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Trump tests negative for virus as US expands Europe traveler ban

first_imgPresident Donald Trump has tested negative for the novel coronavirus, his physician said Saturday, following concerns over his exposure to a disease that has paralyzed the globe.Trump agreed to the test after coming in contact with several members of a Brazilian presidential delegation visiting his Florida resort who have since tested positive for the virus. “This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative,” the president’s physician Sean Conley said in a memo. “One week after having dinner with the Brazilian delegation at Mar-a-Lago, the President remains symptom-free,” he said.Trump, 73, had dismissed concerns over his exposure to the disease which has killed at least 51 Americans and upended the rhythm of daily life across the country, with millions working from home and schools shuttered.New York, the most populous US city, saw its first coronavirus death on Saturday, as store shelves were stripped bare after days of panic buying.”I have been through Hurricane Sandy… through 9/11, I have never seen shopping like this,” said Larry Grossman, manager of a Manhattan supermarket. Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday announced a further restriction on travel to the United States, saying a travel ban imposed on European nations over the pandemic would be extended to the United Kingdom and Ireland Tuesday.Trump advised against non-essential travel, and said officials were considering imposing travel restrictions within the United States.”If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said at a White House news conference. “We want this thing to end. We don’t want a lot of people getting infected.”Trump declared a national emergency on Friday in what critics say was a long-delayed admission of the gravity of the crisis, freeing up some $40 billion in disaster relief funds. Late Friday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill — crafted by Democrats in consultation with the Trump administration — to provide billions of dollars for free virus testing, emergency paid sick leave and family leave related to the epidemic.Supported by Trump, it is expected to easily pass the Republican-controlled Senate next week.News of Trump taking the test marked a further turning point, after days of resistance to the suggestion.An end to hand-shaking The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 5,700 lives in some 137 countries.Repeatedly attacked for sending out mixed signals on the health crisis, the president raised eyebrows on Friday when, contrary to medical advice, he was seen shaking hands as he gathered his coronavirus response team at the White House.On Saturday, he blamed habit — “people put their hand out… you don’t think about it” — but said it would have to change.”Maybe people shouldn’t be shaking hands for the long term,” said Trump, a self-declared germophobe, “because it does transmit flu and other things.”Trump’s virus test came after not only contact with the Brazilian delegation, but also US lawmakers and political leaders who have gone into self-quarantine over potential infection.Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was on Saturday awaiting results of a virus test after she came down with flu-like symptoms. She reportedly attended an event in Florida with Trump on Monday and flew back to Washington on Air Force One.Read also: As coronavirus chaos spreads globally, Trump declares US emergencyA broader travel ban On Saturday a 30-day US ban took effect on all travel from the EU’s Schengen border-free zone, part of a global clampdown on travel to curtail the virus.Pence said the ban — which notably excluded Britain and Ireland — would include both countries as of midnight EST on Monday (0400 GMT on Tuesday).”Americans in the UK or Ireland can come home. Legal (US) residents can come home,” Pence said.Trump also aimed a new jab at the US Federal Reserve, saying he wanted it to be “much more proactive” in moving to protect Americans from the widespread economic dislocation caused by the pandemic.But the president — wearing a navy blue USA cap — seemed otherwise subdued during Saturday’s briefing, uncharacteristically offering praise to Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.Pelosi said she was “proud” to have reached an agreement on the relief package after days of tense talks with the White House.Trump also tweeted that he had a “nice conversation” with Canadian leader Justin Trudeau and that it was “great to hear that his wonderful wife Sophie is doing very well.”Trudeau has been telegoverning since his wife was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday.Topics :last_img read more

