IKEA donates blankets, bed sheets to COVID-19 hospitals

first_imgSweden-based furniture store IKEA has donated household items to the Indonesian Hospital Association (PERSI) to support COVID-19 referral hospitals.The company handed out bed sheets, blankets, towels and trolleys to five hospitals in Banten and Sentul in Bogor, West Java, namely Permata Pamulang Hospital, BUN Kosambi Maternity Hospital, MISI Lebak Hospital, An Nisa Cibodas Hospital and EMC Sentul Hospital.IKEA Indonesia public relations head Ririn Basuki said the hospitals were among the first to receive COVID-19 positive patients in their respective areas. “Hospitals play a crucial role in testing and treating COVID-19 patients and IKEA will support the medical personnel who are on the frontline combating this pandemic,” she said in a written statement on Monday.Read also: We’re all in this together: Companies join hands to mitigate COVID-19 pandemicThe furniture giant also donated hygiene kits to people in Jakarta as an initiative to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.As of Monday, the Health Ministry announced 218 new confirmed cases, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 2,491 with 187 cases in Banten and 263 cases in West Java. While 11 more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 209. (eyc)Topics :last_img read more

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Virus breaks funeral traditions in Italy

first_img“It is much more difficult, emotionally,” Revello’s funeral parlor owner Gianpiero Palmero told AFP.Large funerals have been banned in Italy for more than a month because of the new illness that has officially killed more than 26,000 people in the Mediterranean country since February.The real toll is unknown since many of those who pass away in old age are never tested for the virus.The rushed funeral arrangements mean grieving families have almost no time to say their final goodbyes. Palmero takes it personally.”We really are living in abnormal times,” Palmero says. “There is more demand for our services.”Italy is cautiously approaching the moment when it is ready to lift some of its harshest restrictions on everyday life.People might be allowed to walk the streets freely starting on May 4.Mores stores and churches will probably reopen.And weddings and funerals might soon again involve more than just the pastor and immediate family members.But Italy is not there yet — and Palmero still collects his bodies at the hospital in nearby Saluzzo.”The bodies are already wrapped in a shroud,” he explains. “We put the body in the coffin and seal it immediately.”Social distancing measures are even observed at the crematorium. Only one person is allowed inside at a time.Not catching or spreading the virus is the overriding consideration in Palmero’s business.”There are no more real funerals,” he laments. The coffins are sealed directly at the hospital morgue near the tiny Italian town of Revello on the French border.Everyone in Revello understands it is safer that way since so many of those who have died across Italy’s pandemic-hit north first contracted the novel coronavirus.The tradition of families passing by open caskets to say silent farewells to the deceased at churches or at funeral parlours has been abandoned.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Wavering intent: Plan to reopen places of worship gets mixed response

