Tag: Coronavirus Pandemic

EU proposes 750 billion Euros fund to restart pandemic-hit economies
Europe

EU proposes 750 billion Euros fund to restart pandemic-hit economies

EU proposes 750 billion Euros fund to restart pandemic-hit economies
The fund, dubbed Next Generation EU, will help European countries tackle job losses, growth and help stir their economies towards the Green Deal and digitalisation.

The European Commission announced the €750 billion proposal to tackle the “unprecedented crisis” precipitated by the coronavirus. Calling it “Europe’s moment”, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the fund will not only support its recovery but also invest in its future. The package is made up of grants and loan for each of 27 EU member states.

Currently, the proposal calls for €500 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans. These will be raised from the capital markets on the back of the EU’s strong credit rating and also by lifting the EU’s resource ceiling to 2% of its gross national income. The EU and its members will pay back the money raised on the capital markets over 30 years between 2028 and 2058.

Some of the southern countries who had been labouring under massive national debts even before the pandemic hit, were one of the first to welcome to move. Spain and Italy, which have seen a lot devastation in the wake of the coronavirus, have said that they would prefer grants rather than loans that would add to their public debt.

This breakup of grants and loans is less acceptable to countries like Austria and the Netherlands, which along with Demark and Sweden are called the “frugal four”, who want help to be extended more in the form of loans rather than cash handouts that would lay a disproportionate burden of recovery on them. While the EU and some of its members are anxious to get all the states on board and start disbursing the funds, these differences would first need to be settle, which is challenging in face of the travel restrictions in place across the continent.

The funds will be disbursed along with €1.1 trillion budget for 2021-27. This and the earlier €500 billion rescue package proposed by Germany and France, would bring the total amount available to the EU to €2.4 trillion.

Corona Pandemic: Doctors in Egypt warn healthcare system might ‘collapse’
Middle East & Africa

Corona Pandemic: Doctors in Egypt warn healthcare system might ‘collapse’

Egypt’s healthcare sector is reeling under crisis as doctors’ protest against the health ministry’s casual approach towards safety measures for healthcare staff amid COVID crisis.

Doctors have accused the ministry of being “negligent” and “responsible” for the death of medics’ deaths.

A statement from a doctors’ union on 25 May said that so far, 19 doctors have died due to COVID-19 infection. In addition to this, about 350 doctors have been infected with the deadly virus.

The union warned that the healthcare system might “collapse” if there is a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). There is a shortage of beds for COVID patients.

The health minister retorted that medic staff have been provided “best care” possible and have “sufficient protection kits”.

The number of COVID infected cases in Egypt has risen to 17, 967, with more than 750 deaths.

The doctors’ union reminded the ministry that they have a duty to protect those who are frontline warriors to fight the novel coronavirus. It appealed to the department to provide urgent help with safety kits.

The Health Minister Hala Zayed responding to the current situation said that the ministry has allotted one floor in 20 beds capacity hospital, meant for treating COVID patients, for medics.

Ms. Zayed said all staff while entering and leaving the hospital are being tested for coronavirus. She also assured that there is a “sufficient” stock of protective gear.

She also added that COVID related fatality among doctors is 11 and not 19.
The latest protest comes after a 31-year-old doctor died in Cairo. The doctor could not be admitted to a hospital due to a lack of bed in a quarantine facility.

The deceased doctor’s brother wrote a critical post on Facebook, criticizing the medic’s lack of adequate steps.

Ten of the deceased doctor’s colleagues at the Al-Munira hospital resigned by sharing a mass letter on Facebook on 25 May, demanding better facilities. The hospital officials, however, have denied any such act.

As per reports, another doctor from Al Shoroukh Hospital has resigned recently complaining over the lack of PPE and testing facilities.

Europe evaluates a 500 billion Recovery fund, most grants
Europe

Europe evaluates a 500 billion Recovery fund, most grants

The proposal on the anti-crisis recovery fund from Covid-19, which Ursula von der Leyen will present to the European Parliament the day after tomorrow, should not differ much from the plan of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. A € 500 billion recovery fund, active until 2022, made up for the most of grants, in addition to a European budget of around € 1,000 billion: these are the figures of the proposal that the EU Commission will present, according to Martin Selmayr, Commission representative in Austria, in an interview with the local news agency. Selmayr explains that the breakdown of loans and grants is still not definitive, but a 60% or 70% non-refundable loan should go.

