Thursday, October 28, 2021
Coronavirus: Japan considers easing emergency measures

Coronavirus: Japan considers easing emergency measures

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Edited by Owen Amos

All times stated are UK

  1. Tunisia relaxes curfew hours

    Rana Jawad

    BBC News, Tunis

    Copyright: AFP

    Image caption: No new infection has been reported in the past three days

    Tunisia has reduced its nightly curfew hours for a second time.

    A 12-hour curfew that was introduced a little under a month ago to help combat the coronavirus was reduced to six hours from Wednesday night.

    The country has not recorded any new cases of the disease for three days.

    Some restrictions remain – large public events are banned, a permit is required for travel between regions, and shopping malls, bars and restaurants remain closed.

  2. Trump: ‘100 Trade Deals’ can’t outweigh Covid-19

    In January, Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed a “Phase One” trade deal. As part of the deal, China pledged to boost US imports by $200bn above 2017 levels and strengthen intellectual property rules.

    It was meant to pave the way for a more wide-ranging deal – but the chances of a resolution to the trade dispute now seem increasingly remote.

    On Twitter yesterday, Donald Trump said any benefits from the trade deal with China were outweighed by what he called “the plague from China”.

    Mr Trump has also extended for another year an executive order banning US firms from using telecoms equipment made by companies – such as Huawei – that his administration says pose a national security risk.

  3. Why khat chewers have been left in a stew

    Copyright: Getty Images

    In normal times, when the bunches of fresh leaves arrive in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, by plane from Kenya, men disappear from view, lounging in khat kiosks or chewing at home.

    The leaf, also known as miraa, acts as a stimulant, sending users into a frenzy of excited chatter.

    But in March, the government of Somalia banned international flights, including khat planes, as part of its efforts to contain coronavirus.

    And when it imposed a lockdown, it forbade people from gathering together to chew their beloved leaves as this would break social distancing rules.

  4. Taiwan’s pride at virus-free month

    Cindy Sui

    BBC News, Taiwan

    Copyright: BBC

    It’s been six months since the outbreak emerged in mainland China, just a short distance away, but we haven’t had any lockdown. People living in Taiwan, including myself, are feeling very fortunate.

    As the Taiwanese watch the sharp rise in cases and deaths in other countries, they are quietly proud of going through one month – 31 straight days as of Wednesday – without any new domestically-transmitted cases, and six consecutive days of no new imported cases either.

    With a total of 440 cases and only 7 deaths, Taiwan is doing much better than most countries.

    Children are going to school and adults to work as normal, the streets are buzzing, and shops and restaurants have remained open.

    Even Taiwan’s favourite pastime, baseball, can be enjoyed inside stadiums again – although only 1,000 fans are allowed at the moment.

    But that doesn’t mean Taiwanese people are letting down their guard.

    They know what has helped Taiwan is being vigilant – including early border controls, a ban on foreign visitors, mandatory quarantine for all overseas returnees, proactive detection at airports and hospitals, efficient contact tracing, and strict enforcement of hospital isolation and home quarantine.

    All of these measures are expected to stay until the pandemic is brought under control worldwide.

    So most Taiwanese gladly have our temperature checked – sometimes several times a day – voluntarily disinfect our hands, and follow the orders to wear a face mask on public transport.

    In fact, some Taiwanese are shocked to see images on TV of people in the UK, or other countries, coming out of lockdown but not wearing masks on the subway trains.

  5. Virus can trigger inflammatory disease in children

    Copyright: AFP

    There’s concern the coronavirus is leading to a rare inflammatory disease in children.

    A number of children in the US, UK and the rest of Europe have been diagnosed with the disease – which can cause symptoms similar to toxic shock syndrome.

    Some have needed intensive care while others recovered quickly.

  6. German infections stay below 1,000 post-lockdown

    Germany has recorded 933 new infections, taking the official total to 172,239. The death toll rose by 89 to 7,723.

    The graph below shows the number of deaths in Germany since the beginning of March, showing the country on a clear downward trend. Lockdown measures began to be eased slowly on 20 April.

    From the start of the outbreak, the country was less severely affected than its western European neighbours. But as more restrictions are lifted, there’s concern the numbers might pick up again.

    Copyright: RKI

  7. Dark truth of India’s post-lockdown liquor queues

    Soutik Biswas

    India Correspondent

    When some Indian cities eased the grinding lockdown last week, long queues were seen outside liquor shops.

