A visual guide to the outbreak

Health News BBC - Sat, 03/28/2020 - 14:50
Key charts explaining how the respiratory virus has spread and how it is being dealt with.
Categories: World News

Coronavirus: OneWeb blames pandemic for collapse

Scientific News BBC - Sat, 03/28/2020 - 12:00
OneWeb, the high-profile London-based satellite start-up, files for bankruptcy protection in the US.
Categories: World News

Heirloom plants: Saving the nation's seeds from extinction

Scientific News BBC - Sat, 03/28/2020 - 10:04
The incredible history of the UK's heirloom plants and why they're set to make a comeback.
Categories: World News

How the UK’s coronavirus epidemic compares to other countries

Health News BBC - Sat, 03/28/2020 - 03:09
Comparing the UK’s epidemic to other countries after Friday saw the biggest rise in deaths so far.
Categories: World News

Coronavirus: Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive

Health News BBC - Sat, 03/28/2020 - 01:33
The health secretary also has the virus, England's chief medical officer has symptoms, and the number of UK deaths jumps to 759.
Categories: World News

Coronavirus: Health workers on frontline to be tested in England

Health News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 23:34
Hundreds of tests are to take place in England this weekend and be scaled up next week.
Categories: World News

Coronavirus: Can I get tested to see if I have Covid-19?

Health News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 23:16
The government aims to reach 25,000 tests a day, with patients and NHS workers the top priority.
Categories: World News

Coronavirus: Birmingham and Manchester temporary hospitals announced

Health News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 22:00
The facilities in Manchester and Birmingham are in addition to one being built in London's Docklands.
Categories: World News

Coronavirus: What are social distancing and self-isolation?

Health News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 21:28
Everybody should be avoiding non-essential contact, and you should stay at home wherever possible.
Categories: World News

Are universities punishing students ‘over common cold’?

StopFake.org - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 21:28

By Polygraph

Dominic Gregorio
senior, University of Pennsylvania
“I wish the economy and the academy were not so easily incapacitated by the common cold. I wish (U. Penn) President Gutmann had heard the COVID-19 mortality rates in the U.S. were just above 0.1 percent, very similar to the seasonal flu, and acted like it.”
Source: The UPENN Statesman, March 18, 2020
COVID-19 is no common cold

In a blog written for the UPENN Statesman, a University of Pennsylvania student newspaper, Dominic Gregorio, a university senior, expressed his frustration over the Philadelphia school’s decision to cancel all on-campus commencement events. Instead, the school will hold a virtual ceremony for live broadcast.

Larry Jameson, Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, and six other leaders of large academic health systems urge national leadership to resist pressure to lift tough social restrictions intended to subdue the coronavirus outbreak. https://t.co/uR9B4K2aIk

— Penn (@Penn) March 25, 2020

The decision was based on the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control “to protect the health of our graduates, their families, alumni, and faculty and staff,” Amy Gutmann, the university president said in a message March 16.

“I regret that this semester has been upended in so many ways. But in our lifetime the world has not faced a challenge as unique and complicated as the one that we currently confront,” she said.

Dominic Gregorio, a U. Penn senior, responded on March 18 in a UPENN Statesman article headlined, “Penn stole our senior year over the common cold.”

Penn stole our senior year over the common cold | The UPenn Statesman https://t.co/81PKl9GVX3

— Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) March 22, 2020

Gegorio accused the university of an “over-the-top” response to coronavirus and of “robbing” the 2020 class of “the only senior year we’ll ever have.”

“I wish the economy and the academy were not so easily incapacitated by the common cold. I wish President Gutmann had heard the COVID-19 mortality rates in the U.S. were just above 0.1 percent, very similar to the seasonal flu, and acted like it,” Gregorio wrote. “I don’t care,” he added, about spreading infection.

Claims that COVID-19 is a common cold and that mortality rates are “just above 0.1 percent” are false.

The virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified as SARS-CoV-2, or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. There is no vaccine or special treatment. After being discovered in December in China, COVID-19 by mid-March became a global pandemic – third in 100 years after the 1918-19 Spanish flu.

What coronavirus symptoms look like, day by day pic.twitter.com/k4IVK4QX2m

— Tech Insider (@techinsider) March 18, 2020

The number of people infected worldwide is approaching a half-million (451,355 as of March 25), and the death toll is past 20,000 (20,499).

When describing the COVID-19, doctors, scientists and epidemiologists worldwide say they “have never seen anything like it,” and that it is “not like flu.”

This story by National Public Radio spells out many of the differences between COVID-19, the common cold and seasonal flu.

Here are eight of them:
  1. COVID-19 is novel, or new. That means there’s no vaccine, and it’s unclear how it will manifest;
  2. This strain of coronavirus appears to infect two to 2.5 people versus 1.3 with the flu, so coronavirus seems to be about twice as contagious as the flu;
  3. Some 20% of coronavirus patients are in serious enough condition to go to the hospital, 10 times the number who wind up in the hospital because of the flu;
  4. Hospital stays for the coronavirus are twice as long as for the flu;
  5. About 8% of people get the flu every year. Some estimates are 25% to 50%, possibly up to 80%, could get the coronavirus without drastic actions being taken by individuals, states and municipalities and the federal government;
  6. The coronavirus could be 10 times deadlier than the flu — about 0.1% who get flu die. It’s estimated that about 1% of those who have gotten coronavirus have died from it;
  7. There are treatments for the flu. There are no approved treatments for the coronavirus, despite the president’s optimism for certain drugs, which are untested for coronavirus to this point; and
  8. The flu tends to wane in warm weather, but it’s too soon to count on that for coronavirus, which is thriving in warm, tropical places.

Like Gregorio, hundreds of thousands of American students have expressed frustration about COVID-19’s impact on campus life.

Early news coverage of the COVID-19 disease said it appeared most dangerous for older adults and people with chronic illnesses and presented a low risk of death for younger, healthy people.

That has changed with the U.S. epidemic data.

“Today I have a message for young people: You are not invincible, this virus could put you in hospital for weeks or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyes, director general of the World Health Organization warned on March 21.

By Polygraph

Categories: World News

All’s fair in love and war: Democracy in a state of emergency

StopFake.org - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 21:20

Photo: Health screening at Shanghai Pudong International Airport by Ptrump16 under CC BY-SA 4.0

By Corina Rebegea, for CEPA

In the fight with the global COVID-19 crisis, many leaders are adopting a wartime discourse. The measures imposed—lockdowns, postponed elections, and surveillance—buy time, but they go beyond anything most people in the Western world have seen since the 1940s. Alarm bells are sounding in some quarters about that. Hungary’s state of emergency is particularly draconian. Groups such as Freedom House and Access Now are urging governments to consider the implications of their actions and inviting local civil society groups to keep a watchful eye on potential abuses of the constitutional framework regulating emergency measures. 

But an even larger question arises from the (perhaps temporary) new normality in which offline action has become almost nonexistent. The dangers of virtual spaces, such as disinformation and algorithmic manipulation—were already in focus before the pandemic. Disinformation campaigns and computational propaganda worldwide have already exposed how unprepared our legal systems are to deal with campaigning, advertising, and publishing online, as well as how unprepared our citizenry is for a barrage of virtual manipulation. Those worries are compounded by a new reality that all but forbids physical presence.

In the United States, political campaigns are going virtual, heralding the at least temporary end of basic democratic processes such as door-knocking, community organizing, rallying, and (perhaps) voting at polling stations. There is not enough time to create a new voting system; only a handful of countries, notably Estonia, have a robust and proven system for electronic ballots. The most likely immediate consequence is delay. 

