Indonesian manufacturers step up as G20 nations coordinate global medical supply

first_imgThe Trade Ministry issued a regulation on Tuesday to temporarily scrap all requirements for importing protective gear and medical equipment to reverse the shortages of such items in Indonesia.Carmakers around the world are shifting gear to producing hospital ventilators and respirators to combat the novel coronavirus using 3D printing. Ford, General Motors, Ferrari and Nissan have been listed, on top of General Electrics and 3M Co.”Indonesia could also have a chance [to produce more medical equipment] because Indonesia has the capacity to supply protective gear, hand sanitizers and so forth,” she said.One Indonesia-based start-up called Nusantics is preparing to make 100,000 COVID-19 test kits. A prototype will be complete within three weeks, according to the company’s investor East Ventures. “Right now, it is difficult to get tested for the coronavirus as it keeps spreading throughout the nation,” East Ventures cofounder and managing partner Willson Cuaca told The Jakarta Post. “That is why we want to help the start-up achieve this goal.”Read also: Indonesian start-up to make COVID-19 test kitsTextile factories in Indonesia are switching their production lines to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel, including mass-producing masks and protective coveralls. Members of the Indonesian Textile Association (API) have committed to producing 1 million washable masks, according to PT Pan Brothers deputy CEO Anne Patricia Sutanto.“The workers were initially flabbergasted by our decision. They asked me ‘Bu, we are a garment exporting company, how can we produce masks and coveralls?’ but I told them this is a humanitarian emergency and we did it,” she told the Post on Thursday.Textile company PT Sri Rejeki Isman (Sritex) started to produce coveralls for medical workers in late January and started delivering the products in the first week of February, the company’s spokesperson Joy Citra Dewi said.“We use a specified waterproof and antimicrobial material that we’ve developed for the PPE,” Joy told the Post in a written statement, while declining to disclose the number of coveralls produced by the company.Meanwhile, Pan Brothers has agreed to produce 20 million washable masks and 100,000 jumpsuits by April, which have been ordered by the government and retailers as demand for PPE skyrocketed.The Trade Ministry had previously banned the export of face masks, hand sanitizer, protective medical gear and raw materials through Trade Ministry Regulation No. 23/20020 to ensure a sufficient domestic supply.Read also: Indonesia calls on G20 to improve access to medical needs, better social protectionWorld Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the G20 to seek support for boosting funding and production of PPE for health workers amid the global shortage, urging nations to remove export bans.”We have a global responsibility as humanity and especially those countries like the G20,” Tedros told a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday. “They should be able to support countries all over the world.”The number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia quadrupled within a week, jumping from 172 positive diagnoses on March 17 to 893 on Wednesday. The number of deaths was 78, with the disease spreading to at least 27 of the country’s 34 provinces. Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected more than 537,000 people with over 24,000 deaths. (mpr)Topics : Indonesia’s latest move is intended to help Indonesia’s health workers, doctors and nurses who have been treating COVID-19 cases since mid-February despite many of them having inadequate protection. The Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) announced over the weekend that five doctors had died of the illness, in addition to a nurse who died of COVID-19 on March 12.In the broader context, every country has experienced scarcities in medical equipment like test kits, protective gear and ventilators, whether they were in Europe, Indonesia or the United States, Sri Mulyani said.Following such an appeal, Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed a commitment to ramping up its production capacity for medical equipment. He also offered G20 countries knowledge-sharing and experience in handling domestic production amid supply chain disruption.Read also: G20 leaders to inject $5 trillion into global economy to fight coronavirus Indonesia is set to support manufacturers with the capacity to produce the desperately needed protective gear, test kits and ventilators that are crucial in the worldwide global fight against COVID-19 as G20 nations pledge to focus on saving lives.Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said on Thursday that the government would identify such companies and “see to their needs” for raw materials and other requirements in order to increase their production capacity and restore the supply chain. Globally, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank will prioritize support for companies that can supply such medical equipment.”The focus of [G20] leaders is saving human lives because this is not only a health problem but also a tragedy for humanity,” Sri Mulyani told a teleconferenced media briefing after a virtual extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on Thursday evening Jakarta time. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi and Sri Mulyani represented Indonesia in the meeting.last_img read more