first_imgThe government’s plan to gradually reopen places of worship has drawn mixed responses from religious groups and health experts, many of whom insist that any possible easing of curbs anywhere should be contingent on low risk of transmission.For Muslim-majority Indonesia, where faith plays a large role in society, the pandemic has shuttered various mosques, temples and churches and prevented people from holding mass prayers.However, the debate has managed to open a can of worms that pits public health against the right to practice religious beliefs. “There should be a guarantee from experts and authorities that can be held accountable. Only if these terms are fulfilled can we think about reopening, and even then only with strict [health] protocols,” Abdul told The Jakarta Post.Rev. Japarline Marbun, head of the Bethel Church of Indonesia’s (GBI) synod, also said it would be better to err on the side of caution, considering how difficult it is to put in place the necessary health protocols in some churches.“It is difficult, for instance, to expect congregations not to jostle as they enter the church, and there are many churches closed off with [poor] air circulation,” Japarlin said.And while some preach about the importance of relying on science to ensure public health, others still find it hard to heed state-sanctioned physical distancing measures.The nation’s top Muslim clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which comprises many organizations including NU and Muhammadiyah, said that places of worship should be allowed to reopen their doors to worshipers in areas deemed safe from COVID-19 transmission.“Under conditions where the spread of COVID-19 is under control, Muslims are obliged to carry out Friday prayers and allowed to get involved in mass prayer activities […] so long as they stay mindful of not getting infected,” said Asrorun Niam Sholeh, the MUI’s fatwa commission secretary, in a statement.Last week, Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi signed a circular detailing the necessary protocols for reopening places of worship in areas deemed to have little risk of viral transmission.“The guidelines stipulate that any religious or social activity at a place of worship must take account of the real circumstances in the immediate vicinity and not just the status designated for that given area,” Fachrul said in a virtual press briefing on Saturday.“Even if, for example, an area is considered a yellow zone, if COVID-19 transmission is found anywhere near a place of worship, that place cannot host any collective prayer.”In order for a place of prayer to be reopened to the public, Fachrul said the local COVID-19 task force must recommend it in coordination with the relevant authorities. Recommendations can also be revoked if new infections are recorded or if there is a perceived lack of health protocol enforcement.Three months after Indonesia reported its first COVID-19 infection, the government has come under fire for not acting swiftly enough to curb the spread of the disease among the nation’s devout – the millions of people who are accustomed to attending mass congregations and collective prayers.A recent report from the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) found that the lack of an early response to ban mass religious gatherings in the early days of COVID-19 transmission had contributed to the emergence of two infection clusters: the Gowa cluster linked with a tabligh (Muslim mass gathering) in South Sulawesi, and another from a religious seminar by GBI in Lembang, West Java.“The lack of clear guidance on enforcement or sanctions could lead to unfortunate outcomes: new clusters of religious ‘super-spreaders’ or vigilantism, as some groups decide to take law into their own hands,” researchers said in the IPAC report.The city of Brebes in Central Java was designated a COVID-19 “red zone” early last month after 16 of its residents tested positive for the disease after returning from the Gowa tabligh event, while 127 people were infected from the Lembang event.University of Indonesia epidemiologist Pandu Riono said that restrictions on places of worship should be eased gradually and that the government should be prepared to conduct local testing and tracing should COVID-19 cases increase following the reopening of such locations.There are always going to be concerns about violations or if [proper health protocol] is not observed,” Pandu told the Post.“If people in a congregation from mosques or churches catch [the virus], the entire group should be tested and [places of worship] should be temporarily closed.”Topics : Robikin Emhas, chairman of the country’s largest grassroots Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, said the current circumstances called for a thorough assessment of the options and should take various factors into account, including the rate of infection and the preparedness of the national healthcare system.He said that any state policy should consider the actual conditions in the field as they relate to the infection curve, as well as the ability to contact-trace, quarantine and treat COVID-19 patients.“As an exit strategy for the current large-scale social restrictions, a ‘new normal’ should be studied and prepared thoroughly so it may foster a productive livelihood for a society that is safe from COVID-19,” said Robikin, a vice presidential advisor.Abdul Mu’ti, secretary-general of the nation’s second-largest Muslim group, Muhammadiyah, voiced a similar opinion, saying that reopening places of worship should not be done with haste, calling instead for the government to focus on prevention.last_img read more

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COVID-19: Govt claims more than half of country at low risk of infection

first_img“Hospital availability has also increased, from 132 referral hospitals [three months ago] to 800 referral hospitals in all 34 provinces,” Wiku said.  The country increased its rate of testing between May and June, when 220 laboratories tested nearly 20,000 samples a day. At the beginning of the outbreak, there was only one laboratory testing less than 1,000 samples daily.Wiku further claimed that some regions had managed to contain the virus. As of Sunday, 38 cities or regencies in 19 provinces had recorded zero cases of COVID-19 in the last four weeks.However, 57 cities or regencies are categorized as red zones (high-risk areas), while 157 areas are orange zones (medium-risk). The number of red zones increased from 51 to 57 between June 14 and 21.“The local administrations are the key actors of reporting and mitigating COVID-19 in their jurisdictions,” said Dewi Nur Aisyah, an epidemiologist on the national task force’s team of experts.President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said he appreciated local leaders and regional task forces that managed to contain the virus.“With an integrated information system, we can roll out policies that are based on data and science,” he said.Topics : The government has claimed that almost 60 percent of the country is either at low risk of COVID-19 infection or has zero cases.According to the chief of the national COVID-19 task force expert staff, Wiku Adisasmito, 188 regions in Indonesia are classified as yellow zones (places where there is a low risk of infection), while 112 are green zones (regions where there are zero confirmed cases).He explained that the percentage of regions included in yellow or green zones had been consistently increasing, from 46.7 percent to 58.3 percent between May 31 and June 21, though the number decreased once to 44.3 percent on June 7. “Some businesses [in those regions] have reopened,” Wiku said in a virtual press briefing from the State Palace on Wednesday.He claimed that Indonesia’s economic and public health situation was otherwise “not really worse” compared to other countries thanks to the policies implemented by the government. Read also: Indonesia records new daily highs in cases during transition to ‘new normal’In the last three months, there was an increase in the number of hospitals that handed over reports of COVID-19 cases to the national task force, from 250 in the early days of the outbreak to 1,687 thus far.last_img read more