But democracy is about more than elections. Even in normal times, the space for civil society is shrinking as governments and commercial pressures encroach on association, assembly, and expression: protests, marches, town halls, and participation in public consultations and decision-making. What will happen with these processes in an era of quarantine and lockdown? In countries with a shorter democratic experience (such as most of Central and Eastern Europe), building such habits and empowering civil society to exercise scrutiny and demand accountability was incomplete when the pandemic struck. With citizens already fatigued by disinformation, anxieties about health will further strain public trust. Those involved in politics and activism need to start thinking now what they can do to carry out their mission effectively and safely. 

While the authorities deal with the health emergency situation, civil society can use this time to regroup. Some, such as TechSoup Europe are already planning online training and events. Perhaps this is also a time for more policy-oriented reflection: at the height of the Second World War, William Beveridge was working on plans for Britain’s post-war welfare state. Donors too have an opportunity to rethink their focus. 

Finally, technology companies and internet giants can start acting upon their promise to support democracy, rather than contribute—however inadvertently—to its weakening. Discussions about the link between technology and democracy started before the pandemic. Now would be a good time to accelerate them.  

By Corina Rebegea, for CEPA

Common Crisis is a CEPA analytical series on the implications of COVID-19 for the transatlantic relationship. All opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or views of the institutions they represent or the Center for European Policy Analysis.

Corina Rebegea is a Program Director, founder of the U.S.-Romania Initiative and Fellow-in-Residence. Corina works on democracy and rule of law issues, good governance, and public sector leadership, as well as transatlantic security cooperation and Black Sea security. She also leads the center’s programming on democracy, media literacy, and countering disinformation.  

Categories: World News

Coronavirus: Essex GP with 'textbook symptoms' dies

Health News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 20:48
The family of Dr Habib Zaidi, 76, say he sacrificed his life for his job.
Categories: World News

Coronavirus: Increased testing capacity announced by Michael Gove

Health News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 20:37
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said there would be increased antigen testing for frontline workers.
Categories: World News

Russian senator falsely claims poles closed airspace to virus aid

StopFake.org - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 20:37
An updated version of a story about the claim that Poland closed its airspace to Russian military aircraft bound for Italy

By Polygraph

Alexey Pushkov
Chairman of the commission on information policy of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament
“Poland did not let Russian aircraft carrying aid to Italy pass through its airspace. This is meanness at the level of public policy. Moreover, the help was for an ally of Poland in the EU and NATO. From now on, Russia should not meet Poland half-way, on any issue.”
Source: Sputnik, March 23, 2020
Poland disputed claims by a longtime antagonist.

On March 24, Alexey Pushkov, a member of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, tweeted that Poland had closed its airspace to Russian military aircraft delivering aid to Italy.

“Poland did not let Russian aircraft carrying aid to Italy pass through its airspace,” Pushkov wrote on his personal Twitter account.

“This is meanness at the level of public policy. Moreover, the help was for an ally of Poland in the EU and NATO. From now on, Russia should not meet Poland half-way, on any issue.”

The Russian state-owned media outlet Sputnik picked up the story. It initially reported that Poland had blocked the Russian aid aircraft while noting that neither the Polish Foreign Ministry nor the Russian Defense Ministry had confirmed the information.

Pushkov’s tweet was later deleted, and the Sputnik story and headline were changed to reflect the new information.

Pushkov’s claim is false.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry denied closing its airspace to Russian aid for Italy and reported that it had received no request for access from the Russian military.

A Sputnik story based on Pushkov’s tweet. The story was updated on March 24 with a new headline, but the URL still displays the original. Twitter link to the Sputnik story with the original headline

Chairman of the Committee on (Dis-)Information Policy of the Federation Council (the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia) spreading #FakeNews about Poland blocking an airlift with Russian aid for Italy.

A clear victim of the #COVIDIDIOTS pandemic in Russia. pic.twitter.com/n2v6AVhIF2

— Sławomir Dębski (@SlawomirDebski) March 24, 2020

Attention: another #FakeNews on the #coronavirus pandemic.

