International News

International News (385)

17
May

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday, May 16 the state's new confirmed COVID-19 cases are predominantly, coming from people who left their homes to shop, exercise or socialise, rather than from essential workers. State data showed the number of new cases statewide has fluctuated between 2,100 and 2,500 per day. On Saturday, the number of new cases decreased to 2,419, from 2,762 on Friday. Cuomo said while last week he had theorised that new cases were coming from essential workers, "that was exactly wrong". The infection rate among essential workers is lower than the general population and those new cases are coming predominantly from people who are not working and they are at home. The state's budget director, Robert Mujica, said officials expect to learn a lot more about the genesis of new cases from contact tracing over the next week//CNA/Reuters

17
May

Spraying disinfectant on the streets, as practised in some countries, does not eliminate the new coronavirus and even poses a health risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Saturday. In a document on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as part of the response to the virus, the WHO says spraying can be ineffective. The WHO said that streets and pavements are not considered as reservoirs of infection of COVID-19, adding that spraying disinfectants, even outside, can be dangerous for human health. The document also stresses that spraying individuals with disinfectants is not recommended under any circumstances. The organisation is also warning against the systematic spraying and fumigating of disinfectants on to surfaces in indoor spaces, citing a study that has shown it to be ineffective outside direct spraying areas. If disinfectants are to be applied, this should be done with a cloth or wipe that has been soaked in disinfectant, it says//AFP

14
May

 

 

A northeastern Chinese city has partially shut its borders, cut off transport links and closed schools after the emergence of a local coronavirus cluster that has fuelled fears about a second wave of infections in China. As quoted by AFP.com ( 13/5) Jilin, with a population of more than four million, suspended bus services Wednesday and said it will only allow residents to leave the city if they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the past 48 hours and complete an unspecified period of "strict self-isolation". The local government  in a statement stated all cinemas, indoor gyms, internet cafes and other enclosed entertainment venues must shut immediately, and pharmacies must report all sales of fever and antiviral medicines. The city is located in the eponymous province of Jilin, which borders Russia and North Korea//AFP

14
May

 

 

Europe's re-opening gathered pace Wednesday after weeks of coronavirus lockdown, while America's top infectious diseases official warned of uncontrollable new outbreaks if the process happens too quickly in the US,  As quoted by AFP.com ( 13/5) Austria announced its border with Germany would be unlocked following a two-month shutdown and Britons were allowed unlimited outdoor exercise, despite a global death toll closing in on 300,000. Curbs that have confined billions to their homes continued easing but the death toll spiked in some of the world's most populated countries, with Brazil, Russia and the US all reporting bad news. It came as US government expert Anthony Fauci issued a stark warning to Congress about the dangers of resuming normal life too soon, saying a run of 14 days with falling cases was a vital first step//AFP

14
May

 

 

People living in England were allowed on Wednesday to leave their homes, including to go to work, in the first stage of an easing of the seven-week coronavirus lockdown.  As quoted by AFP.com ( 13/5) the partial lifting of restrictions comes despite concern over Britain's death toll from the virus -- the second highest in the world -- and confusion about the new rules. The Office for National Statistics says more than 36,000 people have died and mortality rates remain high in care homes, despite an overall downward trend in cases, deaths and hospital admissions. The official government toll, which does not include all care home deaths, stands at over 32,000. The health ministry announced another 494 deaths on Wednesday in its latest daily update, a dip on the previous day's figure. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged millions unable to work from home to return to their jobs under the new guidelines, which do not apply in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland//AFP

14
May

 

 

Chinese hackers are trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine research, US authorities said Wednesday, ratcheting up tensions between the superpowers as markets slumped on warnings from the US Federal Reserve that prolonged shutdowns could cause "lasting damage". As quoted by AFP.com ( 13/5) Europe, meanwhile, pushed ahead with plans to gradually reopen for summer tourism, even as fears persist of a second wave of infections in the pandemic that has forced more than half of humanity behind closed doors in recent months.  With some countries scrambling after a fresh surge in cases and the global death toll exceeding 294,000, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Wednesday that the virus "may never go away". Currently there is no proven therapy for COVID-19. An effective vaccine could allow countries to fully reopen and potentially earn millions of dollars for its creators//AFP

13
May

 

 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will likely  downgrade its global economy projections amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and predicts the economy will partially recover next year, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Tuesday. Georgieva said during a virtual conference hosted by the Financial Times, with the crisis still spreading, incoming economic data from many countries is worse than IMF already pessimistic projections. Asked about a possible downgrade of economic forecasts, Georgieva also said such a move by the IMF is "very likely."

