Serbia announces first coronavirus case: ministry

first_imgTopics : The first case of coronavirus in Serbia has been diagnosed in a man who had been in Hungary, the country’s health minster announced on Friday. “The first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Serbia. It is a 43-year-old man from Subotica [north] who recently stayed in Hungary, in Budapest,” said Zlatibor Loncar at a press conference. The man is in solitary confinement at the Subotica hospital and his health is good, the minister said. The people with whom he came into contact have been tested. “There is no need to panic, you have to behave in accordance with the authorities’ recommendations,” added the minister who said the patient behaved “responsibly”.Serbia is the fourth country comprising the former Yugoslavia to have reported cases of infection following Croatia (11 cases), North Macedonia (one case) and Bosnia (two cases). The virus, which now affects around 90 countries and territories, has infected more than 98,000 people worldwide and left nearly 3,400 people dead. At 0900 GMT Friday, Europe had registered 5,701 cases with 161 deaths, all but 13 of those in Italy. last_img read more

NZ’s Ardern, ministers take 20% pay cut for six months due to coronavirus impact

first_img“This is where we can take action and that is why we have,” Ardern said in a news conference announcing the decision.”We acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsides, taking a pay cut, and losing their jobs as a result of the global pandemic,” she added.New Zealand on Wednesday recorded 20 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 1,386. It has recorded nine deaths so far.The government is expected to decide next week whether it will extend its current “Level 4″ shutdown. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, ministers in her government and public service chief executives will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months amid the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.New Zealand’s offices, schools and non-essential services have been closed for the last three weeks, and economic activity is at a standstill as the country undertakes one of the strictest lockdowns globally.The government has forecast joblessness to surge because of the global and domestic slowdown. In a speech to New Zealand’s business community earlier in the day, the finance minister said that if the government decided to ease restrictions, the emphasis would be to permit economic activity that is safe.Grant Robertson also said the annual budget, to be announced on May 14, would focus on recovery.”It will include funding for the cost pressures that are necessary part of keeping our country ticking over. But we will devote much of our resources to kick starting this recovery,” Robertson said in his speech streamed to business leaders. center_img Topics :last_img read more

Garuda’s $500m sukuk extension inevitable as cash-flow crisis gets worse: Analysts

first_img“The COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on the airline’s financial performance. However, we are optimistic that we will be able to pull through this difficult situation and adapt to a new normal,” Garuda president director Irfan Setiaputra said in a statement on Tuesday.With the extension, Garuda will be able to strengthen its liquidity and improve its overall financial performance, he said.Garuda Indonesia booked $3.25 billion in short-term liabilities last year, including $498.9 million in sukuk bonds, according to its 2019 financial report. Flight disruptions caused by emergency measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 have dealt a major blow to the country’s airlines, including Garuda.According to a letter available on the IDX website signed by Garuda finance director Fuad Rizal, Garuda’s flight traffic dropped by 83 percent year-on-year (yoy) in April as the government banned flights between major cities in the country. The number of passengers decreased by 45 percent in the January to April 30 period, compared to the same months last year. Travel restrictions imposed by several countries also led to a 95 percent decline in international flights.“Flight disruptions have impacted the company’s financial condition, with operating revenue decreasing by 89 percent in April compared to that in the same month in 2019. The outbreak has also led to negative cash flows as a result of a 47 percent increase in the company’s trade payable arrears — or $236 million — during the first quarter, from the last quarter of 2019,” the statement read.To cope with the difficult situation, Garuda Indonesia will receive a capital injection of Rp 8.5 trillion from the government.Analyst and the head of research of MNC Sekuritas, Edwin Sebayang said Garuda’s request for an extension was necessary and inevitable. However, the decision may also lead to a downgrade in the company’s credit rating.Going forward, Edwin said Garuda must be very careful in maintaining its cash flow and had to apply strict cost efficiency measures for the next two years. Edwin estimates that in the next two years, the aviation industry would face a tough recovery as passenger demand would slowly return to normal and a decline in revenue would likely continue.“Thus, Garuda must implement cost efficiency measures because it also has more debts, either from bank loans or from other bonds,” he said on Tuesday.Edwin said that in the future, Garuda must only focus on profitable routes within the country and across Asia instead of insisting on operating long-haul but unprofitable flights such as Jakarta-Amsterdam or Jakarta-London.“Garuda must change the way it does business. It must put aside its pride and focus on routes that can turn a profit and avoid those that would only incur losses,” he said. Topics :center_img Publicly listed national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is asking for a three-year extension on US$500 million worth of global sukuk (global Islamic bonds) due on June 3 to address a major liquidity problem caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.The proposal was submitted to the Financial Service Authority (OJK), the Indonesian Stock Exchange (IDX) and the Singapore Stock Exchange (SSE) on Tuesday.The airline will formally ask for approval from bondholders to extend the Islamic bonds during their meeting, which will be held at the end of the grace period on June 10.last_img read more

