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US bars travellers from Brazil: Coronavirus live updates

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

  • Children in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, returned to school on Monday.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, May 25

03:40 GMT – One million jobs lost: The price of coronavirus in Mexico

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says the novel coronavirus could cost up to one million jobs, because many industries considered not essential remain shut.

“My prediction is that with coronavirus, a million jobs will be lost,” Lopez Obrador said in a televised speech on Sunday. He then promised the government would create two million new jobs.

Lopez Obrador’s government has repeatedly said it has the outbreak under control but has since posted record numbers for new cases and deaths. The Mexican economy was already in recession before the pandemic struck and some banks have predicted it could contract 9 percent this year. Read more here. 

03:00 GMT – COVID-19 emerges in Malaysia immigration detention centres

Malaysia’s top civil servant in the health ministry has called for medical attention and decontamination in the country’s immigration detention centres after three were found to have cases of coronavirus.

Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, who is secretary-general at the Ministry of Health, said there should ne no discrimination against non-Malaysians in dealing with the virus.

“We need to enhance the active cases detection and isolate and treat those positive cases immediately,” Dr Noor Hisham wrote on his Facebook page. “Quarantine those close contacts and decontaminate the respective centres. The virus knows no boundaries and does not favour any ethnicity and social status.”

Malaysia has carried out a series of raids on undocumented migrants during the country’s coronavirus lockdown. Health ministry data shows 115 confirmed cases across the three centres.

02:15 GMT – Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo to start selling face masks 

Japanese retailer Uniqlo is to start selling masks in its stores to meet coronavirus demand.

The masks will be made from the same quick-drying material as its AIRism brand of underwear to help keep the wearer cool, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

02:00 GMT – Japan to lift state of emergency for Tokyo

Japan is expected to lift the state of emergency in Tokyo and four other areas that are still under coronavirus restrictions.

The government will seek approval for the plan from key advisers on Monday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe due to hold a press conference at 6pm (09:00 GMT)

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said the capital would move to reopen libraries and museums with the state of emergency lifted and allow restaurants to open for longer. Theatres, cinemas and other venues would reopen at a later stage.

01:20 GMT – Children in NSW return to class, as parents go back to work

Chlldren of all ages across Australia’s most-populous state of New South Wales went back to class on Monday, as offices began to reopen.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian told the media only a “very, very small proportion” of parents had chosen to keep their children at home because of concerns about COVID-19.

Australia school

00:00 GMT – US bans Brazil arrivals as coronavirus toll surges 

The United States said on Sunday that it was banning all travel into the US by non-citizens who have been in Brazil.

“We hope that it will be temporary, but because of the situation in Brazil, we’re going to take every step necessary to protect the American people,” National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told CBS’s Face the Nation programme.

Brazil registered 653 deaths on Sunday and an additional 15,813 cases, bringing the total to 363,211.

Writing on Twitter, Filipe Martins, a foreign affairs adviser to President Jair Bolsonaro played down the move saying the ban was “nothing specific against Brazil” and the US was following “preciously established parameters”. 

Source: Aljazeera

Australia begins wide-ranging investigation into deadly bushfires

Fuelled by three years of drought, hundreds of fires burned across Australia’s east coast for months before finally being extinguished in February [Fire: Sean Davey/EPA]

Australia on Monday began its first hearings into the causes of catastrophic bushfires that swept across the country, killing 33 people, destroying some 2,500 homes and razing an area the size of South Korea.

Fuelled by three years of drought, which experts have attributed to climate change, hundreds of fires, some massive in size, burned across Australia’s east coast for months before finally being extinguished in February.


“The tragic loss of life, the destruction of homes, the significant loss of livestock and millions of hectares of forest has been devastating and continues to deeply affect people and their recovery,” Mark Binskin, chair of the inquiry, said in an emailed statement.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the six-month Royal Commission inquiry would investigate preparedness for future bushfires and the need for any changes to the law to clarify who is responsible for overseeing emergency authorities.

A two-week hearing of the royal commission, sitting in Canberra but being conducted electronically, has started with a focus on the changing global climate and natural disaster risk.

Unprecedented crisis

According to estimates by the weather monitor, AccuWeather, the total damage and economic loss caused by the bushfires from September 2019 and into 2020 could be as high as $110bn.

Millions of people were also exposed to months of smoke haze and poor air quality.

Bush and grass fires in New South Wales were particularly damaging with 5.5 million hectares (13.6 million acres) of land area burned, equivalent to more than 6 percent of the state.

The fires there also destroyed a total of 2,448 homes and killed many, including three NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers and three US firefighters in a toll unrivalled in the state’s history.

