UK pharmacy giant Boots says it will cut more than 4,000 jobs after the country's coronavirus lockdown slashed sales, especially affecting its opticians.
US-owned Boots said it planned “significant restructuring across its head office, store teams and opticians ... resulting in a reduction of its headcount of more than 4,000 and the closure of 48 Boots Opticians stores”.
Boots UK managing director Sebastian James said cutting the workforce by seven per cent would allow the pharmacy “to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth”.
The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) announced that this year's Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in Pakistan in September, has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Travel restrictions, country-specific quarantine requirements, fundamental health risks and social distancing mandates have posed as substantial challenges to holding the tournament," the ACC said, adding that it was hoping to stage the Twenty20 competition, which will feature six countries including India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, in June next year.
Fazl criticises 'lack of uniform policy' in govt's Covid-19 response
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has criticised what he called a "lack of uniform policy" in the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to reporters after a multi-party conference hosted by him in Karachi, he said neither the state and the state institutions are "on the same page", nor is there congruence between the federal government and the provinces regarding measures to fight the pandemic.
"In such a situation, what has happened until now [regarding rising virus cases] was inevitable," he said, also accusing the World Health Organisation of changing its stance "every fortnight".
He said like the government's decision concerning educational institutions, the JUI-F is proposing the reopening of madressahs after Eidul Azha.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), which faced fierce US criticism over its handling of the coronavirus crisis, launched an independent panel to review its response to the pandemic, AFP reported.
The Independent panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response will be headed by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“Through you, the world will understand the truth of what happened and also the solutions to build our future better as one humanity,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the UN agency's headquarters in Geneva.
Another 1.3 million workers file for US jobless benefits
Another 1.3 million US workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, continuing the slowdown in the pace of layoffs, the government has reported.
The four-week moving average slowed to 1.44 million in the week ended July 4, the Labour Department reported, showing a steady decline as the economy reopens from the coronavirus-imposed shutdowns, but still far higher than any pre-pandemic week.
However, nearly 19 million remain on the jobless rolls, according to the data through June 27.
Iran has reported a new single-day record death toll of 221 from the novel coronavirus, after weeks of rising numbers in the Middle East's worst-hit country.
“Unfortunately in the past 24 hours, we have lost 221 of our compatriots to the Covid-19 disease,” health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told a televised news conference. “The death toll has now reached 12,305.”
“The number of [new] cases identified [since Wednesday] is 2,079,” Lari said, bringing the total number of infections to 250,458.
Tokyo coronavirus cases hit record daily high of 224
Tokyo has confirmed 224 new cases of coronavirus infection, marking a record high for the Japanese capital in a single day as authorities focused testing on the city’s night-life districts.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has attributed the recent uptick partly to an increase in testing, 3,400 of which resulted in today’s confirmed cases. Koike, who won re-election as governor on Sunday, has promised to boost testing capacity to 10,000 a day.
“Although the increase in (testing) is a contributing factor, we need more vigilance in monitoring the trend in infected people,” she said in remarks streamed online.
According to Reuters, today's tally surpassed the previous high of 206 on April 17 when Tokyo and other major population centres were under a state of emergency.
Chocolate no lockdown comfort for Swiss cocoa giant
Chocolate may be a go-to comfort food for many but Swiss chocolate giant Barry Callebaut has revealed that sales tumbled during its latest quarter when many consumers were confined to their homes as part of measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, AFP reported.
Sales at the world's top manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products slumped 14.3 per cent by volume in its third quarter that ran from from March through May.
“As anticipated in April, Covid-19 lockdowns across the globe impacted our sales volume in the third quarter,” said the firm which supplies major confectionery makers such as Nestle, Unilever and Mondelez.
Lockdowns have seen some consumers spending more on groceries as they ate more at home, but not all food products have benefitted, and gains at supermarkets have not always compensated for sales lost through other channels.
Punjab's virus cases decreased after imposing 'smart lockdowns', says health minister
Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said the number of coronavirus cases in the province significantly decreased after imposing 'smart lockdowns', Radio Pakistan reported.
The health minister urged the public to take precautionary measures when celebrating Eidul Azha, warning that infections may increase once again, as they did after Eidul Fitr, if citizens failed to follow SOPs for curbing the spread of the virus.
Africa's CDC urges more Covid-19 tests, masks, as continent's cases top 500,000
African countries urgently need to scale up coronavirus testing and the use of face masks, a regional disease control body has said, as the epidemic gains traction across the continent with confirmed cases topping half a million.
John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said new cases were up 24 per cent in Africa in the past week.
“The pandemic is gaining full momentum,” he told a virtual news conference from Addis Ababa, according to Reuters.
“We must adopt an aggressive and bold approach: #maskonallfaces, ramp up Test, Trace, and Treat, strengthen community response. This will save lives and save (the) economy,” he added on Twitter.
South Korea finds just one case of coronavirus antibodies out of 3,000 tested
Just one person in a South Korean survey of more than 3,000 people showed neutralising antibodies to the novel coronavirus, health authorities said, indicating the virus has not spread widely in the community.
While the sample size is small, it is believed to be a reliable indicator of a low infection rate among the 51 million people of a country held up as a coronavirus mitigation success story, Reuters reported.
“The results indicate that each citizen has taken an active participation in tough social distancing,” Kwon Jun-wook, the deputy director of the Korea Centres for Disease and Prevention (KCDC), told a briefing.
KP CM inaugurates 58-bed hospital for virus patients
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has inaugurated a 58-bed hospital in Peshawar that will only treat Covid-19 patients.
