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#CoronavirusGlobalResponse – EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to Peru and €30.5 million for Latin America and the Caribbean


As part of the EU’s global coronavirus response, an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge operation consisting of three flights to Lima, Peru this week is delivering a total of more than four tonnes of life-saving materials to humanitarian organizations active in the country. At the same time, the EU has announced €30.5 million in humanitarian assistance to support the most vulnerable in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2020.

“At this critical time, the EU continues to support those in need in Peru and in the whole of Latin America. The coronavirus pandemic places huge logistical pressure on the humanitarian community, while the needs remain high in critical areas. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the EU, Spain and the Peruvian authorities, vital assistance was delivered to help the people of Peru tackle this pandemic,” said Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič.

Of the funding announced today, €15.5m are for disaster preparedness of vulnerable communities across Latin America and the Caribbean and to ensure they are ready to face the multiple natural hazards hitting the region. The remaining €15m will continue supporting humanitarian projects in Central and South America and in the Caribbean. The full press release is available online.



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Douglas Todd: ‘Birth tourism’ jumps 22 per cent in B.C.


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St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver is also fast turning into a hub for birth citizenship, experiencing a 38 per cent rise in births by non-resident women, one in seven of the total.

Virtually no country outside North and South America provides citizenship to babies solely because they’re born on their soil.

The newly released figures show there were 4,400 births in Canada in the past year to non-resident mothers, an overall hike of seven per cent. Ontario doctors still preside over the most non-resident births, 3,109, with one hospital in Toronto, Humber River, having a sudden jump of more than 119 per cent.

But Ontario’s volume of privately funded procedures has not risen nearly as fast as in B.C., which had a total of 868 non-resident births. That’s a six-fold increase from 2010.

Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information/Andrew Griffith

The new data, compiled by Andrew Griffith, a former senior director of the federal Immigration Department, comes from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which captures billing information directly from hospitals up until the end of March. It doesn’t include births in Quebec.

Birth tourism has recently been strongly condemned by Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Liberal MLA Jas Johal (Richmond-Queensborough), former Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido (Richmond East), the head of Doctors of B.C. and others.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, which controls immigration policy, has been silent on the matter. Former Conservative party Leader Andrew Scheer said in 2018 he would end birth tourism. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has accused those who raise the issue of being guilty of “division and hate.”



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Staying off school would cause more damage to children than Covid-19 itself, English Chief Medical Officer warns – Channel 4 News


It’s all a balance of risks.

The long term risks to children if they miss even more time at school – versus the risks of re-opening classrooms again – and the huge challenge faced by teachers and parents in trying to keep them safe.

A new study by Public Health England has suggested the chances of transmission within schools is low – but teaching unions want the Government to come up with a Plan B if there’s another wave of infections.

 



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Search for diver who disappeared after jumping off a cliff into a Quebec lake – Montreal



The search resumed Sunday morning with the help of divers from the Sûreté du Québc (SQ), to find a swimmer who dived into a lake in Harrington in the Laurentians and hasn’t been seen since his friends lost sight of him.

Police were notified at around 6 p.m. on Saturday that a young man in his 20s was missing after an outing with friends at Grand MacDonald Lake near Deer Head Road.

READ MORE: St-Lazare family raises awareness about pool safety; Quebec sees spike in drownings

“He allegedly jumped off a cliff into Lake MacDonald. He later surfaced and swam back to their boat, but his friends lost sight of him and he hasn’t been seen since,” said Valérie Beauchamp, spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec.

Firefighters searched the water with their boats all evening while SQ patrollers scoured the shores and surroundings of the lake, but to no avail. The search was suspended around 8:45 p.m. and resumed in daylight on Sunday, this time with the help of SQ divers.

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#Kazakhstan proposes 15% tax on #Bitcoin mining to help combat #Coronavirus



Kazakhstan Proposes 15% Tax on Bitcoin Mining to Help Combat Coronavirus

Kazakhstan has proposed legislation that would see a 15% tax imposed on bitcoin mining firms. This is part of efforts to raise money to help with the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Proposed by the country’s ministry of economy, the new tax plan requires bitcoin (BTC) miners to first file an application for registration with the authorities, according to a recent report by a local Russian publication.

After this, the taxpayer must then indicate the 15% tax on their annual tax calculations. The report notes that “the clause on registration makes the bill unique… the taxpayer working with cryptocurrencies stands apart from the very beginning of filing a tax return”.

Funds raised from the draft tax will be channeled toward building the infrastructure that is needed to combat COVID-19 while also giving the economy a boost. The disease has so far killed nearly 1,300 Kazakhs, with more than 100,000 infected, official data shows.

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet state in central Asia, accounts for about 8% of the global bitcoin hashrate total, says crypto research company Bitooda. Together with Iran and Russia, the country boasts the world’s third-largest BTC mining industry.

