Breaking the monopoly

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£2bn race to beat duty rise

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China sees more patients recover from novel coronavirus infection

first_imgIn south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, five more patients were also cured and discharged from hospital Monday.In addition, 18 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital in east China’s Jiangxi Province as of Sunday.Nationwide, a total of 475 patients had been discharged from hospital after recovery by Sunday, Chinese health authorities announced Monday.Patients can be discharged when the symptoms are alleviated, the body temperature remains at a normal range for at least three days, and the nucleic acid test shows a negative result twice.  Topics : More patients infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have recovered and left hospitals in China.The first patient in the city of Suining in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province recovered from the virus Monday, bringing the total number of patients discharged from hospital after recovery to 13 in the province.Meanwhile, east China’s Fujian Province also reported its first patient recovering from the novel coronavirus Monday.last_img read more

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‘Unprecedented’ mental health issues seen in Hong Kong amid virus fears

first_imgAs Hong Kong tries to contain the coronavirus outbreak, medical experts say many in the Asian financial hub are reeling from increased anxiety and an unprecedented level of mental health issues.The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic came after months of tumultuous anti-government protests that had already led to a sharp increase in depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they said.It also touches on fears of the 2003 SARS epidemic, which killed nearly 300 people in the city. “Hoarding tissue, bags of rice, are measures to cope with the anxiety rather than fulfilling needs of daily life. They are hoarding way beyond their only needs,” said Eliza Cheung, a clinical psychologist at Hong Kong Red Cross.Hong Kong has about 100 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and has reported two deaths.A mental health hotline the government opened in January has received about 25,000 calls, authorities said, while voluntary groups have sprung into action to help counsel people, particularly those quarantined at home.”We have everyone calling from the entire spectrum, elderly from the nursing home to teenagers. We are just trying to hang onto each day as it is at the moment,” said Karman Leung, chief executive of Samaritans Hong Kong, a local non-governmental organization that assists people in distress.Low-income residents have been particularly hurt by a deepening slowdown in Hong Kong’s economy, battered by protests and the Sino-US trade war.The Society for Community Organization (SoCO), a local organization that works on poverty alleviation, said 70 percent of poor families can’t afford masks and disinfectant.Authorities have pledged cash handouts to residents and tax breaks to businesses. Last week, the city’s finance secretary unveiled measures to allocate “sufficient resources” to help with mental health problems.Some residents remain optimistic.”This virus, I thought it came at a good time, where we are so divided. Hopefully it will bring us together again. Each one of us hopefully trying to fight this disease,” said Derek Au, 46, a Hong Kong resident. “Hong Kong is in a unique position, due to changes to our routine, previous months of social unrest and deep memories of SARS,” said Carol Liang, an executive at Mind Hong Kong, a mental health charity in the former British colony.A University of Hong Kong survey found that a third of adults in the special administrative region reported symptoms of PTSD, up from 2 percent in 2015, while 11 percent reported depression, up from 2 percent during the Occupy protests in 2014.Since January, tens of thousands have been working from home, many cooped up in tiny apartments, while the stockpiling of basic food and cleaning products has become common.Children stuck at home must grapple with online learning while many families, particularly the poor, are unable to get protective gear.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Coronavirus crisis threatens to silence Japan’s tourist boom

