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Iran’s anti #Coronavirus actions against #WHO advice


Iranian physicians and health workers in the APA International Medical Committee claim that the Iran regime is moving contrary to the world’s direction and WHO advice. On 4 March the spokesman for Iran’s Health Ministry declared a red alert on many of the country’s provinces and warned against resuming administrative and economic activities.

In a press release they say “On 5 March, Hassan Rouhani announced that schools would be permitted to open in so-called “white” provinces. He also set 11 April as the date when certain economic activities would resume. “Starting from next week, offices will begin to work with 2/3 of their employees, and only a third are allowed to stay at home,” Rouhani said. Over the past three months, the regime has unequivocally resisted quarantines, calling them “medieval” while promoting superstitious remedies as an alternate approach to confronting the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 4 March, Seyed Hassan Inanlou, deputy director of Health Management at Alborz University of Medical Sciences, warned, that if people pursue their ordinary livelihoods due to their financial circumstances, “The number of cases will be explosive, hospitals will be overloaded with patients, we will lose control, and won’t be able to manage the outbreak.” He also predicted that the death toll could reach a million.

Rouhani’s decision to resume social activity is cruel and reflects the entire regime’s failure to acknowledge any value for human life.

While there is worldwide concern about the peak of Covid-19 this month and many governments are asking their citizens to stay at home and shutting down the population movement to limit the transmission of coronavirus, Iranian authorities are moving in the opposite direction. This will have worrying consequences for the lives of Iranians as well the world population. The rapid rise in the number of fatalities in Iran, to at least 18,000, is a clear sign of this trend.

Physical distancing, workplace closures and encouraging the population to stay at home are necessary steps in confronting the spread of Covid-19, and the Director General of the World Health Organization has called on all governments worldwide “to put in place the social welfare measures to ensure that vulnerable people have food and otherlife essentials during this crisis.”

Most countries have dedicated special funds to financially supporting their populations, but Iran not only has no social welfare measures in place, but has left unpaid the regular salaries of many health care workers who are at the forefront of this battle against Covid-19.

We, as Iranian physicians, have been monitoring the situation in Iran for a long time. It is clear to us and to many Iranian citizens that the current situation is not related to the sanctions imposed on the regime but stems from mismanagement, from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s refusal to spend the hundreds of billions of dollars that are under his direct control in confronting the coronavirus, and from the massive institutionalized corruption within this regime.

During this crisis, the Iranian regime clearly has no sense of responsibility for its population’s health. It is endangering their lives and wellbeing by forcing them to get back to work early, thereby putting the economic burden of the battle against Covid-19 on workers’ shoulders.

As Iranian physicians and health workers in the APA International Medical Committee, we strongly condemn Rouhani’s announcement of an early return to work, and we warn that it will both endanger the lives of the Iranian population and increasing the infection’s prevalence.

This policy could easily cost at least one million Iranian lives in Iran. Therefore, we call on the WHO and UN Secretary General to intervene and compel the regime not to implement this policy but to utilize its trillions of dollars of available funds to safeguard the health of the Iranian people without delay.”

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Category: A Frontpage, coronavirus, Health, Iran





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Coronavirus: South African bride and groom arrested over lockdown wedding


The bride getting into a police vehicleImage copyright
IamMzilikazi/Twitter

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This is not how the couple had hoped their day would end

Married life got off to an unexpected start for a pair of newlyweds in South Africa when police showed up to the party.

They had received a tip-off that the wedding in KwaZulu-Natal was happening on Sunday despite a nationwide ban on all public gatherings because of coronavirus.

All 40 wedding guests, the pastor who conducted the ceremony, and the newlyweds themselves were promptly arrested and taken to a police station outside Richards Bay.

The whole group is to be charged in court on Monday.

Widely circulated videos show the moment the besuited groom helps his wife into the back of a police van in her white wedding dress, complete with train and veil:

The couple have not yet been named by police or local media.

South Africa, which has 1,655 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 11 deaths, is now in the second week of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns.

It has seen mobile testing units as well as drive-through testing centres being rolled out. Soon the country will be able to test 30,000 people every day.

Nothing but essential movement is permitted, and there is even a ban on buying alcohol and cigarettes.

