory committee for coronavirus policies, said the country faces "an unfortunate trade-off between health and the economy."

He said based on indicators such as the daily average of between 100 and 200 cases and a reproduction rate of around 2.8, the situation warrants a stricter response. But that needs to be accompanied by measures to cushion the blow for society's more vulnerable.

"Workers with part-time or temporary contracts who are more prone to be hit by job losses, as well as high-risk establishments that are being ordered to restrict operations should be a priority in getting government cash grants," he said.

Economics professor Ahn Dong-hyun of Seoul National University suggested that a better way of spending the relief funds may be to pay people to stay home while the country is under lockdown, instead of encouraging them to dine out and travel -- activities which go against the coronavirus guidance -- as did the earlier cash payouts to households.

"If we want to keep people at home and out of workforce, we should be giving them financial incentives that can create enough of a safety net," he said. "The economy cannot function in any meaningful way unless the coronavirus is under control."

Preventive medicine specialist Dr. Ki Mo-ran said imposing forms of lockdown should be "the last resort," and that they should be saved for a potentially bigger wave later in fall and winter.

"The best way out is for people to socially distance and wear face masks voluntarily without having to shut down parts of the country," she said

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


France's COVID-19 cases and casualties rise
(Reuters) - The number of new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in France has risen by 1,955 compared to the previous day, the French health ministry said on Monday, although the increase in new cases was less than in previous days.

The French health ministry said the number of deaths from COVID-19 had risen by 15 from the previous day to stand at 30,528 casualties, while the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stands at 244,854.

France has the seventh-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world, and the government is monitoring the figures closely to see if any new restrictions or lockdowns are needed to curb the spread of the virus.

"The circulation of the virus is progressing markedly, and is at its most intense among young adults," the ministry said in a statement.

The number of new cases was less than the 4,897 new cases registered on Aug. 23, although 22 new clusters had been discovered in the last 24 hours, added the ministry.

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


Philippines confirms 2,965 new coronavirus cases, 34 more deaths

(Reuters) - The Philippine health ministry on Tuesday reported 2,965 additional novel coronavirus infections and 34 more deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases have risen to 197,164, a fifth of which were reported in the past 10 days, while deaths have reached 3,038.

The Philippines has reported more than 1,000 new infections for 42 successive days and has the largest number of cases in Southeast Asia.

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


Quote from: thaiga on August 25, 2020, 08:42:09 PM
Philippines confirms 2,965 new coronavirus cases, 34 more deaths

(Reuters) - The Philippine health ministry on Tuesday reported 2,965 additional novel coronavirus infections and 34 more deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases have risen to 197,164, a fifth of which were reported in the past 10 days, while deaths have reached 3,038.

The Philippines has reported more than 1,000 new infections for 42 successive days and has the largest number of cases in Southeast Asia.


Philippines confirms 5,277 new coronavirus cases, 99 deaths

(Reuters) - The Philippines' health ministry on Wednesday reported 5,277 additional novel coronavirus infections, the highest daily increase in 12 days, and 99 more deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had risen to 202,361, more than 60% of which were reported in the past month, while deaths had increased to 3,137. The Philippines has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia.

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


Myanmar shuts schools after biggest daily climb in coronavirus cases
(Reuters) - Myanmar ordered all schools to close after reporting 70 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, its biggest daily rise, as authorities try to tackle a resurgence of the virus following weeks without confirmed domestic transmission.

All but one of the new cases announced on Wednesday were in the western state of Rakhine, found in nine different locations, each linked to an outbreak in the state capital Sittwe, where a lockdown and curfew were imposed last week.

Myanmar's outbreaks has been relatively small compared with other countries in the region, with just six deaths and 574 infections in total, but an increase in COVID-19 cases by nearly 35% in just over a week is causing some concern.

"We have called all the schools and instructed them to close from tomorrow," Ko Layy Win, director general of the country's Department of Basic Education, told Reuters.

