Indonesia grants Jakarta more powers to tackle coronavirus outbreak

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia approved on Tuesday a request by the Jakarta administration to impose further large-scale social restrictions on the capital, the epicentre for novel coronavirus cases in the Southeast Asian country.

President Joko Widodo has focused on combating the spread of the disease through social distancing policies, but has resisted the tough lockdown measures adopted in many countries.

Official data shows the virus has infected 2,491 people in the world’s fourth most populous country and killed 209, though a low level of testing and data showing a spike in funerals in Jakarta indicates the toll could be higher. A large portion of Indonesia’s confirmed cases are in the city region.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto signed a central government order, which was reviewed by Reuters, giving approval for the Jakarta government to impose a range of social restrictions in the city region over the next two weeks, with state agencies helping to implement them.

The restrictions include limiting religious events, defence-related activities, socio-cultural activities, and the closing of schools and workplaces.

Jakarta had already shut schools and enacted some restriction measures after declaring a state of emergency that runs until April 19, but most are voluntary and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has pushed for a tougher response.

Pandu Riono, a public health expert at the University of Indonesia, said with some of the restrictions already in place “this is just a stamp that makes it look official.”

Governor Baswedan and his representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

There has been friction between the central and local governments on social distancing measures, with some regional leaders attempting to lock down their borders to stem the coronavirus spread.

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Hundreds of thousands of Jakarta residents have left in recent weeks for their home villages to find a safe haven, or after losing their jobs, officials said.

There are also growing fears that the annual exodus of tens of millions of people to homes across the archipelago for the Muslim Ramadan holiday would accelerate the outbreak.

Indonesia said last week it would give cash to poor families to persuade them to stay in Jakarta, but the government has rejected calls for a ban on the “mudik”, as the migration is called locally.

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Spain’s coronavirus figures in decline as country hopes infections are slowing

The country’s infection figures have started to fall, with an increase of 637 deaths on Monday that brings the total death toll up to 13,055. The number of cases has been slowing, but the country has the most recorded cases in Europe – 135,000.

In Italy, another heavily impacted country the number of new cases fell by 1,031 to 1,941 on Monday, but the deaths went up to 636 in a day, more than 100 higher than the previous day.

On Monday, Austria’s chancellor revealed plans to start reducing the restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to data published by Johns Hopkins University, there have been almost 1.3 million cases and 70,800 deaths recorded around the world since the start of the crisis in China in December.

Spain is the second country in the world with he most cases after the United States.

The nation also has the second-highest number of deaths behind Italy.

Spain’s Monday’s death toll of 637 is the lowest recorded so far in almost two weeks, raising hopes that the outbreak might be slowing.

María José Sierra, deputy head of Spain’s health emergency committee, said the pandemic’s growth rate seemed to be slowing down “in almost every region” of the country.

The Spanish government intends to start testing more people, including those with no symptoms.

“It is important to know who is contaminated to be able to gradually lift Spanish citizens’ lockdown,” Foreign Minister Arancha González said in a TV interview.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said at the weekend that some measures like only allowing essential workers to work could be lifted after Easter.

Businesses, including shops and restaurants, have been shuttered since March 14.

In Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz revealed plans to ease some of the restrictions in the country after a total of 220 deaths were recorded.

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According to the French finance minister the economic contraction this year would most likely be the worst for the country since World War Two.

In France, figures showed 883 new deaths in hospitals and nursing homes, with a total death toll of 8,911 since March 1.

France’s daily toll was 315 higher than the previous day.

Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the crisis was the biggest challenge the European Union had ever come across.

She added that Germany was willing to help the bloc economically.

In the UK, prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital ICU after his symptoms worsened.

According to a spokesman the Prime Minister was in “good spirits” despite the medical emergency.

Mr Johnson is “under observation” after being hospitalised on Sunday as a precautionary measure.

On Monday 439 more people had died of Covid-19-related complications.

The latest figures brings the total death toll in the country up to 5,373.

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Aurora police officer fired after drunk driving crash

An Aurora police officer was fired after he allegedly drove his car into a tree while intoxicated and driving 55 mph in a residential neighborhood in Colorado Springs.

Interim police Chief Vanessa Wilson announced Monday that she fired Officer Jaired Dozier, who graduated from the police academy in August. As a new employee, he was still on probation and therefore can’t appeal his termination, Wilson said in a news release.