Miners are typically drawn to Kazakhstan’s cheap electricity, which averages 3 cents per kilowatt-hour.

In June, Kazakh Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry Minister Askar Zhumagaliyev revealed that a total of 14 bitcoin mining companies were operating in the country’s north.

Over the next three years, the country is targeting up to $738 million of investment from crypto-related activities, particularly mining, he said.

According to the Russian publication, the Kazakh government is also planning to introduce legislation to regulate the cryptocurrency industry. The new laws are expected to set new electricity tariffs for the crypto mining sector.



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Oxford coronavirus vaccine generates promising Phase 1/2 results: Study


A team of scientists at the University of Oxford released promising results showing their COVID-19 vaccine appears safe in an early-stage study — welcome news for one of the most advanced vaccine programs in the world.

The Phase 1/2 results, published Monday in the scientific journal The Lancet, also showed that the vaccine triggered an immune system response, according to blood samples taken from study volunteers.

“What we’re reporting today is the result of a phase 1 trial in over 1000 people looking at how well this vaccine performs both in terms of its safety, which is good and its immune responses which are pretty exciting,” Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Oxford Jenner Institute, told ABC News.

This finding gives researchers a promising hint at the vaccine’s effectiveness, but experts say only the results of an ongoing, massive Phase 3 study will show if the vaccine really works to protect people from COVID-19 infection.

Nevertheless, researchers were encouraged to see in this Phase 1/2 study that the Oxford vaccine appeared to activate several parts of the immune system. The vaccine was safe, with no serious adverse effects, although some people reported side effects like fatigue and headache.

The University of Oxford has partnered with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which received a $1.2 billion investment from the U.S. government to help speed up development and ensure U.S. citizens have access to the vaccine should it prove successful.

The Oxford vaccine is one of 23 vaccine candidates currently being tested in studies in people across the globe, according to the World Health Organization.

Two Chinese companies — Sinovac and Sinopharm — have also begun Phase 3 trials. Meanwhile, two other vaccine efforts — one from Moderna and the other from Pfizer and BioNTech — are slated to begin Phase 3 trials this month and have already released Phase 1 results that also appear to be able to trigger multiple parts of the immune system.

The Oxford vaccine uses vaccine technology that contains the virus’s genetic material, but does not actively replicate inside the body, meaning it shouldn’t make people sick.

Instead, it is designed to trigger an immune system response which, once primed, should be ready to attack the novel coronavirus if a person were to be exposed.

By analyzing blood from the more than 1,000 study volunteers, researchers were able to determine that the vaccine seemed to cause their bodies to produce virus-fighting antibodies, which are proteins released by the body to neutralize invading viruses.

Other vaccines, such as those made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, also showed their capacity to generate these so-called “neutralizing” antibodies in Phase 1 studies.

Antibodies, however, are not the only part of our immune system. New research finds that among people who have been infected and recovered from the virus, antibodies may fade more rapidly than we had hoped, prompting scientists to take a closer look at T cells, another virus-fighting part of the immune system.

Hill said it’s encouraging news to see “both arms of the immune systems stimulated very strongly by the vaccine.”

According to The Lancet study, the Oxford scientists saw that their vaccine seemed to generate so-called “killer” T-cells, also called cytotoxic T cells because they destroy cells that have been hijacked by viral invaders. There’s another type of T-cell, called helper T-cells, that also may play a role in COVID-19 immunity.

Dr. Paul Goepfert, director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Vaccine Research Clinic, said generating a killer T-cell response is likely a good sign as it may be the combination of all three — antibodies, helper T-cells, and killer T-cells — that makes a difference in the long run.

He added that it makes sense that Oxford’s vaccine would produce killer T-cells because historically vaccines that use the type of technology can induce killer T-cells.

The focus on T-cells comes as scientists have just begun to learn that the antibody response to this novel coronavirus is not as long-lived as many had hoped, and may fade within a few months in some people.

When it comes to this new virus, scientists are still working to understand exactly what parts of our immune system are likely to protect us long term.

“It’s about the robustness and longevity of the response,” said Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “What people are worried about that just focusing on antibodies to the spike protein, that it it would be short lived if there were not to be a vigorous T helper response.”

According to Offit, it’s the helper T-cells and antibodies that are more likely to be important factors to long-term COVID-19 immunity.

Ultimately, experts agreed that speculating about the relative role of these different parts of the immune system during these early Phase 1 studies is just that — speculation. Although they may offer interesting insights based on the blood analysis, these early studies are primarily designed to monitor safety.

To gauge whether the vaccines work to protect against future infections, experts caution that we will need to wait for larger Phase 3 studies that are designed to determine effectiveness.

“If we want this vaccine to work, or these vaccines to work, the only way to know that is to do a Phase 3 trial,” said Offit.