first_imgJust months ahead of the 2020 Olympics, the jolt to tourism may presage a broader economic impact from the coronavirus for both Japan and the global economy. Japan could be at particular risk because of its increased reliance on Chinese tourism under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” policies.Nomura Securities had forecast a 240 billion yen (US$2.3 billion) bump from event-related tourism in 2020, which it said would evaporate if the Olympics were cancelled, although organizers have said delaying or moving the games is not an option. Last year, Japan hosted 31.9 million foreign visitors, who spent 4.81 trillion yen.The flu-like virus SARS-CoV-2 has spread to about 80 countries after emerging in central China late last year and has hurt global tourism, air travel and events. About 98,000 people have been infected and 3,300 killed worldwide.Although most cases are in China, more new infections are appearing outside that country. There are no official tourism figures from February yet, but some analysts – and anecdotal evidence from people in the tourism industry – suggest that arrivals from Asia alone are likely to be down by at least half.”You’ve got that negativity that is going to percolate through the system,” said Jesper Koll, a senior adviser at WisdomTree Investments.The hit to economic growth from slowing inbound tourism could be a quarter of a percentage point or more, he said.’Explosive shopping’For Japan, which has seen more than 1,000 confirmed infections, 2020 was supposed to be a record year for foreign arrivals and a boon for an economy already on the brink of recession.About 9.5 million of Japan’s foreign visitors last year were Chinese, a number that has risen more than six-fold over the past seven years.And Chinese visitors spend more than others, accounting for 30% of tourists but 37% of tourist spending last year, according to Japan Tourism Agency data.At a shop near Watanabe’s restaurant, the shelves were lined with rice cookers, sake cups and beauty products such as lipstick usually popular with Chinese tourists, who are known for their “bakugai” or “explosive shopping” sprees.But there were few customers. Shop workers chatted with each other in the nearly empty store.On Wednesday, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the outbreak has hurt consumption through a decline in Chinese tourists.The pain could worsen after Abe on Thursday said the government would suspend existing visas for visitors from China and South Korea and quarantine them for two weeks.Hotels squeezed In the central prefecture of Shizuoka, home to Mt Fuji, Chinese account for as much as 70% of foreign tourists. Some 90,000 people, mostly Chinese, have cancelled hotel and ryokan inn bookings for the first three months of this year, according to the local tourism association.That represents about a third of the total bookings by Chinese tourists during the period.In response, the prefecture has made it easier for tourism-dependent businesses to get loans, said Mitsuhiro Sasamatsu of the local government’s tourism policy division.But some hotels that are dependent on Chinese tourists are temporarily shutting down. “For them, it is better cost-wise to shut down completely than to have the business open for few guests,” Sasamatsu said.About 80,000 new rooms are expected to open in nine major cities between 2019 and 2021, according to a June report from CBRE, a property research firm.Even before the coronavirus, the supply of rooms in all nine was forecast to outstrip demand, according to CBRE.This week, H.I.S. Co, Japan’s largest listed travel agent by revenue, said it expected a full-year loss, rather than a profit, citing the coronavirus impact.Yoshio Adachi, who guides tourists around Yokohama’s bay area in a custom tuk tuk imported from Thailand, reckons the number of Chinese tourists has fallen by as much 60% since the outbreak.He is hoping that a bid to host a casino resort in the city, Japan’s second largest, will pan out and lead to more tourists.”The Olympics will be a one off, so the economy will need to come back after that,” he said. The restaurants at the Exitmelsa shopping centre in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza district are usually packed with Chinese tourists. But on a recent weekday, many lunchtime tables were empty, a sign of the toll that the coronavirus is taking on tourism.For Japanese who have grown dependent on Chinese tourists for business, like waiter Kiyotake Watanabe, it marks a disconcerting trend.”People on group tours would gather together at noon, and 10 or 20 of them would come in all at once,” Watanabe, who works at a Chinese restaurant in the shopping center, told Reuters. Those customers evaporated after China in January banned overseas group tours.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Jakarta designates five more hospitals as COVID-19 referral centers

first_imgThe Jakarta administration has appointed five more hospitals in the capital city as referral centers for COVID-19 patients. They are Fatmawati Central General Hospital (RSU Fatmawati) in South Jakarta, Bhayangkara Police Hospital (RSU Bhayangkara) in South Jakarta, Mintoharjo Naval Hospital (RSAL Mintoharjo) in Central Jakarta, Cengkareng Regional General Hospital (RSUD Cengkareng) in West Jakarta and Pasar Minggu Regional General Hospital (RSUD Pasar Minggu) in South Jakarta.Previously, the city had appointed three hospitals in the capital city as hospitals for COVID-19 cases, namely Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital (RSPI Sulianti Saroso) in North Jakarta, Persahabatan Central General Hospital (RSUP) in East Jakarta and Gatot Soebroto Army Hospital (RSPAD Gatot Soebroto) in Central Jakarta. With the five additional ones, the capital now has eight hospitals specializing in the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 patients.Read also: ‘No need to panic’: Jokowi tells people to stay vigilant, avoid COVID-19 rumors “The Jakarta Health Agency has prepared eight referral hospitals for COVID-19 cases,” Ani Ruspitawati, head of health resources at the Jakarta Health Agency, said at City hall on Monday as reported by kompas.com.Ani said the eight hospitals had 125 beds in isolation rooms for COVID-19 patients.Up until now, she said, the COVID-19 health post of the Jakarta Health Agency had received 3,580 coronavirus reports from residents of the capital.Two new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Sunday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the country to six.“Case 5 is a 55-year-old man, who is part of the Jakarta cluster,” Health Ministry Disease Control and Prevention Directorate General secretary Achmad Yurianto said on Sunday, referring to a number of suspected and confirmed cases connected to a Japanese woman who tested positive for COVID-19 in Malaysia after visiting Jakarta in February.Read also: COVID-19: Jakarta’s port tightens measures on foreign ships, bars crews from disembarkingCase 6, Yurianto said, was a 36-year-old man who was among the Indonesian crew members of the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship that was docked in Yokohama, Japan. The man is in quarantine on Sebaru Island in Jakarta’s Thousand Islands regency, together with 68 other crew members. (nal)Topics :last_img read more

