Shreya Shah

Spain returns ‘faulty’ coronavirus testing kits bought from Chinese company as experts say China is filling the void left by Europe’s usual go-to ally the US
Europe

Spain returns ‘faulty’ coronavirus testing kits bought from Chinese company as experts say China is filling the void left by Europe’s usual go-to ally the US

A Chinese company offered Friday to replace thousands of faulty coronavirus test kits after Spanish health authorities – desperate for materials to cope with the world’s second highest COVID-19 death toll – complained they did not work as promised.

China has sold face masks and other medical equipment through a series of personal contacts with Spanish authorities, including discussions between chief executives of Chinese tech giant Alibaba and Spain’s King Felipe.

But the first shipment of 640,000 test kits was found to have “insufficient sensibility” to reliably identify infected patients, according to Health Minister Salvador Illa, who announced Thursday that 58,000 kits had been returned.

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    The Chinese company supplying the test kits, Shenzhen Bioeasy Technology, said in a statement quoted by Reuters that the incorrect results may have resulted from a failure to collect samples or use the kits correctly.

The firm said it had not adequately communicated with clients how to use the kits and would resend them “assuring the sensitivity and specificity needed to help Spain fight against COVID-19.”

Spanish medical experts, who have examined the 9,000 kits delivered last week, said they have only a 30 percent probability of detecting the virus.

“They are useless,” said Victor Jimenez Cid, a senior professor in microbiology at Madrid’s Complutense University. For a test to be effective it must have a 70 percent to 80 percent probability of detecting the virus, Cid said.

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The failure of Bioeasy’s testing kits is a painful setback for Spanish medical authorities, who are struggling to cope with more than 64,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 4,900 deaths, second only to Italy.

It is also hugely embarrassing to China, which is seeking to rehabilitate a national image tarnished by its faulty early response to the virus in Wuhan by offering assistance to other hard-hit countries.

“First they send us the virus, then they sell us the medications to stop it and then defraud us. It’s great for China” said a guest in a panel discussion on a broadcast on the Spanish TV channel La Sexta.

The test is performed by dipping a swab with a sample of a patient’s saliva in a protein extraction that gives color indications of the virus’s presence. The speedy method is essential for emergency examinations by hospitals as well as improvised drive-through facilities that Spanish authorities are setting up to isolate and quickly treat cases of contamination.

Until now, Spanish hospitals have relied on slower molecular laboratory testing, which requires specialized personnel and take four hours to produce a result. Tests like those offered by Bioeasy are supposed to produce a diagnosis in 15 minutes.

Mass testing methods proved essential in South Korea’s successful effort against coronavirus and they are recommended by the World Health Organization as an essential way of controlling the pandemic’s spread.

The Chinese embassy in Spain tweeted that Shenzen Bioeasy is not licensed to sell the product and is not included on a list of “recommended suppliers,” which its ministry of commerce offered the Spanish government.

Spain’s health ministry said Bioeasy products have been approved by European Union quality control agencies and that the “specifications of this test, at least of the lot that was received, do not correspond with EU quality certifications.”
Officials said the deal with Bioeasy was made through an unidentified intermediary.

Health ministry emergency coordinator Fernando Simon said Spain is trying to import 6 million testing kits from China and other EU countries. He also said that “intense efforts” are underway with Spanish biotechnology firms to produce them.

Germany’s Strategic Gray Zone With China
Europe

Germany’s Strategic Gray Zone With China

Without the transatlantic relationship, former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger once said, Europe would be at the mercy of China, a mere “appendage” of Eurasia. This bleak notion is weighing heavily on the minds of German officials as they contemplate their country’s place in a world of escalating U.S.-China competition.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel referred to Kissinger’s observation in a January 2020 speech, telling an audience in Berlin that it had prompted her to take a “fresh look at the map.” “As Europeans,” she said, “we need to think very hard about how we position ourselves.”

Germany is in the midst of a wrenching reassessment of its relationship with China, a challenge made infinitely more difficult by its increasingly strained ties with the United States. Berlin shares many of Washington’s concerns about Beijing from the lack of reciprocity in its economic relationships with trading partners and the spread of debt and political influence through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to its growing use of surveillance technology and detention of over 1 million Muslims in Xinjiang.