"The central committee of COVID decided to do that since the local transmission in the country is high."

One of Wednesday's cases was in the biggest city Yangon, in an individual seeking medical clearance to travel.

The virus resurfaced in Myanmar on Aug 16 after a month without community transmission, with the majority of those cases in Sittwe.

Sittwe is also home to crowded camps where about 100,000 Rohingya Muslims have been confined since violence erupted in 2012. Rohingya mostly face strict curbs on freedom of movement and access to healthcare.

Myanmar has restricted internet access in much of the region on security grounds. Humanitarian workers have urged the authorities to restore it at higher speeds to ensure reliable health information is available.

Among the 179 domestic infections since early last week, authorities have detected a mutation thought to be more contagious than previously seen in Myanmar.

To keep COVID-19 at bay, Myanmar has since late March closed its borders to all but returning citizens, who are required to undergo quarantine.

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


August 29, 2020
South Korea running out of sickbeds in COVID-19 resurgence
(Reuters) – South Korea reported more than 300 infections of the new coronavirus on Saturday, the 16th day of three-digit rises, fanning concerns about a worsening shortage of sickbeds amid a resurgence of COVID-19.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) posted 308 new cases as of midnight Friday, bringing the total infections to 19,400, including 321 deaths from COVID-19.

After having largely curbed the first large outbreak outside China early this year, South Korea is suffering a setback this month after a church cluster spread to a political rally in Seoul, attended by tens of thousands from across the country.

With the surge in the disease, hospitals in greater Seoul had only 4.5% of their beds available for critical cases as of Friday, down from 22% a week earlier. Some 24% of beds for all COVID-19 patients were left, compared with 37% last week.

"Only about 15 beds are immediately available in the greater Seoul area for patients in critical condition as there were numerous patients who were in a serious condition and needed to be hospitalised," said Yoon Tae-ho, director general for public health policy at the health ministry.

"But we should have a little more room shortly because more people are being released," he told a news briefing.

The government took the unprecedented step on Friday of restricting eateries in the capital area, as a multitude of outbreaks continued to erupt from churches, offices, nursing homes and medical facilities, even after social-distancing rules were tightened.

For a week starting on Sunday, onsite dining at restaurants, pubs and bakeries in the Seoul area will be banned after 9 p.m., while coffee shops, some of which have been identified as hotspots, are restricted to takeout and delivery.

Churches, nightclubs, gyms and most schools in the area are already closed, and masks are mandatory in public places.

Health authorities have expressed concern, especially as almost 16,000 intern and resident doctors have been on strike since Aug. 21, primarily over the government's plans to boost the number of doctors to better deal with health crises like the coronavirus.

The Health Ministry filed a police complaint against at least 10 doctors and extended a back-to-work order for the doctors, who are the backbone of healthcare services in emergency rooms and intensive care units.

The striking doctors have volunteered at temporary testing centres to help with the outbreak, and major hospitals have reported delays and disruptions since their walkout.

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


Global virus cases cross 25 million as India sets grim record
Global coronavirus infections soared past 25 million on Sunday, as countries around the world further tightened restrictions to try to stop the rampaging pandemic.

A million additional cases have been detected globally roughly every four days since mid-July, according to an AFP tally, with India on Sunday setting the record for the highest single-day rise in cases with 78,761.

The surge in India, home to 1.3 billion people, came as the government further eased lockdown restrictions on the weekend to help ease pressure on the reeling economy.

Even nations such as New Zealand and South Korea, which had previously brought their outbreaks largely under control, are now battling new clusters of infections.

On the other side of the world, Latin America—the worst-hit region—was still struggling with its first wave, with COVID-19 deaths in Brazil crossing 120,000, second only to the United States.

Brazil's curve "has stabilised now, but at a very dangerous level: nearly 1,000 deaths and 40,000 cases per day," said Christovam Barcellos, a researcher at public health institute Fiocruz.

