A report at the Epoch Times on Tuesday said that despite the much-ballyhooed grand reopening of Wuhan, the city at the heart of the coronavirus pandemic, and the confident proclamations of Chinese officials that the virus has been all but exterminated, quarantines are being quietly reimposed on residential compounds as new infections spread.
Thousands flooded out of Wuhan last week by car, rail, and air after officials ceremonially lifted the lockdown order and pronounced the surrounding Hubei province to be coronavirus-free. However, residents of both Hubei and its neighboring provinces surreptitiously told foreign media that they did not trust the Chinese Communist Party’s declarations of victory over the virus.
According to the Epoch Times, the locals are now saying that only travel for work has been approved by the government, contrary to the big show of a mass exodus of happy travelers last week. Residents reported a brutal extrajudicial police force likened to Nazi Germany’s Gestapo still hard at work abusing suspected virus victims and “entire residential compounds … locked down with each new case of infection.”
The official line from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is that no local infections are occurring, but foreign travelers and workers are bringing the coronavirus back to China, notably including Russians and the large African communities in certain Chinese cities. Cases of serious racial discrimination against these foreign populations have been documented.
Another Epoch Times report quoted workers brought to Wuhan to construct its celebrated “instant hospitals,” clinics built in a matter of weeks to handle coronavirus patients at the height of the outbreak. The workers said that instead of being thanked for their heroic efforts, they were paid a pittance, treated like “prisoners,” and herded into quarantine centers when the work was done. They even had to pay for their own coronavirus tests.
When a worker named Zhang Xiongjun and a few of his colleagues returned to Wuhan last week to file grievances with local officials, they were treated even more poorly:
They drove to the provincial petition office located in Wuhan and planned to lodged complaints with government authorities about their compensation. But before they were able to, around two dozen people from the China Construction Third Engineering Bureau surrounded them and ordered them to squat down on the ground.
April 14, 2020 – The novel coronavirus can travel 13 feet through the air and be carried around on people’s shoes, according to a new report from the CDC.
The airborne distance is more than twice the recommended social distancing guidelines to stay 6 feet away from others. The new research, published in the agency’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, may help to explain how the virus is being spread.
The study team tested air and surface samples at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China, to detect the distribution of the coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19. They found that the contamination was on floors, computer mice, trash cans, sickbed handrails and doorknobs, and it was higher in intensive care units than in the general hospital wards.
“The extremely fast transmission capability of [coronavirus] has aroused concern about its various transmission routes,” according to the report, which was conducted by the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing.
Between Feb. 19 and March 2, the study authors collected samples by swabbing objects that might be contaminated. They also sampled indoor air and the air outlets. The intensive care unit had 15 patients with severe disease, and the general ward had 25 patients with mild disease.
Eleven vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came dangerously close to U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Gulf, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, calling the moves “dangerous and provocative.”
While such interactions had occurred occasionally a few years ago, they had stopped, and this incident comes at a time of increased tensions between the two countries.
According to the statement, the Iranian vessels approached six U.S. military ships while they were conducting integration operations with Army helicopters in international waters.
At one point, the Iranian vessels came within 10 yards of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Maui.
The U.S. ships issued several warnings through bridge-to-bridge radio, blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices.
The Iranian ships left after about an hour, the statement added.
Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) issued a brief Farsi-language story on the U.S. military report, without any reaction from Iranian authorities.
“The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, (and) were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea,” the U.S. military’s statement said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asked in a Fox News interview whether he had discussed the incident with the Pentagon, said: “We’ve talked as a team. … We’re evaluating how best to respond and how best to communicate our displeasure with what … took place.”
Close interactions with Iranian military vessels were not uncommon in 2016 and 2017. On several occasions, U.S. Navy ships fired warning shots at Iranian vessels when they got too close. Read more
Ankara draws a line under issues with foreign countries, with assistance also earmarked for countries such as Serbia and Armenia
The Turkish government has decided to sell medical supplies to Israel this week as part of its policy of humanitarian diplomacy amid the coronavirus outbreak, Turkish officials told Middle East Eye on Friday.
Israeli officials approached Ankara with a list of requests this month and Turkey approved the sale, a sign that both countries intended to maintain their bilateral relations even though they have major regional disagreements, from the Gaza Strip to the status of Jerusalem.
The shipment was expected to include medical masks, protective equipment and hazmat suits. One Turkish official with knowledge of the deal told Middle East Eye that it would take some time to complete the bureaucratic process as there was an export ban on medical material. Read more
TURKEY is sending planeloads of emergency equipment to Britain to help hard-hit medics on the frontline battle coronavirus.
The first flight left earlier today carrying protective equipment including surgical masks, industrial masks and haz-mat suits.
State-run Anadolu Agency said a military cargo plane carrying the medical supplies took off from an air base near the capital Ankara.
A second plane carrying more equipment will depart tomorrow, it reported.
There was no information on the actual quantity of the supplies sent, however photos showed multiple crates being loaded onto a huge plane.