    In cities like Mumbai, a Covid-19 hotspot, booze-loving people made a mockery of social distancing rules, prompting the government to shut the shops again.

    There was even social media chatter over a 52,000 rupees ($690; £560) receipt from a single alcohol buyer in Bangalore.

    The manic rush was not surprising: the harsh lockdown meant there was a pent-up demand for booze.

    And behind India’s growing alcohol consumption, there is a darker reality.

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: India is the second largest consumer of liquor in the world
  8. Queensland government interested in Virgin Australia

    A few weeks ago we reported on airline Virgin Australia’s collapse into voluntary administration.

    As this is Australia’s second-largest airline (and main competitor to Qantas), various groups were calling for the Australian government to prop it up, or even nationalise it.

    The government refused – saying it should be left to the market.

    Over a dozen corporate buyers were reported to be interested in the airline – and now the Queensland state government says it wants to bid for a stake.

    Virgin has its headquarters there, and there are 5,000 jobs at risk.

    “If we’re going to secure those jobs and secure a second airline for our state and nation, we’ve got to be in that fight,” said state treasurer Cameron Dick.

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: Virgin Australia planes on tarmac in Melbourne
  9. Maintaining mental health during lockdown

    Research has already suggested that anxiety and depressive symptoms rose after “lockdown” measures were introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19.

    And now, the UN has warned the pandemic is causing widespread psychological distress.

    Earlier this month, the BBC spoke to Siobhan O’Neill, a professor of mental health sciences, about how to look after yourself during the lockdown.

    Video content

    Video caption: Looking after your mental health during isolation
  10. Indian labourers killed while walking 1,000km home

    Six migrant workers have died after a bus ran them over in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, police told local media.

    The workers were walking from Punjab state to their home in Bihar state when the incident occurred on Wednesday night.

    Their journey would have been around 1,000km, or 621 miles.

    Millions in India were left stranded when the lockdown was announced in March. With industries shut, and bus and train services halted overnight, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers feared they would starve and attempted to walk back home.

    Earlier this month, the government announced special trains for migrant workers, but reports of labourers walking home continue to emerge.

    The news comes just as another similar incident took place in Madhya Pradesh state on Wednesday night, when a truck collision killed at least eight labourers, ANI news agency reported.

    And just last week, officials ordered an investigation after 16 migrant workers were run over by a freight train in Maharashtra state.

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: Millions have been stranded by the lockdown
  11. Teenagers in lockdown around the world

    As lockdowns continue around the world, what does a day in the life of a teenager look like now?

    We asked young people in 14 different countries to record their day – from when they woke up to the moment they went to bed – to find out how they are coping with coronavirus.

    Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: A day in lockdown life around the world
  12. Struggling to accept the ‘new normal’ in Japan

    Although Japan never went into a full lockdown – since there are no legal provisions that give the government such powers – many of us are stuck at home under virus guidelines.

    Main shopping areas are closed, businesses are suffering, and people are stressed out.

    Even as the government muses on how to relax the restrictions, many of us are conflicted, wanting to save livelihoods – but also wanting to save lives.

    Yes, the case figures and death tolls are almost inexplicably low, but not many are taking comfort in this. And many are questioning the government’s response to the crisis.

    The project of sending each household two cloth masks became the target of derision and exasperation – some were dirty and defective, the project was considered too expensive, the contracts were murky, and most of the country still hasn’t received them.

    Many also consider the government’s financial support too little too late, and too mired in bureaucracy. After much protest on social media – and prodding from not just the opposition but from within the ruling coalition – the government finally promised to pay each resident Y100K (£766, $935).

    But three weeks after the announcement, most of us are yet to see the necessary application forms.

    On top of that, there has been a massive Twitter protest (as well as a silent gathering outside parliament) against the government trying to rush through a bill that would give the cabinet powers to extend the retirement age of chief prosecutors.

    Coupled with the various corruption allegations connected to the government prior to the pandemic, the sense that the government is trying to bulldoze this through when the country is suffering has resulted in the hashtag protest gaining 9 million tweets.

    With so many suffering financially, physically, and emotionally, many of us are finding it difficult to accept the “new normal” when there is much uncertainty in the air.

  13. How Denmark reopened its schools

    Primary children in Denmark have been back at school for a month now.

    It was the first country in Western Europe to reopen its primary schools, after containing the virus early on. There have been fewer than 550 deaths in Denmark so far.

