Scramble for masks as Italian region orders coronavirus cover-up
Residents in Lombardy, the Italian region worst hit by the coronavirus, have been forced to scrounge scarce protective face masks or to improvise solutions of their own after authorities ordered anyone moving outside to cover their nose and mouth, Reuters reports.
Regional governor Attilio Fontana said the masks, which will be less elaborate than the top grade medical masks used in hospitals, would begin to be distributed this week, a month after Italy imposed a strict lockdown on March 9.
Bilawal lashes out at govt for violence against Quetta doctors
PPP co-chair Bilawal Bhutto Zardari lashed out at the government for the violence against young doctors in Quetta, terming the act “state thuggery”.
“Instead of providing them with the requisite protective gear, the government has sent them to jail. At a time when they are needed in hospitals doctors have been sent to jails. What kind of justice is this?” questioned Bilawal.
He said rather than fulfilling their deserving demands, the PTI government is quashing their basic human rights.
“The PPP is standing with you. Do not consider yourself alone,” he said in his message to Quetta's doctors.
Pakistan's foreign exchanges reserves plunged more than 12 per cent or $1.6 billion over just three weeks in March as the coronavirus outbreak roiled global financial markets, the latest data from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) showed.
As on March 27, forex reserves totalled $11.2 billion, down from $12.8 billion as on March 6, Reuters reports.
Germany draws up plans to relax lockdown after April 19
Germany has drawn up a list of steps, including mandatory mask-wearing in public, limits on gatherings and the rapid tracing of infection chains, to help enable a phased return to normal life after its coronavirus lockdown is set to end on April 19, Reuters reports.
A draft action plan compiled by German Interior Ministry and seen by Reuters, says the measures should be enough to keep the average number of people infected by one person below 1 even as public life is allowed gradually to resume.
UAE carriers Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways have resumed limited passenger flights two weeks after authorities grounded airlines as part of wider shutdowns to combat the coronavirus.
The flights are open to foreign citizens who wish to leave the United Arab Emirates, but no incoming passengers are allowed. Foreign residents of the oil-rich Gulf state are banned from re-entering until at least mid-April.
Accused of 'piracy', US denies diverting masks bound for Germany
The United States had no knowledge of a shipment of face masks bound for Germany that officials in Berlin have accused it of diverting from an airport in Bangkok, a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Thailand said.
“The United States Government did not take any action to divert any 3M supplies that were destined to Germany nor did we have any knowledge of such a shipment,” Jillian Bonnardeaux, the spokeswoman for the US embassy in Bangkok, told Reuters.
132 new cases confirmed in Punjab, tally rises to 1,816
132 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Punjab, taking the provincial tally to 1,816, according to a spokesperson for the Punjab health department.
Among the total, 577 cases were reported from quarantine centres housing pilgrims, 527 in people associated with Raiwind, 49 inmates and 663 other citizens.
The spokesperson said detailed SOPs have been issued to the home department to look after the patients in jails. A strategy has also been made to prevent other inmates from contracting the virus, they added.
As infections balloon, coronavirus squeezes Europe's armed forces
Military forces across Europe have scaled back operations and imposed stricter rules on personnel to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus among staff who often live and work in close quarters, making them more vulnerable to infection, Reuters reported.
Preventing the virus’ proliferation among the military is important both for national security and because specialist army, navy and airforce units are being drafted in to help governments tackle the virus in many countries.
Asad Qaiser inquires after health of Iranian speaker diagnosed with Covid-19
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has written a letter to Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus last week.
Qaiser inquired after Larijani's health and said that it was important that the world stands together to face the health challenge, which "poses a threat to the well-being of the entire humanity". The NA speaker said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had called for the lifting of sanctions from Iran so that the country can access resources to fight the disease.
Indian PM Modi, top ministers to take 30pc cut in salaries as country battles virus
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top government figures will take a 30 per cent salary cut this year, Reuters reported while quoting a government minister.
The decision has been taken as the country tackles the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the economy.
The federal cabinet has approved a decree under which Modi, along with President Ram Nath Kovind, state governors and members of parliament, will take the salary cut as part of their social responsibility, cabinet minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters.
Police has arrested protesting doctors near Red Zone in Quetta.
According to Young Doctors Association (YDA) president Dr Yasir Achakzai, YDA and paramedical staff in Balochistan staged a protest against the unavailability of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) in their fight against Covid-19.