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EU ministers fail to agree virus economic rescue in all-night talks

first_imgEuropean Union finance ministers failed to agree in all-night talks on more support for their coronavirus-hit economies and their chairman said on Wednesday morning he was suspending the discussions until Thursday.Diplomatic sources and officials said a feud between Italy and the Netherlands over what conditions should be attached to euro zone credit for governments fighting the pandemic was blocking progress on half a trillion euros worth of aid.”After 16 hours of discussions we came close to a deal but we are not there yet,” Eurogroup chairman Mario Centeno said on Wednesday morning. “I suspended the Eurogroup and [we will] continue tomorrow.” The finance ministers, who started talks at 1430 GMT on Tuesday that lasted all night with numerous breaks, resumptions and bilateral negotiations, are trying to agree a package of measures to help governments, companies and individuals.They had hoped to agree on a half-trillion-euro program to cushion the economic slump and finance recovery from the pandemic, and turn a page on divisions over how far to go that have marred relations as the bloc struggles with the outbreak.But divisions emerged prominently again, one diplomatic source said: “The Italians want a reference to debt mutualization as a possible recovery instrument to be analyzed more in the future. The Dutch say ‘no’.”Issuing joint debt has been a key battle line between economically ailing southern countries like Spain and Italy and the fiscally frugal north, led by Germany and the Netherlands, since the financial and euro zone crises began over a decade ago.If they do agree, the combined pan-EU and national government responses could add up to the biggest fiscal support program in the world, surpassing that of the United States, Reuters calculations showed.  Topics :last_img read more

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Transmission won’t stop unless 80 percent of Jakartans stay at home: Epidemiologists

first_imgJakarta, Indonesia’s capital and its COVID-19 epicenter, needs greater popular effort and targeted local containment to stop contagion, experts have said.Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has extended the city’s large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) until June 4 in an effort to completely stop transmission after studies found that the COVID-19 reproductive ratio in the capital had been dropping since restriction policies were applied in mid-March. The ratio refers to the expected number of people one person with the disease will directly infect in a population susceptible to the disease.A study by researchers from the University of Indonesia’s School of Public Health found that the reproductive ratio in Jakarta had decreased from 4 in mid-March to 1.11 on May 17. “The coronavirus will not go away. But if we can reduce the ratio to less than one, it will spread much slower. We must make greater efforts to achieve that,” said Pandu Riono, a UI epidemiologist who was involved in the study, on Wednesday.Roughly a month before PSBB was enacted on April 10, the city administration closed down schools and public facilities and called on people to stay at home.The restriction policies caused nearly 60 percent of Jakarta’s residents to stay at home, according to the UI team, which analyzed data from Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, which tracks changes in the travel behavior of Android users.New cases, however, began rising again during Ramadan as people spent more time outside their homes during the afternoon and evening, the study found. “[COVID-19 transmission] will not stop unless at least 80 percent of the population stays at home,” Pandu said.He found that people’s mobility in certain regions, including in densely populated areas in Petamburan in Central Jakarta and Sunter Agung in North Jakarta, was higher than that of others. Petamburan and North Sunter are the two subdistricts with the most cases in the capital.“The Jakarta administration needs to focus on regions [with poor compliance with the stay-at-home instructions] in the days ahead,” Pandu said.Read also: COVID-19: Jakarta extends PSBB until June 4 as Jokowi seeks to ease restrictionsThe findings concur with a separate study by the Tarumanegara University Center for Metropolitan Studies, which mapped the spatial patterns of the spread of the disease.“We suggest the administration use an emergency response. Areas with the highest number of cases should have different handling procedures,” said Suryono Herlambang, one of the researchers.As of Thursday, Jakarta had reported 6,301 confirmed cases. Sunter Agung had recorded the highest number of cases at 142, followed by Petamburan with 126 cases and West Pademangan in North Jakarta with 117 cases. The other regions of Jakarta have recorded less than 100 cases each.At least 30 confirmed cases in Sunter Agung were linked to members of Islamic missionary movement Jamaat Tabligh who stopped in Al-Muttaqien Mosque in Sunter Agung, North Jakarta, Health Agency head Yudi Dimyati said.A spike of cases also occurred in Sunter Agung’s densely populated community unit (RW) 01, located about 500 meters away from the mosque.To prevent new transmissions, local authorities have isolated the mosque and reduced access to RW 01, Sunter Agung subdistrict head Danang Wijanarko said.In Petamburan, subdistrict head Setiyanto said no new clusters had been recorded after a cluster of 72 infections was found in the dormitories of the Bethel Indonesia School of Theology.As the virus has begun to infect residents of the city’s most densely populated areas, the Jakarta health agency has been conducting rapid antibody tests over the past few weeks to head off new infection clusters.Read also: COVID-19 creeps into Jakarta’s kampungsThe agency’s public health department head Fify Mulyani said it had performed rapid tests on 110,090 people and had collected swabs from 4,135 people who provisionally tested positive for the virus to conduct the more accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.Anies, meanwhile, was aware that there were many people violating PSBB, even after he issued a decree on May 11 that permitted sanctioning violators of PSBB or of the social distancing policy imposed in the capital. The decree stipulates punishments ranging from community service to fines.By Wednesday, the Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) had recorded 8,436 PSBB violators – both individuals and businesses. Of the number, 446 businesses were forced to cease operations, 1,564 individuals were ordered to perform community service and 327 individuals and businesses were fined. The combined total of fines has reached nearly Rp 300 million (US$20,378).Anies said the 14 days after the PSBB extension would be a defining moment for the capital in the effort to reduce cases. He urged all Jakartans to avoid going outside their homes, even during the upcoming Idul Fitri holiday, expected to fall on Sunday.“We’ve progressed much in the last two months, but this isn’t over yet. We will not ease [PSBB],” he said. “For those who are not yet staying at home, please join our cause.”Topics :last_img read more