Jakarta not ready to enter ‘new normal’, LaporCOVID-19 survey suggests

first_imgA survey conducted by LaporCOVID-19 (Report COVID-19) community reveals that Jakarta is not yet ready to enter the so-called “new normal” as the capital is gearing up to ease social restrictions. Based on the survey, the group has expressed concern that the new normal policy might instead cause a spike in transmission as there is low risk perception of COVID-19 among Jakarta residents. The survey took place between May 29 and June 2 in collaboration with Singapore’s Nanyang Technology University (NTU) Social Resilience Lab. It was aimed at finding how Jakartans perceive the risk of COVID-19 using a risk perception index developed from sociological theories of risk.On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 equals critically low, Jakartans scored 3.46 in the risk perception index, meaning they were between “rather low” and “rather high”. NTU associate professor Sulfikar Amir said the score should be 4 or higher for the capital to apply the new normal policy.“Overall, we can say that residents of Jakarta are not yet ready to enter the new normal phase until we reach a score of at least 4,” Sulfikar said during a virtual discussion session on Thursday.“If the survey reaches the score of 4, it means that residents have become more disciplined and are aware of the risk of COVID-19, which is [suitable to] reduce the transmission rate in the capital,” he added.Read also: Jakarta discusses ‘new normal’ possibilities for nightclubs, massage parlorsThe survey measured several variables to determine the index score, namely knowledge and information about COVID-19, how much the participants are willing to protect themselves from transmission — such as by wearing a protective mask as well as their social and economic condition, in addition to their overall risk perception.The close-ended survey asked 3,079 participants from almost all subdistricts in the capital city several questions, such as “in your opinion, how likely are you to contract COVID-19?”, “how likely are you to help acquaintances that have contracted COVID-19?”, and “how much has your income decreased due to the pandemic”. Respondents were also questioned about their knowledge of the disease, such as its symptoms and methods of transmission.Sulfikar said Jakartans received a relatively high score in terms of their knowledge and information regarding the disease and how much they are willing to protect themselves. However, they scored lower in economic and social conditions, which affected the overall risk perception scoring.Sulfikar, for example, said a poor economic condition might result in someone risking their health and safety by going out to work instead of staying at home.To improve residents’ risk perception, Sulfikar said the Jakarta administration needed to be consistent in educating the public about the pandemic. Additionally, LaporCOVID-19 co-founder Irma Hidayana suggested that the administration should be more transparent about COVID-19 data, such as the number of deaths among suspected individuals showing symptoms. Transparency is an important factor as the survey also showed that 66.9 percent of respondents trusted the data provided by government officials.National Development Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa previously said that the new normal policy was aimed at keeping the economy running while maintaining restrictions. However, on the other hand, the country faces slumping economic growth and a looming recession. Read also: Experts warn of turbulent ‘new normal’ amid COVID-19 data, testing issuesIrma said the government carried the responsibility of ensuring social and economic welfare of the people during the national health crisis.“[In a state of health quarantine], social and economic assurance should be provided by the government so that an alarming condition [showed in the survey] that affects public perception does not happen,” she said during the discussion. “The [1945] Constitution guarantees social and economic rights, especially during a pandemic like this,” added Irma.Jakarta, the epicenter of the epidemic in Indonesia, continuously records the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. As of Wednesday, the Health Ministry reported 7,623 confirmed cases with 523 fatalities. However, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartanto has suggested that Jakarta is one of the provinces ready to enter the new normal phase despite concerns over the low testing capacity and incomplete data in the country.The capital applied the first period of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) from April 10 to 23, with several extensions prolonging the period until June 4.On Thursday, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan decided to extend the period of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) to the end of June as Indonesia’s capital city enters the transition phase with gradual easing plans in place for several sectors.Topics :last_img read more

