english news

Pets no risk to owners’ vets stress

pets

Veterinary scientists have recommended cat owners keep their pets indoors to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus among animals. But the British Veterinary Association stressed “owners should not worry” about risk of infection from pets.

“There isn’t a single case of a pet dog or cat infecting a human with Covid-19,” Dr Angel Almendros, from City University in Hong Kong, told BBC News. Research has shown cats may be able to catch the virus from other cats.

Dr Alemndros added that it would be sensible to keep cats indoors – where it is safe and possible to do so – during the outbreak.  The British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Daniella Dos Santos told BBC News she agreed with that advice. But the association has since clarified that its recommendation to concerned pet-owners is to take the precaution of keeping cats indoors “only if someone in their own household showed symptoms”. Every pet-owner though should “practise good hand hygiene,” she said. “An animal’s fur could carry the virus for a time if a pet were to have come into contact with someone who was sick.”(NU)…[+]

Marathon talks over EU virus rescue package stall

eutalks

EU talks on how to help southern Eurozone countries badly affected by the coronavirus epidemic have stalled after 16 hours. The European Central Bank says the bloc may need up to €1.5tn ($1.6 trillion; £1.3tn) to tackle the crisis.

European finance ministers were close to a deal, but the talks broke down amid a dispute between Italy and the Netherlands over how to apply the recovery fund. Negotiations will resume on Thursday. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed deep divides in Europe, where Italy and Spain have accused northern nations – led by Germany and the Netherlands – of not doing enough.(BBC)…[+]

PAHO Director calls for protection of health workers in face of the advancing COVID19 pandemic in the region of the Americas

paho

Washington– Warning that cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have doubled in a week in the Region of the Americas, Pan American Health Organization Director Carissa F. Etienne today urged countries to take measures that protect health care workers to ensure they have access to the personal protective equipment and supplies they need to care for patients affected by the disease. 

 “Shortages of the most basic protective equipment leave doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously vulnerable as they care for COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Etienne said in a press briefing today.  

Through April 6, 384,435 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Americas, and 11,270 people have lost their lives. “In just seven days, we witnessed cases and deaths more than double in our region. The pandemic is accelerating rapidly, and I urge governments to prepare and respond at the same speed,” she said. 

Etienne urged countries to follow PAHO guidelines and recommendations including social distancing measures to lessen the burden on health systems. “All of us need to be prepared for more difficult weeks ahead,” she said. 

The PAHO Director said, “A pandemic like COVID-19 would overwhelm any health system, but its impact on those without sufficient health workers will be devastating.”  “Limited supplies of gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles and gowns can lead to a wave of preventable infections among health workers,” she said  

“Countries must work together to ensure that supply chains are able to deliver protective equipment to the hospitals and health centers who need it most. Solidarity and coordination among countries will be essential to ensure we make the most of the limited supplies available,” Etienne added. Noting that today, April 7 is World Health Day, Etienne said this is “a time to acknowledge and celebrate doctors, nurses, midwives and the many other people working to keep our communities healthy. Our health workers deserve our recognition, our praise and our gratitude. Above all, they deserve to be able to protect themselves while they do their jobs.”

 “Now is not the time to hoard and stockpile. It is a time for easing export restrictions and embracing flexible regulations that enable access in the places that will be hardest hit in the next few weeks. Governments and the private sector should also seek innovative solutions to boost production and repurpose industrial capacity to expand supplies,” she said.  “We must also care for our health workers through support networks that allow them to preserve their mental and physical health. We must celebrate them for the heroes they are and protect them from stigma. We should encourage and admire our health workers, not fear and disrespect them,” Etienne said.

 In addition to developing technical guidelines, PAHO has trained national staff on the reorganization of health services and has also advised countries regarding stocks of medical supplies and personal protection equipment (PPEs). It has supported countries to obtain shipments of PPEs to 35 countries and 1 territory, and COVID test kits to 25 countries, among other actions.(Paho)…[+]

US car insurers refund drivers stuck at home

cars

A major car insurer in the US is refunding millions of dollars to customers stuck at home during coronavirus lockdowns. Allstate, the country’s fourth biggest car insurer, said it would give back $600m (£490m) in total to customers. Another insurer, American Family Mutual, is also refunding customers, with cheques totalling $200m.

Both have seen a dramatic drop in accident claims as residents stay at home and off the roads. The refunds come at a good time with millions of households suffering financially from lockdowns across the country.

Allstate will be paying customers back in two ways. Drivers in quarantine will receive refunds, while most customers will be given a 15% discount on monthly premiums for April and May. The discounts will apply to 18 million customers. “This is fair because less driving means fewer accidents,” said Tom Wilson, chief executive at Allstate. Its data showed driving mileage was down between 35% and 40%.(BBC)…[+]

Maeve Kennedy McKean’s body is recovered after canoe search

body

The body of Maeve Kennedy McKean, granddaughter of assassinated presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy, has been found in Maryland. The 40-year-old and her eight-year-old son were last seen on Thursday evening riding in a canoe off Chesapeake Bay.