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Australia heading for recession after economy contracts

first_img“The economic impact will be severe. Far more severe than what we have seen today,” Frydenberg said.Authorities ordered numerous businesses shut and closed the country’s international borders to stem the spread of COVID-19, costing the economy billions of dollars but achieving success in containing the virus.Frydenberg said the negative March quarter “compared very well” to results in countries including China, France and Britain, showing the Australian economy’s “remarkable resilience”.”We were on the edge of the cliff. What we were facing was an economist’s version of Armageddon,” he said. Australia is heading for its first recession in nearly three decades after the economy shrunk in the January-March quarter, with a “far more severe” reading expected in the next three months as the effects of the virus shutdown bite.The 0.3 percent contraction was the first quarterly drop since 2009 during the global financial crisis and came as the lockdown exacerbated the impact of a prolonged drought and massive bushfires.And while it was smaller than the forecast 0.4 percent drop, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Australia was now on track to enter its first recession since 1991 “on the basis of the advice that I have from the Treasury Department about where the June quarter is expected to be”. “We have avoided the economic fate, and the health fate, of other nations because of the measures that we have taken as a nation.”The government has effectively bankrolled swathes of the economy — subsidizing wages and urging rent deferrals in order to keep businesses on life support until normal life returns.Millions of Australians have lost their jobs or seen hours slashed, but officials hope a three-stage approach to lifting virus restrictions will help restore the economy.National Australia Bank’s Kaixin Owyong said the economy would likely shrink 8.4 percent in the next three months.But she added that the lifting of restrictions earlier than expected “points to economic recovery beginning in the third quarter, with high-frequency indicators… showing spending is picking up as restrictions are eased”.She did, however, warn that a full rebound was some time off as borders were still closed, which will continue to hit trade.”Full recovery will also require confidence in health and economic outcomes to be restored, where households may remain cautious for some time given record job losses and with the labor market historically lagging recovery in activity,” she added. Australia has recorded about 7,200 cases and 102 deaths from coronavirus, with many regions now regularly reporting zero new daily cases.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Ramping up fight, Trump brandishes sanctions over ICC war crimes probe

