Month: October 2020

Singapore donates medical equipment to Batam in mutual effort to combat COVID-19

Singapore has donated safety equipment and ventilators to Batam hospitals in Riau Islands province to help treat COVID-19 patients.    Singaporean Consul General in Batam Mark Low handed over 50 hazmat suits and two ventilators to Batam Mayor Muhammad Rudi on Friday as the city braces for a surge of infections.While Singapore has established a protocol and heightened border surveillance to prevent the further spread of the disease, Indonesia has only started testing suspected patience and taking measures to minimize close contact between people. “We appreciate the help from the Singapore government. Batam and Singapore have enjoyed a long relationship,” Rudi said at the consulate general office in Batam, which is a mere 70-minute ferry ride from the city-state.Singapore has mandated quick tests for travelers who arrive at the country’s air, land and water ports with symptoms, as reported by The Straits Times. They must undergo the test even if they do not meet the clinical definition of being a suspected case.  The two countries were recently involved in a dispute over Indonesians who tested positive for COVID-19 in Singapore. Jakarta accused its neighbor of withholding information about the patient, while the latter insisted in had passed on all the pertinent details to Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry.Rudi said Singapore was more advanced in its response to the pandemic, while Indonesia had just started plan to construct a hospital exclusively for COVID-19 patients on Galang Island, also located in Riau Islands province.  Low urged the public to remain on alert as the pandemic seemed to be far from over.“Life is normal but [people] should be careful and follow instructions from governments,” he said.Topics : read more

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Semarang herbalists develop Jamu Corona to boost immune system

first_img“Ginger keeps us warm. Curcuma is good for stamina. Turmeric is good for digestion, so it can be consumed for weight loss. It is also good to increase the blood flow during menstruation,” Supriyanto said.The village’s fame drew the attention of Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, who stopped by for a visit on Saturday morning, using the opportunity to see the jamu-making process. Ganjar himself tried Jamu Corona and said that it tasted good.“This is delicious! And it’s good for your health, too. It’s not a cure for novel coronavirus, but it can help protect you against the virus,” he said.Ganjar also told the people of Wonolopo Jamu village to protect themselves and their families against the outbreak.“Keep your distance from each other. Wear a face mask immediately if you feel sick. Don’t forget to wash your hands with soap as often as possible,” he said. As of Sunday morning, Indonesia has reported 450 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 38 deaths. (dpk)Topics : Titi, a 60-year-old jamu brewer, explained that the drink was a mixture of brewed ginger, curcuma, turmeric and lemongrass, which she said would increase one’s stamina as well as boost the immune system.“Drink jamu routinely and exercise. Your body will be healthy and it won’t be easily attacked by viruses,” Titi said on Saturday. Another jamu maker, Supriyanto, told The Jakarta Post the benefits of each ingredient. Makers of jamu (herbal medicine) in the Wonolopo jamu village in Semarang, Central Java, have started producing a drink they claim can provide protection against COVID-19.The drink, called Jamu Corona, was concocted based on doctors’ suggestions for herbal recipes that can help strengthen the body’s immune system against viruses, they said.last_img read more

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Asia markets mostly up after US passes huge stimulus