They were later baton-charged by security forces and dozens of them were arrested near Red Zone, he alleged.
"Yes, the police arrested dozens of protesting doctors today," Razzaq Cheema, Quetta deputy inspector general police, confirmed, not commenting on the allegations of high-handedness.
The president of YDA also announced a boycott of young doctors' services from government hospitals. "We suspend all our services following highhandedness of police," Dr Yasir Khan said.
A video, allegedly of the protest, has also been making rounds on social media.
Spain’s pace of new coronavirus deaths has slowed for the fourth day as the government contemplated a gradual easing of a lockdown since mid-March in the country with the second highest death toll from the pandemic, Reuters reported.
Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez said it was crucial going forward to widen testing to enable restrictions to be lifted.
“We are preparing ourselves for de-escalation for which it is important to know who is contaminated,” she said.
3,800 ventilators available in Pakistan, says NDMA chairman
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal said that there are over 3,800 ventilators available in the country, while an additional 2,000 will be imported from China, reported Radio Pakistan.
Briefing a meeting of the parliamentary committee in Islamabad, he said that 500 ventilators will reach Pakistan by Thursday while 29,000 protective kits for doctors and paramedical staff have been distributed to the provinces.
'Nothing's being done on ground': CJP criticises govt measures to combat Covid-19
Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed has berated the government's efforts to combat the novel coronavirus, saying that "nothing is being done on ground".
While hearing an appeal against Islamabad High Court's verdict regarding the release of under-trial prisoners due to the coronavirus outbreak, the chief justice said that the government had closed OPDs of all hospitals, leaving no place for patients to seek treatment.
"Hospitals have been closed when we need them. Up till now, 10 hospitals with 1,000 beds each should have been made operational.
"Everyone is talking about funds, no one is doing anything. The public has been left at the mercy of God," he remarked. The chief justice also criticised government's efforts to encourage people to stay indoors in order to curb the spread of the disease.
Sindh CM directs officials to set up ICUs at 6 hospitals in Karachi
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has directed officials to establish intensive care units (ICUs) at six hospitals in Karachi.
Chairing a meeting of the provincial health department, the chief minister said that the ICUs will be set up at Civil Hospital, Jinnah Hospital, Lyari General Hospital, Trauma Centre, Dow Ojha Campus and Services Hospital.
"We are preparing wards in advance so that there isn't an issue in the future in case of an emergency," the chief minister said.
Chaman, Torkham borders opened for Afghan nationals to return
Pakistan government has decided to open the Chaman and Torkham border points for four days, starting from today so that Afghan nationals who wish to return to their country can travel, Radio Pakistan reported.
According to the Foreign Office, the borders were opened on Afghan government's request.
Punjab govt outlines rules for philanthropic activities in province
The Punjab government has issued a notification outlining the rules under which welfare activities can be carried out in the province.
"Any individual, organisation or any other entity that intends to undertake philanthropic activity on its own, shall have to submit an application to the deputy commissioner [...] who shall determine the mode, area and extent of the activity," the statement reads.
Tokyo medical staff say Japan's 'state of emergency' already here
Japan's medical staff say a shortage of beds and a rise in cases linked to hospitals are pushing Tokyo’s medical system to the brink of collapse, Reuters reported.
The crisis has already arrived at Eiju General Hospital, a pink, 10-storey building in central Tokyo, which has reported 140 cases of Covid-19 in the past two weeks. Of those, at least 44 are doctors, nurses and other medical staff.
On a recent weekday, the glass doors of Eiju General were plastered with posters saying the hospital was closed until further notice.
Japan is facing a fresh wave of coronavirus infections and the government is preparing for a state of emergency.
UK official expects PM Johnson to return home 'shortly'
In response to questions if UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson — who is hospitalised due to continuing symptoms of the coronavirus — should temporarily step back, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said that the premier "remains in charge of the government", Reuters reported.
Jenrick added that he expects Johnson to return to Number 10, Downing Street shortly.
New Zealand to stick with virus curbs despite signs of improvement
New Zealand will stick to its tough curbs to combat the coronavirus, despite some early signs the spread of the illness has been stabilising, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
“Our actions for the remainder of the period in level four will be about doubling down to ensure the gains made in the first half are not squandered in the second,” Ardern told reporters in Wellington, according to Reuters.
“I don't want New Zealand to be at level four for a minute longer than needed, but equally there is no plan to move from level four early,” Ardern added.