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Coronavirus: Schools, colleges and childcare facilities in Ireland to shut

Reprint – from the Irish Times

Shutdown starts this evening and runs until March 29th, restrictions placed on gatherings

TMR Editor: With the banning of gatherings of travel all around the western world, and we can specify as it gets closer to home in many close ways, the UK and the US, questions are now looming and becoming somewhat vocal. What is the Montserrat, local government doing in the face of all that?

The next question with the announced preparations (for protection) the serious and important question is also asked, somewhere, ” Have any extra resources been allocated to Montserrat, by the UK out of the huge allocation towards this ‘pandemic’
Do we have the capability to test? Can we detect the disease?
If we cannot even detect the disease, how are we going to slow the spread?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlining the new measures at Blair House, Washington DC, on Thursday. Photograph: PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlining the new measures at Blair House, Washington DC, on Thursday. Photograph: PA

Pat Leahy, Paul Cullen, Suzanne Lynch, Fiach Kelly

Schools, colleges and other public facilities are set to close in the Republic from this evening for at least two weeks in response to the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking from Washington DC on Thursday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the measures being announced today would remain in place until March 29th and would be kept under review.

From 6 pm, schools, colleges, and childcare facilities will close, Mr. Varadkar said. Cultural centres will also close, he said.

The Government is also banning indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people.

People should continue to go to work if they can, but those who are able to work from home should do so, he added.

Shops and supply chains will remain open, the Taoiseach said, and cafes and restaurants can remain open. He also said people should minimise social interaction where possible.

Public transport will continue to operate.

Mr. Varadkar did not comment on the US travel ban announced last night. The ban applies to visitors from most European states, but not Ireland.

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The Mater Hospital announced it is limiting activity to essential services from Thursday.

The announcement comes a day after the first death from coronavirus was recorded in the Republic.

In a statement on Thursday, the hospital said all outpatient appointments and elective surgeries would be “limited to essential services only until further notice”.

It said: “The Mater regrets the impact that this will have on our patients but these new arrangements are necessary in order to deal with the impact of Covid-19.”

Patients whose appointments are being deferred will be contacted by phone, the hospital said, adding every effort is being made to manage and control the spread of coronavirus.

“Our staff across every part of the hospital are carrying out Trojan work around the clock to deal with the virus, care for those infected and to protect and care for other patients in the hospital,” it said.

Visitor restrictions remain in place at the hospital. The only visitors allowed are those visiting patients in critical care, vulnerable young adults or those whose loved ones are receiving end-of-life care, the hospital said. No children are permitted to visit the hospital.

The public has been told to limit its social interactions and stop shaking hands with others as part of enhanced containment measures following the announcement of the first death from the disease.

The elderly woman had an underlying condition that was terminal and died on Wednesday at Naas General Hospital.

“The death took place in the last 24 hours. The diagnosis was part of the certification of the death of the individual,” chief medical officer Dr. Tony Holohan said on Wednesday night.

A number of other patients in hospital with the disease are understood to be seriously ill.

The National Public Health Emergency Team said on Wednesday evening that containment measures would now be enhanced. It asked members of the public to “consider how to limit your social interactions” and to “avoid indoor, crowded spaces”, shaking hands and “close personal contact”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) for the first time yesterday labeled the coronavirus a pandemic, adding Italy and Iran were on the front line of the disease and other countries would soon join them.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Columns, Education, Featured, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Ferry-docking-in-Plymouth-2018-DSC_4310

Contingency Plan activated – Ferry to dock at Plymouth Jetty today

Update

Following a safe docking and landing of passengers as desired in Plymouth, the Jaden Sun has reportedly returned to Antigua and has left with passengers who will now be able to disembark and Port Little Bay.

UPDATE: That hope did not materialise – the second departure from Antigua with about 220 passengers with plans to dock at Port Little Bay around midnight. Instead went on to dock at Plymouth, ending the whole disembarkation and processing close to 4 a.m. There were other trips during today and all back to normal by tonight with Access reporting another big day tomorrow into Friday. But with calmer waters. GIU information says following assessments of conditions at Little Bay being favourable, the ferry is expected to dock at Little Bay. The latest report says the ferry Antigua left at approximately 10.20 p.m. which means a possible arrival time at Little Bay around midnight.

