North China’s Shanxi province is currently home to nine companies producing protective masks for control and prevention of the novel coronavirus pneumonia — with a daily production capacity of 300,000, according to the Shanxi Industry and Information Technology Department.
Before the outbreak of the epidemic, there were no mask manufacturing companies in Shanxi and no related manufacturing companies, officials said.
Targeting the difficulties of enterprises in raw materials, capital, and employee training, the Shanxi Industry and Information Technology Department rolled out measures to promote protective mask production.
The department issued a special reward plan for key emergency medical suppliers for coronavirus pneumonia prevention and control.
It invested 50 million yuan ($7.17 million) in technological transformation funds, which were specifically used for subsidies and rewards for the production of protection products.
Another 20 million yuan in funds were allocated to pharmaceutical logistics enterprises, to ensure the smooth collection and storage of protective masks in Shanxi province.
The department also liaised with key manufacturers and China Development Bank, to help the companies secure financial support.
As an example, Sinopharm Holding Shanxi Co, a subsidiary of Sinopharm Group in Shanxi province, is accelerating the building of factories.
A spokesman said that once all 12 production lines of the company went into operation, the production and supply capacity of protective masks in Shanxi would be greatly improved.
Students Miss Milestones, But Learn to Adapt
Yes, it’s a pandemic, and, yes, it certainly is better to be safe than sorry, but nonetheless, college students are lamenting the loss of major milestones — like starting college, moving on campus, celebrating turning 18 or 21 with friends, and graduation — interrupted by COVID, they say.
“I couldn’t move into American University, haven’t moved to a new country, haven’t met my friends,” said Lexi Adler of Toronto, an incoming freshman at American University in Washington, D.C., who is waiting it out at home with her parents in Canada for now.
As classes continue online during the COVID-19 pandemic, many students say they didn’t expect to start with online classes and miss out on the physical, social and cultural experience.
Aashka Raval, a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati from Gujarat, India, is living in an apartment off-campus this semester, studying what educators are calling a blended learning system of mostly online and some classes in person.
Most years, the first weeks of school at the University of Cincinnati are “so much fun, a lot of welcome week events, you get a lot of free stuff, it is like a fresh start every year” Raval said.
Lexi Adler and her family decided it was best to defer and start school in the spring semester after American announced the fall semester would be all online.
“My parents said, ‘no way,’” about coming to Washington, “… they were against it since June because of COVID,” Adler said.
Her high school prom was canceled, and she had to forego a backpacking trip through Europe this summer.
Last spring, she’d been looking forward to graduation from Branksome Hall in Toronto, where her sister graduated five years ago in a memorable ceremony. But this year for her graduation, ceremonies were 100% virtual.
“I had a whole plan to walk down the aisle with my best friend and wear my white dress,” Adler told Voice of America through a messaging interview. She said she felt “like I was robbed,” she said.
At home in Toronto, she volunteers at Autism Speaks Canada. Hoping the pandemic situation in the U.S will improve so she can move to nation’s capital and start college in January, she said she “missed everything about AU.”
Raval had a very different experience than Lexi last year when her sophomore year at the University of Cincinnati was cut short and her summer plans changed.
She had hoped to get her first internship off-campus in the field of computer science and visit her family in India over the summer.
“Every summer, international students usually are only able to work or intern on campus so summer is when we can seek out our own internships off-campus,” Raval said.
But everything moved online, and some companies couldn’t offer summer internships to students like they had in previous years because of the coronavirus. Raval was unable to have the internship experience she had been expecting.
Meklit Shiferaw is from Ethiopia and a freshman in her second semester at Minnesota State University-Mankato. She moved to the U.S to start her first semester of college in January 2020, but she was unable to enjoy a lot of the experiences associated with the first semester of college.
In an email interview, Shiferaw told Voice of America that she had missed out on “in-person class, different in-person activities, in-person lab sessions, and a birthday party.”
Failing to enjoy all of these important events, Shiferaw said she “feels like I am missing the fun part” that she expected when she came to school in the U.S.
Shiferaw said she learned that she needs “to be strong and shape myself according to the system.”
Adler said she has become “more grateful for my life before COVID.”
And Raval said she learned to adapt and be able to “work on more personal projects, little courses online and things I always wanted to read about.”
Titans Have NFL’s First COVID-19 Outbreak: 8 Positive Tests
The Tennessee Titans suspended in-person activities through Friday after the NFL says three Titans players and five personnel tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first COVID-19 outbreak of the NFL season in Week 4.
The outbreak threatened to jeopardize the Titans' game this weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers and posed the first significant in-season test to the league's coronavirus protocols.
The NFL issued a statement Tuesday saying both the Titans and Minnesota Vikings suspended in-person activities Tuesday following the Titans' test results. The Titans beat the Vikings 31-30 in Minneapolis last weekend.
"Both clubs are working closely with the NFL and the NFLPA, including our infectious disease experts, to evaluate close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments," the league said.
A person familiar with situation told The Associated Press the eight test results were all confirmed positives, making this the first outbreak since the season began on Sept 10. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of health privacy regulations.
