In South Africa people wearing face masks and keeping a distance, marked the country’s Youth Day holiday, the 44th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto students’ uprising which helped to bring about the end of apartheid.
Lined up along a Soweto street, the young people sang anti-apartheid anthems and held up posters urging people to work together to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Some held up a banner saying Use the spirit of June 16 to fight Covid-19.
Others held up placards in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and calling for an end to domestic violence against women.
The commemoration marked June 16, 1976 when students in Soweto demonstrating against the white minority government were fired upon by security forces and several students were killed.
The Soweto demonstration was a galvanizing point in the battle to end the oppression of white minority rule. South Africa achieved democracy with majority rule elections in 1994.
In London a study into the steroid dexamethasone has been found to reduce the risk deaths in serious coronavirus cases by a third, trial results show.
Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered the widely available drug to more than 2,000 severely ill Covid-19 patients.
Among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator, dexamethasone reduced deaths by 35%, and by one-fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only, according to preliminary results.
A survey conducted in Italy on the psychological impact of coronavirus lockdowns on children has shown youngsters were more irritable, had trouble sleeping and in some cases regressed developmentally.
Those symptoms were more pronounced in families in which the parents were particularly stressed and in families with elderly relatives at high risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19, the national survey by the Giannina Gaslini Pediatric Hospital in Genoa in conjunction with the University of Genoa found.
Italy’s health ministry on Tuesday released the results of the anonymous survey of 6,800 people who voluntarily responded to an online questionnaire between 24 March and 3 April.
The questionnaire on the Gaslini website, which started two weeks into a 10-week lockdown in Italy, asked a series of questions about how respondents and their families were experiencing the government-ordered measures.
Among those with children under age 6, 65% reported their children suffered behavior problems and regression. The most common problems cited were increased irritability, sleep issues and separation anxiety. Some respondents also reported their children wept inconsolably, the researchers found.
The German government has appealed to its citizens to download a newly available coronavirus warning app as it launched what it insisted was its most sophisticated tool yet for tackling the pandemic.
The Corona Warn App suffered setbacks including disagreements over data privacy and functionality, but is seen as being introduced just in time as lockdown regulations rapidly relax with a decreasing infection rate.
The app will complement a human tracking and tracing system that has been in place across the country since February. It will alert users whether and for how long they have been in contact at a distance of 2 metres or less with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
Contact data will not – as initially planned – be saved centrally, only on the smart phones themselves, and the app is based on privacy-focused technology developed by Apple and Google. Users have been assured their private data will not be compromised and neither will the app drain a phone’s battery.
Germany’s coronavirus warning app is available to download from today https://t.co/ZULeK8H2QC
June 16, 2020
In the dog-loving nation of Thailand, volunteer pet groomer Kriengkai Thatwakorn is thrilled to be back helping out strays, some in urgent need of a shearing after waiting three sweltering months for a trim.
A domestic travel ban to contain coronavirus was lifted recently following Thailand’s success in keeping infections under control, giving Kriengkai a chance to tackle a backlog of hundreds of haircuts in each dog shelter he visits.
“I was so stressed for the past three months of lockdown because I couldn’t travel and there was unfinished work,” he told Reuters, removing the coat of a wriggling mongrel held down by a fellow volunteer.
“The group of dogs before we faced Covid-19 were the ones that are super unfriendly but in need of extreme grooming. No one dares to touch them,” he added, speaking over dozens of barking canines.
“They must have been in agony because of the heat.”
Thailand is a nation of dog-lovers but its urban stray population can get out of control without resources to sterilise or care for them properly.
Kriengkai, 43, started helping out man’s best friend seven years ago after being inspired by a documentary about a volunteer group that provided grooming to strays to find homes for them faster.
Kriengkai Thatwakorn, a volunteer dog groomer, trims a stray dog at a shelter after the Thai government eased the restricted movement between provinces. Photograph: Jiraporn Kuhakan/Reuters
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In Tulsa on Saturday, Donald Trump will hold his first campaign rally since March, a showpiece event as the administration seeks to reopen a US economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak.