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Brazil judge orders Bolsonaro to wear a mask due to COVID-19

first_imgBrazil has more confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths than anywhere outside the United States.On Tuesday, Brazil registered an additional 1,374 deaths from the virus and 39,436 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry. The novel coronavirus has killed more than 52,000 people in Brazil and infected more than 1.1 million.That has made the country a prime location for vaccine trials, which began over the weekend for a candidate developed by Oxford University. Brazil’s interim health minister said on Tuesday that the government would likely sign a deal this week to produce the university’s trial vaccine locally.On other fronts, Bolsonaro has openly defied the consensus among public health experts for slowing the outbreak.The president has criticized lockdown and social-distancing orders issued by governors and mayors, saying their economic damage is worse than the disease. Echoing US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has also pushed unproven anti-malarial drugs to treat the novel coronavirus.But his most visible defiance has been going mask-less at a string of demonstrations in Brasilia, holding babies for photos and shaking hands with supporters.Other officials have run afoul of the local mask rule. The country’s former education minister, who resigned last week, was fined 2,000 reais for not wearing a mask on the capital’s central boulevard earlier this month.Topics : A Brazilian judge ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a mask in public after the right-wing populist attended political rallies without one in the middle of the world’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak.Federal Judge Renato Borelli ruled in a decision made public on Tuesday that Bolsonaro was subject to a fine of 2,000 reais ($387) a day if he continued to disobey a local ordinance in the federal district meant to slow the pandemic.Brazil’s solicitor general, which argues the government’s legal interests, said in a statement that it was studying ways to reverse the decision.last_img read more

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Fears of new COVID-19 cluster at North Sumatra University as rector tests positive

first_imgThe rector of the North Sumatra University (USU) in Medan, Runtung Sitepu, along with deputy rector Rosmayati and the university’s board of trustees member Darma Bakti have tested positive for COVID-19, local authorities confirmed on Sunday. “There are three USU executives who tested positive for COVID-19. To contain the spread of the virus, we urge all those who have been in close contact with them within the last 14 days to take a swab test at the USU hospital or other swab test centers located in North Sumatra,” USU hospital director Syah Mirsya Wali said on Sunday.The three confirmed cases in USU have raised concerns of a new COVID-19 cluster in the region as the campus remains open, with computer-based exams (UTBK) as part of the annual state university entrance test (SBMPTN) set to continue until the end of the month with as many as 35,794 participants. USU spokesperson Elvi Sumanti said the matter was “still being coordinated with the executive board,” adding that all campus activities would continue normally.“The rector tested positive, without showing any symptoms, based on the independent swab test that he took,” she told The Jakarta Post. Runtung himself confirmed his health status to the press via phone on Sunday. “I am fine and I don’t feel like I am sick,” he said.He also urged anyone who had been in close contact with him to take a COVID-19 swab test immediately. “I don’t want to cover it [positive COVID-19 result] up, that is why I am asking this matter to be published.”Meanwhile, North Sumatra COVID-19 task force spokesperson Aris Yudhariansyah called on USU to do comprehensive tracing and implement strict health protocols to curb the spread of the virus in one of the biggest and most prestigious universities in the region. According to the official government count, North Sumatra has 2,323 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 123 deaths as of Sunday.(trn)Topics :last_img read more