first_imgAsian markets mostly rose Thursday as investors breathed a sigh of relief that US senators have finally passed a gargantuan stimulus package for the world’s top economy after being delayed by wrangling over details.The unprecedented $2 trillion plan — described by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “wartime level of investment” — helped spur a surge across global equities as panicked traders worried about the impact of the coronavirus sweeping the planet.But another advance on Wall Street was blunted Wednesday as it emerged that four Republican senators have baulked at the generous provisions agreed to in the bipartisan deal with the White House. Tokyo ended down 4.5 percent after surging almost a fifth over the previous three days, while Hong Kong dipped 0.3 percent and Shanghai eased 0.2 percent.But Sydney jumped more than two percent, Wellington and Mumbai climbed four percent, Manila rallied more than seven percent and Jakarta soared almost 10 percent.There were also healthy gains in Taipei and Bangkok.Singapore also bounced back into positive territory, having earlier lost more than two percent. Data in the morning showed the city-state’s economy suffered its worst quarterly contraction since the financial crisis more than a decade ago, giving global investors an early insight into the economic effects of the pandemic.Singapore is considered a bellwether for trade-reliant Asian countries.While the US bill provides much-needed support, observers continue to err towards caution with most now expecting the global economy to plunge into recession as countries go into lockdown, turning off the growth taps.”While this is good news… it’s impossible to gauge the ultimate economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for weeks, possibly months, and until that point, the sustainability of any rally in oil or equity markets is questionable and suggests the current high level of volatility will likely extend,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.”All the stimulus chatter will fade if the COVID-19 headcount curve goes vertical. The reality is the ‘Big Bazooka’ sway is impossible to sustain, and not to mention the surprise effects greatly diminish. Ultimately, policy is harder to maintain the more protracted virus outbreaks continue.”Investors are now nervously awaiting the release later Thursday of US jobless claims data, which is expected to show a massive rise.”The high-frequency data will confirm we’re in a horrible vortex of the fastest and most substantial rise in the US unemployment in modern financial history,” Innes added.And CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said the figures “could well be extremely ugly” and warned some estimates had put them at around the four million mark.Also Thursday, G20 leaders will be holding a summit by teleconference, with hopes they can provide a united front in the face of the pandemic after the group of leading economies faced criticism that it has been slow to address the crisis.French presidential sources said the virtual meeting would focus on “coordination on the health level” as well as sending a “strong signal” to financial markets over efforts to stabilise the global economy.Topics : The bill eventually cleared the Senate by an overwhelming majority and will now head to the House of Representatives before going to President Donald Trump for his signature.The monster deal thrashed out between Republicans, Democrats and the White House includes cash payments to American taxpayers and several hundred billion dollars in grants and loans to small businesses and core industries. It also buttresses hospitals desperately in need of medical equipment and expands unemployment benefits.The plan, together with a huge bond-buying programme by the Federal Reserve that effectively prints cash, is part of an unprecedented global response to the outbreak, which has even seen Germany put together a list of measures worth more than $1 trillion.Asian markets mostly rose though major indexes struggled after posting hefty gains this week.last_img read more

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Hospitals turn to snorkel masks to ease respirator overload

first_imgStop-gap solutionIn the worst-case infections, patients have to be hooked up to respirators in intensive-care units. But respirators are in desperately short supply worldwide because of the sheer number of patients. The snorkeling mask solution could be a stop-gap measure for patients on the brink of intensive-care treatment but for whom no beds nor respirators are available. Hospital masks for the less-intensive BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) machines are also lacking.Bonnier said that from Monday he will testing 50 of the masks on patients. They are the same brand as those used by Italian doctors, donated by the French sportswear retailer Decathlon that has stores worldwide. The masks themselves are made in Italy.He explained they were far more comfortable than the hospital ones that fit over the nose and mouth, biting into the skin. But he cautioned they were not tested to medical standards, meaning they were one-use only, unable to be sterilised between patients. The Italian design for the 3D-printed valve also needed reworking. “It seemed fairly complicated to make, pretty heavy, not very comfortable. So we had the idea to go a little further by thinking on it and developing our own connection part,” he said.The new plastic valve connectors have now been 3D-printed and are ready to be tested.Bonnier added that health workers in COVID-19 wards could also use the masks for protection against the virus. But he fears the public will start panic-buying them, thereby depriving hospitals of a potentially life-saving product. He also said that, even if the tests prove conclusive, there were still questions about how many such masks could be made available by sporting companies, under what conditions. “They are to be used for patients with severe respiratory problems. The aim is to avoid having to intubate the trachea of the patient and put them on a respirator,” said Frederic Bonnier, a respiratory physiotherapist at the hospital who also teaches at the university.He spearheaded the design of a custom-made valve that fits to the top of full-face masks, where the snorkel is meant to go, allowing them to connect to standard BiPAP machines that feed pressurized air into masks. This helps prevent the collapse of alveoli, lung air sacs needed for the intake of oxygen into our bodies and the exhalation of carbon dioxide. Pneumonia brought on by COVID-19 inflames the lung membrane and fills those sacs with liquid. Topics : As hospitals face an overload of COVID-19 patients struggling to breathe, innovative medical staff are turning to snorkeling masks from sports stores to stop their lungs collapsing.The idea started in Italy, the European country worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with hospitals in other nations taking note and adding their own specific medical parts to make it work.One such is the Erasme Hospital on the outskirts of Belgium’s capital Brussels. It is attached to the city’s ULB university — and through it to a private spin-off, Endo Tools Therapeutics, whose knowhow in 3D printing for medical use has proved invaluable. Retailer cautious Learning of the emergency use being made of its snorkeling masks, Decathlon expressed “interest” — but also prudence.”At the moment we don’t have confirmation that these solutions really work,” it said on its Twitter account.”If we see successful try-outs, and these hospitals confirm to us that some tests work, then we’ll keep you informed. But in the meantime, beware of unsourced and unverified information spread on social media in recent days.”last_img read more