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Bolivia reports first coronavirus death

first_imgMore than half the country’s confirmed cases have been in Santa Cruz, an eastern province where authorities said stay-at-home appeals have not been heeded.The country was under a national shutdown over the weekend, for the first time. From Monday to Friday, only one person per family is permitted to circulate to buy groceries or other supplies. Topics : A 78-year-old woman on Sunday became the first person to die of the new coronavirus in Bolivia, which has reported 81 confirmed cases, the government announced.Health Minister Anibal Cruz told reporters the woman, who was hospitalized in the department of Santa Cruz, had been in stable condition.”During the night she grew worse, and was transferred to intensive care. She died this morning,” he said.last_img read more

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Retailer Matahari temporarily closes all stores, cuts salaries amid COVID-19 pandemic

first_imgRead also: NWP retail buys Lippo shopping malls for $124mThe company said it was also reviewing all nonessential operating expenses to drastically reduce spending, including working with landlords for significant rental concessions, curtailing all marketing spending for the medium term and implementing a business travel ban.“We are also reducing labor expenses through a combination of reduced working hours, unpaid leave and management salary cuts, with senior leaders taking the deepest reductions,” the company said in the statement.The coronavirus disease has infected more than 1,600 people in the country with at least 150 fatalities as of Wednesday afternoon, disrupting business activities as citizens are told to stay at home to slow the spread of the illness. Publicly listed retailer PT Matahari Department Store has announced that it will close all of its stores for 14 days and reduce salaries to cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.The Lippo Group subsidiary closed all of its stores in Indonesia starting March 30 until at least April 13, with the resumption of operations depending on the latest developments in the country, the company said in a statement posted on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) website on Tuesday.  The move was aimed at supporting the government’s call for physical distancing as well as to protect employees from contracting the virus. Matahari would also eliminate noncommitted capital expenditure and delay the opening of four new stores to later in the year.The retailer’s shareholders would not receive any dividends this year as the management was withdrawing its previous recommendation of a dividend payout and was proposing suspending any payment of dividends at the upcoming annual general shareholders meeting to anticipate prolonged pressure on consumer demand and traffic.The company pocketed Rp 1.37 trillion (US$81.8 million) in net profit last year, up 24.5 percent compared to its achievement in 2018. The significant increase in profit was primarily caused by efficiency measures, as the company managed to reduce its costs despite only booking a 0.31 percent increase in revenue to Rp 10.28 trillion in 2019.Read also: Indonesia accelerates tax reforms, cuts corporate income tax in COVID-19 playbookMatahari chief executive officer Terry O’Connor said in Tuesday’s statement that the retail environment had deteriorated sharply in March, a total opposite of the condition in January and February that met its expectations.“We are now operating in a very uncertain environment where the health of our staff and conservation of our cash resources are our paramount priority to emerge from this COVID-19 pandemic period in good corporate health,” he said. Matahari stocks, traded at the Indonesia Stock Exchange with the code LPPF, dropped 6.8 percent on Thursday morning. The stocks have lost more than 68 percent of their value in the last year versus a 29 percent loss recorded by the main gauge, the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI).Topics :last_img read more