first_imgTopics : “I have a message to many close allies around the world — your people could be next, especially those from NATO countries who fought terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside of us.”The court responded by stating that its president O-Gon Kwon “rejects measures taken against ICC,” calling them “unprecedented” and saying they “undermine our common endeavor to fight impunity and to ensure accountability for mass atrocities.”US Attorney General Bill Barr alleged, without giving detail, that Russia and other adversaries of the United States have been “manipulating” the court.Using Trump’s “America First” language, Barr said the administration was trying to bring accountability to a global body. President Donald Trump on Thursday authorized sanctions against any official at the International Criminal Court who investigates US troops, ramping up pressure to stop its case into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.In an executive order, Trump said the United States would block US property and assets of anyone from The Hague-based tribunal involved in probing or prosecuting US troops.”We cannot — we will not — stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement to reporters. ‘Contempt’ for rule of law European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell voiced “serious concern” and said the court “must be respected and supported by all nations.”Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said he was “very disturbed” by the US move, and said The Netherlands supported the court on its soil.”The ICC is crucial in the fight against impunity and upholding international rule of law,” Blok wrote on Twitter.Human Rights Watch said Trump’s order “demonstrates contempt for the global rule of law.” “This assault on the ICC is an effort to block victims of serious crimes whether in Afghanistan, Israel or Palestine from seeing justice,” said the group’s Washington director, Andrea Prasow.But the move was hailed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of Trump’s closest allies, who has been angered by the ICC’s moves — strongly opposed by Washington — to probe alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories.In a reference to Israeli settlements, Netanyahu accused the court of fabricating accusations that Jews living in their historical homeland constitutes a war crime.”This is ridiculous. Shame on them,” Netanyahu told reporters.Trump has been tearing down global institutions he sees as hindering his administration’s interests, recently ordering a pullout from the World Health Organization over its coronavirus response.center_img “This institution has become, in practice, little more than a political tool employed by unaccountable international elites,” he said. Long-running US angerThe Trump administration has been livid over the International Criminal Court’s investigation into atrocities in Afghanistan, America’s longest-running war.The administration last year revoked the US visa of the court’s chief prosecutor, Gambian-born Fatou Bensouda, to demand that she end the Afghanistan probe.But judges in March said the investigation could go ahead, overturning an initial rejection of Bensouda’s request.Under Trump’s order on Thursday, visa restrictions will be expanded to any court official involved in investigations into US forces.The United States argues that it has its own procedures in place to investigate accusations against troops.”We are committed to uncovering, and if possible holding people accountable, for their wrongdoing — any wrongdoing,” Barr said.Trump, however, used his executive powers last year to clear three military members over war crimes, including in Afghanistan.Among them was Eddie Gallagher, who had been convicted by a military tribunal of stabbing to death with a hunting knife a prisoner of war from the Islamic State group in Iraq.Gallagher had become a cause celebre among US conservatives, although Trump’s action troubled some in the US military.Founded in 2002, the International Criminal Court immediately ran into opposition from Washington, where the then administration of George W. Bush encouraged countries to shun it.Former president Barack Obama took a more cooperative approach with the court, but the United States remained outside of it.last_img read more

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Parts of Beijing locked down due to fresh virus cluster

