Global vaccines program gets $8.8bn shot in the arm

first_imgGovernments around the world on Thursday pledged $8.8 billion for global vaccines alliance Gavi to help immunization programs disrupted by coronavirus, prompting calls for global cooperation to ensure a potential COVID-19 vaccine is available to all.The online meeting beat a target to raise $7.4 million to provide vaccines at a much reduced cost to 300 million children worldwide over the next five years.More than 50 countries took part as well as individuals such as billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, whose foundation pledged $1.6 billion. Doesn’t discriminate The United States pledged $1.16 billion to Gavi’s fundraising drive, and Trump sent a recorded message to the conference.”As the coronavirus has shown, there are no borders. It doesn’t discriminate,” he said.”It’s mean, it’s nasty. But we can all take care of it together… we will work hard. We will work strong.”The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 6.5 million and killed over 385,000 people since emerging in China last December, according to an AFP tally of official sources.If a vaccine is developed, Microsoft founder Gates said Gavi hoped to be able to buy it for the poorest countries.He said pharmaceutical companies had been working together to try to secure the required production capacity. “It’s been amazing, the pharmaceutical companies stepping up to say ‘yes, even if our vaccine is not the best, we will make our factories available’,” he told BBC radio. Immunizations disrupted Stay-at-home orders have been imposed across the world to stem the spread of coronavirus, causing huge economic disruption and the suspension of routine immunization programs for preventable diseases such as measles and polio.The WHO, UN children’s agency UNICEF and Gavi warned last month that vaccine services were disrupted in nearly 70 countries, affecting some 80 million children under the age of one.Polio eradication drives were suspended in dozens of countries, while measles vaccination campaigns were also put on hold in 27 countries, UNICEF said. Recent modeling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that for every coronavirus death prevented by halting vaccination campaigns in Africa, up to 140 people could die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Since it was formed in 2000, Gavi says it has helped to immunize more than 760 million children.But Berkley warned: “These historic advances in global health are now at risk of unraveling as COVID-19 causes unprecedented disruption to vaccine programs worldwide.”Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde told the meeting that her nation had seen “how the life of a helpless child is transformed to a better future through immunizations”.She added: “As much as a coordinated and cooperative global response is needed to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, we should not lose sight of the fact that the vaccine’s success is strongly linked to maintaining routine immunization.”Which means the need to maintain the supply chain and the immunization infrastructure as well.” “A vaccine must be seen as a global public good — a people’s vaccine, which a growing number of world leaders are calling for,” he said in a video message.There needs to be “global solidarity to ensure that every person, everywhere, has access”.The pandemic has exposed new ruptures in international cooperation, notably with US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the World Health Organization (WHO).But Gavi chief executive Seth Berkley insisted there must be a “global perspective”.”At the end of the day, if you have large outbreaks of COIVD anywhere in the world, it threatens the world,” he said. center_img Gavi also launched a new initiative to purchase potential COVID-19 vaccines, scale-up production and support delivery to developing nations, which raised $567 million in seed money.”Together, we rise to fulfill the greatest shared endeavor of our lifetimes — the triumph of humanity over disease,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hosted the summit.”Today we make the choice to unite, to forge a path of global cooperation.”Scientists around the world are racing to develop and test a coronavirus vaccine and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it must be available to everyone. Topics :last_img read more

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‘No benefit’ from hydroxychloroquine for virus: UK trial