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‘We need to be cautious’: Jokowi defends red tape surrounding COVID-19 policies

first_imgPresident Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has defended the complicated bureaucratic process surrounding the government’s COVID-19 mitigation policies, saying that he wanted to err on the side of caution.”I think in this situation we must not make any wrong decision. We need to be cautious and we should not be reckless,” Jokowi said in a press conference on Thursday.His statement comes after Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan strongly criticized the Health Ministry’s new guidelines on large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) as showing “no sense of urgency”. According to a ministerial regulation issued by the Health Ministry on Friday, regional heads who want to enact PSBB have to attach an epidemiology study to their requests, as well as data and maps showing the spread of the virus in their respective regions.The request would then be discussed by an expert team appointed by the health minister, which would approve or deny the request in consultation with COVID-19 rapid response team chief Doni Monardo. The Health Ministry must make a decision within two days after the submission of the request, the regulation says.Jokowi said that the government wanted to assess the conditions in each region before granting permission to impose PSBB.”The decision to impose PSBB lies in the hands of the health minister and we need to consider several factors before deciding whether or not we should grant a request for PSBB in a certain region as it would include school and office closures, as well as restrictions on religious and public activities,” he said.Jokowi explained that the government needed to see the number of COVID-19 cases in the region, the death rate, and other epidemiologic considerations such as threats, resources, socio-economic factors, and security.”Once again [I want to emphasize] that we don’t want to be reckless,” he said. “I think it’s better to decide with [a lot of] considerations, clarity and deep and detailed calculations.”Jakarta, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, is set to be the first region to officially impose PSBB on Friday after obtaining approval from the health minister on Tuesday. (nal)Topics :last_img read more

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Mass Idul Fitri prayers against law, govt says

first_imgMass Idul Fitri prayers, such as those in mosques or public squares, are currently prohibited by public health laws, Coordinating Legal, Political and Human Rights Minister Mahfud MD said on Tuesday.Mahfud said that all mass religious activities, including congregational prayers, were banned for the time being under the Health Ministry’s regulation on large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and the 2018 Health Quarantine Law.“The government strongly asks that [the public] does not violate these provisions,” Mahfud said after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.  “The government requests and invites religious leaders, organizations and traditional community leaders to convince the community that mass congregational prayers are prohibited by law, not because of the prayer itself but because it is part of the effort to avoid disaster,” he added.Mahfud said that the country’s largest mass religious organizations, namely the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), Nadhlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, were encouraging Muslims to pray at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.The MUI, chaired by Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, has issued several fatwas on Islamic prayer during the COVID-19 outbreak, including one on how to perform Idul Fitri prayers at home issued on May 13.Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said that while the government had initially only advised against mass Idul Fitri prayers, its level of enforcement had changed because the country was still seeing a virus reproduction rate (R0) of 1.11.Fachrul added that, according to a prediction by the National Intelligence Agency, congregational Idul Fitri prayers would cause COVID-19 transmission to spike.“So we took out the word ‘advice’, just like the Coordinating Legal, Political and Human Rights Minister. We should follow the laws and regulations,” he said.As of Tuesday, Indonesia had recorded 18,496 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,221 deaths.Topics :last_img read more

