Covid-19 climbs around the world, last day before NZ lockdown

Cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus and deaths continue to climb around the world, with many countries having significant increases.

Currently (JHU data):

  • Total confirmed 407,485
  • Total deaths 18,227
  • Total recovered 104,234

 

The February spike will be China, but the rest of the world is now picking up.

The toll across the United Kingdom rose by 87 in the last day to 422 (a 26% increase) and confirmed cases were up 21% to over 8,000. They are still having problems with crowded trains.

Spain has had more than 500 deaths in a day, making a total of 2,800 who’ve died from its 39,676 cases.

Germany has had a relatively low number of deaths from 31,991 cases but have jumped recently to 149.

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

Either the spread or detection is slow in most parts of Africa.

Conspicuous is the lack of reported cases and deaths in Russia.

Official: Russia has no ‘clear picture’ of extent of Covid-19 outbreak

Russia, which shares a border with China and has a population of 144 million, has so far reported 495 cases of the coronavirus but no confirmed fatalities.

“The problem is that the volume of testing is very low and nobody has a clear picture” of the situation in Russia and the world, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told President Vladimir Putin during a meeting.

“The picture that is unfolding is serious,” said Sobyanin

This photo from a store in Moscow suggests it is a major concern of not a problem there.

A man, wearing a protective mask, walks past empty shelves in a store, due to the fear of Covid-19 outbreak in Moscow March 17, 2020. — Reuters pic

JHU data shows 519 cases in India and 10 deaths, which seem very low for such a densely populated country.

India’s 1.3b people to enter ‘total lockdown’

India is to impose a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced.

The restrictions will apply from midnight local time and will be enforced for 21 days.

“There will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” Modi said in a televised address.

The US could soon become the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic after a ‘very large acceleration’ in cases, WHO warns

  • The US could soon become the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organisation warned Tuesday.
  • A WHO spokeswoman, Margaret Harris, noted that there had been a “very large acceleration” in cases in the US in recent days.
  • In the past 24 hours, 85% of all new coronavirus cases were in the US and Europe. In the US, 553 people have died from COVID-19.
  • President Donald Trump has refused to impose a national lockdown, however, and has instead insisted the US will soon be “open for business.”

Current John Hopkins data shows 49,768 cases in the US (third to China and Italy and ahead of Spain) and 600 deaths.

Despite this Pence says White House not considering a nationwide coronavirus lockdown (a number of states are in lockdown) and:

Trump, during Fox News coronavirus town hall, calls for re-starting economy by Easter: ‘We have to get back to work’

President Trump said Tuesday during a Fox News virtual townhall that he wants the country’s economy re-opened by Easter amid questions over how long people should stay home and businesses should remain closed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking from the Rose Garden alongside others on his coronavirus taskforce, Trump said he “would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” The holiday this year lands on April 12.

Trump argued he doesn’t want “to turn the country off” and see a continued economic downfall from the pandemic. He also said he worries the U.S. will see “suicides by the thousands” if coronavirus devastates the economy.

“We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. We don’t turn the country off,” Trump said during the interview.

“We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We don’t call up the automobile companies and say stop making cars. We have to get back to work.”

That’s contrary to how most countries are handling Covid-19, and also major US states.

And contrary to US officials:

During a coronavirus town hall with U.S. forces around the world, Defense Secretary Mark Esper estimated it could take up to 10 weeks, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley went a little further saying he expected the military to be dealing with the virus for the next three months.

Currently in Australia there are 2,139 confirmed cases and 8 deaths.

Many New Zealanders who have suddenly lost jobs in Australia and will get no Government assistance there are trying to come back here.

Australian states have taken different actions, but some restrictions have been applied to the whole country. Official information:

  • Tight new restrictions on weddings, funerals, fitness classes, beauty salons, arcades and play centres will be implemented from 11:59pm, 25 March. An international travel ban (with some exemptions) will also be introduced. Read more.
  • Some states and territories are closing their borders, meaning anyone entering will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Currently, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia have announced they will close their borders. Essential services are generally exempt from this requirement but some states require undertakings and/or evidence be provided to prove that entry into the state is essential.
  • School closures (both government and non-government) are a matter of the respective state and territory education authorities. Read more.
    (Schools aren’t being closed yet in Queensland but parents can choose to keep their children at home).
  • All pubs, licensed clubs and hotels (excluding accommodation), places of worship, gyms, indoor sporting venues, cinemas, casinos must be closed. Restaurants and cafes can offer takeaway options. Supermarkets, pharmacies and essential services can remain open. Read more.

Cases in New Zealand (confirmed and probable) jumped to 152 yesterday. We go into full lockdown (except for essential services, shops and petrol stations) at 11:59 pm tonight.

A state of emergency will be declared in Parliament today. A UBI is being considered as one option.

People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday.

 

US trade moves

It’s hard to know what Trump is trying to do with trade.

This week he threatened Mexico with tariffs, and he is now ending trade privileges with India.

This probably won’t strengthen his hand with China.

China also talking tougher.