The first trip to Port Plymouth brought 100 passengers and according to GIU info, the second trip will bring about 220 persons, easing considerably the need for the near 400 persons expected today to overnight in uncertain accommodation tonight.

Here’s to more favourable times; remembering March 7, 2018, when the sea rose-up just moments after the ferry reached Plymouth and was about to dock, forcing the ferry to return to Antigua. But only after the same thing happened shortly after at Little Bay only a bit more aggressively.

Passengers getting ready to disembark when the water got a bit naughty

GIU, Davy Hill Montserrat–  The Access Division in the Office of the Premier has activated its contingency plan for the ferry to dock at the Plymouth jetty as sea conditions continue to pose a challenge at the jetty located at Little Bay.

Assessments of the sea conditions in Plymouth have indicated that the conditions there are more favourable for the ferry to operate. As a result, His Excellency the Governor, Andrew Pearce has granted approval for the ferry to disembark at the Plymouth Jetty.   The Jaden Sun Ferry will therefore depart Antigua promptly at 4:00 p.m. today Tuesday, March 10, 2020. 

To ensure as many persons as possible are able to travel on this trip, passengers will only be allowed to carry their hand luggage. All other luggage (bags) will be transported separately on the Typhoon Express ferry.

Following the arrival of the Jaden Sun ferry at Port Plymouth this afternoon, a further determination and subsequent announcement will be made about the other trips.

Posted in Climate/Weather, Environment, Government Notices, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of people is set to be cancelled this year in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Coronavirus: Three new Irish cases confirmed as St Patrick’s Day parades cancelled

Reprint from the Irish Times

€2.6bn sick pay measures and business liquidity fund announced; stocks markets plunge

Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of people is set to be cancelled this year in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times
Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of people is set to be canceled this year in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fiach Kelly, Martin Wall, Paul Cullen Updated: about 15 hours ago

Three newly discovered cases of coronavirus were reported on Monday evening, bringing the total of confirmed cases in the Republic to 24.

 The new cases included three women who had close contact with a confirmed case. Two, including one healthcare worker, are in the south of the country, and one is in the west.

 It has also emerged that one previously reported case involved a person who had traveled from Africa through a European country. This is the only travel-related case not linked to Italy.

Fourteen of the 24 cases are associated with travel from an at-risk zone, seven came from contact with a confirmed case and two have arisen in the health service. Three cases are the result of community transmission for which there is as yet no explanation.

Chief medical officer at the Department of Health Dr. Tony Holohan said Ireland remained in a containment phase, but would “eventually” move to a delay phase and then on to a mitigation phase.

Ireland still has a “relatively small number of mostly isolated, sporadic cases,” he said.

He said it is planned to introduce a number of measures relating to individual and collective behaviour but it was not to start these before they are necessary. “The measures we deploy have to be deployed at the right time,” he said, otherwise people would become “fatigued” and their compliance would drop.

The new cases come after the Government agreed on an aid package of some €3bn  to deal with the public health and economic impact of coronavirus. It has also canceled all St Patrick’s Day Parades in the State in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Sick pay

People affected by coronavirus are to receive sick pay of €305 per week from their first day of illness under a new initiative announced by the Government. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the existing conditions surrounding the sick payments, such as having a specific number of contributions, would be waived. 
Payments will also be available to the self-employed.  The Taoiseach said emergency legislation to change the existing rules governing sick pay would be introduced in the Dail next week.  This measure is estimated to cost €2.4bn. 

The decisions were made following a meeting of the new Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 and followed advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team.

It says the HSE  is scaling up its actions to deal with a population impact over the coming months which will cost in the region of €435 million in 2020. It says a package for business will include a €200m “liquidity fund”. 

At a press conference in Government Buildings, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “It is possible we are facing events that are unprecedented in modern times”.