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New York cathedral to be used as field hospital

first_imgA vast cathedral in central New York is being converted into a field hospital during the coronavirus pandemic, its dean said Monday, as the US struggles to cope with the mounting crisis.The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan will house nine climate-controlled medical tents in its 600-foot-long nave and subterranean crypt, dean Clifton Daniel told the New York Times.The tents will be able to hold a total of at least 200 patients beneath the stained-glass windows of the building, which describes itself as the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. “In earlier centuries, cathedrals were always used this way, like during the plague. So this is not outside the experience of being a cathedral, it is just new to us,” Daniel said.Cathedral officials said COVID-19 patients could start arriving within a week.The field hospital will be staffed with personnel from the Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital, located next door to the cathedral complex.The US death toll from the outbreak hit 10,000 on Monday, and authorities have warned Americans to brace for worse in the coming weeks. Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University, which has been keeping a running tally of coronavirus numbers, said more than 368,000 US cases had been confirmed, with 10,986 deaths by late Monday.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Testing backlog forces Jakarta to apply COVID-19 protocol to more than 1,000 burials

first_imgThe bodies of more than 1,000 people have been buried according to the coronavirus health protocol in Jakarta as laboratories battle a backlog in COVID-19 testing for suspected cases.As of Friday, 246 patient deaths had been confirmed as COVID-19 cases in the country’s capital, the epicenter of the outbreak in Indonesia. The figure represents almost half of all deaths reported nationwide.But the Jakarta administration has instructed that the bodies of patients under surveillance (PDP) and persons under monitoring (ODP) be buried according to the established health protocol for burying patients who had died of COVID-19. He said that the hospital had explained the details of the burial procedures for his mother’s body.Dharma’s mother was buried on April 9 at Pondok Rangon Public Cemetery in East Jakarta, but he still hoped that the government would release her test results.Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said that the interment protocol for PDPs who had died before their tests results had been issued was a precautionary measure to prevent the virus’ transmission. The protocol was being applied in the absence of the test results.”I just came from Pondok Rangon cemetery,” he said on Wednesday. “The number of burials adhering to the protocols for probable COVID-19 deaths has reached 1,000 already.”The administration’s website recorded that 1,114 burials have been conducted under the health protocol as of Saturday.  According to the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, which has compiled the Health Ministry’s daily log of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests performed at designed COVID-19 labs, Indonesia has been testing just 1,000 to 2,000 samples per day over the past two weeks. This is far below President Joko Widodo’s target of 10,000 tests per day.The number of tests increased to above 7,000 on April 12, but three days later on April 15, the daily average had declined to a little over 3,000 tests.Jakarta recorded on Friday a cumulative total of 2,865 PDPs, of which more than 1,400 patients (48.9 percent) had recovered.“Our low testing capacity has resulted in unconfirmed [coronavirus] deaths among PDPs, and the central government has yet to recognize the [actual] number of deaths [in Jakarta],” said Iqbal Ridzi Fahdri Elyazar, a researcher at Eijkman’s disease surveillance and biostatistics division.Many problems are behind the delay in test results, including a shortage of the reagents needed for the PCR test. The government said on Wednesday that its current stock of reagents would last only a week.Another issues is that even after hospitals and local health agencies had received individual test results, they are not allowed to inform the patients’ families or the public before the government announces the latest COVID-19 figures.Read also: In major policy shift, Jokowi orders transparency in pandemic fightNational Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Agus Wibowo, who is also on the national COVID-19 rapid response task force, acknowledged that the government had been unable to identify probable coronavirus deaths because of the delay in testing.”It still takes about five days for the results […]. Indeed, many people are dying before [their] test results arrive. We need more testing kits,” said Agus.Meanwhile, national COVID-19 spokesman Achmad Yurianto said he did not want to conclude prematurely that the bodies buried according to coronavirus protocol in Jakarta were related to COVID-19.”Some time ago, a member of my staff died due to Stage IV cancer. [But] Everyone said it was COVID-19. I’m speaking based on the [available] data on confirmed deaths from the coronavirus,” he said. “Not all of the 1,000 [buried in Jakarta] were COVID-19 deaths.”Topics : The protocol requires both the body of the deceased and their coffin to be wrapped in plastic. Both funeral and cemetery workers must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, masks and coveralls when handling the body.    Dharma (not his real name) lost his mother, who was admitted as a PDP for treatment at Persahabatan Central General Hospital in East Jakarta.  The 21-year-old resident of Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that the cause of his mother’s death was recorded simply as “respiratory failure”, because the hospital was still waiting for the results of her COVID-19 test from the Health Ministry’s Health Research and Development Agency (Balitbangkes).”The hospital said that the results will arrive in two to 10 days,” said Dharma. “[But] It has already been 10 days counting the weekends, or eight working days.”last_img read more

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