Saturday, March 21, 2020

Video Report - Italy suffers highest single-day death toll since coronavirus outbreak began

Egypt’s censors shift into high gear over coronavirus coverage

Egypt revoked the press credentials of a reporter for The Guardian and delivered thinly veiled threats of similar action against The New York Times over coverage of the coronavirus, part of an ongoing pattern of censorship of the press.
Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) demanded an apology from The Guardian over what it called “a false report” citing a Canadian medical doctor who said the number of people infected with the disease in Egypt had reached over 19,000. The story carried by the respected British daily was written by Cairo-based freelancer Ruth Michaelson, who writes regularly for The Guardian.
The body that issues accreditation for foreign journalists said in a statement that it had “through its role in following up what is published about Egypt in the foreign media” monitored The Guardian piece that “includes incorrect numbers and estimates regarding the numbers of new cases of the coronavirus that is newly emerging in Egypt.”
The UN’s World Health Organization announced today that Egypt has 196 confirmed cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, out of 3,015 “suspected cases tested.”
“The correspondents' rush to promote incorrect data,” SIS said, “does not justify them relying on an unpublished … and scientifically unrecognized study. It shows their intentional bad faith to harm Egyptian interests.” Should The Guardian fail to run an apology it would be prevented from operating in Egypt altogether.
The government body also took aim at The New York Times’ bureau chief, Declan Walsh, who commented on Michaelson’s story in several tweets, which he subsequently deleted.
But then Walsh tweeted about Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif and three others who were detained today for organizing a small protest calling for emergency measures for Egypt's notoriously crowded prisons.
The New York Times had already landed in the crosshairs of the Egyptian authorities. In February 2019, former Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick was detained at Cairo airport and held incommunicado. Egypt, alongside Turkey, Saudi Arabia and China, is among the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The coronavirus pandemic has further sharpened censors in Egypt where the tourism industry, the country’s leading source of revenue — and apparently of the virus — is now faced with ruin. At least 97 foreign nationals who visited the country since mid-February have either displayed symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19, as reported by The Guardian.
Last week, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly warned that legal action would be taken against anyone who spread “false rumors” about the pandemic.
“Egypt’s move to silence and punish certain well-respected international journalists for covering scenarios related to the spread of the COVID-19 virus inside its borders is sadly predictable,” observed Amy Hawthorne, deputy director for research at the Project on Middle East Democracy.
She continued in emailed comments to Al-Monitor, “It is also counterproductive. Egypt does face a very serious threat from the pandemic, and the Egyptian government, like some others around the world, has made worrying blunders in its initial response. The Egyptian authorities, like officials everywhere, should not suppress information flows and debate about this health emergency. They should focus on protecting the health and safety of everyone inside the country, not on crude repression.” 
In January, police raided the Cairo offices of Turkey’s state run Anadolu news agency arresting four of its staff on allegations of spreading false news. Turkey’s continued support for the Muslim Brotherhood has strained relations between the two countries to the near breaking point.
Meanwhile, Turkey has been cracking the whip on people accused of sharing “provocative” content and “falsehoods” about the coronavirus. Some 24 such individuals were detained as of today of a total 137 suspects, according to Turkey’s Interior Ministry.
On March 14, two journalists in the province of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast, which draws millions of tourists, were briefly detained over their coverage.

Clashes erupt between Saudi and UAE in Aden

Violent clashes have erupted between allies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the temporary Yemeni capital of Aden in the south of the countryAnadolu Agency reported on Friday.
Eyewitnesses informed Anadolu Agency that different weapons were used in the clashes which erupted after an attempt by the Storm Brigades, affiliate with the Southern Transitional Council which is backed by the UAE, to break into Camp 20 which is backed by Saudi Arabia.
According to eyewitnesses, the troops of Camp 20 defended their base and damaged the military equipment used by the Storm Brigades.
MBS and MBZ bloody Yemeni war - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
MBS and MBZ bloody Yemeni war – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
The clashes stopped for several hours, but the eyewitnesses notified Anadolu Agency that they were renewed and continued until the time the report was written.
Camp 20 forces are stationed in the city of Crater in the middle of Aden and led by Imam Al-Nobi, who was once one of the prominent allies of the UAE.

Aden has been witnessing an increase in tension between the allies of Saudi Arabia and those of the UAE in light of Riyadh’s efforts to implement the agreement reached between the Yemeni government and the separatists of the South in November.
Meanwhile, on Friday Saudi forces also attempted to take control of Aden International Airport from the Security Belt forces backed by the UAE, in order to hand it over to other local forces receiving military training in the kingdom.
In August last year, Aden witnessed violent clashes between the Transitional Council forces in the South and the government forces. The Transitional Council forces pushed out the government forces, which accused the UAE of planning a coup.
For the sixth year running, Yemen has been witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world as 80 per cent of the Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid and millions are vulnerable to famine.