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At least 72 Indonesian doctors have died from COVID-19: IDI

first_imgAt least 72 doctors across the country have died from COVID-19, the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) said on Saturday.“Based on information received by IDI, at least 72 doctors are reported to have died after testing positive for COVID-19 or while being a COVID-19 PDP [patient under surveillance],” IDI spokesperson Halik Malik said on Saturday as quoted by kompas.com.Halik said that four doctors had died in the past week alone, the latest of which was Andhika Kesuma Putri, a pulmonologist in Medan, North Sumatra. He said that most of the doctors who died were relatively young, ranging between 28 to 34 years old. “Generally they have comorbidities, but there were also some with no comorbidities at all,” he said.Read also: Medics concerned as Jakarta sees rising COVID-19 hospitalizationsHe said that the increasing number of cases and deaths showed that the outbreak in the country had yet to be put under control. “The government should focus on restoring public health through policies and strategies that have been proven to control COVID-19 transmission,” he said. “It should optimize testing, tracing, isolating, and treatment in all regions.”According to the official government count, Indonesia had recorded 109,936 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 5,193 deaths as of Saturday. (kmt)Topics :last_img read more

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Indonesian manufacturers not out of the woods despite improvement

first_imgDespite improvement in July, Indonesia’s manufacturing industry has yet to recover from the deep downturn earlier this year, as domestic consumption remains weak, economists and businesspeople have said.IHS Markit’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for Indonesia, a gauge of the country’s manufacturing activities, climbed by almost eight points from 39.1 in June to 46.9 in July, the highest reading since February.A value above 50 indicates an expansion against the previous month, while a reading below 50 indicates a contraction. The country also recorded a slower drop in new orders and output amid the gradual reopening of the economy.“PMI data showed another marked easing in the downturn across Indonesia’s manufacturing sector in July, adding to hopes that the worst impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt in the second quarter,” IHS Markit head economist Bernard Aw said in a statement on Monday. Earlier this year, the index recorded its worst decline in the survey’s nine-year history and the steepest drop recorded in Asia when it fell to 27.7 in April from 45.3 in March. Analysts said the government’s COVID-19 containment measures were the cause behind the downfall, as they forced factories to shut and caused unemployment to grow. The country has since taken steps to kickstart the economy. In June, the central government and local administrations were seen gradually easing large-scale social restrictions (PSBB). “Output, orders and employment indices all lifted from the lows seen in the second quarter, helped by a relaxation of the COVID-19 containment measures. Companies also remained optimistic about their output in a year’s time,” Aw said.The IHS Markit report states that almost two-thirds of its survey respondents expected a rise in output over the next 12 months. However, a sustained gain in the country’s PMI is still in question, economists have noted.  Aw explained that the need for ongoing social distancing at workplaces and public gatherings, as well as any potential surge in new infections, could further delay output and sales from recovering to prepandemic levels. On Tuesday, Indonesia confirmed 1,922 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the number of infections to 115,056 nationwide, with more than 5,300 deaths, official data show. The country surpassed the 100,000 figure on July 27 following the gradual reopening of the economy. The recovery in the country’s PMI has also been slower than in neighboring countries that have recorded an expansion in recent months. Malaysia booked 50 in its July’s PMI and 51.0 in June. Vietnam booked 47.6 in July, following 51.1 in June. Even as Mirae Asset Sekuritas Indonesia economist Anthony Kevin projected an expansion in the manufacturing activity in this year’s third quarter, he was of the view that it could still be followed by a contraction in September and onwards, indicating high volatility.He concluded from first-hand observation that purchasing power among middle-to-low-income earners had yet to return, sustaining the pressure on the manufacturing industry.“The middle-low income segment accounts for more than 50 percent of Indonesia’s economy, and they have a higher marginal propensity to consume, making them indispensable to economic recovery,” he said on Monday. The slow disbursement of the government’s social safety aid had prevented a strengthening of purchasing power, he added. “In conclusion so far, looking at the latest IHS Markit survey, there is a chance that our full-year gross domestic product (GDP) will contract,” Anthony said. The government projects the country’s economy to grow by 1 percent this year at best or contract by 0.4 percent at worst as the outbreak paralyzes economic activity.The economy only grew by 2.97 percent in the first quarter, the slowest rate in 19 years, while household spending growth fell to 2.84 percent from around 5 percent a year earlier. It is projected to contract by 3.8 percent to 5.1 percent in the second quarter and possibly enter a recession in the third quarter. Shinta Kamdani, the deputy chairwoman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said many manufacturers continued to operate at a loss, albeit at a smaller margin, as overhead costs still exceeded revenue. Consumption growth was far too slow, Shinta said, sustaining depressed domestic and international markets while making manufacturers reluctant to increase productivity. “If under these conditions the national manufacturing industry produces with a higher level of productivity than the rate of the increase in market demand or market consumption, the price of manufactured products will fall further and the losses on the manufacturers’ side could rise,” she wrote in a text message on Monday. “Therefore, the PMI is also held back until there is a more significant increase in consumption or market demand”.Topics :last_img read more

