Tag: corona virus

Austria Bans entry of Italian out of fear of coronavirus outbreak
Europe

Austria Bans entry of Italian out of fear of coronavirus outbreak

Austria becomes the second nation after Britain to have held a restriction over movement of Italians into their country. The border is now been sealed and Italians are not permitted into the country, in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. They are only permitted into the country after showing relevant medical proof of being clear off any strains of the virus.

Also, Austrians returning from Italy would have to self-isolate for two weeks.
This was informed by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Austria has resorted to this measure after the Italian government imposed travel restrictions across the country. So far, Austria has reported more than 150 cases of coronavirus.

Italy has been worst effected European nation after China, where the onset started. There have been more than 10,000 cases of infection reported with more than 600 confirmed deaths.

Austria and Italy share a border north of Italy’s South Tyrol region making it vulnerable to infection travelling into Austria. Last week, South Tyrol, in common with the rest of Italy, closed all cultural centres and restricted access to bars and cafes to daytime hours. Italy’s nationwide lockdown limits travel to those with “verifiable work requirements or situations of necessity”. All sporting events have been suspended, and schools and universities have been shut until 3 April. Employees have been urged either to work from home or take annual leave.

For Austrians staying in Italy, we are currently organising a repatriation of these Austrians. Five mobile teams began health checks on the Brenner Pass as well as two other routes between the two countries. University teaching has also been suspended, as well as indoor events involving more than 100 people and outdoor events with more than 500.

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Pompeo ask Iran to liberate US citizens from prisons due to coronavirus outbreak
Americas

Pompeo ask Iran to liberate US citizens from prisons due to coronavirus outbreak

On Tuesday, the United States called on Iran to immediately release detained US prisoners with news of the spread of the new Corona virus in its prisons. “The United States will hold the Iranian regime directly responsible for the death of any American citizen,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement, warning of a decisive US response to this event.

Pompeo added: “The reports on the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Iranian prisons are worrying and the least they require is the complete and immediate release of all US citizens. Their detention amid increasingly deteriorating conditions defies basic human decency.”

According to CNN, at least four Americans are imprisoned in Iran, which has had more than 8,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 300 deaths. Courts across Iran have granted eligible convicts’ furlough as part of the measures to contain coronavirus in the country, said Judiciary Chief Hojatoleslam Ebrahim Raeisi. Pompeo reaffirmed the furlough of tens of thousands of prisoners demonstrated Iran’s ability to grant clemency and show mercy. “Any nation considering whether to provide Iran with humanitarian assistance because of COVID-19 should seek a reciprocal humanitarian gesture by the regime: release all wrongly detained dual and foreign national citizens. This request is well within the regime’s power to grant,” he added. “The United States will not rest until all Americans wrongfully detained abroad are returned home.”

Last week, the family of American prisoner Siamak Namazi asked in a statement for help getting him a temporary furlough as a fellow prisoner had tested positive for the Chinese virus COVID-19, countless others are sick and there are no treatments for the new virus. Previously, Iran announced it would release 70,000 prisoners resulted negative to COVID-19 tests, but Namazi was not among them. US president Donald Trump has offered assistance to the Iranian people, and the US State Department said it would consider support to Iranian administrators if they requested for it.

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America Retracts Troops Over Coronavirus Distraction
Americas

America Retracts Troops Over Coronavirus Distraction

We could thank the coronavirus for certain kind of calm that has dissented over the US –Iran war like possibilities which have currently died down. This is one reason that the U.S. military has begun to draw small numbers of troops out of the Middle East. The US military has been able to conclude that the threat of reprisal attacks from Iran or its proxies are going to continue to subside.

It has been confirmed troops that were deployed in Kuwait days after a key Iranian military individual was assassinated on the directions of the US President Donald Trump. About 1,000 combat troops have now been called back. The transition has happened over a span of two weeks. An additional 2,000 members of the same brigade are expected to leave the region in the weeks ahead, according to official statements.

America is known to provide a lot of military support to its military partners worldwide. Military support comprised combat troops, jet fighter squadrons, missile-defense systems, an American aircraft carrier and other warships. It is now confirmed that these all have left the region.