Correspondents say South Africa’s response to the pandemic has been ruthlessly efficient.

The lockdown has been imposed for an initial period of three weeks.



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Boris Johnson Admitted To Hospital Due To Coronavirus


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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in March.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, has been admitted to a hospital due to ongoing symptoms related to coronavirus, according to the BBC. 

The prime minister “continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus,” a spokeswoman said.

She called Johnson’s hospitalization a precautionary step. 

Johnson, 55, revealed he tested positive for the virus on March 27 and had been quarantining in his official Downing Street residence since then. 

In the U.K., there have been more than 47,000 cases of coronavirus and 4,934 deaths from the illness, according to the government. 





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Coronavirus UK: Britain should pursue China for £351bn virus fee – shock report | UK | News


An investigation by the Henry Jackson Society has concluded China could have mitigated the worldwide economic impact of COVID-19 and indicated there is evidence the Chinese Government breached international healthcare responsibilities. The British foreign policy think-tank estimates the spread of coronavirus, which has infected more than one million people globally, has cost the G7 group of nations including the UK, US and Japan a huge £3.2 trillion.

The report, which is published tomorrow and has been seen by the Mail on Sunday, outlined a number of possible legal avenues including going to the UN (United Nations) and International Court of Justice.

The study titled ‘Coronavirus Compensation: Assessing China’s potential culpability and avenues of legal response’ said: “The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) sought to conceal bad news at the top, and to conceal bad news from the outside world.

“Now China has responded by deploying an advanced and sophisticated disinformation campaign to convince the world that it is not to blame for the crisis, and that instead the world should be grateful for all that China is doing.

“The truth is that China is responsible for COVID-19 – and if legal claims were brought against Beijing they could amount to trillions of pounds.”

Following the report, which will be published in its entirety on Monday, up to 15 Conservative MPs are understood to have signed a letter calling for the Government to “re-think” its relationship with China.

The letter said: “Legally binding international healthcare regulations require states to provide full information on all potential pandemics.

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“It appears likely that in its early response to the outbreak, the uphold its obligations.

“This omission allowed the disease to spread throughout the world with extraordinarily serious consequences in terms of global health and the economy.

“The cost to the UK may be, as a Henry Jackson Society report now suggests, over £350 billion.”

On the future relationship with Beijing, the letter said: “Once the crisis has passed, we urge the Government to re-think our wider relationship with China.

READ MORE: UK weather forecast: Sweltering 70F heat to hit Britain TODAY

Neil Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College in London, who helped to shape coronavirus policy following a damning report into the Governments initial strategy, has said the number of deaths could rise above 20,000.

Professor Ferguson told the BBC: “We had an exponentially growing curve of infections which we interrupted at a certain time.

“We don’t have the ability right now to measure how many people have been infected, that will come with antibody tests, and so we are making statistical estimates of that and those are subject to a certain degree of uncertainty.

“We think it could be anywhere between about 7,000 or so up to a little over 20,000.”



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Here are the government’s biggest failures in the coronavirus response



WASHINGTON — We’ve seen the U.S. government fail several times over the last 20 years – the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, the debt-ceiling debacle, the government shutdowns.

But history will likely be most unkind of all to the federal government’s initial response to the novel coronavirus over the last two months.

Let’s count the ways the whole federal government has failed to date, starting at the very top.

1. President Trump at first downplayed the coronavirus, and then he later sent mixed messages about it.

2. Trump and his administration saw the virus – and initially reacted to it – primarily as an immigration/travel/border issuerather than a health one.

3. Trump consistently attacked critical Democrats (like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and most recently Sen. Chuck Schumer), while he singled out Republicans for praise.

4. The administration didn’t heed classified warnings from the intelligence community — back in January and February — about the dangers the coronavirus posed for the global community.

5. The administration, in 2018, disbanded its National Security Council pandemic team.

6. The administration eliminated a CDC job dedicated to detecting outbreaks in China.

7. The Department of Homeland Security, which plays a vital role in responding to disasters, remains staffed with an acting secretary, an acting chief of staff, an acting general counsel and a vacancy at deputy secretary.

