JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have doubled in just two weeks to a quarter-million, and India on Saturday saw its biggest daily spike as its infections passed 800,000. The surging cases are raising sharp concerns about unequal treatment in the pandemic, as the wealthy hoard medical equipment and use private hospitals and the poor crowd into overwhelmed public facilities.
Globally more than 12.5 million people have been infected by the virus and over 560,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the pandemic’s true toll is much higher due to testing shortages, poor data collection in some nations and other issues.
Some of the worst-affected countries are among the world’s most unequal. South Africa leads them all on that measure, with the pandemic exposing the gap in care.
In Johannesburg, the epicenter of South Africa’s outbreak, badly needed oxygen concentrators that help COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe are hard to find as private businesses and individuals are buying them up, a public health specialist volunteering at a field hospital, Lynne Wilkinson, told The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s public hospitals are short on medical oxygen — and they are now seeing a higher proportion of deaths than private ones, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases says.
South Africa now has more than 250,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, including more than 3,800 deaths. To complicate matters, the country’s troubled power utility has announced new electricity cuts in the dead of winter as a cold front brings freezing weather. Many of the country’s urban poor live in shacks of scrap metal and wood.
And in Kenya, some have been outraged by a local newspaper report that says several governors have installed intensive care unit equipment in their homes. The country lost its first doctor to COVID-19 this week.
“The welfare, occupational safety & health of frontline workers is a non-negotiable minimum!!” the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union tweeted after her death. On Saturday, the union and other medical groups urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to implement a promised compensation package to ease the “anxiety and fear that has now gripped health care workers.”
More than 8,000 health workers across Africa have been infected, half of them in South Africa. The continent of 1.3 billion has the world’s lowest levels of health staffing and more than 560,000 cases, and the pandemic is reaching “full speed,” the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Many parts of the world are facing fresh waves of infections as they try to reopen their economies.
In India, which reported a new daily high of 27,114 cases on Saturday, nearly a dozen states have imposed a partial lockdown in high-risk areas. Cases jumped from 600,000 to more than 800,000 in nine days. People are packing India’s public hospitals as many are unable to afford private ones that generally uphold higher standards of care.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged top officials to improve infection testing and tracking, especially in states with high positivity rates.
Officials on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa said dozens of U.S. Marines have been infected at two bases there in what is feared to be a massive outbreak. The officials said the U.S. military asked that the exact figure not be released.
“We now have strong doubts that the U.S. military has taken adequate disease prevention measures,” Gov. Denny Tamaki told reporters.
In Australia, the beleaguered state of Victoria reported 216 new cases in the past 24 hours, down from the record 288 the previous day. It hopes a new six-week lockdown in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city with a population of 5 million, will curb the spread.
“We cannot pretend that doing anything other than following the rules will get us to the other side of this,” said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews.
In Latin America, where inequality is sharp and Brazil and Peru are among the world’s top five most badly hit countries, the COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping through the continent’s leadership, with two more presidents and powerful officials testing positive in the past week.
Yet developing countries are not the only ones overwhelmed. Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have hit 3 million, with over 130,000 deaths — the worst outbreak by far in the world. The surge has led to equipment shortages as well as long lines at testing sites.
Texas is among the U.S. states setting records for infections, virus hospitalizations and deaths almost daily after embarking on one of America’s fastest reopenings. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday extended a statewide disaster as the state surpassed 10,000 hospitalized patients for the first time.
“Things will get worse,” Abbott told Lubbock television station KLBK. “The worst is yet to come as we work our way through that massive increase in people testing positive.”
China Sentences Canadian to Death on Drugs Charges
(BEIJING) — China has sentenced a third Canadian citizen to death on drug charges amid a steep decline in relations between the two countries.
The Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court announced Xu Weihong’s penalty on Thursday and said an alleged accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, had been given a life sentence.
Death sentences are automatically referred to China’s highest court for review.
The brief court statement gave no details but local media in the southern Chinese city at the heart of the country’s manufacturing industry said Xu and Wen had gathered ingredients and tools and began making the drug ketamine in October 2016, then stored the final product in Xu’s home in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district.
Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms (266 pounds) of the drug from Xu’s home and another address, the reports said. Ketamine is a powerful pain killer that has become popular among club goers in China and elsewhere.
Relations between China and Canada soured over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive and the daughter of the founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei, at Vancouver’s airport in late 2018. The U.S. wants her extradited to face fraud charges over the company’s dealings with Iran. Her arrest infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China’s rise as a global technology power.
In apparent retaliation, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor, accusing them of vague national security crimes.
Soon after, China handed a death sentence to convicted Canadian drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg in a sudden retrial, and in April 2019, gave the death penalty to a Canadian citizen identified as Fan Wei in a multinational drug smuggling case.