first_imgA major British clinical trial has found hydroxychloroquine has “no benefit” for patients hospitalized with COVID-19, scientists said Friday, in the first large-scale study to provide results for a drug at the center of political and scientific controversy.     Hydroxychloroquine, a decades-old malaria and rheumatoid arthritis drug, has been touted as a possible treatment for the new coronavirus by high profile figures, including US President Donald Trump, and has been included in several randomized clinical trials.The University of Oxford’s Recovery trial, the biggest of these so far to come forward with findings, said that it would now stop recruiting patients to be given hydroxychloroquine “with immediate effect”. Researchers said 1,542 patients were randomly assigned to hydroxychloroquine and compared with 3,132 patients given standard hospital care alone.They found “no significant difference” in mortality after 28 days between the two groups, and no evidence that treatment with the drug shortens the amount of time spent in hospital.”This is a really important result, at last providing unequivocal evidence that hydroxychloroquine is of no value in treatment of patients hospitalized with COVID-19,” said Peter Openshaw, a professor at Imperial College London, in reaction to the results.He added that the drug was “quite toxic” so halting the trials would be of benefit to patients. Hydroxychloroquine has been in use for years but it has a number of potentially serious side effects, including heart arrhythmia.Researchers from the Recovery trial said they would share their data with the World Health Organization (WHO), which on Wednesday restarted its own trials of hydroxychloroquine.They were temporarily halted last month because of a now-retracted observational study in The Lancet medical journal that had suggested hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a related compound, were ineffective against COVID-19 and even increased the risk of death.Authors of The Lancet research said on Thursday that they could no longer vouch for the integrity of its underlying data, in the face of serious concerns raised by fellow scientists over a lack of clarity about the countries and hospitals that contributed patient information.  The scandal cast a shadow over The Lancet and another top medical journal, but it did nothing to clear up the increasingly politicized question of whether or not hydroxychloroquine works as a treatment for COVID-19.Openshaw said the Recovery trial should be credited with continuing the research until they could reach a definitive conclusion on hydroxychloroquine.”Everyone regrets that it doesn’t work, but knowing that allows us to focus on finding drugs that actually help recovery from COVID-19,” he added.Oxford professor Peter Horby, the lead investigator on the Recovery Trial, said there was probably a “very large number” of people around the world taking hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, with countries including the US, China and Brazil authorizing it.A separate clinical trial on Wednesday in the US and Canada found that taking hydroxychloroquine shortly after being exposed to COVID-19 does not work to prevent infection significantly better than a placebo.Topics : “Our conclusion is that this treatment does not reduce the risk of dying from COVID among hospital patients and that clearly has a significant importance for the way patients are treated, not only in the UK, but all around the world,” said Martin Landray, an Oxford professor of medicine and epidemiology who co-leads the study.The randomized clinical trial—considered the gold standard for clinical investigation—has recruited a total of 11,000 patients from 175 hospitals in the UK to test a range of potential treatments.Other drugs continuing to be tested include: the combination of HIV antivirals Lopinavir and Ritonavir; a low dose of the steroid Dexamethasone, typically used to reduce inflammation; antibiotic Azithromycin; and the anti inflammatory drug Tocilizumab.Researchers are also testing convalescent plasma from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19, which contains antibodies to fight the virus.last_img read more

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Pandemic propels old-school bond traders towards an electronic future