Related

Mr. Varadkar said the State’s response has to be “modulated and has to be calibrated” and said decisions on how to react to Coronavirus will not be made “on foot of pressure” from business, politics, the media or social media.

He said the Government will have to make sure “that the interventions that are going to take place have to work” at the right time. He said the spread of Coronavirus cannot be stopped but “it can be slowed” and that it warrants a societal response as well as a medical response.

“If the worst projections come true – come to be the case – if a vaccine and a treatment is not developed then obviously the situation is going to be not like anything that we’ve experienced in our living memory,” he added.

Coronavirus outbreak: Main developments on Monday

In Northern Ireland, two schools have been closed for a deep clean after a student tested positive for coronavirus.  The health minister Robin Swann told the North’s Assembly that the schools are located on the same site.  Northern Ireland currently has 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Councilors in Belfast have voted to cancel the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade because of coronavirus. 

The St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin draws nearly 500,000 people and it is the latest in a series of large public events to be canceled. The celebrations were expected to generate  €73 million for the economy.

The last time St Patrick’s Day parades were canceled was due to the foot and mouth restrictions in 2001.

Concerns over the impact of coronavirus on the global economy on Monday prompted some of the biggest one-day stock market falls since the 2008 crash.

US stocks plunged 7 percent after opening on Monday, triggering a 15-minute trading halt for the first time since December 2008.

The France-Ireland Six Nations game which was scheduled to conclude the Guinness 2020 Six Nations in the Stade de France next Saturday was postponed until October.

It has also been confirmed Mr. Varadkar will shorten his St Patrick’s visit to the US to attend further meetings about coronavirus.

Mr. Varadkar is not attending an engagement in New York on Tuesday and instead will begin his trip in Washington on Wednesday.

Ireland’s match against France in the Six Nations has been postponed until October. Photograph: Reuters
Ireland’s match against France in the Six Nations has been postponed until October. Photograph: Reuters

Stock markets were also spooked by the stand-off between Saudi Arabia and Russia which has triggered a 30 percent crash in oil prices.

More than 110,000 people have been infected in 105 countries and territories and 3,800 have died, mostly in mainland China, according to a Reuters tally.

Europe

The whole of Italy is to be put on lockdown to deal with Coronavirus, the prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Monday.

He will move to extend restrictive measures on travel — currently in force in the north — throughout the rest of the country in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus after the number of cases soared by 25 percent. He also said all public gatherings will be banned.

The country has also reported 463 deaths from the virus an increase of 97 from Sunday. Italy’s cabinet is expected on Wednesday to approve a €7.5 billion package to help to offset the hit from the crisis.

Five people have died and 319 people have tested positive for the disease, up from 273 at the same point on Sunday, the UK’s department of health said.

All sporting activity at all levels in Italy has been suspended until April 3rd at the earliest, the Italian national Olympic committee (Coni) has announced.

The French government announced on Sunday it was banning all gatherings of more than 1,000 people in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Germany has reported four deaths and has also implemented a similar ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

European Union leaders will hold emergency talks soon to discuss a joint response to coronavirus, officials said on Monday, as the bloc’s executive considers relaxing state subsidy rules to allow extra public spending.

In the United States, officials are preparing to receive thousands of people onboard a cruise ship with at least 21 people on board infected by coronavirus.

More than 3,500 people on the ship come from 54 countries, including Ireland. – Additional reporting agencies

See below – more cancellations of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/09/metro/will-boston-cancel-sundays-st-patricks-day-parade-southie/

Boston cancels St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston amid coronavirus fears

By Danny McDonald Globe Staff,Updated March 9, 2020, 12:07 p.m. 126

A pipes-and-drum band marches in the St. Patrick's Day parade in South Boston last year.
A pipes-and-drum band marches in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston last year. Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston scheduled for Sunday has been canceled amid rising numbers of coronavirus infections in Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Monday.