Selmayr explained that for the Recovery fund, the vast majority will be subsidies, but the distribution percentage is not yet defined, although the ratio of grants to loans will be 60% or 70%, to 40% or 30%. Selmayr said to be confident that EU member States will reach an agreement by the summer. The countries will benefit from the Recovery funds through four channels, about 50% will be conveyed through the Recovery instrument, which supports the reforms and strengthens the resilience of the EU Member States, an instrument already included in the Eurozone budget.

The other half will go into three different channels: new cohesion funds, a fair transition fund, and the ‘Invest EU’ program, which supports strategic investments and supports liquidity for businesses. Selmayr also revealed that the EU Commission will propose new own resources, an emission tax for non-EU countries in addition to the plastic and the emissions trading system tax, and a tax for access to the internal market designed for large multinationals.

Measures that could bring up to 300 billion in the EU accounts. As for the EU budget proposal, Selmayr told the Commission is aiming for the figure under discussion already in February, that is above one thousand billion. And to satisfy the prudent, the discounts on contributions to the EU budget that some countries are already benefiting, including Denmark, Sweden, and Holland, will remain in force. The fact the plan draws a new economic instrument, born under the sign of COVID-19, designed specifically to open a new phase in Europe, directed by the crisis rather than by the will of individual states. A shock that is overwhelming the initial resistance of some countries like Germany and the 4 penalty takers.

Unemployment in the US surpasses that during the Great Recession
Americas

Unemployment in the US surpasses that during the Great Recession

Figures indicated that almost 1 in 4 of all working Americans have now filed for unemployment benefits.

Even as the lockdown is being lifted across all the states in the USA, the number of people filing unemployment benefits continues to climb. Since mid-March, roughly 38.6 million people have entered the dole, almost a quarter of the workforce. The weekly numbers of people seeking benefits have fallen since the peaks of March but more people are also starting to enroll under the government’s pandemic relief programme.

While the latest weekly figures stood at 2.4 million (as opposed to 6.9 million in the end of March), another 2.4 million self-employed and gig workers have enrolled in the special federal programme. These numbers are bounds to grow as more and more states start implementing the new programme. Unemployment claims made during the coronavirus crisis have already exceeded the 37 million claims made over the entire 18 months of the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate skyrocketed from the 50-year lows of 3.5% in February to 14.7% in April with more than 20 million jobs lost in the past month alone. It is likely that more than 40% of these job cuts will be permanent, i.e they might not see a revival once the lockdown is lifted. Nearly half of all US households have lost income since the start of the pandemic and another 37% will do so in the next month. Experts say that this will get much worse before it begins to get better and progress will be slow.

It is clear that the government will no longer risk further damage to the economy by enforcing the lockdown But there is no uncertainty over how effective this lifting of lockdown will be in reviving the economy. Reopening the economy does not necessarily mean hiring will start again, analyst says. While 35 states reopened last week, nine of them actually saw an increase in the number of new workers claiming unemployment benefits.

Wall Street analysts point out that the recovery of the economy and its pace is now largely dependent on government’s economic-stimulus policy and the medical progress in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19, latest measures adopted by EU
Europe

COVID-19, latest measures adopted by EU

Citizens around the world are worried. For their health, for their families, for their jobs, due to coronavirus. The pandemic is severely testing European governments and economies, and has pushed the European Union to move quickly to protect its international credibility. The Council of EU welcomed the World Health Assembly’s adoption on the importance of a collective response to the COVID-19. The 195 Member States of the World Health Organisation (WHO) have convened at the Assembly in unprecedented times, showing their determination to defeat the virus through collective, global action. A statement by the Council affirms, adding that the virus knows no borders, and neither should the EU response.

For Europe strengthening multilateralism is now more important than ever. The resolution underlines the importance of responding to this crisis through solidarity and multilateral cooperation under the umbrella of the United Nations. It sets out actions for every single State. For countries around the world, for the WHO and for other international actors, including civil society and the private sector. The role of equitable access to a vaccine in bringing the pandemic to an end is crucial. As a global, public health good it has to be affordable and accessible to everyone. Also, access to affordable equipment, medicines and treatments is vital. On 4 May, together with global partners, the EU launched a global pledging effort, which has so far gathered €7.4 billion from donors worldwide to ensure universal and affordable access to new solutions to detect, treat and prevent COVID-19.

