WHO urges calm as China virus death toll nears 1,900

first_imgBut Chinese officials released a study showing most patients have mild cases of the illness, and World Health Organization officials said the mortality rate was relatively low.The epidemic has triggered panic-buying in Singapore and Hong Kong, concerns about cruise-ship travel and the postponement of trade fairs, sports competitions and cultural events in China and abroad.The outbreak is threatening to put a dent in the global economy, with China paralyzed by vast quarantine measures and major firms such as iPhone maker Apple and mining giant BHP warning it could damage bottom lines.Several countries have banned travelers from China and major airlines have suspended flights. Authorities have placed about 56 million people in hard-hit central Hubei and its capital Wuhan under an unprecedented lockdown.Other cities far from the epicenter have restricted the movements of residents, with a 14-day self-quarantine for people returning to Beijing.President Xi Jinping, in a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said China’s measures were achieving “visible progress”, according to state media.’Less deadly’ than SARS The official death toll in China hit 1,868 Tuesday after another 98 people died — most in Hubei and Wuhan, where the virus emerged in December.Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, became its latest victim, sparking an outpouring of grief online.Earlier this month, the death of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang — who had been punished by authorities for sounding the alarm about the virus in late December — triggered anger and calls for political reforms on social media.Officials figures, meanwhile, showed there were nearly 1,900 new COVID-19 cases. New infections have been falling in the rest of the country for the past two weeks.WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned that it was too early to tell if the decline would continue.A study among 72,000 confirmed, suspected and clinically diagnosed cases showed that 81 percent of patients had only mild infections.Those most at risk were the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions.The study released by China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention also showed the death rate stood at 2.3 percent, falling below one percent for people in their 30s and 40s.Zhong Nanshan, a prominent expert with China’s National Health Commission, told reporters that 85 percent of patients can improve “if they have good life support, treatment conditions, and nutrients”.The research was cited by WHO officials, who said the COVID-19 illness was “less deadly” than its cousins, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).But it is higher than the mortality rate for the seasonal flu, at around 0.1 percent in the United States.Michael Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies program, said the outbreak was “very serious” and could grow, but stressed that outside Hubei the epidemic was “affecting a very, very tiny, tiny proportion of people”.There have been some 900 cases around the world, with five deaths in France, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.Cruise concerns Another 88 people tested positive for the virus on the quarantined Diamond Prince cruise ship off Yokohama in Japan, raising the number of infections to 542,The US repatriated more than 300 American passengers on Monday and Britain became the latest country to offer its citizens a way off the boat after similar plans by Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and South Korea.Attention was also turning to the Westerdam, a cruise ship in Cambodia, where many of the 2,200 people aboard passengers were allowed to disembark after all initially received a clean bill of health.An 83-year-old American woman was later diagnosed with the virus in Malaysia, raising concerns that other passengers might have been infected before flying to other countries.The WHO rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted after hundreds of passengers were infected on one vessel off Japan.”Measures should be taken proportional to the situation. Blanket measures may not help,” the WHO’s Tedros said. The death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak rose again on Tuesday but Chinese and international health officials sought to calm global nerves, citing a study showing most cases are mild and warning against excessive measures to contain the epidemic.Nearly 1,900 people have now died and more than 72,000 others infected by the virus in China, with hundreds more cases in some 25 countries.The situation remains dire at the epicenter, with the director of a hospital in the central city of Wuhan becoming the seventh medical worker to succumb to the COVID-19 illness.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Police chief aims to persuade locals over COVID-19 hospital plan in Batam