8. The Centers for Disease Control’s initial coronavirus test failed, resulting in a lost month to combat the virus.

9. The Food and Drug Administration’s requirements stymied university labs from conducting tests

10. The government’s emergency stockpile of respirator masks, gloves and other medical supplies is nearly depleted.

And in just the past day, we learned…

11. Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, who is helping to lead the effort to replenish supplies of personal protective equipment, admitted that the administration is delivering products it acquires to medical supply companies – rather than delivering them directly to the hospitals in need, per NBC’s Geoff Bennett. (Bottom line: The federal government is not taking over the supply chain.)

12. The U.S. Navy relieved the captain who sounded the alarm about an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

13. The Federal Emergency Management Agency officials told Congress that the projected demand for ventilators required for coronavirus-stricken patients “outstrips the capacity” of the Strategic National Stockpile.

14. And as NBC News has reported, it wasn’t until Thursday night that banks received their 31 pages of guidance from the Treasury Department on how to lend the money in the $350 billion small-business relief program — and some banks haven’t even decided whether they can participate on the opening day.

Many of these failures — see the Top 4 on this list — can be traced directly to the president, but the rest have so many other fingerprints on them.

How many of those failures were due to poor leadership at the very top? How many were systemic? A combination of the two?

Americans 40 years and older have seen this country’s government do big things — go to the moon, expand civil rights, end the Cold War, help build the internet, combat AIDS.

But if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’ve mostly seen the government fail again and again.

And the government’s response to the coronavirus – just two months into the crisis — is the biggest failure of all.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

245,135: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 28,907 more than yesterday morning.)

5,916: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,082 more than yesterday morning).

1.29 million: The number of coronavirus TESTS that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

701,000: That’s the number of jobs the U.S. economy lost in March, according to the Labor Department’s latest report.

3.5 million: The number of Americans who have likely lost employer-based health insurance, according to a study from the Economic Policy Institute.

75: The number of inmates at facilities run by the Bureau of Prisons who have tested positive for the virus

31: The number of pages of guidance that lenders received last night from the Treasury Department on how to administer small business aid, leading some to say they aren’t ready to start accepting applications

Nearly half: The number of states that currently lack funds to pay out unemployment claims.

About 13 percent: A guess at the current unemployment rate, according to one new estimate.

Another week and a half: How long it will take the first Americans to start receiving stimulus checks, which are now expected to start rolling out the week of April 13.

Democrats postpone their convention to August. What else will they change?

“The Democratic National Committee is postponing its summer convention in Milwaukee over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic,” per NBC News.

More: “The four-day convention, set to take place in Milwaukee beginning July 13, will now take place the week of August 17.”

Our question: What ELSE might Democratic convention planners change? Will there be an arena of packed delegates? Or will it be held virtually?

2020 Vision: Judge keeps Wisconsin’s election on track for April 7 — but with some changes

“A federal judge Thursday kept next week’s presidential primary on track but allowed more time to count absentee ballots after excoriating Wisconsin officials for not doing more to protect voters during the coronavirus pandemic,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.

“The ruling — which was immediately appealed — will allow absentee ballots to be counted if they arrive by April 13, six days after election day. U.S. District Judge William Conley also gave people until Friday to request absentee ballots and loosened a rule requiring absentee voters to get the signature of a witness.”

Ad watch from NBC’s Ben Kamisar

Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines is up with a new ad playing up his role in the congressional coronavirus response, employing a strategy to similar other incumbents who are leaning on their official work to prove to their constituents that they deserve to stay in office.

But Daines has to contend with a dynamic that many incumbents facing reelection do not — his opponent, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, is at the helm of the state’s closely-watched response.

And while Bullock certainly faces political pressure to deliver (to say nothing about the more important issue of doing right by his state during a pivotal time), governors often see their favorability rating skyrocket during crises, as long as their constituents believe they’re responding well.

So with Daines’ campaign having already booked more than $100,000 in broadcast time through the end of the month, according to Advertising Analytics, Montanans may be seeing a lot more of that message —centered on Daines’ push for things like paid leave, financial relief and expanding testing — as the nation continues to confront the virus, and as Democrats have hit him on health care in their own ads.

Oversight this

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday the creation of a House Select Committee on the coronavirus crisis chaired by Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn. According to Pelosi, the panel will provide oversight on the coronavirus relief legislation and it will have subpoena.

