The whistleblower’s story

first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

Deadly Seattle-area coronavirus outbreak spurs shift in public health response

first_imgExpanded testingHealth officials predict the number of confirmed cases is certain to rise as testing capacity expands, and the true scale of the outbreak comes into sharper relief. Washington state plans to increase testing from about 200 samples a day now to an expected volume of more than 1,000 a day.Doctors have found that patients most severely stricken by the virus are those with immune systems weakened from advanced age or underlying chronic health conditions, Duchin said.The vast majority of infected individuals are believed to suffer relatively minor flu-like illness. Many such cases have likely gone undetected because initial testing efforts, constrained by a limited supply of resources, were reserved for the few who were severely ill, he said.So the patients who end up hospitalized or dead probably represent “the tip of the iceberg,” Duchin said.King County Executive Dow Constantine said he has ordered the purchase of a motel and the placement of modular housing units on public property throughout the county to provide temporary, quarters for homeless people who become ill – but not so sick that they require hospitalization.”We want to make sure that hospital capacity isn’t being taken for people who need only to be in isolation and in recovery,” he said. “We need the hospital capacity for people who need to be in treatment now.”Seattle has one of the largest concentrations of unhoused people of any major metropolitan area in the country.Beyond such contingencies, public health officials are starting to contemplate possible “community mitigation” measures, such as school closures or cancellation of public events.”We want to make sure that what we do is reasonable, that it’s something that’s acceptable to the public … that the timing and duration are right, and all of this in the face of tremendous uncertainty,” Duchin said.As of Monday, there have been more than 89,000 cases of the virus globally, the majority in China, according to a Reuters tally. Outside China, it has spread to 66 countries, with more than 8,800 cases and 130 deaths. Globally, the illness has killed more than 3,000 people.The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists more than 90 cases across the United States, a large bulk of them patients who were repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise liner that had been quarantined in Japan. Topics : Seattle-area health officials confronting the nation’s first community coronavirus outbreak are planning new containment measures, ranging from possible school closings to temporary quarantine housing for mildly ill homeless patients.The shift in strategy, with an emphasis on enlisting the public at large to take a more active role in curtailing the spread of the virus, came as health authorities announced on Monday that 18 Washington state residents had tested positive, including six who died.”We’re pivoting to a more community-based approach, very similar to what we use for influenza epidemics, where we give people, and schools and businesses good advice on how they can reduce their risks,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County’s public health agency, told reporters.center_img The Seattle-area deaths marked the first fatalities documented in the United States from a respiratory disease that has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide – the bulk of them in China – since it emerged there in December.All of Washington’s cases are clustered in two counties in the greater Seattle area, making it the largest concentration detected to date by the US public health system. Eight of those cases, and four of the deaths, were linked to a nursing care facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, officials said.With the virus now believed to be present in at least four separate communities in the Pacific Northwest – two in northern California, one in Oregon and the Washington outbreak – authorities are having to go well beyond the quarantine of infected travelers and tracing of close contacts that has defined the response.”We’re going to be shifting our approach from counting every case to focusing on outbreaks, perhaps cases that occur in hospitals, and won’t be able to do the kind of individual case follow-up and case management that we’re doing early on during this so-called containment phase of the epidemic,” Duchin said.last_img read more