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Trump sued over police charge outside White House

first_imgProtesters have taken to the streets across the US in recent days to voice anger over the killing of African American George Floyd by Minnesota police.The president’s “frankly criminal attack on protesters because he disagreed with their views shakes the foundation of our nation’s constitutional order,” said Scott Michelman, ACLU legal director.Attorney General Bill Barr on Thursday defended security forces and said clearing the protestors was not linked to Trump walking to the church. US civil rights groups on Thursday filed a case suing President Donald Trump after security forces fired pepper balls and smoke bombs to clear peaceful demonstrators outside the White House.Law enforcement officers forced protestors back before Trump walked to a nearby church for a photo op on Monday that divided the United States amid nationwide protests over police brutality.The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups accused the president and top officials of violating the constitutional rights of Black Lives Matters campaigners and individual protestors. “Police conducted a coordinated and unprovoked charge into the crowd of demonstrators and deployed several rounds of chemical irritants, rubber bullets, and sound cannons,” the ACLU said.St John’s Episcopal church is across the street from Lafayette Park, which faces the White House and has been the focus of protests in Washington.The church was defaced with graffiti and damaged in a fire during demonstrations on Sunday night.Trump posed with a Bible outside the building after vowing to dispatch thousands of heavily armed soldiers to stop rioting.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Government won’t sell zero-coupon bonds to Bank Indonesia: Sri Mulyani

first_imgThe government has stated it will not sell sovereign debt papers with a zero coupon rate to Bank Indonesia (BI) as part of its efforts to close the widening state budget deficit despite pressure from lawmakers to do so.Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government and the central bank were still discussing instruments that could be used to step up the country’s response to the pandemic, adding that this did not include zero-coupon bonds.The instruments would have to allow BI to “share the burden, but in the medium [and] long term we still continue to maintain the credibility of fiscal and monetary authorities in managing macroeconomic discipline in Indonesia,” Sri Mulyani said as quoted by Reuters on Tuesday. “We are seeing a dramatic increase in the budget deficit that will be a burden for the next 10 years, so sharing the burden with BI is key to managing the coronavirus without increasing the fiscal burden on development programs,” Sri Mulyani said recently.Indonesian lawmakers are putting pressure on the central bank to purchase zero yield government bonds in a bid to reduce the government’s burden.House Budget Committee chairman Said Abdullah urged BI on Friday to buy government bonds with a zero coupon rate to take part in “burden sharing” to help bolster the economy.Golkar Party lawmaker M. Misbakhun, separately, pushed the central bank to play a significant role in addressing the economic impacts of the crisis, noting that the country’s debt would rise significantly so that it could provide fiscal stimulus.“The mounting debt must be reduced with a low interest rate,” Misbakhun said in a statement on Tuesday. “Government bonds yields are currently 7 to 8 percent […] we need government bonds with a zero yield that can be bought specifically by Bank Indonesia.”Center of Reform on Economics (CORE) Indonesia research director Piter Abdullah, meanwhile, stressed the importance of prudent monetary practice.“The idea that the central bank should buy zero yield bonds is too extreme,” he said. “Unlike other investors, BI is not a profit seeker, so it would make sense for it to buy bonds with lower yields to lower the government’s burden, but again, not at zero yield.”Topics : She said the government and BI focused their discussion on finding a “very fine balance” so as to maintain prudent policy making, with the central bank called on to broaden its focus beyond inflation and rupiah stabilization.The central bank can now buy government bonds directly in auction using a market rate and as a buyer of last resort, as stipulated in Law No. 2/2020. Previously, BI could only buy government bonds on the secondary market.BI purchased up to Rp 166 trillion (US$11.75 billion) in government bonds on the secondary market during the first quarter of 2020 to stabilize the rupiah and another Rp 26.1 trillion to support budget financing needs, boosting the central bank’s ownership of government bonds to Rp 445.4 trillion.With the government having allocated Rp 695.2 trillion for fiscal stimulus to address the impacts of the coronavirus crisis on the economy and public health, it expects the budget deficit to reach 6.34 percent of GDP this year, more than double the prior legal limit of 3 percent.last_img read more

