LONDON: From finding ways to help others cope to sheltering in place to canceling events, here’s a look at some of the ways the entertainment industry is reacting to the spread of the coronavirus, which most people recover from but can cause severe illness in the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions.
CONCERT RAISES MILLIONS
The Elton John-led starry benefit concert that featured Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys on Sunday has raised nearly $8 million to battle the coronavirus.
The musicians performed from their homes for the hourlong event that aired on Fox and iHeartMedia radio stations. The money will go to Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.
Other performers included Tim McGraw, H.E.R. and Sam Smith, who sang “How Do You Sleep” in a cappella form. Dave Grohl sang “My Hero” from his studio in Hawaii, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong strummed his guitar to “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” while Camila Cabello sang “My Oh My” from Miami with a guitar assist from beau Shawn Mendes.
The event took place during the time slot that was to belong to the iHeartRadio Music Awards. Procter & Gamble donated $500,000, which Fox Corporation matched. YouTube, is streaming the concert on iHeartRadio’s YouTube Channel.
RIHANNA OPENS HER PURSE AGAIN
Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation is donating $1 million in grants toward COVID-19 response — a number that is being matched by Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation.
The combined $2 million will support undocumented workers, the children of front-line health workers and first responders and the incarcerated, elderly and homeless populations in New York City and Los Angeles.
Last week, the Clara Lionel Foundation gave $5 million to the response efforts against the coronavirus, with the money going to food banks, testing, healthcare worker training, virus prevention and distribution of critical respiratory supplies.
The post Virus: Elton John-led concert raises $8M; Rihanna ups aid appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
WUHAN: The reappearance of Wuhan’s favorite breakfast noodles is a tasty sign that life is slowly getting back to normal in the Chinese city at the epicenter of the global cornavirus outbreak.
Zhou Guoqiong still isn’t allowed to serve customers inside her shop as part of social distancing rules that are some of the strictest in the world.
But the steady stream of customers who leave with bags of “reganmian,” or “hot dry noodles,” smothered in peanut sauce, testifies to a powerful desire to enjoy the familiar again after months of lockdown since the virus was first detected in December. The favorite snack, usually sold from carts or in small restaurants, is as much a trademark of Wuhan as deep-dish pizza is for Chicago or spaghetti is for Rome.
“I’m happy as long as there is business,” Zhou said. Five days since they reopened, she and her husband now sell several hundred bags of noodles every day, less than before the outbreak but more than enough to keep them busy.
Earlier in the lockdown, Zhou said she would receive messages from customers complaining about how long they hadn’t had their noodles, deepening her anxiety after the city was closed off on Jan. 23 and its hospitals were overwhelmed with patients. In all, the city has recorded 2,548 deaths from virus and more than 50,000 cases.
Despite radically falling numbers of infections, Wuhan and the rest of China aren’t out of the woods yet, as officials repeatedly point out.
“At present, the epidemic situation in China is not over. It’s still stressful to control imported cases and prevent a resurgence of indigenous cases, and the demand for related medical supplies also remains high,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing Tuesday.
The head of the National Health Commission, Ma Xiaowei, said Tuesday that the “most dangerous, most critical stage” of the domestic outbreak appears to have passed. But he was insistent that strict quarantines on travelers and other restrictions such as school closures will only be lifted gradually and very, very carefully.
Across the country, the economy is just starting to revive, and the government announced Tuesday it plans to delay the national college entrance exam by a month until July 7-8. The capital, Beijing, and hardest-hit Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, were also given special permission to make alternative scheduling plans, the education ministry said.
China says almost all of its coronavirus cases are now brought into the country by travelers from abroad, and Wuhan has not recorded any new confirmed or suspected cases in a week. Officials have said it must go a full 14 consecutive days without new cases before they lift draconian travel restrictions and social distancing demands, although residents are anticipating they will be allowed to travel again to some degree by April 8.
That can’t come soon enough for Mr. Xiao, who runs a small butcher shop and is guardedly optimistic about the future. He said his stock can last for 10 days at the most and he needs to see a big jump in business.
“I estimate in the next several months, I can sell half a cow every day,” said Xiao, who declined to give his full name.
Questions remain, though. Will his three partners rejoin the business? And with no other work skills, what will he do if sales don’t pick up?
Along Yanzhi Road in Wuhan’s Wuchang district, shops were doing a brisk business in staples such as meat and noodles, with loudspeakers blaring to attract customers.