first_imgAFP reporters saw hundreds of police officers and dozens of paramilitary police deployed at the two markets. Workers were seen hauling several crates of seafood out of Jingshen seafood market, also in Fengtai district.Fengtai district officials announced Saturday that the district has established a “wartime mechanism” and “field command centre” to deal with the fresh wave.Nine nearby schools and kindergartens have been closed. On Friday, Beijing officials delayed the return of students to primary schools across the city, and suspended all sporting events and group dining. Cross-provincial tour groups were suspended on Saturday.Mass testingThe chairman of the Xinfadi meat wholesale market told state-run Beijing News that the virus was detected on chopping boards used to handle imported salmon, stoking fears over the hygiene of Beijing’s food supply.Beijing’s market supervision authorities ordered a city-wide food safety inspection focusing on fresh and frozen meat, poultry and fish in supermarkets, warehouses and catering services.Major supermarket chains including Wumart and Carrefour removed all stocks of salmon overnight in the capital, but said supplies of other products would not be affected, Beijing Daily reported Saturday.Some Beijing restaurants were not serving any salmon on Saturday, according to AFP reporters.Beijing authorities also announced a mass COVID-19 testing campaign of anyone who has had “close contact” with the Xinfadi market since May 30, after they tested over 5,000 environmental samples from farmers’ markets and large supermarkets across the city on Friday. Of those, all 40 positive samples came from Xinfadi market.Nearly 2,000 wholesale market workers in Beijing were also tested for the virus on Friday, authorities said.Of the tests already carried out, an additional 46 market workers tested positive for the virus in throat swabs but currently show no clinical symptoms, officials said. All have been placed under strict medical observation.All but one of them are Xinfadi market workers, and the remaining case works at a farmers’ market in Haidian district, northwest Beijing.The Haidian worker is a close contact of one of the confirmed cases linked to Xinfadi market.Topics : China’s domestic outbreak had been brought largely under control through vast, strict lockdowns that were imposed after the disease was first detected in the central city of Wuhan last year.These measures had largely been lifted as the infection rate dropped, and the majority of cases reported in recent months were citizens living abroad who were tested as they returned home during the pandemic.Among the six new domestic cases announced Saturday were three Xinfadi market workers, one market visitor and two employees at the China Meat Research Centre, seven kilometers (four miles) away. One of the employees had visited the market last week.Authorities closed the market, along with another seafood market visited by one of the patients, for disinfection and sample collection on Friday. Parts of Beijing were placed under lockdown on Saturday as six new domestic coronavirus cases were reported, fueling fears of a resurgence in local transmission.People were prevented from leaving their homes at 11 residential estates in south Beijing’s Fengtai district after most of the cases were linked to a nearby meat market, city officials said in a press briefing.Beijing’s first COVID-19 case in two months, announced on Thursday, had visited Xinfadi meat market last week and had no recent travel history outside the city.last_img read more

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Steroid breakthrough raises virus hopes, despite China outbreak

first_imgBritain will start giving seriously ill coronavirus patients a basic steroid treatment hailed as a breakthough to help reduce the global pandemic’s death toll even as worrying new outbreaks surfaced in China and elsewhere.An “extremely severe” cluster of cases in Beijing cast doubt over efforts to get the virus under control although Tuesday’s news from Britain came as a boost after months of grim statistics.Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell meanwhile warned that the US economy is unlikely to recover as long as “significant uncertainty” remains over the course of the pandemic. Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered the widely available steroid dexamethasone to more than 2,000 severely ill COVID-19 patients.Among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator, dexamethasone reduced deaths by 35 percent.”Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcome result,” said Peter Horby, professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford. “Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.” Beijing outbreak More than eight million people have now been infected by the virus worldwide since it first emerged in China late last year, claiming 436,813 lives so far as the tolls still surge in Latin America and South Asia.In Europe, caseloads and death rates have broadly declined.The UK, however, is still struggling with the world’s third largest death toll and New Zealand — which had ended community transmission — said two new cases reported there were recent arrivals from Britain. European countries are eager to drop coronavirus restrictions to save the imminent summer tourist season but Spain warned that it may quarantine British visitors should the UK persist with its plan to quarantine all overseas arrivals.The latest reminder of the underlying threat came from China, which had largely brought its outbreak under control, as 27 infections were reported in Beijing, where a new cluster linked to a wholesale food market has sparked mass testing and neighborhood lockdowns.”The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe,” Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned, as the number of confirmed infections rose to 106.Beijing authorities urged residents to not leave the city and closed schools again as officials scrambled to contain the outbreak.In the US, the central bank chief Powell once again pledged the Fed will use all of its policy tools to help ensure recovery from the outbreak which he said has inflicted the worst pain on low-income and minority groups.Despite a surprising rebound in employment in May, the US economy has shed nearly 20 million jobs since February and the contraction of GDP in the April-June quarter “is likely to be the most severe on record,” he said. Fans please stay awayAfter a gradual drop in new cases, European nations including Belgium, France, Germany and Greece have lifted border restrictions hoping to boost tourism and travel over the summer months.But disruptions to normal social and economic life continue.In Britain, the Premier League football season resumes on Wednesday, but in empty stadiums. There are fears some supporters will ignore social-distancing rules by congregating outside the grounds where their teams are playing, risking new clusters of infections.League chief executive Richard Masters said: “Please stay away and enjoy the matches at home. By turning up to the game you are putting things at jeopardy.” The US Open tennis championships will also go ahead as scheduled in August without spectators, officials confirmed on Tuesday.After weeks of uncertainty surrounding the tournament — which is being staged in the epicenter of the US virus crisis — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo formally agreed to allow it to go ahead. Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said patients would start to receive the drug immediately.”This is great news and I congratulate the Government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this lifesaving scientific breakthrough,” WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. ‘Heavy burdens’ While China’s new cases have caused concern about a resurgence of the virus, the disease is also gaining momentum in other regions with massive populations.Known infections in India have crossed 330,000 and already stretched authorities are bracing for the monsoon season, which causes outbreaks of other illnesses such as dengue fever and malaria every year.Vidya Thakur, medical superintendent at Mumbai’s Rajawadi Hospital, is used to managing “heavy burdens”, she says.But COVID-19 “has left us helpless… and the monsoon will make things even more difficult.”In Latin America, countries are struggling to contain the disease while trying to ease the crushing economic blow dealt by widespread lockdowns and social distancing measures.Peru reported its economy shrank by more than 40 percent year-on-year in April, while Chile extended its state of emergency by three months.Ecuador, which has the region’s fourth highest official virus death toll after Brazil, Mexico and Peru, has extended its state of emergency for 60 more days.The United States also agreed to keep its borders with Mexico and Canada closed until July 21, extending travel restrictions for a third time because of the pandemic. 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Spain reopens border as Latin America cases pass two million