After an extensive search operation, police said on Monday that her body had been found in water about 2.5 miles (4km) south of where they had set off. Officials will continue looking for her missing son, Gideon, on Tuesday.

Mrs McKean was the daughter of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former Maryland lieutenant governor. She worked as a public health and human rights lawyer and was executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiative. She had been staying with her family at her mother’s house in Shady Side, Maryland, when she went missing.(BBC)…[+]

ILO COVID-19 causes devastating losses in working hours and employment

ilo

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a catastrophic effect on working hours and earnings, globally. A new ILO report highlights some of the worst affected sectors and regions, and outlines policies to mitigate the crisis.
GENEVA (ILO News) – The COVID-19 crisis is expected to wipe out 6.7 per cent of working hours globally in the second quarter of 2020 – equivalent to 195 million full-time workers.
Large reductions are foreseen in the Arab States, (8.1 per cent, equivalent to 5 million full-time workers), Europe, (7.8 per cent, or 12 million full-time workers) and Asia and the Pacific (7.2 per cent, 125 million full-time workers).
Huge losses are expected across different income groups but especially in upper-middle income countries (7.0 per cent, 100 million full-time workers). This far exceeds the effects of the 2008-9 financial crisis.
The sectors most at risk include accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities.The eventual increase in global unemployment during 2020 will depend substantially on future developments and policy measures. There is a high risk that the end-of-year figure will be significantly higher than the initial ILO projection, of 25 million.
More than four out of five people (81 per cent) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are currently affected by full or partial workplace closures.
“Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. ”We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right, urgent, measures, could make the difference between survival and collapse.”…[+]

Ivory Coast protesters target testing centre

ivory

Protesters in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, Abidjan, have destroyed a coronavirus centre that was being built in the district of Yopougon. Residents said it was being built in a crowded residential area, too close to their homes.

Videos on social media show people tearing apart the centre with their bare hands, smashing construction materials on the ground. Some appeared to be hurling metal poles into a truck. The health ministry said the building was never intended as a treatment centre, only as a testing facility.

Although, like many African countries, Ivory Coast has had relatively few confirmed coronavirus cases, it has imposed a lockdown in Abidjan and a nationwide curfew. On Saturday, health officials urged people to wear masks to try to slow the spread of the virus.The hostile response towards the testing centres is reminiscent of attitudes during Ebola outbreaks in West and Central Africa when some people attacked health workers, suspicious that they were bringing the disease to their communities, rather than offering crucial medical care.(BBC)…[+]

Atomic tests solve age puzzle of world’s largest fish

bomb

Data from atomic bomb tests conducted during the Cold War have helped scientists accurately age the world’s biggest fish. Whale sharks are large, slow moving and docile creatures that mainly inhabit tropical waters. They are long-lived but scientists have struggled to work out the exact ages of these endangered creatures.

But using the world’s radioactive legacy they now have a workable method that can help the species survival.

Whale sharks are both the biggest fish and the biggest sharks in existence. Growing up to 18m in length, and weighing on average of about 20 tonnes, their distinctive white spotted colouration makes them easily recognisable.(BBC)…[+]

Tiger at Bronx Zoo tests positive for Covid-19

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A four-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the coronavirus. The tiger, named Nadia, is believed to be the first known case of an animal infected with Covid-19 in the US. The Bronx Zoo, in New York City, says the test result was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.

Nadia, along with six other big cats, is thought to have been infected by an asymptomatic zoo keeper. The cats started showing symptoms, including a dry cough, late last month after exposure to the employee, who has not been identified. “This is the first time that any of us know of anywhere in the world that a person infected the animal and the animal got sick,” Paul Calle, the chief veterinarian at the zoo, told Reuters news agency on Sunday. There have been isolated instances of pets testing positive for the coronavirus elsewhere in the world, but experts have stressed there is no evidence they can become sick or spread the disease. Mr Calle said he intends to share the findings with other zoos and institutions researching the transmission of Covid-19.(BBC)…[+]

Australia launches criminal investigation into Ruby Princess

australia

A criminal investigation has been launched in Australia into how cruise ship passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney despite some exhibiting flu-like symptoms. More than 600 people on board the Ruby Princess later tested positive for coronavirus and 10 have since died.

The ship remains off the coast with nearly 200 sick crew members on board. Police in New South Wales said they would look into whether national biosecurity laws had been broken. Australia has so far reported 5,548 coronavirus cases and 30 deaths. Those sickened on cruise ships account for nearly a tenth of all cases in Australia.

At a news conference, New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said there were “many unanswered questions” about the incident. He said that, by law, vessels were only allowed to dock and disembark passengers if the captain could assure the local authorities that their ship was free from contagious disease.(BBC)…[+]