COVID-19: Hopes for 'quick' drug Fade; Shanghai Schools requi..

Source: People's Daily, Xinhua, CGTN, China Daily, Global Times, iFeng, Baidu, AP, CNN, Global  News Agencies, Majdi


Hopes for Quick Drug, Fade

Global stocks slumped Friday as investors lost faith that a potential coronavirus treatment would soon prove effective.

Stocks declined on Thursday after drug maker Gilead (GILD) said it did not have conclusive evidence that its experimental drug remdesivir was effective in treating Covid-19 since it had terminated a trial in China early. Shares in the company closed down 4.3% on Wall Street on Thursday.

The company released a statement after the World Health Organization inadvertently published draft documents indicating that the drug had not helped patients.

Meanwhile, the US FDA on Friday issued a warning against the widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalaria drug repeatedly touted as a potential treatment for COVID-19. The warning comes just days after a study suggested the drug had no benefit for coronavirus patients and was even associated with more deaths.

Finding effective treatments and vaccines for the disease could allow governments to lift tough restrictions on social interaction and travel, accelerating the economic recovery.

Meanwhile, vaccine human trials have been started in the UK and approved to start in China. 

Shanghai schools set to reopen since April 27

Teachers and students will each be provided with one face mask every day when schools start to reopen since April 27, Lu Jing, director of the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, said at a news conference held by the municipal government on Friday.

Lu added that all schools are required to disinfect key areas such as the canteens, dormitories, self-study classrooms and toilets every day. Hand sanitizers and masks are required in classrooms and all extra-curricular activity are prohibited.

In addition, schools must designate isolated places within their premises for emergency observation.

In terms of screening, people entering the school must have their temperature taken as well as display their personal health QR code. Schools with more than 100 teachers and students must install thermal imaging devices at their entrances.

According to Yun Minxia, director of the Education Commission at Minhang district, the commission has coordinated with several schools to have their teaching staff undergo nucleic acid testing.

A Rush of Local News

Twelve new confirmed COVID-19 cases were registered on the Chinese mainland on Friday, 11 of them imported and one domestic, according to China's National Health Commission.

The commission also reported 29 new asymptomatic patients and no new deaths.

Wuhan: The last critical-condition COVID-19 patient has recovered from the disease in Wuhan City, central China's Hubei Province, announced Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission (NHC), on Friday. 

Heilongjiang: Mudanjiang in NE Chinas Heilongjiang Province reported a cluster infection of COVID-19, with 14 people infected. An early cluster infection took place in the capital city Harbin, which had caused 81 people to be infected so far.

Shanghai: 272 swimming venues have resumed operations amid COVID-19. Citizens who go swimming need to register their health condition online in advance.

Inner Mongolia 28 days quarantine: All arrivals from other countries to Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have to take 28 days' quarantine, including 14 days at assembly sites and 14 days at home, and to conduct two nucleic acid tests, said the region on Friday.

Vaccine: The head of China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said a vaccine could be months away and vaccines may be ready for emergency use by September. Meanwhile, Chinas first inactivated vaccine, developed by China National Biotec Group, has entered Phase II clinical trials. The 96 volunteers who received the vaccine in Phase I trials are in good condition. 

Beijing: 10 parks in Beijing, including the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven and the Beijing Zoo, will implement an online ticket reservation and real name entry system during the Labor Day holiday to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Beijing high schools: Final year high school students in Beijing will restart school on Monday. 254 high schools in the capital city have prepared for the return of students.

Aid: At the requests of the military forces of Myanmar, Pakistan and Laos, China on Friday sent military medical teams to offer emergency assistance and medical supplies including medical masks, test kits & protection suits by military aircraft: MOD.

A Rush of News

US (Georgia): Fitness clubs, hair salons, tattoo parlors and some other workplaces were allowed to open their doors Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, disregarding warnings from public health officials that easing restrictions too soon could lead to more infections and deaths.

WHO: All new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments against the new coronavirus must be made equally available to everyone worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday as it outlined an international initiative to accelerate work to fight COVID-19.

Germanys coronavirus reproduction rate has increased to 0.9, from an earlier rate a week ago of 0.7, according to the country's centre for disease and control, the Robert Koch Institute, meaning every 10 people with the virus infect an average of nine others.

