Commuter line to reduce services, trips amid COVID-19 concerns

first_imgCommuter line operator PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia (KCI) is set to change its schedule to curb the spread of COVID-19. For the next two weeks starting Monday, KCI will reduce its services, operating from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.“The number of trips will also be reduced from 991 to 713 trips a day,” KCI spokesperson Anne Purba said in a statement on Sunday.Headways will vary from a minimum 10 minutes to a maximum 30 minutes. Anne said KCI would operate trains with 10 cars and trains with 12 cars to encourage social distancing. Following the government’s appeal for people to stay at homes, the operator made several efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus by disinfecting trains, checking body temperatures, providing hand sanitizer and implementing social distancing measures both in trains and at stations.“The number of passengers decreased by 50 percent to 459,922 on Friday. Normally, commuter line passengers can reach 900,000 to 1.1 billion a day,” Anne said.She suggested that people download the KRL Access app as any future schedule changes would appear on the app. Information updates can also be tracked on KCI’s Twitter account @CommuterLine, its Instagram account @commuterline and on Facebook. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan declared a two-week state of emergency in the capital on Saturday in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.He urged all stakeholders – including corporations, social organizations and religious groups – to take drastic action to prevent the spread of the disease during the state of emergency.As of Sunday afternoon, Indonesia had announced 514 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 307 of which were in Jakarta. (aly)Topics :last_img read more

Brazil’s Bolsonaro plays down coronavirus risk as cases top 1,500

first_imgBrazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has denied the country’s healthcare system will collapse next month, contradicting his own health minister as the number of deaths in the country jumped 39 percent and confirmed cases topped 1,500.The latest health ministry figures on Sunday show that the death toll from coronavirus in Brazil rose to at least 25 from 18 the day before, a rise of 39 percent, and the number of confirmed cases now stands at 1,546, up from 1,128.In an interview with CNN Brasil on Saturday night, Bolsonaro also expressed his frustration with several states’ measures to essentially shut down commerce and restrict people’s movement, saying they have gone too far and are damaging the economy. “I think Mandetta was exaggerating,” Bolsonaro told CNN Brasil, referring to health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who said on Friday that Brazil’s fragile healthcare system will collapse under the weight of coronavirus by the end of April.Bolsonaro said “collapse” was the wrong choice of words.”What we’re doing is lengthening the infection curve. I don’t believe in a collapse,” he said.Bolsonaro tweeted on Sunday that the government is distributing around 10 million coronavirus tests, half of which have been dispatched this month. Sao Paulo state, Brazil’s richest and most populous, on Saturday said a statewide quarantine order would take effect on Tuesday and last through April 7, shutting down all but non-essential businesses and services.Retailer Via Varejo said its 1,000-plus stores of white goods chains Casa Bahia and Ponte Frio are closing indefinitely, meaning thousands of brick-and-mortar shops of Brazil’s most recognizable chains now have their shutters down.A Datafolha poll in Sunday’s Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper showed that an overwhelming majority of Brazilians support many of these drastic measures to beat the spread of coronavirus, although opinion is much more divided on business shutting down.Some 82 percent said they agree with the suspension of church services, a decision Bolsonaro, who was elected into office with massive support from evangelical Christians due to his conservative social agenda, has heavily criticized.Evangelical churches were shut or deserted on Sunday in some of Brazil’s major cities, with many switching to broadcasting services online or via their radio and television channels.The massive doors of the Temple of Solomon, a 10,000-seat place of worship belonging to the Universal Church in Sao Paulo, were closed during what is usually one of their busiest times.Security guards patrolled outside telling visitors that services at the church were suspended for two weeks. Reuters visited five of Sao Paulo’s biggest evangelical churches – all were closed.Ailton Pinheiro, a member of the administrative team at the Assembly of God church in Brasilia, said pastor Hadman Daniel is giving sermons two or three times a week via his Facebook page and that the church will remain closed as long as it is told.”Everybody realizes the situation. Everyone has accepted it calmly,” he said in the church’s deserted car park.Topics :last_img read more