New deputy governor inaugurated as virus-hit Jakarta grinds to halt

first_imgJakarta has officially got a new deputy governor with Gerindra Party politician Ahmad Riza Patria inaugurated on Wednesday, as the capital city struggles to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken a heavy toll on public health and the economy.Riza took an oath to serve in the long-vacant position at a ceremony presided over by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at the State Palace, which was attended by only a few guests in compliance with physical distancing protocols.Those present, including Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, all wore masks and were asked to keep their distance.  The partial lockdown has been imposed since Friday last week and is set to remain in place until April 24.Speaking after the ceremony, Riza said he hoped he could help Anies address the complex set of challenges facing the city.“We hope this issue [the COVID-19 outbreak] can be resolved properly. I hope I can help the governor deal with COVID-19. I have promised the President I will diligently carry out my duties as deputy governor,” Riza said.Jakarta has been the region hardest hit by COVID-19 in the country, with 2,474 positive confirmed cases reported, nearly half of the official nationwide tally of 5,136 confirmed cases, as of Wednesday.The capital has also reported the most deaths from the disease, with 242 fatalities out of the country’s official death toll of 469.Riza said he would begin work Thursday, and would meet with Anies and administration officials to be given an introduction to the city’s programs.Read also: World Bank suggests firms ‘hibernate’ during COVID-19 pandemic“I have met with the governor, who explained the situation concerning the coronavirus. We will work together to implement the PSBB,” he said.The seat of deputy governor had remained vacant for more than a year after Gerindra politician Sandiaga Uno resigned in August 2018 to become the running mate of the party’s chairman, Prabowo Subianto, in the 2019 presidential election.Riza was elected as the Jakarta deputy governor for the remainder of the 2017-2022 term after securing 81 votes from the City Council on April 6, beating Nurmansyah Lubis, a contender from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), who gained 17 votes.Jakarta Council speaker Prasetyo Edi Marsudi said he hoped Riza could help Anies to support the poor and vulnerable residents of the capital, who had been hardest hit by the pandemic.“Please oversee the distribution of social aid. Also, I ask that the quality of cloth masks in aid packages given to the residents be improved in accordance with World Health Organization standards,” he said.Topics : Riza’s appointment comes after Jakarta, Indonesia’s economic center, imposed large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) to curb the spread of the contagious virus that has crippled the economy and brought the city to a halt.Residents have been told to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel, with schools, public places and offices closed and public transportation services limited.Read also: COVID-19: Confusion in Jakarta on first workday under partial lockdownOnly businesses operating in the financial, fuel, food, medicine, retail, water, communications and logistics sectors are exempted from the 14-day restrictions.last_img read more

Government defends policy to raise BPJS Kesehatan premiums amid backlash

first_imgTopics : The government has defended its decision to raise Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) premiums after concerns were raised that the move conflicted with a recent Supreme Court ruling and ignored the exacerbated financial struggles of low-income people during the pandemic.Finance Ministry budget director general Askolani said on Thursday that the policy aimed to improve the national healthcare system, adding that raising premiums would help the agency improve its services and standards amid mounting debts.“We respect the Supreme Court ruling, but we should understand that the policy will provide us with comprehensive health protection for the long-term,” Askolani told reporters during a livestreamed media briefing. “The government is doing its best to provide a sustainable healthcare system.” The government first raised BPJS Kesehatan premiums last year by around 100 percent, but the Supreme Court annulled the move in a judicial review ruling in March as it contradicted a number of prevailing laws.Read also: BPJS Kesehatan books deficit below 50% of 2019 projectionThe judicial review petition was filed late last year by individuals grouped in the Hemodialysis Patients Community, joining activists and members of the public who also protested against the increase, which they argued was too high.President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo then issued on May 5 a Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 64/2020 on health insurance that will again increase the premium for first-class services to Rp 150,000 (US$10.11) per month per person from Rp 80,000 starting in July, as well as almost double the cost for second-class services from Rp 51,000 to Rp 100,000.center_img The government will increase the third-class service premium from Rp 25,000 to Rp 42,000 but will also increase its subsidies. Third-class participants would only need to pay Rp 25,000 this year and Rp 35,000 next year as the government is earmarking Rp 3.1 trillion to subsidize the hike.BPJS, which provides health coverage for over 223 million people, has been struggling with cash flow problems for years, regularly booking claims far exceeding the premiums it collects.BPJS president director Fachmi Idris said on Thursday that the new premiums would help the company repay liabilities that are already in default to hospitals and balance its financial position this year.The agency has carried over a total of Rp 15.5 trillion in missed payments from last year to this year, of which Rp 4.4 trillion remains unpaid, Fachmi said during the same briefing.“The new policy will help us settle the missed payments of 2019 and hospitals’ cashflow could improve,” Fachmi added.Read also: Jokowi raises BPJS Kesehatan premiums, againHowever, the government’s decision to raise premiums has raised eyebrows among lawmakers.“There is an ongoing crisis right now and many individuals have lost their jobs,” said Gerindra Party politician Obon Tabroni as quoted by kompas.com. “The public’s access to health care should not be made complicated with a hike. People are suffering.”Ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Ribka Tjiptaning added as quoted by Reuters: “This proves the government is insensitive. People are losing their jobs, yet they ask for higher BPJS premiums.”last_img read more