China-Russia - Xi vows more cooperation internationally to control rapid spread of disease

China vows closer international cooperation with Russia and other countries to control the novel coronavirus pneumonia pandemic, which experts say further demonstrates its vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
In a phone conversation on Thursday night with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, President Xi Jinping said that the epidemic broke out ferociously, and China had to rise to the challenge and respond to it bravely.
That is because it not only concerns the lives and health of the Chinese people but also the public health security of the whole world, he said, calling for closer international cooperation in epidemic prevention and control, experience sharing on containment and treatment and facilitation of joint research.
Xi stressed that at this special moment when both countries are fighting the illness, China and Russia have been supporting each other and cooperating closely, which has demonstrated the high level of China-Russia relations in the new era.
Putin said that remarkably effective measures taken by the Chinese government have not only contained the spread of the disease inside China but also made important contributions to safeguarding the health of people in other countries.
Russia greatly appreciates and is pleased with China's efforts, he said, adding that China has set a good example for the international community by lending a helping hand to other pandemic-affected countries in a timely manner.
What China has done represents a resounding answer to the provocation and stigmatization by a certain country over COVID-19, the Russian president said.
Li Yonghui, a researcher of Russian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the virus can be defeated only by concerted efforts.
"Joint efforts such as cooperation in vaccine development, providing assistance across borders and sharing of epidemic information are a reflection of the connotation of the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind," Li said.
Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the pandemic further enhances the global community's understanding of this vision.
"The epidemic concerns people's health and lives, regardless of borders or skin color. The most powerful weapon against it is solidarity and cooperation," Ruan said.
The Chinese government has announced it would provide assistance, including testing kits, masks and protective suits, to 82 countries, and the World Health Organization and the African Union, with many shipments having already arrived in recipient countries.
"China is practicing its vision with actual deeds by providing assistance within its ability to other countries," Ruan said, "and this will further improve and enhance China's relationship with international society."
Meanwhile, a certain country that is trying to politicize the pandemic, label the virus and stigmatize China is running into opposition from the global community and such attempts are contemptible, Ruan added.

Trump Sends Letter to Kim Jong-Un About Cooperation in Area of Epidemic Control - Report

US President Donald Trump has sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in which expressed desire to cooperate with Pyongyang in the area of epidemic control measures, state-run Korean Central News Agency reported on Saturday.
According to the news agency, Trump in his letter outlined a plan on developing relations between the two countries and "expressed intention to cooperate in the area of epidemiological measures", as well as commended Kim's efforts to protect the North Korean people from "serious epidemic threat".
In late January, Pyongyang essentially closed its borders and launched a so-called national emergency quarantine system. The measure has reportedly affected 380 foreign citizens.
North Korea has been consistently claiming that it has no confirmed COVID-19 cases despite being sandwiched between South Korea and China, which are among the countries that are hit especially hard by the pandemic.
Originating in China last December, the novel coronavirus disease has rapidly spread across the globe, with the epicentre now having shifted to Europe. Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom remain countries most affected by the COVID-19 there.
According to the latest data provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the virus has infected a total of 234,073 and killed 9,840 more, as of 20 March.

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Video - #CMofSindh #Cronavairuspakistan #SindhGoverment CM Of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah❤🇵🇰 We r proud of u syed Murad Ali Shah

#Pakistan #CoronaVirusPakistan #CoronaInPakistan - To all social butterflies-rest or regret

