Global COVID-19 fight continues as curve flattens in hardest-hit European countries

UNTV News   •   April 7, 2020   •   511

The global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues with a glimmer of hope that some of the hardest-hit European countries have reported a reducing daily number of cases over the past weekend, suggesting a possible flattening of the curve.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global death toll from the pandemic has climbed to 62,955 as of 18:00 CET Sunday with globally confirmed cases reaching 1,136,851.

A total of 208 countries and regions have now reported COVID-19 cases on the same day, one more than the previous day.

The United States has registered the highest number of global cases with 273,808 confirmed cases as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) on Sunday.

Plagued by the highly contagious disease, attitudes towards masks are changing in the country after officials from the White House and state governments have started encouraging the use of the protective gear, though U.S.President Donald Trump appeared to claim he would not personally wear one.

However, there remains a significant shortage and some people are dusting off their sewing machines to make their own, with reports that one Chicago-based dry cleaning and laundry business has started making and selling handmade masks made from leftover clothing materials.

Another concern surrounds the low inventory of testing reagents and the shortage in the number of medical staff which has forced many test points to close.

Spain has overtaken Italy to become the country with the most confirmed cases in Europe. Construction teams are working around the clock to build three more field hospitals in Valencia, Castellon and Alicante as Spain bids to contain the virus.

But there is some encouragement that the number of new cases and new deaths of COVID-19 has continued to fall for several days, according to daily data published by the Spanish Ministry for Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services on Sunday.

A total of 6,023 new infections were registered between Saturday and Sunday, fewer than the 7,026 new cases in the previous 24 hours and 7,472 between Thursday and Friday, bringing the country’s total cases to 130,759.

The situation is also showing signs of progress in Italy. The one-day COVID-19 death toll showed its smallest increase in nearly three weeks during past weekend and the number of hospitalized patients declined, according to Angelo Borrelli, head of Italy’s Civil Protection Department said Sunday.

The confirmed cases in Italy stood at 124,632 as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) on Sunday, while the overall death toll was 15,362.

Italy is considering moving to “phase two” of emergency with the falling trend in new infections.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Germany climbed to 91,714 as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, with a total death toll of 1,342, according to the WHO.

Meanwhile, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) on Sunday called on the federal government to introduce a second aid package to support the economy, according to the German Press Agency (DPA).

In several German cities, police have moved to enforce social distancing rules as some ventured out to enjoy the spring weather outdoors over the weekend. German media group Focus Online reported that security officers and police in Dusseldorf dissolved a crowd of around 200 people on the Rhine on Sunday in order to maintain the necessary distance between people.

While the total coronavirus fatalities in France swelled to 7,546 as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, the number of critically-ill patients in the country has been increasing less rapidly.

French authorities on Sunday warned that the virus “continues to hit hard,” urging people to continue to respect the confinement protocols. Warm spring weather had incited some Parisians to head out, defying a lockdown imposed in mid-March to stem the virus spread.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that the existing restrictions imposed to curb the COVID-19 spread in the country would be eased gradually in the following weeks, the official IRNA news agency reported.

WHO data shows that by 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, Iran had 58,226 confirmed cases and an overall death toll of 3,452.

Low-risk businesses will resume their activities from April 11 in different provinces except Tehran, with the capital city set to resume one week later on April 18, Rouhani said. Two thirds of all government employees will return to work in offices from April 11.

Meanwhile, there was concern in the UK as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital for tests on Sunday after suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus. Downing Street underscored that this was not an emergency admission and that Johnson remains in charge of the government.

On the same day, Queen Elizabeth II delivered a rare television address to Britain and nations around the world, with the long-reigning monarch urging people to rise to the challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In Asia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, due to the recent surging COVID-19 cases in Tokyo and other large cities, government sources said Monday.

As of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, the total confirmed cases in Japan reached 3,271, with an overall death toll of 70.

Singapore has launched a mobile app to help track potential cases and control community spread of the coronavirus as it saw its case numbers hit 1,309 on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Manpower said in a joint statement that transmissions within Singapore’s foreign worker dormitories had continued to rise, and the city state was seeing more confirmed cases and ill workers.

As a result, two dormitories had been declared as isolation areas, with on-site medical support deployed and food and essential supplies provided, according to the statement.