For now, Oxford’s Phase 1 data mean its vaccine is on track to be authorized by early 2021, should data from ongoing Phase 2 and 3 trials continue to be positive.

“It’s wonderful to be able to do vaccine development at this speed,” said Hill. “It’s never been possible before to find a new pathogen in January and have a vaccine by the end of the year.”

Hill said he’s hopeful that Phase 3 results will be available by the fall. If the vaccine is ultimately authorized, the first to be vaccinated will likely be society’s most vulnerable members, such as the elderly, as well as front-line workers.

“We feel that there’s urgency and pressure really every day so people are working day and night, they’re working weekends,” said Hill. “We’re not going to stop until we get an answer.”



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False reports of pneumonia in #Kazakhstan



Some Chinese media outlets are claiming that Kazakhstan has reported cases of unknown pneumonia, more deadly than coronavirus.  The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan officially states that this information is FALSE.

It should be noted that the WHO introduced codes for pneumonia in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), while COVID-19 is diagnosed clinically or epidemiologically, for example through the symptom of ground-glass opacity and affected lungs, and it is not laboratory confirmed.

Kazakhstan, in this regard, like other countries, monitors and keeps a record of these types of pneumonia, which enables timely management-level decisions aimed at stabilising the incidence and prevalence of the coronavirus infection.

At a briefing on July 9, the Minister of Health of Kazakhstan Alexey Tsoi spoke about the overall number of pneumonia cases in the country: bacterial, fungal, viral origin, including “viral pneumonia of unspecified etiology”, as per the ICD-10 classification.

Therefore, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan emphasizes that the Chinese media reports are FALSE.



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Fauci Predicts 100K Coronavirus Cases Daily ‘If Things Don’t Turn Around’



The number of new Chinese coronavirus cases in the United States could reach 100,000 a day if the country fails to turn things around, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, predicted while testifying before a Senate panel on Tuesday.

There are currently about 40,000 new daily infections of COVID-19, the disease associated with the novel coronavirus, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), a component of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), testified.

“We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day,” Fauci told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). “I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned.”

His comments came in response to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asking, “How many COVID-19 deaths and infections should America expect before this is all over?”

In responding, Fauci added:

I can’t make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that, because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country even though in other parts of the country they are doing well, they are vulnerable… We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk.

Fauci refused to estimate the overall number of COVID-19 fatalities, saying that he gleaned his prediction in March that there would be between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths from models that tend to change over time.

He told Senators:

I would really be hesitant to give a number [on the overall number of deaths] that will come back in either be contradicted, overblown, or under blown, but I think it’s important to tell you and the American public that I’m very concerned because it could get very bad.

Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) who testified alongside Fauci, struck a more optimistic tone, saying the country “can reverse these concerning trends.”

Dr. Giroir suggested that the United States is in a better position to handle a spike in cases, testifying:

All of us are concerned about recent data from several states indicating rising infections and now an uptick in hospitalizations and deaths even as other states and the majority of counties are maintaining a low infection burden.

Knowing what we know now about a symptom of the transmission and the fact that we are in a much better position today in terms of our mitigation strategies, PPE [personal protective equipment] and testing we can reverse these concerning trends if we work together.

He urged U.S. residents to maintain social distancing, wear a face-covering whenever physical distance is impossible, practice good hygiene, and stay home if they are feeling sick.

“If you have been in close contact with someone infected or in a gathering without appropriate precautions, get tested,” Giroir added. “Shield the elderly and the vulnerable of any age. And follow the guidelines for opening up America again.”

Echoing Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), noted that cases are increasing across the United States, particularly in the southern part of the country, following “an extended decline.”

The CDC chief testified:

The number of jurisdictions with an upward trajectory has continued to increase. Now 29 of 55 jurisdictions [in the United States] fall into this category. The evidence tells us that these cases are driven by many factors to include increased testing, community transmission, and outbreaks in settings such as nursing homes and occupational settings.

While hospitalizations are going up in some states, the number of hospital visits and deaths remains stable in most of the country, Redfield indicated.

“Hospitalizations now are going up in 12 states, and as of this weekend daily death has now increased in the state of Arizona,” Dr. Redfield said. “CDC is closely monitoring these increases.”

Health experts predicted cases would go up as more people ventured out of their homes during the reopening phase. Some public health experts have also warned that the recent protests are an ideal breeding ground for spreading COVID-19.



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The fitness trends that are going to be big after Covid-19


HIIT, yoga and live stream sessions are going to be big (Picture: Getty)

Fitness fans have had to be extremely adaptable during lockdown. No gyms, no classes, no group training – the way we work out has changed drastically over the last few months.

While plenty of us are chomping at the bit to get back in the gym – it also looks like we are going to be sticking to some of our new fitness habits, even when lockdown ends.