Outside a food market, a long line formed of mostly elderly customers who kept their distance from each other. All were wearing masks as required, and some added hats and rubber gloves.
The market operates only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and allows in just 30 customers at a time who can stay a maximum of 20 minutes each. Others who can’t or don’t want to make the trip can have items brought to their homes, and delivery men were exiting with rolls of toilet paper and bags of rice.
One of those in line, 70-year-old retired civil servant Xiao Yuxia, said she lives by herself and plans to eat fish for the first time in two months.
Her biggest challenge during the lockdown was a leg injury, she said. Not feeling safe going to a hospital, she endured pain while walking and used up all her remaining medication.
While many Chinese ordered what they needed using phone apps, 75-year-old retired worker Wang Haitao said he found that too confusing, and he and his wife are finding fewer choices on the list of options provided by community volunteers.
Buying food and medicine is his main concern, Zhang said. Though he leaves the house for only up to two hours a day because he is still worried about the risk of infection, he’d already been standing in line for half an hour.
Along with meat, fresh vegetables appear to be in good supply, although the selection may be a little monotonous. The food boxes delivered by volunteers to low-rise compounds typical of older neighborhoods such as Yanzhi Street were loaded mainly with carrots and cabbages.
The variety may be slightly better at the vegetable stalls set up around residential compounds, but here social distancing rules get scant attention. Customers and sellers gathered in groups with little distance between them, bargaining and exchanging cash.
A delivery man who works in the area but declined to give his name said he leaves all his packages at the fences set up to isolate residential compounds. After resuming his job two days earlier, he has his work cut out for him, with warehouses stuffed with packages that have been stuck there for months, he said.
“We are still delivering the packages that people bought before the Lunar New Year,” he said. “It’s hard to tell which are daily necessities bought after the virus outbreak.”
The post Wuhan’s favorite noodles are back as virus-hit city recovers appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
POKHARA: As the daily wage earners and economically vulnerable people are struggling to financially cope up during the nationwide virus lockdown, Pokhara Metropolis today established 24 million relief fund targeting financially marginalised people in the Lake City.
Metropolis Mayor Man Bahadur GC said that the relief fund worth Rs 24 million has been established targeting to help the daily wage earners.
The metropolis has allocated Rs 20 million while metropolis staffers donated Rs 4.8 million in the fund. Work is underway to collect data of the marginalised and daily wage earners from all 33 wards in the metropolis.
According to the mayor, food items worth Rs 2000 will be distributed to each family on verification of their identities.
“We urged social organizations, banks, financial institutions, and entrepreneurs operating in the Lake City to extend their financial support to the fund in the wake of novel coronavirus crisis in Nepal,” mayor GC shared.
LONDON: The death toll in England from the coronavirus outbreak rose 29% to 1,651 with one person as young as 19 dying without any underlying health conditions, the National Health Service said.
“Patients were aged between 19 and 98 years old and all but 28 patients (aged between 19 and 91 years old) had underlying health conditions,” it added.
Scotland said 60 people had died as of Tuesday. Wales said 69 people had died. Northern Ireland said its toll was 28.
As of 1600 GMT on 29 March, 1,408 patients in the United Kingdom who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) had died.
The post England’s coronavirus death toll rises 29% to 1,651 appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
DHANGHADI: Around 500 people stranded on the Indian side of the border at Dharchula, after the government closed down border points with India and China to prevent the spreading of coronavirus in the country, will be placed in quarantine centres.
As per an agreement inked by the two governments yesterday, Nepali and Indian nationals that are in the other country during the shutdown, will be taken care of by the host country.
According to Anil Kumar Shukla, an Indian official of the Dharchula region, the stranded lot will be placed in five different quarantine centres.
“There are four quarantine centres in Dharchula and one in Jaulajibi where the stranded Nepalis will be placed as the Government of Nepal didn’t pay any heed to frequent requests made to take them in,” added Shukla.
Darchula Chief District Officer Yadunath Poudel argued that allowing passage via the border after implementation of the lockdown was out of question.
“Nepal is currently under a complete shutdown which means a state of isolation and a ban on almost all kind of movement. Instead of staying wherever they were, people chose to rush towards the border. Nepali nationals in India will be looked after by the Indian government,” said CDO Poudel.