Govt expects unemployment to worsen, continue into next year

first_imgThe government expects 4 million additional people to fall below the poverty line this year, making for a total of 28 million people in poverty in the nation, or around 10.6 percent of the population, up from 9.2 percent in September of last year.“With government’s intervention, we could reduce [the number of additional people who fall into poverty] to under 1 million so that it does not reach double digits this year,” said Suharso.The government is targeting a poverty rate of between 9.2 percent to 9.7 percent next year, according to the minister.The government has allocated Rp 695.2 trillion (US$49.2 billion), or 4.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that figure, Rp 172.1 trillion has been designated for the social safety net, far higher than the previous plan’s allocation of Rp 110 trillion.Indonesia’s economy has been hit hard by the pandemic. It grew 2.97 percent in the first three months this year, the weakest since 2001, as household spending and investment growth slowed.The government expects the economy to shrink by 3.8 percent in the second quarter of this year, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said during the same hearing.Sri Mulyani revised the country’s expected GDP growth down to between negative 0.4 percent and positive 1 percent this year because of feeble economic activity and depressed commodity prices.“The government is currently focusing on the economic recovery in the third and fourth quarters from the contraction in the second quarter,” Sri told lawmakers. “We will use our policy instruments, supported by Bank Indonesia, to maintain recovery momentum.”The government is hoping the economy will grow by 4.5 to 5.5 percent in 2021 on the back of a global economic recovery as the pandemic subsides.The World Bank expects the country’s poverty rate to increase by 2.1 to 3.6 percentage points this year, which would mean between 5.6 million and 9.6 million people could fall into poverty this year.“There is a need for adequate protection for vulnerable communities,” World Bank senior economist for Indonesia Ralph Van Doorn said recently. “We are concerned that the value of the stimulus package may not be enough to offset the economic impact on households.”The World Bank now projects zero percent growth for Indonesia this year as the COVID-19 crisis causes the global economy to experience its deepest downturn since World War II.Topics : “If the [economic] condition persists throughout the year, we are worried that unemployment will reach 10.7 million to 12.7 million in 2021,” Suharso said during a parliamentary hearing on Monday.The coronavirus has forced people to stay at home, disrupting business activity as shops, factories and offices have shut their doors. As economic activity languishes, millions of Indonesians have lost their jobs and are in danger of falling into poverty.As of May 27, more than 1.79 million people had lost their jobs after nonessential businesses shut down to comply with government restrictions, according to data from the Manpower Ministry.“We are hoping that jobs will return to near prepandemic levels,” Suharso said. The nation’s high unemployment rate is expected to worsen and continue into next year as the country braces for further economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, senior government officials said on Monday.Some 5.5 million people may lose their jobs this year, pushing the unemployment rate to between 8.1 and 9.2 percent, up from 5.28 percent last year, according to National Development Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa.As a result, up to 12.7 million people are expected to be unemployed by next year, up from 7.05 million people in 2019. The government’s baseline scenario for next year predicts that the unemployment rate will be between 7.7 and 9.1 percent.last_img read more