"And Brazil still isn't past the peak."

Nearly 843,000 people have died of COVID-19 globally, and with no vaccine or effective treatment available yet, governments have been forced to resort to some form of social distancing and lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.

Masks will become mandatory from Monday on public transport and flights in New Zealand, which went more than 100 days without local transmission before the current cluster emerged.

And tightened virus curbs kicked in on Sunday in South Korea, which is also battling fresh clusters—including in the greater Seoul region, home to half the country's population.

'Anti-corona' rallies in Europe

Despite the grim numbers, there has been steady opposition to lockdowns and social distancing measures in many parts of the world, often because of their crushing economic cost.

But resistance has also come from the extreme right and left of the political spectrum, as well as conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccine campaigners.

In Berlin on Saturday, around 18,000 people gathered to march against coronavirus restrictions—but police later stopped the rally because many were not respecting social distancing measures.

Protesters waved German flags and shouted slogans against Chancellor Angela Merkel often used by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Many carried placards promoting widely debunked conspiracy theories about vaccines, face masks and 5G communications.

Similar protests were held in London and Zurich, where some carried signs supporting the far-right QAnon movement, which promotes bizarre theories about Satan-worshipping cabals and "deep state" plots—without any credible evidence.

'A big first step'

The pandemic has upended economies and societies around the world, and halted most large gatherings—from sport and music to religion and politics.

The Tour de France set off from the French Riviera on Saturday, two months later than planned and with the French sport minister not ruling out the cancellation of the event because of the coronavirus.

Under the Tour rules, a team with two positive tests in its entourage would be expelled. A virus testing cell will travel with the teams throughout the race.

The world's top sport, culture and music events are struggling with the challenge of hosting spectators while reducing the risk of virus transmission.

But there was some cheer on Saturday in New York, once among the world's biggest coronavirus hotspots.

Visitors raised their arms, clapped and lined up to get tickets as New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art reopened its doors to the public in a festive atmosphere after a six-month closure.

Tracy-Ann Samuel, who came with her daughters aged four and nine, said she couldn't wait to again be "surrounded by beautiful art".

"It means that there is some semblance of normalcy," Samuel said.

"The Met has been a part of New York history for over 150 years... So this is a big first step."

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


Mutated coronavirus strain found in Indonesia as cases jump
A more infectious mutation of the coronavirus has been found in Indonesia, the Jakarta-based Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology said on Sunday (Aug 30), as the country's caseload surges.

Indonesia reported 2,858 new infections on Sunday, data by the health ministry showed, below Saturday's record 3,308 but above the past month's daily average. Its total number of cases was 172,053, with 7,343 COVID-19 fatalities.

The "infectious but milder" D614G mutation of the virus has been found in genome sequencing data from samples collected by the institute, deputy director Herawati Sudoyo told Reuters, adding that more study is required to determine whether that was behind the recent rise in cases.

The strain, which the World Health Organization said was identified in February and has been circulating in Europe and the Americas, has also been found in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.

Syahrizal Syarif, an epidemiologist with the University of Indonesia, warned Indonesians must remain vigilant, as his modelling suggests the country may see its caseload rise to 500,000 by the end of the year.

"The situation is serious ... Local transmission currently is out of control," Syarif said, adding that the number of infections found daily could have been much higher if laboratories were able to process more specimens in a day.

The capital Jakarta on Sunday saw a record daily increase of more than 1,000 cases, which the city government linked to a higher mobility rate during a mid-August independence celebration.

"There needs to be an awareness and a collective effort, be it from the government or the people, in addressing the rising number of cases," Dwi Oktavia, an official at the Jakarta health agency, said in a statement, urging people to stay at home and wear a face mask when they must go out.

