China Lockdown May Have Blocked 700,000 Coronavirus Cases – Research

 

China’s decision to lock down the city of Wuhan, ground zero for the global COVID-19 pandemic, may have prevented more than 700,000 new cases by delaying the spread of the virus, researchers said Tuesday.

China’s decision to lock down the city of Wuhan, ground zero for the global COVID-19 pandemic, may have prevented more than 700,000 new cases by delaying the spread of the virus, researchers said Tuesday.

Drastic Chinese control measures in the first 50 days of the epidemic bought other cities across the country valuable time to prepare and install their own restrictions, according to the paper by researchers in China, the United States and the UK, published in the journal Science.

By day 50 of the epidemic — February 19 — there were 30,000 confirmed cases in China, said Oxford fellow Christopher Dye, one of the paper’s authors.

“Our analysis suggests that without the Wuhan travel ban and the national emergency response there would have been more than 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Wuhan by that date,” he was quoted as saying in a press release.

“China’s control measures appear to have worked by successfully breaking the chain of transmission — preventing contact between infectious and susceptible people.”

The researchers used a combination of case reports, public health information and mobile phone location tracking to investigate the spread of the virus.

READ ALSO: Spain Death Toll Hits 9,053 As Coronavirus Cases Pass 100,000

The phone tracking provided a “fascinating” new stream of data, said another of the report’s authors, Penn State biology professor Ottar Bjornstad.

The time period they studied encompassed China’s biggest holiday, the Lunar New Year.

The researchers “were able to compare patterns of travel into and out of Wuhan during the outbreak with cell phone data from two previous spring festivals,” Bjornstad said.

“The analysis revealed an extraordinary reduction in movement following the travel ban of January 23, 2020. Based on this data, we could also calculate the likely reduction in Wuhan-associated cases in other cities across China.”

The Wuhan shutdown delayed the arrival of the virus in other cities, their model showed, giving them time to prepare by banning public gatherings and closing entertainment venues, among other measures.

Nearly half of humanity has now been told to stay home to curb the spread of the virus, and lockdowns are rapidly becoming normalized.

But when Beijing first shut down Wuhan more than two months ago, the decision was seen as a dramatic escalation in the fight against infection.

With the restrictions in the city slowly being lifted and life inching closer to normal, the question for China — and other countries around the globe — is what will happen once movement resumes.

“We are acutely aware that resident or imported infections could lead to a resurgence of transmission,” said another of the report’s authors, Huaiyu Tian, an associate professor of epidemiology at Beijing Normal University.

AFP

Europe Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 30,000

Nurses push a patient on a stretcher into the ‘Clinique CHC MontLegia’ building, part of the relocation of the ‘Clinique Saint-Joseph’ hospital in Liege, on March 20, 2020 in Liege, as the country battles against the Covid-19 outbreak caused by the novel Coronavirus. BRUNO FAHY / various sources / AFP / Belgium OUT.

 

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 30,000 people in Europe, more than three-quarters of the deaths registered in Italy and Spain, according to an AFP tally at 0700 GMT Wednesday using official figures.

A total of 30,063 deaths have been recorded in Europe out of 458,601 cases, making it the continent hit hardest by COVID-19.

The most deaths were recorded in Italy, with 12,428 fatalities, followed by Spain with 8,189 and France with 3,523.

The latest European figures come just a few hours after the United States announced its death toll had risen to 4,076, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.

READ ALSO: Spain Death Toll Hits 9,053 As Coronavirus Cases Pass 100,000

That is more than twice the 2,010 recorded late Saturday and higher than the death toll in China, where the disease first emerged late last year.

The global death toll passed 40,000 on Tuesday.

AFP

Spain Death Toll Hits 9,053 As Coronavirus Cases Pass 100,000

Healthcare workers dealing with the new coronavirus crisis in Spain, hug each other as they are cheered on by people outside La Fe hospital in Valencia on March 26, 2020.
Healthcare workers dealing with the new coronavirus crisis in Spain, hug each other as they are cheered on by people outside La Fe hospital in Valencia on March 26, 2020.

 

The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged over 9,000 on Wednesday after a record 864 deaths in 24 hours, with the number of confirmed cases passing the 100,000 mark, the government said.