Russia did not request entry into Polish airspace.
The news of Poland’s alleged refusal is baseless and untrue. pic.twitter.com/8bL6eSBjj8

— Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Categories: World News

The community of collapse

StopFake.org - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 20:10

By EU vs Disinfo

The Kremlin, the conspiracy theorists and the coronavirus

In an article last year, EUvsDisinfo described the dialogue of disinformation. Disinformation outlets need to adopt to the audience, carefully map and understand sentiments, prejudice and ideals. Lies are best if they resonate with the worldviews, superstitions and archetypes of the intended audience.

The COVID-19 outbreak illustrates this dialogue of disinformation very clearly. Take for instance the trope about the COVID-19 being an American artificially created virus. This is the very first example of disinformation in the EUvsDisinfo disinformation database on the current outbreak: A new Chinese coronavirus was likely elaborated in NATO biolabs.

The same week, Sputnik’s Arab language service repeated the claim about the US origins of the virus. This piece of disinformation really resonated with the audience, and was republished in dozens of Arab language websites, including a fake BBC site.

Pointing Fingers

Well, pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets are not prejudiced and happily point finger in any comfortable direction. There are examples of cases in the database, suggesting the culprit is China, the country is hiding the real numbers of deaths of the disease. The UK is another alleged malefactor, as are the usual villains in the disinformation outlets’ play book: Bill Gates, Soros, the “Global Elites”, the Belarusian opposition

Conspiracy theories are not a prerogative of pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets. Most of the above-mentioned tropes can be found in abundance anywhere on the web. But the articles above are from state-funded, mainstream channels, managed directly by the Kremlin or by oligarchs, close to the Kremlin. Sputnik is funded by the federal budget, TV Zvezda belongs to the Russian Armed Forces. We are not referring to strange, fringe publications, but to mouthpieces of Russian officialdom.

The dialogue of disinformation can be illustrated through the relationship between various forms of pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets:

  • Sites, openly belonging to, or affiliated with, Russian state structures. In this group we find RT, Sputnik, Russia Beyond, New Eastern Outlook;
  • Sites, registered in Russia and with open and obvious connection to pro-Kremlin circles: Examples are Geopolitica.ru, Katehon.com, News Front
  • Sites, registered in Russia, but with more or less hidden connections to the Kremlin or other Russian structures. Here we find Strategic Culture Foundation, South Front, Oriental Review, One World, Info Brics
  • Sites, registered outside Russia and with no apparent ties to Russian state or Oligarch structures, but with an openly pro-Kremlin agenda: Russia-Insider, Russian-Faith, The Duran, The Saker, Fort Russ News
  • And, sites, registered outside Russia, supporting pro-Kremlin narratives, while having no apparent ties to Russia: Global Research, Unz Review, Veterans Today, The Alt World…

The connections between this last group and Russian officialdom can be hard to spot. Usually, the narratives forwarded on key issues follow the Kremlin lines to take very closely. Searching for “Syria”, “Skripal” or “MH17” on those sites yields results, identical to the Kremlin media’s. Contributors to those sites are usually frequent guests at RT/Sputnik or other Kremlin state channels. And occasionally, one can find individuals, connected to Kremlin, or Russian oligarch structures, in editorial boards or as guests at RT/Sputnik.

The Manufactured Chaos

Russian New Eastern Outlook suggests Bill Gates as one of the villains behind the outbreak. This article is quickly shared by Global Research in both English and French. The article is translated into Italian and Swedish as well.

The same Russia-based, state-funded outlet identifies the COVID-19 outbreak as a designated plan to throw the world into chaos:

Simply put, there are actors out there that can and would unleash a global pandemic as a component in a long term “chaos theory” operation.

Those same actors would do so and have, over and over, no matter the cost in human lives. I think one can now safely point to 9/11 and its aftermath as one such operation.