Reebok health experts have predicted the top fitness trends that are going to be all the rage post lockdown.

So read up and get prepared for the new normal of fitness – and decide which trends you’re going to jump on over the next few weeks.

Virtual training

Virtual workouts are perfect for getting sweat session without leaving your house – great for while gyms are still closed, and also for more flexible lifestyles in the future.

Virtual workouts allow you to exercise at anytime time of the day, which is a big benefit for people who work erratic hours, or have jammed schedules.

‘The majority of people have adapted smoothly to virtual training,; says George Pearse, Personal Trainer at Fresh Fit London.

‘Armed with no more than a couple of dumbbells, perhaps a kettlebell and some bands, people have been enjoying new ways of training outside of the big lifts.’

Yoga for mental health

We’re all going to need to take good care of our mental health as we emerge into our new normal, and yoga is fantastic for that.

Yoga has long been renowned for it’s health benefits, increasing flexibility, strength and tone,’ so it’s no wonder it has become a staple for so many during lockdown.

‘Over the past few months, yoga has increased in popularity even more as people have had a massive shift in their working patterns and with more people working from home,’ comments Joe Mitton, Personal Trainer at MittFit.

‘People are spending an abundance of time sat behind a computer and yoga is the perfect remedy for stiffness and “tech neck”.’

Experts believe that we will come to rely on yoga more as we start to incorporate mental wellness into our fitness regimes.

‘Bodyweight training and running have been people’s favoured ways of training this past seven weeks, but yoga will continue to grow in popularity as people explore new, exciting methods of moving their bodies and calming their minds,’ says George Pearse, Personal Trainer at Fresh Fit London.

Group training

We’ve all been starved of human contact during lockdown, so it is unsurprising that we will flock to training in groups as soon as we get the chance

‘The lockdown has brought people together into fitness communities like never before and I think there will be a surge in people continuing with group training whether it be online or offline,’ says Joe Mitton Personal Trainer at MittFit.

With gyms and indoor group sessions closed, ‘personal training and boot camps in parks will see a big boom this year, as will small private studios and virtual one-to-one sessions,’ adds Keith McNiven, personal trainer and founder of Right Path Fitness

Coping without gyms

People have been really keen to keep training, despite the gym being out of bounds.

People have a strong need to keep moving, even if it’s not in the same way they were doing before.

This raises interesting questions on the other side of lockdown – will people want to rush back to the gym floor?

Experts believe that the customer is going to be a bit more discerning on the other side.

‘People will miss the gym, but the fact that they are adjusting so well to having intense, effective workouts at home and outside will change the mindset for many,’ says Keith McNiven, personal trainer and founder of Right Path Fitness.

‘Plus, it will be a while before they feel safe in gyms again.’

Instagram Live fitness

For gym-goers who felt apprehensive at the idea of exercising in a large group class, live, online classes are an excellent way of building confidence in a more private environment. 

‘The rise of Instagram live sessions has seen the public exposed to a huge range of different options,’ says Personal Trainer George Pearse, at Fresh Fit London.

‘While you aren’t physically sweating side-by-side on the mats with other people, it doesn’t mean workout together is not possible in quarantine. Even streaming by yourself, you feel as though you’re working out with others.’

More: Fitness

HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been revealed as the most popular fitness trend during lockdown with a 58% global increase in online articles during lockdown. 

Joe Mitton, Personal Trainer at MittFit says; ‘Lots of people are seeing the benefits of HIIT workouts and the ease of doing them from home combined with the abundance of great trainers offering incredible daily workouts across the world.

‘The soar in popularity will continue post-lockdown now that people have seen the benefit and created the habits.’

Physiotherapist, Emma James reveals that ‘there has been a sharp increase in HIIT and cardio classes online.

‘There will be a shift in how people exercise moving forward in a positive way, as exercising virtually helps to break down the barriers and fears that some people have about exercising in front of others.’

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COVID-19: Warning issued as cases in U.S. states rise while tapering off in B.C.


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The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said there are 183 active cases of the disease, with 16 in hospital of whom four are in intensive care. Those numbers continue to fall.

There have been 2,659 cases reported since COVID-19 appeared in B.C. in late January, and 167 deaths.

The contacts of the people who most recently became ill have all been traced.

Henry said there have been no new outbreaks in health-care settings between noon Friday and noon Monday. There are four active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

She said health authorities are working on plans to allow families to start visiting relatives in long-term care homes and that would likely begin in the “coming weeks.”

The outbreaks at Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry and Superior Poultry have ended.

Henry said summer travellers need to be respectful of any community they visit and to practise social distancing.

Dix said B.C. has received 4.8 million N95 respirators, two million sets of goggles and 30 million sets of gloves since the state of emergency was declared on March 18.

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