Italian army moves coronavirus dead from overwhelmed town

first_imgTopics : Officials have said tougher measures could be needed because too many people are not respecting the order to stay at home for all but essential purposes, and thousands are still falling ill.The images of army trucks evacuating bodies underlined the extent to which health services in the worst-affected northern regions of Italy have been stretched to breaking point by the crisis.Giacomo Angeloni, the local official in charge of cemeteries in Bergamo, said earlier this week the crematorium was working around the clock and handling around 24 bodies a day, almost twice its normal maximum, and was unable to keep up.With mortuaries overflowing, the pews of the crematorium church have been removed to leave space to lay out scores of coffins but more have been arriving every day.Lombardy provincial governor Attilio Fontana said doctors and nurses in the region’s hospitals were at their limits.”I’m worried about the possibility they could succumb physically and psychologically because if they were to succumb, it would really be a disaster,” Angeloni told Radio Capital.  Italy recorded the largest ever one-day increase in coronavirus deaths on Wednesday as the total rose by 475 to almost 3,000. There were more than 300 deaths in the region of Lombardy alone, where Bergamo, the worst-hit province with more than 4,000 cases, is located.Italy went into virtual lockdown before other countries in Europe but, with cases still rising, the government is considering even tougher measures that would further restrict the limited amount of outdoor movement currently permitted.Extending deadlinesOn Thursday, the Corriere della Sera newspaper quoted Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as saying the government would extend the deadline on current emergency measures closing schools and many businesses. The measures currently order most shops to stay shut until at least March 25 and schools till April 3. Conte did not say how long the measures would be prolonged.center_img Italy ordered the army to move bodies from a northern town at the center of the coronavirus outbreak where funeral services have been overwhelmed as the government prepared to prolong emergency lockdown measures across the country.Video shot by local people in Bergamo, northeast of Milan, and shown on the website of the local newspaper Eco di Bergamo, showed a long column of military trucks driving through the streets overnight and removing coffins from the town’s cemetery.An army spokesman confirmed on Thursday that 15 trucks and 50 soldiers had been deployed to move bodies to neighboring provinces. Earlier local authorities in Bergamo had appealed for help with cremations after they had overwhelmed its crematorium.last_img read more

Russia reports its first coronavirus death

first_imgSome doctors have questioned the veracity of Russian data, given what they say is the patchy nature of testing. But the government has said it has been totally transparent about its handling of the crisis, and that its statistics are accurate.Moscow’s coronavirus crisis center said in a statement on Thursday that the elderly woman who died had begun receiving treatment last week in a private clinic before being moved to a hospital specializing in infectious diseases.It did not say where the woman was thought to have picked up the virus, but said her circle of close acquaintances had been identified and was under medical observation.None of them were displaying any serious coronavirus symptoms, it said. Russians aged over 60 were strongly advised to minimize contacts with other people, it added. Topics : Russia on Thursday reported its first coronavirus-related death, an unnamed 79-year-old woman in Moscow with underlying health issues who died from pneumonia after testing positive for the virus.Russia, which has temporarily barred entry to foreigners and imposed an array of flight restrictions, has reported 147 coronavirus cases so far, less than many other European countries.That figure has risen sharply in recent days however, but authorities have said the situation is under control and that most infected people have entered Russia from coronavirus hot spots.last_img read more

Canada-US border likely to be closed by Saturday: Trudeau

first_imgThe Canada-US border will likely be closed to non-essential travel overnight from Friday to Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.The planned temporary shutdown of the 8,891 kilometer international boundary — the longest in the world between two countries — was jointly announced by Trudeau and Donald Trump the previous day.”We are continuing to work on the fine-tuning of the agreement between Canada [and] the United States, I think it’s almost there,” Trudeau told a news conference from his home where he and his family are self-isolating after his wife Sophie was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus. “What continues to concern us is the day by day sharp increasing [number of] cases, and the reports from provinces of new cases with no links to travel,” chief public health officer Theresa Tam said.Her deputy Howard Njoo, meanwhile, commented, “Certainly from a public health perspective, we’ve always said that border measures alone won’t stop the introduction of a virus into the country.”Rather, he said, “border measures are one component, one layer of a multi-layered system.”More than $2 billion worth of goods and 400,000 people cross the Canada-US border each day.”Essential border crossings will not be impeded, trade between our two countries will not be impeded,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said.Trudeau also took the opportunity on Thursday to again urge Canadians to “come home.” An estimated 3 million Canadians live or work abroad.”All those having trouble coming back, I can tell you we are working hard to resolve that situation,” he said, noting that he has spoken with the chief executives of Air Canada and WestJet to ask them to help facilitate the repatriation of Canadians.The two airlines said recently that they would suspend most or all international commercial flights, respectively. “My understanding is that the measure will probably come into place in the night between Friday and Saturday, so in about a day and a half.”Trump said Wednesday the Canada-US border would likely be reopened in “say 30 days.” “Hopefully at the end of 30 days we’ll be in great shape,” he told reporters at the White House.The move builds on the US president’s barring of visitors from most of Europe, China and other parts of the world as the number of coronavirus cases in the US surged past 9,400, with 150 deaths.In Canada, the number of cases has reached at least 772, with 10 deaths, according to public health officials.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Indonesia calls for ‘collective response’ as UN passes COVID-19 resolution

