Panama Employs Gender-Based Plan to Fight COVID-19

Panama is now using a gender-based plan to support restrictions already in place to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.Panama Security Minister Juan Pino said that until April 15, men and women can only leave their homes for a two-hour period on certain days.The plan permits women to leave home to buy goods on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.Men in Panama are allowed out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  No one is permitted to leave home on Sunday unless it’s an emergency.It’s unclear how the separation of men of women in public will enhance Panama’s ability to curtail the growing infection rate.Panama has also tightened its nightly curfew, instead of people not being allowed out between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., the curfew now starts at 5 p.m.Panama’s health ministry has reported 1,475 coronavirus cases, with 37 deaths. 

Mexico Moves to Prepare Hospitals for Coronavirus Patients

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is scheduled to begin two days of hospital visits Friday as the government scrambles to make ready dozens of facilities with the capability of treating coronavirus patients.The move comes as crews begin sanitizing a public hospital in the northern town of Monclova, in Coahuila state, where at least 26 medical workers tested positive for the virus and a doctor died.Authorities say the hospital staff is being retrained on how to handle coronavirus cases following the doctor’s death.Prior to the doctor’s death, medical workers at the hospital and several other medical facilities across Mexico staged protests over training and equipment needed to safely treat coronavirus patients.The latest outbreak has raised public concern over the strength of the government’s plan to fight the virus, which has infected more than 1,300 people in Mexico and claimed the lives of 37 people. 

Global Coronavirus Cases Hit 1 Million

The coronavirus pandemic has hit a grim milestone — 1 million confirmed cases.The count by Johns Hopkins University says almost one-fourth, 236,000, are in the United States.The worldwide death toll stands at more than 53,000. Italy reported the most fatalities with more than 13,000 and climbing daily.A question on nearly everyone’s lips in the U.S. is, “Do I need to wear a mask?” Some experts have said anyone who is not sick or caring for someone who is doesn’t need one. They say a mask won’t stop the virus.Other experts say even minimal protection from a face covering is better than nothing at all.New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is recommending New Yorkers wear a scarf, bandana, or some homemade covering over their mouths and noses – but not a surgical mask. He says those should be reserved for medical professionals.Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is also asking people to cover their mouths in public.U.S. President Donald Trump said the White House task force is still putting together guidelines on whether to wear a face covering.“If people wanted to wear them, they can. It’s not a bad idea, at least for a period of time,” Trump said.A transit police officer checks the temperature of a truck driver as a preventive measure against the new coronavirus, during a partial curfew ordered by the government in Villa Nueva, Guatemala, on April 2, 2020.The White House said Trump was tested again for the coronavirus, using a test that gives results in 15 minutes. The president tested negative and was pronounced “healthy.”The World Bank approved nearly $2 billion in funds for 25 of the world’s poorest countries to battle the coronavirus pandemic.India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia will get most of the first payments. The money is specifically earmarked for critical medical supplies, including masks and ventilators.Bank President David Malpass says the institution could provide as much as $160 billion in such help over the next year.India’s lockdown of more than 1 billion people has left hundreds of millions homeless and without food, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to beg for their forgiveness.In Brussels, NATO foreign ministers have tasked the alliance’s top military officer, U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, “to coordinate the necessary military support to combat the crisis, to speed up and step up assistance.”Wolters will procure cargo planes and other aircraft to deliver medical supplies as well as surplus stocks across the 30-member bloc.Meanwhile, Portugal announced a ban on all commercial flights arriving at its airports, and its citizens won’t be allowed to visit other towns except for work. The new restrictions take effect April 9 and are set to last five days.“The virus doesn’t travel by itself,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Thursday. “This Easter period is a particularly critical time and that’s why it is essential to restrict movement in the national territory.”The government is also pardoning inmates sentenced to two years or less to prevent a spread of the virus in jails.People wait in line to buy supplies amid the spread of the coronavirus disease in Guayaquil, Ecuador, April 2, 2020.Portugal has a little more than 9,000 confirmed cases.Also Thursday, three anonymous Iraqi doctors involved in testing say the country has thousands of coronavirus cases – far more than the government’s official count of 772.Iraq’s health ministry simply said the sources reporting what the doctors allege are “incorrect.”In Seattle, Washington, federal officials have proposed a $611,000 fine for the nursing home where 40 people died of coronavirus.The Life Care Center was ground zero early in the U.S. outbreak.Federal regulators say the facility had a nuber of serious problems including failing to quickly identify and properly treat residents during a spate of respiratory illnesses that turned out to have been caused by the coronavirus.The nursing home has yet to respond to the proposed fine.Also Thursday, the U.S. Postal Service said 22 countries have informed them that they can no longer process or deliver mail arriving from other nations because of disruptions in service caused by the coronavirus.They include India, Kuwait, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, and 17 other countries.And Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is ordering police to confront anyone who is violating the lockdown on Luzon and “shoot them dead.”Duterte appeared on television Thursday after residents in a poor section of Manila protested in the streets against what they say is the government’s negligence to deliver food and supplies.Women buy medicinal plants in Asuncion, Paraguay, on April 2, 2020.”I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police and military, as well as village officials, if there is any trouble, or occasions where there’s violence and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead. Do not intimidate the government. Do not challenge the government. You will lose.”Government officials hastily followed up on Duterte’s remarks to say he was simply using his usual tough rhetoric to illustrate how serious the coronavirus is.Police Chief Archie Gamboa said the president was “just overemphasizing on implementing the law in this time of crisis,” and police officers realize that they are not going to kill anyone for protesting.

Amid Russia’s Growing Coronavirus Threat, a Shifting Kremlin Response

Russia says it’s entering a new phase in its fight against the spread of COVID-19. A near countrywide quarantine is just the latest in a series of government measures aimed at stopping a contagion that has infected over 3,500 Russians and killed 30 thus far.  But as Charles Maynes reports from Moscow, the Kremlin’s approach to the virus has been evolving over time.