first_imgNational Police chief Gen. Idham Azis is scheduled to meet with people living on Galang Island in Riau Islands to discuss turning a former refugee camp on the island into an infectious disease hospital.Locals have objected to the government’s plan to build a hospital specifically to treat infectious diseases on the island following the country’s first confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). They claimed authorities had yet to tell them about the plan.Galang district secretary Hardianus said the police general was scheduled to meet with locals  on Sunday to explain the government’s plan. Riau Islands Police health division head Sr. Comr. M. Haris confirmed to the Post that the police chief would visit the island on Sunday.Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto and Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono visited the site on Wednesday. They were unable to say when the construction would begin but asserted construction would be completed within a month.The Post observed on Thursday that a technical team from the ministry had started working on the site. Heavy equipment, such as cranes, were also seen at the site.The hospital is expected to be able to accommodate 1,000 patients with 500 rooms, 2 percent of which would be designated as isolation rooms to comply with the recommended protocol of the World Health Organization (WHO).Galang Island is located about 50 kilometers southeast of Batam, with a bridge connecting the two islands. The 80 hectare camp was used between 1975 and 1996 to house 250,000 Vietnamese refugees fleeing their homeland during the Vietnam War.More than 12 million South Vietnamese fled after the war ended and sought political asylum in countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia; but many were cast ashore on the islands of Indonesia.Read also: Health Ministry has doctors, nurses observed after death of Singaporean in BatamInitially managed by the United Nations during the refugee crisis, Galang Refugee Camp is now under the management of the Batam Indonesia Free Trade Zone Authority (BP Batam) and is maintained as a tourist attraction that draws both former refugees and tourists to Batam Island. Several facilities at the camp and horticultural crops have been preserved in the area.Authorities have been working to persuade locals about the plan by disseminating information that was expected to calm them down.”The Sulianti Saroso [Infectious Disease] Hospital [in Jakarta] is located among cramped residential areas. However, people are not affected by it,” Haris said. “We only need spare land of 2 meters from the infected patients as a precautionary measure.”A local figure in Galang district , Anwar Sadat Pulungan, who has been living near the former refugee camp for more than 10 years, said he was worried about the plan.”All residents in the area were surprised with the sudden announcement of the hospital being built here. Why not choose vacant island that has no residents? Don’t build it here,” Anwar said. (ars) “There are pros and cons with regard to building a hospital in the former Vietnamese refugee camp,” Hardianus told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.Officials from Riau Island and Batam, as well as local councillors previously met with representatives of locals on Thursday, on the occasion of which the people voiced their objections to the plan.Read also: COVID-19: Batam authorities succeed in quarantining two ‘evaders’“The National Police chief will come here to persuade residents to agree with the plan,” Hardianus went on to say.center_img Topics :last_img read more

PREMIUMMemories of Rindu Alam: Iconic Puncak restaurant closes after four decades

first_imgOnce known as a legendary culinary landmark providing a vista of the heavenly greenery of Puncak, Bogor, West Java, the Rindu Alam restaurant is now an empty building. It was officially closed down by the local authority late last month.The famous restaurant had been around for 41 years and was a significant tourist attraction as it was perched on a cliff overlooking the Mt. Mas tea plantation. The Bogor administration shuttered the restaurant as the land-use contract had expired.The restaurant was an icon of Puncak, a popular weekend destination for Greater Jakarta residents.Proboyanti, a resident of Karadenan village in Bogor regency, said the charm of Rindu Alam never ceased to amaze her. She recalled having lunch at the restaurant fondly.”The view it offered was magnificent. No wonder the restaurant was quite a hit back then,” she told The Jakarta Post recen… Topics : Facebook Forgot Password ? Google Puncak-Pass puncak restaurant bogor Linkedin LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Log in with your social accountlast_img read more

