Global Tracker: Denmark, India, Germany, Spain Virus News

The Four Percent


Syria’s Kurdish northeast had its first Covid-19 death. The case was news to the Kurds.

The Kurdish-led administration that governs northeastern Syria announced on Friday the first death in that region from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. As it turns out, the World Health Organization knew about the case for more than 11 days before informing the local authorities, a W.H.O. official said.

The W.H.O. official and the Kurdish administration, which oversees about one-third of Syria’s territory along the Turkish and Iraqi borders, said a 53-year-old man was admitted to a hospital on March 27. Doctors ran a test for the coronavirus and sent it to the Syrian capital, Damascus, for analysis.

The man died on April 2, the same day that his test came back positive. The authorities in Damascus, which has a hostile relationship with the Kurds, did not pass along that information.

The W.H.O. official, Rick Brennan, the regional emergency director for the eastern Mediterranean, said in an interview that the Syrian authorities informed the organization of the case on April 5, but because of “internal procedural problems and miscommunication,” it did not get word to the Kurds about it until Thursday — 11 days later.

The case illustrates how the political divisions left by Syria’s long civil war could hinder a response if a major outbreak occurs. The government of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus controls most of the country, but has hostile relations with both the Kurdish-led administration that governs the northeast and the leaders of a rebel-held enclave in Idlib Province in the northwest.

Syria has reported only 38 cases of coronavirus and two deaths, but aid groups have warned that the virus could do great damage. Millions of Syrians have been displaced and impoverished through nine years of war, and much of the country’s health infrastructure has been badly damaged.

In a statement Friday, the Kurdish-led administration said it would hold the W.H.O. responsible if the virus spread in its area.

Mr. Brennan said that the man who died had no travel history and no known contact with other infected people — indicating that there are almost certainly other, undiagnosed cases in the area.

“Polio vaccination campaigns have been suspended. Measles immunization campaigns have stopped in at least 23 countries,” according to the report. “And as health services become overwhelmed, sick children are less able to access care.”

Infant mortality is likely to rise, the report said.

School closures reduce many children’s nutrition and safety. Mr. Guterres said that 310 million schoolchildren, nearly half of the world’s total, rely on schools as a daily source of food.

In addition, with children at home and families under increasing stress, he said, “children are both victims and witnesses of domestic violence and abuse.”

This year’s celebration of Canada Day in Ottawa will — like so many occasions derailed by the coronavirus — take place as an online-only affair, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced on Friday.

Often referred to as the nation’s birthday, Canada Day, July 1, is one of the country’s major national holidays, and ordinarily draws crowds from across the country to Ottawa, the capital.

A concert stage is built in front of the Parliament buildings for performances by musicians, actors and comedians throughout the day and evening, and the program culminates in a fireworks show. Other events are held elsewhere in the city and across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec.

This year, the main stage was to be in a park because of construction work in front of the Parliament buildings.

Steven Guilbeault, the minister of Canadian Heritage, said on Friday that the government will work with artists and performers to come up with a virtual approximation of the celebrations.

“Together, we are meeting one of the greatest challenges in our history, and this year more than ever, Canada Day will highlight the strength that unites us,” Mr. Guilbeault said.

Mr. Trudeau has repeatedly suggested that restrictions on public gatherings would remain in place for at least several more weeks and perhaps months.

Summer is a key time for celebrations and festivals in Canada where the season is relatively brief. Quebec, effectively canceled summer last week by announcing that all indoor and outdoor festivals, cultural events and most sports events would be canceled until the end of August.

Canada Day marks the date in 1867 when three British provinces were united as a largely independent Dominion of Canada, with its own Parliament.

A judge rules that Mexico must extend its coronavirus measures to migrants.

The Mexican government was ordered to extend its coronavirus protections to migrants in a ruling made public on Friday.

The ruling said health care should be guaranteed to people who were detained and that temporary residency status be given to people determined to be particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Reuters reported.

A dispute over measures to counter the coronavirus in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, has led to an open confrontation between the country’s military and political leaders, underscoring the fragility of the country’s transition to democracy.

The civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, announced on Thursday that he had fired the governor of Khartoum, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Abdoun Hamad, for defying a government order to cancel Friday prayers in Khartoum and its sister city across the Nile, Omdurman.

Like many African countries, Sudan has a relatively low incidence of coronavirus — 32 confirmed cases and five deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus — but officials fear that a larger outbreak would quickly overwhelm the country’s dilapidated health system.

But General Hamad refused the prime minister’s order, saying in a statement issued by his office hours later that he intended to remain in his position — an unusually public act of defiance that exposed a growing rift inside the ruling Supreme Council, which is composed of civilians and army generals and is supposed to lead the country toward democratic elections in 2022.

The coronavirus crisis has exacerbated those tensions. After a jump in confirmed cases this week, the government canceled Friday prayers and announced a three-week lockdown set to take effect on Saturday.

In defiance of those orders, a group of protesters massed outside the army headquarters on Thursday to call for the ouster of Mr. Hamdok’s government. “No to the government of hunger,” read one sign.

Hours later, as the confrontation with the Khartoum governor, General Hamad, unfolded, senior Sudanese civilian officials contacted Western officials and local journalists to warn that they feared the military would use the coronavirus lockdown to seize power while the outside world was distracted by the public health crisis. Several Western officials, though, said there was little sign of an imminent power grab.

New data on Friday gave the first concrete indication of how severely European carmakers were hit by coronavirus lockdowns, and it was every bit as bad as feared.

New car registrations in the European Union fell 55 percent last month compared with a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said, as dealers closed their doors and buyers were stuck in their homes. Owners registered 570,000 new cars during the month, down from 1.3 million in March 2019.