Vice squad: East Java Police officers reported for marital infidelity

first_imgA top official at the National Police’s internal affairs division revealed that a large number of East Java Police officers had been reported for marital infidelity.Sr. Comr. Budi P. said that the East Java Police had recorded the highest number of infidelity cases in the country. “At the National Police headquarters [in Jakarta], the East Java Police are famous for the many officers that are unfaithful,” the official said on Tuesday on the sidelines of a visit to the Probolinggo police department headquarters, as quoted by kompas.com. “After we checked the data, it turned out that it was true; East Java has the highest number of police infidelity cases in Indonesia.” Budi did not say exactly how many cases of police infidelity had been reported in the province.He said that police departments in almost every regency and municipality in East Java had reported cases of adultery. “We have passed through Madiun, Kediri, Blitar and Malang, and all them have [cases of police marital infidelity],” he said.He warned that those caught could be dishonorably discharged from the institution, “especially if they are cheating with policewomen, police officers’ wives, or civil servants”.  Sex between a married person and a person who is not his or her legal spouse is outlawed under the current Criminal Code and carries a maximum sentence of eight months of imprisonment. The law, however, also only allows the husband or wife who has been cheated on to report the crime. A revised version of the Code, currently being deliberated by the House of Representatives, would outlaw all forms of sex outside marriage, including consensual sex between two unmarried people. (vny)Topics :last_img read more

Biden unveils $2 trillion climate plan in new contrast with Trump

first_imgWhite House hopeful Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious, $2 trillion climate change plan that would revamp the US energy sector and seek to achieve carbon pollution-free power in just 15 years.The clean energy proposal was fleshed out in a speech in Wilmington as the veteran Democrat drew a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump ahead of November’s election by arguing that fighting climate change would be a massive job creator under a Biden administration.Insisting that “there’s no more consequential challenge” today than climate change, Biden pledged to spend $2 trillion over four years to promote his plan, a dramatic acceleration of the $1.7 trillion he had proposed to spend over 10 years  during the primary race. He reiterated that he would rejoin the Paris climate agreement that Trump quit in 2017, fund the construction of 1.5 million new energy efficient homes, upgrade appliance standards and prioritize renewable energy.”We’re not just going to tinker around the edges,” Biden said.”I know meeting the challenge will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy.”Biden said he would reverse some 100 steps by Trump to roll back environmental regulations. He also recalled parts of his earlier climate proposal that would put the nation on the road to net zero emissions economy-wide no later than 2050. Topics : “Transforming the American electrical sector to produce power without producing carbon pollution… will be the greatest spurring of job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century,” Biden said. “That’s why we’re going to achieve a carbon pollution-free electric sector by the year 2035.”The plan also includes more ambitious goals than the proposal he released months ago when he ran as one of the more moderate Democrats in the party’s nomination race.By embracing some ideas of his progressive ex-rivals, including Senator Bernie Sanders and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Biden appears intent on winning over progressive voters who might be wary of the former vice president’s more centrist positions. ‘Extreme’ Trump delivered a rebuttal hours later, accusing Biden of launching a “hard-left crusade against American energy” and pushing a platform “that would demolish the US economy.””He wants no oil and gas,” Trump said as he criticized Biden’s plan to reduce carbon emissions.One week earlier Biden unveiled a unity platform that incorporated positions from leftist Sanders, but Trump attacked it as “the most extreme platform of any major party nominee, by far, in American history.”Biden, who has refrained from campaigning publicly amid coronavirus outbreaks, berated Trump for failing to contain a pandemic which has killed 136,000 Americans, or set the right example by wearing a mask, something Trump finally did on Saturday.”I’m glad he made the shift,” Biden said of Trump appearing in a mask.”But Mr President, it’s not enough. We won’t be able to turn the corner and get the American people back to work safely without presidential leadership.”Biden leads Trump on most issues, according to polling, but voters still see the president as stronger on steering the US economy.last_img read more