first_img“In particular, the resolution also gives appreciation to healthcare workers, medical professions and researchers that are continuously doing their job under a difficult situation,” the release states.The resolution, cosponsored by 188 member states, was significant and the first of its kind in UN history, Indonesian Permanent Representative to the UN Dian Triansyah Djani said, highlighting that even during a pandemic was Indonesian diplomacy at the UN ongoing.Read also: UN Security Council resumes activities under shadow of COVID-19The voting of the resolution was conducted virtually as New York had imposed a statewide lockdown, Triansyah said.There are more than 1 million COVID-19 cases and over 53,000 fatalities worldwide.In the realm of global health, Indonesia has stepped up its role by chairing the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative – a multilateral forum that discusses and initiates actions on health issues. The forum consists of Brazil, Norway, France, Senegal, Thailand and Indonesia. Indonesia is also a member of the WHO executive board.Topics : Indonesia has applauded the United Nations General Assembly for passing a resolution on global solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 and is calling on member states to organize a collective response to the pandemic.The resolution, titled “Global Solidarity to Fight COVID-19”, was passed by the UN General Assembly by acclamation on Thursday in New York and is the first UN resolution on COVID-19 since the World Health Organization declared the disease a pandemic on March 11. It was initiated by Indonesia, together with Ghana, Liechtenstein, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland, and cosponsored by 188 countries.In a press release on Friday, the Foreign Ministry stressed the importance of international cooperation in dealing with the pandemic. “In a worrying situation like this, we need unity, solidarity and international cooperation to give a fast and collective response toward the COVID-19 pandemic,” Foreign Ministry Retno LP Marsudi said, adding that there was no country that was immune to the virus, which has caused thousands of deaths worldwide.Read also: Indonesia calls for support for first UN General Assembly resolution on COVID-19The resolution sends a strong message to the international communities that the UN as a “universal organization” has a pivotal role in coordinating a global response, the release says, and that the UN must be able to communicate to the global communities that, without cooperation, solidarity and effective policy, no country will be able to survive the global health crisis.Under the leadership of the UN, a number of global collective actions were drawn up in the resolution, including international cooperation to curb the spread of the virus, impact mitigation through information exchange and research cooperation. It also mentioned the importance of good governance of all countries in handling the crisis and emphasized the leadership of the WHO in coordinating with international communities.last_img read more

PREMIUM Heavy task awaits new Supreme Court chief to tighten monitoring of judges

first_imgForgot Password ? A tough job now awaits M. Syarifuddin, who is about to start his new role as Supreme Court (MA) chief justice, with many saying that he needs to restore public faith in the country’s judicial system by imposing stern sanctions against judges who violate its code of ethics.Syarifuddin, formerly the deputy chief justice for judicial affairs, won the majority vote during an election held in a plenary meeting attended by 48 justices on Monday, which was live-streamed on YouTube because of the COVID-19 outbreak.Syarifuddin replaces M. Hatta Ali, who is retiring at the end of this month.Having served as chief justice at the country’s highest court for eight years, Hatta has faced criticism for his failure in improving the judges’ compliance with the code of ethics. In 2019, for example, the Judicial Commission (KY) recommended sanctions against 130 judges for allege… Topics : Facebook Log in with your social account LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Linkedin Google #SupremeCourt Supreme-Court Judicial-Commission #JudicialCommission judges ethicslast_img read more