Yesterday’s resolution recognises the need for engagement with the public through reliable information and the need to combat the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation. The resolution also recalls the need of an independent investigation of how this pandemic started and spread, as member States need to draw lessons from the current crisis to strengthen their global preparedness for the future. “By working together, united, and in solidarity, we will overcome this pandemic. Now is the time to work together. The health of each of us depends on the health of all of us”. The High Representative and Vice-President, Josep Borrell, and Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a joint press release.

As part of its emergency support package to tackle the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the EU has put in place a temporary instrument to help workers keep their jobs during the crisis. According to the decision, EU member states will be able to request up to €100 billion in loans under favourable terms to help finance sudden and severe increases of national public expenditure in response to the crisis in specific areas. SURE (Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency) is one of the three safety nets, worth €540 billion, for jobs and workers, businesses and member states, agreed by the Eurogroup and endorsed by EU leaders. The EU is also adapting certain rules for different transport sectors to help companies and authorities cope in the extraordinary circumstances created by the coronavirus crisis. The Council adopted temporary measures enabling the extension of the validity of certain certificates and licences in road, rail and waterborne transport, and relaxing the rules on charging ships for the use of port infrastructures.

“Enabling the extension of the validity of licences and certificates will provide the flexibility and legal certainty needed to maintain our supply chains and ensure continued mobility by road, rail, sea and inland waterways, while safeguarding safety and security. The possibility of waiving port infrastructure charges will help mitigate the serious negative impact of the crisis on the shipping sector.” Oleg Butković, Croatian Minister for the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, President of the Council, affirmed.

The regulation enabling the extension of the validity of certificates and licences will support those transport operators, individuals and national administrations that, owing to the coronavirus restrictions, are having difficulties fulfilling certain administrative formalities before the expiry of the relevant deadlines. This applies for instance to driving licences, roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and boat-masters’ certificates. Certain periodic checks in the road, rail, inland navigation and shipping sectors will also be postponed temporarily, as they may not be feasible in current circumstances.

The text takes into account the fact that, given the differences in the spread of the pandemic throughout Europe, some member states are able to continue to deliver specific licences or certificates, while others -like Italy, France and Spain – find it difficult or impossible to do so. However, even if a country continues to issue licences itself, it will need to accept licences originating in another member state which has used the possibility of extending their validity. This will help ensure the smooth functioning of the internal market and continued cross-border activities.

On Wednesday, the Council also adopted a decision to provide up to 3 billion euros of macro-financial assistance to ten enlargement and neighbourhood partners to help them cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the text of the decision, financial assistance will be provided in the form of loans on highly favourable terms and allocated as follows: €180 million for Albania; €250 million for Bosnia-Herzegovina; €150 million for Georgia; €200 million for Jordan; €100 million for Kosovo; €100 million for Moldova; €60 million for Montenegro; €160 million for the Republic of North Macedonia; €600 million for Tunisia and €1200 million will be allocated to Ukraine. With the support from the International Monetary Fund, the funds will help enhance macroeconomic stability and create space to allow resources to be allocated towards protecting citizens and to mitigating the negative socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hydroxychloroquine – A preventive drug for Coronavirus? Fact Check!
Geopolitics

Hydroxychloroquine – A preventive drug for Coronavirus? Fact Check!

Hydroxychloroquine Coronavirus treatment is give by the doctors in USA since the President Donald Trump is Taking Hydroxychloroquine to prevent Coronavirus

Hydroxychloroquine has been long under discussion since the global COVID-19 pandemic commenced. But recently, various debates and discussions have started afresh as U.S. President Donald Trump voluntarily announced that he is taking the drug to prevent coronavirus infection.

President Trump has long touted hydroxychloroquine as preventive measure for the virus and this has been the latest addition to his weeks-long advocacy for the drug as being the “game changer” for coronavirus infection.

Background and Facts First

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug which is also commonly used for treatment of various auto-immune diseases like Lupus.

President Trump made headlines on Monday when he announced that he is taking drug for prevention of coronavirus, which he claimed all the frontline workers are also taking. He said, “You look at doctors and nurses. A lot of them are taking it as a preventative.”

Presently various trials are under process in U.S. to determine whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent the infection in frontline health workers when used prophylactically.

However, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has still not approved the drug as a prophylactic measure to prevent coronavirus infection or to be used as a treatment measure in those infected, outside the hospitals.

FDA has further warned of using hydroxychloroquine outside the hospital setting away from doctor’s supervision due to the heart rhythm variations it causes.

Studies currently in motion

There are two major studies under progression in U.S.

In April, Henry Ford Health System in Michigan started an 8-week large scale study to determine the effect of hydroxychloroquine in preventing or impeding the spread of coronavirus infection in health care workers and first responders.

A group of selected 3000 healthcare workers were given unmarked vials of either hydroxychloroquine or placebo, to be taken once a week. The effects of study and preliminary results are expected to be released in August.

Duke Clinical Research Institute is predominantly studying the prevention of infection with use of hydroxychloroquine. The second phase of study, clinical trial started last month with almost 600 healthcare workers included. This study can stretch into fall.

What is the stand of FDA?

FDA granted emergency authorization to doctors in March to use hydroxychloroquine and a similar drug, chloroquine in hospitals for limited number of COVID-19 patients.

Under the Emergency Use Authorization, the drugs can be used in hospitals where there is strict monitoring of heart.

Since then many studies have tested the preventive and treatment efficacy of hydroxychloroquine.

In April end, FDA issued a caution against the use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus “outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.”

The most recently issued guidelines of FDA conclude that “hydroxychloroquine has not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19.”

Amidst climbing coronavirus cases, Mexico prepares to open the economy
Geopolitics

Amidst climbing coronavirus cases, Mexico prepares to open the economy

Even as local government and activists pushed back against the decision, the federal government announced the opening of certain industries.

Guidelines issued overnight by the federal government of Mexico called for the restarting of operations of certain sectors like automotive, mining and construction. Companies would be required to submit health protocols for exiting the virus lockdown which will be approved within 72 hours. The lockdown will remain in place but these sectors have been reclassified as “essential services” by the General Health Council, the country’s top advisory body on the pandemic.

It is believed that the move comes after growing pressure from the neighbouring US to reopen factories that are critical to the supply chains of US-based business, especially in the automotive sector. The sector in the US has started coming back online after a long hiatus, with vehicle assembly plants reopening and suppliers gearing for a ramp-up in production.

But plans to reopen in Mexico have not been met with approval by some politicians and activists who continue to be concerned about the growing pandemic in Latin America, rising national toll and uncertainty about the work conditions waiting for those being sent back to work.

Local governments in the country pushed back against President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador’s call to slowly being online the economy in some 300 townships with no active cases of the coronavirus – called “municipalities of hope. Many states are deciding to not allow any relaxation yet, preferring to wait until June to consider resuming activities.

A newspaper poll showed that 67% of Mexicans believed the pandemic hasn’t peaked yet and the worst was yet to come. Only 20% thought it was over. Meanwhile, Mexico’s coronavirus death toll has crossed 5,300 with over 51,000 cases. Last week, the country reported a record number of 353 COVID-19-related fatalities in a single day and 2,437 new infections in another single day in the same week.

COVID Pandemic: WHO, a Chinese ‘Puppet,’ accuses US President Trump
Americas

COVID Pandemic: WHO, a Chinese ‘Puppet,’ accuses US President Trump

The World Health Organization (WHO) seems to have turned into a battle pitch for the US and China amid coronavirus crisis.

Yesterday the US President Donald Trump alleged that the world health body is a Chinese “puppet.” Trump also reiterated that he is considering reducing the budget for WHO or completely snapping ties with the WHO.

The US President said, “They’re a puppet of China, they’re China-centric to put it nicer.”

President Trump has suspended funds to WHO in April 2020. Issuing an ultimatum, the President said if the health body did not make improvements in 30 days, the US would have to relook at its membership.

Trump who is very active on Twitter, shared a letter written to the WHO Director General Tedros Adhnom

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In the letter, Trump has written: “If the WHO does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership,”

(if this tweet can be embedded in the story?)

Ever since corona cases have gone up in the US, President Trump has been accusing the WHO of spreading China’s “disinformation.”

WHO officials have denied any role and clarified that China was transparent about COVID cases.  

On 18 May, the WHO official announced that an independent review of coronavirus response would be conducted. The Health body also announced that it had received an enormous amount of aid from China. 