But after spearheading a pushback against the policies of Chinese President Xi Jinping, a campaign that culminated last spring when the EU declared China a “systemic rival,” Europe’s largest member state is wavering, keenly aware of its own vulnerabilities and wary, despite its concerns about China’s political and economic development, of following Washington down a path toward full-blown confrontation with Beijing.

Germany’s challenge in 2020 is to define a third space for itself and for Europe in the face of this growing U.S.-China discord. But the Merkel government’s reluctance to antagonize Beijing risks undermining the EU’s push for a common policy toward China and perpetuating a situation where member states look out for their own interests, often to the detriment of a common European front. A desire to minimize the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic across Europe is likely to reinforce the temptation to keep Beijing close.

For decades, Berlin’s strategy toward Beijing was defined by the phrase “Wandel durch Handel,” or change through trade. Like other Western democracies, including the United States, Germany convinced itself that China’s authoritarian politics would morph into a free, open, and more democratic system through ever-tightening economic ties. This allowed German companies to double down on the vast Chinese market, investing billions of euros in new factories. A rapidly modernizing China, meanwhile, could not get enough of Germany’s machine tools and manufacturing know-how.

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In 2001, when China became a member of the World Trade Organization, Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schröder was one of Beijing’s most enthusiastic supporters. Because German firms were making unprecedented profits in China, their executives discouraged German policymakers from complaining about the myriad problems tied to doing business there, such as forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft, and protectionist barriers to investment.

During the global financial crisis and the eurozone unrest that followed, Germany’s close links with China’s growing economy helped it weather the storm. Top aides to the chancellor, when asked about her views on China, stress that she has not forgotten the supportive role China played during this time of existential turmoil for Europe.1 In private, she has expressed admiration for the Chinese Communist Party’s success in lifting millions out of poverty.

When Xi came to power in 2012, Europe’s leaders were still very much preoccupied with their own troubles. China’s controversial 16+1 forum with Central and Eastern European countries (launched the same year), the BRI (unveiled in 2013), and the Made in China 2025 strategy—a blueprint for Chinese domination of ten key emerging technologies announced in 2015—did not cause a big stir in Berlin when they were first unveiled.

In 2016, however, Germany experienced what senior officials now acknowledge was a wake-up moment. The trigger was not Xi’s growing crackdown on political dissidents at home, but rather a $5 billion offer, announced in May of that year, by China’s Midea Group for Kuka, a German robotics manufacturer. The bid for a company some saw as a crown jewel of German industry caught the government off guard.

With no obvious legal options to block the takeover, it scrambled to find another suitor. But no German or European company was prepared to top Midea’s hefty offer, and Kuka fell into Chinese hands. Months after the Kuka surprise, the Obama administration forced Germany to withdraw its approval for a Chinese takeover of Aixtron. The German chip maker’s technology, it turned out, was being used to upgrade U.S. and foreign-owned Patriot missile defense systems.

That Berlin gave the Aixtron takeover a green light exposed the inadequacies of its own defenses, and a sense of panic began to set in. As the Kuka and Aixtron cases suggest, Germany’s concerns about China were driven by economic, rather than political, considerations. Chinese companies had moved up the value chain much faster than expected, developing into major competitors to German industry leaders.

At the same time, business conditions in China were becoming more difficult as Xi pushed for greater state control over the economy. German businesses, rather than discouraging politicians in Berlin from pushing back, as they had once done, began demanding action against Beijing.

China’s buying spree in Europe, part of the drive to deliver on Xi’s grand industrial policy plan, was what finally spurred German politicians to act. It also forced them to confront other concerns about China that went beyond the economic sphere.

US overtakes China with over 82,000 coronavirus cases
Americas

US overtakes China with over 82,000 coronavirus cases

United States has now surpassed China in the number of COVID-19 cases around the world, with at least 82,404 people are known to have been infected with the deadly coronavirus, the Johns Hopkins University real-time COVID-19 tracker said on Thursday.
It is, however, important to note that the US has been testing people at a much larger scale, when compared with other countries that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We now have 370,000 tests that have been done. The majority of those — over 220,000 in the last eight days, which, those of you who have been tracking the South Korea numbers, put us equivalent to what they did in eight weeks that we did in eight days,” Dr Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters.