Political analysts believe that America’s strike over Iran’s top military official is a sign of their increasing irritation over Iran’s number of attacks that began last year, including attacks on commercial vessels, the downing of an American drone, and a drone and missile attack against an oil facility in Saudi Arabia.
Iran had denied the attacks and has been now busy trying to traverse its economy through the precarious waters of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Iran’s economy had been severely hit due to stringent economic sanctions levied on it by the US. he coronavirus has affected Iran’s ability to respond to the January strike, some Pentagon officials have concluded. “Their focus is internal,” one official said. Critics warned that it might be too early to conclude that Iran and its proxies won’t respond further.

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How Canada Has Learned Something From The 2003 SAR Outbreak
Americas

How Canada Has Learned Something From The 2003 SAR Outbreak

A new question lurking in the minds of Canada’s most populace province is whether they have the equipment in place to combat the outbreak of Covid-19 virus?

Ontario isn’t looking ready. A certain amount of readiness has become a miscalculation as millions of face masks kept away to handle the aftermath of the SARS outbreak have expired. The SARS outbreak caused by the Coronavirus in 2003 was somehow contained worldwide then. Ontario had purchased millions of protective masks to help healthcare workers during a future epidemic then. However as chances of the outbreak become more apparent worldwide, Canada might have to source for a fresh batch.

Ontario is known to have stockpiled some 55 million N95 masks and other medical equipment. Masks become less effective passed their expiration date. Canada has reported more than 70 cases of coronavirus infections as well as one death. Canadian hospitals have been told by provincial officials to maintain a four-week supply as standard policy. However, healthcare providers have expressed concerns over shortage of protective gears like masks.

The spread of the coronavirus has triggered a global shortage of N95 respirator masks. The United States, for example, has said it has about 12 million, but needs roughly 300 million. Canadian officials have said they are prepared to deal with the novel coronavirus because of lessons learned from the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak involving another coronavirus. SARS killed 44 people in the Toronto area in 2002 and 2003 after a series of hospital and public health failures.

Almost half the battle is won with preparedness and quick response to the medical situation. The lesson that Italy learned much later in the day, is something Canada can learn from quickly.

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Italy Places Complete Nation Under Quarantine To Combat Outbreak Of Covid-19 Virus
Europe

Italy Places Complete Nation Under Quarantine To Combat Outbreak Of Covid-19 Virus

Italy has become the worst hit European nation after the epicenter China, confirmed reports have said. With virtually all public gatherings banned, the city has been put on an official lockdown, allowing only essentially travel within the country.

In an attempt to contain the virus spread with the bounds of the country, the administration has taken a strict step of placing the entire national territory under quarantine. Travel is being allowed only if demonstrable reasons can be given for work or health reasons to concerned authorities. Evident restrictions also mean that bars and restaurants must close at 6 p.m., and virtually all public gatherings cease to exist as of now. In shops, churches and all public places, people must keep a distance between themselves of a meter, or just over 3 feet. Further, employees have been directed to take vacation and stay home or work from home where at all necessary.

Last Italy faced such situations was at the time of the World War -2. Never at peaceful times as of now, has any nation have had to face a situation which is being faced by Italy now.

It has been proven that general negligence led to a mass outbreak in Italy, and that 15 days before the case was discovered the virus had already entered Milan, one of the epicenter of the outbreak. Italian officials and health experts say the quarantine plan relies heavily on the general population playing its part by avoiding contact wherever possible, so as to slow the rate of new infections.

The daily death ratio is the highest in Italy at the moment and is being attributed more to an increasing ageing population. Elderly victims are more likely to suffer acutely from Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the pathogen. Around 89% of those who have died from the disease in Italy were aged 70 or over.

The rising number of severe virus cases is threatening to overwhelm hospitals in northern Italy, the center of the outbreak. Intensive-care beds are running out in the Lombardy region, of which Milan is the capital, say doctors there.

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What are the companies working on a cure or vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19) in the US?
Americas

What are the companies working on a cure or vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19) in the US?

In the United States, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health, are financing companies developing treatments or vaccines for COVID-19. The main companies working on the Chinese virus are: Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company and Vir Biotechnology.