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Champions League draw comes with UEFA hoping virus doesn’t ruin plans for Lisbon finale

first_imgTopics : Within days football across Europe was suspended and it was only in mid-June that UEFA was able to unveil a way of finishing its flagship tournament, the main economic driver for European football’s governing body — before the pandemic, it estimated gross commercial revenue from its competitions this season would be 3.25 billion euros ($3.69bn).And so the plan is to go to the Portuguese capital for a unique “final eight” straight knockout tournament from the quarter-finals onwards, starting on August 12 and finishing with the final at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on August 23.It will share the quarter-final and semi-final matches with the Estadio Jose Alvalade, Sporting’s home just along Lisbon’s Segunda Circular ring road. Games behind closed doors? Benfica’s home staged the Champions League final in 2014 when Real Madrid beat Atletico. Then it was filled to its 65,000 capacity, but this time it is expected all matches will be played behind closed doors due to fears an influx of supporters from around Europe could spark a new wave of COVID-19.Indeed, the biggest concern right now is Lisbon itself.Last week lockdown restrictions were reimposed on 19 neighborhoods across the northern periphery of Lisbon, worryingly close to both venues. The restrictions concern some 700,000 people and will remain in place for at least a fortnight.Portugal, a country of 10 million, is currently registering over 300 cases of coronavirus a day. Three-quarters of the 443 new cases registered on Wednesday came in the Lisbon area. Four months on from the last match in this season’s Champions League, the draw for the final eight will be held on Friday amid ongoing uncertainty about how safe it will be to play out the competition in Lisbon as planned, and with four last-16 ties still to be completed.It was on March 11 that Paris Saint-Germain beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 behind closed doors to qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time in four years and their players celebrated wildly with jubilant supporters who had gathered outside the Parc des Princes.The same night, holders Liverpool were knocked out by Atletico Madrid in front of 52,000 fans at Anfield, a mass gathering which British scientists later said had aided the acceleration of the coronavirus pandemic. No Plan B That raises questions about whether the final eight will happen as planned, although UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has remained outwardly bullish.”I am confident that with the continued and constant collaboration between all stakeholders, we will conclude the season in a positive way in Lisbon. There is no need for a Plan B,” Ceferin said last week.UEFA plans to complete the Europa League with an identical format, a final eight in Germany, with the final due to go ahead in Cologne on August 21.The draws for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of both competitions will be held on Friday, from 1000 GMT. However, before getting that far in either competition, there are a host of last-16 ties to be completed.In the Europa League last 16, only six of the eight first-leg matches were played in March.In the Champions League, Atalanta and RB Leipzig are through to the last eight along with PSG and Atletico. The remaining last 16, second legs will see Juventus face Lyon, Manchester City take on Madrid, Bayern Munich face Chelsea and Barcelona meet Napoli.UEFA has kept open the idea of also moving those games to Portugal if necessary, to the northern cities of Porto and Guimaraes.While some of the continent’s behemoths still hope to book their spots in Portugal, Atletico and PSG might see the unique format as an ideal opportunity for European glory.”We are capable of winning this competition, just like the other seven teams will be. I am convinced that we will be a strong proposition,” said the PSG coach Thomas Tuchel.Underdogs Atalanta, from the northern Italian city of Bergamo devastated by the pandemic, are dreaming of going all the way.The same can be said of RB Leipzig, although they will have to do without star striker Timo Werner after he was sold to Chelsea.last_img read more