    Our Europe correspondent Jean Mackenzie spent the day at the Lynghøj primary school:

    Video content

    Video caption: Inside a reopened primary school in the time of coronavirus
  14. UK expats left stranded in Fiji until end of June

    Copyright: Abdulla Mohsin

    Image caption: Abdulla Mohsin and Catherine David moved to New Zealand in January 2019, and have been stranded in Fiji since March

    Two British nationals “stranded” in Fiji say permission to return to New Zealand has come six weeks too late.

    Abdulla Mohsin and Catherine David, originally from Derbyshire, went to Fiji for their honeymoon before New Zealand, where they now live, closed its borders to most non-residents in March.

    Initially, Mr Mohsin and Ms David were told that because they were on a “work to residency” visa, they were not classed as residents, despite living in Auckland since January 2019.

    They have now been granted an exception to return to the country but no flights are scheduled until the end of June.

  15. UN warns of virus mental health crisis

    Copyright: Science Photo Library

    The United Nations has warned the coronavirus pandemic is causing widespread psychological distress – exacerbated by a long-term lack of investment in mental health care in many countries.

    From frontline health professionals, to laid-off workers, to families struggling to home-school, to elderly people suffering loneliness and anxiety, the pandemic is taking a severe toll on many people’s mental health.

    In a policy document released on Thursday, the UN is calling for countries to include mental health and psycho-social support in their pandemic response plans.

    Good mental health is critical to a functioning society, the UN says – and without these actions, the world faces not just a physical health crisis, but a mental health crisis as well.

  16. Virus ‘may never go away’ WHO warns

    Copyright: Reuters

    The coronavirus “may never go away”, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

    “It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” WHO emergencies director Dr Mike Ryan said.

    He added that even if a vaccine was found, controlling the virus would require a “massive effort”.

    Almost 300,000 people worldwide have died with coronavirus, with more than 4.3m cases recorded.

  17. China’s new cases drop to three

    Copyright: AFP

    China recorded only three new infections in the past day, officials said on Thursday. That’s down from seven new cases a day earlier.

    All three cases were local transmission and were recorded in the north-eastern provinces of Liaoning and Jilin.

    The city of Shulan in Jilin had a small new cluster over the weekend, stoking fears of a resurgence that have yet to be realised.

    The figures also showed there were no new fatalities and 12 asymptomatic cases.

    The total number of cases stands at 82,929 – while the death toll remains at at 4,633.

  18. Trump dismisses Fauci warning as ‘not acceptable’

    Video content

    Video caption: Trump on Fauci: ‘It’s not an acceptable answer’

    For weeks, Dr Anthony Fauci has been the face of the US administration’s coronavirus task force. The epidemiologist is among the top medical advisers to President Donald Trump on the virus.

    Now there is open disagreement between Trump and the medical expert. Fauci had warned against opening schools and the economy too soon, as it might trigger a surge in new infections.

    Trump dismissed the warning as “not acceptable”, accusing Fauci of wanting “to play all sides of the equation”.

    The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made his warning in a testimony to lawmakers. Political pressure to reopen the economy is growing – despite new infections remaining high.

    Copyright: BBC

  19. Sharing the same passion – 8,000 miles apart

    Erin Rae, in Nashville, and Mali, in Mumbai, are both singer-songwriters.

    They talk about the impact of the pandemic on their work and what they think the future of music will look like.

    Here’s what they had to say…and sing:

    Video content

    Video caption: They’re 8,000 miles away and share the same passion
  20. Breaking600,000 jobs lost in Australia

    The data has just come out – and the Australian jobless rate has jumped from 5.2% to 6.2% in April – lower than the 8.3% forecast by economists.

    Still, that’s a loss of 600,000 jobs in a country not as severely affected as many others around the world.

    But already, analysts say that number doesn’t reflect the true damage to the economy. Welfare programmes have helped cushion the numbers.

    Over six million Australians are receiving pay subsidised by the government. One million Australians have applied for unemployment payments. Together, that’s over 40% of the workforce.

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the nation: “It is a very tough day. Shocking but not unexpected.”

    He said more economic pain would come in the coming months, but the reopening of society in coming weeks would help.

    The government has forecast unemployment will hit 10% by June, and GDP will fall 10% in the same period – the largest quarterly fall on record.

    Copyright: EPA

    Image caption: A welfare queue in Sydney in March

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