Don't rush to deploy coronavirus vaccines and drugs

Around the world, I am seeing efforts to support ‘quick-fix’ programmes aimed at developing vaccines and therapeutics against COVID-19. Groups in the United States and China are already planning to test vaccines in healthy human volunteers. Make no mistake, it’s essential that we work as hard and fast as possible to develop drugs and vaccines that are widely available across the world. But it is important not to cut corners.
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Indonesia halts Islamic assembly, quarantining 9,000 people

MAKASSAR, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia halted a mass congregation of nearly 9,000 Muslim pilgrims and began quarantining and checking their health Thursday to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. The four-day gathering that was to open later Thursday at a boarding school in a rural area in south Sulawesi island wasn’t approved by authorities and drew fears it could widely spread the virus in the world’s fourth most populous nation.
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Trump dubs COVID-19 ‘Chinese virus' despite hate crime risks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he doesn’t think calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” — or the “kung-flu,” as one administration official reportedly called it — puts Asian Americans at risk of retaliation despite growing reports they are facing virus-related discrimination. Since coronavirus infections started appearing in the United States in January, Asian Americans have shared stories of minor aggression to blatant attacks from people blaming them for the pandemic, which has killed more than 130 people in the United States.
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Public debut without public for polar bear cubs at Dutch zoo

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A pair of twin polar bear cubs have made their public debut at a Dutch zoo — but without the public because of coronavirus restrictions. There was no sign of social distancing between the three-and-a-half-month-old cubs and their mother as they cautiously ventured out of the maternity den at the Ouwehands Zoo on Wednesday morning. The twins stuck close to their mother, called Freedom, as they explored their outdoor enclosure for the first time since they were born on Nov.
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Clean water access for India's poor spawns virus concerns

NEW DELHI (AP) — Dharam Singh Rajput can’t afford to buy hand sanitizer, which could help ward off transmission of the coronavirus in his community. The Rajput family could opt for something more basic — soap and water — to achieve hand hygiene. But sometimes there is no clean running water in their neighborhood, which sits next to open sewage canals and mounds of garbage in the heart of New Delhi, India’s capital.
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Watchdog says Israel's West Bank settlements surged in 2019

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank surged ahead in 2019, a watchdog group said in a report Tuesday, maintaining a rapid pace that has drawn strength from the friendly policies of the Trump administration. Peace Now, a monitoring group that opposes the settlements, said that Israel’s average annual construction rate has risen 25% since President Donald Trump took office in 2017. Perhaps more significantly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government last year approved plans to build thousands of new homes, laying the groundwork for a sharp spike in construction in the coming years.
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Coronavirus pandemic leads Amazon to ban many non-essential items

Faced with merchandise shortages in the United States and Europe due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, Amazon has instituted sweeping changes on which products it will store and ship from its warehouses over the next three weeks, in a move it said was aimed at keeping essential items in stock and speeding up orders. Early Tuesday morning, Amazon said it would be “temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock and deliver these products to customers.
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A cruel paradox: Beating virus means causing US recession

WASHINGTON (AP) — No one knows how long it will last or how much it will hurt. But the U.S. economy is either sliding into a recession for the first time since 2009 or is already in one — a sudden victim of the coronavirus outbreak. The vast changes deemed necessary to defeat the virus — people and companies no longer engaging with each other — are bringing everyday business to a halt and likely delivering a death blow to the longest economic expansion on record.
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Spreading birthday card love in the time of coronavirus

NEW YORK (AP) — Mona Helgeland was sad for her children. Their birthdays were coming up but they were self-quarantined because of the coronavirus and going to miss celebrating with friends and family. So, the Norwegian single mother of two went on Facebook groups and asked people to send greeting cards. She said she has been “blown away by the kindness.” In just a few days since that first post, she has received dozens of cards from across the world – from Alaska to South Africa.
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Dear Corona Diary: German patient gives updates on Twitter

BERLIN (AP) — On the fifth day after she fell ill with COVID-19 respiratory disease, Karoline Preisler could breathe again without wincing through severe pain in her chest. But the 48-year-old from a small town in northeastern Germany was still sick and very weak. She had slept only three hours the night before in a hospital isolation ward. She worried constantly about her husband and three children. “I miss my children so badly.
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