Addressing a ceremony, the chief minister said that another hospital with a capacity of 210 beds will be built in PIC with the help of the National Disaster Management Authority. The hospital will be made operational by the end of this month, he said. The chief minister added that the new facilities will ease the burden of existing hospitals.
Additionally, he urged the people to observe the standard operating procedures set by the government so that economic activities in the country can continue.
Survey of coronavirus-tested people launched across Pakistan to build ‘confirmative database’
The fraternity of medical scientists, key public health institutions and leading healthcare professionals has launched a national survey of people tested for the coronavirus in Pakistan that the experts said would build “confirmative database” of the pandemic in the country, leading to immediate and drastic measures while helping the decision-makers to devise their strategy in line with trends and numbers.
They said the survey of Covid-19 tested people would help understand symptomology of the viral disease in relation to age, gender, and comorbidities. It would also bring the course of the disease with its implications into the knowledge of healthcare professionals while highlighting the psychological impact of the disease on various age groups.
“More importantly it would help in determining ultimate outcomes of the disease,” said Dr Zakiuddin Ahmed of HealthRab. “Around the world and mostly in the developed countries, we have seen that the numbers, data and consistent research on the virus helped them in devising their strategy which proved successful. We are making the same effort here to gather the numbers, build the strong and authentic database and then help our policymakers to go for the decision in line with the existing trend.”
Gilead begins testing inhalable form of remdesivir for Covid-19
Gilead Sciences Inc has said that it has started an early-stage study of its antiviral Covid-19 treatment remdesivir that can be inhaled, for use outside of hospitals.
The company said the trial, which will enroll about 60 healthy Americans aged between 18 and 45, will test the drug particularly in those cases where the disease has not progressed to require hospitalisation.
Mexico posts new case record to overtake Spain; official says virus 'slowing'
Mexico has posted a fresh record for new coronavirus cases reported on a single day, with 6,995 infections, overtaking Spain to register the world’s eighth highest case count, according to a Reuters tally.
Despite the soaring figures, Mexico’s coronavirus czar, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, said the pandemic was “slowing”.
The figures pushed Mexico’s overall tally of infections to 275,003 cases. Mexico also recorded 782 additional fatalities, bringing its overall death toll to 32,796, the world’s fifth-highest total.
PM orders holding NCOC meetings in provincial capitals
Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the Centre and provinces to have better coordination among them to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and directed that meetings of the NCOC be held in all the provincial capitals.
“It will further improve administrative measures in coordination and cooperation of the provincial governments and the administrations concerned with regard to containing coronavirus,” the prime minister said while presiding over a meeting held to review the coronavirus situation in the country.
The prime minister has also directed authorities concerned to ensure strict implementation of the standard operating procedures and all precautionary measures on the occasion of Eidul Azha and during Muharram.
Instead of mass lockdown, Beijing seals targeted areas to curb virus cases
A recent coronavirus outbreak in Beijing sowed fears of a second wave of infections in China, but officials appear to have beat back the disease with a new targeted strategy, AFP reports.
Authorities did not repeat the drastic nationwide shutdown seen when the virus first spread from Wuhan earlier this year. Instead, they have sealed off a limited number of residences and focused on mass testing, eventually screening more than half of the capital's 21 million people.
This approach seems to have paid off, with reported cases falling to single digits each day by early July and zero in the past three days.
Australian city wakes to another lockdown as more state borders close
Australia’s second most populous city has begun a six-week lockdown following a spike in new coronavirus cases, as states around the country tightened internal borders to prevent a second wave sweeping the country, Reuters reported.
Australia has avoided the high casualty numbers of other countries to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed 544,055 people globally, but an outbreak in Melbourne prompted the state of Victoria to impose “self isolate” orders for the city’s estimated five million.
Trump says 'may cut off funding' if US schools do not open
US President Donald Trump threatened to cut off funding to schools that do not open in the fall and criticised the federal health agency's guidelines for reopening schools as “very tough & expensive", according to AFP.
“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if US schools open before the November election, but [it is] important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open," Trump said on Twitter, pointing to schools reopening in some European countries with no problems.
Trump also took aim at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation's health protection agency whose director sits on the White House coronavirus task force.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will resume regular flight operations to the United Arab Emirates from July 9 (tomorrow), a spokesperson for the national carrier said.
In a statement, the spokesperson said that the airline had previously been operating one-way flights to bring back Pakistanis stranded in the UAE. Now, passengers will be able to travel from Pakistan to Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, he said.
"All passengers will have to get tested for the coronavirus 48 hours prior to departure and will be required to submit the negative report when boarding," the statement said, adding that passengers will also be required to fill a health declaration form.
Brazil's Bolsonaro, sick with coronavirus, says he is 'doing very well'
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said he is “doing very well” after contracting the coronavirus, and credited an unproven drug for his mild symptoms.
Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, joining a small list of world leaders who have caught the disease. But the diagnosis looks to have done little to alter the 65-year-old former army captain's view of the illness, which he has dismissed in the past as just “a little flu”.
“To those who root against hydroxychloroquine but don't present alternatives, I hate to say I'm doing very well using it and, thank God, I will still live much longer,” Bolsonaro said in a tweet.
The United States is nearing three million confirmed Covid-19 cases, as President Donald Trump downplays the risks posed by the pandemic and aggressively pushes for schools to reopen.
The coronavirus is surging in several southern hotspots including Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Arizona, while it has almost entirely receded from its former epicentre in New York and the north-east.
Trump embarked on a morning tweetstorm ahead of a public meeting of his coronavirus taskforce, in which he called for students to return to their schools in fall and lashed out at his own top health agency.
“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if US schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”