Storms, floods and climate change

Inevitably when there are large scale storms and floods the issue of climate change comes up. It’s difficult to attribute single weather events to large scale long term changes, but it’s easy to see an association.

If there is more heat in the oceans and if there is more heat in the atmosphere then storms are more likely, and more of them will be bigger.

There has been a lot of news coverage of hurricane Harvey in the US and the very heavy rains and widespread flooding in Texas. President Trump has said  ‘Nobody’s seen anything like this’ – he is prone to exaggerating but he could be right:

WP: Catastrophic flooding ‘beyond anything experienced’ in Houston and ‘expected to worsen’

“Catastrophic flooding in the Houston metropolitan area is expected to worsen,” the National Weather Service said Sunday. It added: “This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced.”

But Texas isn’t the only place there have been floods recently.

FloodsGlobalWarming

South Asia floods: Mumbai building collapses as monsoon rains wreak havoc

Flooding across India, Nepal and Bangladesh leaves parts of cities underwater as storm moves on to Pakistan

Across the region more than 1,200 people are feared to have died and 40 million are estimated to have been affected by flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Vast swaths of land are underwater in the eastern part of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where more than 100 people have reportedly died, 3,097 villages are submerged and almost 3 million villagers have been affected by flooding, according to officials. Army personnel have joined rescuers to evacuate people from the area.

The storm reached Pakistan on Thursday, lashing the port city of Karachi, where at least 14 people have died, and streets have been submerged by water.

Sierra Leone mudslide and flood leaves more than 1,000 people dead

More than 1,000 people have died from the mudslide and flood that hit Sierra Leone’s capital nearly two weeks ago, a local leader and a minister have said during services honouring the disaster’s victims.

Thousands of people living in areas at risk during heavy rains have been evacuated.

Niger Reports 44 People Killed in Floods

At least 44 people have been killed in floods caused by torrential rains this season in Niger.

No single storm or flood can be directly linked to climate change, but an increasing number of increasingly severe floods could.

HOW CLIMATE CHANGE CONTRIBUTED TO MASSIVE FLOODS IN SOUTH ASIA

Heavy monsoon rains have caused disastrous floods and left millions displaced in South Asia. Like Harvey, climate change likely played a role.

“This is not normal,” Reaz Ahmed, the director-general of Bangladesh’s Department of Disaster Management, told CNN. “Floods this year were bigger and more intense than the previous years.”

Climate change appears to be intensifying the region’s monsoon rains. Rising sea surface temperatures in South Asia, for example, led to more moisture in the atmosphere, providing this year’s monsoon with its ammunition for torrential rainfall—much the same way abnormally high water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico intensified Harvey before it stalled over Texas.

Warmer air temperatures in high latitude regions of the globe have also increased glacier melt, which has, in turn, raised the Himalayan rivers’ water levels and heightened the risk of flooding.

Heavy Flooding and Global Warming: Is There a Connection?

Climate change increases the probability of some types of weather. Recent heavy rains and flooding in the Northeast, Midwest, and Great Plains are consistent with a warming planet, and such events are expected to become more common over time.

As average temperatures in regions across the country have gone up, more rain has fallen during the heaviest downpours. Very heavy precipitation events, defined as the heaviest one percent, now drop 67 percent more precipitation in the Northeast, 31 percent more in the Midwest and 15 percent more in the Great Plains, including the Dakotas, than they did 50 years ago.

This happens because warmer air holds more moisture.

Two things are inevitable, rain and climate debate.

Broken down plane

The RNZAF plane taking John Key, a business delegation and journalists to India has broken down and stranded them en route at Townsville, where it has stopped for refuelling.

And stranded journalists have to write about something, so there has been a lot of moaning about the breakdown.

If the Air Force 757 is relatively unreliable then there is good cause to complain. Otherwise it may be just one of those things that can happen with international travel on tight schedules.

Audrey Young writes Key should be seething over Air Force breakdown.

Key should be seething. The break down was unforgivable.

It’s embarrassing for New Zealand’s reputation as a can-do country.
Can’t even arrive.

It is not just one of those things that should be accepted an unavoidable.

Every breakdown can be avoidable just as every crash is avoidable.

The Air Force has failed at the absolute basics, to keep its planes in reasonable working order.

I think that it’s remarkable how many flights happen around the world every day with relatively few problems.

Sometimes problems occur. Young may be seething, but that won’t achieve anything except generate a headline.

It’s impossible to avoid every breakdown.

If the Air Force planes are less well maintained than normal airline practice then there are grounds for complaint.

Otherwise fuming in Townsville is pointless pontificating.

From 90% extreme poverty to 10%

The Communist Party took over China in 1949.

  • In 1981 90% of Chinese lived in ‘extreme poverty’.
  • In 1976 Mao Tse Tung died.
  • In 1978 Deng Xiaoping took power and started major economic reforms.
  • In the 1990s China’s economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty.
  • In 2010 10% of Chinese lived in ‘extreme poverty’.

This has changed as China has rapidly transitioned between socialism to a capitalist/market driven economy, just about entirely in the era of ‘neoliberalism’.