The Singapore Government has announced that most workplaces will be shut down and many food establishments would be closed for a month from Tuesday as part of the so-called ‘circuit breaker’ measures designed to stop the the spread of COVID-19. (REUTERS CONNECT)

Duterte wants government-to-government deal for COVID-19 vaccines

Maris Federez   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Tuesday that he is more inclined to having a government-to-government deal in procuring coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to prevent the risk of corruption.

The chief executive reiterated that the country will not beg other nations for access to vaccines, and that he favors purchasing vaccines from China or Russia. The two countries have submitted their applications to conduct clinical trials for their inoculations in the Philippines.

Hindi kami hihingi (we will not beg), we will pay,” Duterte said in a taped address to the nation aired on Tuesday (Oct. 27).

So maganda sana government to government ang transaction. Walang korapsyon, wala lahat kasi government to government (It would be better for the transaction to be government-to-government. No corruption, no nothing because its government-to-government),” he said.

Duterte also said that he had a meeting with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian on the status of their vaccine.

“We had a meeting with Ambassador Huang. He said the vaccine is there. It would be a matter of paano i-distribute (the manner of distribution) and what kind of transaction would it be for them and for us,” he said.

China’s Sinovac Biotech shall be starting the late-stage trials of its vaccine in the Philippines in November after the Food and Drug Administration has completed the evaluation of its application.

The Philippine government is also evaluating Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit for their application to conduct the Phase 3 trials of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Philippine authorities are also in talks with drugmaker Pfizer Inc. and with Moderna Inc. as potential suppliers.

The government has initially allotted $400 million to buy 40 million doses for 20 million Filipinos, as part of the administration’s plan to have the entire population inoculated.

As of Sunday (Oct. 25), the Philippines recorded 2,223 new coronavirus infections, and 43 more fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 370,028 cases, and 6,977 deaths. —/mbmf

PH COVID-19 cases now over 213K

Maris Federez   •   August 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday, August 29, reported that the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases is now at 213,131.

Of the confirmed cases, 74,611 (35.0%) are active cases.

The health department likewise announced the recorded 627 recoveries, bringing the total number of recoveries to 135,101

There were also 94 recorded deaths, which is now summed at 3,419.

The DOH said these numbers undergo constant cleaning and validation.

Meanwhile, the health department said that it has received reports that several lists containing names of COVID-19 positive patients have been released publicly and have been shared on social media.

In a statement, the DOH reiterated “that while RA 11332 (Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act) provides public health authorities the statutory right to access personal information to enable effective response, it also requires said authorities to ensure patient privacy and confidentiality of the personal information entrusted to them.”

The statement added that “relevant information should only be shared to concerned public health authorities who are knowledgeable of their duty in maintaining data privacy.” —/mbmf

Vietnam to evacuate 80,000 people from Danang after virus outbreak

UNTV News   •   July 28, 2020

Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, from the central tourism hot spot of Danang on Monday (July 27) after three residents tested positive for the coronavirus on the weekend, the government said.

The Southeast Asian country is back on high alert after the government on Saturday (July 25) confirmed its first community infections since April, and another three cases on Sunday (July 26), all in and around Danang.

The evacuation will take at least four days with domestic airlines operating approximately 100 flights daily from Danang to 11 Vietnamese cities, the government said in a statement.

Vietnam has imposed strict quarantine measures and carried out an aggressive and widespread testing programme during the pandemic, keeping its total tally of reported infections to just 420, with no deaths. =

Vietnam is still closed to foreign tourism, but saw a surge in domestic travellers looking to take advantage of discounted flights and holiday packages for local hotels and resorts. Those arriving from Danang to other parts of the country would be required to quarantine at home for 14 days, the health ministry said. Following the discovery of the new cases, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered police to step up a crackdown on illegal immigration to the country.

State media on Sunday said police in Danang had arrested a 42-year-old Chinese man it said was the head of a criminal group which helps people illegally enter Vietnam from China.

Authorities have not officially linked the new cases in Danang to illegal immigration. The government said in a separate statement on Monday that authorities in Ha Giang province, which borders China, had caught more than 1,500 people illegally crossing into the province since May. Most of those caught were Vietnamese citizens, the statement said, and were quarantined. (Reuters)

(Production: Minh Nguyen)

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