Gilead Sciences is developing the treatment ‘Remdesivir’, so far at the phase 3 of the clinical trials. The drug maker is best known for evolving the first major cure for hepatitis-C in Sovaldi and HIV drugs, including Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Along with U.S. trials, Gilead is conducting a randomized, controlled clinical trial in Wuhan, testing remdesivir as a treatment for mild to moderate forms of pneumonia in people with the virus. The trial was given the go-ahead by China’s Food and Drug Administration in February. The trial is expected to conclude April 1, 2023.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is processing a pandemic adjuvant platform for vaccines named AS03 Adjuvant System. GSK is another leading vaccine maker, having brought to market vaccines for human papillomavirus (HPV) and the seasonal flu, among others. On Feb. 3, it said the CEPI-funded University of Queensland will have access to the British drug maker’s vaccine adjuvant platform technology, which is believed to both strengthen the response of a vaccine and limit the amount of vaccine needed per dose. On Feb. 24, GSK said that Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc., a Chinese biotechnology company, is also using adjuvant technology in combination with its vaccine candidate, COVID-19 S-Trimer, in preclinical studies. Dr. Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer for GSK Vaccines, is leading work on vaccines and the adjuvant platform.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc is studying the DNA-based vaccine INO-4800. The pharmaceutical colossal performed preclinical tests between Jan. 23 and Feb. 29 and is planning to begin clinical trials in the U.S. with 30 participants in April. It also plans to launch human trials in China and South Korea that same month, and that it has a total of 3,000 doses prepared for the trials in the three countries. Inovio said it expects to have the first results from the trial in the fall and to have 1 million doses of the vaccine ready for additional clinical trials or emergency use by the end of 2020.

Johnson & Johnson JNJ still processing a vaccine, or better still in the process of identifying a vaccine candidate, with BARDA, the public-health organization funding the Phase 1 trials. Similar to GSK, J&J’s AdVac and PER. C6 technologies are used to improve the development process for a vaccine and were also used to develop J&J’s experimental Ebola vaccine. “We are also in discussions with other partners, that if we have a vaccine candidate with potential, we aim to make it accessible to China and other parts of the world,” Dr. Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer, said in a statement. J&J also said Feb. 18 that it is partnering with BARDA on a project that aims to screen existing antiviral medications, including experimental or approved therapies, that may be effective against COVID-19.

Moderna received funding from CEPI to develop an mRNA vaccine against COVID-19. On Feb. 24, it said it had shipped the first batch of mRNA-1273 to the NIAID for a Phase 1 clinical trial in the U.S. According to a report of ‘Market Watch’ on Feb. 21, the NIAID said it would begin enrolling 45 healthy adult patients in an open-label Phase I clinical trial at one location to test mRNA-1273 as a vaccine for COVID-19 on March 19. The trial is expected to conclude June 1, 2021. Participants will be followed for one year. The trial will be conducted at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.

Regeneron announced last month it is working on developing monoclonal antibodies as treatments for COVID-19. The company’s VelocImmune platform uses genetically-engineered mice with humanized immune systems in preclinical testing. “We are aiming to have hundreds of thousands of prophylactic doses ready for human testing by end of August,” a spokesperson said. Christos Kyratsous, VP of infectious disease R&D and viral vector technology, is running the project.

Sanofi is working with BARDA to test a preclinical vaccine candidate for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) for COVID-19 using its recombinant DNA platform. It has a long history of producing vaccines in its Sanofi Pasteur business and acquired this candidate through its 2017 acquisition of Protein Sciences for $750 million. The French drugmaker previously worked with the organization on flu vaccines. Scientists in Meriden, Ct., are working on the vaccine; David Loew, Sanofi Pasteur’s EVP, is leading the project.

Takeda is one of the most recent entrants to the race to develop a treatment for COVID-19. The Japanese drugmaker said March 4 it plans to test hyperimmune globulins for people who are at high risk for infection. As part of its research, which will be performed in Georgia, Takeda said it would need access to plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 or those who have received a vaccine if one is developed. Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, president of Takeda’s vaccine business, is the co-lead of the company’s COVID-19 response team. Like J&J, Takeda plans to examine whether other therapies, both experimental or with regulatory approval, may have treatment potential.

Virbiotecnology is collaborating with Shanghai-based WuXi Biologics to test monoclonal antibodies as a treatment for COVID-19. If the treatment is approved, WuXi will commercialize it in China, while Vir will have marketing rights for the rest of the world. The preclinical company is run by George Scangos, the former CEO of Biogen.

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Saudi and Russia Refuse To See Eye-to-Eye As Market Floods With Crude
Middle East & Africa

Saudi and Russia Refuse To See Eye-to-Eye As Market Floods With Crude

Saudi Arabia and Russia’s skirmish over the oil prices has rocked the whole oil economy worldwide. The OPEC leader has been able to convince investors to move ahead with its decisions to pull down prices and escalate output, a decision that Russia has been completely against.

