Connect with us

News

China virus deaths rise past 800, overtaking SARS toll

Published

on

‘);
} else {
$(“.fotorama-caption”).addClass(“remove_caption”);
}
})
.fotorama();

BEIJING, China (AFP) — The death toll from the novel coronavirus surged past 800 in mainland China yesterday, overtaking global fatalities in the 2002-03 SARS epidemic, even as the World Health Organization (WHO) said the outbreak appeared to be stabilising.

With 89 more people dying — most in Hubei, the province at the centre of the outbreak — the toll is now higher than the 774 killed worldwide by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to official figures.

The latest data came after the WHO said the last four days had seen “some stabilising” in Hubei, but warned the figures can still “shoot up”.

Almost 37,200 people in China have now been infected by the virus, believed to have emerged late last year in Hubei’s capital Wuhan, where residents are struggling to get daily supplies.

The epidemic has prompted the Government to lock down whole cities as anger mounts over its handling of the crisis — especially after a whistleblowing doctor fell victim to the virus.

With much of the country still not back at work after an extended Lunar New Year holiday, cities including financial hub Shanghai ordered residents to wear masks in public.

Michael Ryan, head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said the “stable period” of the outbreak “may reflect the impact of the control measures”.

While the death toll has climbed steadily, new cases have declined since last Wednesday’s single-day peak of nearly 3,900 people nationwide.

Yesterday, the number of new cases was just over 2,600.

Millions of people are under lockdown in Hubei in a bid to stop the virus spreading.

“The local government asked people to stay at home as much as possible, but there is not enough goods in shops each time we get there, so we have to go out frequently,” a woman in Wuhan surnamed Wei told AFP.

Wang Bin, from the Ministry of Commerce, said challenges included poor logistics, price increases and labour shortages.

“It is difficult for the market supply to reach normal levels,” he admitted at a press conference yesterday.

In Hubei, there’s a five-day supply of pork and eggs, and a three-day supply of vegetables, he said.

China’s central bank said from today it would offer up a 300 billion yuan (US$43 billion) boost to help businesses involved in fighting the epidemic.

Melissa Santos, a student from the Dominican Republic living in Wuhan, said she “worried” about going out to buy food for the first time in a week.

“I have read that the virus can be transmitted very fast, in a few seconds,” she said.

China drew international condemnation for covering up cases during the SARS outbreak, whereas the measures it has taken this time have been praised by the WHO.

But anger erupted after the death of a Wuhan doctor who police silenced when he flagged the emerging virus in December.

The doctor, 34, died early last Friday after contracting the virus from a patient.

Chinese academics were among those angered by his death, with at least two open letters posted on social media demanding more freedoms.

“Put an end to the restrictions on freedom of speech,” one letter demanded.

Beijing responded by sending its anti-graft body to launch an investigation, attempting to ease the anger.

But Ian Lipkin — a professor at Columbia University who worked with China on the SARS outbreak — said earlier intervention could have made a key difference.

“This virus was percolating along without anyone realising it was there,” he said.

If the quarantine measures have been effective, the epidemic should peak within the next fortnight, Lipkin added — but he warned there is also the risk of a “bump” in numbers when people return to work.

“If, in fact, the methods for containment have been adequate or effective at all… I think we will start to see some dramatic reduction in China around the third week of February,” he said.

Lipkin also said warmer weather would help to slow the number of cases.

Wuhan has converted public buildings into makeshift medical centres, and built two new field hospitals.

But Wuhan resident Chen Yiping told AFP her 61-year-old mother has severe symptoms and is still awaiting a hospital bed because “there are too many people in need of treatment”.

The first foreign victim in China was confirmed last week when an American diagnosed with the virus died in Wuhan.

The only fatalities outside the mainland have been a Chinese man in The Philippines and a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong.

Seventy people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan’s coast have tested positive, with all passengers told to stay inside their cabins to prevent further infection.

Yesterday, thousands of people stranded aboard a cruise ship, World Dream, in Hong Kong for five days were allowed to disembark after its 1,800 crew tested negative for the deadly new virus.

Several countries have banned arrivals from China while major airlines have suspended flights, and Air China cancelled some of its flights to the US.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

Source link

قالب وردپرس

News

Virus outbreak chills markets, outlook for global economy

Published

on

By

‘);
} else {
$(“.fotorama-caption”).addClass(“remove_caption”);
}
})
.fotorama();

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The widening coronavirus outbreak threatens to seriously disrupt the global economy, just as it was steadying itself against headwinds from the US-China trade dispute.