Indonesia scrambles to contain coronavirus as most hospitals not ready

first_imgThe fast-response team is also responsible for handling surveillance and isolation of suspected COVID-19 patients and coordinating with relevant stakeholders to ensure effective containment measures to curb possible wider contagion, including at the country’s airports and sea ports.Commuters on a train from Jakarta to Bogor on March 12. (Antara/Indrianto Eko Suwarso)Jokowi reiterated that the government had prepared 132 referral hospitals across the country. “The Health Minister said there were 132 referral hospitals, from 100 previously. We will add more: 108 TNI hospitals, 53 hospitals under the National Police and 64 hospitals under state-owned enterprises,” he said.A leaked document obtained by The Jakarta Post on Friday, however, showed that out of the list of 132 hospitals, only 49 were “ready”. The document is the minutes of a meeting between several institutions including the BNPB, Health Ministry, Executive Office of the President and the offices of the Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister and Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister on March 10. The government announced three new deaths and 35 new COVID-19 cases, including two toddlers, on Friday as it scrambles to contain community spread and get referral hospitals ready to face the pandemic. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said the government had established  a “fast-response” team, led by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).Under the coordination of the BNPB, the Health Ministry, the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police, the team was tasked with, among other things, spearheading the measures to trace the movement of COVID-19 patients and those who had come in contact with them.”We know that this virus spreads rapidly. Thus we should carry out prevention and mitigation efforts simultaneously,” Jokowi said on Friday, “The government has and will continue to carry out tracing of contacts in this case.” BNPB head Doni Monardo did not confirm the information in the document to the Post, nor did he deny the content.A source who requested anonymity told the Post that in the meeting it was revealed that out of 132 hospitals designated as referral facilities “only 49 hospitals are really ready” for COVID-19, while the other 83 were in the “preparation stage”.Read also: COVID-19: Referral hospitals in West Java lack protective gear, medical equipmentSome referral hospitals for COVID-19 in West Java have reported a lack of protective gear for medical personnel who handle patients suspected of having been infected with the virus.Eight out of 52 hospitals in the province have been appointed as referral hospitals for COVID-19 patients, including Hasan Sadikin Hospital in Bandung – the largest hospital in the province – and Dr. Slamet Hospital in Garut.West Java Health Agency head Berli Hamdani Gelung Sakti said the medical team at Dr. Slamet Hospital had to transfer a patient because of a lack of protective gear, although the hospital had an adequate isolation room and other medical equipment.”The Health Ministry responded by saying it was ready to supply all the necessary protective gear requested by the referral hospitals. We are still calculating whether we have sufficient equipment [to handle COVID-19 cases],” Berli told The Jakarta Post on Monday.The agency head said he hoped the ministry could send protective gear soon to COVID-19 referral hospitals across the province because the isolation room at Hasan Sadikin Hospital was full.Raden Rara Diah Handayani, a pulmonologist at Persahabatan Hospital in Jakarta, one of the referral hospitals, said that when COVID-19 patients suffered from light pneumonia they could be cured faster. However, when they have developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), that means the patient’s lungs are already infected, causing respiratory failure, then they really need the ventilators to breathe.“And now the hospitals treating the confirmed cases of COVID-19 are facing a crisis because ventilators are expensive, but we really need this technology and equipment. This is what we are thinking right now, hospitals need more ventilators and [isolation] rooms,” Diah said in a discussion on Wednesday.“And we don’t only need the equipment but also the human resources. We need medical workers who are experienced and understand infection control,” she added.She also said the government must pay attention and protect the medical workers treating COVID-19 patients.“This disease is highly contagious. We must not only save the sick ones but also the healthy ones. We need healthy medical workers. They must be equipped with a protective suit when they treat patients. We must protect them because medical workers are the front line in this fight against the disease,” she said.In West Java, due to the limited availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hazmat suits, medical personnel of a public hospital in Tasikmalaya, West Java were forced to wear thin plastic raincoats, costing Rp 10,000 (70 US cents) apiece, when transporting patients under observation for COVID-19.“Yes, it’s true that our staff were wearing just raincoats,” Tasikmalaya Health Agency head Uus Supangat said on Wednesday as reported by tribunnews.com. “The city [administration] bought 100 plastic raincoats at the store for a total of Rp 1 million.”Read also: COVID-19: West Java medical personnel forced to use raincoats in lieu of hazmat suitsSome of the main referral hospitals have also reported that they have only a few isolation rooms. With growing numbers of positive patients, Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital (RSPI Sulianti Saroso) in North Jakarta, for example, only has 11 isolation rooms for COVID-19 patients.)On Friday, Jokowi also stated that they were going to immediately finish the construction of a health facility specializing in treating COVID-19 patients on Galang Island in Batam, Riau Islands.However, the plan to build a health facility in Galang was criticized by epidemiology experts.Syahrizal Syarief, an epidemiology expert at the University of Indonesia, said building a new hospital would be a waste of money that would have been better allocated for ventilators and protective suits for medical workers.“That’s also what we really need right now. I hope the government think thoroughly when they make policies like this,” he said.Arya Dipa contributed to this story from Bandung.Topics :last_img read more