According to Georgieva, IMF is going to come up with update of IMF projections sometime in June. At that time IMF expectation is that unfortunately there would be a bit more bad news how we see 2020. Georgieva urged governments to take decisive actions to stabilize the situation in their countries and noted that the IMF expects a partial economic recovery next year//Sputnik

13
May

 

 

Top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci warned the Senate of the United States will see "needless suffering and death" from the coronavirus if it tries to reopen too soon, The New York Times reported. Fauci, who has become the trusted face of the government's virus response, is one of four top medical experts due to testify remotely at a hearing Tuesday of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. According to Fauci, if USA skips over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: 'Open America Again,' then USA risks the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. Fauci, a leader of the White House coronavirus task force,  said that this will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set USA back on the US quest to return to normal.

"Opening Up America Again" is the administration's guidelines on a three-phase approach to help state and local officials reopen their economies, while observing medical advice on limiting the spread of the virus. Among the administration's requirements before moving to a phased comeback, states should have a "downward trajectory" of documented cases or positive tests, as a percentage of total tests, over two weeks. There should be a robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers, with asymptomatic cases screened as well, and contacts of positive cases traced//JP

13
May

 

 

Japan plans to approve its first coronavirus antigen testing kits on Wednesday, a health ministry official said, to boost the number of diagnostic tests available to battle the pandemic. Fujirebio, a subsidiary of Japanese diagnostics and laboratory testing service provider Miraca Holdings, last month applied for government approval for its antigen kit. Antigen tests scan for proteins found on or inside a virus, and typically test a sample taken from the nasal cavity using swabs. The tests can detect the virus quickly but produce false negatives at a higher rate than the currently dominant PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests. Japan has reported about 16,680 confirmed infections, including 712 from the cruise ship previously quarantined in Yokohama, and 670 deaths to date, public broadcaster NHK said.

Although those tallies are relatively low given its population of 126 million, critics say the low rate of testing has made it difficult to trace the virus, which has led to a series of in-hospital infections, crippling some facilities. Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said that faced with criticism, Japan eased access to PCR tests this month. Antigen tests, once approved, will likely supplement PCR tests. Demand for rapid testing kits has surged with governments scrambling to contain the pandemic that has infected more than 4 million people worldwide and killed over 285,000//JP

13
May

 

 

Singapore‚Äôs COVID-19 situation may have started to improve, but the number of community cases could rise again as "circuit breaker" measures are gradually lifted, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong cautioned on Tuesday (May 12). Speaking at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference, Minister Gan outlined the progress Singapore has made in controlling the infection. With three weeks to Jun 1, when the circuit breaker restrictions are expected to end, measures have "shown promise" in reducing COVID-19 infections locally in the community.

"But we must not be allowed into complacency or let our guards down. As we gradually lift the circuit breaker measures, there is a risk that the community cases may rise again. This has been the experience of many countries which have seen a second wave of infections after relaxing their social distancing measures. Therefore we need to be very carefull, remain vigilant and minimize the risk of any sharp rise in cases or large cluster in the community" Minister Gan said. 

He added that even as the authorities progressively lift some of the tighter measures, other measures will remain, such as safe distancing and safe management at workplaces. Meanwhile, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that the Government will be in a position to consider its next moves to ease some of the circuit breaker measures "if all goes well". 

"So we are now in a good position to plan forward and ease some of the ristriction, open more, allow more workers to resume work beyond the first of June. And then gradually take steps to reopen the economy. As we go about this exercise all of us have to be prepared that new cases maybe well emerge. And thats why we are building up our capacity for faster contact tracing, for more comprehensive large scale testing and with these enablers we will be able to have some convidence in opening the economy and easig the circuit breaker measures" Said Minister Wong

He added that the authorities will look at the evidence over the coming days and "assess the situation carefully". The number of new cases in Singapore has continue to fall. From an average of over 30 new cases daily in Mid-April to 8 new cases in the past weeks. Singapore use the technology to control the spread of the virus where people have to scan their identity cards or scan the SafeEntry QR code with their mobile phones when entering and leaving the building. The time of entry and the particulars of each shopper is captured to help in contract tracing in case of a COVID-19 infection. This is one of the technological solutions authorities have implemented to curb the spread of coronavirus in the community//NK

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