South Korea says it is battling ‘second wave’ of coronavirus

first_imgHealth authorities in South Korea said for the first time on Monday it is in the midst of a “second wave” of novel coronavirus infections focused around its densely populated capital, stemming from a holiday in May.The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) had previously said South Korea’s first wave had never really ended.But on Monday, KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said it had become clear that a holiday weekend in early May marked the beginning of a new wave of infections focused in the greater Seoul area, which had previously seen few cases. “In the metropolitan area, we believe that the first wave was from March to April as well as February to March,” Jeong said at a regular briefing. “Then we see that the second wave which was triggered by the May holiday has been going on.”At the end of February, South Korea reported a peak of more than 900 cases in a day, in the first large outbreak of the coronavirus outside of China.An intensive tracking and testing campaign reduced the numbers to single digits by late April.But just as the country announced it would be easing social distancing guidelines in early May, new cases spiked, driven in part by infections among young people who visited nightclubs and bars in Seoul over the holiday weekend. “We originally predicted that the second wave would emerge in fall or winter,” Jeong said. “Our forecast turned out to be wrong. As long as people have close contact with others, we believe that infections will continue.”As of midnight Sunday, South Korea reported 17 new coronavirus cases, the first time in nearly a month that daily new cases had dropped below 20. It was a drop from the 48 and 67 cases reported in the previous two days.South Korea has reported a total of 12,438 cases, with 280 deaths.While Jeong called for vigilance, she also said that as long as people maintain two-meter spacing, they may take off masks in certain circumstances in hot weathercenter_img Topics :last_img read more

Approval of Trump’s coronavirus response sinks to lowest on record amid surge in cases

first_imgTopics : Cases have jumped by 25% nationally, according to the latest seven-day tally, led by spikes in a number of states such as Texas, Arizona and Florida that have been more lenient about social distancing.Trump has steadily bled support among a broad swath of voters since March. Americans are increasingly critical of his response to the pandemic and a wave of protests in the aftermath of the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.Members of Trump’s Republican Party also appeared to be more pessimistic than at any other time during his presidency. Just 43% said they thought the country was headed in the “right direction,” the lowest level recorded by the Reuters/Ipsos poll since Trump entered office in January 2017.Trump has faced an unusual outpouring of criticism from members of the military establishment such as James Mattis, his first defense secretary, over his militarized response to the protests. Most recently, Bolton said Trump was unfit to be president and accused him in his new book of routinely obstructing justice.Fifty-eight percent of Americans – 81% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans – said they would like to see Bolton testify under oath about his experiences in the Trump administration.Bolton, who refused to do so last year as part of the House of Representatives’ impeachment proceedings against Trump, appeared to confirm one of the investigation’s central allegations in his book, saying that Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter, as a condition to receiving US security aid.However, Americans appear to be less interested in another protracted impeachment investigation, so close to the election. Forty-one percent said they wanted Congress to open another inquiry into Trump, while 39% said they were opposed, and 20% said they were “not sure.”The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,115 adults, including 503 Democrats and 408 Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 3 percentage points. With a little over four months to go before the Nov. 3 general election, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, leads Trump by 10 percentage points among registered voters, according to the latest poll, down slightly from a 13-point lead in a similar poll last week.Trump has been slow to publicly acknowledge the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 120,000 Americans so far, and he has pushed states to reopen before experts said it was safe to do so.In his first post-pandemic rally, held in Oklahoma on Saturday, the president told thousands of supporters that testing was a “double-edged sword” and that he asked health officials to slow down testing in response to the public’s concern for the growing number of cases.Administration officials said Tuesday that Trump did not, in fact, ask them to slow down testing, which is one way to track and eventually control the spread of the disease.center_img American approval of President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has dropped to the lowest level on record, the latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll shows, as new COVID-19 cases surged and Trump was widely criticized for suggesting he wanted to slow down testing.The June 22-23 poll also found that a majority of Americans want Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, to testify to Congress under oath, after he accused Trump in a new book of misdeeds, including seeking Chinese President Xi Jinping’s help to win re-election.The poll shows that 37% of Americans approved of the way Trump has responded to the pandemic, the lowest on record since Reuters/Ipsos started asking the question at the beginning of March. Fifty-eight percent said they disapproved.last_img read more