Japan: As of April 21, a total of 454 medical workers have contracted with COVID-19, making up 14 percent of the total cases in Tokyo, NHK reported on Friday.

Australia: Three southern Sydney beaches closed for a second time, only five days after being reopened, according to a statement from the Randwick City Council.

Swimmers leave the water after police closed Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, on April 24. Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Liberia extended by two weeks the country's measures in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. A new measure was added that requires everyone to wear a face mask in public.

Malaysia has extended its nationwide lockdown order for an additional two weeks, now lasting through May 12, according to state news agency Bernama.

In Italy, at least 150 doctors have died after contracting coronavirus, the Italian Association of Doctors said on Friday.

Lebanon announced an extension of its lockdown till May 10, but said its curfew would now be from 9pm-5am, one hour shorter than before.

Belgium is set to allow a gradual easing of coronavirus restriction starting from May 4. Currently, only shops selling food, home improvement stores, garden centres and pharmacies can open. Non-food shops would be allowed to re-open from May 11. Schools would also reopen their doors to a first set of pupils from May 18.

Poland's government is to extend the closure of schools, and pre-schools by a month, until May 24, Education Minister Dariusz Piatkowski has said.

The Philippines: Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and the Philippine unit of Malaysia's Airasia Group Bhd said passenger flights, which were halted in March, will remain suspended. Cargo and special recovery flights will continue, the airlines told Reuters.

London's Metropolitan Police arrested more than 4,000 people for domestic abuse since the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus were introduced, the force said in a statement Friday.

The United States will send ventilators to Ecuador, El Salvador and Indonesia, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday.

The UK will host a "Global Vaccines Summit" on June 4 to encourage the international community to come together to support the development of a Covid-19 vaccine, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced Friday.  

EU leaders have agreed to create a fund that could raise at least 1 trillion euros ($1.1 trillion) to rebuild regional economies ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Russia: A temporary hospital in St Petersburg with just over 1,000 beds for coronavirus patients will open in the city's Lenexpo exhibition centre by the end of the week, RIA news agency reported.

Lysol and Dettol maker Reckitt Benckiser has said its disinfectants should not be administered to humans, after US President Donald Trump said researchers should try putting disinfectant into coronavirus patients' bodies. "Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)," the company said.

France says it will not make a decision on when to lift Covid-19 restrictions on restaurants and cafs until the end of May.

UK: There's no decision yet on when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will return to work, said Health Secretary Matt Hancock, speaking to Sky News.

Hard-Hit Countries/Regions Official Announcements

Note: The news under this section are according to official reports in these countries; the numbers might not necessarily correspond to the data in the Global table, at the top of this article, which is calculated based on Beijing 24 hours time zone at around 10:00 AM. 

US: The US suffered one of the deadliest days of the pandemic with 3,332 fatalities in 24 hours.

Turkey's health ministry reported 3,122 new positive cases, brining the total number of cases to 104,912. The number of deaths rose by 109 in the past 24 hours, to a total of 2,600.

Russia reported 5,849 new cases over the last 24 hours, which brings the total infections to 68,622; the country reported a total of 615 deaths as of Friday.

England: The death toll in hospitals rose 587 to 17,373, the health service said. "34 of the 587 patients [aged between 50 and 102 years old] had no known underlying health condition," it added.

Italy: New infections rose by 3,021, an increase from the 2,646 the day before. Deaths climbed by 420 the smallest daily tally since March 19, citing Italys Civil Protection Agency. That was a decline from 464 the day before.  

Netherlands: The number of confirmed cases rose by 806 to 36,535, health authorities have said, with 112 new deaths. The overall death toll is now 4,289, the Netherlands' Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said in its daily update. The RIVM emphasised it reports only confirmed cases, and actual numbers are higher.

Qatar has reported 761 new cases, the largest daily increase since the outbreak began, according to the health ministry.  A total of 8,525 cases have been reported in the country, with 10 deaths. 

Switzerland: The death toll has reached 1,309, the country's public health agency has said, rising from 1,268 people on Thursday. The number of positive tests also increased to 28,677 from 28,496 on Thursday, it said. Switzerland is due to start the first phase of its relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions on April 27 with the reopening of hairdressers, florists, and garden centres.

Iran's death toll has risen by 93, to reach a total of 5,574, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on state TV. The total number of people diagnosed with the disease is 88,194, of whom 3,121 are in critical condition, he added.