Chile, Peru close borders as Latin America grounds flights over pandemic

first_imgStocks tumbleChile rolled out a number of coronavirus control measures as the central bank slashed interest rates by 75 points to 1.0 percent.It didn’t prevent the Santiago stock exchange closing down 14 percent, its worst fall in three decades as investors continued to panic.Stocks throughout the region were hit hard as the Sao Paulo exchange lost almost 14 percent, Argentina’s Buenos Aires exchange close to 10 percent and Colombia was down more than 15 percent before suspending trading until Tuesday.Brazil’s real closed below five to the dollar for the first time.The government then announced an emergency investment of almost 150 billion Reals (US$27.5 billion) into the economy to try to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.Chile’s closed borders caused a problem for a quarantined cruise ship in the deep south of the country.More than 200 passengers and crew aboard the Silver Explorer in the remote port of Caleta Tortel, some 2,400 kilometers south of the capital Santiago, are in lockdown after six people tested positive for coronavirus.They have been taken to hospital and health authorities want to evacuate the remaining passengers back to their home countries, but may need special permission.”We’ve taken the decision to ask the countries whose nationals are present on this ship… to conduct an evacuation operation from the Puerto Montt airbase” more than 1,00 kilometers away, said Health Minister Jaime Manalich. “Only foreign residents, diplomats and members of international organizations can enter” from Argentina and Brazil, said Paraguay’s migration director Maria de los Angeles Arriola.Due to the spate of border closures “and the subsequent fall in demand,” Latam said it was reducing operations by 70 percent, just four days after already cutting back by 30 percent.”If these unprecedented travel restrictions increase over the coming days, we’re not ruling out being forced to decrease our operations even more,” said Latam’s commercial vice-president Roberto Alvo.Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador bucked the trend, though, saying he won’t ban public gatherings or stop greeting people with “hugs” until public health officials tell him the time has come. Topics : Cuba helping Nicaragua Cuba, though, said it was allowing a British cruise ship to dock despite five people on board being infected with the coronavirus and nearly 40 others in isolation with flu-like symptoms.”We are working around the clock to arrange evacuation flights from Cuba to the UK as soon as possible for passengers on the Braemar cruise ship,” a British foreign ministry spokesman said.Cuba is also sending specialist doctors to Nicaragua to help the central American country treat COVID-19 patients.Ecuador, which has seen 58 cases and two deaths, banned tourists from the Galapagos Islands on Monday while authorities in Rio de Janeiro used megaphones to order people at the beach to go home.Rio’s Flamengo, the reigning Copa Libertadores champions, revealed that their Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus is the latest sports star to have tested positive for the virus.Honduras announced a week-long lockdown that will prevent people from going to work, using public transport or taking part in religious activities.People are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food or medicine or to go to health centers or authorized employment such as in pharmacies.center_img The announcement came as Chile revealed on Monday its number of coronavirus cases had more than doubled since Sunday to 155.Peru followed suit soon afterwards with President Martin Vizcarra announcing a two-week measure “today, from midnight.”It’s part of the state of emergency declared late on Sunday but like Chile, cargo will not be affected by the border closures.Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay confirmed partial closures of their borders, while the government in Asuncion imposed a night time curfew. Chile and Peru announced a total closure of their borders on Monday while Latin America’s largest airline said it was reducing operations by 70 percent as the region scrambled to stem the rapidly-spreading coronavirus pandemic.Latin America has registered more than 800 cases and seven deaths, according to an AFP count, after the Dominican Republic became the latest nation to report a fatality.”We’ve decided to close all our country’s terrestrial, maritime and aerial borders for the transit of foreigners,” said Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera.last_img read more

BOSF closes down facilities over COVID-19 pandemic

first_imgThe nonprofit Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) has closed down several facilities to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.BOSF chief executive officer Jamartin Sihite said he had yet to learn how the virus would affect orangutans.“In this case, not only do we have to worry about transmission between humans, but also from humans to orangutans,” he said on Tuesday. Because of this BOSF has banned visitors at several forests such as Samboja Lestari in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and Nyaru Menteng in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. Researchers and visitors are also not allowed to enter Kehje Sewen and Bukit Batikap forests in East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan.“We will close them for the time being, including the information center in Nyaru Menteng, as well as Samboja Lodge in Samboja, East Kalimantan,” Jamartin said.Read also: Jakarta closes Ancol and Monas parks, Ragunan Zoo to contain COVID-19“Even our headquarters in Bogor, West Java, is closed. Our employees are working from home.” he added. Many business trips from Bogor to Samboja or Palangkaraya have been postponed as well. Employees who are required to interact with the orangutans have to undergo temperature checks twice a day, wash hands as often as possible and wear face masks and gloves at all times.“Every disposable item must be burned at the end of their shifts,” he said, adding that the facilities would be closed for at least a month subject to later evaluation.The foundation has been supplying the employees with vitamins to keep them healthy for the last two weeks, and preparing an emergency team for orangutans should one of them contract COVID-19.“So far we are grateful that everyone is safe and healthy,” Jamartin said. (dpk)Topics :last_img read more