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Uptick in German coronavirus cases raises fresh lockdown fears

first_imgThe number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in Germany has breached the 1,000 threshold for the first time since early May, in the latest sign that slackening social distancing is raising the risk of a second wave of the disease.According to data published by the Robert Koch Institute early on Thursday morning, the number of new infections rose by 1,045 to 213,067, breaching a key psychological barrier after creeping up for weeks.With Europe’s largest economy only now starting to recover from the near-total lockdown that was imposed in March to stem the disease’s spread, any sign of renewed restrictions on the horizon will dismay investors. The head of the German doctors’ union said earlier this week that Germany was already contending with a second wave of the coronavirus and risks squandering its early success by flouting social distancing rules. Topics : Officials, including Health Minister Jens Spahn, have warned that it will become far harder to control the spread of new infections from autumn onwards, making it all the more important to keep numbers down as the summer draws to a close.The lockdown and social distancing pushed the number of new cases down to as low as 159 in mid-July but numbers have been rising since, fuelled by local outbreaks, including one centered on a slaughterhouse that required restrictions to be placed on the entire town of Guetersloh.Ominously, a poll for Der Spiegel magazine showed four-fifths of Germans expect the further lockdowns to be imposed to control the coronavirus pandemic, with half of them expecting future measures to be more severe.Spahn is due to give a news conference on the latest developments in infection numbers later on Thursday. last_img read more

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Russia becomes first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, says Putin

first_imgPresident Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess.The vaccine still has to complete final trials, raising concerns among some experts at the speed of its approval, but the Russian business conglomerate Sistema has said it expects to put it into mass production by the end of the year.Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated in the coming weeks, a source told Reuters last month. Speaking at a government meeting on state television, Putin dismissed those concerns, saying the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.”I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” said Putin.He said he hoped mass production would start soon.Phase III trialThe vaccine’s approval by the health ministry comes before the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.The Moscow-based Association of Clinical Trials Organizations (ACTO), a trade body representing the world’s top drugmakers in Russia this week urged the health ministry to postpone approval until that final trial had been successfully completed.In a letter to the ministry, it said there were high risks associated with registering a drug before that happened.”It is during this phase that the main evidence of a vaccine’s efficacy is collected, as well as information on adverse reactions that could appear in certain groups of patients: people with weakened immunity, people with concomitant diseases and so forth,” it said.Some international experts have also questioned the speed at which Russia approved its vaccine.”Normally you need a large number of people to be tested before you approve a vaccine,” said Peter Kremsner from the University Hospital in Tuebingen, currently testing CureVac’s COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials.”In that respect, I think it’s reckless to do that [approve it] if lots of people haven’t already been tested.”Duncan Matthews, a professor of intellectual property law at Queen Mary University of London, said news of a potential COVID-19 vaccine was to be welcomed, “but safety must be the priority”.”The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have fast-track approval procedures for emergency humanitarian use and we need to see evidence that Russia is adopting an equally prudent approach,” Matthews said in an emailed comment.More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to WHO data. Topics :center_img Regulatory approval paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population and authorities hope it will allow the economy, which has been battered by fallout from the virus, to return to full capacity.Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, hailed the development as a historic “Sputnik moment”, comparable to the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik 1, the world’s first satellite.The vaccine will be marketed under the name ‘Sputnik V’ on foreign markets, he said. State media have trumpeted the news.But the speed at which Russia has moved, approving a vaccine before the final stages of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy are over, has worried some scientists, who fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.last_img read more

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