Hong Kong press club says journalists hitting ‘unusual’ visa issues

first_imgTopics : On the authoritarian Chinese mainland, where the press is heavily censored, foreign journalists must apply for specific visas and face routine harassment.Reporters only need a regular business visa to work in Hong Kong, however. China promised key liberties and autonomy to Hong Kong ahead of Britain’s handover, and the city has free press protections enshrined in law, something that has helped it become a regional media hub. The New York Times, AFP, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and the Financial Times are among multiple media organizations with regional headquarters there. But multiple news outlets are now reporting issues getting or renewing visas for staff — something they have not experienced before.Last month the New York Times was the first to go public with its difficulties, announcing it would relocate some of its Asia hub to South Korea after multiple delays and at least one outright rejection.The difficulties come as Washington and Beijing clash over reporter credentials.The Trump administration placed visa and headcount restrictions on some Chinese media in the US, all of whom are state-controlled. Beijing responded with tit-for-tat restrictions, including expelling a group of reporters from multiple US outlets who were also banned from working in Hong Kong, an unprecedented move.On Tuesday Beijing’s foreign ministry warned “necessary and timely countermeasures” would be taken if the US continued to limit Chinese reporters.Hu Xijin, editor of China’s state-owned tabloid Global Times, said Beijing would “retaliate, including targeting US journalists based in Hong Kong”.The FCCHK condemned the restrictions placed by both sides. “The FCC opposes using journalists’ visas as a weapon in international disputes and also opposes taking action against journalists for the decisions made by their home countries,” it said.”This downward spiral of retaliatory actions aimed at journalists helps no one, not least of all the public that needs accurate, professionally produced information now more than ever,” it added. In a statement released Thursday the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCCHK) said multiple media outlets had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists of multiple nationalities and in some cases have prevented journalists from working,” the FCCHK said. “The delays are highly unusual for Hong Kong, a city with historically robust press protections,” it added.Hong Kong’s government has not explained any change to its policy despite multiple enquiries from media.center_img Hong Kong’s foreign press club said Thursday that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on China and the United States to stop using the media as a political weapon.Journalists have been caught up in spiraling US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in recent months.Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous city and regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies.last_img read more