Tennis establishes virus player fund, raises $6 million

first_imgThe fund can also be donated to via initiatives including auctions, player donations and virtual tennis games, added the governing bodies, who last month announced talks about creating the program.The virus has caused havoc to the calendar, with Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II and the French Open postponed until the end of September.The United States Tennis Association will decide in mid-June whether or not the US Open will take place in New York. A fund for tennis players hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic has been created, the sport’s governing bodies announced on Tuesday, adding that they had contributed more than $6 million (5.3 million euros).In a joint statement, the ATP and WTA tours, the International Tennis Federation and the four Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open — said the Player Relief Program will support those “who are facing unprecedented challenges due to the global impact of COVID-19”.With the tennis season suspended until at least July 13, some “800 ATP/WTA singles and doubles players” are in need of financial support, the statement continued, with eligibility for the fund determined by a player’s ranking and previous prize money earnings. Topics :last_img read more

Moscow slams US ‘police impunity’ over attacks on media

first_imgTopics : Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday demanded that Washington “take urgent measures” to stop police violence against journalists, including one for Russian state media.”We are outraged about the ongoing violence used by American law enforcement against international media covering the protests in the US, including Russian,” the ministry said in a statement.”We demand that the US authorities take urgent measures to prevent journalists from becoming targets of police impunity,” it added. Germany earlier also urged the US to protect press freedoms after a journalist working for German outlet DW reported being shot at by police.center_img The ministry said a producer working for state media outlet Sputnik, Nicole Roussell, was hurt when police fired rubber bullets and a grenade to disperse a protest in Washington DC.The ministry said Roussell received “many injuries, including from firearms,” and was then stepped on by an officer, condemning this as “an unfriendly act by the US authorities.”The “outrageous and illegal cruelty” happened right outside the White House, it said.There have been multiple incidents involving police violence against journalists — some during live broadcasts — at the protests rocking the United States following the killing of an unarmed black man George Floyd in police custody last Monday.last_img read more

Overworked, underpaid Brazil nurses risk lives to care for patients

first_imgHans Bossan is 40 hours into his 72-hour work week, but despite his marathon nursing shifts and the pandemic claiming an alarming number of his colleagues’ lives in Brazil, he barely looks tired.Bossan works three jobs to provide for his wife and two-year-old daughter — at two different hospitals and a mobile emergency unit.Double and triple shifts like his are not unusual in Brazil, where the average salary for nurses, nursing assistants and health care technicians is just 3,000 reals ($600) a month for a 30- to 44-hour work week. Around 18,000 nurses in Brazil have been infected with COVID-19, and at least 181 have died — among the highest numbers in the world, according to the International Council of Nurses.Last month, nurses protested in the capital, Brasilia, against the poor working conditions they blame for contributing to their colleagues’ deaths.Brazil accounts for nearly one-third of the 600 deaths among nurses and other health professionals registered worldwide by the International Council of Nurses, though the organization says many countries are not doing enough to track the real number. The coronavirus pandemic, which has thrust health care workers into the spotlight around the world, has in Brazil also highlighted the plight of nurses, who often face bad working conditions and are now getting sick and dying from COVID-19 at a startling rate.”Nursing was always an overworked profession, and this pandemic has just made things worse,” said Bossan, 41.”We’re highly undervalued. Nurses deal directly with patients, with the virus, we’re on the front lines of the war. But not everyone realizes that,” he told AFP at his home in a poor neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.Nurses have been hit particularly hard as Brazil has become the latest epicenter in the pandemic, with 39,680 deaths, behind only the United States and Britain. Heroes without capes One of Bossan’s jobs is in the intensive care unit at Che Guevara Hospital in Marica, about 60 kilometers outside Rio.Working behind a face shield with a mask underneath, he monitored the constantly beeping machines helping to keep his patients alive.One of them, 56-year-old Eliane Lima, thanked her health care team from behind her oxygen mask.”The doctors and nurses are excellent here. They take care of us with a lot of love. It’s badly needed in a place like this,” she said.Outside, in the semi-intensive care ward, nurse technician Flavia Menezes summed up her profession thus: “It’s the art of caring for people.””Not all heroes wear capes,” she added.center_img ‘Anxiety and depression’ More than 80 percent of Brazil’s 2.3 million nurses are women.Often they work double and triple shifts caring for patients and then go home to care for their own families — now with the added worry of infecting them.”It’s a time of great anxiety and depression” for the profession, said Nadia Mattos, vice president of Brazil’s Federal Nursing Council (Cofen).When the initial flood of cases hit Brazil’s hospitals, health care workers faced shortages of protective equipment and inadequate training on dealing with the new virus, she said.Although the situation has improved with time, “we’re still getting lots of complaints about lack of protective gear or low-quality equipment,” she said.The council has set up virtual psychological counseling for nurses, available 24 hours a day.The group has also pushed for years for nurses’ minimum salary to be increased to $1,200 a month, double the current average. Topics :last_img read more