“This decision is being made out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are doing what is needed to keep the residents of Boston safe and healthy,” Walsh said in a news release that described the decision as a collaboration with state and city representatives and David Falvey of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council.Related: Mass. coronavirus cases rise to 41 as events are canceled

CANCELED: 169th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival | San Francisco

Saturday, March 14, 2020 – All Day | Cost: FREE
Market Street | Market Street and Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CAFinancial DistrictSan Francisco

https://sf.funcheap.com/san-franciscos-st-patricks-day-parade/

David Yu

THIS YEAR’S FESTIVITIES HAVE BEEN POSTPONED
The 2020 San Francisco Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival has been postponed. The permits for the Parade and the Festival—both scheduled for Saturday, March 14th, 2020—were canceled by the City and County of San Francisco on Friday, March 6th, 2020, as part of a series of measures designed to reduce the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Culture, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

skynews-coronavirus-covid-19_4937164

Coronavirus: NHS England declares level four incident over outbreak

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The new orders from health bosses come amid predictions that one in five workers could be off sick when the virus peaks.

Tuesday 3 March 2020 22:59, UK

Britain...s prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks as he holds a press conference at Downing Street on the government...s coronavirus action plan in London, Tuesday, March 3, 2020.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-cases-in-the-uk-rise-to-51-11948376

Boris Johnson announces coronavirus plans

Why you can trust Sky News

NHS England has declared coronavirus a level four incident – the highest level of emergency preparedness planning.

It comes as confirmed cases in the UK rose to 51 and Boris Johnson unveiled his plan for dealing with the outbreak.

Under the level four alert, all hospitals in England have been told to “assume that they will need to look after COVID-19 cases in due course”.

Where coronavirus has spread in the UK

A national incident management team and coordination centre have been set up for the coronavirus.

NHS regions must report centrally and set up their own incident teams, including having a 24/7 contact for “patient management, alerts, referrals, and tracking”.

Everyone in intensive care with a respiratory infection must also now be tested, as should everyone in a Severe Respiratory Failure centre.

The guidance says it is “now appropriate” to put some patients in “wider infectious disease units” – rather than specialist COVID-19 units – and they could be grouped in “all acute units” if cases continue to rise.

An NHS emergency preparedness adviser, who did not want to be identified, explained: “Level one is a localised incident, like a small fire, where the NHS trust can manage by themselves without any intervention.

“Level two is a larger incident, like a small flood, where the commissioners would have to get involved.”

The former emergency department nurse, who was heavily involved in helping the NHS to cope during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, added: “A level three is declared when there is a regional emergency and level four, the highest emergency level, is declared when there is a national medical crisis.”

preview image

COVID-19: Who is most vulnerable?

Twelve new UK cases were identified on Tuesday: eight had travelled from Italy, one from Germany, one from Singapore, one from Japan and on from Iran.

They are from London, Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Bury, Wirral, Greater Manchester, Humberside, and Kent.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS had been “preparing for a pandemic virus for over a decade” and was still in the containment phase.

But he said if global cases continue rising – especially in Europe – “we may not be able to contain the virus indefinitely”.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for assurances that workers not entitled to sick pay would not be forced to choose between self-isolation and earning a living if they get sick.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has detailed the government’s plan to deal with the virus.

He said police could be reduced to just dealing with very serious crimes and maintaining public order, while the NHS could be closed to all but critical care.

Emergency services all have measures in place to “fulfill critical functions” but they would have to reduce services should large numbers of staff become ill.

The government also said plans were in place to draft in the Army, if necessary, to maintain public order.

Mr. Johnson said there were “long-established plans by which the police will, obviously, keep the public safe but they will prioritise those things that they have to do”.

What happens now with the coronavirus quarantine?

Coronavirus quarantine: What happens now?

He added: “And the Army is of course always ready to back-fill as and when, but that is under the reasonable worst-case scenario.”

The 27-page plan also warned of a depletion in workforces across the UK and said one in five workers could be absent when the virus peaks.

The government said it would consider closing schools and universities, encourage working from home and a reduction in large gatherings.