The US, according to the President, pays WHO about $ 450 million, and China pays about $38 million a year.

The US, Australia, India, Russia, and 96 other countries have launched an attack on China and demanded an international investigation on the origin of the Coronavirus. 

The resolution to demand a probe has been tabled at the World Health Assembly of the WHO. The Assembly is meeting virtually from 18-19 May 2020.

Ahead of the assembly meeting, the Chinese government made a statement that it is premature to seek a probe now. 

Since China reported the first case of COVID from Wuhan last year, more than 4 million people have been affected by the virus, killing about 315,000 people worldwide. The US, which is fighting to bring down the spread of virus, has threatened China with sanctions, investigations, and trade war.

How Middle East and North Africa is emerging from the coronavirus pandemic
Middle East & Africa

How Middle East and North Africa is emerging from the coronavirus pandemic

Countries all over the world are announcing their strategies to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Middle East and North Africa region is no diverse. Even countries like Tunisia and Algeria, which have not suffered a heavy infection rate or death toll, are eager to cautiously reopen their activities and get people back to work. Here is a roundup of the latest developments from countries in the MENA area.

Tunisia has announced a reduction of its nocturnal curfew hours after three consecutive days without recording any new coronavirus cases. The North African democracy imposed the curfew in March, aiming to reduce the spread of the virus by keeping people at home, combined with a lockdown that shuttered all but key shops and services. President Kais Saied has cut the curfew hours from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. instead of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., 10 days after the start of a gradual reopening of the administration and economy. It follows the government’s decision that no new coronavirus cases have been recorded for three days in a row, with 1,032 confirmed cases in total and 45 deaths.

Algeria has started producing rapid test kits for the novel coronavirus, with a detection time of 15 minutes and a production capacity of 200,000 units per week, the government said on Monday. The laboratory in the capital Algiers develops the test kits in partnership with Canadian and Jordanian firms, a junior minister in charge of pharmaceutical production Lotfi Benbahmed said on state television. The country has allocated $100 million to import medical equipment and pharmaceutical products to counter the virus. It has also received medical donations from China over the past days. The government has imposed a nationwide curfew, ordered the closure of most businesses, and suspended public transport to slow the spread of the virus. Algeria has so far reported 5,891 confirmed infections, with 507 deaths and 2,841 recoveries

According to the Ministry of Health in Egypt, COVID-19 cases have reached 11, 228 with a death toll of 592 on Friday. The government agency also announced that 2799 cases people have recovered from the disease in Egypt since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. With approximately a week left in Ramadan and many aspects of everyday life expected to resume normally, the Ministry announced a three-phase plan to tackle the rapidly increasing cases of infections. The first phase, which will see more strict measures, will go on until the total number of coronavirus cases faces a downward trend for at least two weeks. The second phase will gradually see an ease in restrictions and start after 2 weeks of a reduction in cases and will go on for 28 days. The third phase will have the lightest precautions and continue until further announcements are instructed by the World Health Organization. Recently, the Egyptian government has been facing mounting public pressure to redress its COVID-19 response, with many, including the president of the country’s Medical Syndicate, calling for a full lockdown.
Currently, the government is maintaining a partial lock-down from 6,00 am to 9,00 pm until further notice.

UAE Department of Economic Development (DED) issued last week new coronavirus-related guidelines to allow businesses to re-open and employees to resume workplace attendance. The guidelines state that low risk individuals are eligible to be in the workplace, but those who can effectively do their jobs remotely should continue to work from home. The criteria for low risk individuals eligible to be in the workplace: Aged 18 – 55, live alone or with low risk individuals, and not suffering from any chronic diseases. People above the age of 55, pregnant women, and those living with anyone suffering from chronic diseases or living with anyone above the age of 60 are not eligible to return to the workplace. The DED said that employers are required to accommodate their staff’s needs, including allowing parents who choose to work from home while schools are closed to do so and not pressuring or penalizing those who are not eligible to return to work. The guidelines include measures to be implemented in each workplace, in addition to sector-based measures for construction, manufacturing and utilities, financial services, retail and wholesale, transportation, and restaurants and hospitality. All businesses must implement social distancing, sanitization of work and communal spaces, and capping attendance capacity at 30 percent.