Spain has the world’s second-highest death toll after Italy, with the virus so far claiming 9,053 lives and the number of confirmed cases reaching 102,136.

But on a day-to-day basis, the rate of new infections continued its downward trend, showing an increase of just over 8.0 percent, compared with nearly 11 percent on Tuesday, health ministry figures showed.

And the death rate has also slowed, from 27 percent a week ago to 10.5 percent on Wednesday, with officials saying the data appear to show the epidemic is reaching its peak.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: UEFA Postpones All International Matches Scheduled For June

But officials have warned that even if the epidemic is peaking, the pressure on the intensive care system would be subject to a lag of at least a week or longer, with hospitals likely to reach crisis point by the end of this week or early next.

Madrid remains the worst-hit region, with 3,865 deaths and nearly 30,000 cases, leaving hospitals and mortuaries overwhelmed.

AFP

Nigeria Records 12 New COVID-19 Infections, Total Cases Rise To 151

 

 Nigeria has recorded 12 new COVID-19 infections as the total cases have risen to 151.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed the new figures in a tweet on Wednesday in its latest update on the disease.

The agency while giving the breakdown of the cases, reported nine in Osun State, two in Edo State and one in Ekiti State.

According to the NCDC, “Twelve new cases of #COVID19 have been reported in Nigeria; 9 in Osun, 2 in Edo and 1 in Ekiti State.

“As at 12:30 pm 1st April, there are 151 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria. Nine have been discharged with two deaths”.

Currently, Lagos has 82 cases, FCT- 28, Osun- 14, Oyo- 8, Ogun- 4, Edo- 4, Kaduna- 3, Enugu- 2, Bauchi- 2, Ekiti- 2, Rivers-1 and Benue- 1.

This comes a few days after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the restriction of movement in Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun State.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records Four New COVID-19 Infections, Total Cases Rise To 139

President Buhari had made the declaration as part of measures to curtail the spread of the virus in the country.

Following the lockdown order, the President signed the COVID-19 Regulations, 2020, which declared COVID-19 a dangerous infectious disease.

The COVID-19 Regulations 2020 is in line with the exercising of powers conferred on President Buhari by Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Quarantine Act (CAP Q2 LFN 2004), and all other powers enabling him in that behalf.

See Tweet Below:

 

 

COVID-19: FG Commences N20,000 Conditional Cash Transfer To Poor Households

 

The Federal Government has commenced the disbursement of N20,000 Conditional Cash Transfer to indigent households (poor) at the Kwali Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

This is part of the Federal Government’s efforts to help reduce the effect of President Muhammadu’s lockdown order following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar-Farouk, said on Wednesday while kickstarting the disbursement that due to the scourge of COVID-19, the Federal Government is giving out N20,000 per person for the next four months starting from March 2020.

She explained that the President during his broadcast last week directed that the Conditional Cash Transfer should be given in advance of two months.

“We have directed immediate cash transfer to the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country,” she said.

“Because of this COVID-19, the vulnerable groups have to expand, because we are aware that there are people who live on daily wage, so we are also going to look at those groups of people to see how we can get this food relief intervention to them in this period.”

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11-Year-Old Indonesian Girl Dies After Contracting Coronavirus

Workers carry a coffin of a victim of the COVID-19 coronavirus during a funeral in Jakarta on March 31, 2020. BAY ISMOYO / AFP.

 

An 11-year-old girl has become Indonesia’s youngest person to die after contracting the coronavirus, officials said Wednesday, as the country’s death toll from COVID-19 nearly tripled from a week ago.

The girl, who was also suffering from dengue fever, was admitted to hospital on Madura Island off the coast of Java on March 19.

She had a fever and breathing difficulties, and died the following day.

Tests only confirmed this week that the girl also had COVID-19.

“Her immune system was quite poor,” said Joni Wahyuhadi, an official at East Java’s virus task force.

“She was battling two illnesses at once so that’s why her condition worsened.”

Indonesia said Wednesday its death toll from COVID-19 had reached 157 — including 11 frontline doctors — compared with 58 a week ago.