At the White House on Monday, Mike Pence claimed that “in a very real sense”, Oklahoma had “flattened the curve” of new Covid-19 infections. Pence leads the White House coronavirus taskforce and will attend the rally. In the president’s presence, he may have felt a need to be bullish.
“Today their hospital capacity is abundant,” the vice-president added. “The number of cases in Oklahoma has declined precipitously and we feel very confident going forward with the rally this coming weekend.”
But what he said was untrue.
At the weekend, Oklahoma reported its highest daily total of new Covid-19 cases – 225 – since the pandemic began. On Sunday, Tulsa county reported its largest single-day increase since early March.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the US has recorded more than 2.1m cases of Covid-19, and more than 116,000 deaths. The same count records 8,417 cases in Oklahoma and 359 deaths and shows a most recent daily count of 186 new cases.
Mike Pence (second right) speaks as Donald Trump (far right) looks on during a roundtable about senior citizens in the cabinet room of the White House. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock
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In England, the country’s chief medical officer has been hailing a breakthrough in trials which has emerged around Dexamethasone, a cheap steroid.
Professor Chris Whitty
This is the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far. Significiant reduction in mortality in those requiring oxygen or ventilation from a widely available, safe and well known drug. Many thanks to those who took part and made it happen. It will save lives around the world. https://t.co/zRIaHulHOe
June 16, 2020
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Beijing outbreak ‘extremely severe’, say authorities
Authorities in Beijing have described the city’s coronavirus outbreak as “extremely severe” as dozens more cases emerged and travel from the city was curtailed.
Additional neighbourhoods were fenced off on Tuesday, with security checkpoints set up at residential compounds, and high-risk people – such as close contacts of people who test positive – prevented from leaving the city.
“The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe,” Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned at a press conference. “Right now we have to take strict measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.”
More than 20 neighbourhoods in the Chinese capital have now been designated medium risk, which means authorities can impose stricter restrictions on the movement of people and cars and can carry out temperature checks. Health authorities said sealed-off residences and people in quarantine would have food and medicine delivered to them.
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The world’s oil demand could climb at its fastest rate in the history of the market next year, and may reach pre-crisis levels within years, unless new green policies are adopted, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The global energy watchdog has forecast that the world’s daily oil demand may climb by 5.7m barrels next year, the fastest annual climb on record, to an average of 97m barrels of oil a day in 2021.
The demand forecasts for next year fall short of levels recorded in 2019 because the record rebound will only partially offset the severe oil demand collapse triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, which is expected to erase an average of 8.1m barrels of oil a day from global demand during 2020.
But global oil demand could return to pre-crisis levels as soon as 2022 if governments avoid a major second wave of the coronavirus outbreak and restart the aviation industry, without putting in place new plans to accelerate clean energy investment.
China National Biotec Group (CNBG) said its experimental coronavirus vaccine has triggered antibodies in clinical trials and the company plans late-stage human trials in foreign countries.
No vaccine has yet been solidly proven to be able to effectively protect people from the virus that has killed over 400,000 people, while multiple candidates are in various stages of development globally.
The vaccine, developed by a Wuhan-based research institute affiliated to CNBG’s parent company Sinopharm, was found to have induced high-level antibodies in all inoculated people without adverse side effects, according to the preliminary data from a clinical trial involving 1,120 healthy participants.
CNBG said it is proactively seeking opportunities for late-stage and large-scale Phase 3 trials overseas.
“We have secured cooperative intent with companies and institutes in many countries,” the company said in a statement.
State media reported that the vaccine candidate, along with a different experimental shot developed by Sinopharm’s unit, has been offered to Chinese employees at state-owned firms travelling overseas as developers seek more data on their efficacy.
China has five vaccine candidates for Covid-19 in human trials, the most in any country.
Airlines are urging aviation regulators to extend a waiver on airport slot rules as they struggle to overcome the coronavirus crisis, their main international body has said.
Authorities are being asked to suspend rules requiring airlines to use 80% of their airport slots or else forfeit the capacity, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.
The waiver should be extended beyond the 2020-21 winter season as demand remains weak and visibility low, IATA chief economist Brian Pearce said.
Without a waiver, “connectivity to long-haul destinations will be at risk,” he said.
