Japan set to extend virus emergency to May 31

first_imgHe is to explain the government decision at a press conference later Monday.Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she had asked Abe’s minister responsible for the virus outbreak Yasutoshi Nishimura about the government’s plan for an extension.”The minister told me they were putting it together for an extension to May 31,” Koike said in a video message to residents late Sunday.As experts met Monday, Nishimura warned the battle against the virus was far from over. Topics : Japan’s government prepared Monday to extend its nationwide state of emergency to the end of May as it braces for a lengthy battle against the coronavirus pandemic.Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared an initial month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and six other regions on April 7, later expanding it to cover the entire country.It is to expire on Wednesday, but Abe is expected to announce an extension to May 31 after consulting infectious diseases experts.center_img “Preparing for the fact that it will take a long time to deal with this infectious disease, I’d like you to propose concrete examples of a new way of life that would enable people to prevent infections while maintaining social and economic activities,” he told a gathering of experts.Japan’s state of emergency is significantly less restrictive than measures seen in parts of Europe and the United States. It allows governors to urge people stay at home and call on businesses to stay shut.But officials cannot compel citizens to comply, and there are no punishments for those who fail to do so.Local reports said the government would continue to urge residents in 13 high-risk prefectures, including Japan’s biggest cities, to cut person-to-person contact by 80 percent and exercise other strict social distancing rules.But museums, libraries and some other facilities are likely to be allowed to reopen so long as they take anti-virus measures.For the rest of Japan, prefectures will be allowed to loosen restrictions on business closures and small gatherings but residents will still be asked not to travel outside their home regions. Bars and nightclubs will be asked to remain shut.Japan has reported a comparatively small scale outbreak, with more than 15,000 infections and 510 deaths so far.But there have been persistent fears about a spike in infections that could quickly overwhelm the country’s healthcare system.Doctors’ associations have warned that hospitals are already stretched thin, with officials in Osaka even calling for donations of raincoats to serve as protective equipment for health workers stuck using trash bags.Measures have been implemented to try to ease the pressure, including sending coronavirus patients with mild symptoms to hotels for quarantine rather than keeping them in overcrowded hospitals.The government has also said it is increasing testing capacity but continues to face criticism for the relatively low numbers of tests being carried out, in part because of stringent criteria.last_img read more

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Brazil to test vaccine as Europe emerges from lockdown

first_imgThe WHO has been holding clinical trials to find a treatment for COVID-19, which has killed more than 382,000 people and wrought vast economic damage since emerging in China late last year. Cautious reopening But outside of Latin America nations are cautiously reopening schools, beaches and businesses after months of quarantine, even as some still face rising numbers of cases.European nations among the hardest hit by the outbreak have mostly flattened out infection curves. They have turned to the tricky task of balancing economic recovery against the risk of a second wave of cases.Germany will plough 130 billion euros ($146 billion) into a stimulus package to kick-start an economy severely hit by the pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced.Berlin will also ease its blanket travel warning for European nations from June 15.Italy — the first country badly hit in Europe — opened its borders to European travellers Wednesday, hoping tourism will revive its recession-hit economy three months after its shutdown.But with health experts warning over reopening too quickly, some fear foreign visitors may be reluctant to travel. “I don’t think we’ll see any foreign tourists really until the end of August or even September,” said Mimmo Burgio, a cafe owner near Rome’s Colosseum. “Who’s going to come?” Austria announced it would scrap virus controls on all land borders, except for Italy.Belgium will reopen its borders to travellers from the EU, Britain and members of Europe’s passport-free travel zone on June 15.But Britain — with the second highest death rate in the world after the US at nearly 40,000 fatalities — is still advising against non-essential travel. Vaccine testing The race to find a vaccine meanwhile gathered pace.   Europe’s four largest economies — France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands — are forming an alliance to speed up production of a vaccine on European soil, Dutch officials said.Brazil said it would begin testing a vaccine being developed by Oxford University next week, the first country outside Britain to take part in the study. The vaccine will be tested in Brazil on 2,000 health services volunteers, said the Federal University of Sao Paulo, coordinating the study.Testing a vaccine in Brazil “is very important because we are in the acceleration phase of the epidemiological curve,” the university’s president Soraya Smaili told AFP.Authorities imposed curfews across a vast swathe of the Brazilian state of Bahia in the country’s hard-hit northwest.”It is necessary and urgent to impose greater restrictions, after recording extremely high [infection] rates,” in the area, said Bahia governor Rui Costa.Brazil has the world’s second highest COVID-19 caseload after the United States, with more than half a million cases and 31,000 deaths.In Africa, which has so far escaped the worst of the pandemic, police in Senegal arrested more than 70 people after protests tinged by violence broke out in several cities. Crowds demanded a nighttime coronavirus curfew, imposed by President Macky Sall on March 23, be lifted.The country has recorded nearly 4,000 cases of coronavirus, 45 of them fatalities. Topics : Focus on Americas “For several weeks, the number of cases reported each day in the Americas has been more than the rest of the world put together,” Tedros said.”We are especially worried about Central and South America, where many countries are witnessing accelerating epidemics.”Chile’s government said it was extending a three-week shutdown of the capital Santiago and its population of seven million as the death toll there reached a new daily record.Health officials said 87 people had died in the previous 24 hours, and nearly 5,000 new infections were recorded. Chile has now registered more than 113,000 infections and 1,275 deaths.  Researchers in hard-hit Brazil on Wednesday said they would begin testing a coronavirus vaccine developed in Britain, while across the Atlantic European nations began reopening borders in a bid to emerge from months of devastation caused by the disease.Authorities in Brazil — the latest frontline of the pandemic, with deaths and infections on the rise — imposed fresh restrictions in the country’s northeast after reporting “extremely high” numbers of cases.Concern over the spread of the coronavirus in Latin America has increased even as the health crisis has eased in other regions of the world. “The Americas continues to account for the most cases,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing in Geneva.The UN body also said it would resume trials of hydroxychloroquine a week after halting them following a study in The Lancet medical journal that suggested the drug could harm COVID-19 patients.The U-turn came after The Lancet itself cast doubt on the study after it was widely contested by scientists.Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine Wednesday suggested that taking hydroxychloroquine shortly after being exposed to COVID-19 does not help prevent infection in a statistically meaningful way, however.last_img read more