It is now confirmed that investors are responding to Saudi Arabia’s decision over the weekend, despite existing threats to demand from the coronavirus epidemic. The decision has petted both heavy weights against each other.

Earlier it was the US against Iran and now it’s the Kingdom against Moscow. It is extremely important that Russia comes back to the negotiation table soon. Else, investors worry companies will default, making banks less willing to lend, and causing the economy to stutter.

Saudi Arabia has made the deepest cuts ever in the last 20 years, as a country which thrives on the sales of its hydrocarbons. With Russia vetoing the Kingdom’s decision, an evitable collapse of the OPEC is being preempted. A four year long alliance between Saudi Arabia and Russia has formally come to an end.

Political analysts believe that the cataclysmic collapse will resonate through the energy industry, from giants like Exxon Mobil Corp. to smaller shale drillers in West Texas. It will hit the budgets of oil-dependent nations from Iraq to Nigeria and could also reshape global politics, eroding the influence of countries like Saudi Arabia. The fight against climate change may suffer a setback as fossil fuels become more competitive versus renewable energy.

Economies are going down miserably all over the globe. The yield on the 10-year Treasury tumbled to 0.387%. Yields move inversely to prices. In Europe, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index dropped 2.8% with France’s CAC 40 benchmark dropping 2.7% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 off 8.4%

Australia saw its worst again after 2008 recession when the S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 7.3%, taking it back to its old memories of being caught in the depths of the global financial crisis. The story in Japan is no better. Japan’s Nikkei 225 declined 5.1%, its biggest daily drop since 2016. The yen, which often rallies in times of market stress, surged to trade below 103 to the dollar, at its strongest levels since 2016.

It is also looking like that desperate to keep the inventories into check and hammered by withering demand due to the coronavirus, the oil market is quickly flooding the market with crude, leading to a situation of a supply free-for-all. Long term repercussions could be catastrophic on each and every partnering nation economy.

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Coronavirus: Germany, France withdraw their ambassadors from North Korea
Europe

Coronavirus: Germany, France withdraw their ambassadors from North Korea

Germany and France have decided to withdraw their ambassadors from North Korea and closed their missions on Monday, the British ambassador there said, amid growing concern in the isolated country after the coronavirus outbreaks. North Korea has not confirmed any cases of the coronavirus but it has made foreigners from any country that has reported a case spend 30 days in quarantine. It has also reinforced border checks, al-Arabiya reported adding that North Korea is sandwiched between China, where the virus emerged late last year and has infected more than 80,000 people, and South Korea, where the virus has spread readily over the past few weeks to infect nearly 7,500 people.

It must be said that the Britain’s ambassador to North Korea, Colin Crooks, didn’t say why his German and French colleagues were leaving North Korea, nor did he mention the coronavirus. “Sad to say farewell this morning to colleagues from German Embassy and French Office in North Korea which are closing temporarily,” Crooks said on Twitter, reaffirming that the British Embassy remains open. Crooks also shared photos showing white vans, apparently taking his French and German colleagues to the airport. Germany has a delegation in North Korea, while France doesn’t have formal diplomatic relations with the Country, but runs an office there to foster exchanges. CNN has reported a plan was under way to evacuate some 60 foreign diplomats from North Korea, including those from Germany, French and Switzerland. Sweden’s ambassador to North Korea, Joachim Bergstrom, last week posted a picture on Twitter of himself in Pyongyang, and said he was happy to be out of the compound where he was quarantined for a month.

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Italian Chief of Army positive to Coronavirus, while the Country fall in the chaos
Europe

Italian Chief of Army positive to Coronavirus, while the Country fall in the chaos

The Chief of Staff of the Italian Army, Salvatore Farina, has resulted positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and has self-quarantined, according to Italian Defense Ministry. General Farina will remain in isolation in his home and will be replaced by General Federico Bonato, a short statement revealed on Sunday. So far, Italy is the third Country for number of infections by the Chinese virus, with 366 fatalities and 7,375 confirmed cases. Millions of people were placed under forced quarantine in northern Italy early Sunday as the government approved drastic measures in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

According to Italian authorities two thousand soldiers are ready to intervene on a regional basis, doctors and nurses already sent to the outbreaks, evacuations with bio containment by helicopter, 6600 beds available and a field hospital, Role 2 plus, which can be mounted anywhere with intensive care capacity. The army even set up an alternate operations room in two different places in the capital, Rome. If one becomes infected and ends up in quarantine, it will be replaced by the other.

