In the past few days since the pope was taken ill, he has continued his afternoon working meetings in the residence.Francis is missing a part of one lung. It was removed when he was in his early 20s in his native Buenos Aires after an illness.The pope is due to preside at his regular noontime prayer and message on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, he and senior Vatican officials will go by bus to a Church residence south of Rome for their annual week-long Lenten spiritual retreat.The Vatican said the retreat will go ahead as planned.Topics : All of Saturday’s official audiences were to have taken place in the Apostolic Palace. Those with individuals were moved to his residence.The Vatican has not specified what the 83-year-old Roman Catholic leader is suffering from.On Friday afternoon spokesman Matteo Bruni moved to dismiss speculation that the pope was anything more than slightly unwell, saying “There is no evidence that would lead to diagnosing anything but a mild indisposition.”At his general audience on Wednesday he appeared to have a cold and spoke with a slightly hoarse voice, and he coughed during an afternoon Ash Wednesday service in a Rome church, his last appearance outside the Vatican. Pope Francis, who has been suffering from what the Vatican says is a “slight indisposition,” resumed official audiences with individuals in his residence on Saturday but three with groups were cancelled.A statement said the pope, who had cancelled most official audiences on Thursday and Friday, celebrated his customary early morning Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta guest house where he lives.He was then holding four separate official audiences there on Saturday morning with Church figures, including three with archbishops from outside Italy. Three larger audiences with groups were cancelled.
A Chinese court has sentenced a man to death for fatally stabbing two officials at a checkpoint set up to control the spread of the new coronavirus outbreak.The virus has infected more than 80,000 people and killed nearly 3,000 in mainland China — prompting a wide network of temperature checks, travel restrictions, residential checks and closures nationwide.Many villages and communities have also implemented their own blockades and tough measures to keep people out, fearful that travellers could infect their communities. On Sunday a court handed down a death sentence to a 23-year-old man after he stabbed two officials at one local village checkpoint.The incident happened on February 6 when Ma Jianguo was driving a minivan through a checkpoint at Luo Meng village in Honghe, southwestern Yunnan province, where he was stopped.After Ma refused to cooperate with officials, his passenger began trying to remove the roadblock, the court said, and the local official started filming Ma and the other man on his mobile phone.A furious Ma stabbed the official — a local poverty alleviation cadre — in the chest and abdomen with a knife he carried with him and then attacked another official who came to the victim’s aid.The two men died from their wounds.The court statement said that although Ma had “voluntarily surrendered and truthfully confessed”, the killings were “extremely vicious”.Topics :
Generous provisions Applications for unemployment benefits peaked at 665,000 during the 2007-2009 recession, when 8.7 million jobs were lost. Economists say the country should brace for jobless claims to continue escalating, partly citing generous provisions of a historic $2.3 trillion fiscal package signed by President Donald Trump last Friday and the federal government’s easing of requirements for workers to seek benefits.As a result, self-employed and gig workers who previously were unable to claim unemployment benefits are now eligible. In addition, the unemployed will get up to $600 per week for up to four months, which is equivalent to $15 per hour for a 40-hour workweek. By comparison, the government-mandated minimum wage is about $7.25 per hour and the average jobless benefits payment was roughly $385 per person per month at the start of this year.”Why work when one is better off not working financially and health wise?” said Sung Won Sohn, a business economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.Last week’s claims data has no bearing on the closely watched employment report for March, which is scheduled for release on Friday. For the latter, the government surveyed businesses and households in the middle of the month, when just a handful of states were enforcing “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders.It is, however, a preview of the carnage that awaits. Retailers, including Macy’s, Kohl’s Corp and Gap Inc, said on Monday they would furlough tens of thousands of employees, as they prepare to keep stores shut for longer.According to a Reuters survey of economists, the government report on Friday is likely to show nonfarm payrolls dropped by 100,000 jobs last month after a robust increase of 273,000 in February. The unemployment rate is forecast to rise three-tenths of a percentage point to 3.8% in March.”A rough look at the most affected industries suggests a potential payroll job loss of over 16 million jobs,” said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management in New York. “The loss would be enough to boost the unemployment rate from roughly 3.5% to 12.5%, which would be its highest rate since the Great Depression.”Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid jumped 1.245 million to 3.029 million for the week ended March 21, the highest since July 6, 2013 Topics : The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits shot to a record high of more than 6 million last week as more jurisdictions enforced stay-at-home measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic, which economists say has pushed the economy into recession.Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department, the most timely data on the economy’s health, reinforced economists’ views that the longest employment boom in US history probably ended in March.Initial claims for state unemployment benefits surged 3.341 million to a seasonally adjusted 6.648 million for the week ended March 28, the government said. Data for the prior week was revised to show 24,000 more applications received than previously reported, lifting the number to 3.307 million. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims would jump to 3.50 million in the latest week, though estimates were as high as 5.25 million.”Similar to last week’s unemployment claims numbers, today’s report reflects the sacrifices American workers are making for their families, neighbors, and country in order to slow the spread,” US Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said in a statement.The United States has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, with more than 214,000 people infected. Nearly 5,000 people in the country have died from the illness, according to a Reuters tally.The dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies. U.S Treasury prices were trading higher while US stock index futures pared gains.
Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co. began clinical tests to evaluate the efficacy of the drug, also known as Favipiravir, to COVID-19 patients on Tuesday. If such an efficacy is confirmed, the government might approve the drug for use in COVID-19 treatment this summer.Avigan calls for different dosages in the treatments of the coronavirus and the influenza.The current stockpile is enough to treat 700,000 people if used as an anti-coronavirus drug, and 2 million people as an anti-flu drug.Fujifilm Holdings has been asked by the government to increase the output of the drug. Since the drug has been increasingly sought by foreign governments as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, the Japanese company is also considering outsourcing the production, the sources said.Topics : Japan is considering boosting the stockpile of the antiviral drug Avigan to three times the current amount for use in treating 2 million people infected with the new coronavirus, sources with knowledge of the matter said Saturday.The drug, developed by a group firm of Fujifilm Holdings has been stored in Japan as a treatment for influenza. But it is seen as also effective in treating the COVID-19 pneumonia caused by the virus.Since the drug is feared to cause birth defects, it cannot be used on expectant mothers or women who might get pregnant. Therefore, the homegrown drug has never been sold on the market and the stockpile has been managed by the government as a precaution for the outbreak of an influenza with which most people are not immunized.
Topics : Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani appealed to the International Monetary Fund Wednesday to approve a $5 billion emergency loan request to combat its novel coronavirus outbreak.”I urge all international organizations to fulfill their duties,” Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting.”We are a member of the IMF… if there’s going to be any discrimination between Iran and others in giving loans, neither us nor world opinion will tolerate it,” he said in televised remarks. But there has been speculation abroad that the real number of deaths and infections could be higher.”If they do not act on their duties in this difficult situation, the world will judge them in a different way,” Rouhani said. Iran announced on March 12 that it had requested the loan from the IMF to help fight what was then one of the world’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks.Iran has not received assistance from the IMF since a “standby credit” issued between 1960 and 1962, according to IMF figures.According to the IMF’s website, a Rapid Financial Instrument “is available to all member countries facing an urgent balance of payments need”.Iran says it has confirmed more than 62,500 coronavirus infections and more than 3,800 deaths.
The World Health Organization raised a warning last month over a global shortage of medical equipment as it asked countries and companies to increase production of supplies by 40 percent amid the increasing death toll from COVID-19 worldwide, Reuters reported.The lack of protective gear and supplies has taken its toll on healthcare workers around the world, including in Indonesia, where dozens of nurses and doctors working in the frontline of the coronavirus battle have reportedly been infected by the fast-spreading virus.Worldometer data showed on Friday that over 2.1 million people in 210 countries and territories have contracted the disease, with more than 146,000 deaths. Official figures in Indonesia showed that more than 5,500 people have been infected, with the death toll reaching nearly 500 as of Thursday afternoon.At least 394 Indonesians have tested positive for the coronavirus overseas.Retno went on to say that another focus in Indonesia’s foreign policy was to ensure the protection of Indonesian citizens abroad and foreign nationals in Indonesia during the global pandemic.“Our doors must be open for repatriation efforts. But we need to make sure the mandatory health protocols comply with recommendations from the WHO,” she said.Indonesia also pledged to ensure that its containment measures in restricting people’s mobility will not disrupt global trade and supply chains, including the flow of medical goods and medicines, Retno added. “In order to effectively deal with the crisis, I believe we should not lose sight of the long-term perspective, which calls for the strengthening of international cooperation to bring our life back to normal. “For example, Indonesia is now in a practical joint production scheme for medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment [PPE], with South Korea and Japan.”The minister said she had also been engaged in intensive communication with several other foreign ministries and would continue to do so.Read also: Indonesia’s strategy to combat COVID-19: What we know so far Indonesia has once again called for international communities to join hands in the face of the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic, which has now infected more than 2 million people worldwide, particularly in addressing global shortages of medical supplies.As many world countries now scramble to secure basic protective gear, Jakarta proposed to push forward cooperation between countries with the capacity to produce raw materials and countries with adequate human resources and technological capacities to overcome the challenge.“It is very important for us to learn from the experience of others — the best practices and even the shortcomings,” Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said on Thursday. Topics :
