Brazil Leader Wants Football Back Despite Pandemic

View of a crowded street in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina state, Brazil, on May 12, 2020 amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. EDUARDO VALENTE / AFP
View of a crowded street in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina state, Brazil, on May 12, 2020 amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. EDUARDO VALENTE / AFP.


The right-wing populist president of Brazil wants the football season to resume even though the five-time World Cup winning country is a hotspot of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brazil is for many synonymous with football and many of the all-time greats, from Pele to Neymar, hail from the nation.

But Brazil is also the epicentre of Latin America’s coronavirus outbreak.

The death toll from coronavirus in Brazil has hit 27,878, official figures showed on Friday, surpassing the toll of hard-hit Spain and making it the country with the fifth-highest number of fatalities.

Football has been suspended in Brazil since mid-March but President Jair Bolsonaro recently told Radio Guaiba that footballers would likely not fall very ill with COVID-19.

“As footballers are young athletes the risk of death if they catch coronavirus would be dramatically reduced,” Bolsonaro said.

Back in March Bolsonaro also claimed that thanks to his own sporting past, he would only suffer a slight cold if he caught the virus.

READ ALSO: 100-Year-Old Indonesian Woman Beats COVID-19

The president says his chief motivation for wanting football to get back underway is to curb unemployment and the misery that accompanies it.

“The players have to survive somehow,” he said, explaining that while some top footballers earn a fortune, those from smaller regional leagues need to play “to feed their families”.

The way Brazilian politics works, it is not in Bolsonaro’s remit to restart football. This must be done by the regional states and municipalities.

When football was suspended, seasons at the regional level were underway, but the national championship had been due to start in May and as yet there are no solid plans to begin.

Bolsonaro and his son held meetings on May 19 with the presidents of two Rio superclubs, Vasco da Gama and Flamengo.

Photos of Bolsonaro and his son wearing the shirts of the two clubs stunned social media, with official supporter groups claiming their image had been sold out to politics.

“This is just political intolerance,” said Flamengo president Rodolfo Landim, explaining that Bolsonaro just wants football back as soon as possible and he himself “is defending the interests of Flamengo.”

The day after the meeting Flamengo were filmed by a TV Globo helicopter breaking the Rio lockdown rules by training without permission.

Rio state health secretary Ana Beatriz Bush said the act of defiance set a terrible example.

“Imagine all the young people who see Flamengo training, they’ll want to go out of their homes and that is not possible,” she said.

Rio mayor Marcelo Crivella, however, has authorised training to resume in June and sees matches taking place behind closed doors sometime in July.

Rio’s two other major clubs, Fluminense and Botafogo, are on record as saying this seems premature.

One of Brazil’s top sports journalists, Mauro Cezar Pereira, of ESPN Brazil also feels it is too soon.

“It reflects the fact that some clubs are deeply in debt and dependant on broadcasting income. The Bundesliga restart intensified the rush. But unlike in Germany, the infection curve is still climbing in Brazil.”

Players may have little say in the matter, with the president of the Internacional club saying any player refusing to come back to training should instead resign.


Expo 2020 Dubai Postponed To October 2021 – Organiser

People wearing masks for protection against the coronavirus, leave the Mall of Dubai on April 28, 2020, after the shopping centre was reopened as part of moves in the Gulf emirate to ease lockdown restrictions imposed last month to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 illness. Karim SAHIB / AFP.


The Expo 2020 global trade fair, hosted by Dubai, has been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus outbreak and will be held from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, the Paris-based organiser said Monday.

The six-month, multibillion-dollar global innovation fair, set to be the largest event ever staged in the Arab world, was expected to attract some 24 million visitors starting October 20 this year.

But a two-thirds majority of member states of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) voted in favour of a delay requested by the United Arab Emirates, which the body said “allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of COVID-19.”

“Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up to help shape a post-pandemic world and create a better future for all,” the bureau said in a statement.

The delay “also allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.”

READ ALSO: Europe Emerges From Lockdown As Global COVID-19 Cases Top 3.5 Million

Dubai, the glitzy city-state which is part of the United Arab Emirates and is known for hosting hundreds of conferences annually, has already scrapped a string of cultural and entertainment events amid the pandemic that has claimed more than 246,000 lives around the world to date.