We have seen how on 26 February the first two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Pakistan. At the time of writing this article, there are 382 cases with two confirmed deaths. By the time it’s published, the numbers are likely to have increased further, and eventually are likely to swell to the tens if not hundreds of thousands. This is a number that would most likely be under-reported in order to maintain public composure.
Why has it been an upward trajectory? Despite the government issuing warnings, closing schools and restricting travel, we Pakistanis are continuing with ‘business as usual’. In fact, we are going a step further and seeing it as an opportunity to bring forward our social calendars; dinners are being scheduled, weddings are in full swing and people are still having their underground parties. For what? To increase the likelihood of spreading the virus to an uncontrollable extent?
Those that are coronavirus carriers do not necessarily show symptoms. Many will not. The problem arises when carriers are exposed to others who may have underlying health conditions, including the vulnerable, the weak and the elderly. The problem is that there is no way of monitoring these exposures or numbers. One person can infect thousands by just attending a wedding, going to a shopping mall, or eating out at a restaurant. Given the virus can last on surfaces for up to 28 days, even simple gestures such as opening a doorknob, sitting on a bench, or using an elevator can be deadly.
Imagine the consequences when carriers are continuing with business as usual, directly infecting others through face-to-face meetings or indirectly infecting the masses because they decided to go to a shopping mall, pressed the button to operate the elevator, tried on clothes at various outlets, touched the counters where many people pay for their shopping. The numbers affected and at serious riskwill, without a shred of doubt, increase exponentially. The consequences can be unimaginably devastating, and the number of deaths beyond comprehension.
Following the partial/total lockdowns imposed in the United States, China, Iran, Italy and numerous other countries across the European Union, there is no doubt that this is extremely serious. I am a London-based corporate lawyer, and until a week or so back I really did not think the coronavirus was a big deal. I thought that people were overreacting and that nothing could touch London. I was so incredibly wrong.
People are starting to realize that this may affect us all for the long haul. Supermarket shelves are empty; we’ve all seen the jokes circulating about a lack of toilet paper! There are no delivery slots when ordering online and people are legitimately scared.
Despite the government issuing warnings, closing schools and restricting travel, we Pakistanis are continuing with ‘business as usual’
People in the UK are likely to be heading towards a total lockdown, with people forced to work from home (if at all); children being pulled out of schools so that they do not affect those that are immune-compromised, and 20,000British army troops being placed on standby alert. What does this mean for the rest of the world? It is serious. Action is needed. Now.
Now is the time to act. Now is the time to practice social distancing. Now is the time to read the report that Imperial College London published, and which led to the UK very quickly changing its relaxed approach to a stricter one. Understand the gravity of the situation.
It is not too late to try to contain the spread of the virus, but we need to act immediately. Our social diaries can wait, our events can wait, but our lives and the lives of our dear ones cannot. Don’t be selfish. Do not think that you won’t be affected. This time it is not necessarily about you. It is about your parents, your grandparents, your vulnerable relatives, and your immune-compromised friends.
Please act fast as time is not on our side. So many people are already affected and are carrying the virus. Having said that, the quicker we act, the quicker we stop the coronavirus spreading, and the quicker we prevent hospitals having to choose between saving a 27-year-old cousin (yes, young people are affected) vs an80-year-old grandparent. Make the choice to socially isolate yourself so that the choice doesn’t have to be made between saving the lives of your loved ones. Act now.

#Pakistan #coronavirus camp: ‘No facilities, no humanity’

Hannah Ellis-Petersen,Shah Meer Baloch
More than 1,000 remain there as thousands more are released into impoverished Balochistan.
 It was the smell that was the worst. In this dusty camp on Pakistan’s border with Iran, which at one stage held more than 6,000 people, the stench of sweat, rubbish and human excrement hung in the air. There was no real housing, just five people to a ragged tent, and no bathrooms, towels or blankets.
The camp, in the town of Taftan in Balochistan province, was supposed to function as a sanitary quarantine location, preventing the spread of the coronavirus from Iran, which has had one of the worst outbreaks globally.
Instead, according to Mohammed Bakir, who was held there for two weeks, it was no more than “a prison … the dirtiest place I have ever stayed in my life”.
“These were the hardest days and nights of my life,” said Bakir. “We were treated like animals. There were no facilities but also no humanity and everything was in disarray. They were not prepared; there was nothing for us to sleep in except some dilapidated tents.”
Thousands of people have been kept in close quarters in hot, squalid conditions in Taftan, with not even basic precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. According to doctors at the camp, even those who presented with symptoms were not tested or even isolated, and there was a severe shortage of doctors and nurses. There was such a lack of medical facilities, the few doctors on site took to paying for necessary medicines themselves. Things got so bad that protests broke out among those quarantined.
“Neither the quarantining service nor the testing procedure was satisfactory at all,” said one doctor, who asked not to be named. “In the first 20 days, many people had symptoms, but there was no testing at all. We had no testing facilities for three weeks. One child was sent to [a] hospital in Quetta, and he tested positive. But there was no isolation or testing for anyone else.
“There were patients with diabetes, hepatitis and other diseases who were quarantined for 14 days without any proper medication. Their conditions were really bad there and they were treated like animals.”
The border between Pakistan and Iran is more than 600 miles and movement between the two countries is extremely common, especially among minority Shia Muslims in Pakistan who travel to Iran on religious pilgrimages. It is also a crucial trade route.
But over the past two weeks, it has become a hotbed of coronavirus, with infections going up by the dozen every day. There are 302 reported cases of coronavirus in Pakistan, the highest number of cases in south Asia.
Workers with face masks spray the quarantine camp at Taftan near the border with Iran
 Workers spray the quarantine camp at Taftan near the border with Iran. Photograph: Naseer Ahmed/Reuters
Even though infections in Iran began to rise rapidly weeks ago, the Pakistan government only officially shut the border less than a week ago. And the border is still porous; on Tuesday night at least 100 pilgrims crossed from Iran into Balochistan, reportedly after bribing border guards.
Among those held in Taftan was Abid Hussain, who is from Nagar in Gilgit-Baltistan, and was quarantined for two weeks after returning from Iran. “It’s like I have been released from prison,” said Hussain. “They call it a quarantine but we didn’t get hand wash, face masks or any other sanitary facilities. The only check was that in the morning a doctor used to come round taking everyone’s temperature. That was it for 13 days. Everyone was desperate to leave.”
Many of those in Taftan have been released or transferred to other facilities, but 1,200 remain.
Hussain also described lax regulations on movement for those in the camp, with many going to shops in the town, walking around the vicinity and having regular social gatherings. No guidelines were issued for how those in quarantine could protect themselves from getting the disease, and there was no running water for people to wash their hands.
Hundreds of people supposedly under lockdown left the camp to shop at local markets and stores, buying food and returning to the camp without any checks.
“Around these fruit stalls it was more like a scene from a busy Friday bazaar which was run by people who should have been quarantine camp in lockdown,” said one eyewitness.
The situation was equally bad in the hospitals in Balochistan, the least developed and most impoverished province of Pakistan, which were tasked with dealing with the outbreak. A doctor at one hospital in Quetta claimed that medical staff had refused to treat or even examine a young girl with all the symptoms of coronavirus, whose father had recently returned from China for work. The girl reportedly died days later without being tested.
Pakistan’s mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak, said the doctor, was “depressing and disturbing”.
Pakistan has a notoriously poor track record for containing disease outbreaks and is one of only two countries in the world that have failed to eliminate polio. The government’s fear of a coronavirus outbreak meant it even refused to evacuate the 600 Pakistani students stranded in Wuhan province in China, where the pandemic began.