Although the US has surpassed China’s 81,782 mark, the COVID-19-related death toll in the country is still lower than China, with 1,178 Americans having died as opposed to the 3,291 Chinese fatalities.

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At least 160 million Americans have been ordered to stay home as schools are closed, restaurants and bars have been closed in hope of the curtail spread of the lethal virus, The New York Times reported.

New York City is among the worst-hit cities as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city has reached 38,000 and 281 have died.

On Wednesday, US Senate leaders and Trump Administration had reached an agreement regarding a USD 2 trillion package to rescue the economy from the coronavirus wrath, paving the way for swift passage of the legislation from both the chambers of Congress.

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus-related deaths worldwide exceeded 20,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The G-20 summit which concluded on Thursday pledged to inject over USD 5 trillion into the global economy in a bid to counteract the social, economic, and financial impact of COVID 19 that has impacted people in at least 170 countries and caused over 20,000 deaths.

As of Thursday, 4,62,684 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection were registered in the world, 20,834 of the patients died, WHO data shows.

On March 11, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic which has now has been detected in 199 countries and territories.

Coronavirus is revealing how badly the UK has failed its most vulnerable
Europe

Coronavirus is revealing how badly the UK has failed its most vulnerable

As the novel coronavirus rips through a stunned global population, it’s becoming clear that no one can escape the impact it’s having on society.
The past few weeks have shown that even the world’s wealthiest and most powerful are as likely to contract the virus as anyone else. However, less attention is being paid to the most vulnerable members of society — those in poverty, people living on the breadline and the homeless.

The problem reached a crunch point in the UK, which has dramatically increased its response to the virus outbreak this week. Food banks that provide a lifeline for some of the estimated 14 million in poverty are running low on volunteers, many of whom have been forced to self-isolate, as well as food itself, which is in short supply following panic-buying.
The situation is equally bleak for the UK’s homeless population, estimated to be around 320,000. Unable to follow government advice to self-isolate, they face a double blow as life-saving services close just as they become most needed.

People working on the frontline in homeless shelters told CNN their worst nightmares were already coming true, with at least one facility forced to close after one of its users died from COVID-19. Most of the people in that shelter are now sleeping rough and may have come into contact with virus carriers.

Shelter, a non-profit that provides support for the UK’s homeless population, estimates that the number of people sleeping on the streets has risen 165% since 2010.

That date is important. It’s the year the UK went from having a center-left Labour government to a center-right Conservative-led administration. And in the wake of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, it embarked on policies that radically cut state spending. “The message was clear… we need to cut back to balance the books,” says Garry Lemon, director of policy at the Trussell Trust, a non-profit that supports food banks in the UK.

“It took a lot of forms, but billions of pounds were taken out of our social security system — and it was done with widespread public support.”

Critics believe that government policies over the past decade have left the social security system severely compromised. “Our research shows that combined impact of those policies amount to average £3,000 a year ($3,560) for the poorest,” says Clare McNeil from the left-of-center IPPR think tank.

Lemon adds that his organization’s research has shown a link between these policies and a rise in “homelessness and food bank usage.”

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The subject of food banks is a good place to return to coronavirus, and especially how it affects the vulnerable. “The majority of our volunteers are retired. Some are not in good health because it’s hard to be when you’re over 70,” says Allison, one of seven volunteers at an independent food bank in the UK. (She preferred to withhold her last name in order to be able to speak more freely.

“We’ve given them the option of dropping out and obeying the government guidelines. But it does leave a hole. Now, if a family member coughs, people are gone at the drop of a hat.”

The challenges facing these vulnerable members of society are nothing new. Campaigners hope that this crisis will at least shine a light on the plight of those in poverty and without homes. “This coronavirus exposes the cracks in society — those who have mortgages and regular income could suddenly find themselves facing the same problems as people who are on benefits.

It might be that when all is said and done, previously comfortable people, suddenly forced to stare into the eyes of destitution, will agree with Sahota and be unable to accept that economic prudence is more important than looking after the livelihoods of fellow citizens.