Amid concerns that global output could decline for the first time since the global financial crisis a little more than a decade ago, stock markets sank yesterday. In one sign of how sentiment has been negatively hit, gold spiked 1.8 per cent to US$1,688 an ounce, its highest level in seven years, as traders sought out financial assets some consider safer in times of stress.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones was down more than 900 points during early afternoon trading, while in Europe, the pan-European Stoxx 600 slid 3.6 per cent after an eruption of cases in Italy. Cases were also reported in new countries in the Middle East.

“Compounded with the already dramatic interruptions to global supply chains in China, traders fear that a rapid spread of the disease to other major economies could be enough to temporarily tip global economic growth into contraction in the first half of the year,” said Matt Weller, global head of market research at GAIN Capital.

China, the epicentre of the outbreak, faces the most acute near-term difficulties as factories lie idle and people remain home. But the ripple effects are being felt all around the world, as China is both a major importer of goods as well as a source of parts through intricate supply chains. Growth estimates for China are already being cut.

Concerns are growing in the 19-country Eurozone, whose three biggest economies — Germany, France, and Italy — are stalling. Concerns over the knock-on effects on Germany, Europe’s export powerhouse, are particularly acute. Germany’s main DAX stock market closed a whopping 4 per cent lower yesterday.

“Given the latest developments, one has inevitably to talk about downside risks for German exporters,” said Andreas Rees, chief German economist at UniCredit.

Rees cited figures showing car sales in China fell 92 per cent in the first two weeks of February, and pointed out that of the 21 million cars sold in China last year, about one in five was made either in Germany or through German investment in China. Most Chinese auto showrooms are closed.

Meanwhile, Italy’s FTSE MIB slumped 5.4 per cent as Italian civil protection officials said at least 222 people had tested positive for the virus in the country and that six people had died.

Jack Allen-Reynolds, senior Europe economist at Capital Economics, said the virus “makes another recession in Italy more likely than not”.

Europeans had been hoping for a modest upturn this year after major economies staggered through a rough patch at the end of the year. Germany showed zero growth in the fourth quarter, while the No 2 and No 3 economies, France and Italy, shrank slightly. Two straight quarters of falling growth is one definition of a recession.

The global economy was just stabilising after wobbles caused by the trade war between the US and China and fears of a disorderly British exit from the European Union. The coronavirus hit just as a US-China preliminary deal and a Brexit withdrawal divorce agreement had boosted hopes for a modest upswing, particularly in Europe.

Now the world economy could see its first quarterly fall in seasonally adjusted output since the global financial crisis of more than a decade ago, says Ben May, director of global macro research at Oxford Economics.

Frequent business and tourism destinations for people from China are already being hit hard, confirming that this will be a key way that the pain will spread to other Asian economies, with Singapore and Hong Kong feeling the effects.

Comparisons to the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, another deadly outbreak that originated in China, aren’t reassuring because China’s share of the global economy is much bigger than it was back then, and supply chains moving raw materials, parts, and products snake through the global economy more than ever.

Stock markets may have been slow to appreciate the risk posed by the outbreak because they hoped central banks could step in with more stimulus.

Individual companies have already reported trouble, most notably Apple, which said it will miss its sales target. But it could take until April or May before hard data on production and sales gives a clear picture of the impact on a regional or global level, Oxford Economics’s May said.

Markets are now pricing in a bigger chance for a rate cut by the European Central Bank (ECB) by July, even though the ECB has already cut rates into unprecedented negative territory. Its key benchmark deposit rate is minus 0.5 per cent.

Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said that the fund’s baseline scenario is that China’s economy slows but returns to normal in the second quarter.

“But we are looking at more dire scenarios where the spread of the virus continues for longer and more globally, and the growth consequences are more protracted,” she said.

Testifying to Congress on February 11, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that it was too early to assess the scope of the impact the virus poses to the US economy. He noted that at the moment the economy “is in a very good place” with strong job creation and steady growth.

Powell indicated that he saw no need to change the Fed’s benchmark interest rate, which is in a range of 1.5 per cent to 1.75 per cent after three rate cuts in 2019.

Raphael Bostic, head of the Fed’s Atlanta regional bank, said Friday that he expected the coronavirus to “be a short-time hit; we’ll get the economy back to its usual level” after the adverse effects pass.

The US economy still looks resilient, growing at a solid 2.1 per cent annual rate the last three months of 2019. American consumers are driving the record-breaking expansion, now in its 11th year.

Business investment has been weak, partly because President Donald Trump’s trade wars have generated uncertainty about where companies should locate factories and buy supplies. Investment could get weaker if the virus continues to disrupt the supply chains American businesses rely on.