READ ALSO: Kyrgyz Health Minister, Vice Premier Sacked Over COVID-19 Response

Infections have more than doubled over the same period to 1,677.

But rates of testing are low and experts fear the true figures are far higher in the country of more than 260 million people.

While the virus is most dangerous for the elderly, there have been a number of cases around the world of younger people dying.

AFP

COVID-19: Ganduje Inaugurates Fund Raising Committee To Provide Support For Residents

Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, spoke to reporters on Friday, February 7, 2020.
Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, spoke to reporters on Friday, February 7, 2020.

 

The Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has inaugurated a 38-member Fund Raising Committee to assist those affected by the border closure and other measures taken by the state to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

According to the governor, this would help to cushion the effect of the safety measures being put in place.

“We need to run away from what I can describe as a stomach virus. It is therefore for this reason that we are making all these moves now. We also need all the support of our people.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Ganduje Monitors Border Closure Enforcement, Orders Arrest Of Defaulters

“This committee will find out donations from organisations on corporate social responsibility basis, from individuals, in order to galvanize the strength and see how to take care of those people who need such support”.

Members of the committee include Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello, Vice-Chancellor, of Bayero University, Kano who is the Chairman, while Tajuddeen Aminu Dantata is the Co-Chair of the Committee.

Other members of the Committee include Senator Barau I. Jibril, representing Kano North, Hon Alasan Ado Doguwa, Leader, House of Representatives and Aliko Dangote, represented by Salisu Sambajo.

Also, Abdussamad Isyaka Rabi’u, Chairman BUA Group of Companies, represented by Alhaji Karami Isyaka Rabi’u, Abdullahi Abbas, APC Kano Chairman, Nasiru Aliko Koki, Commissioners Murtala Sule Garo of Local Governments, Muhammad Garba of Information, Zahara’u Umar Muhammad of Women Affairs and Muhammad Tahar Adam of Religious Affairs.

The committee was given one week to submit their report.

Speaking about other steps being taken in the state, the governor disclosed that the Sani Abacha Indoor Stadium would be used as an Isolation Centre for the time being.

He also noted that billionaire businessman, Aliko Dangote has promised to provide the state with a 600-bed facility as his contribution to the fight against the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the governor has urged all retired health workers in the state who are interested in offering a volunteer service, to come and register with the Ministry of Health to beef up the fight against the virus.

Villager Fakes Death To Avoid COVID-19 Lockdown In India

People keep their bags inside marked areas on a street as they wait to receive free rice distributed at a government store during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Hyderabad on April 1, 2020. NOAH SEELAM / AFP.

 

A Kashmiri villager faked his death and travelled more than a hundred miles in an ambulance with four others in a desperate bid to circumvent India’s virus lockdown and return home, police said Wednesday.

Hakim Din was being treated for a minor head injury at a hospital in Jammu when an ambulance driver suggested the 70-year-old fake his death to get past checkpoints, police said.

Din and three other men wanted to return to Poonch, a far-flung region in Indian-administered Kashmir close to the de facto border with Pakistan.

The region’s Superintendent of Police, Ramesh Angral, said the four men and the driver travelled more than 160 kilometres (100 miles) in the ambulance, passing many checkpoints using a fake death certificate from the hospital.

“The ambulance was stopped at the last checkpoint before they could reach home,” Angral told AFP.

“A policeman there immediately figured out that the man lying covered inside the ambulance could not be dead.”

READ ALSO: Kyrgyz Health Minister, Vice Premier Sacked Over COVID-19 Response

The men were arrested and quarantined separately, Angral said, adding that they faced charges of “cheating and defying the government’s prohibitory orders”.

There are no known coronavirus cases in the Poonch region.

India imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown from last Wednesday to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are more than 1,600 cases, including 38 deaths, in the vast nation of 1.3 billion people, according to the government.

The nationwide lockdown comes in the wake of a long-running curfew in Kashmir, imposed as New Delhi scrapped the restive region’s semi-autonomous status on August 5.

Some aspects of the curfew were gradually eased in the following months, allowing Kashmiris to travel outside their homes and villages.

But some Kashmiris have been left stranded in cities and unable to return home to their villages after the sudden nationwide lockdown announcement.