The Vikings released a statement saying they had not received any positive results from their testing after Sunday's game against the Titans and followed NFL protocol by closing their facility immediately. They will remain closed at least through Wednesday. They also scheduled a video conference call for Wednesday morning with GM Rick Spielman and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, who is in charge of the team's COVID-19 protocols.
Minnesota is scheduled to visit Houston (0-3) on Sunday.
The Titans (3-0) are scheduled to host the Steelers (3-0) on Sunday in a matchup of two of the league's seven remaining undefeated teams. With the Titans unable to practice until Saturday at the earliest, when that game might be played is unknown.
"I just wanna play," Titans starting left guard Rodger Saffold tweeted.
"All decisions will be made with health and safety as our primary consideration," the NFL said. "We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available."
Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to teams Tuesday noting the protocols set up by the league and the NFLPA are being followed. Those who tested positive will be isolated, monitored and offered medical care, and family members also are offered testing. Officials and others who worked the game will be tested.
"This is not unexpected; as Dr. Sills and others have emphasized, there will be players and staff who will test positive during the season," Goodell wrote in the memo obtained by The Associated Press, referencing the NFL's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills. "We are exploring in more detail the nature of the close contacts to determine where they occurred (locker room, flights, etc.), and identify any additional learnings that can be shared with all clubs."
Goodell asked NFL teams to look at what they've done to limit contact, especially when traveling and within position groups, and to review how they bring in players for tryouts. He noted the test results confirm the need to follow health and safety protocols "to the fullest extent."
The NFL has been fining coaches and teams for coaches seen not following the league rules requiring face coverings during games.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin pushed back his usual Tuesday news conference six hours trying to get some answers, and he said he didn't have many when he talked to reporters.
"We've been given a mandate to prepare as if the game is going to be played and played on time, so that is our mentality," Tomlin said.
Tomlin also has no concerns about going to Nashville to play the Titans as scheduled either.
"We're going to trust the medical experts," Tomlin said. "If they deem it safe for us to proceed, we're going to go down there with the intention of playing and playing to win."
Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward wrote on Twitter that the guys playing the next week now wind up affected.
"This is wild but this is the world we live in now," Heyward wrote.
The Titans initially announced Tuesday morning that they would be working remotely "out of an abundance of caution" after several test results came back positive. They beat the Vikings in Minneapolis without outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen, who did not travel with the Titans following a test result Saturday.
Coach Mike Vrabel said Monday that Bowen was not with the team. Rookie offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson, their top draft pick out of Georgia, also has been on the reserve/COVID-19 list for the Titans since Sept. 6.
The Titans use devices that detect whenever someone is within 6 feet of another device and records how long they are that close together. That provides a recording of everyone's interactions from inside the team headquarters to the practice field, an airplane, inside a hotel and at a stadium.
That information should help the Titans and the infectious disease experts know which players and coaches were at risk. With the Titans' facility now closed for four days, that should also help limit further spread of the virus.
The Titans were due to have about 7,000 fans in Nissan Stadium on Sunday as local restrictions eased, expanding to about 8,500 on Oct. 11 for a game against Buffalo and up to 10,000 on Oct. 18 when Houston is scheduled to visit.
Botswana Parliament Votes to Extend COVID Emergency to March
Botswana’s parliament voted Monday to extend by a further six months a state of emergency imposed to fight the coronavirus. The move comes despite objections from opposition parties. The extension means President Mokgweetsi Masisi will continue to rule by decree until March 2021, a full year since the pandemic hit Africa.
Masisi, in his address to a special session of parliament, said it was necessary to extend the state of emergency, which came into effect in March.
“The disease burden has made it clear and imperative for us to extend the state of public emergency in the interest of the public. In this context, I will request parliament to extend the state of public emergency by a period of six months,” Masisi said.
Botswana has seen a steady rise in cases since registering its first in March. The country currently has more than 3,170 cases, with 16 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the pandemic.
Masisi added the state of emergency will be used solely for the purpose of fighting the spread of the COVID-19.
“It is my considered view that the extension of the state of emergency provides a better option to safeguard the lives of Botswana, while containing and controlling the disease.”
Among others, Masisi said the state of emergency would ensure workers are protected against retrenchment and maintain the restrictions on the movement of people in and out of the country.
He said the country’s Public Health Act was inadequate to fully equip his government to fight the pandemic.
Opposition parties said they were not convinced an extension of the state of emergency was necessary.
David Tshere of the opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) argued against the move.
“This is not acceptable. We are restricting movement of people in and out of the country. South Africa has opened up the borders, Namibia has opened up and we have a treaty with these countries. You are saying we should continue to close when your neighbors have opened,” Tshere said.
The leader of the opposition in parliament, Dumelang Saleshando, warned the economy will suffer as a result of the extended restrictions.
“We are locking down the economy. They (people) need certainty. Households are not going to survive this,” Saleshando said.
Despite the opposition members’ objections, the ruling party holding a majority in the National Assembly meant the extension was approved.
The country’s economy is expected to contract by around 9% this year. Its backbone, the diamond industry, suffered significantly after international buyers were shut out due to travel restrictions.
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