This outbreak will change many things, and it’s not clear how many of those will be undone when it’s all over. Just how the world moves on from this is still anyone’s guess. But, if current projections are right, we in the West are still only in the early stages of this thing.

‘I’d love to have it open by Easter’: Trump says he wants to restart economy by mid-April
Americas

‘I’d love to have it open by Easter’: Trump says he wants to restart economy by mid-April

Despite health experts’ warnings, the president has signaled an eagerness to end the strict preventative measures his administration imposed last week.

Top Trump administration officials on Tuesday signaled that they were already laying the groundwork to restart the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic — a tremendous task that President Donald Trump revealed he would like to accomplish by mid-April.

“I’d love to have it open by Easter, OK? I would love to have it open by Easter. I will tell you that right now,” Trump said from the White House Rose Garden, where he and members of the administration’s coronavirus task force participated in a virtual town hall.

“It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’ll make it an important day for this, too,” he added. “I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”

Trump’s remarks came just hours after Vice President Mike Pence told conservative leaders on a private call that White House aides were discussing ways to encourage businesses to reopen and healthy Americans to return to work at the end of the current 15-day period of recommended social distancing, during which administration officials have asked Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and stay home as much as possible.

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The shifting message could set Trump on a collision course with health officials inside his administration, who have warned that resuming business as usual could worsen conditions by accelerating the spread of the coronavirus. Those experts are still searching for answers regarding the severity of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, as well as whether patients who recover from it become immune.

Senior administration officials, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, have shared concerns about the urgency of reopening the economy after hearing from a number of industry executives in recent days, while officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and some Republican lawmakers have advised the president to keep his focus on containing the threat — a mission that becomes more difficult if Americans return to work, they say.

Pence said on Tuesday that the president had no plans to overrule social-distancing guidance that state and local officials have issued to their residents, but that he was interested in softening federal guidelines in order to recharge the economy, according to five participants on the call.

“The vice president was clear in this call they’re not going to undermine governors and the decisions they are making, but he said the president wants to get the country back to work,” said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots and one of more than two dozen conservative leaders who spoke with Pence on Tuesday morning.

Trump’s eagerness to bring an end to strict preventative measures he imposed last Monday bubbled up over the weekend as he consulted with outside allies and top economic aides, many of whom warned him that the unemployment rate could reach 30 percent in the second quarter of 2020 if businesses remain shuttered.

CDC guidelines and more severe directives from state and local authorities have already thrust the U.S. economy into a severe recession as Americans remain largely confined to their homes and large corporations and small businesses shed employees.

Germany benefits from digital health infrastructure during COVID-19 pandemic
Europe

Germany benefits from digital health infrastructure during COVID-19 pandemic

Telemedicine platforms, bots, and IT systems help secure medical care remotely, enable efficient crisis management and accurate resource planning.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Innovation Hub has published a list of trusted telemedicine services (including costs, reimbursement policy, functionality and prices) that can be easily integrated into a doctor’s practice without technical know-how or hardware investments. Most of them are available for free.

“We see growing interest. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, only a few hundred doctors were interested in telemedicine solutions for teleconsultations. In the last few days, the number has increased to several thousands,” says Debatin. The secure digital platforms that facilitate doctor-patient interactions are helpful, especially nowadays – with citizens worried about their health when they are cut off from healthcare services by remaining at home. Remote consultations can be offered not only by family doctors but also by specialists, such as psychotherapists and psychologists. They also have to continue seeing their patients, and telemedicine is sometimes the only possibility.

Debatin hopes that, in the long-term, digital health services will settle into the healthcare market. Follow up appointments for chronic patients or prescription renewals can be done remotely, without compromising the quality of the health services. It also leads to a reduction in the workload of clinics. “Doctors gain more time for patients who really need a personal meeting and medical examination at the clinic. This is what digitalisation is about,” emphasises Debatin.

Is it a simple cold, flu or maybe coronavirus? A German startup, DOCYET, has created an application that helps to clarify whether a patient has the symptoms typical of a SARS-CoV-2 infection. This so-called Corona-Bot is updated daily, following the latest scientific publications and data provided by the government’s central scientific institution, the Robert Koch Institute, and the Federal Centre for Health Education. The free chatbot ask questions about symptoms and other factors that determine the probability of coronavirus infection. Ultimately the patient receives a clear risk assessment and further advice, including a telemedicine consultation with a chosen doctor.

