COVID-19 Around the World…

All public and private events banned in Lithuania
Newly-weds Alla and Modzi kiss through protective face masks after the wedding ceremony with only witnesses, as public gatherings are banned as part of Lithuania’s lockdown measures to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Vilnius, Lithuania, yesterday.

All public and private events are banned in Lithuania, clubs, bars restaurants, and most shops are closed due to the virus outbreak.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. 

US wants to stop export of respirators to Canada

TORONTO, Canada — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it would be a mistake for the United States to block 3M from sending respirators to Canada.

The company said yesterday that the Trump Administration has requested 3M cease exporting respirators that they currently manufacture in the US to Canada and Latin America. The company says there are significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to health care workers in Canada and Latin America, where 3M is a critical supplier of respirators.

Trudeau noted that the US also receives essential medical supplies and personnel from Canada and says they are making that point to the Trump Administration. He says that message is getting through.

The prime minister says he is confident that the close and deep relationship between Canada and the US will hold strong and that there will be no interruptions in supply chains in either direction.


Family unable to attend funeral of 13-y-o


LONDON, England — A 13-year-old British boy who died from the new coronavirus has been buried at a ceremony his family was not able to attend.

Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab died Monday at London’s King’s College Hospital. He is the youngest known victim of the pandemic in Britain.

He was interred yesterday in a Muslim burial ground in Chislehurst, south London. Mourners wearing face masks stood apart from one another to observe social distancing rules as the boy’s coffin was lowered into the ground by four people wearing protective body suits and face masks.

None of Ismail’s immediate family could attend because they are in isolation after two of his six siblings developed symptoms of the virus.

Family friend Mark Stephenson said Ismail’s younger brother and older sister have developed mild symptoms, including a fever and loss of taste.

He said Ismail’s family was “devastated” at not being able to attend the funeral but had been “very moved by the warmth and very positive messages of support from people” after his death.


USA gets 3.5 million swabs from Italy to test for virus


WASHINGTON, DC, United States — A senior US general says the military has now flown 3.5 million swabs used to test for the coronavirus from Italy to Memphis, Tennessee.

Lt General Jon Thomas is deputy commander of the US military’s Air Mobility Command. He says a shipment arrived Thursday night and another one was scheduled to arrive yesterday with 500,000 more swabs for national distribution.

He says there will be another shipment next week.

Thomas also said the military is preparing for the possibility that it will be needed to transport infected patients. He said there have been no requests for transport yet.

Medical professionals from the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine are training medics at Joint Base Charleston on the use of an isolation system that can be used on aircraft to transport infected patients.

The system is a containment unit that would protect aircrew and other medical personnel while also allowing them to provide care during the flight.


Worry about umemployment


WASHINGTON, DC, United States — President Donald Trump’s top economic advisor yesterday said rising unemployment in America is due to the new coronavirus.

Larry Kudlow said government checks were on their way and predicted the economy would rebound quickly. He says COVID-19 and stimulus efforts only interrupted what was a strong US economic boom.

Kudlow spoke after the Government reported that the US unemployment rate jumped to 4.4 per cent in March from a 50-year low of 3.5 per cent. The job loss of 701,000 was the worst since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009 and foreshadows what’s to come.

“Those numbers and those hardships are going to get worse before they get better,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House.

Earlier on Fox News Channel, Kudlow predicted that upcoming economic numbers will be equally negative.

“This is a very deep contraction. The numbers are going to come in very badly,” Kudlow said.

He added: “There’s also no question that we are providing more relief and assistance for unemployment than ever before in our nation’s history.”

He said regular unemployment cheques are going out now and that the extra US$600 in unemployment money has been given to the states for distribution.


COVID-19 not stopping crime in Mexico


MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Social distancing measures and calls for Mexicans to remain in their homes have not produced a drop in violent crime.

There had been hope that the measures implemented in late March to slow the spread of COVID-19 would lead to a significant decrease in criminality. But President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says that has not been seen in the numbers.