first_imgHis experience illustrates how the volatility caused by the crisis, along with a new remote mindset of working from home, has pushed more traders to go digital in a market that has historically lagged stocks and forex in electronification.That trend is reflected in the business on electronic bond-trading platforms.For example MarketAxess, one of the biggest players, enjoyed record trading volumes in March. At rival Tradeweb, average daily turnover hit a record aggregate $1 trillion in that month, a more than 41 percent year-on-year increase.Meanwhile MTS, part of the London Stock Exchange Group, said it won several large asset managers in Europe as clients during the crisis.Read also: Investors turn to government bonds amid market uncertaintyYet traders stress that dealers and clients speaking to one another will long remain a key component of the industry, especially at times of heightened volatility.Even as Rasmussen went electronic to push through his trade, for example, he was also talking to buyers to agree “switches” – swapping one type of US bond for another to share risk.The jump in electronic trading activity coincided with both a rush into government bonds as the coronavirus sparked demand for safe-haven assets, and then a sharp selloff as investors sold their most liquid assets to make up for losses elsewhere.Liquidity and transparencyElectronic trading – where transactions are carried out using software on online platforms, rather than via dealer-client “voice” trades – can carry major benefits for the $100 trillion-plus world of government and corporate debt.Regulations such as MiFID II in Europe to improve transparency have also boosted electronic trading.For one, traders executing deals can quickly gauge market depth on their screens, freeing time for more complex trades. For another, it offers lower costs for investors; two dealers estimated it to be 10 percent-30 percent cheaper than traditional voice trades.Electronic bond trading activity surges in March. Data source: MarketAxess. (Reuters Graphics/Ritvik Carvalho)Nonetheless, while most bond industry players acknowledge that much of the future is digital, many have been reluctant to go fully electronic.Around 45 percent of the European fixed-income market is electronically traded, versus 38 percent a year ago, consultancy Greenwich Associates estimates. In the $6.6 trillion-a-day currency market, 90 percent of spot trading is conducted digitally.However the COVID-19 crisis is accelerating the electronification of the bond market, according to industry players.Many such as Tony Rodriguez, US-based head of fixed income strategy at Nuveen Asset Management, said a need for greater liquidity had boosted electronic trading activity.“A lot of trades were pushed electronically because of greater liquidity and transparency – so the crisis pushed what was already in place,” he said.Andrew Falco, global head of FX and fixed income trading at Fidelity International in London credits electronic trading with allowing connectivity in a market suddenly dispersed by remote working.This kind of technology enabled the transition from working in an office to working from kitchen tables, he told Reuters.Read also: Bond financing to swell further as Finance Ministry plans to issue samurai bondsHe said some lessons had been learned about this last year when Fidelity’s Hong Kong team struggled to work in the office because of the unrest roiling the city.“So for us in 2020, we finessed the e-trading home set-up and ensured it worked well, whether it was in HK, Shanghai, Dublin or the UK,” he added.‘Imagine this 25 years ago’For the banks who provide dealer and execution services, though, the electronic shift may be eating into fixed-income revenues; during the March quarter, earnings from bond trading at the world’s biggest 12 banks remained below levels seen in 2014, research firm Coalition calculates.But they too are accelerating the push to digital services, particularly for the automation that helps them when volatility spikes.JP Morgan, for instance, uses an algorithm to help generate price quotes on its forward FX platform, which includes bonds, fielding “hundreds of thousands of enquiries” and transacting “thousands of trades a day” during the crisis, said Tom Prickett, co-head of EMEA rates at the bank.Another big player, Goldman Sachs, said clients ramped up calls for the electronification and automation of companies’ bond sales, until now a slow process conducted manually.“The crisis revealed some of those shortcomings in bright lights,” said David Wilkins, Goldman’s head of FICC execution services in EMEA.Investors and traders acknowledged that digital technology had been a saviour during the pandemic, a view expressed across a host of industries.Read also: Investing in bonds safe bet amid market volatility: Experts“Imagine something like this happening 25 years ago, when emails didn’t exist, electronic communication was not really there,” said Zoeb Sachee, head of euro linear rates trading at Citibank who oversees government bond trading in European markets.The old and the newBut, for the foreseeable future at least, the bond market is likely to encompass the old and the new: technology as well as traditional trading models based on dealer-client relationships.Traders of European investment-grade corporate bonds during the crisis often negotiated deals by phone before using a platform to settle, according to an International Capital Market Association (ICMA) report.“Bond markets are very much relationship-driven and I don’t see how that goes away,” said report author Andy Hill.This was echoed by Falco at Fidelity.“The view that we felt as a team was that we would use technology where we had confidence in the price that we could see on the screen, and when we didn’t have the confidence in the price, we would execute manually.”Topics : The mammoth bond market has long been the old-school bastion of the financial world, but the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a light on its future – and it looks electronic. Well, mainly.At the height of the market panic in March, Seattle-based Brandon Rasmussen, a senior fixed-income trader at US$300 billion asset manager Russell Investments, had a client order to sell $2.5 billion worth of United States Treasuries.He found, though, that such a transaction was near-impossible in a highly volatile market that made no exceptions for even one of the world’s most sought-after assets. Dealers refused to quote prices by phone, adding to the stress of executing a large order without distorting the market.Read also: Retail govt bond coupon of 6.4% attractive for investors: AnalystsThe solution Rasmussen eventually settled on was to break the order up into smaller chunks and process them electronically – something he may not have considered a few weeks earlier.“The feedback that we got from dealers was that they were not quoting on the phone. They couldn’t do that, they couldn’t keep up with that,” he said. “I think what this crisis has shown is that really if you weren’t trading electronically, you should be trading electronically.”last_img read more