Unable to meet in a general assembly due to epidemic restrictions, BIE member states voted remotely on the delay.

The vote technically remains open until May 29, but the required two-thirds threshold for approving the postponement was reached within a week of voting opening on April 24, the statement said.

They also voted to retain the name Expo 2020 Dubai.

It will be the first World Expo held in the BIE’s Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, welcoming 192 countries, plus businesses, multilateral organisations and educational establishments.


LIVE: ‘We Now Have 11 Confirmed Cases In Lagos,’ Sanwo-Olu Gives Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Friday gave a live update on coronavirus outbreak in the state.

The governor in the live address said there are now 11 confirmed cases in the state.

“As the chief incident commander of Lagos State, it is my duty to update you on this disease and on the steps we are taking in Lagos State working in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC and other partners including WHO and UNICEF.

“We now have confirmed 11 cases in Lagos and eight are under admission and isolation in a health facility in Yaba.

“The index case has tested negative and will be discharged soon as confirmed earlier by the health minister,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Follow the updates by clicking on the link below…

Davido Defers ‘A Good Time’ Tour Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Hip hop star, David Adeleke popularly known as Davido has postponed the rest of his tour in North America due to the health concerns surrounding the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

He believes the decision to postpone the tour is in the best interest of his fans as it’s related to their individual and collective health.

Announcing on social media on Thursday, Davido wrote, “I’m saddened to halt what has been a fantastic sold-out tour so far, but postponing is the right thing to do. The health and safety of my fans and staff is most paramount and nothing else matters. Be safe and see you all soon! God be with us all!”

READ ALSO: Why I Left Chocolate City – Rapper M.I Abaga Explains

The postponement came on the eve of his scheduled performance in Denver, Colorado.

The “Risky” singer had already performed to sold-out shows in Edmonton, Vancouver, Seattle, Los-Angeles, Las Vegas and San Fransisco and was still set to take on New York, Chicago, Miami, Toronto and several other major cities across North America and Canada.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, which has recently been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), awareness to curb the disease has intensified globally, major tech, sporting, music events and festivals have been postponed or cancelled completely.

‘A Good Time’ is the second studio album by Nigerian singer Davido. It was jointly released by Davido Music Worldwide (DMW),  RCA Records and Sony Music, in November 2019.

See his Instagram post below:

Coronavirus: La Liga Suspended Outbreak As Real Madrid Quarantines Players

(FILES) This file handout illustration image obtained February 3, 2020, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.  Lizabeth MENZIES / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP


Real Madrid went into quarantine on Thursday as La Liga announced Spain’s top two divisions will be suspended for at least two weeks over the coronavirus.

La Liga authorities made the decision after Real Madrid confirmed its senior football team is in quarantine after one of the club’s basketball players tested positive for the virus.

Real Madrid’s football and basketball players share facilities at Ciudad Real Madrid, the club’s training ground in Valdebebas.

A club statement read: “A player from our basketball first team has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“Since then, the recommendation has been made to quarantine both the basketball first team and the football first team, given that the two squads share facilities in Ciudad Real Madrid.

“Likewise, it has been decided to close the facilities at our training ground and it is also recommended that all Real Madrid personnel who work there remain in quarantine.”

READ ALSO: EPL Suspended Over Coronavirus Pandemic

La Liga has also followed Italy’s Serie A in suspending its matches, after a meeting on Thursday with the Spanish Football Federation and the Spanish Players Union (AFE).

It had been decided on Tuesday that games in Spain’s top two divisions would be held behind closed doors but those fixtures over the next 14 days will now be suspended.

Real’s second leg away to Manchester City in the Champions League last 16, scheduled for next Tuesday, is also in serious doubt.

Barcelona have already confirmed their tie against Napoli at Camp Nou on Wednesday will be played without fans, although UEFA is facing mounting pressure to postpone completely both the Champions League and Europa League.

Domestic league matches in France, Germany and Portugal have been put behind closed doors while Serie A in Italy has been suspended until April 3.