The crisis strengthened charges that Morrison’s conservative government needed to take more action to counter climate change, which experts said made the blazes worse.

Source: Aljazeera

Elumelu, other Global Leaders Convene at UBA Africa Day Conversations 2020

UBA House

The President of Senegal, H.E. Macky Sall, President of Liberia, H.E George Weah and  United States Senator Chris Coons will form part of a high-level leadership panel to be moderated by the Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, to discuss Africa’s economic recovery in the 2020 edition of UBA’s Africa Conversations.

The African Presidents and global leaders will be joined on the panel by other global leaders including the President & Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Professor Benedict Okey Oramah; President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer and President and Founder, Africa CEO Forum, Amir Ben Yahmed.

With over 60% of Africans living below the poverty line, the pandemic poses an existential threat to Africa’s economic growth and this session will define the lessons learned and the roadmap to economic growth and sustainability.

Together, the leading voices will speak on Monday, May 25th, 2020, on the theme ‘UBA Africa Day Conversations 2020: Growth, Jobs, and Sustainable Development Amidst a Global Pandemic,’ This will be the second edition of the symposium organised annually by UBA, in celebration of Africa Day. 

The open event will be held virtually starting at 3pm WAT and interested participants can register on the UBA website here.

Africa Day is celebrated worldwide on May 25th, to showcase the diversity and beauty of Africa and its people.  The United Bank for Africa, with its pan-African footprint spanning 20 African countries, New York, Paris, and London, continues to lead the conversation and focus on the the development, growth, and unity of the continent.

'The Match II' Reminds Us What Golf Is Really About

The Tiger/Peyton-Phil/Tom Golf Thing was the best sporting event in weeks, surpassing Michael Jordan laughing at people he hasn’t seen in 20 years. This was not just quirky and entertaining. It was a surprising reminder of how much fun sports are supposed to be.

These guys cared about winning enough but not too much. They teased each other but not too much. They were relaxed. They raised eight figures for charity, which is of course the best part of what happened. But for viewers, it was compelling television for the strangest of reasons: This was, in a weird way, a better advertisement for golf than most PGA Tour events.

The game is supposed to be hard enough to make the good shots feel great. That is not the case at the typical PGA Tour event these days. What we get instead is the best players in the world using technology that gives them a big margin for error on courses that are not a real test of their skills. Most majors are great. Most other events are not.

Golf is supposed to be a game of camaraderie, of intermittent laughs amid the tests of concentration. Most PGA Tour players are quite engaging, but their personalities don’t come through like we saw Sunday, when four of the most famous athletes on the planet were mic’ed in a four-hour-plus competition.

We got to see Brady and Manning, famous control freaks who impose their wills on entire teams, defer to their partners. The banter between Woods and Manning was minimal, but Mickelson coached Brady so hard, I kept wondering if Brady would leave him for Bruce Arians.

And that brings us to the real key to this show’s success: Brady was awful to start the match. He was a peculiar kind of awful that is almost unique to golf: You could tell he was capable of playing a lot better, but his game was hiding from him. And it hid from him in a nationally televised match alongside the two best golfers of their generation and his longtime friend and rival. He looked like the pressure was rattling him. Tom Brady. Imagine.

Mickelson, to his credit, understood that he had to leave his teammate alone, keep things loose, and hope Brady somehow found his swing.

Most golfers would not recover from Brady’s start. But Brady summoned his inner … uh, Tom Brady, holing out for birdie from the seventh fairway and playing pretty well from there out. Brady and Manning hit some truly clutch shots on the back nine. The juxtaposition of their solid-amateur games with Tiger and Phil’s Hall of Fame skills turned out to be riveting.

Brady and Manning have the quirks of amateur golfers. Brady carried blade irons, including a two-iron, but no driver – who has that combination in their bag? Manning aimed right on almost every tee to play for his natural (and sometimes uncontrollable) draw. Medalist Golf Club is a brutal layout, and at times the course made them look overmatched. But golf is supposed to do that.

And because Brady and Manning played like the amateurs they are, they reminded us just how insanely good Woods and Mickelson are. The skinny on Tiger at this point is pretty straightforward. When he is healthy, he can play as well as anybody in the world, especially from the fairway. But on days when his back isn’t right, he looks old. He has had both kinds of days this year, and will have both going forward. But this was a good day. Except for the time he left Manning with a bunker shot during alternate-shot play, Tiger had astounding control of his ball.