While a number of large manufacturing companies are adapting to the shifts in demand toward health equipment and basic necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread layoffs and furloughs have still been seen with small and medium-sized manufacturers struggling.Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita said the industrial landscape was changing during the pandemic with some industries thriving and others suffering while the government was looking to strike a balance between keeping the economic engine running and curbing the spread of COVID-19.“We’ve provided stimulus packages and support to keep the manufacturing sector running because it’s the largest contributor to the national economy with a 19 percent share,” Agus told reporters during an online press briefing on Tuesday. According to the ministry’s data, 60 percent of manufacturers have been hit hard by the pandemic, while the rest have seen moderate or high demand. Demand has increased for personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment, pharmaceutical products and food and beverages, while the petrochemical sector has also seen moderate demand.A recent survey by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and SurveySensum found that 85 percent of respondents were washing their hands more frequently, while 46 percent said they were taking vitamin supplements, indicating a shift in consumer behavior. The survey findings were in line with retailers’ reports of a hike in demand for hygiene products.The changes in demand have pushed manufacturers to shift their production lines to make high-demand products.Plastic part producer PT Yogya Presisi Tehnikatama Industry (YPTI) and robotics company PT Stechoq Robotika Indonesia have joined hands with Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta to produce 600 high-grade ventilators per month. The consortium plans to start production in May. State-owned weapons manufacturer PT Pindad, electronics producer PT LEN and airplane producer PT Dirgantara Indonesia have also joined forces to produce ventilators. The three companies worked with the Bandung Institute of Technology to produce 10,000 emergency ventilators by mid-April, according to Industry Ministry data.Textile companies have also been quick to adapt to changes in demand by producing much-needed PPE and masks.“With 28 textile companies that have switched their production lines to produce PPE, we can now produce 1.8 million pieces of PPE per week. We can also produce 20 million medical-grade masks per week,” the Industry Ministry’s chemical, pharmaceutical, and textile industry director general, Muhammad Khayam said.While some companies have been able to adapt, Agus said not all industries would be able to weather the crisis unscathed.“In the textile sector, large producers can shift from producing garments to producing PPE. However, not all companies can shift their lines of production so quickly,” Agus said.In the textile sector, he said, four large companies had been able to export US$3 billion in products during the pandemic. However, 1.5 million workers have still been furloughed, with the majority having worked for small and medium-sized textile companies.“The majority of the industry is suffering, but things are worse for small and medium-sized manufacturers. We will start collecting data on the number of layoffs and coordinate with the Office of the Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister to provide workers with preemployment card benefits,” he said.Around 2.8 million people have lost their jobs so far, according to data from the Manpower Ministry and the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan).Meanwhile, IHS Markit announced on April 1 that Indonesia’s PMI, the gauge for manufacturing activities, had slumped to 45.3, the worst in the survey’s nine-year history. An index reading above 50 reflects an expansion, while a value below 50 indicates a contraction.The situation could get worse as Indonesia’s economy is projected to see sluggish growth, Agus said.“If our economic growth reaches 2.4 percent, then our [industrial] growth could hover around 2.5 to 2.6 percent. However, if our economy only grows by 0.5 percent, we will adjust the manufacturing industry growth projection to around 0.7 to 0.8 percent,” he said.The government projects the country’s economy to grow 2.3 percent this year under a baseline scenario and even contract 0.4 percent under a worst-case scenario. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently slashed its projection for Indonesia’s GDP growth to 0.5 percent, which would be the lowest growth rate since the 1998 financial crisis, from 5.1 percent in its October projection.Topics :
The head of the European Union agency for disease control said on Monday Britain was one of five European countries yet to begin a downward trend in its coronavirus outbreak, contradicting the British government’s line.As of May 4, Britain had recorded nearly 190,000 coronavirus cases and almost 28,500 deaths. Only Italy in Europe has so far counted more deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to work last week after himself being seriously ill from COVID-19, said on Thursday Britain had past the peak and was “on the downward slope”. Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), told EU lawmakers Bulgaria was still recording an increase in cases, while for Britain, Poland, Romania and Sweden the agency had seen “no substantial changes in the last 14 days”.For all other European countries, there was a drop in cases, she said. “As of Saturday, it appears that the initial wave of transmission (in Europe) has passed its peak,” Ammon told lawmakers in a videoconference.The ECDC monitors all 27 EU member countries plus Britain, Norway, Liechtenstein and Island.The ECDC’s assessment on Britain is in line with data on the overall increase of deaths from all causes reported by EuroMOMO, an EU-backed monitoring project on mortality. England, where the largest share of the British population lives, has seen throughout the pandemic the highest rise in deaths over the five-year average among several European nations screened by EuroMOMO.As of April 26, England had Europe’s highest rise of so-called “excess deaths” and recorded an increase from the previous week in the general indictor that tracks death in all ages.It was also the only monitored nation with a “substantial increase” of excess mortality for the 15-64 age group, preliminary data shows.Excess deaths are those above the forecast average.Epidemiologists said these statistics help to build a more complete picture of the overall impact of epidemics, given many fatalities go unreported or misreported when their number surges exponentially in short periods.Excess deaths in the current pandemic likely reflect the broad impact of the coronavirus, Lasse Vestergaard, a senior medical officer at the project, told Reuters. Topics :
Dwiky, 25, who married his wife in February 2019, has yet to spend Idul Fitri with his wife at their home in Subang, West Java. Last year, he could not go home for the holiday because his ship sailed to Pontianak, West Kalimantan.“I sailed too far from home last year. But this year, it was not only the far distance – it was also the pandemic that stopped me from going home,” Dwiky said. “I could have just resigned if I wanted to meet my wife so badly. But it was not just about that. The government prohibited us from going on mudik to curb the COVID-19 spread, so I should abide by the rule”.Dian, 26, who has been working on the ship for a year, said he missed silaturahmi at his kampung, also in Subang. “If only there was no pandemic, I might have asked the company for a leave of absence,” he told the Post.A family holds a video chat during Idul Fitri in Pati, Central Java, on Sunday. (Antara/Harviyan Perdana Putra)For others, this year’s more modest Idul Fitri was an opportunity for introspection.Aprilian Eka Prananca, 26, said he felt “more devoted” during his Idul Fitri prayers at home, as this allowed him to lead the prayers alongside his wife instead of following directions in mosques.“The Idul Fitri celebration is different, but its essence is the same,” Aprilian said.This year, he only briefly visited some of his relatives to drop off and exchange gifts, while avoiding physical contact and keeping his mask on. In past years, his family would usually gather in one place, have sleepovers and cook together for the big day.Private sector employee Risti Oktavisena, 28, said that although she celebrated differently this year by staying at her rooming house and calling her relatives, the pandemic did not change how she interpreted the meaning of Idul Fitri.“In fact, the pandemic has actually made this year’s Idul Fitri more solemn, because even though we cannot directly have silahturahmi with family and relatives, we can still feel the warmth of togetherness through our devices when we express our sincere apologies,” she said.On social media, Indonesians posted about their virtual Idul Fitri experience using hashtags such as like #LebaranVirtual and #LebaranDiRumahAja (Lebaran at Home) and sharing clips of their video calls with family and friends.“Been connecting mindfully to our dearest people and #virtualhugging through phone and video calls all mornings [sic],” Twitter user @_starsandrabbit wrote on Sunday.Been connecting mindfully to our dearest people and #virtualhugging through phone and video calls all mornings. Made our heart even brighter the the outside weather 🌞selamat menikmati lebaran semuanyaaa 💜— Stars and Rabbit (@_starsandrabbit) May 24, 2020 Mass prayers, big family gatherings and banquets fit for a king. In any other year, this would be the norm for Idul Fitri celebrations in Indonesia, home to world’s largest Muslim population. This year, however, the silaturahmi (communal bonds) tradition of gathering with relatives during the annual holiday was carried out virtually under large-scale social restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19.For Adhytia Pahlawan, a 26-year-old who started his job in Jakarta in September last year, this year marked the first time he celebrated Idul Fitri away from his family in Lumajang, East Java.“I could only keep the silaturahmi through video call. My mother really wanted me to be home as she misses me, but the situation does not allow me to,” he told The Jakarta Post on Monday. Topics : Adhytia said although he felt somewhat isolated and longed for his family’s company, he wanted to comply with the government’s ban on mudik (exodus), which prevents Indonesians from traveling to their hometowns for the holiday. For him, not going home was the best option, as he did not want to risk getting his loved ones sick.To abide by physical distancing rules, regional leaders across the country held digital open house events during Idul Fitri celebrations. Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo greeted people using Zoom and interacted with his constituents on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube on Sunday. West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil also kept alive the tradition of silaturahmi through a digital open house after Idul Fitri prayers.Read also: Millions of Indonesians celebrate Eid under social restrictionsFor Dwiky Eka Putra and Dian Septi Gunawan, both crew members of an Indonesian seafaring company’s cargo ship, celebrations were quiet.