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Questions mount over Israel action on ‘annexation’ date

first_imgInternational criticism While the US has offered tacit support for immediate annexation as part of the Trump plan, most of the international community is vocally opposed to the project. Writing in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Wednesday, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that although he was a “passionate defender of Israel,” he viewed annexation as “contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.””Annexation would represent a violation of international law,” he said.France, Germany along with several other European states and the United Nations all oppose annexation, as do Gulf Arab states, with which Israel has increasingly sought warmer ties. Jordan, one of only two Arab nations that has diplomatic ties with Israel, has warned that annexation could trigger a “massive conflict” and has not ruled out reviewing its 1994 peace treaty with the Jewish state.   Application of “sovereignty” is a term used widely in Israel to refer to what the international community views as annexation and a breach of international law.Alternate prime minister and defense minister Benny Gantz said this week that annexation must wait until the coronavirus crisis has been contained.Gantz is due to take over as prime minister in November 2021 under the terms of a coalition deal. Netanyahu met on Tuesday with US Ambassador David Friedman, a staunch supporter of Jewish West Bank settlers and of annexation.”I discussed the question of sovereignty, which we are currently working on and will continue to work on in the coming days,” Netanyahu said after the meeting.Netanyahu may still move forward, either later on Wednesday or in the days ahead, with Israeli media suggesting he may announce a merely symbolic move, like the annexation of one settlement on Jerusalem’s outskirts.  But experts have noted that he is keenly watching the US presidential election and may still want to act decisively before January if he fears Trump will not win a second term. Presumptive Democratic party nominee Joe Biden is opposed to any unilateral annexations by Israel.   Expectations of a major Israeli announcement on controversial annexations in the occupied West Bank dimmed Wednesday, as global criticism of the project mounted and Palestinian protesters began gathering in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government had set July 1 as the date from which it could begin implementing US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.The Trump plan, unveiled at the White House in January, offered a path for Israel to annex territory and Jewish West Bank settlements, communities considered illegal under international law.  Netanyahu has voiced enthusiastic support for the Trump plan — which has been roundly rejected by the Palestinians — but the right-wing premier has not revealed his intentions for enacting the US proposals. In the hours ahead of the self-imposed July 1 kick-off date, a growing chorus of Israeli officials indicated that a major announcement was not imminent. And on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, a Netanyahu political rival now serving in the center-right coalition, told army radio that he thought it was “unlikely something would happen today.”But, he added: “I don’t know if there will be a statement today on the application of sovereignty. That is a question you have to ask Prime Minister Netanyahu.”center_img Topics : Palestinian protesters gather The Palestinians have called for protests against the Trump proposals on Wednesday in the Jordan Valley, Ramallah — the West Bank seat of the Palestinian Authority — and in the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement.Protesters began gathering in Gaza City ahead of a demonstration scheduled for 11am (0800 GMT) local time, while rallies in the West Bank were due to start in the early afternoon.The Palestinians have said they are willing to renew long-stalled talks with Israel — but not on terms outlined in the Trump plan.  Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, says that Israeli annexations in the West Bank would be a “declaration of war”.The Islamist group launched some 20 test rockets from Gaza into the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, a move aimed at dissuading Israel from moving forward, Hamas sources told AFP. Israel annexed east Jerusalem following the 1967 Six Day War and then the Golan Heights on the Syrian border in 1981, in moves never recognized by most of the international community. last_img read more

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No ‘mudik’ ban for Idul Adha, Transportation Minister says

first_imgThere will be no ban on mudik (exodus) during Idul Adha (Day of Sacrifice) this year despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Transportation Ministry Budi Karya Sumadi said on Tuesday.Budi said he had asked all transportation operators to enforce safety and health protocols established by the national COVID-19 task force circular on travel requirements.“We’re striving to build public trust to feel confident using public transportation such as buses, trains, planes and ships,” he said in a press release published on Tuesday. The recent COVID-19 task force circular on travel stipulated that domestic travelers using public transportation were required to show negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or rapid test results in a test taken no more than 14 days before the day of travel. Alternatively, travelers could show a symptom-free testimonial from a doctor if COVID-19 testing was not available in their area. The regulation requires travelers to install the PeduliLindungi surveillance app, used to trace and track suspected carriers of the virus as well as confirmed COVID-19 patients on their mobile phones.The minister urged the public to obey other health protocols, such as wearing face masks and face shields, maintaining physical distance and frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer use.He also instructed employees of the ministry to anticipate a spike in vehicle and passenger traffic as the Idul Adha holiday approached. The holiday is expected to begin on Friday.“We have taken anticipatory measures at transportation nodes, on national roads and toll roads and in tourist areas where we predict increased vehicle flow because of the long weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Budi said.Topics :last_img read more