 

 

 

 

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

News

Three-vehicle crash

Published

on

By

Three-vehicle crash

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Print this page
Email A Friend!

‘ + activeFrame.title + ‘
‘);
} else {
$(“.fotorama-caption”).addClass(“remove_caption”);
}
})
.fotorama();

An ambulance and fire truck at the scene of a three-vehicle accident at the entrance to the Portmore toll road in St Catherine, yesterday morning.

It was not clear how many people were injured in the crash. (Photo: Garfield Robinson).


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

News

1 of every 3 Venezuelans facing hunger

Published

on

By

‘);
} else {
$(“.fotorama-caption”).addClass(“remove_caption”);
}
})
.fotorama();

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — One of every three people in Venezuela is struggling to put enough food on the table to meet minimum nutritional requirements as the nation’s severe economic contraction and political upheaval persists, according to a study published Sunday by the UN World Food Programme.

A nationwide survey, based on data from 8,375 questionnaires, revealed a startling picture of the large number of Venezuelans surviving off a diet consisting largely of tubers and beans as hyperinflation renders many salaries worthless.

A total of 9.3 million people — roughly one-third of the population — are moderately or severely food insecure, said the World Food Programme’s study, which was conducted at the invitation of the Venezuelan Government.

Food insecurity is defined as an individual being unable to meet basic dietary needs.

The study describes food insecurity as a nationwide concern, though certain states like Delta Amacuro, Amazonas, and Falcon had especially high levels.

Even in more prosperous regions, one in five people are estimated to be food insecure. “The reality of this report shows the gravity of the social, economic, and political crisis in our country,” said Miguel Pizarro, a Venezuelan Opposition leader.

Venezuelan President Nicols Maduro has been largely reluctant in recent years to invite international organisations to provide assessments of the nation’s humanitarian ordeal, though the World Food Programme said it was granted “full independence” and collected data throughout the country “without any impediment or obstruction”.

“WFP looks forward to a continuation of its dialogue with the Venezuelan Government and discussions that will focus on the way forward to provide assistance for those who are food insecure,” the agency said in a statement.

There was no immediate response to the findings by Maduro’s Government. The survey found that 74 per cent of families have adopted “food-related coping strategies”, such as reducing the variety and quality of food they eat.

Sixty per cent of households reported cutting portion sizes in meals, 33 per cent said they had accepted food as payment for work, and 20 per cent reported selling family assets to cover basic needs.

The issue appears to be one that is less about the availability of food and more about the difficulty in obtaining it.

Seven in 10 reported that food could always be found but said it is difficult to purchase because of high prices.

Thirty-seven per cent reported they had lost their job or business as a result of Venezuela’s severe economic contraction.

Venezuela has been in the throes of a political and humanitarian crisis that has led over 4.5 million people to flee in recent years.

Maduro has managed to keep his grip on power despite a push by Opposition Leader Juan Guaid to remove him from office and mounting US sanctions.

Maduro frequently blames the Trump Administration for his nation’s woes, and his Government has urged the International Criminal Court to open an investigation, alleging that the financial sanctions are causing suffering and even death. The nation’s struggles to feed citizens and provide adequate medical care predate US sanctions on the Venezuelan Government.

In addition to food, the survey also looked at interruptions in access to electricity and water, finding that four in 10 households experience daily power cuts. Four in 10 also reported recurrent interruptions in water service, further complicating daily life.

Noting that the survey was done in July through September, Carolina Fernndez, a Venezuelan rights advocate who works with vulnerable women, said she believes the situation has deteriorated even more.

While it was once possible for many families to survive off remittances sent by relatives living abroad, she said, that has become more difficult as much of the economy is dollarised and prices rise.

“Now it’s not enough to have one person living abroad,” she said. Fernndez said food insecurity is likely to have an enduring impact on a generation of young Venezuelans going hungry during formative years.

“We’re talking about children who are going to have longterm problems because they’re not eating adequately,” she said.

Those who are going hungry include people like Yonni Gutirrez, 56, who was standing outside a restaurant that sells roasted chickens in Caracas on Sunday.

The unemployed man approached the restaurant’s front door whenever a customer left with a bag of food, hoping they might share something.

He said he previously had been able to scrape by helping unload trucks at a market, but the business that employed him closed.

“Sometimes, with a little luck, I get something good,” he said of his restaurant stake-out.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

News

2020-21 budget hopeless, says Phillips

Published

on

By

2020-21 budget hopeless, says Phillips

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Print this page
Email A Friend!