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


U.S. coronavirus cases top six million as Midwest, schools face outbreaks
(Reuters) - U.S. cases of the novel coronavirus surpassed six million on Sunday as many states in the Midwest reported increasing infections, according to a Reuters tally.  reuters.com

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


Quote from: thaiga on August 26, 2020, 08:51:03 PM

Philippines confirms 5,277 new coronavirus cases, 99 deaths

(Reuters) - The Philippines' health ministry on Wednesday reported 5,277 additional novel coronavirus infections, the highest daily increase in 12 days, and 99 more deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had risen to 202,361, more than 60% of which were reported in the past month, while deaths had increased to 3,137. The Philippines has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia.


August 31, 2020
Philippines reports 3,446 new coronavirus cases, 38 additional deaths

(Reuters) - The Philippines reported on Monday 3,446 coronavirus infections and 38 deaths, taking its total caseload to 220,819 and fatalities to 3,558, its health ministry said.

The ministry also said on Monday that five Philippine hospitals have been identified as candidates for potential clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China-based Sinovac Biotech.

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


Hong Kong rolls out mass testing: Virus world update
Hong Kong began a mass coronavirus testing programme Tuesday overshadowed by fears that China is using the scheme to harvest DNA, while the number of infections in the United States surpassed six million.

The voluntary initiative in the southern Chinese city is offering free tests to millions of Hong Kongers as authorities worldwide continue efforts to stamp out an illness that has now killed almost 850,000 and infected over 25 million.

But it comes as populations are increasingly wary of coronavirus curbs and distrust grows in governments' handling of the pandemic, with protesters taking to the streets in a number of major cities in recent days.

German demonstrators against mask rules and other restrictions tried to storm parliament in the biggest of several European protests over the weekend.

Suspicions about government intentions have done much to undermine the testing programme in Hong Kong, where disillusionment with officials has been fuelled by China's crushing of the city's democracy movement.

The scheme is part of an attempt to stamp out a third wave of infections in the densely populated finance hub that began in late June and saw the city reimpose economically painful social distancing measures.

But the programme has been hampered by a limited response due to the involvement of mainland Chinese testing firms and doctors -- and swirling public fears of the harvesting of data and DNA.

Since registration began on Saturday, 510,000 people have signed up to take the free tests. Health experts advising the government however have said as many as five million people might need to be tested for the scheme to end the current wave.

"I think it's a waste of time," local resident Emily Li told AFP. "The government can't convince me in terms of the effectiveness of the testing programme."

- 'Moral bankruptcy' -

The World Health Organization on Monday urged governments to engage with people demonstrating against Covid-19 curbs and listen to their concerns, but stressed protesters needed to understand the virus was dangerous.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was important to "listen to what people are asking, what people are saying".

"We should engage in an honest dialogue", but demonstrators have a responsibility to ensure protests are safe, he added.

"The virus is real. It is dangerous. It moves fast and it kills. We have to do everything to protect ourselves and to protect others."

Tedros took issue with the opinion that high death rates are not a major concern if it is mainly the elderly dying with the disease.

"Accepting someone to die because of age is moral bankruptcy at its highest, and we shouldn't allow our society to behave this way," he said.

- Lockdown 'hellish' -

A million new coronavirus infections have been detected globally roughly every four days since mid-July, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources.

In the United States, which accounts for a quarter of the global caseload, a million infections have been recorded in three weeks, taking the total to date across the six million mark.

India on Sunday set the record for the highest single-day rise in cases, with 78,761.

But there have been attempts to return to normality even as the virus continues to circulate, with French pupils back in classrooms Tuesday as schools across Europe open their doors again.

Students in Belgium return on Tuesday while in Greece classes are set to resume next Monday with a maximum of 25 children in each.

Youngsters in Germany went back last month and in England and Wales children are studying together again this week after a six-month closure.

But strict anti-virus rules are in place at many learning institutions as communities go to great lengths to avoid any return to painful lockdowns.

"The confinement period was hellish," said Florence, a 42-year-old mother-of-three in the southern French city of Nice.

"We will not go through it again, it's out of the question."

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

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