Challenges loom to maintain staple food supply until Idul Fitri: Economists

first_img“If rice production in April and May is according to [the ministry’s] estimation, the surplus could be a reality. But once again, the surplus pattern always fluctuates throughout the year as it follows the development of the harvest field area and added production,” he said.He added that national rice prices, which hovered at around Rp 11,750 per kg to Rp 11,900 per kg in 2020, were not reflected in the February inflation as its prices have remained stagnant since the start of the year. This is despite the current price exceeding its ceiling price, which ranges between Rp 9,950 and Rp 11,085 per kg, depending on the province.The increase in garlic prices, among other commodities, led to an increase in headline inflation instead to 2.98 percent in February from 2.68 percent in January. Indonesia recorded a benign inflation rate in March as the government’s measures to maintain food prices remain in check but eggs, onions and sugar prices still spiked during the month, BPS data showed on Thursday.Yet even with the expected surplus, the average price of garlic nationwide was still at Rp 45,350 per kilogram on Friday or double the usual price of Rp 25,000 to Rp 30,000 per kg, according to the Information Center for Strategic Food Prices (PIHPS). However, the price has slightly fallen from what was above Rp 50,000 per kg in mid-February.Sugar prices sat at Rp 18,150 per kg on Friday, exceeding the price ceiling of Rp 12,500 per kg since January as import realizations were late. Bird’s eye chili declined to Rp 44,300 per kg on Thursday from around Rp 50,000 per kg in mid-January and mid-February.Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) researcher Felippa Ann Amanta also calls the data “very optimistic”, considering how COVID-19 has disrupted the agriculture sector. She added that the current large-scale restrictions could potentially disrupt logistics for distribution, threatening food availability.“If we don’t control the coronavirus spread immediately, it is also possible to have labor shortages in the supply chain, which then would hamper food security,” she said.Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) researcher Rusli Abdullah said the tightening restrictions would also prevent many workers in Jakarta from going home to their rural areas to work during peak harvest season, delaying production.The government has remained adamant so far. The Trade Ministry said in a statement on March 25 that the average prices of rice, cooking oil, wheat flour, soy, chicken egg and red onions were “relatively stable” as of March 24. It also noted that chicken meat, curly red chili and large red chili prices decreased compared to the previous month.The Agriculture Ministry echoed the sentiment on Friday. “We have assured today that 11 staple foods are ready and under control to fulfill needs. Three commodities that faced problems, including sugar, garlic and brown onion, are now at a safe level,” Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo said during a visit to a warehouse, as quoted by a press release.Topics : Economists are warning against roadblocks that will endanger the supply of staple food and push up prices as the Ramadan and Idul Fitri holiday season approaches and the coronavirus still grips the country.Agriculture Ministry data indicates that there is a large enough supply of basic commodities until Ramadan and even a surplus of them, despite concerns over supply disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.Agriculture observers, however, are skeptical about the data. University of Lampung (Unila) agricultural economics professor Bustanul Arifin said people’s stockpiling behavior as a response to stricter social restrictions combined with the actual supply figure in the field would soon push up prices. “Don’t play around with the staple food supply. Don’t let it be empty,” he warned.Bustanul’s words reiterate numerous calls to ensure there is a sufficient supply of staple goods during the Ramadan and Idul Fitri holiday season when demand for food increases sharply. Ramadan is expected to begin on April 24, yet prices have risen well in advance despite a projected surplus until May.Among other commodities, the Agriculture Ministry data indicated that rice is expected to have a surplus of 8.35 million tons by May while the surplus for garlic will reach 263,851 tons for garlic, 584,709 tons for sugar and 68,904 tons for bird’s eye chili, among other commodities.However, Bustanul said the government had overestimated the rice surplus. His analysis showed a monthly deficit of about 1.08 million tons in February, bringing down rice stock from 4.26 million tons in January to 3.18 tons in February. He projected the supply in March will reach 3.97 million tons with an added production of 0.79 tons.last_img read more