How Coronavirus Outbreak Is Delaying Completion Of Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project – Amaechi

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has explained how the Coronavirus outbreak is affecting the speedy completion of Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

Amaechi disclosed this on Wednesday while addressing participants at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) consultative round table.

According to Amaechi, the project would have been completed in May but might not be feasible anymore because the contractors handling the project are employees of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

RELATED: Again, Amaechi Inspects Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line Says, ‘I’m Unhappy With Pace Of Work’

“Lagos-Ibadan would have been ready in May. Unfortunately, nearly all of them that went for the Chinese New Year were quarantined by their government. Their government said they cannot come back until they find a solution to the Coronavirus.

“It is only those who didn’t travel that are here and therefore the speed of the construction has reduced,” he said.

In November 2019, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi assured that the project would be delivered by April 2020.

He, however, took to his Twitter handle in January 2020 to lament the pace of work done by the contractors.

“Looking at the state of work in Apapa, completing the project in April doesn’t seem feasible, especially the extension of the rail line to the seaport. We’ll, however, continue to work and redouble our efforts to complete the project and meet set targets. #LagosIbadanRail,” he tweeted in January 2020.

The Minister at the CBN roundtable also lamented that Nigerians have politicised noting that, “everybody wants a railway in his village without bothering to ask, what is the relevance of railway in my village?”


Coronavirus, A Global Risk?

The World Health Organization in February raised its global risk assessment of the new coronavirus to its highest level after the epidemic spread to sub-Saharan Africa and financial markets slumped.

The virus has proliferated around the globe emerging on every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people from traveling or gathering in crowded places.

It has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 84,000 worldwide — the vast majority in China — since it emerged apparently from an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December.

The Nigerian government on March 9 confirmed the second case of coronavirus in the country.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said newly confirmed case was a contact of the index case and not an importation into the country.

China’s President Xi Pays First Visit To Wuhan

Passengers wearing face masks wait for their train at Changsha railway station in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province on March 10, 2020. Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Wuhan on March 10 for his first visit to the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic since the crisis erupted in January -- a major sign that officials believe the outbreak is under control. Noel Celis  AFP
Passengers wearing face masks wait for their train at Changsha railway station in Changsha, China’s central Hunan province on March 10, 2020. – Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Wuhan on March 10 for his first visit to the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic since the crisis erupted in January — a major sign that officials believe the outbreak is under control. (Photo by Noel Celis / AFP)


Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan Tuesday for the first time since the city emerged as the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic in January — a major sign that officials believe the outbreak is under control.

Xi’s visit came as unprecedented quarantine measures that have sealed off Wuhan and the rest of central Hubei province since late January appear to have paid off, with new infections dropping dramatically in recent weeks.

China’s progress stands in stark contrast with the growing global crisis, with cases now growing at a faster pace abroad, and Italy enacting its own nationwide lockdown.

State media images showed Xi, who arrived by plane in Hubei’s capital, wearing a mask as he spoke via video-link to frontline medical workers and patients who are at one of the field hospitals set up in the city.

He then went to a residential community in Wuhan to speak with people quarantined and frontline community workers, state media said.

China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong is usually a daily fixture in state media but has stayed out of the spotlight for much of the crisis and assigned Premier Li Keqiang to oversee the response to the epidemic.

Li and a vice premier have already visited the virus-stricken city of Wuhan.

But as the number of new cases has fallen in recent weeks, state media has played up Xi’s role in the fight against the outbreak, releasing a speech last month in which he said he had been giving instructions since early January.

Hua Po, an independent Beijing-based political analyst, told AFP the trip’s timing indicated an “interim victory” for China.

“His visit is to signal that the outbreak has been effectively curbed, and is an attempt to quieten external criticism of him not going to the frontlines,” said Hao.

Authorities have faced rare and fierce criticism online over their handling of the virus, with local officials coming under particular scrutiny for punishing whistleblowers in an apparent attempt to cover up the outbreak in early January.

“During the worst of the outbreak, Xi avoided the epicentre because he did not want to be blamed, but when the situation gets better, he shows up in order to receive praise,” said Bruce Lui, a senior lecturer in journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University.

