by Kenneth Schwartz
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Downing Street statement. In a video announcement Friday on his Twitter account, Johnson said he has “a temperature and a persistent cough” that he described as “mild symptoms” of the virus.
He said he is “working from home” and is “self-isolating” which he said was “entirely the right thing to do.”
“Be in no doubt that I can continue” to work, he said, “thanks to the wizardry of modern technology …to lead the national fight against the coronavirus.”
Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.
I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.
— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) March 27, 2020
In addition to thanking the National Health Service, Johnson also thanked the 600,000 people who have volunteered to take part in Britain’s national effort to “protect people from the consequences of the coronavirus.
China offers to help US
Earlier Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he had “a very good conversation” with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump posted on Twitter: “Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”
Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
In his recent press briefings, however, the U.S. president has not displayed “much respect” for China, making disparaging remarks about how the Asian nation handled the outbreak. The U.S. leader often referred to the virus as “the Chinese virus.”
New York hot spot
New York state is the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak with New York City the hot spot. There were more 21,000 cases in the country’s largest city, with officials saying that number is growing by at least 3,000 a day.
On Friday, the U.S. House plans to pass the $2 trillion economic relief package that the Senate passed Wednesday night, and President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign.
The centerpiece of the bill are direct cash payments to individuals who have lost their jobs and businesses forced to close their doors because of the outbreak.
Although the U.S. now has the largest number of cases, Trump said Thursday the government will be able to announce in the next two days what he calls good statistics and facts, “which will make your lives easier.”
He also plans to go to Norfolk, Virginia, to see the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort leave for deployment in New York Harbor.
A United Nations expert has called for a holistic human rights approach for older people during the coronavirus outbreak that ensures equal realization of all their rights, including access to health care.
“I am deeply concerned that decisions around the allocation of scarce medical resources such as ventilators in intensive care units may be made solely on the basis of age, denying older persons their right to health and life on an equal basis with others,” said Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, a U.N. independent expert on human rights for older persons.
“Older people have become highly visible in the COVID-19 outbreak, but their voices, opinions and concerns have not been heard. Instead, the deep-rooted ageism in our societies has become even more apparent,” she said.
A Reuters report says America’s home health care industry that can screen for the virus and that provides services to millions of the country’s most vulnerable residents, including the elderly, is on the verge of collapse in the wake of the coronavirus.
Roger Noyes, a spokesman for New York’s Home Care Association told Reuters, “it’s a hair-on-fire crisis.”
The Reuters account said some caregivers are working without masks or gloves, while other workers have left their jobs and their patients.
Canada balks at US proposal
Canada is balking at a U.S. proposal to deploy hundreds of Americans troops along the U.S.-Candian border, which is closed to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
“Canada is strongly opposed to this U.S. proposal and we have made that opposition very, very clear,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Thursday. “The public health situation does not require such action.”
In their first-ever remote vote, the EU Parliament members approved a $41 billion package of economic aid to members whose economies have also taken a beating because of the outbreak.
“From one day to the next, our lifestyles changed. Our streets emptied. Our doors closed. And we moved from a daily routine to the fight of our lives,” the head of the EU executive, Ursula von der Leyen, told the lawmakers. Nearly all of them were under lockdown across the 27-member bloc.
Italy, Spain hit hard
Italy and Spain have been particularly hard hit by the outbreak.
A a second U.S. soldier stationed in South Korea has tested positive for the coronavirus. Officials at Camp Humphrey say she is isolated as they clean all areas she was known to have visited. They are also trying to determine who else has been exposed.
China is temporarily closing its borders to all foreign visitors. Nearly all the new coronavirus cases in the past week in China have come from people arriving from overseas.
The outbreak appears to have eased in China, and authorities certainly don’t want a resurgence.
South Africa and the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Medina and Mecca — the last are two of Islam’s holiest cities — are the latest to go under lockdown.
And the Associated Press reports U.N. ambassadors from eight countries under United States sanctions — China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela — are asking Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to press the U.S. to lift the sanctions so they can effectively fight the outbreak. The ambassadors accused the U.S. of politicizing the pandemic.