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Trump accuses states of asking for unneeded supplies and media of spreading fake news | World news


Donald Trump attempted to discredit media reports of his administration’s failures in the Covid-19 pandemic as he called some outlets in the White House press corps “fake news” at his daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday.

In a rambling introduction to a lengthy and combative briefing the president cited media reports on shortages of ventilators and personal protective equipment and said some state governors had asked for more supplies than they need.

The White House’s own projections show 100,000 Americans could be killed by the virus. On Saturday, Trump said: “There will be a lot of death”.

“It’s therefore critical certain media outlets stop spreading false information,” he said. “I could name them, but it’s the same ones, always the same ones.”

“It’s so bad for our country, so bad for the world.”

Trump then accused state governors of asking for materials which he argued they did not need.

“Many of their cupboards were bare,” he said.

Trump’s administration has sought to redefine the national strategic stockpile as a “back up” for states, and avoid co-ordinating a response to the pandemic.

Earlier, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his state, which has been especially hard-hit, had looked to China for ventilator supplies.

“We’re not yet at the apex,” said Cuomo, who described the crescendo of cases to come as “the number one point of engagement of the enemy”.

Cuomo said he had obtained 1,000 ventilators from the Chinese government with the help of billionaires Joseph and Clara Tsai and Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Oregon had loaned New York another 140, he said.

At the White House, Trump said: “We have given the governor of New York more than anybody has been given in a long time. I think he’s happy… I wouldn’t say gracious.”

He also tried to claim credit for the 1,000 ventilators sent to New York by China and said, “two very good friends of mine brought him those ventilators”.

Cuomo put the New York case load at 113,704 and the death toll at 3,565, most in New York City but with nearly 1,000 deaths in other parts of the state. At lunchtime on Saturday, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland put the national toll at nearly 279,000 cases and 7,170 deaths.

Current projections put the peak of the pandemic in New York between four and 14 days away. Officials hope physical distancing across the state will slow the spread of the disease and forestall the possibility of running out of ventilators and hospital beds.

Cuomo admitted he hoped to see the apex soon, so the experience would soon end. The pandemic, “stresses this country, this state, in a way nothing else has frankly in my lifetime”, he said.

Cuomo’s briefing from the New York state capital, Albany, offered another contrast in leadership between governor and president. While Cuomo’s briefings convey alarming statistics, his frank descriptions of shortages and personal struggles have been praised.

Cuomo said the state had a signed contract for 17,000 ventilators, which he was later told could not be filled because many had already been purchased by China.

Trump retweeted articles about hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for malaria, and then promoted the unproven drug again at the press briefing. Some researchers believe the drug shows promise as a possible treatment for Covid-19 but so far studies lack control groups and are therefore treated as anecdotal. There is no known therapeutic for Covid-19, and no vaccine.

The US federal government’s response to the outbreak has been defined by bungled testing, poor coordination, low stockpiles and planning failures. Federal failure to intervene in supply chains has led to bidding wars for masks and other personal protective equipment, governors have said.

The White House has repeatedly claimed it has 10,000 ventilators in a strategic national stockpile. However, states have reported some of those ventilators are unusable, after the Trump administration failed to ensure the stockpile was properly maintained.

Trump has repeatedly caused confusion, often following hours-long, rambling press conferences featuring attacks on the media. At one such briefing on Friday, the president said he would not follow the advice of his own health department, and wear a mask in public.

“The [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] is advising the use of non-medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure,” Trump told reporters.

“This is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”



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Trump invokes production law to compel GM to supply ventilators | US news


Donald Trump has bowed to overwhelming pressure and invoked a law that enables him to compel General Motors to mass produce breathing equipment for coronavirus sufferers.

For days the US president has resisted calls to use the Defense Production Act (DPA), claiming “we’re a country not based on nationalsing our business” and even drawing comparisons with the socialist government of Venezuela.

But Trump finally shifted position on Friday as he came under criticism from state governors, Democrats and doctors for playing down a nationwide shortage of ventilators, which enable a person with compromised lungs to keep breathing.