German FM Warns NATO of ‘Disinformation’ During Coronavirus Crisis

 Germany’s foreign minister Thursday warned NATO members against taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to spread “disinformation,” “propaganda” and “fake news.”Speaking ahead of a video teleconference of alliance foreign ministers, Heiko Maas said, “There are some who abuse this situation for propaganda purposes” and try to show themselves in a better light.He urged both the European Union and NATO to take counter measures to ensure available information is “fact-based” and not “fake news.”Maas did not name specific nations, but the Reuters news agency, citing a document it had reviewed last month, reports the EU claimed Russian media had launched a significant disinformation campaign against the West to generate panic and sow distrust regarding the governmental responses to the crisis.Reuters reports Moscow denied the allegations.

Spain Records 950 COVID-19 Deaths in One Day 

Spain’s health officials reported 950 deaths from COVID-19 since Wednesday, a new one-day record in fatalities that pushes the nation’s total deaths during the outbreak to over 10,000. Speaking at a news briefing in Madrid Thursday, Spain’s medical emergency chief, Fernando Simon, said that while coronavirus cases rose to 110,238, the rate of spread in the nation is stabilizing. Health ministry officials say figures show the virus was spreading at a daily rate of 20 percent until March 25. Since then they say that rate has dropped to less than 12 percent, showing orders for residents to stay at home are working.  Spain trails only Italy in total deaths from the virus and behind only Italy and the United States for total cases.

Language Barriers Limit Access to Coronavirus News for Some European Migrants

Keeping up to date about the coronavirus can be a problem for migrants who do not speak the language of the country in which they are living. In the Netherlands, a group of volunteers is trying to address the problem with a help desk aimed at recent immigrants.Every afternoon, calls come streaming into the coronavirus help desk, a service in the Netherlands for newcomers who do not speak the national language, Dutch.From two- to four p.m., volunteers answer calls from an immigrant population that hails mostly from Syria and Eritrea. Co-founder Milka Yemane explains that the service fills a gap in the coronavirus prevention campaign.“We got a lot of questions from newcomers, from refugees about the corona crisis, but also about what was the government saying about it?,” asked Yemane . “What do we need to know? Why are the schools closing, et cetera, et cetera. So, we said, it is so important to also offer them this very important information in these times in the languages that they know best.”Seven civil society groups started the service, which is operated entirely by volunteers.  Operators at the help desk speak Arabic and Tigrinya, the Eritrean national language.  Yemane says they plan to add other languages. Providing information to communities that don’t speak the national language fluently had a catastrophic impact in Sweden. Six of the first 15 coronavirus casualties in Sweden had a Somali background. The Swedish government has now committed to providing coronavirus-related news in 15 languages, including Somali.Catherine Woollard is the director of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. She underlines the importance of understanding the communities of people with migrant and refugee backgrounds.“It’s very important to assess the needs of different groups and to take then a tailored approach,” said Woollard . “There are those people with a background in migration, who may be disproportionately carrying out work that has become essential, both high-level high skilled clinical work but also low-paid undervalued work, that may be putting them at greater risk.”The coronavirus help desk says that the group of newcomers in the Netherlands adds up to about 100,000 people.Yemane says the support does not stop with just translating the information but that people also need follow-up support.“If you have symptoms you can call your doctor, for instance. But then the next problem sometimes is that they cannot call the doctor because of the language barrier,” said Yemane . “So, then we have like this back office for questions that cannot be answered right away, and also call their doctor for them.”Other European countries, like Belgium, have also announced measures to share coronavirus-related news in additional languages. 

US Delivers 128 Anti-Tank Javelin Missiles to Estonia

The United States says it has delivered 128 anti-tank Javelin missiles to Estonia as part of a larger contract with the Baltic NATO member and the U.S. Department of Defense.
The U.S. Embassy in Tallinn said in a statement on Thursday that “the shipment will continue to build upon Estonia’s defensive capabilities and further strengthens our nations’ strategic integration” within NATO, of which Estonia has been a member since 2004.
Washington has provided Estonia, a staunch military ally, with over $100 million in joint defense cooperation over the past few years, the U.S. Embassy said.
The FGM-148 Javelin is an infrared-guided anti-tank missile that can be carried and launched by a single person. It is manufactured by a joint venture between Raytheon Company and Lockheed Martin Corp.
In December, the Estonian defense ministry said the United States has allocated $175 million in military aid to the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for 2020.
The three countries are all NATO members and all of them border Russia.

WHO: Over 95% Who Died in Europe Were Over 60 

The head of the World Health Organization’s office in Europe says figures show that more than 95% of people who have died of coronavirus on the continent have been aged over 60.   But Dr. Hans Kluge said age is not the only risk factor for severe disease, adding: “The very notion that COVID-19 only affects older people is factually wrong.”   In an online news conference Thursday in Copenhagen, Kluge said “young people are not invincible” — echoing similar recent comments from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.   The U.N. health agency says 10% to 15% of people under 50 with the disease have moderate or severe infection.   “Severe cases of the disease have been seen in people in their teens or 20s with many requiring intensive care and some unfortunately passing away,” Kluge said.   He said recent statistics showed 30,098 people have been reported to have died in Europe, mostly in Italy, France and Spain.   “We know that over 95 percent of these deaths occurred in those older than 60 years,” he said, with more than half aged over 80.   Kluge said more than four in five of those people had at least one other chronic underlying conditions, like cardiovascular disease, hypertension or diabetes.   “On a positive note, there are reports of people over the age of 100 who were admitted to hospital for COVID-19 and have now — since — made a complete recovery,” he said.