“Officer Dozier’s actions do not reflect the professionalism of those who wear this uniform and someone who should represent this organization,” Wilson said in the news release. “Since taking over as Aurora’s Interim Police Chief, I promised that I would not stand for or allow behavior like this in our agency.”

Dozier, 23, crashed his car on March 17 in a Colorado Springs neighborhood while off-duty. His car struck another vehicle parked on the side of the road, a mailbox, a school zone sign and a fence before crashing head-on into the tree and stopping, according to Colorado Springs police reports obtained by The Denver Post through a records request.

Officers estimated Dozier was traveling about 55 mph when he crashed, far above the 25 mph speed limit, the reports show. The car was moving so quickly that when it struck the tree, one of its headlights flew off and embedded in the wall of a nearby home, the reports state. The impact also snapped the tree.

Dozier was unstable on his feet at the scene, slurred his speech and smelled of alcohol, officers wrote in their reports. Dozier repeatedly told the responding officers that he worked for the Aurora Police Department.

“Mr. Dozier told me he was a police officer and I told him I was aware of that information and that it had no bearing on the investigation,” Colorado Springs Officer William Powers wrote in his report.

Dozier was transported from the scene to a hospital due to minor injuries from the crash.

“While Mr. Dozier was being evaluated I heard the doctor inquire as to the speed Mr. Dozier was driving and he said something to the effect of, ‘It’s okay, I know how to drive fast. I am a cop,’” Powers wrote in his report.

Dozier later told Powers that he drank two shots and two beers before driving, according to the reports.

Dozier faces charges of driving under the influence and careless driving in El Paso County court.

His arrest is the third time an Aurora police officer has been caught drunk driving in the past year. Officer Nate Meier passed out drunk in his department car while working on March 29, 2019. Meier was not fired by the previous police chief and did not face a criminal investigation.

Another officer, Annette Brook, was arrested on June 17 after crashing her car while driving drunk. She pleaded guilty in January to charges of driving under the influence and prohibited use of a weapon while drunk and was sentenced to home detention. Brook has since retired.

“Our officers continue to be out in our community, every single day, during this unprecedented time,” Wilson said in her statement Monday. “Their hard work and dedication should not be overshadowed with this one officer’s decisions he made while off-duty.”

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Fifteen elderly die from coronavirus at single care home in northern Portugal

LISBON (Reuters) – A total of 15 elderly people died from coronavirus at a care home in the Portuguese city of Aveiro, the worst case in a single home since the outbreak hit the southern European nation, the city’s mayor Ribau Esteves said on Monday,

Esteves told local news agency Lusa that 77 other residents and 22 staff members had tested positive last week, and guaranteed all necessary preventive measures were taken, including creating a separate area for those infected.

However Esteves blamed the national health authority DGS, saying it failed to send enough swabs to his municipality. The mayor said there were currently no resources to test residents at other care homes.

“Our hospital has nothing,” Esteves told Portuguese broadcaster RTP.

DGS could not be immediately reached for comment.

Portugal has reported 11,730 confirmed cases of the virus so far, with 311 deaths. Dozens of care homes across the country have already seen many residents and workers affected and several deaths, mainly in the north.

Visits to homes were banned nationwide after Portugal declared a state of emergency on March 18, which was extended on Thursday by 15 days, and health authorities urged homes to come up with their own contingency plans.

Care home workers fear a situation similar to that in neighboring Spain, where soldiers sent to disinfect nursing homes found elderly people dead in their beds.

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Factbox: Reaction as UK PM Johnson moved to intensive care

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care on Monday after his coronavirus symptoms worsened and he has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputize, Downing Street said.

Below is early reaction to the news:

ROYAL REACTION

Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth had been kept informed by Downing Street.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT

“All my support for Boris Johnson, his family and the British people at this difficult time. I wish him to overcome this ordeal quickly.”

IVANKA TRUMP, ADVISER TO HER FATHER U.S. PRESIDENT TRUMP

“My thoughts and prayers are with Boris Johnson and his family. Godspeed Mr Prime Minister!”

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINSTER

“Sending my best wishes to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a full and speedy recovery. My thoughts are with you and your family right now. Hope to see you back at Number 10 soon.”