Covid-19 is a respiratory illness. Most who contract it recover but it can be fatal, particularly among older people and those with underlying health problems.

Trump announced he had signed a presidential memorandum directing his health secretary to use “any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators”.

He added: “Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course.

“GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.”


The decision followed 24 hours of confusion in which Trump initially expressed scepticism about the dire warnings of ventilator shortages, particularly in New York, where medical officials say the situation is desperate.

“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” he told the Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes they’ll have two ventilators, and now all of a sudden they’re saying: ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

The comments provoked a backlash and on Friday morning Trump appeared to shift gear, lambasting GM for allegedly over-promising and over-charging. In tweets littered with capital letters and exclamation marks, he also urged Ford to churn out ventilators.

“As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” he wrote. “They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B.”

The “Mary B” reference was to GM’s chief executive. Mary Barra, as Trump renewed his grievance with her for closing and selling a factory in a state vital to his re-election campaign.

He added: “General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!”

The tweet stood in sharp contrast to a message sent in May last year, praising the decision to sell.

The comments came after a New York Times report that the White House had backed away from announcing a major ventilator deal with GM and Ventec Life Systems because the cost was too high.

Trump also tweeted he might “Invoke the ‘P’”, then clarified that he meant the DPA, which grants the president power to compel companies to expand industrial production of key materials or products for national security. Small-government conservatives had urged against such a move, suggesting the threat of the law would be leverage enough.

In a separate tweet, Trump said the federal government had bought a large quantity of ventilators from a number of companies, and that details would be announced later on Friday.

Critics say Trump ignored early warnings about the threat of the pandemic and had he acted sooner, mass production of ventilators would now be well under way.

Experts warn that the US is hundreds of thousands of machines short of what it need to treat a sharply rising number of coronavirus patients.

New York, Michigan, Louisiana and Washington state are current hot spots and the total of US cases has surpassed those confirmed in China and Italy. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, by Friday there were about 94,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US and more than 1,400 deaths.

Hillary Clinton, a former New York senator and secretary of state, tweeted: “A month ago, Trump said: ‘It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.’ Yesterday, he said: ‘I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.’

“What will it take to get [him’] to listen to experts instead of his own hunches?”





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Coronavirus live news: EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tests positive | World news


French police officers patrol and control citizens while a strick lockdown comes into in effect to stop the spread of the Covid-19

French police officers patrol and control citizens while a strick lockdown comes into in effect to stop the spread of the Covid-19 Photograph: Laurent VU/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

France has suggested extending a two-week lockdown to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus as the interior minister blasted “idiots” who flout home confinement rules and put others at risk, AFP reports.

President Emmanuel Macron has ordered French residents to stay at home except for essential excursions such as going to the doctor, walking the dog, or going for a solitary run, and banned any gatherings.

For a two-week period that began Tuesday, people can go to work only if their employer cannot make tele-commuting possible.

But news reports have shown groups of friends and families strolling in parks despite the clampdown, prompting calls from some officials for even stricter limits.

Many have been observed ignoring the one-metre (three feet) safe inter-personal distance in queues at the essential businesses that were allowed to stay open.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said people ignoring the measures were “idiots”.

“There are people who underestimate the risk… There are people who think they are modern-day heroes by breaking the rules while they are in fact idiots,” he told Europe 1 radio.

Macron on Thursday urged companies and workers to continue their activities “in compliance with the health safety rules”.

Genevieve Chene, who heads France’s public health agency, said between two and four weeks are needed for the outbreak to be adequately contained.

“Within two to three weeks we should be able to observe a slightly different dynamic” to the outbreak’s momentum, she told Franceinfo radio, and “a significant braking” within two to four weeks.

“It is likely that it is indeed necessary to extend (the containment measures) in order for the braking to be sufficient,” Chene said.

Meanwhile, the French government has started requisitioning hotel rooms for homeless people to occupy during the confinement period, Housing Minister Julien Denormandie announced.