10% of 1.3 billion people is still a lot of people in extreme poverty, over 100 million people, but it is a huge improvement in living standards for Chinese people overall.

 

ChinaPoverty

Source – Share of the population living in extreme poverty, 1981 to 2010

Extreme poverty is defined as living with an income of less than 1.90$ per day. All incomes are adjusted for inflation over time and for price differences between countries and expressed in 2011 PPP international dollars.

Change has been less dramatic elsewhere but the move out of poverty has also been significant.

  • India – from 53% to 21%
  • Bangladesh from 70% to 44%
  • Uganda from 95% (1988) to 33%
  • Vietnam from 49% (1992) to 4%

 

An inappropriate welcome?

Two significant state visits to New Zealand, the first visit ever by a President of India and the first visit in 25 years by the Prime Minister of France:

Prime Minister John Key welcomed the upcoming visit to New Zealand of the President of the Republic of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee.

“New Zealand is looking forward to hosting the President on this historic visit, the first by an Indian President to New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

“It will be an opportunity to highlight our warm relationship, based on a shared Commonwealth heritage, commitment to democracy and the over 160,000 New Zealanders of Indian-origin, who make an important contribution to business, cultural and sporting life in New Zealand.”

President Mukherjee and his delegation arrive on Saturday 30 April for a series of events in Auckland, including an official welcome at Government House Auckland, a State dinner hosted by the Governor General, and talks with the Governor General and the Prime President Mukherjee leaves New Zealand on Monday 2 May.

And:

Prime Minister John Key has announced French Prime Minister Manuel Valls will visit New Zealand in the first week of May.

Prime Minister Valls and his delegation arrive on Sunday 1 May for a series of events in Auckland, including an official welcome at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, followed by a wreath laying and bilateral talks.

“This is the first time in 25 years that a French Prime Minister has visited New Zealand,” Mr Key says.

“I am pleased that New Zealand is able to host Prime Minister Valls for this short but very important visit.”

Prime Minister Valls will depart New Zealand on May 2

So these are important visits.

Is it appropriate to welcome visitors like this with aggressive looking and sounding spear and stick wielding people poking their tongue out and getting right up in the visitors faces?

Maori culture is unique and is obviously important to New Zealand.

But isn’t a more welcoming looking welcome possible?

What if a visitor asked not to be confronted like this on arrival because they found it intimidating?

What if the security people accompanying a visitor refused to allow people with weapons to come close?

Is there an alternative that also showcases Maori culture?

It’s not all noisy and confrontational, perhaps an edited more moderate version could be developed.

An extended version of a Maori welcome:

 

T20: first India, now Australia

Any thoughts that the Black Caps might struggle after Brendan McCullum’s retirement have been dispelled (for the meantime) after their second win at the World T20 tournament in India.

Batsmen have struggled for runs but both times the Black cap bowlers have prevented their opposition from overtaking modest targets. This time Mtchell McClenaghan helped the spinners, getting 3 wickets for 17.

  • New Zealand: 142 for 8
  • Australia: 134 for 9

Two from two with Pakistan and Bangladesh to go in pool play, a perfect and smart start.

The top two teams from each pool progress to the semifinals.

In the other overnight game England chased down a massive South African total of 229 for 4.

Cricinfo scoreboard

 

Great start to World T20

The Black Caps have made a great start to the World T20, beating the hosts India on a turning track.

New Zealand made a modest 126 for the loss of 7 wickets.

I just caught the last few overs where India struggled against massive Black Cap spin and were all out for 79 in 18 overs.

Spinners Santner (4), Sodhi (3) and Nathan McCullum (2) took a total of 9 wickets, with Milne picking up the final scalp.

Best of our batsmen were Anderson (34), Ronchi (21) and Santner (18) who picked up man of the match.

A great start in a tough pool for the Black Caps, in which they will also play Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, with the top two getting through to the semi finals.

Religion, rape and abuse of power

A disgusting case where a religious ‘leader’ proposes gang rape and child rape:

Saudi Religious Leader Calls for Gang Rape of Syrian Women

A prominent Saudi cleric has issued a fatwa that calls for the gang rape of Syrian women. Expressing frustration that the “warriors of Islam” fighting in Syria may be getting weary for the lack of sexual pleasure, the religious leader issued a decree that promotes hours-long “intercourse marriages.”

The cleric, Muhammed al-Arifi, who is a leading jihadist religious figure, made it clear that his edict called for the gang rape of Syrian women and girls. He specified that the “intercourse marriages” last only a few hours “in order to give each fighter a turn.” As to who is an eligible bride, the cleric approves any girls or women over the age of 14 who are widowed or divorced.

Another case of using religion as an excuse for males grossly abusing females. Religion and male domination (and extreme hypocrisy) are not uncommon.

The article also refers to the widespread abuse of women and girls in India, including…

Another teen victim of gang rape, who was pressured by the Indian police to marry one of her attackers, recently committed suicide.

Religion mixed with male abuse of power has long been a problem around the world.

Although males abusing females and children is still far too prevalant in New Zealand at least here it is mostly not directly linked to religious abuse, and it is no longer effectively condoned at an official, policing and judicial levels.