In the past weeks, Turkey has also donated medical supplies to Italy, Spain as well as five countries in the Balkans. Read more
President Donald Trump has removed the chairman of the federal panel Congress created to oversee his administration’s management of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package – the latest action by the president to undermine the system of independent oversight of the executive established after Watergate.
In just the last four days Trump has ousted two inspectors general and expressed displeasure with a third, a pattern that critics say is a direct assault on one of the pillars of good governance.
Glenn Fine, who had been the acting Pentagon inspector general, was informed Monday that he was being replaced at the Defense Department by Sean O’Donnell, currently the inspector general at the Environmental Protection Agency. O’Donnell will simultaneously be IG at the EPA and acting inspector general at the Pentagon until a permanent replacement is confirmed for the Defense Department.
Late last month, Fine was selected by the head of a council of inspectors general to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, created by the March 27 law.
On Friday, the president notified Congress that he was removing Michael Atkinson as the inspector general of the intelligence community – a decision that Trump acknowledged was in response to Atkinson’s having alerted lawmakers to the existence of a whistleblower complaint about the president’s dealings with Ukraine. The matter ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment in the House before his acquittal in the Senate.
Trump has also refused dozens of congressional subpoenas and asserted to the courts that they lack jurisdiction to oversee his responses to Congress.
“We wanted inspectors general because of an out-of-control president named Richard Nixon and this president is trying to destroy them,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight. “What’s happened this week has been a total full-on assault on the IG system.”
Fine is a career official who has served Republican and Democratic presidents. He had been acting Pentagon inspector general for more than four years, and before that was inspector general at the Justice Department for 11 years. Fine and his staff were caught by surprise when informed of the decision Monday, and were given no explanation for the move, according to U.S. federal officials. Read more
In defending his strategy against the deadly coronavirus, President Donald Trump repeatedly has said he slowed its spread into the United States by acting decisively to bar travelers from China on Jan. 31.
“I was criticized by the Democrats when I closed the Country down to China many weeks ahead of what almost everyone recommended. Saved many lives,” he tweeted, for instance, on March 2.
But Reuters has found that the administration took a month from the time it learned of the outbreak in late December to impose the initial travel restrictions amid furious infighting.
During that time, the National Security Council staff, the state department and other federal agencies argued about everything from how best to screen for sick travelers to the economic impact of any restrictions, according to two government officials familiar with the deliberations.
The NSC staff ultimately proposed aggressive travel restrictions to high-level administration officials – but it took at least a week more for the president to adopt them, one of the government officials said.
In meetings, Matthew Pottinger, deputy national security adviser and a China expert, met opposition from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow, said two former NSC officials and one of the government officials involved in the deliberations. The two top aides were concerned about economic fallout from barring travelers from China, the sources said. Read more
The coronavirus pandemic is a “nightmare scenario,” but the death toll due to the disease may not be as high as some, including President Donald Trump, have predicted, according to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Trump last week predicted that the U.S. could see between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from COVID-19 before the outbreak is under control, echoing forecasts from White House health advisor Anthony Fauci.
“If we do the social distancing properly, we should be able to get out of this with a death number well short of that,” Gates told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. He said it’s “very important” those figures are out there so people understand the severity of the situation.
As of Sunday, there were at least 312,245 confirmed cases, including more than 8,500 deaths, in the U.S. Globally, there are more than 1.2 million cases and at least 65,711 deaths.
Gates, who resigned from Microsoft’s board last month to focus on his philanthropic efforts, said if people continue practicing safe social distancing and remain in quarantine, cases should begin leveling off toward the end of this month. Read more
The often unsanitary conditions in refugee and migrant camps pose a challenge for residents trying to avoid coronavirus.
In Moria in Lesbos, 18,000 people are staying in a facility built for 3,000 and cases of Covid-19 are already on their doorstep.
The BBC’s population correspondent Stephanie Hegarty was sent footage by a group of young filmmakers living in the settlement, who recorded scenes of migrants doing their best to keep people safe. Read more
Losing your sense of smell and taste may be the best way to tell if you have COVID-19, according to a study of data collected via a symptom tracker app developed by British scientists to help monitor the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus.
Almost 60% of patients who were subsequently confirmed as positive for COVID-19 had reported losing their sense of smell and taste, the data analysed by the researchers showed.
That compared with 18% of those who tested negative.
These results, which were posted online but not peer-reviewed, were much stronger in predicting a positive COVID-19 diagnosis than self-reported fever, the researchers at King’s College London said.
Of 1.5 million app users between March 24 and March 29, 26% reported one or more symptoms through the app. Of these, 1,702 also reported having been tested for COVID-19, with 579 positive results and 1,123 negative results.
Using all the data collected, the research team developed a mathematical model to identify which combination of symptoms – ranging from loss of smell and taste, to fever, persistent cough, fatigue, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and loss of appetite -was most accurate in predicting COVID-19 infection. Read more