first_img‘Like zoo animals’ Although the spread has slowed in Europe, it remains the worst-affected continent with more than 2.5 million cases.Spain has been among Europe’s hardest-hit nations, but on Sunday it lifted a slew of restrictions in a bid to get its tourism industry back up and running. As well as opening its land border with France, Spain also welcomed EU nationals, those from the passport-free Schengen zone and Britons at seaports and airports — without enforcing quarantine periods.Around 100 flights from European countries landed at Spain’s airports, operator AENA told AFP Sunday. “We must remain on our guard and strictly follow hygiene and protection measures,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday, stressing that the danger has not passed.In the Netherlands, police clashed with protesters frustrated over the government’s coronavirus response and made dozens of arrests in center of The Hague.Police said the protest, attended by hundreds, was peaceful until a group of football fans clashed with riot police at the nearby Central Station, throwing stones and bottles.In France, millions of children were preparing to return to school on Monday after three months away, and cinemas and theatres were also getting set to reopen.On Sunday, France celebrated its annual music festival marking the summer solstice, with bands playing in cafes, restaurants and on streets across the country.In Germany however, concert halls and other institutions still face an uncertain future with social distancing rules forcing them to slash their events calendars and drastically reduce capacities.  On the eastern fringes of Europe, cases have spiked again in Azerbaijan, forcing the government to institute another lockdown — much to the irritation of local workers.  “The government again cages us in like zoo animals and gives not a damn for the consequences,” taxi driver Shahin Mamedkuliyev told AFP.Saudi Arabia on Sunday ended its coronavirus curfew, lifting restrictions on businesses including hair salons and cinemas, despite a spike in infections.It also reopened its mosques in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, after a three-month shutdown.But international flights and religious pilgrimages remain suspended and the authorities have not yet said whether they will proceed with this year’s hajj, scheduled for the end of July. There was no such joy in Latin America, however, where grim records kept on tumbling. Brazil is the second worst-affected country with almost 50,000 deaths and more than one million cases, helping to push Latin America’s total infections beyond the two million mark, according to an AFP tally early on Sunday.The spread of the virus is accelerating in the region, with Mexico the second hardest-hit country followed by Peru and Chile. Clusters have also emerged in the Palestinian territories, Morocco and Iran, where officials have now registered more than 100 deaths a day for three days running.  Spain reopened its borders on Sunday, a significant stage in Europe’s gradual reopening after its battle against the coronavirus, as infections in Latin America surged past two million. Traffic flowed again across the Spain-France border in a watershed moment for the millions of businesses and workers across Europe that have suffered badly from the economic downturn caused by tough lockdowns.”We wanted to be in Spain for the sun, the beach, tapas, and I’m already wearing my swimsuit under my clothes,” said Frenchwoman Sylvia Faust, who crossed into Spain with her 17-year-old daughter. Trump’s testing boastThe United States is the worst-hit country overall and continues to post the second-highest daily death figures.Nevertheless, President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally in months on Saturday, inviting thousands to an arena in Oklahoma — although there were many empty seats. He told the crowd how he had instructed his team to slow the rate of testing to reduce the number of registered cases. “When you do testing to that extent, you are going to find more people, you will find more cases,” he said, even as six members of his advance team tested positive for COVID-19. Trump is attempting to kickstart his campaign for re-election in November during an outbreak that has killed 120,000 and clocked up more than 2.2 million cases, and with the economy tanking. Scientists are still learning about the virus, its symptoms and the way it spreads — and a vaccine still remains a distant possibility.The World Health Organization has warned that lockdowns and other restrictions are still the best way to control the spread and urged people not to become fatigued with stay-at-home measures. center_img Beijing is also battling a new outbreak which has so far registered just over 200 cases. The authorities have taken more than two million samples to test and banned imports of chicken from an American producer, suspecting the virus could have been imported in contaminated food.COVID-19 has now killed more than 460,000 people and infected almost nine million worldwide.  Topics :last_img read more