Jakarta to closely monitor COVID-19 transmission as PSBB end date draws near

first_imgAnies vowed to closely monitor the positivity rate during the final days of the city’s large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) period, which ends on Aug. 27.It is the second time Anies has warned the public to exercise extra caution since Jakarta began relaxing restrictions on June 4.He first issued a warning on July 12, hinting at a reinstatement of stricter PSBB measures after the city recorded its highest number of daily cases.The COVID-19 positivity rate – the percentage of those tested who are found to be infected – in the city over the past three weeks is 8.9 percent, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said, above the 5 percent threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for relaxing restrictions. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan is once again considering pulling the emergency brake to stop the gradual reopening of the economy as cases of COVID-19 continue to soar in the capital city.The city recorded 565 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 31,162 with 9,047 active cases and 1,046 deaths. On Tuesday, Jakarta recorded 505 new COVID-19 cases. It has now reclaimed the status as the country’s epicenter of virus transmission, passing East Java, which had recorded 28,551 cases as of Tuesday.“I advise all residents to continue to wear a mask at all times. If you have any ailments, please report it to us and we will conduct a medical test,” Anies said on Monday. “About the emergency brake and so forth, we will monitor [the situation] for a few days ahead.” Deputy Governor Ahmad Riza Patria said restrictions could be reimposed if cases continued to soar and the city’s positivity rate reached above 10 percent, among other indicators.”There are a lot of indicators. For example, if the [positivity] rate is substandard, an emergency brake policy may be enacted […] A positivity rate above 5 percent is alarming, while above 10 percent is considered dangerous,” he said on Monday.But Riza said transmission was still manageable, pointing to the 1.09 reproduction number, a measure of many new infections each case generates. Jakarta’s reproduction number has remained stable at between 0.9 and 1.13 since the beginning of the outbreak.Read also: Indonesia’s R0, explainedRiza also said the city’s health facilities remained adequate to accommodate new patients, although occupancy rates were recorded at 65 percent for isolation beds and 67 percent for intensive care beds last Thursday.The city health agency previously said the figure indicated a “very critical condition”, as more than half of the bed capacity was used on a daily basis.Experts see Jakarta as being caught between a rock and a hard place: removing restrictions may restart the economy, but will also put public health at stake.The city experienced its worst economic growth in the past decade during the second quarter of this year, down 8.22 percent from the same period last year, the latest report from the Jakarta Statistics Agency show. As businesses have suffered, so have people’s incomes, with Jakarta’s household expenditure recording negative 5.23 percent year-on-year growth that could see it “longer be an economic driver in Jakarta”, the report stated.Anies previously said that to keep the economy running, the city must first and foremost curb the outbreak to help consumer spending recover.“[Curbing the spread of COVID-19] is key to restarting the economy. Unless we strive to contain the outbreak seriously, efforts to get the economy up and running will always face obstacles,” Anies said in a virtual meeting with media leaders last week.Anies also said the pandemic could drag on in the capital if COVID-19 testing disparities between Jakarta and its surrounding cities persisted, describing the transmission as a ping pong ball that could bounce all over the place if people did not protect themselves.Read also: Testing disparity looms over Greater Jakarta’s efforts to break chain of transmissionIndonesian Public Health Expert Association (IAKMI) chairman Ede Surya Darmawan said public health was a responsibility shared by neighboring local administrations, as well as the central government. He expected greater intervention to come from the central government if local administrations failed to control transmission.Should Jakarta decide to return to the strict PSBB measures, the city and the central government must first resolve the problems that have hindered the distribution of social aid, such as poor targeting.“If [Jakarta] decides to pull the brake now, I fear the [authorities] will be unprepared. They need to prepare while continuing to improve testing and tracing,” Ede said.Some 2.4 million Jakarta households financially impacted by the pandemic and have now registered as social aid recipients. The number of recipient households accounts for more than half the total number of households in the city.University of Indonesia epidemiologist Tri Yunis Miko urged the city to reimpose stricter restrictions in Jakarta’s COVID-19 red zones and high risk areas.On Sunday, three out of Jakarta’s five municipalities were classified as red zones.“Too many people have underestimated [the disease] and ignored their safety. But the responsibility to enforce health protocols and improve discipline among people lies in the hands of the city administration,” Tri said.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Canada contracts with Novavax for 76 million vaccine doses for 2021

first_imgThe deal comes as the US government granted Novavax US$1.6 billion to help fund development and manufacture of the vaccine, giving the US priority for the first 100 million doses.Maryland-based biotech Novavax has already signed partnership or vaccine delivery agreements with Britain, Japan and India.Canada, meanwhile, has also concluded agreements with Pfizer and Moderna for deliveries of millions of doses of their experimental vaccines, now in Phase 3 trials — among the most advanced.Early tests showed Novavax’s vaccine candidate was “generally well-tolerated” and elicited a “robust antibody responses,” Novavax said. The Canadian government announced Monday a deal with American biotech firm Novavax for 76 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in development, if it proves to be effective against the new coronavirus.The NVX-CoV2373 vaccine candidate, which is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials to evaluate its safety and immunogenicity, could be delivered in the second quarter of 2021, Ottawa and the company said in a joint statement.Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the deal “will give Canadians access to a promising COVID-19 vaccine candidate.” “We are moving forward with clinical development of NVX-CoV2373 with a strong sense of urgency in our quest to deliver a vaccine to protect the world,” said company president Stanley Erck.As of Monday, Canada reported nearly 128,000 cases of Covid-19 and some 9,150 deaths.center_img Topics :last_img read more