Bank Indonesia expects forex reserves to increase to $125b

first_imgThe rupiah exchange rate strengthened significantly against the US dollar on Thursday, allowing the central bank to reduce market intervention as it expected foreign exchange (forex) reserves to increase over this week.The rupiah was trading at Rp 15,880 to the dollar Thursday, up 2.28 percent from the previous close, according to Bloomberg data.Bank Indonesia (BI) governor Perry Warjiyo said the rupiah exchange rate was still undervalued even after the strong appreciation, adding that the central bank predicted the rupiah would strengthen further to 15,000 against the US dollar by the end of 2020. Foreign investors sold Rp 148.76 trillion (US$9.35 billion) in Indonesian assets, including Rp 135.08 trillion in government bonds and Rp 9.71 trillion in stocks, BI data shows. The central bank has purchased Rp 172.5 trillion worth of government bonds, including Rp 166.2 trillion from foreign investors in the secondary market, to stabilize the currency.“We see now that the strengthening rupiah was due to market dynamics,” Perry said. “This reduces BI’s need to intervene as our intervention has been declining recently.”Read also: BI expects rebound in foreign capital flows later this yearOn that basis, the central bank expects the country’s forex reserves to reach $125 billion this week as uncertainties surrounding financial markets start to subside.The reserves dropped $9.4 billion in March to $121 billion as BI stepped up market intervention to stabilize the rupiah exchange rate, which was volatile throughout the month.The government’s plan to raise funds from dollar-denominated bonds was also expected to help bulk up the country’s reserves, Perry added.The newly enacted Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 54/2020 on the 2020 state budget stipulates a steep increase in debt issuance to Rp 1 quadrillion this year from the initially targeted Rp 351.9 billion as the government seeks to fund the fight against the pandemic.The government plans to offer sovereign debt papers worth Rp 549.6 trillion, an increase from the initial Rp 389.3 trillion, while also planning to raise Rp 450 trillion in “pandemic bonds”.The Finance Ministry has raised $4.3 billion in dollar-denominated bonds this week, which could boost the country’s forex reserves by between $4 billion and $125 billion in the next week, Perry said.Read also: Bank Indonesia strikes $60b repo facility deal with US Fed as forex reserves drop“The conversion of dollar-denominated bonds into rupiah-denominated funds to be used by the fiscal authority to finance stimulus would increase the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves,” economists from the University of Indonesia Institute for Economic and Social Research (LPEM UI) wrote in a research note.According to the institution’s calculations, the issuance of Rp 450 trillion in “pandemic bonds” would increase the central bank’s foreign reserves by $15 billion if the debt papers were denominated in dollars.“Meanwhile, if all the pandemic bonds are denominated in rupiah, then the increase of foreign reserves will only reach $9 billion,” the researchers said.Topics : “If we measure the fundamentals of the rupiah exchange rate including against inflation, the current account deficit and interest rate differentials onshore and abroad, the rupiah is still undervalued and has the tendency to strengthen,” Perry said at a livestreamed media briefing on Thursday.Read also: ‘This is not a normal time’: BI to break barriers in COVID-19 battleDespite the jump, the rupiah remains one of the worst-performing Asian currencies as it has lost more than 14 percent of its value against the greenback so far this year after foreign investors dumped Indonesian assets following the novel coronavirus pandemic.The central bank has stepped up intervention, especially in March, in the spot foreign exchange and domestic non-deliverable forward markets. It has bought bonds dumped by foreign investors to anchor the value of the rupiah.last_img read more

G7 to coordinate economic reopening plans amid outbreak

first_imgThe leaders of the world’s most advanced economies, who met via videoconference hosted by Trump, are looking for a way to end the economic paralysis.”G7 leaders tasked their ministers to work together to prepare all G7 economies to re-open safely and on a foundation that will allow the G7 nations to reestablish economic growth with more resilient health systems and trusted supply chains,” the White House said in a statement.The United States currently chairs the G7, which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.The International Monetary Fund has warned that the global slowdown is the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, cutting world output by three percent this year alone. G7 leaders on Thursday pledged to work together to “safely” put people back to work as the coronavirus crisis drags on in a bid to revive the slumping global economy, the White House said.The Group of Seven nations also called for “thorough review and reform” at the World Health Organization, after US President Donald Trump’s searing criticism of the UN agency.In a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, many countries around the globe have instituted extreme stay-at-home orders that have shuttered businesses and devastated the job market. European Union leaders, who also participated in the call, said in a statement that trade would be crucial “in both overcoming the immediate crisis and ensuring a robust economic recovery.”More than two million people have been infected with the virus worldwide, and more than 140,000 have died.The G7 leaders agreed to “pool their research and talent to combat COVID-19 by sharing all relevant epidemiologic data,” the White House statement said.They emphasized their commitment to “a strong and coordinated global response to this health crisis,” and discussed what the statement called the WHO’s “chronic mismanagement of the pandemic.””The leaders called for a thorough review and reform process,” the statement said.Trump has halted all funding to the Geneva-based WHO, saying it put too much stock in the assurances made by China after the virus emerged there late last year.But it was not clear how widespread the criticism of the WHO was at the meeting. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman issued a statement expressing her “full support” for the agency.And EU leaders said any solution to the crisis would have to come “in strong cooperation with the existing international organizations.”center_img Topics :last_img read more

