Coronavirus cases climb in South Africa
The number of coronavirus cases in South Africa has jumped to 709 from 554, the country’s health minister Zweli Mkhize told a local news channel on Wednesday.
South Africa now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in sub-Saharan Africa, and public health experts are worried that the virus could overwhelm the healthcare system.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a 21-day lockdown that will begin Thursday.
Ramaphosa also introduced some of the toughest measures on the continent, including deploying the army in the streets, closing mining operations and confining recently arrived tourists.
Companies seek epidemic insurance as coronavirus affects events
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed Tuesday, making the games the biggest global event to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
As the disease continues to spread, many companies and organizations have had to cancel or postpone major events around the world. That has led to increased interest in epidemic insurance.
“We definitely do see rising demand in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak,” said Axel Rakette, a spokesperson for insurer Munich Re. “But it’s not a common product — yet.”
Events typically are protected by insurance policies in the event of cancellations. But most standard policies don’t cover cancellations caused by communicable diseases and outbreaks. Insurers offer restricted coverage for epidemics or pandemics as a buy-back, which means a higher premium, so most companies don’t opt to purchase it.
Senate agrees to $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill
WASHINGTON — The White House and Senate leaders reached an agreement early Wednesday on a massive $2 trillion coronavirus spending bill aimed at alleviating the economic impact of the outbreak.
“At last, we have a deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday. “In effect, this is a war-time investment.”
Although the full text of the bill is not yet known, lawmakers indicated on Tuesday that the Republican’s initial proposal for direct cash payments would be included.
Brazil president says coronavirus is overblown
RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jair Bolsonaro is sticking with his contention that concern about the new coronavirus is overblown and has accused Brazilian media of trying to stoke nationwide hysteria.
Bolsonaro said in a nationally televised address that the media had seized on the death toll in Italy, which he said is suffering so severely because of its elderly population and colder climate.
“The virus arrived, we are confronting it, and it will pass shortly,” he said. “Our lives have to continue, jobs should be maintained.”
Bolsonaro added that certain Brazilian states should abandon their “scorched earth” policy of prohibiting public transport, closing business and schools, and calling for mass confinement at home for their residents.
About 2,200 people in Brazil have been infected so far, with 46 dead.
Trump approves disaster declarations for Louisiana, Iowa
President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved disaster declarations for the states of Iowa and Louisiana, the White House said.
Key medical glove factories cutting staff 50 percent
Malaysia’s medical glove factories, which make most of the world’s critical hand protection, are operating at half capacity just when they’re most needed, The Associated Press has learned.
Health care workers snap gloves on as the first line of protection against catching COVID-19 from patients, and they’re crucial to protecting patients as well. But medical-grade glove supplies are running low globally, even as more feverish, sweating and coughing patients arrive in hospitals by the day.
Malaysia is by far the world’s largest medical glove supplier, producing as many as three out of four gloves on market.
The Malaysian government ordered factories to halt all manufacturing starting March 18. Then, one by one, those that make products deemed essential, including medical gloves, have been required to seek exemptions to reopen, but only with half of their workforce to reduce the risk of transmitting the new virus, according to industry reports and insider sources. The government says companies must meet domestic demand before exporting anything. The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association this week is asking for an exception.