‘I miss praying at church’: Christians celebrate lonely but hopeful Easter from home

first_imgJessica said the church members had been practicing choir and preparing events for Easter since February. They are all now canceled. She said while they understood the situation, they could not help but feel devastated about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their religious routines.“It feels lonely. […] I know we can pray anywhere, but I miss praying at church. […] This community is like a family for me. After church services end, we usually stay for a while and have lunch together, particularly on a special day like Easter,” the 18-year-old college student said.“I hope everything will go back to normal soon.”Less than a dozen Easter committee members came to the church that afternoon, including the priests, some choir members, altar boys and lectors.Talking softly to four other committee members through their face masks, Jessica operated the live-streaming mass services from her laptop, while her friends prepared the recording equipment in front of the altar. At 5 p.m. sharp, with the help of that small quiet group, the Maundy Thursday Mass live stream began and was watched by thousands of the church members from their houses.Read also: Churches turn to livestreaming, suspend activities to support social distancingIn a house in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, Joneka Hehuwat, 54, sat at her dining room table with her mother, husband and two children. Together they were watching the live stream of the Good Friday service from the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) of Kavling Polri.“Honestly it’s sad that we can’t celebrate Easter as usual. For me the meaning of Easter is more powerful than Christmas, because it’s how we all left our dark ways of life behind and started a new better life with His resurrection,” Joneka said. “But I’m grateful that I can celebrate it with my family in our home.”Joneka said some Jakartans she knew had contracted the coronavirus, and was therefore well aware that social distancing, including the cancelation of religious gatherings, was pivotal to curb the spread of the virus.By Saturday afternoon, Indonesia had reported 3,842 confirmed cases nationwide, mostly in Jakarta, which has imposed large-scale social restrictions since Friday. But while Christian communities in big cities like Jakarta can attend the Holy Week Masses online, a stable internet connection to access the live steams remains a luxury for those who live in remote areas.“I tried to do a live stream for Maundy Thursday, but the stream only worked until the first reading of the Bible, after that the internet signal went down,” Christoporus Aria Prabantara, a priest from Kristus Sahabat Kita Catholic Church in Nabire, Papua said.Paulus Christian Siswantoko of the Indonesian Bishops Conference estimated there were around 8.5 million Catholics in 37 dioceses across the country, and all so far have been compliant with the pray-from-home policy during Holy Week.Paulus said that although some regions had had difficulty providing or joining live-streamed services, they managed to access similar services through television channels and local radio programs.“We even heard that some priests at a church in Larantuka in East Nusa Tenggara used megaphones for the Holy Week Mass so that many could listen to their services,” he said.Read also: East Nusa Tenggara residents celebrate Good Friday from home amid COVID-19 pandemicChurches have also become an integral source of emotional support for many Christians during the pandemic.Bonifasius Melkyor Pando, a priest at St. Theresia Catholic Church in Central Java’s Semarang, found that some members of his congregation, in the hope to attend Mass, had gone to the church almost every Sunday even though it had been temporarily closed down since the middle of March. And every single time they had to return to their home since there was no Mass at the church.That longing for a Mass and prayers was the reason why the church held a Maundy Thursday Mass live stream on YouTube that they had never done before.“Hope is stronger than despair. Love is stronger than hatred. And life is stronger than death,”  Father Melky said in the live-streamed Good Friday Mass a day after.A number of churches under the jurisdiction of Ruteng diocese in East Nusa Tenggara have also turned to radio for Easter services, while Christians in Manado mostly used video streaming.Read also: In Jerusalem, Christians mark a sombre EasterIn Vatican City, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis celebrated Good Friday in an empty Saint Peter’s Square that would normally be packed with visitors during Holy Week.As lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are in place in many cities worldwide, Pope Francis has asked people to pray for and assist those who are homeless. — Markus Makur contributed to this story from East Manggarai and Agustinus Hari from ManadoTopics : There is no Easter like this year.Christian communities in Indonesia have seen it all in the past, from natural disasters, to terrorist attacks and persecutions, but the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in how it has changed the way Christians celebrate holy days.With the number of COVID-19 infections in the country growing, the government has asked religious communities, including more than 23 million Christians across the archipelago, to cancel any religious meetings and pray from home.center_img It was an hour before the Maundy Thursday Mass began when Jessica Juliani stood in the middle of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Kotabaru, Yogyakarta. She held a laptop to her chest. A feeling of emptiness struck her as she looked at the vacant benches and hallways inside the church that are usually packed with people on a special event like that day, she told The Jakarta Post.Maundy Thursday is celebrated in the middle of Holy Week, the week preceding Easter Sunday, one of the most important religious days, when Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion. On normal days, around 3,000 people gather at St. Anthony church. In previous years, some people have even had to join the mass from the street in front of the church because there was not enough room for everyone.But with churches closed for services as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many processions and sacred church rituals during Holy Week have been canceled. Jessica and a small number of church committee members came almost every day during Holy Week to live stream the Mass for the church’s members who pray at home.last_img read more