‘);
} else {
$(“.fotorama-caption”).addClass(“remove_caption”);
}
})
.fotorama();

Days before the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament is slated to begin its examination of the 2020-2021 Estimates of Expenditure, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has signalled that his side of the aisle is not satisfied with the spending plans outlined by the Andrew Holness Administration.

Phillips, the president of the People’s National Party (PNP), told cheering supporters on Sunday that the budget, recently tabled in Parliament, offers the country no hope that any of the major crises facing the nation will be tackled in any meaningful way.

Speaking at the PNP’s Regional Three Executive Council meeting in St Andrew, Phillips noted that the allocation to the Ministry of National Security is less for the 2020/21 fiscal year than it was for last year.

“If you are seriously going to tackle crime it is going to need a sustained commitment of financial and human resources over many years for us to overcome the challenges of crime and violence engulfing the country.

“And we don’t see any signs in the budget that the Government is aware that such a commitment is required, neither are we seeing any move to deal with crime on the social side,” said Phillips.

The budget for the new fiscal year sees just over $78 billion allocated for the housekeeping, or recurrent expenses, of the national security ministry, up from $76.2 billion last year.

But on the capital side the almost $20 billion allocated for last year has been reduced to $15.9 billion for 2020/2021. The big cut is in the amount allocated for military defence which moved from $12.5 billion in the revised estimated for the soon-to-end fiscal year to $9.1 billion in the new year, reflecting a reduction in the fixed assets to be purchased by the Jamaica Defence Force.

Phillips also told the Comrades that the budget for the Ministry of Education’s is not in line with inflation in real terms as it is smaller this year than it was last year.

The education ministry is allocated $114 billion in the new estimates of expenditure for its recurrent expenditure, up from $109 billion this year, and $1.4 billion for its capital budget up from for $1.2 billion.

According to Phillips, there is nothing in the budget to give the nation a sense that all the major issues facing the country are going to be dealt with.

The Opposition leader charged that the Government continues to engage in gimmickry while blood continues to run day after day.

He urged Jamaicans to cooperate with the security forces, “as we must stand firmly against the virus of violence which has almost taken over our country and is showing up in our schools”.

Phillips added: “If you go to school as a teacher, you spend half your time dealing with violence. Who is going to want to teach? You fear for your own safety to go to school and when you get to school, you fear for your own safety again. And there is no reaction from the minister of education, who is the prime minister.

“You have a minister [in charge of education] in place with no power and the minister with the power is silent, and the teachers are leaving in droves,” charged Phillips.

He argued the education system needs urgent attention as hundreds of teachers have left the sector in a single year, and echoed concerns raised by president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association Owen Speid that many teachers who are now on leave are unlikely to return to the classrooms.

“It is a simple equation, if you have disciplined schools with disciplined students learning, you will have a disciplined society with smart workers able to deliver high-quality jobs, earning high-quality wages.

“Mark my word, what you are going see is a whole lot of ‘bollo work’ trying to buy an election rather than any effort to solve the problems of the country,” declared Phillips.

— Arthur Hall

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

News

Port Royal feud

Published

on

By

‘);
} else {
$(“.fotorama-caption”).addClass(“remove_caption”);
}
})
.fotorama();

 

RENOVATIONS at Fisherman’s Cabin restaurant on Queen’s Street in Port Royal came to a halt on Sunday when workers learned that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) had leased the already leased property to another investor.

“How much did these guys pay and how did they get the place to begin with?” was the puzzled cry of businessman Phillip Grindley, who told the Jamaica Observer that he had obtained a lease for the property from the KSAMC in October 2017.

Brandishing a copy of his lease as evidence, Grindley, along with a group of local shopkeepers and other self-employed residents, were furious as they demanded answers from the KSAMC.

“A lot of people have been waiting to be part of the development of Port Royal. This has been in the works for years for us, as the people of Port Royal, to control, for us to run, for us to employ other people in the community,” said Grindley in reference to the restaurant which has been closed for some time.

“I have had the lease for this place since 2017, and I have been waiting for the go-ahead to do what these guys are now coming to do, which is to basically renovate the place, employ persons and reopen the business,” he added. “The plan is to restore it to what is was before a top-end restaurant that the people of Port Royal can identify with as a part of the heritage that is here.”

When the Observer visited on Sunday, a partially constructed zinc fence, along with cement blocks and steel were seen at the front of the restaurant which was once shared by the Fisherman’s Cooperative.

Residents said, last Friday, people unknown to them came to the restaurant instructing local fishermen to vacate the building.

