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Coronavirus

WHO Warns of COVID-19 Spikes in Europe, Americas

Daily cases of COVID-19 have reached record highs around the world, particularly in Europe and the Americas, the World Health Organization said Friday.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva that record-high numbers of cases were reported in each of the last four days.

“We must remember that this is an uneven pandemic,” said Ghebreyesus. “Countries have responded differently, and countries have been affected differently. Almost 70% of all cases reported globally last week were from 10 countries, and almost half of all cases were from just three countries.”

The United States had more new infections over a 24-hour period than any other country, with 63,610, increasing the country’s total Friday to a world-leading 8.03 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

The U.S. also maintained its global lead in COVID-19 fatalities, with Hopkins reporting 820 new deaths, increasing the country’s total Friday to at least 218,000 dead.

White plastic tombstone-shaped pieces are lined up as a temporary memorial to some of Miami's victims of the coronavirus at…
White plastic tombstone-shaped pieces are lined up as a temporary memorial to some of Miami's victims of the coronavirus at Simonhoff Floral Park, Oct. 14, 2020, in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami.

Surges in five states

Upticks in the U.S. were led by surging infection rates in the states of Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida and California, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins.

India recorded 63,371 new cases Friday, according to Hopkins, while there were also sharp increases in the number of infections in France, Brazil and Britain.

The WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove told reporters Friday that 80% of the countries in Europe were experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases.

In Britain, where Johns Hopkins University reported nearly 19,000 new cases Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened to force Greater Manchester to impose the country’s most stringent level of coronavirus restrictions after local officials refused to place restrictions on areas with high infection rates.

On Saturday, France will begin a 9 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew for the region of Paris and at least seven other cities: Lyon, Grenoble, Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, Lille, Rouen and Saint-Etienne. The curfew will remain in effect for at least four weeks.

German restrictions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and governors of the country’s 16 states have agreed to impose a new round of nationwide restrictions after seeing record-high new COVID-19 cases. The restrictions include closing bars and restaurants early and limiting the number of people allowed to gather in public.

Police with face masks control the coronavirus orders at the train station in Cologne, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. The…
Police with face masks control the coronavirus orders at the train station in Cologne, Germany, Oct. 15, 2020. The city exceeded the important warning level of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days.

Merkel said Friday that a planned European Union summit on the 27-nation bloc’s China policy in Berlin next month had been canceled because of the resurgent pandemic.

Italy reported more than 10,000 new infections over the past 24 hours Friday, the highest daily number since the beginning of the country’s outbreak. Italy has the second-highest death toll in Europe after Britain, reporting more than 36,400 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in February.

As of midafternoon Friday, there were more than 39 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 1.1 million global COVID-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Original Article from IsaanLive

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Reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as the United States, China, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and Germany. Love to Travel and report daily on destinations reopening with a focus on Domestic travel within Europe, North America and the Caribbean. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu. Love to follow the English Premier League , the German Bundesliga and the Spanish La Liga.

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Coronavirus

WHO Reports Record 3 Million New COVID-19 Cases in a Week

The World Health Organization says a record 2.8 million new COVID-19 cases have been reported globally over the past seven days ending Tuesday, including 40,000 new deaths.

The U.N. health agency says Europe accounts for the greatest proportion of reported new cases for the second consecutive week with more than 1.3 million, an increase of 33% compared to the previous week. The region accounted for nearly half of the new COVID-19 cases during the seven-day period.

The figures also show that cases are also increasing in the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean and African regions, while declines continue to be reported in Southeast Asia. The Western Pacific region also showed a slight decline in new cases and deaths over the seven-day period.

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WHO said the countries reporting the highest number of cases over the past week are India, the United States, France, Brazil and Britain — the same countries as the previous three weeks.

The virus has even affected operations at the U.N.’s main headquarters in New York. General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir canceled all in-person meetings Tuesday after five staffers with Niger’s mission to the world body tested positive for COVID-19.

The United States has posted a record 502,828 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, an average of more than 70,000 new cases. The previous record of 481,519 new cases was just recorded for the week ending October 24.