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Indonesia grants oil and gas companies flexibility over production sharing contracts

first_imgHowever, while gross split schemes are no longer mandatory, the ministry still reserves the right to make the final decision under Article 2 (1) of the law, the ministry’s said in a statement.The ministry added that existing contracts would remain valid but companies using a cost recovery scheme may request a switch to a gross split scheme.The energy minister will also get to pick the scheme for oil and gas blocks assigned directly to state-owned oil giant Pertamina.Acting energy minister Arifin Tasrif first mentioned a plan to make contracts more flexible at a meeting with the House of Representatives in November last year, citing requests by companies to allow them to operate under different schemes that took into consideration the geographical conditions of each oil and gas field.“If the field is riskier and more remote, they will choose a cost recovery scheme,” he said. “If it’s gross split, they’ll be happier to use it for existing fields because the potential is clear and thus, the risks are lower.”Read also: Oil industry welcomes possible return of cost recovery schemeThe Indonesian Petroleum Association (IPA), whose members comprise oil and gas multinationals operating in the country, said the regulatory change gave companies more flexibility to maximize project economics.“Every oil and gas project has different characteristics. Whether we use gross split or cost recovery [schemes] very much depends on each project’s characteristics,” said IPA executive director Marjolijn Wajong in a statement on Monday.Meanwhile, the Oil and Gas Companies Association (Asper Migas), whose members are exclusively Indonesian businesses, said that investors were more deterred by Plan of Developments (POD) approval delays and hidden costs than by the limited choice of PSC schemes types.“Cost recovery and gross split [schemes] are essentially the same thing,” said Asper Migas chairman John Karamoy, also on Monday. “Investors want it such that their margins do not change no matter how regulations change. That’s legal certainty from an investor’s perspective.” Oil and gas companies in Indonesia may now choose to either use a cost recovery or gross split-based production sharing contract (PSC) thanks to a recently issued regulation.Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Ministerial Regulation No. 12/2020, signed on July 15, revokes a rule that had made use of a gross split scheme mandatory for new or renewed PSCs over the past three years.In a cost recovery-based PSC, the government reimburses companies for upstream-related costs in exchange for a higher share – up to 85 percent – for each company’s earnings from exploiting domestic oil and gas blocks. Meanwhile, in the so-called gross split scheme, companies bear upstream costs themselves, but the government receives a smaller cut of the revenue – up to 57 percent – determined in advance.“These changes are to intended to provide legal certainty and improve investment in the oil and gas industry,” the ministry statement released on Saturday reads.The energy ministry made gross split schemes compulsory under regulation No. 8/2017 to cut reimbursement spending, which reached into the billions of US dollars. However, the decision received a lukewarm response from investors.Read also: Gross split scheme to stay — with slight improvementscenter_img Topics :last_img read more

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Qatar sends field hospitals to Lebanon

first_imgQatar began flying field hospitals and medical aid to Beirut Wednesday, AFP correspondents saw, to ease pressure on Lebanon’s strained medical system after the previous day’s devastating explosions.Crews at Qatar’s Al-Udeid airbase loaded collapsible beds, generators and burn sheets onto an Emiri Air Force C17 cargo plane, which subsequently took off for Lebanon.It was one of four due to fly from the Gulf to the Mediterranean country Wednesday. Officers estimated at least 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms) of aid would be flown on the inaugural flight, with two hospital units equipped with up to 550 beds due in Beirut by day’s end.Tens of thousands of people were left homeless and thousands more crammed into Beirut’s overwhelmed hospitals for treatment following Tuesday’s catastrophic incident.Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said on Tuesday that he spoke to Lebanese President Michel Aoun in the wake of the explosions at Beirut’s port and offered the medical aid.Qatar was ready “to provide immediate support following the explosion at the port,” he tweeted. Workers placed personal protective equipment kits on the seats of crew bound for Rafic Hariri airport in Beirut, which was already in the midst of a medical crisis amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases.”If there’s news about humanitarian stuff, there’s a high probability we’ll be on one of the flights,” said one of the pilots on the first of the aid relays to Lebanon from behind the controls of the Globemaster aircraft.Around him crew and loadmasters secured the frames that will form the field hospitals that Lebanese media reported will be erected at strategic points around the capital Beirut.Pilots at Al-Udeid, the largest airstrip in the Middle East and also the United States’ biggest airbase in the region, have been involved in COVID-19 relief flights in recent months.Gas-rich Qatar has sent extensive medical aid to its allies including China and Italy throughout the coronavirus pandemic as it uses its logistical clout and deep pockets to cement diplomatic ties.Commanding officers “started calling last night, giving orders to prepare. It’s not a normal flight, but it’s part of the job,” said a second pilot on the first flight to leave. center_img Topics :last_img read more