Italian soldiers, however, are stunned by the government’s latest risky move which has created panic and confusion over the new security zones. “The big mistake is that everything had to be baked before the decree was signed,” explains a military source in an interview with the local newspaper “Il Giornale”. If it means that no one can enter or exit without valid and specific reasons, it must be belted, otherwise the panicked people flee to the south of the Country or abroad, as happened in Milan. «On the contrary, the decree provides that the prefects are to enforce it. First, they will ask the Ministry of Interior for the availability of the police. And when they are not enough, they will turn to Defense» explains the official.

In the meantime, the safety zones to be isolated exist only on paper or the controls will remain mild and useless. If not harmful because they push panic-stricken people to flee with the risk of infecting other areas of the country which is falling into chaos.

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UAE’s admirable initiative in helping friendly countries like Yemen and Sudan save their citizens from coronavirus
Middle East & Africa

UAE’s admirable initiative in helping friendly countries like Yemen and Sudan save their citizens from coronavirus

About 200 Sudanese from China left the country to UAE, on Emirates Airlines, to put them in quarantine for 25 days, before returning to the capital, Khartoum. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has spared no effort to help the most troubled countries like Sudan and Yemen to save and protect their citizens from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China. The United Arab Emirates has coordinated with Sudan, Yemen and other Arab embassies for the evacuation of their nationals from Wuhan City in China. The evacuees have been transferred at the newly established Emirates Humanitarian City in the UAE, and will undergo medical testing and monitoring to ensure their health and safety before they go back to their home countries. Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, immediately decided to establish a healthcare facility that will provide the individuals hailing from neighbouring countries with the necessary monitoring and preventative medical care following their evacuation from the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The UAE’s decision to transfer stuck Sudanese and Yemeni students comes as part of an unending effort to help the Arab brothers. Several Arab ambassadors praised the UAE’s humanitarian initiative to evacuate citizens of friendly countries from Wuhan, and host them in the UAE humanitarian city. The ambassadors added that this humanitarian gesture is not strange for the UAE’s leadership, government and people, who always lead in providing humanitarian assistance everywhere. Fahad Saeed Al Menhali, Ambassador of Yemen to the UAE, thanked Abu Dhabi and its leadership for the humanitarian initiative, stressing that the Yemeni people will remember its supportive stance to stand by them during good and bad times. Also, Mohammed Amin Abdulla Al Kareb, Ambassador of Sudan to the UAE, praised the rapid response of the UAE’s government to the request of the Sudanese government to evacuate Sudanese students studying in China. who thanked the UAE’s leadership for its humanitarian actions while expressing his gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, UAE Ambassador to Sudan, and the staff of the UAE Embassy in Khartoum, who fully coordinated with the Sudanese government during the evacuation process.

Zaid Ezzeddine Mohammed Nouri, Ambassador of Iraq to the UAE, He praised the UAE’s efforts to help Iraqis who are in China and suffering from difficult conditions and their keenness to cooperate with Iraq while affirming that the UAE leads in supporting Iraq after 2003. The World Health Organization on Monday sent its first planeload of assistance to Iran to help fight coronavirus, dispatching six medics with tonnes of medical equipment and test kits aboard a UAE military aircraft. As the supplies worth more than $300,000 – including gloves, surgical masks and respirators – were loaded onto the United Arab Emirates military transport plane in Dubai. WHO operations manager Nevien Attalla said some 15,000 health workers in Iran would benefit from the UAE supplies which were the “first big shipment which supports the response to coronavirus”.

The Emirati’s efforts to help humanity overcome the Coronavirus challenge continue uninterruptedly. Mohamed Bin Zayed and Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, yesterday discussed over a phone call, ways to enhance humanitarian cooperation in health as well as disease and epidemic control in the light of the success they have achieved in several previous global partnerships and initiatives. According to WAM news agency, Sheikh Mohamed and Gates also spoke about the possibility of intensifying cooperation and joint work between UAE’s humanitarian institutions and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, and support the efforts of the international community, governments and societies to limit its spread. They reviewed the most important humanitarian initiatives and partnerships between the two sides which aim to reduce the spread of diseases and epidemics that hinder social and economic development.

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