“It would have subpoena power that’s for sure, it is no use having a committee unless you have subpoena power. We would hope that there would be cooperation because this is not an investigation of the administration – it is about the whole – there are things that are so new and the rest and we want to make sure there are not exploiters out there,” Pelosi said on Thursday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded to the committee creation saying that he thinks it isn’t the time to create new committees.

“I have a couple of concerns about this. One who she is naming: Clyburn is concerning to me because Congressman Clyburn is the one who thought this crisis was an opportune time to restructure government. That’s not what we should be doing. We should be taking care of the American public keeping our economy strong and moving forward. The other concern that I have the standpoint is inside the bills that we passed we did put in oversight and this seems really redundant,” McCarthy said.

The Lid: What’s up, Wisconsin?

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we explained the big controversy over Wisconsin’s not-budging primary date.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

Politico reports on how Bernie Sanders’ fortunes have been reversed in Wisconsin.

Jonathan Allen looks at how Joe Biden is avoiding a bombastic approach in attacking Trump during the crisis.

A Senate committee’s probe into Hunter Biden is still moving forward.

Problems with Florida’s unemployment system are making Republicans jittery about Trump’s ability to hold the state in November.

The New York Times talks to congressional candidates who don’t have health insurance.



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Coronavirus forces San Francisco to put homeless into hotels


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The coronavirus crisis is beginning to do something the city of San Francisco has been unable to accomplish for years – move homeless people off the streets and into shelters, including some of the city’s now-empty hotels.

People line in a sidewalk filled with tents set up by the homeless, amid an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, California, U.S. April 1, 2020. Picture taken April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Faced with the prospect the virus could rip through the nearly 10,000 people who live on the streets or in shelters, city officials are securing 4,500 rooms for those who need to self-quarantine. The rooms would also be for homeless residents who need to isolate themselves and cannot be sent back into the community without risking infecting others.

The hotels may additionally house high-risk individuals among the 19,000 people living in single-room occupancy (SRO) buildings with shared kitchens and bathrooms who similarly cannot self-isolate.

At least 160 people who either tested positive for the coronavirus or were awaiting results were being referred to hotels as of March 25, city officials said.

“The hospitals will not discharge them to the street,” said Trent Rhorer, executive director of the city’s Human Services Agency. “They’ll only discharge people who are able to self-quarantine.”

Progressive San Francisco lawmakers want to triple the number of rooms to 14,000, enough to shelter all of the homeless and some additional people from the SRO buildings.

On Thursday, lawmakers said the first known case of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, had been confirmed in a homeless shelter and reiterated their demand to put residents into private rooms.

Stringent stay-at-home orders have greatly reduced travel, leaving the city’s hotels nearly empty. The hotel industry has asked city leaders how housing the homeless would work, including issues on potential property damage and whether California laws could give homeless guests tenancy rights after 30-day stays.

A move to hotels may be the most aggressive intervention in years to address homelessness in the liberal-leaning Bay Area. Between 2015 and 2019, the homeless population in San Francisco grew nearly 30%, according to city figures.

OVERDOSING IN THE TENDERLOIN

In San Francisco’s central Tenderloin neighborhood, tent encampments still lined the streets after city officials issued stay-home orders on starting March 17.

On a recent evening shortly before 10:30 p.m., Tenderloin firefighters and police clad in protective masks knelt over one man, administering naloxone nasal spray to treat an overdose. The sixth of the night, officers said.

“People are supposed to stay in, but I don’t see how that’s possible when there’s a lot of us around,” Jackie Cismowski, 28, who has been homeless off-and-on since 2012, said as she walked in the Tenderloin wearing rubber gloves and an N95 mask.

To give the homeless more room to spread out, city officials are converting an upscale tennis club in the South of Market neighborhood and part of the Moscone Center, a venue for glitzy technology conferences, into shelter facilities.

About 60% of 50 hotels that met with the city about housing the homeless and first responders signed up for the city’s program within days of its announcement, said Kevin Carroll, president and chief executive of the Hotel Council of San Francisco.

City officials said San Francisco already has 1,055 rooms under contract, but declined to release the names of hotels in the program, saying that doing so could violate health privacy laws and stigmatize the properties.