– Global cases soar –
The death of doctor Li Wenliang, who died from the COVID-19 illness in February, sparked a wave of grief and anger online. He was among a group of people who had raised the alarm as early as December.

A visit by vice premier Sun Chunlan to a Wuhan residential community last week was met with angry public heckling as people reportedly complained that she was being shown a “fake” delivery of food — showing how easily state propaganda efforts could backfire.

The virus is believed to have emerged in December at a market that sold wild animals in Wuhan before ballooning into a national and then a global epidemic.

More than 4,000 people have died and over 110,000 have been infected worldwide, with the majority in China.

But China reported only 17 new cases in Wuhan on Tuesday, the lowest figure since it started publishing data on January 21, and two elsewhere that were imported from abroad.

“Xi doesn’t want to be associated with the disaster, but with the recovery,” said Adam Ni, a researcher at the China Policy Centre in Canberra.

“China has turned the corner now with COVID-19, and the party now wants to craft the most positive narrative despite early missteps.”

Hua, the Chinese analyst, said the main reason for Xi’s visit is because the outbreak has put tremendous pressure on the world’s second-largest economy and needs to get back to work.

“Xi wants to uplift people, and his visit suggests a gradual return to normal life and work,” Hua said.

With 56 million locked down in Hubei, authorities are now considering the possibility of lifting travel restrictions in low-risk areas to prepare for resuming work and manufacturing, state media reported on Tuesday.




Why Coronavirus Could Help Save China’s Endangered Species

PHOTO USED TO DEPICT THE STORY: This photo taken on September 28, 2018 and received from the Vietnam News Agency shows Vietnamese customs officials checking pangolin scales seized in Hanoi. Vietnam seized around a ton of pangolin scales and ivory hidden inside airline cargo packages, state media reported, as the country struggles to rein in illegal wildlife smuggling over its borders. PHOTO: Vietnam News Agency / AFP


The coronavirus outbreak in China may end up saving one of the world’s most trafficked animals after Beijing announced a total ban on the sale and consumption of the pangolin.

The scaly mammal — listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) as threatened with extinction — is a traditional delicacy across China and much of southeast Asia.

Following research linking the critters with the transmission of coronavirus to humans in the outbreak epicentre of Wuhan, Chinese officials on Monday slapped a ban on eating wild animals.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 30, 2017, a juvenile Sunda pangolin feeds on termites at the Singapore Zoo. – The endangered pangolin may be the link that facilitated the spread of the novel coronavirus across China, Chinese scientists said on February 7, 2020.(Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)


The measures, intended to halt the spread of the virus that has infected over 80,000 people worldwide and killed more than 2,700, could end up helping a number of endangered species — but only if the ban holds long term.

“I applaud the ban, as we see that the Chinese government is determined to change a thousands-year-old tradition which is so inappropriate in today’s society,” said Jeff He, China director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

“I think the ban is an important Step One for wildlife conservation in China.”

He called for “stronger and more progressive revisions” of China’s existing wildlife protection laws.

Beijing implemented similar measures following the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, but the trade and consumption of wild animals, including bats and snakes, made a comeback.

“I do think the government has seen the toll it takes on national economy and society is much bigger than the benefit that wild-eating business brings,” said He.

Most-trafficked mammal

The pangolin, the most trafficked mammal on Earth, is prized for its meat and its unique scales, which are said to have medicinal properties.

Peter Knights, CEO of the WildAid charity, said that while China’s ban was welcome, a global effort was required to end the drastic decline in the world’s pangolin populations.

“The only question is what will happen in the longer run,” he said. “We hope that China can lead the world in banning these markets globally.”

The coronavirus outbreak should serve as a “warning” for humans to seek to conserve more of nature, or face health and financial backlashes, Knights said.

“If we heed the warning not only will we protect human life but we could actually save species like pangolins,” he added.

The international sale of pangolins was outlawed in 2016 under the CITES convention against species exploitation.

CITES secretary-general Ivonne Higuero welcomed China’s move to ban the domestic trade but stressed that the animals were far from out of the woods.

The illegal trafficking of wild species is estimated by the WWF to be worth around $15 billion annually, particularly among booming Asian markets.