Indonesia sees uptick in COVID-19 transmission in poorly ventilated offices

first_imgThe Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto, has said that many of the new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia were found in office settings with poor air circulation.“Many working spaces rely on air conditioners only. In such settings, the air tends to settle instead of circulating, which increases the risk of transmission,” Yurianto said during a press briefing on Thursday, as quoted by kompas.com.Besides poor ventilation in indoor settings, Yurianto added, transmissions were also rampant in offices due to people’s unruly behavior of refusing to wear masks or maintain physical distance because they assumed their coworkers were healthy. “Even in office settings where we know the people we encounter, we must remember that those people came from different places with possible COVID-19 risks,” he said.Yurianto emphasized that anyone could be a virus carrier, and that, therefore, wearing a mask was essential.As of Thursday, Indonesia had recorded a total of 81,668 confirmed infections with 3,873 deaths and 40,345 recoveries. (aly)Topics :last_img read more

EU to enter contract talks with J&J over 200 mln doses of potential COVID-19 vaccine

first_imgThe European Commission has concluded exploratory talks with Johnson & Johnson to buy 200 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, the EU executive and the US pharmaceutical company said on Thursday.The EU executive arm said this paved the way for contractual talks and the possible purchase of the vaccine on behalf of all 27 EU states once it has proven safe and effective. The commission also said it could purchase an additional 200 million vaccine doses.Johnson & Johnson, through its Belgian subsidiary Janssen, “will now enter into contract negotiations with the European Commission,” J&J said in a statement, confirming the volumes indicated by the Commission. “If regulatory approval for the company’s vaccine is received, the Commission would be expected to facilitate a process for allocation of the vaccine doses among the member states,” Johnson & Johnson said.J&J could produce up to 1 billion doses of its vaccine by the end of 2021, a company executive told Reuters on Tuesday. Its vaccine is likely to be administered in a single shot, the executive said.Reuters exclusively reported in June that the US company was in advanced talks with the EU for the supply of its COVID-19 vaccine under development.”Our citizens’ lives and our economy need a safe and effective vaccine against the coronavirus. Today’s talks bring us closer to achieving this,” the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.The move follows similar announcements in July about the conclusion of preliminary talks between the EU and Sanofi SA for the purchase of 300 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine that it is developing together with GlaxoSmithKline Plc .The EU is using about 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) from an emergency fund to strike advance purchase deals with several vaccine makers in a bid to have enough shots for its population of 450 million.It is also in talks with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and CureVac to buy upfront their potential COVID-19 vaccines, EU officials told Reuters in July.Topics :last_img read more