In a first, Missouri sues China over coronavirus economic losses

first_img“The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease,” Schmitt, a Republican, said in a statement.”They must be held accountable for their actions.”The lawsuit also accuses the Chinese government of making the pandemic worse by “hoarding” masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE).US President Donald Trump, also a Republican, initially lavished praise on China and his counterpart Xi Jinping for the official response to the outbreak, which has since spread worldwide to infect more than 2.5 million people. But he and other senior US officials have also referred to it as the “Chinese virus” and in recent days have ramped up their rhetoric.China is already facing similar lawsuits filed in US courts on behalf of US business owners.International law experts told Reuters that efforts in US courts to hold China liable for the virus would probably fail.A legal doctrine called sovereign immunity offers foreign governments broad protection from being sued in US courts, said Tom Ginsburg, a professor of international law at the University of Chicago.Ginsburg said he thought the recent flurry of lawsuits against China serves a political end for Republican leaders facing an election in November.”We are seeing a lot of people on the political right focus on the China issue to cover up for the US government’s own errors,” Ginsburg said.Trump initially downplayed the seriousness of the virus, which has killed more than 43,000 people in the United States, out of nearly 800,000 infections, by Tuesday.It has also forced state governors to declare stay-at-home orders that have shuttered businesses and social activities, leading a record 22 million people to seek unemployment benefits in the past month.”If the United States wants to bring claims against China, it will have to do so in an international forum,” said Chimène Keitner, an international law professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.”There is no civil jurisdiction over such claims in US courts.”In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also said China’s response was not under the jurisdiction of US courts, adding that it had provided updates on the outbreak to the United States since Jan. 3.”Such abuse of litigation is not conducive to the epidemic response at home in the United States and also runs counter to international cooperation,” Geng told a daily briefing on Wednesday, speaking about Missouri’s move.”What the United States should do is refute and reject such abuse of litigation.”  Missouri became on Tuesday the first US state to sue the Chinese government over its handling of the coronavirus, saying that China’s response to the outbreak that originated in the city of Wuhan brought devastating economic losses to the state.In Beijing, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry dismissed the accusation on Wednesday as “nothing short of absurdity” and lacking any factual or legal basis.The civil lawsuit, filed in federal court by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, alleges negligence, among other claims. It says Missouri and its residents suffered possibly tens of billions of dollars in economic damages, and seeks cash compensation.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Defense Ministry bans staff from using Zoom over security concerns

first_imgThe Defense Ministry recently issued a circular forbidding the usage of teleconference platform Zoom among its staff due to security concerns.The circular, which was signed by Defense Ministry secretary-general Vice Adm. Agus Setiadji, stated that all working unit and subunit heads were required to disburse the information to their subordinates. “We urge all working unit and subunit heads to refrain from using Zoom for teleconferences,” the circular stated.  Zoom has become a popular teleconferencing platform, as many companies implement work-from-home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia. Nevertheless, the application has security holes, leading companies and institutions alike to look for alternatives.Read also: Work from home: Security risks lurk in virtual meetingsA report from The Washington Post on April 3 explained that Zoom users face privacy risks, with up to 15,000 personal Zoom videos left viewable on the internet. According to The Washington Post, videos recorded on Zoom could be stored on other platforms without the participants’ consent.  Such security concerns have led other countries, such as India, to ban Zoom usage for remote government meetings. The Defense Ministry also learned that Zoom had reported traffic duplication to servers in other countries, opening up the possibility for conversations via the platform to be monitored by a third party. “Defense Ministry employees are required to coordinate with the ministry’s Data and Information Center [Pusdatin] before conducting a teleconference session,” Agus stated in the circular. The ministry has requested Pusdatin head Dominggus Pakel to find a safe alternative for teleconferencing that could be used Defense Ministry staff.Topics :last_img read more