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NGOs, volunteers take part in health education initiatives for COVID-19

first_imgSeveral nongovernment organizations have launched initiatives to encourage people to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19 in Jakarta, the country’s first epicenter of the pandemic and which is still confronting an increasing number of new cases.The outbreak in Jakarta, with confirmed cases totaling 26,162 by Monday, persists but the number of people exercising self-restraint seems to be in decline, according to the Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) after recording an increasing number of violations of health protocols in public.Experts have attributed the lack of awareness and discipline in following health protocols among the public to a poor communication strategy by the relevant authorities. Read also: Jakarta collects Rp 1 billion in fines as it reopens the economyThe overabundance of fast-moving COVID-19 information, some accurate and some not, overwhelmed the rather independent local task force, prompting it to seek help from professionals. It was only until recently that Halimah got a chance to contact a person from international humanitarian NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).MSF Indonesia eventually stepped in by holding 10 meetings in June and July to help the locals learn basic information about the outbreak — each session lasted two hours and involved a small group of 10 participants to ensure strict social distancing.Halimah said many of her neighbors now had a better understanding of the disease thanks to the interactive learning method the MSF offered.“They [the participants] are now sharing what they have learned with others. People may be bored with staying at home for too long. But from what I have seen so far, people in RW 05 always wear masks each time they go outside,” she said.Read also: Highest daily spike sees Jakarta logging 658 new COVID-19 casesMSF Indonesia deputy medical coordinator and an instructor of the RW 05 program, Dirna Mayasari, said that before and after the sessions, participants filled in questionnaires aimed at discerning how they perceived the disease. The questionnaires included simple questions such as their thoughts when first hearing about COVID-19 and whether they feared catching the disease.“At first glance, that [questionnaire] might just be an ordinary thing. But we believe it helps people change their behavior toward the disease,” Dirna said. “For instance, Puskesmas [community health center] officials said more people showed up for the rapid test. Rapid testing was once quite an issue because residents worried that they might test ‘reactive’ [indicating virus exposure].”“Now we are thinking about what needs to be addressed next,” she added.Another international humanitarian organization Islamic Relief has also taken part in an independent health education program for people living in three subdistricts, namely Karet Kuningan and Kalibata in South Jakarta, as well as Dukuh in East Jakarta.The organization conducted a door-to-door session, in collaboration with Jakarta-based nature lovers community TRAMP and local volunteers as facilitators.Read also: Stigma, precarity deter Indonesians from getting tested for COVID-19The program indicated that even after five months, many people still had different levels of understanding about the disease, said Deddy Darmawan, a hygiene promotion specialist at Islamic Relief Indonesia, who is also a member of the Jakarta branch of Indonesian Public Health Specialist (IAKMI Jakarta).Even though some people were aware of the disease, others were still reluctant to receive information from the facilitators. “Hence, we try to educate them by showing examples related to their daily lives,” he told The Jakarta Post.The house visit program ended on July 20 but the team is mulling over an evaluation to assess “how far this intervention has benefited people”.“Behavioral changes need time […] but at least the evaluation will ask whether they still remember and practice the message conveyed,” he said.A local volunteer in the program, Tince Sudartini, 62, told the Post that she observed that some neighbors were more aware of the disease after her visit.Tince, as someone from an age group vulnerable to the disease, said she hoped people would never underestimate the disease and that everyone would implement health protocols.Topics : A recent survey by the Lapor COVID-19 community movement and Nanyang Technological University’s Social Resilience Lab revealed a lack of concern by Jakartans about COVID-19 risks. The survey polled 154,471 people from all walks of life in Jakarta.Community unit (RW) 05 in Kalibata, South Jakarta, was declared a COVID-19 “red zone”, or high-risk area, not long after it recorded the first two confirmed cases in May. Residents were quick to impose what they described as a local quarantine by limiting access to the area.Despite these attempts, they actually had no idea about the dos and don’ts at the time, a representative said.“Two cases were reported just after the community’s COVID-19 task force was established. We [the task force] were confused about what to do, let alone the residents,” Halimah, a member of the RW 05 task force, said in a virtual public discussion on Thursday. “People kept asking but we could only tell them to stay at home as per the government’s instruction.”last_img read more

