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Coronavirus live news: Europe halts delivery of faulty Chinese face masks; WHO says Covid-19 may never go | World news


Medical workers in Indonesia are complaining of persistent delays to an increase in coronavirus testing promised by their president, Joko Widodo, Reuters reports.

The south east Asian nation, the world’s fourth most populous, has the highest coronavirus death toll in east Asia outside China, and one of the lowest global testing rates.

Indonesia reported 568 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the total to 16,006, with 1,043 deaths. It has so far conducted around 50 tests per 100,000 people, compared with 2,500 per 100,000 in neighbouring Singapore.

Widodo promised in April that 10,000 tests would be performed each day, but the goal is yet to be reached, with testing rates on average hovering at less than half that figure. Health experts have urged Jakarta to rapidly increase its testing rate to determine the true spread of the virus across the Indonesian archipelago, saying that without sufficient data the full extent of the outbreak will remain unknown.

A man covers his face with a shirt instead of a face mask while in a queue to get the Takjil, food for breaking the Ramadan fast, in central Jakarta.

A man covers his face with a shirt instead of a face mask while in a queue to get the Takjil, food for breaking the Ramadan fast, in central Jakarta. Photograph: Muhammad Zaenuddin/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

“We can’t even get the results after two weeks,” Meneldi Rasmin, a consulting doctor at Persahabatan Hospital in Jakarta, told Reuters.

“So we cannot determine whether it’s COVID-19 or not. We can only judge them (the patients) from clinical symptoms,” he said, attributing the delay to limited equipment capacity.

In between his rounds at Persahabatan Hospital where medical staff move about in white protective gear, Rasmin called for testing capacities to be scaled up not only in the capital, but across the sprawling country.

“Early detection by rapid testing should take place in every small district. Local clinics should take control, instead of (centralized) rapid testing,” he said.
“It should be organized at the community level, working together with the district authority.”



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Egypt says film-maker died in cell after drinking hand sanitiser | World news


Egypt’s public prosecutor has said a young film-maker who died in prison had mistakenly drunk hand sanitiser in his cell, thinking it was water.

Shady Habash died inside Cairo’s Tora prison complex on 2 May. He had been held for more than two years without trial, accused of membership of a terrorist group and “spreading false news” after he produced a music video critical of Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

The 24-year-old was the latest in a number of high-profile people to die in custody in Egypt, particularly inside Tora prison. For months observers have been sounding the alarm about the denial of medical treatment to prisoners of conscience, including the deaths in custody of the US citizen Mustafa Kassem and the former president Mohammed Morsi.

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said Habash’s death was the third in 10 months among prisoners of conscience in Tora prison’s cell block number four. “For over several hours, Shady’s cellmates desperately tried to summon medical help but were ignored by prison officials,” it said. “Such wanton cruelty is hardly exceptional – prisoners of conscience are often left to die in prison without trial or due process, in appalling conditions that include the deliberate withholding of healthcare.”

The public prosecutor said in a statement that Habash visited medical facilities several times for treatment and was returned to his cell, before he was transferred to the prison clinic “unconscious and in a delirious state”. The statement added that Habash “informed the prison physician that he mistakenly drank a bottle of alcohol a day earlier and claimed he mistook it for a bottle of water”. His cellmates found empty 100ml bottles of hand sanitiser intended to protect them against Covid-19 among Habash’s belongings, it said.

Since Sisi came to power in 2013 thousands of Egyptians have been detained in an unprecedented crackdown on dissent. TV programs and newspapers have taken the government position and steered clear of criticism, or else disappeared. Many privately owned Egyptian news outlets have been quietly acquired by companies affiliated with the country’s intelligence service.

Habash’s detention and death represent a stark reminder of the growing number of young people at risk inside Egypt’s sprawling prison system, including many detained for their work as artists, making dissenting statements against Sisi’s rule or for no charge at all.

There are fears that the Covid-19 could easily spread inside the country’s mammoth prison complexes, proving deadly when combined with the routine medical neglect of inmates.

Egyptian authorities suspended family visits to inmates due to the Covid-19 outbreak in early March, cutting prisoners’ sole means of communication with the outside world as well as their ability to receive clean clothes and additional food. The pre-detention of several high-profile activists was renewed earlier this week, including the award-winning human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry, the politician and journalist Khaled Daoud and Alaa Abdel-Fattah, the activist and blogger, who recently began a hunger strike in protest at prison conditions.

“What happened to Shady was clear medical negligence,” said the singer Ramy Essam. Habash added his name to the credits of Essam’s song Balaha, which lambasted Sisi, after he worked on post-production of the raw video footage. The song’s release led to the arrest of eight people, including one man who played the track in his car in Kuwait and was deported back to Egypt.

“Shady decided to put his name on it with the belief that making art would never cause harm,” said Essam. “He deserves to be remembered as extremely talented.”



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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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