Key points:

  • Police would “concentrate on responding to serious crimes” if they lose a “significant” amount of staff to illness
  • UK has stockpiles of medicines for the NHS, along with protective clothing and equipment for medical staff
  • If coronavirus becomes widespread, there will be a focus on essential services for those “most at risk”
  • The Ministry of Defence will provide support as needed
  • There will be increased government communication with parliament, the public, and the media
  • Social distancing strategies could be implemented, which would include school closures, home-working, and reducing the number of large scale gatherings
  • Non-urgent operations and procedures could be canceled and hospital discharges monitored to free up beds
  • Measures would come into place to help businesses with short-term cash flow problems
  • A distribution strategy for sending out key medicines and equipment to NHS and social care patients
The government has taken extra measures to combat COVID-19
Image: The number of cases in the UK stands at 51

Speaking at a news conference, the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, said restricting travel once the epidemic was “everywhere” would make “no difference at all”.

He also said there was “no reason” for people to stockpile food and other goods.

Mr. Johnson told reporters he continued to shake hands with people, adding: “I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were coronavirus patients and I was shaking hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands. The infection numbers in real time Daily updates figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University

“People must make up their own minds but I think the scientific evidence is… our judgment is that washing your hands is the crucial thing.”

The government plan outlines its response in four stages.

They include containing the outbreak, delaying its spread, mitigating the impact of the disease once it becomes established, and implementing a research program aimed at improving diagnostics and treatment.

Officials are hoping to delay the peak of the outbreak until the spring and summer months when health services are less busy.

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Legislation allowing the government to use extra powers to help control COVID-19 is expected to be passed by the end of the month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also pledged more funds to fight the virus and has promised more cash in next week’s budget.

Meanwhile, there have been concerns over the viability of events and large gatherings, including the London Marathon just eight weeks away.

The health secretary told MPs that “reacting too early or over-reacting carries its own risk”, saying that the government would, therefore, “seek to minimise social disruption”.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: A woman wears a face mask while waiting for a tube train at Bank underground station on March 01, 2020 in London, England. There has been three more reported cases of the coronavirus - COVID-19 tested positive in the UK, bringing the total to twenty three. (photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
Image: Concerns have been raised about the virus spreading on transport networks

But Mr. Hancock admitted some of the action would be “uncomfortable” but insisted the government was “quite prepared to do that if it’s necessary”.

However, speaking to Sky News’ Kay Burley@Breakfast show earlier, he said the government was seeking “as targeted as an approach as possible” with the focus on the elderly and others likely to suffer most from the virus.

There are currently more than 90,000 cases of coronavirus around the world and more than 3,000 deaths.

Virus Outbreak: Global Emergency – Watch a special Sky News programme on coronavirus at 6 pm weekdays.

Posted in Features, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology, Travel0 Comments

A map of cases of the novel coronavirus

The new coronavirus: Answers to your questions

DISCOVERIES Stories and news from Boston Children’s

Posted on February 3, 2020 by Ellen Greenlaw | Health and ParentingTags: epidemiology, infectious diseases

A map of cases of the novel coronavirus
The HealthMap app is tracking the new coronavirus in real-time

If you’ve been watching the news, you’re probably aware that there are thousands of confirmed cases of a new type of coronavirus in China that has sickened thousands and caused more than 200 deaths. Although there have only been a handful of cases in the United States, many people have questions about the new virus and how to keep themselves and their families safe.

To answer those questions, we sat down with Dr. Thomas Sandora from the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause infections in animals or people. There are several common human coronaviruses that usually cause mild to moderate upper respiratory infection, like a common cold.

How is this coronavirus unique?

Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people, and then spread between people. This was seen previously with SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus) and MERS-CoV (middle eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus). The current outbreak that began in China is another novel coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV, which likely jumped from animals to humans.

Why is it spreading so fast?

When a new virus is first introduced into a human population that has never seen it before, we do not have any pre-existing immunity. How fast a virus can spread depends on a variety of factors. Although person-to-person transmission of this novel coronavirus is happening, it’s still too soon to really understand how well it will spread among people.

HealthMap: Tracking 2019-nCoV in real-time
The Boston Children’s Hospital Informatics Program created HealthMap, an online resource and smartphone
app that helps track the spread of contagious diseases in real-time, including 2019-nCoV.