Tiger was quiet and occasionally sarcastic, which is how he usually is with the cameras on. Manning reminded us why the networks coveted him; he may be a more natural public speaker than quarterback. Brady does not need to remind the world he has won three times as many Super Bowls as Manning. Instead, Brady told a story about Drew Bledsoe pulling a prank on him when he was a rookie. It was a juvenile prank, as these things tend to be, but when broadcaster Amanda Balionis asked Brady if he got revenge on Bledsoe, he should have said, “Yeah, I took his job and won six Super Bowls.”

Mickelson, whose mind is constantly churning, described a few shots in fantastic detail before he hit them. He had the most enthusiasm of the crew, and it’s easy to envision Mickelson, who is moving to Florida, playing in money games into his 80s. He loves the trophies and the money, but mostly he lives for the action.

Corruption at AfDB: U.S. rejects Adesina’s exoneration, wants fresh probe

The United States has rejected the clean bill given Dr. Akinwumi Adesina by the African Development Bank ethics committee, over corruption allegations.

Instead, the U.S. has called for an independent probe, thus upending AfDB’s board decision to end an investigation against Adesina.

In a letter dated May 22 and addressed to Niale Kaba, chairwoman of the bank’s board of governors, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Treasury disagreed with findings by the bank’s ethics committee that “totally exonerated” Adesina.

Kaba confirmed receipt of the document and declined further comment, according to Bloomberg.

The intervention by the Treasury, the AfDB’s biggest non-African shareholder, comes two weeks after the ethics committee found no evidence to support allegations of favouritism by Adesina.

The 60-year-old bank chief, who has repeatedly refuted the allegations, is the only candidate up for election as president at an annual general meeting scheduled for August.

“We have deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process,” Mnuchin said.

“Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing.”

The U.S. Treasury didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Clear Mandate

Adesina was accused by a group of unidentified whistleblowers of handing contracts to acquaintances and appointing relatives to strategic positions at the Abidjan-based lender.

“Considering the scope, seriousness, and detail of these allegations against the sole candidate for bank leadership over the next five years, we believe that further inquiry is necessary to ensure that the AfDB’s president has broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate from shareholders,” Mnuchin said.

U.S. criticism of the bank’s internal processes follows comments by World Bank President David Malpass in February that multilateral lenders including the AfDB tend to provide loans too quickly and, in the process, add to African nations’ debt problems.

The bank rebutted the statements as “inaccurate and not fact-based.”

The AfDB is Africa’s biggest multilateral lender and has an AAA rating from Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings.

Its shareholders are Africa’s 54 nations and 27 countries in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia.

In March, the lender issued a $3 billion social bond to help African countries deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Bids for the securities on the London money market exceeded $4.6 billion.

Source: PM News

Russian drug Favipiravir that kills coronavirus in 4 days almost ready

A Russian-made drug Favipiravir that can eliminate coronavirus infections within four days, is now in the final stages of clinical trials.

The drug known as Favipiravir is being tested by Russian pharmaceutical investment firm ChemRar with the support of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

On Thursday, clinical trials moved to the final stage in which it is tested on a randomised sample of COVID-19 patients.

The drug has several advantages. One of them is that it significantly reduces patient recovery time.

Another advantage is its availability in tablet form.

This makes its use easier, according to a statement from the RDIF.

“We noticed a faster improvement in the general health and clinical condition of the patients taking Favipiravir”, said said Elena Yakubova, CEO of ChemRar Pharma in a statement.

“This may lead to earlier discharge from hospital and reduce the burden on medical facilities by 30-40 percent in the near future,” she added.

The final stage of trials were approved to begin on May 21, involving 330 patients, the statement said.

Earlier results had suggested that the drug has no new or previously unreported side effects and brought down the body temperature of a majority, 68 percent, of patients twice as fast as patients not taking favipiravir.

Complete elimination of the coronavirus took on average around four days with the drug, compared to around nine days with standard treatment.

“Thanks to the administration of Favipiravir, most patients are not infectious as early as the fifth day of treatment, which is critical to stop the epidemic and ensure a swift return to normal life,” Yakubova added.

After four days of treatment with the drug, 65 percent of a test group of 40 patients were found to test negative for the virus. By day 10, the number of patients testing negative had reached 35.

“We continue to receive promising data during the clinical trials of Favipiravir.

“At least 85 percent of patients in the control groups completely recovered from coronavirus within 10 days after the start of the treatment with the drug.

“We expect a positive final result of the trial, which will enable us to complete the registration procedure for the drug in Russia,” RDIF’S CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in the statement.

Various drugs across the globe are currently undergoing rapid testing to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which as claimed over 300,000 lives worldwide.

In the US, drugs including remdesivir and famotidine have shown positive results.

A combination of triple antiviral medicine was recently shown to help relieve symptoms of patients in a small clinical trial in Hong Kong.

Source: PM News