Indonesia, Australia to roll out worker exchange program

first_img“This is part of Indonesia’s benefits in human resource development from joining IA-CEPA, along with a chance for our workers’ capabilities to be recognized by the Australian government and businesses,” he said during a video press conference on Friday.In the implementation of the program, the government will partner with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and the Indonesian-Australian Business Council (IABC).The IA-CEPA, which was ratified by the House of Representatives in February and took effect on July 5, eliminates trade tariffs between the two countries. With the trade pact, the Trade Ministry expects a boost in the export of some Indonesian products to Australia, especially textiles, automotive products, electronics, fishery products and communication tools.As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global trade, Indonesian exports fell 28.95 percent year-on-year (yoy) to US$10.53 billion in May. The country’s exports to Australia amounted to $920 million in the January-May period, up 15.69 percent yoy. Indonesia will conduct a worker-exchange program with Australia to boost its human resources. The plan was announced by a senior government official just days after the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) entered into force.Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said Indonesian workers in health care, telecommunication, transportation, tourism and other sectors were eligible to join the program and could get up to six months of training and work experience in Australia.The government is aiming for 100 Indonesian workers to join the program in the first year, while the number of participants is expected to gradually increase to 500 within five years. Agus also said that, with the IA-CEPA deal, Indonesia aimed to slash the country’s export deficit to Australia by half in 2021 to around $1.5 billion from a $3.2 billion last year.Trade between the two countries amounted to $7.8 billion in 2019, much lower than bilateral trade with Indonesia’s top trading partner, China, which was $73 billion in the same year.“We are hopeful that we can achieve an export surplus in the future, but not this year, because the agreement’s effect will likely be slow, because of the pandemic,” he said. “However, we are optimistic that we can see significant changes in 2021.”The minister stated that the two countries had also agreed to increase the number of working holiday visas to 4,100 from initially 1,000. He expressed hope that, by the sixth year of the IA-CEPA, the quota for this type of visa would reach 5,000.Read also: RI to boost export to Australia as IA-CEPA enters into forceFurthermore, Indonesia and Australia have also decided to prioritize industry partnerships in food agriculture and electric vehicles as well as technical and vocational education and training (TVET) within the first year of IA-CEPA, according to the trade minister.Previously, Association of Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers (Gaikindo) secretary-general Kukuh Kumara said Indonesia’s automotive industry might not immediately benefit from the trade deal because it prioritized trade of electric vehicles (EVs), which Indonesia was not producing yet. The Jokowi administration has set itself a target to start producing EVs in 2021 or 2022.“We do not have the products of the specifications Australian consumers need,” Kukuh told the The Jakarta Post in a phone interview on July 6.Indonesia’s auto industry produced mostly multipurpose vehicles (MPV) or sedans like the Toyota Camry, while Australians prefered sport utility vehicles (SUV), Kukuh added.Topics :last_img read more

Australia’s worst-hit state ‘flattening’ virus curve

first_imgHe said success would depend on people respecting the lockdown rules. “That’s what’s terribly, terribly challenging.”The virus has ravaged Victoria’s aged care homes, with more than 100 residents dying since early August and almost 2,000 active infections linked to the facilities.Elsewhere in Australia, most regions are enjoying relaxed restrictions as they continue to report few or zero new cases of COVID-19.Only New South Wales state has been consistently detecting significant numbers of cases since an outbreak emerged in mid-July after an infected Melbourne man visited a packed Sydney pub.Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the country’s most populous region remained “on high alert” due to small but persistent numbers of cases that could not be traced to any known source.”Whilst numbers have remained stable in New South Wales for the past month, we can’t be assured of that moving forward,” she told reporters in Sydney.Berejiklian urged people to wear masks in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, hinting face coverings could become mandatory if voluntary take-up did not improve.Australia has recorded just over 22,000 cases of coronavirus to date, with 352 deaths from the virus. Topics : Australia’s worst-hit state of Victoria appears to be curbing a virus outbreak after a week of tougher restrictions, authorities said Wednesday, with new cases falling in recent days even as fatalities topped records.Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews announced 410 new cases and 21 fatalities — marking Australia’s deadliest day so far — but said the state “certainly” seemed to be flattening the curve.”If you look at the average over the last seven days, we are seeing [numbers] come down,” he told a press conference.center_img The state has reported around or below 400 new daily cases for four consecutive days, raising hopes that an outbreak centered on Melbourne has been contained after numbers soared above 700 in recent weeks.Authorities last week introduced an overnight curfew and shut down non-essential businesses in Australia’s second-biggest city until at least September 13 — the toughest rules imposed in the country since the pandemic began.Andrews cautioned that cases could again rise.”But with compliance up… and these measures in place, our experts remain firm in the view that this will drive the numbers down,” he said.last_img read more