“What we’ve seen is that there is a lot of illegal wildlife trade going on with China as a destination country,” said Higuero.

She said a ban on pangolin consumption in China could significantly dent international trafficking by removing the financial incentives that drive criminal gangs to smuggle the creatures en masse.

While the ban has been welcomed by the conservation communities, there are fears that humans could come to blame pangolins for the outbreak, and seek revenge.

“People could become more wary of pangolins and therefore become more sensitive to their consumption and use,” said Ray Jansen, Chairman of the African Pangolin Working Group and member of the ICUN.

“But on the other side of the sword, they could also start viewing pangolins as a threat, which would put them in danger. We are not quite sure how the public will take it.”

For Andrew Muir, CEO of Wilderness Foundation Africa, the solution is simple.

“If we do not eat wildlife they will not harm us,” he said.


Iran’s Coronavirus Outbreak Death Toll Hits 15

Iranians wait to get prescription drugs at the state-run “13 Aban” pharmacy in Tehran on February 19, 2020. Iranians had been suffering from scarce medicine supplies even before the new coronavirus COVID-19 broke out in the central city of Qom and spread, claiming several lives and fostering panic amid a shortage of face masks. Shortages began after the US pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran in 2018.
Washington had exempted humanitarian goods, especially medicines and medical equipment.



The novel coronavirus has claimed three more lives in Iran, state media reported, taking the country’s overall death toll from the outbreak to 15 — the highest outside China.

Iran has been scrambling to contain COVID-19 since Wednesday when it announced its first two deaths in Qom, a centre for Islamic studies and pilgrims that attracts scholars from abroad.

Two of the dead were elderly women in the central province of Markazi and the other was a patient in the northern province of Alborz, state news agency IRNA said.

“One was an 87-year-old woman with a history of cardiovascular, pulmonary, liver and kidney diseases who passed away after being hospitalised for two days,” Abbas Nikravesh, head of Saveh city’s medical university, told IRNA.

The other was an 82-year-old with “serious blood and cardiovascular diseases” and died after being hospitalised for a day, he added, noting that she had a history of visiting Qom as her children live there.

“Three cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in Saveh city so far, with two dead,” Nikravesh said.

“There is now one infected 78-year-old woman from Afghanistan under special care.”

IRNA did not name the patient in Alborz or detail any underlying health conditions.

“This patient was under special care in recent days when he passed away,” Hassan Inanlou, deputy head of Alborz’s medical university, was quoted as saying.

According to IRNA, there are two more confirmed cases hospitalised in Alborz.

Iran has confirmed 61 cases of coronavirus infection so far.


China Announces Biggest Drop In Coronavirus Cases

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians wearing face masks cross a road during a Lunar New Year of the Rat public holiday in Hong Kong on January 27, 2020, as a preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. PHOTO: Anthony WALLACE / AFP


China on Thursday announced the biggest drop in new cases from the coronavirus outbreak in nearly a month.

The National Health Commission said that more than 74,500 people have now been infected nationwide by the virus, which first emerged in central Hubei province in December.

The death toll jumped to 2,118 on Thursday after 114 new deaths were reported — most in Hubei province, the hard-hit epicentre of the outbreak.

Most of the new cases were in the provincial capital Wuhan, where the virus first emerged.

READ ALSO: Two Iranians Die After Testing Positive To Coronavirus

Hubei health officials said Thursday there had been 615 new cases in Wuhan and 13 more elsewhere in the province.

However, the Hubei health commission said it was reducing the number of previously reported cases in a number of cities in the province by 279.

Even without the adjustment, the number of new cases was sharply lower than the province’s daily updates of recent weeks. On Wednesday, there were 1,693 new cases reported in Hubei.

National health officials said the over-reporting in Hubei was after nucleic acid tests were carried out on patients previously confirmed using lung imaging.

After the adjustment, the number of new cases confirmed nationwide was 394, the National Health Commission said.

The number of new cases spiked last week after Hubei health officials said they were changing the way they counted cases to include those diagnosed clinically using lung imaging tests, rather than just using lab tests to confirm cases.

Outside of Hubei, the number of cases has been steadily falling, with only 45 more cases reported on Thursday.