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Record 79.5 million displaced at year-end despite COVID slowing exodus: UN

first_imgThe exodus includes 5 million Venezuelans who have fled their country mired in an economic and political crisis. Some 3.6 million of them were not counted in its previous statistics, but are now deemed in need of international protection, the UNHCR said.Most Venezuelans have gone to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Chile. An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 have returned to their homeland since April, Grandi said.”In most of the countries Venezuelans live off of the informal economy and many even qualified people unfortunately have had to live a life of subsistence basically, selling vegetables in markets, doing menial work, it’s been really very precarious,” he said. “And with lockdowns, a lot of these jobs have disappeared almost overnight.”But restrictions imposed because of the pandemic have slowed displacement generally, Grandi said.”For the time being, most likely it has actually put breaks on movements because of the difficulties in moving. There has been basically no international travel, there has been very little ability to cross borders,” he added.Some 107,000 refugees were resettled in third countries last year, the UNHCR said.”This is a declining figure unfortunately. The resettlement to the US as you know has declined dramatically. The biggest resettlement country today is Canada,” Grandi said.Canada admitted 31,100 refugees for resettlement, the United States 27,500 and Australia 18,200, UNHCR figures show.  Nearly 80 million people worldwide, or 1% of humanity, were uprooted at the end of 2019 after fleeing wars or persecution, a record figure capping a “tumultuous” decade of displacement, the United Nations said on Thursday.The figure rose by some 9 million from a year earlier and is close to double the 41 million recorded in 2010, despite COVID-19 restrictions slowing down movement, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.Syrians, Venezuelans, Afghans, South Sudanese, and stateless Rohingya from Myanmar top the list of 79.5 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally-displaced, it said in its annual flagship report, Global Trends. “This almost 80 million figure – the highest that UNHCR has recorded since these statistics have been systematically collected – is of course a reason for great concern,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.”This is by the way approximately 1% of the world population,” he told a news briefing.Some 73% of refugees seek asylum in a neighboring country, defying the populist notion that they flood to the West, Grandi said.”This continues to be a global issue, an issue for all states but an issue that challenges most directly the poorer countries, not the rich countries – in spite of the rhetoric,” he said of the displacement.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Allianz Life Indonesia books strong premium growth in Q1