One might also cite several regime change efforts as well and even fill in the names of nations involved, the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Again: this is NOT your foil-hat fringe-conspiracy uncle waffling during an awkward family dinner: this is from a site, managed by the Russian Academy of Sciences’ (yes, Sciences) section for Oriental Studies. A reputable institution that lends itself to distribution of lies.

South Front, again, compares the COVID-19 outbreak with 9/11, the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York 9 September 2001:

We are now experiencing 911-2B, the coronavirus black swan. Just as 9/11 terrorized, shocked, and shut down the USA for a few days, it seems that Covid-19 will do the same, only more so. Instead of a few days, we may be shut down for a few months, maybe even a few years. And once again, Zionists are hysterically pushing back against those of us questioning the official story. 

In this case, South Front published an article from the US-based Unz Review. This article is quickly spread to other pro-Kremlin sites and translated into French.

Against Vaccination

Disinformation spreads virally through a complicated network of sites. The purpose of this disinformation is to sow distrust in authorities, media, and expertise – even the health-care system. Quoting Russian South Front publication of Canadian Global Research’s article on the COVID-19 outbreak:

After the pandemic has been officially declared, the next step may be – also at the recommendation either by WHO, or individual countries, “force vaccination”, under police and/or military surveillance. Those who refuse may be penalized (fines and / or jail – and force-vaccinated all the same).

South Front/Global Research describes the COVID-19 outbreak as a fake pandemic, set up by the “Anglo-Zionist Empire”, just waiting for the right moment to launch their cunning plan:

The final decision to go ahead NOW, was taken in January 2020 at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos – behind very much closed doors, of course. The Gates, GAVI (an association of vaccination-promoting pharmaceuticals), Rockefellers, Rothschilds et al, they are all behind this decision

In the author’s universe, the COVID-19 the schemes spun behind “very much closed doors” aim at introducing force vaccinations, nano-chips being injected into our bodies to control us.

If indeed force-vaccination will happen, another bonanza for Big Pharma, people really don’t know what type of cocktail will be put into the vaccine, maybe a slow killer, that acts-up only in a few years – or a disease that hits only the next generation – or a brain debilitating agent, or a gene that renders women infertile …. all is possible – always with the aim of full population control and population reduction. In a few years’ time, one doesn’t know, of course, where the disease comes from. That’s the level of technology our bio-war labs have reached (US, UK, Israel, Canada, Australia…).

This anti-vaccine trope can be found occasionally in the disinformation Mirror Land: Fundamentalist Christian Russian Faith comforts its readers that the Church of Russia denounces any plans for compulsory vaccination. The same outlet share RT content on prayers in Moscow to fight the virus.

It is impossible to say who is piggybacking whom. Is the Kremlin using those sites to spread their narratives, or are the owners of various conspiracy theory sites using the Kremlin to finance their own ambitions? And does it matter? Health care professionals, national, European and International organisations are focusing on addressing the challenges of a pandemic outbreak. The pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets are jeopardising the battle against the disease.

By EU vs Disinfo

Categories: World News

Coronavirus in UK: How many confirmed cases are there in your area?

Health News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 20:01
Key graphics explaining how coronavirus has spread in the UK and the government's response.
Categories: World News

Coronavirus: Lockdowns continue to suppress European pollution

Scientific News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 19:13
New data confirms the improvement in air quality over Europe - a by-product of the coronavirus crisis.
Categories: World News

Clap for Carers: The nation celebrates the work of the NHS and care workers

Health News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 15:39
Pictures show people across the UK stepping outside to pay tribute to the work of the NHS in the coronavirus crisis
Categories: World News

Plastic: How to predict threats to animals in oceans and rivers

Scientific News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 15:04
Scientists find out more about the threats of plastic to thousands of fish, whales and other aquatic life.
Categories: World News

Climate change: 'Gob-smacking' vision for future UK transport

Scientific News BBC - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 14:50
Public transport and active travel will be the "natural first choice", the Transport Secretary says.
Categories: World News