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Moroccan ‘revenge porn’ victims smash taboos by speaking out

first_imgMore importantly, Zerh said, about 300 women and girls have contacted the campaign group about the abuse they suffered.Some agreed to have their testimonies posted anonymously on the group’s Instagram page, which Zerh said could help other potential victims spot danger signs and challenge taboos about gender relations in the socially conservative country.Fearing relatives could find out, many victims are too scared to speak out or seek help, she said:”Even if a girl didn’t share any nude pictures, she’s super afraid of her family just hearing about something. It’s really hard to convince them to go to the police.” A social media campaign started by three Moroccan friends has emboldened hundreds of “revenge porn” victims to share their experiences, raising awareness about online abuse and challenging taboos.The Diha F’Rassek movement – meaning ‘Mind Your Own Business’ – was launched to fight back against dozens of “revenge porn” accounts that appeared online during the country’s coronavirus lockdown, said co-founder Sophia Zerh, 26.”We started to receive messages that were really shocking, for instance girls starting to think about suicide,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that the campaign has drawn 15,000 followers in less than two months. “Women in Morocco are easy targets, with Arab culture – not everyone is lucky enough to have an open-minded family.”Scared and ashamedIn other countries too, women’s rights activists have reported a rise in online posts of intimate images of women and girls, usually by abusive partners or ex-partners, during COVID-19 lockdowns.Online abuse has become a common feature of domestic abuse in Morocco, which criminalized all forms of violence against women in 2018.But despite the two-year-old law, campaigners say domestic abuse victims face numerous hurdles in securing convictions against their abusers.A government survey last year showed 54.5% of Moroccan women have been subjected to violence, but only 6.6% have brought their case before justice.When victims get in touch with Diha F’Rassek, which is supported by a volunteer network, they receive help to report the abuse or are put in touch with free legal and counseling services.Others simply want to talk.”Sometimes people just need someone to talk to because they are too ashamed to talk to family or friends, but feel freer to talk to us,” Zerh said.Some victims are so scared they create fake social media accounts to get in touch, she added.’Everybody was mocking me’Their stories can be harrowing.”I loved him a lot and I was ready to do anything so he stayed with me,” wrote one victim.”He wanted me to send him some nudes. I hesitated many times but when he said he was going to leave me, I did it but wearing underwear,” the unnamed 17-year-old posted on May 28.”The following day, at school, everybody was mocking me and calling me a slut… That same evening, I talked to him about how he’d treated me. He said that in this life there are lots of sluts, that he knew I was one and that’s why he dealt me this blow,” she said.”The harassment followed – even by my own friends. I cried and suffered every day and wanted to end my life,” she said.While many “revenge porn” victims are targeted by vengeful former partners, Zerh said it was also common for them to be singled out by strangers who hack their social media accounts to steal photos and other personal information.In such cases, the perpetrators typically use an ordinary photo of a victim and post it alongside pornographic photos sourced elsewhere, including contact details and urging others to harass her.A finance manager by day, Zerh and her fellow co-founders, who work in management and marketing, felt compelled to raise awareness about abuses that are often swept under the carpet.”I’m able to wear what I want, I’m able to talk, I grew up with an open-minded spirit. A lot of women are not as lucky… so I thought I should do something about it,” she said.The three friends’ initiative has caused a backlash, drawing criticism from some conservative Moroccans, Zehr said.”But that means it’s working – we’re making a difference in making people talk.”Topics :last_img read more

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