President says tests faulty
President John Magufuli on Sunday dismissed coronavirus test kits being used in the nation as faulty, saying they had returned positive results on samples taken from a goat and a pawpaw. The kits, which had been imported from abroad, had “technical errors,” Magufuli said. He said that after he told security forces to check the quality of the kits, they obtained several non-human samples, including from a pawpaw, a goat and a sheep, and assigned them human names and ages before submitting them to the national laboratory. The results mean it was likely that some people were testing positive when they were not infected, he said. As of Sunday, the nation had recorded 480 COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths.
Big thanks to hospital staff
An anonymous donor sent a thank-you note to the employees of Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California — along with a US$1 million check. “Thank you for standing up [and staying up!] to care for our community,” it said. “This human kindness is what makes you heroic.” The money was designated entirely for employees — nurses, cleaning staff, lab techs, medical records, even mailroom staff and security guards — who have worked at the hospital for at least one year. Full-time staff are to get US$800 this week, while part-timers will receive US$600. “There are so many people who keep the hospital running. Nurses and doctors are getting the praise, but we couldn’t do it without the staff who clean the floors, deliver supplies, fix machines, everything. It’s a team, and I’m glad the whole team is getting a thank you,” nursing supervisor Amy Loudon said.
A retired Colorado paramedic who died from COVID-19 after volunteering to help combat the pandemic in New York City was honored on Sunday as his body was returned to Denver. Paul Cary, 66, who worked 32 years as a firefighter paramedic in the Denver suburbs, died on April 30, a month after he began working in New York. A large procession of fire trucks, emergency medical service vehicles and others drove from the airport after Cary’s body was returned on Sunday night.
Easing guidance on Sunday
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday is scheduled to set out his plan to ease a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, media reports said. Stay-at-home orders imposed in late March are up for review on Thursday, but the government has already said the measures will be eased only gradually. New guidance drawn up with company bosses and trade unions suggests that office workers would be encouraged to stay at home for months to avoid overwhelming the transport system. Companies are being urged to stagger shifts, stop people sharing desks or stationery, step up hygiene measures, keep staff canteens shut and restrict the number of people in elevators. Shop or bank branch workers dealing with customers are to be protected by plastic screens, the recommendations say.
Dubai expo delayed a year
Dubai’s Expo 2020 world’s fair will be delayed to Oct. 1 next year due to the pandemic, the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions said yesterday. Bureau members had been voting on the requested delay for days, with a final tally expected by the end of this month. However, the bureau said the required two-thirds had voted to approve the delay.
Currency bill passed
Parliament has passed a bill allowing the government to slash four zeros from the rial, state media reported yesterday, after a sharp fall in the value of the currency as a result of US sanctions. The national currency is to be changed from the rial to the “toman,” which is equal to 10,000 rials, under the bill. “The bill to remove four zeros from the national currency was approved by lawmakers,” the Iran Students News Agency reported. The bill needs to be approved by the clerical body that vets legislation before it takes effect.
Egyptian workers riot
Security forces broke up a riot by Egyptian workers seeking repatriation who were being held in shelters dedicated for those in violation of the Gulf Arab state’s residency laws, the Ministry of Interior said yesterday. Security forces intervened after “riots and chaos” broke out and seized several people who would face legal measures, the statement carried on state media said. Representatives of the Egyptian embassy went to the shelter and reassured workers that repatriation flights would begin this week, the statement said. The Egyptian embassy also apologized for the riots, it said.
Rail site draws protest
Protesters yesterday blocked the entrance to a site office for a planned high-speed rail line at London’s Euston Station, saying that money should be diverted from the project to bolster health services battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Two people held a black banner across a road, forcing a truck to turn back, in what organizers said was part of day-long series of actions at sites linked to the project, called HS2. “We are here today because we very much believe that the money spent on HS2 should be redirected immediately to our NHS,” said one of the protesters, referring to the National Health Service, according to video posted on social media.
Green Party enters talks
The Green Party on Sunday agreed to enter talks about forming a government with the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael parties, but said it would withdraw if it could not agree a policy program with climate action at its core. The nation has been in political deadlock since an inconclusive election in February, with the caretaker government of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar forced to implement costly and extensive fiscal and political policies by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are conscious of the huge challenges facing any government in the COVID-19 crisis,” the Green Party said in a statement, after days of talks among its lawmakers. “Any proposal must be transformative on climate action and commit to strong progress towards a more sustainable and fairer society. If this is not the case Green Party representatives will withdraw from negotiations.”
Biden wins in Kansas
Former vice president Joe Biden easily won the Democratic primary in Kansas after a vote that wrapped up on Saturday, conducted entirely via mail-in ballots because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Associated Press on Sunday reported that Biden — the party’s presumptive nominee — received 77 percent of the vote over Senator Bernie Sanders with 23 percent. Sanders ended his campaign last month, but was still in the running when the state Democratic party started mailing ballots to voters in late March.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time, a symbolic first step as more of the country of 1.4 billion people becomes digitized — and more vulnerable to leaks and hacks. The legislation is part of China’s first civil code, a sweeping package of laws that is being deliberated during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, which began on Friday after a delay of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent draft, an individual has a right to privacy and to have their personal information protected. Data