China has also placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, including canola seed oil, in an apparent attempt to pressure Ottawa into releasing Meng.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said there was no connection between Xu’s sentencing and current China-Canada relations.
“I would like to stress that China’s judicial authorities handle the relevant case independently in strict accordance with Chinese law and legal procedures,” Wang said at a daily briefing Thursday. “This case should not inflict any impact on China-Canada relations.”
Like many Asian nations, China deals out stiff penalties for manufacturing and selling illegal drugs, including the death penalty. In December 2009, Pakistani-British businessman Akmal Shaikh was executed after being convicted of smuggling heroin, despite allegations he was mentally disturbed.
“Death sentences for drug-related crimes that are extremely dangerous will help deter and prevent such crimes,” Wang said. “China’s judicial authorities handle cases involving criminals of different nationalities in accordance with law.”
Hezbollah Will Not Escape Blame for Beirut
(Bloomberg Opinion) — As if the Lebanese haven’t suffered enough. For months, they have been caught between an economic meltdown, crumbling public services and a surging pandemic. Now they must count the dead and survey the extensive damage to their capital after two giant explosions on Tuesday.The blasts, especially the second, were so huge they were reportedly heard and felt in Cyprus. At least 100 people are reported to have been killed — that number will almost certainly rise — and thousands injured. A large expanse of the port and its immediate neighborhood lies in smoking ruin; miles away, streets are full of shattered glass.Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government says the explosions were caused when careless welding ignited about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly combustible material used as fertilizer and for bomb-making. By comparison, Timothy McVeigh used about 2.4 tons of the same chemical in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The 2015 disaster in the Chinese city of Tianjin was caused by the explosion of 800 tons of ammonium nitrate.The equivalent of 1,100 Oklahoma City-size bombs could indeed account for the devastation and the reddish mushroom cloud that plumed gaudily over the Beirut port. But it doesn’t mean Lebanese will simply accept that the explosion was an unavoidable, force majeure event.Assuming the official account holds up, the disaster again exposes the rot that is destroying the country — an especially corrosive mix of corruption, ineptitude and malign intentions.The ammonium nitrate was apparently seized in 2013 from a Moldovan-flagged ship traveling from Georgia to Mozambique. But someone — who, we don’t yet know — brought it into Beirut; instead of returning, auctioning or disposing of it, the port management inexcusably allowed it to be stored there for years.There are no prizes for guessing who in Lebanon might be interested in keeping such vast quantities of explosive material close at hand. The U.S. Treasury and Israel both believe Hezbollah controls many of Beirut’s port facilities.Diab, whose government is entirely dependent on political support from Hezbollah and its Maronite Christian allies, has vowed to hold those responsible to account. More than likely, some minor officials will be fingered for permitting improper storage of highly dangerous material.Iran-backed Hezbollah, with its large and well-armed militia as well as its political hold on the prime minister, has nothing to fear from the state. But it will not escape public opprobrium: Most Lebanese will assume the ammonium nitrate belonged to the militia, for use in Syria and against Israel.Why the chemicals exploded is another matter, rich with possibilities of conjecture. In the court of public opinion, the usual suspects will be rounded up from the ongoing shadow war between Iran and Hezbollah on one side and Israel on the other. President Donald Trump, who can be relied upon to make everything worse, speculated it was a deliberate attack. This will be picked up and amplified by conspiracy theorists in the Middle East.But suspicions of Hezbollah’s culpability will intensify on Friday when a United Nations special tribunal for Lebanon that has been looking into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is expected to issue verdicts in cases against four Hezbollah cadres being tried in absentia. The men are in hiding, and have not been seen in years; even if they are found guilty, no one expects them to be handed over. Hariri, remember, was killed in a massive blast.A guilty verdict would increase domestic pressure on Hezbollah, its allies and the government. When Lebanese have finished mourning their dead, anger will return — the kind that fueled the massive street demonstrations that brought down Diab’s predecessor last October.Even without the Beirut blasts, the timing of the verdict would have been awkward for Diab, who is struggling to negotiate an economic bailout with the International Monetary Fund: Among the hurdles is Hezbollah’s resistance to the necessary reforms. Hezbollah finds itself uncomfortably positioned as the principal backer of the government presiding over a thoroughgoing collapse of the Lebanese state and society. It will not easily shake off blame for the Beirut blast, or for the Hariri assassination. Even in this country that has suffered so much and for so long, the latest of Lebanon’s tragedies will not soon be forgotten, nor its perpetrators forgiven.(Corrects the number of Oklahoma City-size bombs that would equal the size of the Beirut explosion in the fourth paragraph.)This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Hussein Ibish is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Survivors Mark 75th Anniversary of World’s First Atomic Attack
(HIROSHIMA, Japan) — The dwindling witnesses to the world’s first atomic bombing marked its 75th anniversary Thursday, with Hiroshima’s mayor and others noting as hypocritical the Japanese government’s refusal to sign a nuclear weapons ban treaty.
Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged world leaders to more seriously commit to nuclear disarmament, pointing out Japan’s failures.
“I ask the Japanese government to heed the appeal of the (bombing survivors) to sign, ratify and become a party to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” Matsui said in his peace declaration. “As the only nation to suffer a nuclear attack, Japan must persuade the global public to unite with the spirit of Hiroshima.”
His speech highlights what survivors feel is the hypocrisy of Japan’s government, which hosts 50,000 American troops and is protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Tokyo has not signed the nuclear weapons ban treaty adopted in 2017, despite its non-nuclear pledge, a failure to act that atomic bombing survivors and pacifist groups call insincere.
The U.S. dropped its first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. The U.S. dropped a second bomb three days later on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000. Japan surrendered Aug. 15, ending World War II and its nearly half-century of aggression in Asia.
Survivors, their relatives and other participants marked the 8:15 a.m. blast anniversary with a minute of silence.
Thursday’s peace ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was scaled down because of the coronavirus pandemic. The fewer than 1,000 attendees was one-tenth of those attending in past years.
Some survivors and their relatives prayed at the park’s cenotaph before the ceremony. The registry of the atomic bombing victims is stored at the cenotaph, whose inscription reads “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the mistake.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his speech at the ceremony, said Japan is committed to nuclear weapons ban but a nuclear free world cannot be achieved overnight and that it has to start from dialogue between opposite sides.
“Japan’s position is to serve as a bridge between different sides and patiently promote their dialogue and actions to achieve a world without nuclear weapons,” Abe said. Nuclear policies are divided amid a harsh security environment, so it is necessary to create common ground first, he said.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said there is nothing in between.
”The only way to totally eliminate nuclear risk is to totally eliminate nuclear weapons,” he said in his video message from New York for the occasion.
“Seventy-five years is far too long not to have learned that the possession of nuclear weapons diminishes, rather than reinforces, security,” he said. “Today, a world without nuclear weapons seems to be slipping further from our grasp.”
An aging group of survivors, known as hibakusha, feel a growing urgency to tell their stories, in hopes of reaching a younger generation. Many peace events, including their talks, leading up to the anniversary had been cancelled due to the coronavirus, but some survivors have teamed with young students or pacifist groups to speak at online events, sometimes connecting with international audiences.
On the 75th anniversary, elderly survivors, whose average age now exceeds 83, lamented the slow progress of nuclear disarmament.
They expressed anger over what they said was the Japanese government’s reluctance to help and listen to those who suffered from the atomic bombing.
“Abe’s words and actions don’t seem to match,” said Manabu Iwasa, 47, who came to the park to pray for his father, a survivor who died at age 87 in March. “Japan apparently sides with the U.S. and make more effort toward nuclear weapons ban,” he said. “It’s frustrating, but there is not much we individuals can do.”
Keiko Ogura, 84, who survived the atomic bombing at age 8, wants non-nuclear states to pressure Japan into signing the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty. “Many survivors are offended by the prime minister of this country who does not sign the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty,” said Ogura.
She and other members of her group of English interpreters are providing a virtual tour of the park from the cenotaph, reaching out to audiences from around the world.
Survivors also urged world leaders, especially those from nuclear weapons states, to visit Hiroshima and see the reality of the atomic bombing.
UI claims and GDP growth are historically bad: Now is not the time to cut benefits that are supporting jobs
What It Really Takes To Make A Million In Your Business
Benefits of digital marketing virtual peer groups, roundtables, and masterminds
Bernice King, Ava DuVernay reflect on the legacy of John Lewis
Heavy rain threatens flood-weary Japan, Korean Peninsula
Everything New On Netflix This Weekend: July 25, 2020
Business2 weeks ago
Bernice King, Ava DuVernay reflect on the legacy of John Lewis
World News2 weeks ago
Heavy rain threatens flood-weary Japan, Korean Peninsula
Technology2 weeks ago
Everything New On Netflix This Weekend: July 25, 2020
Finance3 months ago
Will Equal Weighted Index Funds Outperform Their Benchmark Indexes?
Marketing Strategies7 months ago
Top 20 Workers’ Compensation Law Blogs & Websites To Follow in 2020
World News7 months ago
The West Blames the Wuhan Coronavirus on China’s Love of Eating Wild Animals. The Truth Is More Complex
Economy9 months ago
Newsletter: Jobs, Consumers and Wages
Finance8 months ago
$95 Grocery Budget + Weekly Menu Plan for 8