Anand Singh, president of United Here Local 2, the union that represents more than 14,000 San Francisco hospitality workers, said he knew of two local budget hotels near the Tenderloin that have signed on to take quarantine guests.

Singh said the city is providing training and protective gear for union cleaners at the hotels.

Slideshow (25 Images)

“You could end up in a situation where these crucial facilities … that are intended to stop the spread of COVID-19 could instead lead to outbreak clusters,” Singh said.

Louis Charles Brown, 51, who lives in a building with shared bathrooms in the Tenderloin, paced the streets recently, trying to warn his neighbors about COVID-19.

“This will kill you and it ain’t a joke,” Brown said. “They need to open up a church, quarantine and do something, because they say it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Reporting by Nathan Frandino, Shannon Stapleton, Katie Paul and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Leslie Adler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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UK Coronavirus death toll rises by 569, bringing total to 2,921


UK Coronavirus death toll rises by 569, bringing total to 2,921 | The Independent




Coronavirus: ‘It is time to ramp up the tests,’ says prime minister

The UK death toll for coronavirus has risen to 2,921 up by 569 from the day before.

Meanwhile, more than 33,700 people have tested positive for the virus as of Thursday, according to government figures.

The new death toll, which counts the number of hospitalised patients who have died, was a daily increase of 24 per cent.

More than 163,100 people have been tested for Covid-19 in the UK as of Thursday morning, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

More follows…







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13-year-old boy among victims of coronavirus – Channel 4 News



1 Apr 2020

A 13-year-old boy, from south London, described by his family as a “loving son” with a “heartwarming” smile

A 13-year-old boy, from south London, described by his family as a “loving son” with a “heartwarming” smile, a 19-year-old chef who had moved to the UK from Italy and an NHS nurse whose relatives say he “always went beyond the call of duty” – these are some of the people who have died after testing positive for Covid-19.



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Gambia coronavirus: Borders are closing, and now this village is split in two



“We are very close,” said Modi Dem, 43, the village chief.

But the novel coronavirus is transforming life for people worldwide after dozens of nations have tightened or closed their borders. Travel bans are commonplace in this age of pandemic: A growing list of places — including Ghana, Kenya, Italy and Chile — have closed their doors without much notice to nearly all foreigners.

Even if they are next-door neighbors.

Gambia, the smallest country in continental Africa, is sandwiched between Senegal and the Atlantic Ocean — a legacy of colonial-era demarcation. The caterpillar-shaped nation sealed its 465 miles of border on March 23.

Police officers with AK-47s are enforcing the measure, which is meant to last three weeks in an effort to curb transmissions, officials say, but could be extended if the outbreak worsens. (Gambia had four cases as of Tuesday, and Senegal had 175.)

International traffic fuels a “high risk of contracting the disease,” the Gambian president’s office warned residents last week in a statement.

The beige stone of Ngunta has become a risky red line.

Travel bans around the world have scrambled markets, doomed business deals, wrecked study abroad plans and canceled untold vacations, but the impact here is more intimate.

Families are separated. Boys are hatching illicit plans to see girls. Rice merchants cannot reach their regular customers, and food supplies are dwindling.

Villagers on the Gambian side say they no longer have easy access to drinking water. Usually, they send horse carts a quarter-mile over the border to fill jugs.

Now people are anxiously sneaking into Senegal with pots. The path is clear when officers are not around.

“We need to do the illegal thing to get clean water,” said Dem, the village head.

People are worried they could be arrested or worse, they said in interviews. Some have seen videos of security forces in Senegal and other countries beating people who break the new coronavirus laws.

Authorities have apprehended two Senegalese fisherman trying to float into Gambia and escorted them into a state quarantine hold, officials said Monday.

Waiting for normalcy to return does not feel like an option, the chief said.

The main road tying Ngunta to the rest of Gambia is in rough condition. Travel, already a hassle, can be dangerous once the rainy season kicks off in June. The isolated economy does not work when it is split in half.

Buba Dem, 37, a sugar salesman, said he cannot afford to lose customers. (Dem, a popular surname in the village, belonged to the brothers who settled here in 1930.)

His wife surveys the horizon. She will shout his name, he said, if she sees anyone in uniform. That strategy worked last week when he stepped onto Senegalese soil to get change.