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Trump says to host Mideast deal signing in three weeks

first_img“That was a tremendous thing that happened. We have a lot of other interesting things going on with other nations also having to do with peace agreements and a lot of big news is coming over the next few weeks,” Trump said.”I am sure you will be very impressed and more importantly it’s great for our country, a great thing for the world.”Crucial to the UAE decision to forge ties with Israel is a commitment by Netanyahu to halt his plans to annex swaths of Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank.But speaking alongside Trump, the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said the Jewish state had not abandoned the plan.”It’s just something that will be deferred until we give peace every single chance,” Friedman told reporters.While Friedman echoed Netanyahu in saying that the annexation plan remained “on the table,” Trump himself was more circumspect.”I can’t talk about some time into the future, that’s a big statement. Right now it’s off the table,” he said.”They agreed not to do it. I think it’s very important, it’s a great concession and it’s a very smart concession.” The leaders of Israel and the United Arab Emirates will sign their historic peace accord in the White House in around three weeks, US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday.Trump, speaking at press conference hours after the deal was announced, praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the UAE’s ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan as “fantastic” partners who had demonstrated “vision and leadership.””I look forward to hosting them at the White House very soon to formally sign the agreement,” he told reporters. Topics :center_img “We’ll probably be doing it over the next, I would say, three weeks.”The summit will evoke memories of previous Middle East peace signings in the United States including the inking of the Oslo Accords in 1993 which brought the late Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat together in Washington.US President Jimmy Carter also hosted the signing of the Camp David Accords between Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin in 1978.Trump hinted that the UAE may not be the last country to strike a deal with Israel which so far has only had formal diplomatic relations with two other Arab nations, Egypt and Jordan.last_img read more

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Airbnb files for initial public offering

first_imgHome-sharing startup Airbnb on Wednesday said it has confidentially filed with US regulators for an initial public offering.The number of shares and price has yet to be determined, according to the San Francisco-based company.The move comes as the travel industry suffers an economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic amid slowdowns in tourism. “Eventually, the market will reflect the unemployment. So better to IPO before things get really bad and they have to wait a few years.”Airbnb has been working with local authorities, charities and tourist agencies to entice potential visitors and stimulate economic activity.”The travel industry, including Airbnb has been hit hard by COVID-19 and there will continue to be tremendous uncertainty,” the company said in a June blog post.”But, our booking data shows that travel is beginning to bounce back.”Earlier this year the company slashed a quarter of its workforce — around 1,900 people — as the coronavirus pandemic crushed the travel industry.The cuts were needed for the company to survive until people started traveling again, Airbnb co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky said in a blog post at the time.The company recently announced new cleaning “protocols” to reassure travelers. Airbnb last week began testing in Britain, France and Spain a ban on people younger than 25 with fewer than three positive ratings from renting entire homes close to where they live to avoid them being used for big parties.It followed similar measures in the United States and Canada, and a strengthening of an Airbnb ban on gatherings that violate public health mandates in response to the coronavirus pandemic.Airbnb began cracking down last year as rowdy parties were causing problems with neighbors, and the coronavirus pandemic ramped up concern about events where social distancing measures are flouted. Airbnb recently said it had seen bookings begin to “bounce back” and unveiled an initiative to promote short-range travel as pandemic restrictions ease.”It does look like people are a bit more comfortable going someplace and staying in a person’s house instead of a hotel,” said technology analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.Chances that the US stock market could crater later this year due to unemployment and ebbing stimulus money was likely a factor in the decision by Airbnb to go public at a time when the travel industry is struggling, the analyst added.”Airbnb is moving now because the market is hot, people are staying at Airbnb properties, and the market could go south,” Enderle said.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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