Spain has reported 367 new deaths, the lowest daily toll in over a month. A total of 22,524 people have died in Spain, amid 219,764 cases.

Indonesia reported its biggest daily jump in infections with 436 new cases, taking the total to 8,211, data provided by health ministry official Achmad Yurianto showed on Friday. Forty-two more people who had tested positive for the virus died, taking the total number of deaths to 689.

Germany's confirmed cases increased by 2,337 to 150,383, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.  The death toll rose by 227 to 5,321, the tally showed on Friday.

Singapore has registered 897 new infections, taking its total number of cases to 12,075.

Trump Says 'Remarks on Using Disinfectant' Were Sarcastic

US President Donald Trump compares a swab for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing with regular cotton swabs [Reuters]

US President Donald Trump said that he was being sarcastic when he raised the possibility of using disinfectant inside people's bodies to fight coronavirus.

"I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you, just to see what would happen," he told journalists at the White House.

Trump said at his daily news briefing on Thursday that scientists should explore whether inserting light or disinfectant into the bodies of people infected with the new coronavirus might help them treat the disease.

Britain Starts Plasma Trial Against Coronavirus

Britain is to start trials to see whether plasma collected from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 could be an effective treatment for patients who are severely unwell with the disease, Reuters news agency reported.

Up to 5,000 severely ill patients with COVID-19 could soon be treated each week with plasma as part of a new approach to treating the virus, the health department said on Saturday.

UK Submariners Reprimanded Lockdown Party

A submarine crew were filmed having a party during the coronavirus lockdown, prompting a Royal Navy investigation.

The captain of HMS Trenchant, a nuclear-powered attack submarine based at Devonport in Plymouth, has been sent home on leave.

Video of the crew enjoying a party and barbecue while the submarine was tied up have been shared on social media. It shows sailors dancing and laughing, and a source confirmed some were drinking alcohol.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said it was understood the captain had gone ahead with the entertainment despite being advised it might be inappropriate.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "An investigation is under way. It would be inappropriate to comment further."

Germany's Largest State To Allow Religious Services

A woman pushing a stroller walks at the empty Marienplatz in Munich on April 21. Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

Bavaria, Germany's largest federal state, will allow church and other religious services to go ahead under certain conditions beginning on May 4, local authorities said on Friday.

Visitors must maintain a distance of about 2 meters, or about six feet, from each other and wear face coverings. There will also be a 60-minute time limit,  Bavaria's head of the state chancellery Florian Herrmann told CNN in a statement.

He warned that there needs to be an abundance of caution in conducting the services, adding: ''No infections should follow from encounters of faith! Faith and community strengthens us, especially in challenging times.''

Bavaria is the German state with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths.

Meanwhile In Sweden

People enjoy warm and spring-like weather with high temperatures on April 22, in Stockholm. Anders Wilklund/AFP/Getty Images

So many people in Sweden have been exposed to the coronavirus that the country will likely be in a better place to withstand a second wave of infections, said state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell.

Sweden has taken a relatively relaxed approach to coronavirus-related restrictions when compared with other European countries.

Tegnell estimated an immunity level of between 15% to 20% had been reached in the Stockholm population, which he said would "slow down the spread (of a second wave)."

But he cautioned that it wouldn't be enough to achieve herd immunity, and that there's still a lot unknown about immunity to the disease.

Sweden has reported 16,755 cases of the coronavirus, including 2,021 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Men Should Do Grocery Shopping During Pandemic As Women Take Too Long, Japanese mayor says

Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui gives an interview at the city's prefectural government building on April 6. Kyodo News via Getty Images

The mayor of Japan's third largest city is facing a public backlash after he said men would make more effective grocery shoppers than women as officials struggle to prevent overcrowding at stores amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui implied male grocery shoppers would reduce the potential spread of the virus as they would spend less time in shops. 

"Women take a longer time grocery shopping because they browse through different products and weigh out which option is best," Matsui told reporters at a coronavirus news conference in Osaka on Thursday. 

"Men quickly grab what they're told to buy so they won't linger at the supermarket -- that avoids close contact with others."

Gender inequality: Women account for more than 51% of the Japanese population, according to World Bank data. However, Japan is ranked 110th out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum's gender gap index.


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