López Obrador blamed the stubbornly high murder rate on “confrontations between gangs. They continue disputing territory, clashing amongst themselves”.

He said they were not seeing, as some have suggested, higher incidence of domestic violence because people have been confined to their homes in a stressful situation.

As of yesterday, 50 people had died in Mexico of COVID-19 and more than 1,500 had tested positive.


Russia fines quarantine violators


MOSCOW, Russia — The Russian capital has imposed its first fines for violating self-quarantine orders.

Yevgeny Danchikov, head of Moscow’s city services department, was quoted by State television yesterdy as saying three people were fined 4,000 rubles (US$57) each after video surveillance cameras recorded them leaving their residences.

The violators had been diagnosed with symptoms of coronavirus infection but allowed to recuperate under quarantine at home. Moscow has imposed a general lockdown requiring most people to stay home except to shop for food and medicine or go to workplaces if required.


Group donates face masks to prisons


PHILADELPHIA, United States — Meek Mill’s criminal justice reform group says it’s donating 100,000 face masks to some of the nation’s most notorious jails and prisons.

The celebrity-backed REFORM Alliance says 50,000 masks will go to the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City, 40,000 will be sent to the Tennessee Department of Correction, and 5,000 are headed to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

The Philadelphia-based group includes Jay-Z among its founding members and has been pressing the nation’s jails and prisons to thin their inmate populations, improve sanitation, protect prison workers and take other precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Hundreds of inmates and staff at U.S. correctional facilities have tested positive for the virus. Health experts say people inside prisons and jails are at heightened risk because of tight inmate quarters, a lack of sanitation and substandard medical care.


Kenya makes wearing of masks mandatory


NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya has told its nearly 50 million people to wear face masks to help protect themselves against the coronavirus.

The health ministry said the East African nation’s textile industry has the capacity to make 60 million masks “immediately” and the sale price should be around 20 Kenyan shillings, which is about 20 US cents.

The country has struggled at times with a coronavirus-related curfew and police were accused of shooting dead a 13-year-old and beating or using tear gas on other people.

The country has 122 cases of the new coronavirus. A six-year-old boy is the latest to die.


Guidelines issued for drug remdesivir


LONDON, England — The European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued guidance for the compassionate use of experimental drug remdesivir as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

The European drug regulator says remdesivir should only be given to hospitalised critically ill patients suffering from the new coronavirus who have no other treatment options.

The EMA’s advice was prompted by requests made from Estonia, Greece, the Netherlands, and Romania asking for guidance on how the drug should be used in treating the new coronavirus.

Several clinical trials are already under way to test the effectiveness of remdesivir, which is made by Gilead Sciences.

The World Health Organization has previously described the drug as “the most promising candidate” among the dozens being studied. Remdesivir was originally developed to treat Ebola and there are some limited laboratory data suggesting it is effective against related coronaviruses like severe acute respitatory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).


Germany accuses United States of using Wild West methods


BERLIN, Germany — Berlin’s top security official is accusing the United States of using “Wild West methods” to obtain personal protective equipment. The claim came after a delivery of face masks destined for the German capital was diverted, en route from China.

German media reported yesterday that hundreds of thousands of masks purchased from manufacturer 3M and intended for Berlin police were diverted to the US as they were being transferred between planes in Thailand.

Berlin officials confirmed that about 200,000 FFP2 masks already paid for by Germany were seized at a Bangkok airport and didn’t reach their intended destination. The masks are the equivalent of the US N95 standard.

Andreas Geisel, interior minister for Berlin state, said the diversion of the masks is “an act of modern piracy. This is no way to treat transatlantic partners.”

“Even in times of global crisis there should be no Wild West methods,” Geisel said.

He addedthat he wants the German Government to demand that the United States adhere to international rules.

The US embassy in Berlin didn’t immediately comment.


– Associated Press

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