“The crucial factor is that the bot offers patients access to relevant information from a trusted and evidence-based source. In using it, you can be sure you get the best advice. Such tools protect citizens from fake-news that can mislead,” says the chairman of Health Innovation Hub.

“We couldn’t manage the epidemic this well if we had not already digitalised the clinic,” says Debatin, recalling another crisis. Between 2011 and 2012, hospitals started to record rising numbers of patients infected with EHEC – a pathogen that can cause life-threatening intestinal inflammation with bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure.

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Debatin stated that “a clear situation overview wouldn’t be possible without digital technology,” during the ‘Talking Points’ webinar. Even seemingly simple tools like electronic health records help create a firm basis for reporting the current epidemiological situation with high accuracy. Access to transparent and reliable information is vital for coordination and effective resource management in healthcare, not only in an emergency.

Much more can be done to prepare for population health monitoring. Since precise mapping of the epidemiological situation is crucial for preventive measures, data donated by the users of wearables could reflect even more precisely the current state, broken down by zip codes.

“We have not gone far enough with the digital agenda in Germany to respond fully to the COVID-19 crisis. Many innovations that could help are planned, but not yet implemented,” says Debatin. He adds that “this pandemic is showing us that we dramatically need to empower the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control ECDC.” Apart from extracting the power of digital technologies, we should rethink a few issues in healthcare as well as strengthen the European health authorities. It is only when we take this approach that healthcare systems will be able to respond to epidemiological and other health threats in a coordinated and efficient way.

What happened to the black pestilence, which killed a third of Europe’s population? | Corona Virus |COVID-19
Europe

What happened to the black pestilence, which killed a third of Europe’s population? | Corona Virus |COVID-19

Those who have read Dan Brown’s Inferno thriller know the story of the World Health Organization (WHO) and security officials working to prevent the spread of a deadly virus. The Consortium, a group led by a billionaire named Zobrist, is trying to save some of the world’s population by killing a virus called Inferno. The name of the bioterrorist had already been assigned to Sobrist. The virus is stored in a plastic packet. The virus can spread so that it can kill millions if it breaks into water.
The story of this kind of biological weapon has become the subject of writing and movies, including Malayalam. But now is not the time to dismiss it as a story. The WHO has issued a warning that many germs of disease that are thought to have disappeared from the world still exist. Most of these currently have antibiotics against them. But a new study suggests that anyone who has the ability to resist the drug and the bacteria and viruses can easily get it ready. The report also warns against the possibility of using such germs as biological weapons.

The research against such biological weapons began in 2001, when anthrax was placed in a dust-proof container and sent to many dignitaries in the US. At the behest of the US Defense Department, a group of researchers was assigned to study such biological weapons. Dr Ashok Chopra, professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch, made the crucial announcement at the time. He is Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and has been studying Yersenia pestis, a bacterium that has spread since 2002.

The report, published in the journal Nature in connection with the development of three types of vaccines against the plague after 15 years of research, explains that terrorist organizations have little difficulty in bringing back the atoms we believe have been eliminated from the earth. The black plague, known as the Black Plague, has caused millions of deaths worldwide, including in India. The drug is currently fighting the plague. But Yersinia pestis, which is an antibiotic resistant, does not even need modern systems to treat bacteria. The WHO also placed the first place in the list of most dreaded infectious diseases in the world, plague. Anthrax, Ebola, and smallpox are the next highest. The coronavirus is now on that list.
The plague revealed its horror in the fourteenth century, eliminating one third of Europe’s population. During World War II, Japanese troops in many parts of China carried plague-infested rats through the rats. There have also been reports of the US and the Soviet Union interacting with plague bacteria in the air during the Cold War. The plague also spread in the United States in 1990, when animals were transported from Asia to San Francisco. This and the black pestilence of the fourteenth century were caused by bubonicus, a plague bacterium. The outbreak of plague in India in 1994 followed in Gujarat, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. There are three types of plague: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. All three are variants of Yersinia pestis.