Sales all but evaporated in Italy, the European country that went into lockdown the earliest, falling 85 percent. Spain and France also suffered declines of around 70 percent.

Carmakers that depend on southern Europe for sales also suffered the most. Fiat Chrysler sales plummeted 77 percent. PSA, whose brands include Peugeot, Citroën and Opel, suffered a 68 percent plunge in sales.

German carmakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen fared marginally better, with declines of less than 50 percent.

One hypothesis, Ms. Parly said, is that the outbreak was tied to a mid-March stop in Brest, on France’s Atlantic coast. Traditional family visits to the ship were canceled, she said, but sailors were allowed to disembark.

Ms. Parly forcefully denied media reports earlier this week suggesting that the defense ministry had denied a request by the carrier’s commander to end the mission on the stopover in Brest, which lasted from March 13 to 16, just before France went on lockdown to stop the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, 350 pupils returned to classes at the Logumkloster District School for the first time in a month, as Denmark became the first country in the Western world to reopen its elementary schools since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The move has turned the Danish education system into a laboratory for whether and how schools can function in an age of contagion.

“It is a new world,” said Tanja Linnet, the school’s head teacher, as pupils arrived on Thursday morning. “We used to make plans for if there was a terrorist attack here, but never this kind of attack.”

To stop the spread of infection, parents were not allowed inside. Teachers were not allowed to gather in the staff room. The children each had their own desks, two yards away from their nearest neighbor. During recess, they could play only in small groups. And by the time the school shut at 2 p.m., they had all washed their hands at least once an hour.

Coroners in some areas are overwhelmed. Funeral homes in virus hot spots can barely keep up. Newspaper obituary pages in hard-hit areas go on and on. Covid-19 is on track to kill far more people this year in some countries, including the United States, than the seasonal flu.

The decision to suspend funding provoked criticism from other countries, with officials warning that pulling support from an already underfunded agency could have severe consequences. And nations declared their continued support.

Britain also said it would continue to fund the organization, which it says has an important role in the response to the outbreak. “It is a global challenge, and it’s essential that countries work together to tackle this shared threat,” a Downing Street spokesman said on Wednesday.

The coronavirus outbreak has brought China’s extraordinary, nearly half-century-long run of growth to an end — a stark reminder of the enormous task ahead for world leaders trying to restart the global economy.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday that the country’s economic output shrank 6.8 percent from January through March compared with the same period last year. It is the first economic shrinkage acknowledged in official statistics since 1976, when the country was in the final days of the Cultural Revolution, a national spasm of urban violence and torture.

The numbers reflect China’s dramatic efforts to stamp out the coronavirus, which included shutting down most factories and offices in January and February as the outbreak sickened tens of thousands of people.

China is now trying to restart its vast, $14 trillion economy, an effort that could give the rest of the world a much-needed shot in the arm. But the spread of the virus to Europe and the United States has sharply cut the world’s appetite for China’s goods. That could lead to factory shutdowns and worker furloughs.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics confirmed last month that domestic industrial production, retail sales and investment all suffered record double-digit drops in the first two months of this year compared with the same period of 2019.

“This year is difficult — some have lost their jobs, some cannot find work to do,” said Liu Xia, a fruit vendor from a village on the outskirts of Beijing. “Those who do go to work and those who are still in business are greatly affected.”

Beijing’s options for dealing with the crisis are limited. Its economy has become too big and complex to easily restart as it did in 2008 when it unveiled a plan to spend more than half a trillion dollars. And years of easy lending have left local governments and state-run companies mired in debt.

The latest fake cure for the coronavirus making the rounds: drinking Cognac. This week, Mike Mbuvi Sonko, the governor of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, included small bottles of the alcoholic drink as part of care packages delivered to the city’s poor.

Mr. Sonko, who is known for his flamboyant lifestyle and was arrested last year over a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal, falsely argued that research by the World Health Organization had shown that alcohol played a “very major role” in killing the coronavirus.

Cognac, which he said would be distributed only to adults, “should act as a throat sanitizer. It kills the virus,” he said in a video while wearing sunglasses, a mask, a cap and a shield.

The local operation of Hennessy, the French Cognac distiller, rebutted Mr. Sonko’s claim in a statement, saying that its alcoholic beverages do not protect against the virus. The company urged people to wash their hands, practice social distancing and stay at home.

As with other regions, myths and fake news about the virus and how to fight it have been circulating across Africa, with many shared widely through social media and applications like WhatsApp. The purported treatments have included drinking black tea with no sugar in Kenya, shaving beards in Nigeria and boiling and drinking aidan fruits in Ghana. The authorities in Burundi have cited divine intervention to explain the delayed arrival of the virus in the continent. In Tanzania, President John Magufuli has declined to close churches during the pandemic, saying that the coronavirus “cannot survive in the body of Christ; it will burn.”

Reporting was contributed by Norimitsu Onishi, Constant Méheut, S.M. Bilal, Kai Schultz, Melissa Eddy, Ceylan Yeginsu, Patrick Kingsley, David Halbfinger, Andrew Jacobs, Steven Lee Myers, Marc Santora, Aurelien Breeden, Abdi Latif Dahir, Elian Peltier, Megan Specia, Yonette Joseph, Tess Felder, Daniel Victor, Amy Qin, Paul Mozur, Rick Gladstone, David Halbfinger, Elaine Yu, Keith Bradsher, Kate Taylor, Ben Hubbard, Declan Walsh, Abdi Latif Dahir, Eric Schmitt, Jack Ewing and Ernesto Londoño.


Source link Health

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.