Bosowa seeks to annul Bank Bukopin private placement plan, sues OJK

first_img“The OJK has shamed us by stripping our right to vote despite acknowledging full well that we still hold a stake in Bank Bukopin,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone, claiming that the company had been notified it was unable to vote when the meeting had started.“Given the circumstances, we plan on going to court to annul the decision made in the meeting, as the votes did not reached the 75 percent minimum threshold.”He also refused the private placement plan as Bank Bukopin already has enough capital to support its liquidity.The bank held an extraordinary general shareholders meeting on Tuesday seeking its shareholders’ consent to conduct a private placement. A majority of the shareholders agreed to the plan as it was aimed at further strengthening the bank’s capital structure and solve liquidity issues. Indonesian conglomerate PT Bosowa Corporindo plans to annul publicly listed Bank Bukopin’s private placement plan, claiming that the Financial Services Authority (OJK) has stripped its right to vote.The company also filed a lawsuit against the OJK at the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday, accusing the agency of violating the law by instructing Bank Bukopin to conduct a private placement.Bosowa president director Rudyanto said on Tuesday that the company’s representatives walked out of a shareholders’ meeting held to approve the placement plan after it was announced that Bosowa did not have the right to vote. The publicly listed bank was injected with a total of Rp 838.93 billion (US$57.25 million) in fresh funds following a rights issue in July, which brought the bank’s capital adequacy ratio (CAR) to 14 percent from 12.59 percent in June.It also gave the bank a new controlling shareholder, South Korea’s KB Kookmin Bank, whose stake rose to 33.9 percent from 22 percent. Existing controlling shareholder Bosowa also remained as Bank Bukopin’s controlling shareholder as it maintained its ownership at 23.4 percent.Despite the fact that Bosowa holds the second-largest stake in the bank, the OJK instructed state-owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), which provides technical assistance for Bukopin to solve its liquidity problems, to vote in favor of the private placement on behalf of Bosowa.The decision came after the OJK sent a letter to Bosowa in June, warning it to not obstruct new investors from injecting funds into Bank Bukopin in an effort to solve the bank’s liquidity problems.Bank Bukopin’s liquidity issues and its shareholder commotion surfaced after customers in June were seen lining up for hours just to withdraw or transfer money at the bank’s branches. The bank was limiting daily withdrawals and requiring customers seeking to make withdrawals of more than Rp 10 million to contact the bank two days prior.Bank Bukopin later issued a statement, explaining that the withdrawal limits at several branches were “situational” and it would still allow customers to make transactions.The measure was taken as the bank’s consolidated short-term liquidity coverage, known as liquidity coverage ratio (LCR), stood at 112.03 percent in the first quarter, while its consolidated long-term liquidity coverage, known as the net stable funding rate (NSFR), stood at 100.31 percent. Both figures were nearing the OJK’s minimum threshold of 100 percent.Bank Bukopin president director Rivan A. Purwantono, however, declined to comment on the commotion on Tuesday, saying that the OJK deemed Bosowa had failed to fulfil its commitments as controlling shareholder.“In such a case, the OJK would punish the controlling shareholder by revoking its right to vote during a general shareholders’ meeting,” he said, adding that Bosowa would remain the bank’s shareholder regardless of the sanction.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccines needs great care: WHO

first_imgRussia has already granted regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine this month after less than two months of human testing, prompting some Western experts to question its safety and efficacy.The WHO’s preferred approach would be to have a full set of data which could be used for the pre-qualification of vaccines, Swaminathan said. The WHO would then consider the efficacy and safety of each drug on a case by case basis, she added.The WHO has used experimental drugs to combat Ebola in Africa, a measure which proved successful, Mike Ryan, the head of the organization’s emergencies program, said.But he stressed that a fast-track approach without full trials required intensive monitoring and safety follow-up work, and should be halted immediately if problems occur.”If you move too quickly to vaccinate … millions of people, you may miss certain adverse effects,” Ryan said. Topics : The emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccines requires a “great deal of seriousness and reflection”, the World Health Organization said on Monday after the United States announced it was considering fast-tracking candidate drugs.Although every country had the right to approve drugs without completing full trials, “it is not something that you do very lightly”, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told a news conference.The head of the US Food and Drug Administration said he would be willing to bypass the normal approval process to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine as long as officials were convinced the benefits outweigh the risks.last_img read more

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