Wuhan health workers call for supplies amid rising death toll from novel coronavirus

Marje Pelayo   •   January 27, 2020   •   367

People move medical supplies off a JD.com van coming from the coastal Jiangsu province at a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 26 January 2020 (issued 27 January 2020). According to media reports, Wuhan is widely considered as the origin point of the coronavirus outbreak. The virus outbreak has so far killed at least 56 people with around 2,000 infected, mostly in China. EPA-EFE/YUAN ZHENG CHINA OUT

Medical workers at the Wuhan Fifth Hospital are calling for donations of protection materials as they struggle to contain the novel coronavirus (nCoV) that has now claimed at least 56 lives and infected over 1,900 others in China.

The hospital management on a post on social media announced the facility’s lack of supplies to protect their workers who are working arduously to attend to nCoV patients crowding the hospital.

Since the emergence of novel coronavirus in Wuhan City, the hospital has been a designated diagnosis and treatment hospital for fever patients.

However, the hospital said their protection materials are extremely limited for handling the increasing number of patients, putting their medical personnel in danger of being exposed to infection.

Chinese media China Global Television Network reported on Saturday (January 25) that one of the doctors who had been treating the nCoV patients in Wuhan, has died from the new virus.

A doctor from Hubei Xinhua Hospital, 62-year-old Liang Wudong, died after contracting the virus.

Wuhan Fifth Hospital is asking for the following supplies to protect their health workers while they struggle to treat the patients of nCoV:

  • Medical surgical masks
  • Medical protective clothing/gows
  • Protective goggles
  • Disinfectant
  • Disposable disinfection bed cover

“If you have the following resources from all walks of life, please help us!” the hospital statement said.

“The hospital is grateful for all sectors of the society to donate the following protective supplies with formal channels and complete qualifications in accordance with the law,” the statement read further.

Anyone who wishes to help may contact the following persons:

  • Equipment Section Panjiang 18507188286
  • Hospital Office Li Shaoting 13971254047

So far, lockdown has been declared in at least 20 cities in China in a move to contain the virus.

Across the globe, countries with reported cases of nCoV includes Australia (1); Hongkong (6); France (3); Japan (4); Malaysia (4); Nepal (1); Singapore (3); South Korea (3); Taiwan (3); Thailand (8); (The) United States (5); Vietnam (2).

China’s lunar rover unveils underground secrets on far side of moon

UNTV News   •   February 27, 2020

China’s lunar rover Yutu-2, or Jade Rabbit-2, has helped scientists unveil the secrets buried deep under the surface on the far side of the Moon, enriching human’s understanding about the history of celestial collision and volcanic activities and shedding new light on the geological evolution on the Moon.

China’s Chang’e-4 probe made the first-ever soft landing on the eastern floor of the Von Karman Crater within the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the Moon on Jan 3, 2019. After its landing, the spacecraft immediately deployed its Yutu-2 rover, which uses Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR) to investigate the underground it roams.

A study conducted by a research team led by Li Chunlai and Su Yan at the National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) reveals what lurks below the lunar surface.

As a result of the tidal locking effect, the Moon’s revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, and the same side always faces Earth.

The research team used the LPR on Yutu-2 to send radio signals deep into the surface of the Moon, reaching a depth of 40 meters by the high-frequency channel of 500 MHz – more than three times the depth previously reached by the Chang’e-3 lunar probe, which was sent to the near side of the Moon at the end of 2013.

The results of the radar data collected by the LPR during the first two lunar days (a lunar day equals 14 days on Earth) of operation provide the first electromagnetic image of the subsurface structure of the far side of the Moon and the first “ground truth” of the stratigraphic architecture of an ejecta deposit, said Li Chunlai, deputy director of the NAOC.

“The first layer is a fine 12-meter soil layer below the surface. The second layer between 12 and 24 meters under the ground has a lot of stones and the strongest radar echo. It even forms a stone layer and stacks of loose stones. There are three gravel stacks. The third layer is 24-40 meters under the surface. Radar echo shows its dark and bright parts, so there are granules and scattered stones,” said Su Yan, a researcher from the NAOC.

The scientists analyzed the radar image with tomographic technique, and the result shows that the subsurface is essentially made by highly porous granular materials embedding boulders of different sizes.

The content is likely the result of a turbulent early solar system, when meteors and other space debris frequently struck the Moon. The impact site would eject material to other areas, creating a cratered surface atop a subsurface with varying layers, said Li.

“We find the ejecta have many layers and each layer is different from each other. It may mean the place has lots of ejecta from impact sites, so history of meteorite impacts here is very complicated. It also shows the Moon was frequently struck by small celestial bodies, and debris will be ejected to bottom of the Von Karman Crater. The ejecta have recorded history of meteorite impact on the Moon,” said Li.

As the Yutu-2 rover has walked about 300 meters, Li said his team expects new discovery in the future.

“We hope it can walk out of the ejecta-covered area. If it can enter a basalt zone, maybe we can better understand distribution and structure of ejecta from meteorite impacts. The distance may be 1.8 kilometers. I think it may take another one year for the rover to walk out of the ejecta-covered area,” Li said.

The study was published Wednesday in the latest issue of Science Advances. (Reuters)

Milan braces economic slowdown after spike in coronavirus cases

UNTV News   •   February 27, 2020

Milan, capital city of northern Italy’s Lombardy region is seeing a drastic economic slowdown, after a spike of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the region, raising anxiety about a broader slowdown.