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McDonald’s said its global sales fell about 30% in the first two months of the current quarter due to the Covid-19 pandemic, even as it signalled a recovery in demand as it starts to reopen restaurants around the world.
Globally, McDonald’s current-quarter comparable sales were mainly hurt by the closure of all of its restaurants in France, Spain, the United Kingdom and Italy in April, the company said.
Overall same-store sales fell 39% in April, and declined 21% in May.
The fast food chain said demand had improved significantly from April to May as many of its restaurants began serving diners, especially in the United States.
Several US states have lifted restrictions that were imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. During the lockdowns, fast-food restaurants had to limit operations to drive-thru, takeaway and delivery through third-party apps as dining-in remained closed, which led to lower sales.
In the UK and some European countries, McDonald’s began reopening restaurants in May after being completely shut for several weeks.
Customers receiving their food at the newly reopened McDonald’s drive-thru in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, UK. Photograph: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans/REX/Shutterstock
Current-quarter comparable sales in the two months ending 31 May fell 12% in the United States. However, the decline was more pronounced in April with a 19% fall, while in May they fell only 5%.
The company now plans to boost advertising spending by $200m as a part of its recovery plan to ride out the crisis. The investment will be recorded in the second quarter.
“The steps we are taking in response to the pandemic and to accelerate recovery … will position us well for the next phase of this crisis,” chief executive officer, Chris Kempczinski, said in a statement.
The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, will provide a summer food fund for parents struggling to feed their families in England, after the British leader came under pressure to fund the additional support.
Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford has been pressing the government to fund free meals for those families who are “existing on a knife’s edge”, part of a campaign that appears to have changed Johnson’s mind.
His spokesman said:
Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister fully understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer, to reflect this we will be providing a covid summer food fund.
This will provide food vouchers covering the six-week holiday period, full details will be set out shortly,” he told reporters, adding that it would cost about £120m ($152m).
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The Philippines is getting back to business after one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns spanning nearly three months, allowing restaurants to reopen this week for dine-in customers in an effort to keep people in work.
Eateries in the capital Manila that can meet government safety protocols were allowed to reopen from Monday at 30% of their seating capacity, with strict hygiene and social distancing measures a must.
The Philippines has so far reported 26,781 infections and 1,103 fatalities due to Covid-19 – the third-highest death toll in east Asia after China and Indonesia.
Metro Manila has been under lockdown since 16 March, but restrictions have been loosened since 1 June after some grim forecasts for a normally resilient economy and record April unemployment of 17.7%.
A worker attends to a customer at a fast food restaurant in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Photograph: Rolex dela Peña/EPA
Televised video footage showed happy staff at restaurants cleaning tables and cutlery, with some wearing masks and face shields and others in full-length protective suits and latex gloves.
Customers will be required to sit diagonally, or with a transparent plastic panel between them.
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday some restrictions would remain in place in Manila for a further two weeks because the threat of contagion remained. These include bans on gatherings and sports, partial curbs on public transportation, and stay-at-home orders for the elderly.
His trade minister, Ramon Lopez, said the only way to get the economy going without risking further outbreaks of the virus would be through modified restaurants and the restricted reopening of barber shops, salons and malls.
“It is to our interest in government to really find that healthy balance in bringing back jobs while ensuring health protocols are followed,” he said.
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Steroid reduces deaths among patients with severe Covid-19, trial shows
Giving low doses of the generic steroid drug dexamethasone to patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 reduced death rates by around a third among those with the most severe cases of infection, trial data has shown.
The results, described as a “major breakthrough” by scientists leading the UK-led clinical trial known as RECOVERY, suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients treated in hospital with the pandemic disease, the researchers said.
Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the trial, said:
This is a result that shows that if patients who have Covid-19 and are on ventilators or are on oxygen are given dexamethasone, it will save lives, and it will do so at a remarkably low cost.
His co-lead investigator, Peter Horby, said dexamethasone – a generic steroid widely used in other diseases to reduce inflammation – is “the only drug that’s so far shown to reduce mortality – and it reduces it significantly.”
“It is a major breakthrough,” he said.
There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for Covid-19.
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