first_imgThroughout 2019, the company recorded a net premium income of Rp 12.47 trillion, a 49 percent year-on-year increase.“Allianz Life Indonesia had a tremendous year in 2019. It continues to outperform the market, supported by our multi-distribution channels,” said Joos.Allianz Life Indonesia chief financial officer Cui Cui reported that, throughout last year, the company saw a 33 percent yoy growth via its agency distribution channel, while sales through the bancassurance channel grew by 20.2 percent. That growth continued throughout this year’s first quarter, as the company booked 26 percent and 55 percent yoy growth in its agency and bancassurance channels, respectively.Read also: COVID-19 exposes flaws in Indonesia’s health insurance program“In terms of investment, we are always very prudent. We have a strong risk management culture,” Cui said during the press conference. The company’s total investment funds, known as assets under management (AUM), amounted to Rp 34.23 trillion in 2019, an 8 percent increase from Rp 31.73 trillion in 2018. Meanwhile, this year, its AUM fell by 8 percent to Rp 27.21 trillion from Rp 29.67 trillion in last year’s first quarter. Its total assets recorded a similar trend. In 2019, they grew by 9 percent to Rp 38.35 trillion from Rp 35.27 trillion. However, during this year’s first quarter, the asset value declined by 5 percent to Rp 32.25 trillion from Rp 33.88 trillion in the equivalent period of last year. The insurance claims and benefit payouts rose by 14 percent to Rp 7.84 trillion in 2019 from Rp 6.86 trillion in 2018. This year, they climbed by 4 percent to Rp 702.12 billion by the end of the first quarter, up from Rp 675.98 billion in 2019’s first quarter. Allianz Life Indonesia still managed to show ample creditworthiness based on its solvency ratio, a metric used to measure a company’s ability to pay its debt obligations. By the end of 2019, it stood at 340 percent. Meanwhile, by the end of 2020’s first quarter, it was at 327.63 percent, well above the mandatory minimum of 120 percent. Read also: Prudential led Indonesian market in 2019 with premium income of Rp 25 trillionThe company’s chief marketing officer, Karin Zulkarnaen, explained during the webinar that the Alliancz tried to maintain communication with its customers as part of its business strategy during the pandemic, including through online channels. Throughout 2019, 92 percent of policies were submitted electronically, while 15 to 20 percent of issuance policies were delivered within five minutes, down from policy issuance of seven to nine days prior. Aside from that, the share of e-policies had reached 46 percent. Today, customers were able to submit claims digitally. Karin added that, insurance and benefits expenses related to COVID-19 amounted to Rp 900 billion in the first three months of the year from total claims and benefit expenses of Rp 2.06 trillion.Topics : In the first quarter of this year, Allianz Life Indonesia’s net premium income amounted to Rp 3.37 trillion, a 42 percent jump from Rp 2.36 trillion during the same period last year. Net profit reached Rp 449.4 billion in the January-March period this year, a 98 percent surge from the same period last year.“Allianz sees there will be a shift to more health products and protection,” Joos said during the company’s livestreamed press conference on Tuesday. “Ultimately, in the medium to longer term, the need for protection will only increase because of this pandemic.”[RA::Allianz Indonesia expands digital services as more people stay home::https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/06/11/allianz-indonesia-expands-digital-services-as-more-people-stay-home.html]Joos noted that the growth of the company was fueled by its two main distribution channels: agency and bancassurance. Allianz Life Indonesia partners with Maybank in delivering life and health insurance products to consumers. Insurance provider Allianz Life Indonesia sees growth potential this year after its net premium income was up 42 percent year-on-year in this year’s first quarter as people shift to health products and protection.Allianz Life Indonesia country manager and president director Joos Louwerier said the company saw potential for growth this year as Indonesia still had low insurance penetration.This was despite the fact that the impact of COVID-19 on the company’s business would be prominent in this year’s second quarter, he added, as Indonesia implemented large-scale social restrictions (PSBB). The PSBB had limited people’s mobility and disrupted business operations.last_img read more

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Non-essential travel restrictions extended at US borders with Canada, Mexico

first_imgReuters reported Monday that Canada and the United States were set to extend a ban imposed to fight the coronavirus outbreak.The rules, first issued in March, have been repeatedly extended in 30-day blocks.The restrictions do not cover trade across a US-Canada border that stretches 5,525 miles (8,891 km) or air travel.Passenger crossings have fallen by 90% or more at many border crossings and hit tourist destinations along US borders.In May, passenger traffic in Detroit fell to 45,000 people crossing, down from 502,000 passengers crossing in February.At San Ysidro, California, on the US-Mexico border, passenger and pedestrian traffic fell from more than 2.9 million people crossing in February to 1.3 million in May.The restrictions do not apply to travelers who are getting to work, or people travelling for family care, educational or humanitarian reasons. Topics : Restrictions on non-essential travel at US land borders with Canada and Mexico will be extended through Aug. 21, Canada and the United States announced on Thursday.”Canada and the United States have agreed to extend the current border measures by one month until August 21, and we’re going to keep working closely with our American neighbors to keep people safe on both sides of the border,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference.Earlier, acting US Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced the 30-day extension on Twitter that “close collaboration with our neighbors has allowed us to respond to #COVID19 in a North American approach and slow the travel-related spread of the virus.”last_img read more