New Zealand’s Ardern extends lockdown to stamp out coronavirus outbreak

first_imgNew Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended a lockdown in the country’s biggest city on Friday in response to the first national coronavirus outbreak in months, sticking with a “go early, go hard” approach she said has proven effective.Ardern said genomic testing has shown the latest outbreak is a different strain to the original outbreak in New Zealand earlier in the year, suggesting it was new to the country.The New Zealand leader said lockdown measures in Auckland, home to about 1.7 million people, and social distancing measures across the country that were imposed on Wednesday would remain in place for another 12 days. Her swift action followed the discovery on Tuesday of the country’s first COVID-19 infections in 102 days, in a family in Auckland. Since then, officials have identified a total of 29 cases, all linked to the same cluster.”As we have said from the start, our overall Covid-19 strategy remains elimination,” Ardern said in a televised media conference. “Together, we have got rid of Covid before. We have kept it out for 102 days, longer than any other country. We can do all of that again.”Ardern is under pressure ahead of a upcoming general election, with the main opposition National Party accusing the government of failing to secure quarantine facilities and withholding information.Ardern said contact tracing and genomic testing had found no links with the current outbreak to the country’s border entry points or managed quarantine facilities. She said genome sequencing disproved the theory from some health experts that the virus could have been quietly moving through community since the original outbreak. “This suggests this is not a case of the virus being dormant or of a burning ember in our community,” she said. “It appears to be new to New Zealand.”Health Minister Chris Hipkins said earlier that genome testing suggested the new virus outbreak had originated in Britain or Australia.Ardern cautioned that more cases were likely in the coming days but said she was confident officials would successfully identify the “perimeter” of the cluster – if not its source – allowing them to isolate cases and remove restrictions.The earliest case authorities have identified to date is a worker at an Auckland-based cool store owned US-based Americold Realty Trust, who became ill around July 31. Almost a dozen other infections have been directly linked to the facility.The current Level 3 restrictions in Auckland requiring people to mostly remain at home, and level 2 restrictions for the rest of the country, are not as severe as the five-week level 4 shutdown she imposed earlier in the year.”I would characterize our approach as a ‘short but precautionary hold’ in an ongoing investigation that will stamp out the virus,” she said of the current measures, which will last a total of 14 days, the known incubation period for the virus.Economy worriesThe opposition National Party has been pressuring Ardern to delay the Sept. 19 election, arguing their inability to campaign because of restrictions gave her government an unfair advantage. Ardern said on Friday she would make a decision in the next 48 hours.New Zealanders celebrated when Ardern appeared to eliminate community transmission of the coronavirus with the earlier hard lockdown that forced almost everyone to stay at home.There were concerns a repeat of that process would come with a huge economic cost and Ardern on Friday announced the extension of a wage subsidy scheme and mortgage deferral program to support businesses and protect jobs.”Lifting restrictions now and seeing a potential explosion in cases is the worst thing we could do for Auckland and the New Zealand economy,” she said.Prior to the extension announcement, Westpac Banking Corp estimated the current level of lockdown measures in Auckland and the rest of New Zealand would cost the economy about NZ$300 million, or 0.5% of gross domestic product.Reserve Bank of New Zealand Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand told Reuters a sustained resurgence of the virus posed “a major risk” to the bank’s outlook. Topics :last_img read more

17 dead dolphins wash up on Mauritius beach near oil spill site

first_imgA spokeswoman for local Mauritian environmental group Eco-Sud called for the autopsy results to be released publicly and said the group wanted to be present during the autopsy “to better understand why the dolphins died,” but was still waiting for a response from authorities.The spill came from the Japanese-owned MV Wakashio, which ran aground on July 25 and began to spill oil about a week later. The ship was scuttled Monday.The full impact of the spill is still unfolding, scientists say, and the damage could impact Mauritius and its tourism-dependent economy for decades.The wildlife at risk include the critically endangered Pink Pigeon, endemic to the island, the seagrasses, clownfish and mangrove forests, whose roots serve as nurseries for fish.The Mauritius Marine Conservation Society said 15 kilometers of coastline have been affected by the spill and it is moving towards the Blue Bay Marine park, home to 38 types of coral and 78 species of fish.  Topics : Seventeen dead dolphins washed up on Mauritius’s shore on Wednesday, a government official told Reuters, a month after an oil spill from a Japanese ship that ran aground caused a major ecological disaster in the area.”The dead dolphins had several wounds and blood around their jaws, no trace of oil however. The ones that survived, around ten, seemed very fatigued and could barely swim,” said Jasvin Sok Appadu from the fisheries ministry.The dead dolphins have been taken to the Albion Fisheries Research Centre for an autopsy, Appadu said. Results are expected on Wednesday night.last_img read more