Finance, tech firms on hiring spree amid coronavirus turmoil: LinkedIn

first_imgThe coronavirus is roiling global job markets, but the picture is not all gloomy. Finance, technology and consumer goods firms are hiring tens of thousands in the United States and other countries, according to data from Microsoft Corp’s professional networking site LinkedIn.Across seven countries in North America, Europe and Asia, healthcare providers are among the busiest recruiters given the ongoing battle against the novel coronavirus, which has killed over 200,000 people and infected over 3 million people worldwide, LinkedIn said. But lifestyle changes during lockdown are also driving demand for financial consultants, factory workers, animators and game designers, and delivery workers.Overall, the hiring rate has plunged in the first quarter from the year-ago period, and in late April remains lower than a year ago across most countries surveyed by the platform. But the data offer a glimmer of hope with a gradual uptick in China, where the coronavirus emerged last year and which leads the world in surfacing from a months-long lockdown. Hiring in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Italy – which lead the world in coronavirus-related deaths – remains hugely depressed, but is falling less rapidly than a few weeks ago as the countries pass the peak of their epidemics.Retailers including Walmart Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Instacart have said they would hire a total of over 700,000 workers to meet a surge in demand for groceries and household essentials during the coronavirus outbreak.Consumer goods manufacturers such as Unilever, whose products include soap and shampoo, confirmed on Wednesday it was hiring to fill 300 jobs globally, but declined to elaborate.Nestle told Reuters it was looking to fill 5,000 full-time U.S. positions in “a variety of levels across corporate and frontline.”Fidelity Investments, a Boston-based financial services firm, said it had accelerated recruitment because of the pandemic and was looking to fill at least 2,000 full-time roles for financial consultants, software engineers and customer service staff in the United States in 2020.Companies hiring in the United States and other countries also include Apple Inc; ByteDance, the Chinese parent of video-sharing social network TikTok; Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd; and aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin Corp. These companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Dire warnings The International Labor Organization warned on Wednesday that 1.6 billion workers, or nearly half of the global workforce, especially in the informal economy, could lose their livelihoods.Record numbers of people have applied for U.S. jobless benefits since mid-March, and the unemployment rate is expected to soar to 16%, White House economic adviser Kevin Hasset said this week, from a 50-year low of 3.5% before the pandemic hit.Both Italy and France, in lockdown for nearly two months, have seen hiring rates drop by around 70% from a year ago, according to LinkedIn.Since China is ahead of other countries on the pandemic timeline, improvements there could suggest the same is in store elsewhere, Berger said. Several American states and European countries have begun allowing some non-essential businesses and schools to reopen in the hopes of restarting the economy and allowing a gradual return to normal life.”It’s still slightly early to call it a firm recovery,” Berger said, referring to improving prospects in China. “We’re not expecting a full recovery but rather it’s an indication that parts of the economy will switch on as lockdowns are eased, at least relative to the worst point of the pandemic.” LinkedIn, with over 690 million users worldwide, counts new hires when people add a new employer to their profile. The rate is the number of new hires divided by the total number of LinkedIn members in a country.The figures, tracked since mid-February, are not corroborated by official jobs data and do not represent the actual number of jobs in an economy. Government figures are usually released with a time-lag of several weeks.”We are confident that our data is directionally correct in that there has been a huge decline in hiring in the U.S. and abroad,” Guy Berger, principal economist at LinkedIn in California, told Reuters.Hiring in China plummeted 50% during the height of its coronavirus crisis in mid-February from 12 months earlier. Since restrictions were eased in early April, the hiring rate has inched up, and for the week ending April 24 was 3% lower than the same period in 2019.center_img Topics :last_img read more