More than 170 rooms will be made available in Paris by the end of the week, and the government has identified 80 sites elsewhere across the country to accomodate the country’s estimated 250,000 homeless people.



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PMQs: Boris Johnson faces Jeremy Corbyn ahead of 2020 budget – live news | Politics


Cabinet received an update from the health secretary and the prime minister on the coronavirus outbreak. The PM wished Nadine Dorries a speedy recovery, noting that she was following official advice to self-isolate.

The chancellor set out the measures being taken to manage the impact of coronavirus, laying out details of his economic action plan that will be announced at budget.

He outlined how this plan – combined with the measures announced by the governor of the Bank of England this morning – will make the UK one of the best placed economies in the world to manage the potential impact of the virus. The chancellor added the budget will ensure businesses, the public and those in public services working on the front line against the virus get the support they need.

He said despite the impacts of the outbreak being uncertain, we have the economic tools to overcome the disruption caused by the virus and move the country forwards.

The chancellor also said that despite coronavirus being “front and centre in our minds”, the budget will implement the manifesto on which the government had been elected. He said it was vital that people know this is a budget that delivers on the promises made to the British people – investing in public services and cutting taxes for millions of hardworking people – and that there could be no delay in laying the foundations for a decade of growth where opportunity was spread equally across the UK.

The PM said that this budget starts to tackle head on the challenges facing our economy and country – addressing productivity and regional imbalances – and showing that the government is responding to the public’s desire for change. It will set the path for further action through the year.



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Coronavirus: China death toll reaches 212 after WHO declares global emergency – live news | World news






Coronavirus has been declared notifiable disease in Queensland, Australia

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I’d like to say a big thanks to everyone who sent in information, it’s been extremely helpful.

Here’s a summary of some key updates before I hand over to the Australia team, who’ll continue the coverage from Sydney:

  • The virus has spread to at least 9,320 people around the world, surpassing that of the SARS epidemic over a year long period (2002-2003).
  • 212 people have died, all in China.
  • There are 98 confirmed cases of infection outside mainland China in at least 18 countries.
  • The United States reported its first case of person-to-person transmission, joining Germany, Vietnam and Japan in recording similar incidents.
  • BA has suspended all flights to and from mainstream China until the end of February. Other countries have also implemented a flight ban, most recently Italy.
  • Almost 200 US citizens have been evacuated and have arrived at a military base in California. They will be isolated for a minimum of 72 hours. The US is said to be planning another airlift in the coming days.
  • France have evacuated 200 citizens who are currently flying back to southern France where there’ll be quarantined for 14 days. The European Commission has said it is planning a flight to evacuate more European nationals.
  • The Chinese Football Association has postponed its domestic games in 2020, and the World Athletics Indoors Championships, due to take place in the Chinese city of Nanjing in March, have been moved to 2021.
  • Google and IKEA became the latest franchises to shut their Chinese shops and offices.

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In Australia, confirmed cases of the virus have climbed to 9, but two people have been released and are “post-viral” according to the country’s health minister, Greg Hunt.

Authorities have been tracking down passengers that were on a plane with a Chinese tourist who flew from Melbourne to the Gold Coast on 27 January.

The 44-year-old man, from Wuhan, was diagnosed with coronavirus and was being treated in isolation in hospital on the Gold Coast.

The Guardian understands that at least one passenger who was on that plane to the Gold Coast has been asked to stay home from work. The passenger is not believed to be at high risk but as a precaution has been asked to remain at home for the time being.

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have confirmed that following a last-minute decision from China, dependents of British nationals and dual nationals will be allowed on to the evacuation flight.

Previously, restrictions imposed by China meant those with Chinese passports were not permitted to leave the country, and China does not recognise dual nationality.

The U-turn meant that Matt Raw and his 75-year-old mother Hazel were given permission to fly along with Raw’s wife Ying, who holds a Chinese passport.

It’s uncertain whether other families in similar situations have been given the go-ahead to board the plane, or whether they have been able to make it to the airport in time.

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