Bubonic plague is most commonly transmitted by rat fever. The risk of death from bubonic plague is 40 to 70 percent if left untreated. Septicemic and pneumonic plague are also killers. Spreading through the air is the biggest killer of the pneumonic plague. In the US, the risk of plague death was 66 to 93 percent when antibiotics were not detected. It is currently down to 11 per cent. But according to WHO data, in 2013, 783 people in the world were infected. Of these, 126 were killed. Most of the deaths occurred in rural areas of Central and South Africa, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the southwestern part of the US. Madagascar, Congo, Peru According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of seven plague cases are reported annually in the US. In 2015, 16 people were affected by the plague and four of them died.
The Independent Telephone Portal once reported that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved vaccine-resistant vaccines, but none are manufactured. It is but against the bubonic plague. The most dangerous pneumonic plague is still going strong. Plague can be difficult to detect at the outset. The first cause of the flu is cold and flu. In that case, only antibiotics can be effective. But it can only be given on time. Meanwhile, chloramphenicol, an antibiotic thought to be the last resort to the plague, has been found to be resistant to the disease. It is in this context that Ashok Chopra’s vaccines become effective.

The vaccine was designed to eliminate three genes from plague bacteria. It is not curable when injected. Instead it will give the body better immunity. Bacteria are easily resistant to attack. Experiments in mice and animals have shown this to be effective for pneumonic plague. The vaccine has no other side effects. Ashok Chopra says more such tests should be implemented. Because someone like the Zobrist of Inferno is enough to make the whole world a pestilence.

UK army deployed to help COVID-19 fight amid lockdown
Europe

UK army deployed to help COVID-19 fight amid lockdown

British Ministry of Defence orders 20,000 troops to stand ready to take part in most serious health crisis in decades.
British army troops were deployed Tuesday to help health officials fight the coronavirus outbreak as the country begins a national lockdown which was announced last night.

“As of 23 March, there are 250 personnel deployed to assist civil authorities with the response,” British Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement, a day before the soldiers started to be seen across the country assisting the National Health Services.

“They are part of 20,000 armed forces personnel currently stood at readiness to take part,” it said, signaling the British public may start seeing more soldiers on streets.

The MoD also said Monday forces from Joint Helicopter Command were on standby to provide aviation capability in support to civil authorities as part of the military response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The men and women of our armed forces stand ready to protect Britain and her citizens from all threats, including COVID-19,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

He added: “The unique flexibility and dedication of the services means that we are able to provide assistance across the whole of society in this time of need.”

Boris Johnson in a televised speech Monday night declared the fight against the strain as “national emergency”, telling the public that they “must” stay at home to curb the further spread of the virus.

According to the official figures from the health officials, 335 people have lost their lives after contracting the coronavirus. There are 6,650 detected infections across the country so far.

Introducing the new measures last night, Johnson said they would be enforced by the police.
On Tuesday Wallace said: “From me downwards the entirety of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces are dedicated to getting the nation through this global pandemic.

“This will enable access to isolated communities that may not be able to obtain urgent medical care during the coronavirus crisis,” he said.

According to the new measures, more than two people can not meet in the public, they are only allowed to shop for essentials such as food and medicine, and all non-essential shops will close.

British government is under harsh criticism as many people think the earlier coronavirus strategy, which included a tactic of herd immunity, were wrong.

The herd immunity aims to spread a disease in the public and increase the immunity to the strain when most people recovered from it.

However, the fast spread of the virus has forced the government to follow various European countries, including Italy and Spain, to introduce stricter measures for social distancing to stem the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said more lives will be lost if people in the city continue traveling to work unnecessarily.

Khan’s warning came after photos emerged on social media Tuesday showing some London Underground carriages crammed with passengers.

He urged employers to enable their staff to work from home “unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
“Ignoring these rules means more lives lost,” he said.

The coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, first emerged in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to at least 168 countries and territories.

There are over 383,900 confirmed cases worldwide, with a death toll surpassing 16,500, while more than 101,900 have recovered, according to real-time data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

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A Chinese company offered Friday to replace thousands of faulty coronavirus test kits after Spanish health authorities – desperate for materials to cope with the world’s second highest COVID-19 death toll.
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