“Day before yesterday, dem just appear and start throw out people. There are fishermen who stay here when they are not out at sea fishing, and they were trying to throw dem out and wi stop it,” said Grindley.

“Where these people come from to be throwing out our local people like that? It is unfair,” he added. “What we are having here is people displacement and economic displacement when you [are] taking business from the people who belong to Port Royal and putting it in the hands of people from outside,” he argued.

The businessman explained that since he obtained the lease he had not received any word from the KSAMC on the progress on his applications to start renovations on the building.

“I was trying to make an appointment with the KSAMC, trying to speak to [CEO] Robert Hill. I had my agent get in touch with the KSAMC and I thought we had an understanding, only for us to now hear that the place has been taken over by outsiders. We don’t even know where these people are from, and I have been working on this for about five years,” Grindley said.

He said the outside investor, with whom he has been in touch, identified himself as Christopher Johnson, who he said is currently overseas.

However, Hill, the KSAMC’s CEO, debunked Grindley’s claim of having an effective lease to the property and denied that there is a new lessee to the property.

“Mr Grindley would have erred in showing a copy of the lease because it was simply a draft for review. It was never effective or put through a committee,” Hill told the Observer yesterday.

“As we have it now, the property is under no lease whatsoever. What you see happening there are our persons who we have contracted to do some renovations on the existing structure, but there is no lease in effect,” Hill reiterated.

Grindley, however, is insisting that his lease was approved.

“What I have is an acceptance and offer for a 20-year lease for the property, and I have been waiting for the go-ahead. They are changing the story now [saying] there is no lease on the property. It was a final thing that was sent for me to sign. They offered the terms, I accepted the terms and I signed it and sent it back. Significant sums have also been sent and the lease that I have, after getting the go-ahead I would have to pay $150,000 a year for the property,” said Grindley.

“We are here to call out the non-inclusion of the people of Port Royal in this cruise ship terminal, and the… KSAMC for what they have done to the Fisherman’s Cabin,” he added.

Calls to Member of Parliament for the Kingston Eastern and Port Royal constituency Phillip Paulwell went unanswered.

The newly constructed Port Royal Cruise Port, constructed by The Port Authority of Jamaica, welcomed its first cruise ship, the Marella Discovery II, on January 20 this year.

The development has come with some controversy however, as reports of possible displacement of families who have built their homes on the beach swirled before the ship’s arrival.

However, on January 11 Prime Minister Andrew Holness, during a visit to the historic town, dispelled the notion that residents would be permanently relocated from the community.

“There is a presumption that the Government is doing something evil, but I have come with an open mind to hear what you have to say. Nothing is going to be done without talking to you. We will not change the character of Port Royal,” Holness told the residents, indicating that proper housing solutions would be the ultimate solution.

“The challenge with Port Royal is that, because we have not paid much attention it has been settled in a disorderly manner. We are going to do some reorganisation to find the best location to relocate people,” he said.

On Sunday the residents complained that, while they welcome the development of Port Royal so far, local entrepreneurs were being shut out of the business opportunities that are expected to come with the port.

“Mi have a likkle restaurant and mi tink dem woulda come and give us some form of documentation so that we can set up wi self,” said, Beres Brown, one local cookshop operator who described himself as a born-and-raised resident of Port Royal.

“All wi want is for dem to give us the help with the paperwork,” said Brown.

Grindley interjected: “If I have certain legal documents that are in process and they are doing this to me, what are they going to be doing to people who have lesser means than I do? What are they going to be doing to the people who don’t have any documentation but who are doing business?”

Other vendors also complained that they had not benefited from the first batch of tourists who visited in January.

“I wasn’t able to sell anything to those tourists, not even a beer,” said one woman who operates a grocery store in Port Royal.

“The tourist dem just pass through, but dem done do all the buying already from up there (at the pier), and then when dem finish, di tourists come down here with dem belly full and barely can drink water. Then dem whisk dem off back to the cruise ship or dem send dem off to somewhere else outside the community. Di police that were here were trying to keep the tourists from interacting with the local sellers,” she charged.

One self-employed chef who operates a cookshop also said that he did not get any business from the tourists who visited.

“When I was in the town when the tourists were passing through, the majority a dem already spend off dem money before dem come here. Plus, when dem come off the ship dem already have everything up there for dem,” he said.

In the meantime, Grindley is demanding answers from the KSAMC on the status of his lease.

“There can be only one resolution, and that is for this place to be handed back to the people of Port Royal. I am not demanding it for myself. I am demanding it for us,” he said.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

Trending