To address the problem, the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry and Wahana Visi Indonesia – or World Vision Indonesia – launched guidelines on Thursday for Community-Based Integrated Child Protection (PATBM) volunteers to encourage public participation in upholding children’s rights.The guidelines instruct volunteers and the greater public on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among children and how to counsel children who need support, among other policies.Valentina Gintings, assistant to the ministry’s child protection undersecretary, said her office had issued four other protocols on how to handle victims of child violence, raise children, assimilate former child convicts into society and manage child data during the pandemic.“If we do not understand or care about them, then who else will? Adults provide the places where children can get protection,” she said.Topics : Neglecting children’s health rights, in particular, could cost lives. Aid group World Vision International said in a report on April 6 that the lives of up to 30 million children could be at risk as a result of the pandemic’s secondary health impacts, such as diseases like malaria, a lack of immunizations and exacerbated malnutrition.“We are wrong if we think this is not a children’s disease. Experience tells us that when epidemics overwhelm health systems, the impact on children is deadly. They are the most vulnerable as other diseases and malnutrition go untreated,” World Vision International president Andrew Morley said in a statement.The Indonesian Pediatric Society (IDAI) recommends parents continue their children’s immunizations at home and advises health services to offer the immunizations with appropriate infection control.The current consensus holds that young people and children usually have the lowest risk of COVID-19 infection, mainly because they represent a small fraction of confirmed cases in many countries.But the IDAI said illnesses and deaths among children as a result of COVID-19 were relatively high. IDAI data shows that as of May 18, at least 129 children out of 3,324 child patients under surveillance (PDP) had died, although no details were given regarding the cause of death. PDP refers to people with COVID-19 symptoms who have not been confirmed to have the illness.The organization also noted that 584 confirmed COVID-19 patients in the country were children and 14 of those children had died from the disease.“These findings show that child illness and death as a result of COVID-19 is high in Indonesia, and it proves that it is false that the age groups are invulnerable to COVID-19 and will only suffer from mild illness,” the IDAI said in a statement.Read also: 22-month old baby in N. Sulawesi may be Indonesia’s youngest COVID-19 related deathGovernment data shows that children under 5 years old account for 0.9 percent of the total COVID-19 deaths as of Thursday, while the figure stands at 0.6 percent for those between 6 and 17 years old.About 2.3 percent of all people found to be COVID-19-positive in Indonesia are children under 5 years old, while those aged 6 to 17 account for 5.5 percent.The two age groups have both the lowest fatality rates and the lowest infection rates of any age group.But health concerns are not the only problem. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) global monitoring platform showed that more than 68.26 million students in Indonesia had been affected by nationwide school closures as of Thursday.A recent KPAI survey also shows that nearly 80 percent of respondents have not had direct interaction with teachers other than receiving and submitting homework during online sessions. Over half of the respondents did not have internet connections at home.Over three fourths of them were also “unhappy” with long-distance learning, the survey found. Critics have said that the nation’s digital divide has weighed heavily on schools, which have been expected to shift to online learning with little to no preparation. But many are concerned that opening schools prematurely could endanger students and teachers. The government has begun discussing the implementation of a “new normal” policy in schools.Overall, Indonesia has fared worse than some of its Southeast Asian neighbors in the protection of children’s rights. It ranks 110th out of 182 countries on the 2020 KidsRights index by Dutch NGO KidsRights. “If these [rights] are ignored, the child could be neglected and the child’s best interest of having a proper upbringing could be jeopardized,” she said.She urged parents to follow health protocols, educate their kids about the policies and ensure that children had their nutritional needs met. The government must also provide health services, she added, and spread COVID-19 awareness among children as they were among the most vulnerable age groups.Rita is one of many advocates who have warned about the dangers of neglecting children’s rights to health and education in COVID-19 policies as attention and money shifts towards mitigation.Read also: Coronavirus measures ‘disastrous’ for children: Watchdog Parents and the government must pay more attention to children’s health and education as the pandemic casts a shadow over the lives of Indonesian children, the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) has said.The pandemic has constrained some children’s rights to play, get an education and access health services, while others who have experienced abuse have been unable to report the violations, KPAI deputy chairwoman Rita Pranawati told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.These rights are protected under the 2014 law on child protection.