MICHEL BARNIER, CHIEF EU BREXIT NEGOTIATOR

“Wishing Boris Johnson all the best and a speedy recovery. My thoughts are with you and your family.”

BRITISH POLITICAL REACTION

KEIR STARMER, LEADER OF UK’S MAIN OPPOSITION LABOUR PARTY

“Terribly sad news. All the country’s thoughts are with the Prime Minister and his family during this incredibly difficult time.”

RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER

“My thoughts tonight are with Boris Johnson and (his fiancée) Carrie Symonds. I know he’ll be getting the best care possible and will come out of this even stronger.”

DAVID CAMERON, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER

“Thinking of Boris Johnson and his family tonight. Get well soon. You are in great hands and we all want you safe, well and back in 10 Downing Street.”

THERESA MAY, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER

“My thoughts and prayers are with Boris Johnson and his family as he continues to receive treatment in hospital.”

LINDSAY HOYLE, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

“This is terrible news. I know the thoughts and prayers of everyone across the House are with the Prime Minister and his family right now. We all wish him a speedy recovery.”

LONDON MAYOR SADIQ KHAN

“Praying for the Prime Minister’s swift recovery tonight. Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS has some of the finest medical staff in the world, and he couldn’t be in safer hands.”

NICOLA STURGEON, SCOTLAND’S FIRST MINISTER

“My thoughts are with the PM and his family – sending him every good wish.”

JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

“The news that our Prime Minister has been moved to intensive care deepens our compassion for all who are seriously ill and for those caring for them. I invite all people of faith to join me in praying for Boris Johnson and his loved ones.”

EPHRAIM MIRVIS, CHIEF RABBI

“May Almighty God bless our Prime Minister as he battles against Covid-19 in hospital. May he be strengthened and granted a swift and complete recovery, together with all those who continue to suffer at the hands of this terrible virus.”

HARUN KHAN, SECRETARY GENERAL OF MUSLIM COUNCIL OF BRITAIN

“Saddened to hear that our PM Boris Johnson has been taken into intensive care. My thoughts are with him and his loved ones wishing him a speedy recovery. We know he will receive the best care and attention from our world class #NHS.”

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Albania's coronavirus cases drop but fears grow for 'time-bomb' town

TIRANA (Reuters) – Albania urged citizens on Monday to do better at social distancing after a localized rise in infections led the government to call one city a coronavirus time-bomb.

Aware of its lack of intensive care facilities if it were to suffer a surge of cases, and chastened by images of overwhelmed hospitals elsewhere, Albania imposed stringent restrictions on movement and businesses almost immediately after detecting its first two cases on March 9.

Prime Minister Edi Rama on Monday urged the roughly 100,000 citizens of Shkodra to show “iron discipline”, while also announcing a slight easing of restrictions elsewhere.

“Please show extreme care and respect the rules because Shkoder has turned into a wound-up time-bomb,” he said in his daily Facebook message.

The number of new infections in Albania fell on Monday to 16 from 28, for a total of 377 cases, of whom 22 have died.

With a population of around 2.8 million, the Balkan country has also continued to trace the contacts of confirmed cases and those with symptoms, so far conducting 2,571 tests.

But opposition parties have demanded more testing.

Health Minister Ogerta Manastirliu said another 30,000 kits had been ordered: “Experts chose the strategy of testing. We are applying the recommendations of the WHO (World Health Organization) for testing, testing, testing every suspected case.”

She said Albania had joined the WHO’s international Public Health Emergency Solidarity Trial, intended to optimize protocols for treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Rama said that if Albania had not enforced such a tough and rapid lockdown, its number of infections and deaths would be 10 times higher.

He said the government would now allow shopping trips outside the home of 90 minutes a day instead of 60, and let people drive to work as long as they did not carry family members or pensioners, the most vulnerable to the disease.

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France's coronavirus death rate accelerates, cases near 100,000

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s coronavirus figures on Monday showed that the rate of increase in fatalities – now at almost 9,000 – sped up again after several days of slowing, while the increase in people needing intensive care continued to decelerate.

The total number of cases, combining hospital and nursing home statistics, increased by 5,171 over the last 24 hours to 98,010, meaning France will likely become the fifth country, after Italy, Spain, the United States and Germany, to cross the 100,000 threshold on Tuesday.