What are the signs and symptoms of this coronavirus?

For confirmed 2019-nCoV infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people being mildly sick to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

How can I protect my family?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, there are some everyday preventive actions you can take to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What precautions do we need to take when traveling?

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, where the majority of the cases have occurred.

Learn more about the Division of Infectious Diseases.

About our expert: Thomas Sandora, MD, MPH, is a senior associate physician in pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases, hospital epidemiologist, and medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is also an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Posted in Environment, Featured, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

UN agency declares global emergency over virus from China

UN agency declares global emergency over virus from China

By MARIA CHENG and JAMEY KEATEN

A doctor attends to a patient in an isolation ward at a hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation. (Chinatopix via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization declared the outbreak sparked by a new virus in China that has spread to more than a dozen countries as a global emergency Thursday after the number of cases spiked more than tenfold in a week.

The U.N. health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

China first informed WHO about cases of the new virus in late December. To date, China has reported more than 7,800 cases including 170 deaths. Eighteen other countries have since reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Experts say there is significant evidence the virus is spreading among people in China and have noted with concern instances in other countries — including the United States, France, Japan, Germany, Canada, South Korea and Vietnam — where there have also been isolated cases of human-to-human transmission.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted the worrisome spread of the virus between people outside China.

“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries,” he said. “Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”

“This declaration is not a vote of non-confidence in China,” he said. “On the contrary, WHO continues to have the confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.”

A declaration of a global emergency typically brings greater money and resources, but may also prompt nervous governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. The announcement also imposes more disease reporting requirements on countries.

In the wake of numerous airlines canceling flights to China and businesses including Starbucks and McDonald’s temporarily closing hundreds of shops, Tedros said WHO was not recommending limiting travel or trade to China.

“There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” he said. He added that Chinese President Xi Jinping had committed to help stop the spread of the virus beyond its borders.

“During my discussion with the president and other officials, they’re willing to support countries with weaker health systems with whatever is possible,” Tedros said.

On Thursday, France confirmed that a doctor who was in contact with a patient with the new virus later became infected himself. The doctor is now being treated in an isolated room at a Paris hospital. Outbreak specialists worry that the spread of new viruses from patients to health workers can signal the virus is becoming adapted to human transmission.

China raised the death toll to 170 on Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical tests and even isolation.

Russia announced it was closing its 2,600-mile border with China, joining Mongolia and North Korea in barring crossings to guard against a new viral outbreak. It had been de facto closed because of the Lunar New Year holiday, but Russian authorities said the closure would be extended until March 1.

Meanwhile, the United States and South Korea confirmed their first cases of person-to-person spread of the virus. The man in the U.S. is married to a 60-year-old Chicago woman who got sick from the virus after she returned from a trip to Wuhan, the Chinese city that is the epicenter of the outbreak.

The case in South Korea was a 56-year-old man who had contact with a patient who was diagnosed with the new virus earlier.

Although scientists expect to see limited transmission of the virus between people with close contact, like within families, the instances of spread to people who may have had less exposure to the virus in Japan and Germany is worrying.

In Japan, a man in his 60s caught the virus after working as a bus driver for two tour groups from Wuhan. In Germany, a man in his 30s was sickened after a Chinese colleague from Shanghai, whose parents had recently visited from Wuhan, came to his office for a business meeting. Four other workers later became infected. The woman had shown no symptoms of the virus until her flight back to China.

“That’s the kind of transmission chain that we don’t want to see,” said Marion Koopmans, an infectious diseases specialist at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands and a member of WHO’s emergency committee.

Koopmans said more information was needed about how the virus was spread in these instances and whether it meant the virus was more infectious than previously thought or if there was something unusual in those circumstances.

Mark Harris, a professor of virology at Leeds University, said it appears that the spread of the virus among people is probably easier than initially presumed.

“If transmission between humans was difficult, then the numbers would have plateaued,” he said. Harris said the limited amount of virus spread beyond China suggested the outbreak could still be contained, but that if people are spreading the disease before they show symptoms — as some Chinese politicians and researchers have suggested — that could compromise control efforts.