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Hong Kong could postpone election due to virus in blow for democracy camp

first_imgSome 600,000 people voted in unofficial primaries polls for the opposition in Hong Kong this month, sending a younger, more confrontational generation of pro-democracy politicians into the race for the legislature.One of them, prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong, said he would doubt the veracity of any coronavirus delay.”Using pandemic as an excuse to postpone the election is definitely a lie,” Wong said on Twitter.The Legislative Council, or Legco, election would be the first vote in the former British colony since the introduction of the national security legislation in the semiautonomous city. The law punishes what China broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison and sees mainland Chinese security agents operating officially in the city for the first time.Critics of the law say it erodes the freedoms Hong Kong was promised when it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997, while supporters say it would restore stability after a year of often-violent pro-democracy protests in the city.Britain’s foreign minister, Dominic Raab, told top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi that Britain would be watching the Hong Kong elections closely and stressed that China needed to rebuild trust in the global community, a British Foreign Office spokesman said on Tuesday.Under city laws, the government can postpone elections if the chief executive is of the opinion that the vote “is likely to be obstructed, disrupted, undermined or seriously affected by riot or open violence or any danger to public health or safety”.A new election date, not more than 14 days after the original date, must be announced immediately, according to election laws. But British colonial-era legislation gives the government sweeping powers in case of emergency or public danger.It is not clear if former members of the city assembly, whose terms have expired, could return to the legislature in the event of a postponement for a year.Hong Kong has reported about 3,000 coronavirus cases since January and more than 20 deaths – far lower than in other major cities around the world.But the government has warned of a new surge of infections in the community and has banned dining in restaurants and limited group gatherings to two people.Rival finance hub Singapore, which has had a larger coronavirus outbreak, held a general election this month.At least 68 countries and territories have delayed national or regional elections due to the coronavirus since February, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance said.At least 49 countries and territories have decided to hold national or subnational elections, it said.  Topics :center_img Hong Kong’s government could postpone by a year a vote for seats in the city’s legislature scheduled for Sept. 6 amid fears of a resurgence in novel coronavirus cases, public broadcaster RTHK reported on Wednesday.A postponement would be a blow for the opposition pro-democracy camp, which is aiming to win a historic majority in the city’s assembly given widespread resentment of Beijing’s imposition of a new security law widely criticized by Western countries as eroding citizens’ rights.The RTHK report cited unidentified sources and did not give any more details. The office of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment.last_img read more

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Govt reopens migrant worker placement to boost economy amid pandemic

first_imgThe Manpower Ministry has announced that it will reopen recruitment and placement of Indonesian migrant workers in a bid to strengthen the country’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.On March 20, the ministry issued a regulation to temporarily halt the placement of migrant workers in foreign countries due to COVID-19 pandemic. A new ministerial regulation, issued on July 29, lifts the restriction.“To accelerate the recovery of the national economy and seeing that several countries have also reopened to foreign workers, it is necessary for us to also reopen the opportunity for our migrant workers to work in destination countries,” Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah said on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com. Ida said 88,973 migrant workers were ready to be sent abroad to 14 countries, namely Algeria, Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Kuwait, Maldives, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Qatar, Taiwan, Turkey, Zambia and Zimbabwe.“The potential remittances from the migrant workers is quite large and is expected to boost the economic recovery,” she said.Ida added that the government and state-owned lender Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) would bear the costs of COVID-19 tests for the migrant workers.“I have already met with the coordinating human development and cultural affairs minister as well as the health minister to allocate some funds from the COVID-19 task force, so that migrant workers will not be burdened by the fees to meet the health protocol requirements,” she said.According to data from the ministry’s Indonesian Migrant Workers Protection Agency (BP2MI), as many as 3,742,440 Indonesian migrant workers abroad sent home a total of Rp 160 trillion (US$10.9 billion) in remittances in 2019. (trn)Topics :last_img read more