پیپلز پارٹی کا ویڈیو لنک کے ذریعے مجلس عاملہ کا اجلاس بلانے کا اعلان

پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی (پی پی پی) نے پہلا مجلس عاملہ (سی ای سی) اجلاس بلانے کا اعلان کردیا ہے۔ 
پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کے چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے ٹوئٹر پر اپنا پیغام جاری کیا۔ 
ان کا کہنا تھا کہ پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کا پہلی مرتبہ ویڈیو لنک کے ذریعے سی ای سی بلایا جائے گا۔ 
انہوں نے کہا کہ پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کی سینٹرل ایگزیکٹو کمیٹی کا ویڈیو لنک اجلاس کل دوپہر ڈھائی بجے کورونا وائرس کے معاملے پر ہوگا۔
ان کا یہ بھی کہنا تھا کہ کورونا وائرس کے معاملے پر آل پارٹیز ویڈیو لنک کانفرنس کی تجویز دی جائے گی۔
 چیئرمین پی پی پی بلاول بھٹو زرداری کا کہنا تھا کہ کورونا وائرس کی وبا پر قومی بیانیے کے لیے  تمام سیاسی جماعتوں کو ایک پیج پر لایا جائے گا۔

#Coronavirus outbreak: Pakistan must move towards a lockdown, says Bilawal

"Every hour, every day that we delay is going to make dealing with the pandemic more difficult. Pakistan must move towards a lockdown," tweeted PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday, as new cases of the novel coronavirus continued to emerge in different cities across the country. 
Taking to Twitter, Bilawal called on the government for "decisive action ASAP" to mitigate the coronavirus crisis. 
"Pakistan must move towards a #lockdown. Every hour, every day that we delay is going to make dealing with the pandemic more difficult. We’re already late, should’ve done it earlier, need decisive action ASAP to mitigate this crisis now.
"No province can handle this alone. We need the full force of the federal government to facilitate a lockdown, increase tests and assistance for those in need. While we hope for the best we must prepare for the worst.
"At this rate our health system will be overwhelmed. We must learn from the experience of other countries. It’s a question of when not if. Stay at home now until the government makes up its mind. Stay at home to protect yourselves & others."

The announcement from the PPP chairman comes a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the country will not head towards a lockdown. PM Imran had said that a lockdown would mean the poor of the country will suffer from unemployment and food shortages. 
The Sindh government has closed down shopping malls, crowded markets, gyms, restaurants, hotels and picnic spots for 15 days in a bid to contain the coronavirus from spreading. 
The Punjab government also sprung into action on Saturday, announcing that it was closing shopping malls and picnic spots for three days to battle the pandemic and encourage social distancing.