“I’m scared of getting caught,” he said. “The patrol team could be around at any time.”

Alagie Nije, 14, stuck to his phone this week, trying to persuade his girlfriend on the other side of town to sneak over.

His buddies did the same with their love interests. The teenagers made a pact to look out for each other.

“Tonight we might invite them,” Nije said, laughing.

Hawa Ceesay, 34, is not so bold.

The peanut farmer yearns to see her brother, her best friend, the man who brings her Chinese green tea and chocolate cake.

He was visiting their sick father in Senegal when the border closed.

They are not sure if he has been exposed to the coronavirus, she said, and he does not want to bring it to their doorstep — even if that means he must sleep on the floor for a while.

“Every day I pray he can come home,” she said.

Mamadou Edrisa Njie in Ngunta, Gambia, contributed to this report.



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Mexican president claims rivals would take over if he self-isolated, as experts decry coronavirus response


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Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has remained steadfast against sweeping restriction measures that could help the spread of the coronavirus in his country.

This weekend, he balked at the idea of self-isolating, claiming that his rivals would use that time to overpower him politically and take control of the government.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives at his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, early, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives at his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, early, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
(AP)

“Do you know what the conservatives want? For me to isolate myself (but) there would be no leadership (of the country) or there would be their leadership because in politics there are no power vacuums – the voids are filled and that’s what they want, for there to be a vacuum so that they can take control … in an irresponsible way,” he said Sunday, according to the Mexico Daily News.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The 66-year-old president has sparked a furor in recent weeks for not imposing stricter measures against COVID-19 and hugging followers and saying religious medals would protect him.

He flew commercial to the western state of Sinaloa on Sunday, where he shook hands with residents, including the mother of convicted drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera.

“Coronavirus isn’t the plague,’’ the president declared in a video message on social media.

“Those of us who have an important function, a basic one, can go out to the street and work. … You can’t close a tortilla shop, doctors and nurses have to keep working, the police [too] so that there are no robberies,” he said.

A bus commuter wears a face mask amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico's government has broadened its shutdown of “non essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 

A bus commuter wears a face mask amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 
(AP)

Mexico has only just started taking tougher measures, including late Monday night banning non-essential work in the public sector and gatherings of more than 50 people.

As of Wednesday morning, Mexico had reported more than 1,200 confirmed cases and at least 27 deaths.

MEXICO’S LÓPEZ OBRADOR SHAKES HANDS WITH MOTHER OF ‘EL CHAPO’ DESPITE CORONAVIRUS WARNINGS, VIDEO SHOWS

Some experts warn the sprawling country of 129 million is acting too late and that the government figures likely underestimate the true number of infections.

A woman walks past a sign that reads in Spanish "Stay home" in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico's government has broadened its shutdown of "non-essential activities," and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 

A woman walks past a sign that reads in Spanish “Stay home” in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non-essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 
(AP)

Mexico has done far less testing than many other countries — around 10,000 tests. New York state alone had performed more than 205,000 tests by Tuesday. There were also signs the disease may be far more advanced in Mexico than the limited testing shows. Three state governors have already tested positive for coronavirus.

“Politics is very, very much involved in the decision-making going on right now,” said Janine Ramsey, an infectious disease expert who works for Mexico’s National Public Health Institute, a federal research agency, and has spent 35 years of her public health career in Mexico.

“Mexico, politically, does not value scientific evidence. Why? Because it takes decision-making away from the politicians,” Ramsey said.

The Mexican government has defended its policies, saying that its robust health surveillance system gives it a good idea of how the epidemic is evolving and that health experts are charting the country’s fight against the virus. Its focus now, it says, is keeping people at home to avoid a rapid spread that would quickly overwhelm the health care system.

“For most of us, especially those of us who work with infectious pathogens, there is absolutely no excuse not to test because you cannot predict a) the response, b) the velocity of transmission, or c) the vulnerability of people” to becoming infected or to infecting others, she said.

“February and March is when we should have been testing everybody.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

But many are taking their cues from the president himself, who had this to say at a news conference Tuesday: “Soon, very soon there’s going to be the day of hugs and kisses in all the public plazas.”

“We’re going to hug because we’re going to overcome this coronavirus crisis and the economic crisis and the social welfare crisis,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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