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Canadians wary of COVID-19 spikes in neighboring US

first_imgShelly Reid, a 44-year-old schoolteacher in Calgary, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set “a great example … right from Day 1,” and Canadians took his message on staying home, distancing, and handwashing seriously.”The numbers themselves show how well we’ve done,” Reid said as she celebrated Canada Day with friends in Ottawa. “The United States is such a leader on the global stage, I thought they would have set an example by their actions. Clearly, they’ve shown otherwise.”In March, Canada and the United States agreed to close the border to all but non-essential travel. Those measures are due to expire on July 21, and Trudeau has said discussions are taking place about what to do next.According to a poll by Abacus Data, 88% of Canadians want the border to remain closed. A spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States has become a hot topic for Canadians, who unfurled their maple-leaf flags to celebrate Canada Day this week just days ahead of 4th of July celebrations south of the border.The spread of the novel coronavirus has slowed steadily in Canada over the past eight weeks, but outbreaks are worsening in many US states, with Florida shattering records on Thursday by reporting more than 10,000 new cases in one day.The two countries share the world’s longest demilitarized land border and their economies are closely linked, with 75% of all Canada’s goods exports heading to the United States. Most Canadians have family and friends living across the border. “Canadians pay huge attention to what is happening in the United States, and they are very concerned,” said Frank Graves, president of polling company EKOS Research. “What’s clearly been a disastrous reopening (in parts of the United States) has caused a rebound of prudence in Canadians.”Canada Day celebrations, which usually include live fireworks and concerts, were entirely online for the first time ever this year.Eric Sladic, a 51-year-old delivery driver in Ottawa, says the two countries are not only neighbors, but “brothers.”The way Trudeau’s Liberal government and provincial leaders, who often are members of rival parties, worked together during the pandemic was “spectacular,” Sladic said, and stood in stark contrast to the polarized politics of the United States.”People not pointing fingers and blaming each other, but actually getting on the same page, that’s a point of pride on Canada Day.” Topics :last_img read more

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Victims of domestic violence struggle to access help during quarantine