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PREMIUMPapuans urge careful approach in review of Special Autonomy Law

first_imgForgot Password ? Papuan community leaders and activists have urged the central government to exercise wisdom and involve Papuans in reviewing the special autonomy (Otsus) status of Papua and West Papua as Jakarta plans to amend the Otsus Law.The law is the legal foundation for the Papua administration to manage its own political, cultural and economic affairs. It was enacted in 2001, before being revised in 2008 to grant West Papua similar special autonomy.It also stipulates the allocation of special autonomy funds from the central government — set to stop in November 2021 — to accelerate development in Indonesia’s two easternmost provinces.Home Minister Tito Karnavian has hinted at the possibility of extending the special autonomy status for Papua and West Papua beyond 2021, with the deliberation of the latest Otsus Law revision having been included in this year’s National Legislat… Facebook LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Log in with your social account Google Linkedin Topics : special-authority #Papua West-Papua Papua #special-autonomy Otsus-fund #Otsus #Otsus-fundlast_img read more

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S.Korea warns of nationwide coronavirus spread as church outbreaks threaten capital

first_imgNearly 90% of the new cases appeared in the capital, Seoul, and surrounding areas, raising concern of the rapid spread of the virus in a metropolitan area of more than 25 million people.”We’re in a desperately dangerous crisis where infections are spreading in the Seoul metropolitan area and threatening to lead to a massive nationwide transmission,” Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing.”The government cannot contain the current spread only with tracing and isolation … please stay home unless you must go out.”At least 140 of the new infections are linked to the Sarang Jeil Church, taking the number of cases from it to nearly 600. Topics : Authorities are trying to trace another 600 members of the church’s congregation who should be in isolation and would like to test all of its 4,000 members, Kim said.More than 8,500 police have been mobilized to track down church members, he said.Authorities have said some members of the church, which is run by a radical conservative preacher, are reluctant to come forward and get tested, or to self-isolate.Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the government would take legal action against the church for any attempt to disrupt tracing and testing efforts by failing to provide accurate membership lists.At least three other smaller clusters have been linked to churches in Seoul and one to a church in the city of Yongin. Dozens of cases were linked to a coffee outlet in the city of Paju.Nightclubs, karaoke bars, buffets and cyber cafes have been ordered to close in Seoul and surrounding regions.In-person church services, have also been banned while indoor and outdoor gatherings have been restricted to no more than 50 and 100 people, respectively.Authorities said if the number of infections rises or continues at the current rate of spread, they will likely impose the highest level of social distancing rules, under which schools are closed, businesses advised to work from home and gatherings limited to 10 people.center_img South Korea reported on Wednesday its highest daily rise in novel coronavirus cases since early March as outbreaks from churches around the capital spread, prompting a warning of a nationwide wave of infections.The 297 new infections mark the sixth straight day of triple-digit increases in a country that has managed to blunt several previous outbreaks.The national tally rose to 16,058 infections with 306 deaths, according to data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).last_img read more

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Jakarta extends PSBB for two more weeks to ‘break the chain’ of virus spread

first_img“We must keep working together to break the chain of the infection. The authorities will improve the 3T, [testing, tracing and treatment], while the public will continue to stay at home,” the governor asserted on Thursday.Read also: Jakarta reimposes PSBB, orders people to stay homeResidents who, for some reason, had to leave their homes and conduct activities outside must adhere to health protocol by wearing masks, maintaining a physical distance from others and washing their hands frequently, he added.Anies further said extension of the PSBB had been approved by the central government.According to National COVID-19 Task Force data, Jakarta has recorded a decrease in daily confirmed cases since the beginning of this week.The city logged 1,352 new positive cases on Monday, followed by 1,236 cases and 1,133 cases on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.The latest data released on Thursday showed an additional of 1,044 cases, bringing the total tally to 66,731 or around a quarter of the country’s total of 262,022 cases. At least 1,648 people have died of the disease in the capital to date.Topics : The Jakarta administration has extended large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in the capital – Indonesia’s COVID-19 hotbed – by two weeks to further suppress virus transmission.Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan claimed that the capital had seen a decline in active cases since it reimposed the stricter rules on Sept. 14.The city, he said, had recorded 3,854 new active cases in the first twelve days of September, and the number dropped significantly to 1,453 cases in the next twelve days.last_img read more

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