Oman confirmed 404 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, raising the total to 5,029 as the death toll climbed to 20, according to a health ministry statement. Meanwhile, the Sultanate’s number of recoveries increased to 1,436 as more patient continue to recover. Most of the newly recorded cases are non-Omanis and 67 are Omani nationals, the health ministry said. The ministry continued to urge individuals to maintain social distancing and adhere to preventative measures implemented to slow the spread of the deadly virus. “With our commitment to health isolation and social distancing, we will prevent ourselves, our families, and our community from the spread of the coronavirus,” the ministry said in a statement. Oman announced its first two cases of the virus on February 24 after two Omani women were infected during a trip to Iran. Strict measures were imposed throughout Oman to prevent the further spread of the virus. A lockdown had been implemented in the capital Muscat and was extended until the end of May. Ramadan mass gatherings were also banned throughout the Sultanate.

A group of Saudi researchers at the Research Center of King Faisal Specialist Hospital (KFSH) in Riyadh developed a diagnostic test to detect coronavirus infection. The test is based on analysing the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of the COVID-19 virus and has been approved by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (FDA). Malls and shopping centers in Saudi Arabia will remain open until May 22 (Ramadan 29), said Commerce Ministry Spokesman Abdulrahman al-Hussain on Thursday. The spokesman listed four coronavirus-related precautionary measures the public must follow while shopping: Wearing a face mask at all times, sanitizing hands before and after using shopping carts or other shop amenities, shopping alone or with one other person only while adhering to the ban of the entry of children under the age of 15 and the ban of shopping in groups, and social distancing.

Saudi Arabia had shut down all malls across the Kingdom on March 15 as part of the government’s measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. However, on April 25, during the early days of the Holy month of Ramadan, King Salman bin Abdelaziz ordered partially easing the coronavirus restrictions implemented by the government.

Qatar reported on Friday 1,153 new cases of coronavirus infection, raising the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country up to 29,425. The Ministry of Health said most of the cases were expat workers who contracted the virus after coming into contact with previously infected individuals, as well as detecting new cases among groups of workers in different regions. “Cases of infection have also increased among citizens and residents as a result of contact with infected family members who had been infected in the workplace or through visits and family gatherings,” the ministry said. It added that Qatar “has now entered the peak phase of the virus outbreak, which is seeing a rise in the number of daily recorded infections.” The ministry stressed the importance of following precautionary measures such as social distancing during this phase. It called on the public to refrain from social visits during the rest of the holy month of Ramadan and in Eid Al-Fitr.

Brazil health minister quits as Corona cases continue to spike
Americas

Brazil health minister quits as Corona cases continue to spike

The resignation of Brazilian health minister yesterday has again raised questions about the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Minister Nelson Teich resigned on 15 May just weeks after he was appointed to lead the ministry.

The country has now emerged as one of the worst hotspots of Coronavirus.

There were differences between the President and the minister’s views on reopening the economy and anti-malaria drugs to treat COVID cases.

President Bolsonaro has pushed to reopen the economy, and there has been less consultation with his health ministry on such moves. The President has also advocated the widespread use of Hydroxychloroquine – the anti-malarial drug to treat COVID positive cases.

According to reports, Brazil has more than 200,000 COVID cases as of 14 May 2020. As many as 13, 933 people have died.

Health experts believe that the number of cases is likely to be higher if tests are increased. Public Health experts have believed the numbers of corona positive cases are expected to go up as the country is yet to peak.

Teich is the second health minister to resign in recent weeks amid the COVID pandemic.

Opposition parties were quick to criticize the President. Opposition leader in Congress said Brazil is heading towards a public health catastrophe, and the President must be impeached.

Marcelo Ramos, Liberal Party Congressman, said the President would accept those who show disregard for science-based public healthcare policy.

Teich, an oncologist, was appointed as the minister on 17 April. The move was to ensure that the President and the health ministry have the same views on reopening the economy.

General Eduardo Pazuello, Teich deputy, and who has no experience in the health sector, will be made the next health minister. This is an interim arrangement.

Luiz Henrique Mandetta, Teich’s predecessor, was fired on 16 April, over differences on containment of the deadly disease with President Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro recently announced the opening up of gyms and parlors, which was not supported by Teich. The minister’s and the President’s view diverged over the widespread use of the anti-malaria drug to treat COVID cases.

There is a worldwide debate about the use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to treat the virus. Many data have revealed the use of HCQ can add to further complications.

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