Internet access, which was cut in the earlier lockdown, has remained severely restricted with only 2G access.

Many mobile phone users have also been unable to access the internet on their devices.

AFP

Kyrgyz Health Minister, Vice Premier Sacked Over COVID-19 Response

Firefighters wearing face masks spray disinfectant on streets around a market as a measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Bishkek on March 27, 2020. Vyacheslav OSELEDKO / AFP.

 

Two senior members of Kyrgyzstan’s government responsible for handling the coronavirus outbreak were dismissed on Wednesday after President Sooronbay Jeenbekov criticised their efforts to fight the spread of the virus.

The dismissal of health minister Kosmosbek Cholponbayev and deputy prime minister Altynai Omurbekova was announced on the president’s official website.

Jeenbekov on Tuesday had criticised the two who helped lead the country’s task force against COVID-19, calling their work “unsatisfactory” and saying it had allowed the disease to spread.

Jeenbekov said the task force had been slow to identify the “circle of persons” who had come into contact with people who tested positive for coronavirus.

Kyrgyzstan has 111 registered coronavirus infections and no deaths, according to official figures.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus Crisis Forces UK Banks To Axe Billions In Payouts

The first infections in the Muslim-majority country were people who had travelled to Saudi Arabia for Islamic pilgrimages.

Impoverished Kyrgyzstan, an ex-Soviet republic of six million bordering China, was the first country to receive emergency funding from the International Monetary Fund after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The IMF said last week that the $121-million support package was issued “to meet (Kyrgyzstan’s) urgent balance of payment needs stemming from the outbreak.”

Kyrgyzstan’s economy is reliant on the output of a single major gold mine, while hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz migrants working in Russia have sent home remittances worth billions of dollars in recent years.

AFP

COVID-19: Taraba Govt Shuts Down Markets, Worship Centres

Map of Taraba
Taraba is a state in Nigeria’s North-East region.

 

Taraba State government has ordered the closure of all markets, shops and worship centres in the state over coronavirus.

The shutdown is expected to commence from Thursday, April 2.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, the Deputy Governor, Haruna Manu, said the move is a precautionary step by the state government to stop the spread of COVID-19.

He, however, warned that the measure taken should not be allowed to cause panic buying, hoarding or hike in prices of goods and services.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Dantata Donates N300m To Support Kano Residents

While banning worship centres from conducting any programme till further notice, Manu explained that essential services like pharmacies, food stores and petrol service stations were exempted from the order.

According to him, the state government will study the implications of its directive by giving periodic updates on the situation so that it does not impact negatively on the people.

To the deputy governor, other precautionary measures taken by the government to contain the virus include stocking of drugs, protective gears and hand sanitisers as well as identifying and equipping designated isolation centres.

Speaking further, Manu commended medical personnel in the country for doing a great job in the fight against the scourge.

He believes that staying at home and self-isolation remains the best strategy to overcome COVID-19, stressing that the ban on gathering of more than 20 persons is still in force.

Coronavirus Crisis Forces UK Banks To Axe Billions In Payouts

A woman wearing a face mask passes a Public Health England sign, warning passengers arriving on flights into the UK, that a virus, Coronavirus, has been detected in Wuhan in China, at Terminal 4 of London Heathrow Airport in west London on January 28, 2020. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Britain’s banking sector on Wednesday scrapped billions of pounds (dollars) in shareholder dividends and share buybacks after the Bank of England requested the move to boost liquidity and help cope with the coronavirus crisis.

The British central bank said in a statement that its Prudential Regulation Authority division had asked lenders to stop the payments until the end of the year.

It also said it expected them not to pay any cash bonuses to top staff.

In response, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Standard Chartered all stated that they will scrap dividends and not pursue buybacks.

“The PRA welcomes the decisions by the boards of the large UK banks to suspend dividends and buybacks on ordinary shares until the end of 2020, and to cancel payments of any outstanding 2019 dividends in response to a request from us,” the regulator said in a statement.