Biden campaign to start in-person voter outreach as US election nears

first_imgTopics : Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign said on Thursday it would launch an in-person voter-canvassing operation in several battleground states, shifting tactics in the final weeks of a race upended by the coronavirus pandemic.Some of Biden’s Democratic allies have expressed concern the campaign has been too cautious about getting boots on the ground for voter mobilization in the states that will decide the Nov. 3 election.The campaign had put safety first in light of the pandemic, choosing to forgo door-knocking in favor of remote contacts even though President Donald Trump’s campaign has been running an extensive in-person effort. Some Biden supporters in Florida – a huge prize with 29 electoral votes – also have been uneasy about the campaign’s quiet presence there, particularly with recent polling in the state showing Trump making gains with crucial Latino voting groups. On his first campaign trip of the year to the state last month, Biden barely interacted with voters.”We need to door-knock,” said Jose Parra, a Florida-based strategist who heads the Hispanic-focused communications group Prospero Latino. “Even if it only manages to move 10,000 votes, that could be the difference in a state as close as Florida.”Both Florida and North Carolina are among states that will see an expanded voter-canvassing operation in coming weeks, according to a person familiar with the matter.Ramping up scheduleThe Biden campaign maintained that its remote outreach was engaging voters and had already resumed dropping pamphlets at homes.Biden has consistently led Trump in national opinion polls, although the race is closer in the battleground states. Other indicators show Biden and Democrats generating momentum as voters begin to cast early and mail-in ballots.A Reuters/Ipsos poll in late September found 82% of registered Democrats and 81% of registered Republicans were “completely certain” they would vote, eliminating a traditional enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans.Spurred by opposition to Trump, a record-breaking surge of fundraising by Biden has also buoyed Democratic hopes for November. In August, Biden and the national Democratic Party outraised Trump and the Republicans by $364.5 million to $210 million, translating into a blitz of television advertising.Biden has begun to crank up his campaign schedule. The former vice president last week made his first trip of the general election to North Carolina, where polls show a dead heat with Trump, who racked up five visits there in a month’s time between late August and late September.Biden and his wife, Jill, took a train trip through Ohio and western Pennsylvania on Wednesday after the debate in Cleveland, the kind of multi-stop battleground-state tour that some of his backers had pushed.Trump’s campaign, which for months has knocked on doors and hosted large rallies, often over the objections of local elected officials and public health experts, said its rival’s efforts were too little, too late.”You can’t just parachute in a month before the election and hope to make up ground,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.center_img But in coming days, the Biden team will send several hundred volunteers to Nevada, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania to focus on contacting voters who may be difficult to reach by phone or computer, with plans to expand the effort to more states ahead of the election.”We’re now expanding on our strategy in a targeted way that puts the safety of communities first and foremost and helps us mobilize voters who are harder to reach by phone now that we’re in the final stretch,” said Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, who had dismissed criticism of Democratic field organizing.Democratic allies worried the lack of an in-person ground game could be a misstep given the close margins in several battleground states that helped the Republican Trump narrowly defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.”Trump’s running a full-blown get-out-the-damn-vote operation and the Democrats are doing a virtual get-out-the-vote effort by Zoom,” said Brad Crone, an independent political consultant in North Carolina. “There’s a world of difference.”last_img read more