White House coronavirus task force member Admiral Brett Giroir said Wednesday on NBC’s "Today" show that the surge in the U.S. is not just due to more testing, contradicting President Donald Trump’s assertion that more testing has revealed more cases.

FILE - Adm. Brett Giroir, director of the U.S. coronavirus diagnostic testing, testifies at a Senate committee hearing, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, June 30, 2020.
FILE – Adm. Brett Giroir, director of the U.S. coronavirus diagnostic testing, testifies at a Senate committee hearing, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, June 30, 2020.

Giroir, who Trump put in charge of testing, said the proof of the increase in infections is more hospitalizations and COVID-19 deaths throughout the United States. The U.S. leads the world with more than 8.7 million total COVID-19 cases, including nearly 226,700 deaths, according to Hopkins statistics.

Giroir said the U.S. has reached “another critical point” in the response to the coronavirus crisis and urged people to wear masks, wash hands and engage in social distancing. He also said a safe and effective vaccine is “around the corner.”

The U.S. Midwest has experienced a high number of new COVID-19 cases, including in the state of Illinois, where Gov. J.B. Pritzker has imposed a new round of restrictions, particularly in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city. The governor on Tuesday announced a ban on all indoor service in bars and restaurants beginning Friday at midnight.

Farther west of Chicago, Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver, Colorado, has ordered restaurants and other businesses to limit the number of patrons from 50% to 25%, as the state capital posted a one-day record of 327 new coronavirus cases on Sunday.

A long line of motorists wait at a drive-in COVID-19 testing site Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Federal Heights, Colo. Denver will…
A long line of motorists wait at a drive-in COVID-19 testing site in Federal Heights, Colo., Oct. 27, 2020.

Among the new U.S. cases is Justin Turner of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, who was pulled from Tuesday’s World Series game against the Tampa Bay Rays after officials learned he had tested positive for the disease.

Turner was pulled late in the game before the Dodgers defeated the Rays 3 to 1 to win the league’s season-ending championship.

In the effort to develop a new coronavirus vaccine, U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer said its large, late-stage trial of its experimental vaccine it is developing with Germany's BioNTech has not reached a key milestone, making it unlikely that it will be released before the upcoming November 3 U.S. presidential election.

The company said fewer than 32 COVID-19 infections among its 44,000 volunteers have occurred, a necessary benchmark to determine whether the drug is safe and effective.

Original Article from IsaanLive

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Coronavirus

Indonesia’s Pandemic Response: A Law to Create Millions of Jobs

A landmark law passed this month in Indonesia will open the populous, impoverished country to labor-intensive industry like many of its Southeast Asian neighbors despite a hit to worker rights, people on the ground say.

The 905-page Omnibus Bill on Job Creation bill will give millions of young people chances to work, including in formal jobs that can be hard to find because older Indonesian laws discouraged foreign investors from setting up factories, analysts believe.

Indonesians are struggling to earn income during an unrelenting COVID-19 outbreak that prompted shutdowns from April. The nation with nearly 400,000 infections reported a sharp drop in retail sales from April through August and a fall in exports over the three months ending in September.

“With this new law, it is expected that the investment would come not only to the Indonesian economy, but also come to the labor-intensive part, and by getting more investment in that area it is expected that more jobs will be created, and those jobs are more of the quality jobs, not only informal jobs,” said Yose Rizal Damuri, economics department head with the Center for Strategic and International Studies research organization in Jakarta.

Indonesia’s government and House of Representatives passed the bill ahead of schedule on October 5, the Jakarta Post reported. The bill aims to cut bureaucracy and make it easier for investors to create jobs, said Richard Borsuk, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies adjunct senior fellow in Singapore.

Protest against the government's proposed labor reforms in Sukabumi, West Java
Protest against the government's proposed labor reforms in Sukabumi, West Java, Oct. 7, 2020.

President Joko Widodo’s government sees this bill as part of his “legacy” to stimulate the 270 million-person country's economy, Rizal said. Minerals, oil and farming make up much of Indonesia’s $1 trillion-plus GDP today. “Labor-intensive” industry players find Indonesia too expensive now, Rizal said, explaining why that sub-sector makes up just 2% of the country’s total investment.