The new virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, a cousin of the new virus. Both are from the coronavirus family, which also includes those that can cause the common cold.

The latest figures for mainland China show an increase of 38 deaths and 1,737 cases for a total of 7,736 confirmed cases. Of the new deaths, 37 were in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, and one was in the southwestern province of Sichuan. Outside China, there are 82 infections in 18 countries, according to WHO.

China extended its Lunar New Year holiday to Sunday to try to keep people home, but the wave of returning travelers could potentially cause the virus to spread further.

China has been largely praised for a swift and effective response to the outbreak, although questions have been raised about the police suppression of what was early on considered mere rumors — a reflection of the one-party Communist state’s determination to maintain a monopoly on information in spite of smartphones and social media.

That stands in stark contrast to the initial response to SARS when medical reports were hidden as state secrets. The delayed response was blamed for allowing the disease to spread worldwide, killing around 800 people.

Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Britain’s Wellcome Trust, welcomed WHO’s emergency declaration.

“This virus has spread at unprecedented scale and speed, with cases passing between people in multiple countries across the world,” he said in a statement. “It is also a stark reminder of how vulnerable we are to epidemics of infectious diseases known and unknown.”

___

Cheng reported from London. Associated Press writers Ken Moritsugu in Beijing, Elaine Ganley in Paris, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Kim Tong-Hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.

Coronavirus: Army set ..

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CORONAVIRUS spreading from China

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Weather system causes disruption to Ferry Service

Weather system causes disruption to Ferry Service

Jaden Sun

The Access Division, under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier, is informing travelers that a high-pressure system in the region is expected to produce rough sea conditions over the next few days, which is resulting in the cancellation of the ‘Day Tour Service’ and will possibly disrupt other scheduled ferry services from Friday, January 10 to 14.

Daily assessments of sea conditions will be done to determine whether the ferry service will operate and customers will be informed of changes to the ferry services following these assessments. Customers are therefore encouraged to monitor all media platforms for regular updates on potential changes to the ferry service.

Travelers are asked to note that the ferry is scheduled to depart Montserrat for Antigua at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow Friday, January 10 and a determination will be made on whether or not the ferry will operate its normal return journey from Antigua to Montserrat in the evening.

As a result, ‘Day Tour Service’ for tomorrow, Friday, January 10, has been canceled.

Customers are therefore advised to review their travel arrangements considering the upcoming disruptions.

Ferry Agents can be contacted on the following numbers:

Agents:
Montserrat: Jemmotte Shipping (664) 496-9912
Antigua: Jenny Tours 1-268-722-8188

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Climate/Weather, Government Notices, International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

Prime Minister Skerrit sworn into office

Prime Minister Skerrit sworn into office

by Peter Richards

ROSEAU, Dominica, Dec 7, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was sworn into office for a fourth consecutive term on Saturday, mere hours after leading the ruling Dominica Labour Party to a sweeping general elections victory.

But even as he was being sworn in, the leader of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton, was hinting at “irregularities” in the polls that saw his party’s seat count in the 21-member Parliament reduced from six to four, according to the preliminary results.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit being sworn into office by President Charles Savarin (CMC Photo)

“We should never elevate skulduggery to a virtue by congratulating those who succeed by dishonest ways. The 2019 general election in Dominica was not free, it was not fair, it was rigged, it was stolen, plain and simple,” Linton said in a Facebook page post, urging followers and supporters to join him later on Saturday night when he addresses them.

But in a speech after he was sworn into office, Prime Minister Skerrit extended a hand to Linton, urging him to get together for the benefit of the country even while saying that he believes the “external forces” that sought to derail Friday’s general election did not treat Linton right.

“I have never seen so much external interest in our campaign,” Skerrit said, saying that he is hoping that now that the electorate had spoken quite forcefully that they would now channel their interest into rebuilding Dominica.

He reminded Linton that the DLP, which according to the preliminary figures had 17 of the 21 seats,  had secured both the seats and the popular votes.