first_imgThe woman told LBH APIK that her husband had physically and sexually abused her during quarantine but that she could not flee because she had nowhere to go and he watched her every movement. “She said he had often beaten her in front of the children,” Uli said.“It took almost a month to finally help get her and her children out of the house and place them into a safe house. She left the house quietly one morning while her husband was asleep,” Uli said. “Similar situations have happened to many others who contacted us, which is horrifying because they cannot leave their houses like on normal days before the COVID-19 pandemic.”As the coronavirus has forced people to stay home, women living with violent partners have found themselves increasingly isolated from others and from resources that can help them. They have been trapped with their abusers in their own homes and have been exposed to increased violence.Not every victim can leave the house and find shelter, especially when they rely financially on their husbands and have no family or friends nearby to help. Some victims seeking help from LBH APIK are in this situation. Many of them have decided to bear life in the abusive environment “until the pandemic shows signs of easing”, Uli said.Read also: Jakarta records spike in domestic violence reports during work-from-home periodIn the three and a half months between March 26 and July 7, LBH APIK Jakarta recorded 122 cases of domestic violence – nearly half of the 249 domestic violence cases it handled last year.Access to domestic violence shelters during the pandemic, Uli said, had become more important than ever. However, state-owned shelters required victims to provide documents showing negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or rapid antibody test results and proof that the victim had lodged a formal complaint with the police before the shelter accepted the applicant.“They are afraid, abused, traumatized, trapped for months during the pandemic. Yet they are required to go to the police station first and need to think about how they will get the rapid test. Not to mention that not all of them have money for the test,” Uli said. “These long processes take time and prevent them from getting immediate help.”The absence of a fast government response has prompted LBH APIK to provide independent emergency shelters for the victims. Some other independent entities have provided similar shelters.LBH APIK is seeking more funding to support its independent safe houses. They are also accepting donations of basic daily supplies for victims living there.United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Indonesia deputy country director Sophie Kemkhadze described gender-based violence as one of the “invisible consequences of these [health] crises”.“They are invisible because, sometimes, they are hard to detect or because those who are affected prefer to stay silent,” Kemkhadze said in a recent public discussion.Read also: Activists, survivors step up campaign for sexual violence bill after another delayJakarta Integrated Care Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children (P2TP2A) head Wiwik Andayani said the organization had received 540 reports of domestic violence against children between January and June. Some 75 percent of the victims were girls.Wiwik said its hotline had been available 24/7 to help women and children in need long before the pandemic hit Jakarta.But not every P2TP2A branch in Indonesia is as well-prepared as the branches in Jakarta, which are supported by sufficient facilities and qualified staff, said Margaretha Hanita, who works on the UNDP’s project to raise awareness about gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.Recently, a 14-year-old rape survivor from Way Jepara, East Lampung regency, Lampung, was allegedly raped and sexually abused multiple times by the head of a women’s shelter run by the regency’s P2TP2A.Margaretha called on authorities to cut the bureaucratic red tape to access safe houses, urging both the government and civil society groups to help improve the quality of P2TP2As throughout the country.“Victims can no longer stay at their own home; they need to recover. Rapid tests can be taken later. Hopefully, [Indonesia] will apply this,” she said.Another challenge, Margaretha said, was that there were no facilities available that allowed the police to receive and investigate the cases online during the pandemic.Read also: House drops sexual violence eradication bill from this year’s priority listWhile the number of cases of gender-based violence during the pandemic has been quite high, lawmakers dropped a long-awaited sexual violence eradication bill from this year’s legislative priority list earlier this month, a move activists have described as ironic.The bill, if passed into law, would make the government responsible for giving victims of sexual abuse protection and access to justice. Under the current law, victims are not entitled to any help from the government. They have to spend their own money to bring their cases to court or for counseling and rehabilitation.“The pandemic shows how pivotal it is to pass the bill into law,” Uli said. “She would send WhatsApp messages to our hotline early in the morning or at noon, when her husband was asleep,” said Uli Pangaribuan, a lawyer representing a victim of domestic violence, about how her team was contacted last month.“She was very discreet,” Uli from the Legal Aid Foundation of the Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice’s Jakarta office (LBH Apik Jakarta) told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.“She asked for our help but forbade us to contact her out of fear that her husband, who had been working from home for the past three months, would notice. She never called. She only texted, and she immediately deleted all the messages after she updated us.”center_img If you have been a victim of domestic abuse and need crisis support, please seek help from the organizations in your area. The following contact information may be of assistance:LBH APIK Jakarta: 081388822669, 02187797289 or [email protected]: 081317617622 or 082125751234Komnas Perempuan: 0213903963 or [email protected] government’s Sejiwa program: 119 ext. 8, 082125751234, 08111922911 or [email protected] Pulih: 02178842580, 08118436633 or [email protected] :last_img read more

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