“The pandemic hasn’t stopped expanding. The figures prove it,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said, adding that the government had decided to mass screen nursing homes which account for about 27% of the total death toll.

“We must keep up our efforts as citizens by staying at home,” Veran added. Some health officials had suggested on Sunday that French people appeared to comply less strictly to the national lockdown than in other countries.

France started including data from nursing homes last Thursday, which partially explains why the official number of deaths has more than doubled since Wednesday.

The health ministry data showed that 605 people died from COVID-19 in hospitals in the last 24 hours – a new daily record – taking hospital fatalities to 6,494. The figure represented a 10% increase, up from 6% on Sunday and 9% on Saturday.

Nursing homes deaths also rose 10% to 2,417, bringing the total to 8,911, an increase of 10% on Sunday’s tally.

A total of 7,072 serious coronavirus cases were being treated in intensive care units, Veran added, a rise of just 1.3% from Sunday, giving the French health system small but much-needed relief.

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'We are at war': Kenya halts movement to areas worst hit by coronavirus

NAIROBI (Reuters) – President Uhuru Kenyatta barred movement into and out of Kenya’s four regions most affected by the new coronavirus on Monday, including the capital Nairobi.

His order tightens restrictions already in place to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 respiratory disease it causes. It applies for 21 days and also includes the port city of Mombasa and the counties of Kilifi and Kwale.

“We are at war and we must win,” Kenyatta said in a televised address. “We must make a stand here, before COVID-19 starts to spread out of control, and we must be ready to go even further if necessary.”

African countries were not among the first hit by COVID-19 but the number of confirmed cases has increased over the last month and there have been hundreds of deaths on the continent.

South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria’s largest city Lagos have all introduced strict measures limiting people’s movement to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On Sunday, Madagascar extended containment orders for the capital Antananarivo and Toamasina for 15 days. The measures on the Indian Ocean Island suspended all public transport, imposed a daily curfew and closed government offices in the two cities.

Kenya Airports Authority said on Monday it was suspending domestic flights for 21 days at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and other local airports on the coast. Kenya Railways said on its Facebook page it was stopping its daily service between Nairobi and Mombasa.

Kenya, which has reported 158 coronavirus cases and six deaths, had already limited flights in and out of the country.

On Monday, Kenyatta also ordered Kenyans to wear masks while in public.

“This virus is unforgiving and its rate of growth, if not arrested, is exponential,” he said.

Kenyatta said a majority of the COVID-19 cases in Kenya – East Africa’s richest economy – were residents of Nairobi and the country’s coastal strip, and the new restrictions on movement were intended to prevent the virus spreading to other parts of the country.

Movement of food supplies and other cargo will continue as normal, Kenyatta said.

Restrictions already in place, including the daily nightly dusk-till-dawn curfew for the entire country, will continue, he said.

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Hold onto your clothes: Charity warns donation bins are becoming a ‘dumping ground’

Canadians who are using the novel coronavirus lockdown as a chance to do some spring cleaning are being asked to stop dropping items at some donation bins.

Diabetes Canada is one of the Canadian charities that stopped making pickups from the bins in March.

It says many of the bins are now overflowing, and are becoming a “dumping ground for well-meaning citizens.”

“The current donations at the donation bins and, in some unfortunate instances the dumping of garbage at donation bins, is posing a serious health and safety issue,” said Diabetes Canada in an open letter.

Clothing recycler Green Inspiration is also asking people to hold off on donations at its bins during the pandemic.

The Salvation Army has also temporarily shuttered its donation centres, while Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver has suspended its clothing donation pickup service.

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Trial for STEM School shooting suspect delayed due to coronavirus

The trial of one of the teenagers suspected in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting has been postponed due to the coronavirus.

The trial of Devon Erickson was set to begin May 26, but is rescheduled to Sept. 28, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the case. A motions hearing in the case scheduled for April 14 is postponed to August 17.

The postponement of the Erickson trial is one of several high-profile cases that have been pushed back due to courts limiting in-person hearings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A trial for a man charged with killing an Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputy began in March, but was later delayed until at least April 17.

Erickson’s co-defendant, Alec McKinney, pleaded guilty to murder and other charges in February in connection to the May 7 shooting. Eighteen-year-old Kendrick Castillo died in the shooting, and eight other teenagers were shot and injured in the school.

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