“I think the external people did not deal Mr. Linton right, they used him,” Skerrit said, noting that Linton instead of focusing on his campaign was being used “to carry out their plans”.

Skerrit, who led the DLP into a fifth consecutive term, said that he had sympathy for Linton because as a legislator, he has never had to sit in Opposition.

“I do not envy him. I never had the opportunity of being in opposition, people have told me it is not nice,” Skerrit said.

He had earlier thanked the voters in the northern village of Vielle Case, whom he has been representing since 2000, adding that the Dominica Constitution makes it quite clear that you could only become Prime Minister by being an elected member of Parliament.

He said the election showed that Dominica had become a “more mature nation, mature people” given that the “world was watching us and I think we have confounded many who thought our political system would have descended into chaos”.

He insisted that “no one can contest” the validity of the elections and that within the first 100 days of his new administration, the issue of electoral reform would be a priority.

But Skerrit maintained that Dominica has always had “free and fair elections” and that Dominicans both here and abroad would soon have an opportunity to engage themselves in the electoral reform process.

He said also that the government would consider establishing a think tank of people both here and in the diaspora that provide guidance on socio-economic plans and examine policies “more objectively”.

Skerrit said that his new Cabinet would be sworn in on December 17.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Elections, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

liat1X

Antigua Parliament agrees to buy additional US $15.8 million in LIAT shares

LIAT aircraft

 Caribbean News Service

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has been given the go-ahead to secure a loan of US $15.8 million (approximately EC $40 million) with Banco del ALBA, to purchase additional shares in regional carrier, LIAT.

On Tuesday, Speaker of the House, Sir Gerald Watt QC authorised the resolution and Members of Parliament (MPs) voted for the resolution, which is expected to yet again recapitalise the failing airline.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Gaston Browne anticipates that the changes will make LIAT more efficient and profitable but warned that it would come with “cuts including reduction in salary and wages”.

“A condition of this new capital would be that there have to be cuts including a reduction in salary and wages…I’m pretty sure that there’ll be some changes even with the directorship of LIAT. We have to make sure that we have a cadre of competent people and we may even create the space for members in the private sector as well to participate,” Browne told the Parliament.

 September 11, 2019 was when the Finance Minister said he negotiated the loan to fund the acquisition of the additional funds, disclosing that “this loan will be termed out over a period of 10 years, at 6 percent per annum, with an annual repayment of about EC $6 million — about US $2.2 million a year”.

According to Browne, $800,000 of the loan amount will be utilised to cover “the transactional expenses at a percentage of 2 per cent, as well as a 1 per cent FFE contribution”, which he explained Oct 30, 2019 th 10/30/2019 Antigua Parliament agrees to buy additional US $15.8 million in LIAT shares is a “contribution to the bank’s equity”.

In addition, the Antigua and Barbuda government will be required to contribute to a social fund, which according to the Prime Minister, is a precedent condition when seeking funds from ALBA. The remaining the US$15 million will be utilised to recapitalise LIAT.

Plagued with questions from opposition MPs about the intended outcome of such a large injection of funds into an airline that has failed to record profits for decades, Browne explained that “the intention is not to have these funds wasted, but to make sure that they are properly invested.

“So, the programme calls for recapitalisation with a simultaneous restructuring of LIAT. So, we’ll be focusing on reducing expenses while at the same time increasing revenue,” he replied.

The shareholder governments, the Finance Minister said is hoping to introduce a Minimum Revenue Guarantee (MRG) as one of the possible revenue-raising measure.

An optimistic Browne said he is hoping that the other shareholder governments will bring the total anticipated contributions to the airline, to about US $30-35 million. “Now, clearly this matter has not been approved by the shareholder group as yet, but recognising that LIAT is in need of urgent money, I cannot see the existing shareholders refusing to have a capital call to ensure the viability or survivability for that matter of LIAT in the first instance and ultimately its viability and sustainability,” he told MPs.

This loan amount will add to the US $500,000 contribution made by the government a week ago, and a similar amount made to the airline earlier this year.

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