A total of 400 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Italy, up by 26 from the official tally released at noon, Civil Protection chief and Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Angelo Borrelli told a televised press conference on Wednesday.

The number includes the deaths, which remained unchanged at 12, and the three recovered, Borrelli said.

Among the confirmed cases, 258 are in Lombardy, and another 71 are in the Veneto region with Venice as its regional capital, 47 in Emilia Romagna, and 11 in Liguria.

While the government has ordered a lockdown of 11 communities and the cancellation of all schools and public events in five northern regions, many big businesses have chosen to implement a “work smart” policy, telling employees to work from home.

Milan is no ghost town, but it has clearly slowed down, as the usually bustling main train station is quiet, public transit is empty, and taxis sit idle. Even Milan’s Fashion industry, has been hit.

Carlo Capasa, Chairman of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, said the virus affected sales in China and now is threatening Italy.

“Well, the effect is quite strong because in China, as you know, for many days, most of the department stores they were deserted, so the business has been dropping dramatically. Now we are afraid that the retail in Italy could suffer a little bit. Between what Chinese buy in China and what Chinese customers shop here, it goes around 30 percent, it’s a big market,” said Capasa.

Italy’s tourism industry has also felt the pinch.

Milan is clearly not void of tourists, but the number saw a decrease. In 2019, tourism brought a profit of 40 billion euros to Italy, 13 percent of its gross domestic product.

Italy’s northern regions and in particular the regions of Lombardy and Veneto where the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases have been discovered are among the richest, the most dynamic and the most export-intensive in a country with a public debt three times its GDP.

The Bank of Italy has estimated a 0.2-percent loss of GDP growth due to COVID-19.

However, Marco Bettin, Chief Operating Officer at the Italy China Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting the annual 40-billion-euro bilateral cooperation, said it’s too early to quantify the economic impact.

“Up to now we don’t have heavy consequences on the supply chain because most of the supply has been made before the Chinese New Year. So now we are experienced–. It is very hard to say, because the situation is still ongoing,” said Bettin.

While masks have been sold out for days and hand sanitizer has doubled in price, pictures circulating of panic buying and empty shelves across the city have been exaggerated, at least for now.

Residents appear far from panicked, but there is growing anxiety as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the country.

Secretive church at centre of South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak faces new scrutiny

UNTV News   •   February 27, 2020

The controversial South Korean religious sect at the centre of a new coronavirus outbreak is facing the biggest crisis in its 36-year history, as hundreds of its members have tested positive, drawing unprecedented scrutiny from authorities and the public.

South Korea reported 334 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday (February 27) bringing the national tally to 1,595. More than 1,000 of them are from the city of Daegu, according to the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), nearly 600 directly linked to a branch of the Shincheonji church there.

The number of cases spiked since a 61-year-old woman known as “Patient 31” who attended services there tested positive on February 18. KCDC said it is still investigating the exact origin of the outbreak but five to six other members of the church contracted the virus together with the woman.

An So-young had a gut feeling that the 31st person in South Korea to test positive for the coronavirus might be a member of the controversial religious sect she quit four years ago.

“That’s their culture, they have to hide their movements, and that’s why I guessed she was with Shincheonji,” An, 27, said in an interview, referring to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

“You would be like 5 centimetres away from the person who sits next to you, and would have to say ‘amen’ after every sentence that the pastor speaks – it’s the best environment for the virus to spread,” An said, who left Shincheonji in 2016 after spending five years as a follower.

According to An, new members are forced to leave home and live in dormitories as part of initiation, and many break ties with family. An herself almost severed contact with her own family during her time with Shincheonji.

Shincheonji’s secretive practices and sometime aggressive recruitment efforts have made the church a controversial presence in South Korea’s religious community.

“It may appear Christian but is actually completely different…They revere founder Lee Man-hee as a saviour, like Jesus,” said Lee Duck-sure, a counsellor who helps former members of the church. “Everything is secret,” he added.

After initial resistance, the church has released the addresses of 1,100 facilities around the country – 82 churches and 1,018 “affiliates” – and asked the public to stop from making “groundless criticism,” claiming it was the “biggest victim of the virus.”

Police raided the church’s main offices in Gwacheon on Tuesday (February 25) after provincial authorities said they could no longer wait, nor rely on information provided by the church.

Calls by Reuters to the church’s headquarters repeatedly went answered.

The outbreak and the church’s opaque nature have fuelled public anger in South Korea. A petition with the presidential Blue House calling for Shincheonji to be disbanded has gathered more than 780,000 signatures since it was initiated two days ago.

On Friday (February 21) afternoon, the Daegu church was shuttered and silent, surrounded by empty streets and closed stores. Someone had thrown eggs at the front gate of the building, a sign of the anger that has simmered since the outbreak.

Doo Song-Ja, 64, said she had not heard from her daughter since 2015 after she joined the church.

“I’m so worried because so many Shincheonji followers are testing positive (for the virus) but I don’t know where she is,” said Doo, who said her 33-year-old daughter has sued her for “forcible confinement” for trying to keep her home. (Reuters)

(Production: Daewoung Kim, Dogyun Kim, Minwoo Park, Hyunyoung Yi)

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