“The PRA also expects banks not to pay any cash bonuses to senior staff, including all material risk takers, and is confident that bank boards are already considering and will take any appropriate further actions with regard to the accrual, payment and vesting of variable remuneration over coming months.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Pandemic Pranks Off The Table On April Fools’ Day

Britain’s top banks have enough capital to weather severe recessions in both Britain and globally, as markets brace for a potentially huge downturn driven by the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the regulator.

“Although the decisions taken today will result in shareholders not receiving dividends, they are a sensible precautionary step given the unique role that banks need to play in supporting the wider economy through a period of economic disruption, alongside the extraordinary measures being taken by the authorities,” it said.

The UK lenders have become the latest corporate giants to scrap dividends as big global businesses scramble to save cash and safeguard against worsening virus turmoil.

The news, combined with the worsening COVID-19 crisis, sent banking shares tumbling on London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index, which sank three percent overall in early morning deals.

“UK banks, as many businesses across the world, are scrapping dividends due to an increased need of cash to survive the coronavirus crisis in the short run,” said Swissquote Bank analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya.

“Even if we may see a negative knee-jerk reaction from investors, the decision to hold onto the cash is the right one from a medium- and long-term perspective.

“In this respect, we expect to see a certain level of tolerance for ditched dividends,” Ozkardeskaya told AFP.

COVID-19 Pandemic Pranks Off The Table On April Fools’ Day

File photo/ AFP

 

It may be the global day for pranks but with the world under assault from the deadly coronavirus pandemic many governments on Wednesday were warning against virus-themed April Fools’ jokes — some even threatening jail.

The April 1 tradition sees families, web users and corporations embrace practical jokes.

But few are in the mood as the global death toll mounts and billions remain under some form of lockdown.

One K-pop star who joked on Instagram that he had tested positive for coronavirus faced a backlash at home and abroad.

Jaejoong, a member of popular band JYJ — formerly TVXQ — said he had been infected and hospitalised.

Worried fans left countless messages wishing him a speedy recovery.

But about an hour later he updated the post, revealing it was a prank and adding he wanted to “raise awareness”.

“Although it may have been too much as an April Fools’ joke, a lot of people worried for me,” he wrote. “I’ll receive any punishment due to this post.”

Many, including his own fans, lambasted the post, calling it inappropriate and not funny.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus Crisis Forces UK Banks To Axe Billions In Payouts

“Please have some respect. People out there are suffering,” wrote one fan.

– Threats of jail –

The coronavirus outbreak has already been accompanied by a deluge of online misinformation, making it harder for governments to keep their citizens safe.

Some are now threatening jail for virus pranks.

Taiwan, which has been held up as a model for how to tackle an outbreak, warned people who spread false rumours that they faced up to three years in jail and a TW$3 million fine ($100,000).

“On April Fools’ Day we can exercise our sense of humour if we have to but we can’t make jokes on the pandemic to avoid breaking the law,” President Tsai Ing-wen posted on Facebook alongside a photo of one of her cats.

“I wish everybody not only a humorous but also healthy and safe April Fools’ Day.”

Thailand was taking a similarly hard line, threatening up to five years in jail.

“It’s against the law to fake having COVID-19 this April Fools’ Day,” the government said on Twitter.

“There may be people who do not have good intentions… who may use April 1 or April Fools’ Day and assume they will not face legal action,” Krissana Pattanacharoen, deputy national police spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday.

In India, where disinformation — especially on WhatsApp — remains a pervasive problem, politicians made similar appeals.

“The state govt won’t allow anyone to spread rumours/panic on #Corona,” tweeted Maharashtra state’s home minister Anil Deshmukh.

“We urge citizens to verify information and only share messages from trusted sources and not fall for fake news,” Pranay Ashok, a spokesman for Mumbai Police, told AFP, adding that anyone found spreading fake news would be prosecuted.

Many well-known brands with a prior track record of jumping on the annual bandwagon were steering clear of the tradition this year.

Google, a company renowned for its elaborate annual stunts, told its employees it would “take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to an internal email obtained by Business Insider.

James Herring, from London-based PR agency Taylor Herring, had the following warning.

“Tip for any PR agencies planning an April Fools Day stunt,” he wrote last week on Twitter. “Just. Don’t.”‘

AFP