Foreign manufacturers of garments, shoes and textiles normally pick other low-cost Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, over the past decade because of stiff pro-labor laws, economists say. Foreign investment eventually raises the living standards, as witnessed in China and eventually Vietnam.

“It’s probably something that will be a long-term benefit, if this does go through,” said Rajiv Biswas, senior regional economist with IHS Markit, a London-based analysis firm.

“It creates a better environment for foreign multinationals to hire, because from the perspective of foreign multinationals, it’s very restrictive labor laws there,” Biswas said. “They’re worried about hiring because it’s very hard to reduce the workforce later on.”

Foreign investors will consider the law a “step in the right” direction for making Indonesia friendlier, forecast Song Seng Wun, an economist in the private banking unit of Malaysian bank CIMB.

“This Omnibus Bill is part of something that Jokowi [was] looking to see how they can help sort of improve the investment landscape to make it a little bit more attractive in Indonesia, just to make sure Indonesia doesn’t get pushed down the investible list of countries,” Song said, using the Indonesian president’s nickname.

But the law sparked staunch opposition. Some governors have asked Widodo to revoke the law and other people protested in the streets over three days, sometimes violently, Borsuk’s study says.

The law effectively eliminates the power of labor unions, said Paramita Supamijoto, an international relations lecturer at Bina Nusantara University in greater Jakarta.

The October bill would roll back legal support for fair wages, safe working conditions and excessive overtime, U.S.-headquartered human rights advocacy group Amnesty International said in a statement in August. It called the bill’s preparation process “opaque.”

Severance pay for laid-off workers will also slip, Damuri said.

For workers, the law means that “whatever you do, your life will be determined by your employers,” Supamijoto said.

But the law could stoke enough investment to stop people from migrating overseas in search of work, she said. “Under our current president’s administration, they prefer to invite the investors rather than sending workers abroad, so it’s better to invite you to come here to spend money, to invest your money, then to help us to build the infrastructure,” she said.

Original Article from IsaanLive

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Coronavirus

Iran Parliament Speaker Contracts Virus as Deaths Surge

Iran's parliament speaker said that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, joining a growing list of infected Iranian officials as the country again shattered its single-day death record with 415 new fatalities reported Wednesday.
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf tweeted that he received the news after one of his colleagues tested positive for the virus. He said he would continue to carry out his duties from self-quarantine. Earlier this month, he was on state TV visiting a coronavirus ward in one of capital's overwhelmed hospitals to show support.
"I decided to appear in the hospital to see problems from a close distance," Ghalibaf told local media from the ward in Tehran. "Supervising is the main duty of parliament."
Iran has for months wrestled with the worst outbreak in the Middle East, and on Wednesday the daily death toll hit a new high for a second consecutive day. Wednesday's count pushes Iran's total death toll past 33,700 — the highest in the region. Public health officials have repeatedly stressed that the true number of deaths is likely 2.5 times higher.
The government, desperate to salvage an economy reeling from severe American sanctions, has been loath to order business closures even as infection rates reach new heights.
In a clear sign of the outbreak's scale, dozens of top officials have fallen ill. At least 30 lawmakers have tested positive in recent months, according to local media, and a senior adviser to the country's supreme leader has died. Earlier this month, the head of the country's atomic energy organization and the vice president in charge of budget and planning both contracted the virus.
Iran's former parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, tested positive for the virus in April and returned to work after convalescing for three weeks. Ghalibaf took over his post in early June.
As infections surge, filling the country's hospitals and driving up its death toll, Iran's parliament has continued to hold regular sessions. Lawmakers wear masks but tend not to practice social distancing. When President Hassan Rouhani decided to skip a parliamentary vote this fall out of concern for his health, he faced intense backlash from hard-line lawmakers who demanded he attend regardless.
The timing of the pandemic has proved disastrous for Iran's economy, which is buckling under U.S. sanctions re-imposed in 2018 after the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

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