Meanwhile, among the stranded, three migrant workers swam across the Mahakali river to reach Nepal and have now been handed over to the concerned authorities, Poudel added.
The post Indian authorities to quarantine Nepalis stranded in Dharchula appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
KATHMANDU: Former king Gyanendra Shah today announced that he would contribute Rs 20 million in the COVID-19 relief fund established by the government.
“We have taken COVID-19 outbreak seriously as it is posing a huge threat to human civilisation and development. It has caused chaos around the globe,” the former monarch said in a press release on Tuesday.
We are grateful to the courageous people — health workers, security personnel — that are battling the outbreak from the frontline. We are also grateful to journalists and media houses for disseminating information to people, Shah said in the statement.
“We also praise and appreciate the patience and discipline shown by Nepali brothers and sisters during the virus-lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the virus from spreading in the country.”
The former king has contributed Rs 20 million to Himani Trust which will eventually be deposited in the relief fund for the fight against the contagion.
The post Former king Gyanendra Shah contributes Rs 20 million to COVID-19 relief fund appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
BERLIN: German clubs from the top two divisions on Tuesday ratified a proposal to extend the suspension of matches until at least April 30 amid the coronavirus outbreak but still plan to finish the season by June 30, the German Football League (DFL) said.
The DFL had last week proposed the extension from April 2 with the country still in lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
DFL CEO Christian Seifert said team training could not resume before April 5 but the league still planned to complete the season by end of June.
“We cannot even discuss anything earlier than April 30,” Seifert told a news conference with reporters phoning in. “It would be completely inappropriate. Germany has other things to deal with at the moment.”
More than 67,000 people have been infected in Germany and more than 680 have died as the virus sweeps across the continent.
“Nothing changed in our plan to finish the season by June 30,” Seifert said in a news conference, adding though that given the fluidity of the situation it was not possible to come up with one specific plan at the moment.
“It could be possible to extend it to July but it is also clear that a new season has to start at some point. We have to know who is relegated, who is promoted, who will play in Europe.”
Seifert said there would also be a set of medical guidelines for clubs if and when games without spectators would be allowed to go ahead to safeguard athletes and club officials.
Last week Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen came together to create a 20 million euros ($21.93 million) solidarity fund to help clubs in the top two tiers stave off a potential financial crisis during the coronavirus pandemic.
Seifert said the 36 first and second division clubs had also agreed on financial measures, allowing them to deal with any liquidity issues, and in the current season the DFL would not deduct points for any insolvency procedures. Normally nine points are deducted in such cases.
For the 2020-21 season only three points will be deducted from clubs filing for insolvency. Also clubs will not undergo the usual liquidity checks to obtain a licence for next season.
Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Tuesday it was crucial for the season to be completed as clubs look to minimise the financial damage.
“It is imperative that we play the season out,” Rummenigge said. “Both for reasons of sporting fairness but obviously also to keep the financial damage as low as possible.”
The post German clubs ratify play suspension until at least April 30: DFL appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
LONDON: England’s test cricket captain Joe Root said he expects talks with the country’s governing body over possible pay cuts for international players to help safeguard the game’s future during the coronavirus outbreak.
England’s winter tour of Sri Lanka has been postponed and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced no domestic cricket would be played until at least the end of May.
The Sunday Times said high-profile centrally contracted England players were expected to take cuts of as much as 200,000 pounds ($245,000) from their 1 million pounds per year earnings.
It cited Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, who play for England in all three formats of the international game – test, one-day and Twenty20 cricket.
“I’m sure at some point in the coming weeks there will be a discussion,” said Root when asked if he expected players to take a pay cut.
“But I’m also aware they are discussions that will take place between the Professional Cricketers’ Association and the ECB (English Cricket Board). That’s not my area of expertise,” he told reporters via conference call.
“I think we just have to concentrate on making sure we are as fit and as ready to go as we can be for whenever we get back to playing cricket.”
England’s summer home test series against West Indies and Pakistan and limited overs matched against Australia from June to August are also at risk of being postponed or cancelled due to the epidemic.
Root has expressed his concern about the amount of workload that multi-format players may have to handle once cricket resumes after the long break.
“It would be …a huge amount of workload, especially on the multi-format players, but we have had some tough winters in the past and found ways to get through them,” he said.
“It would be interesting to see how they would fit it in looking at the schedule as it is right now but if it was to go ahead, we would have to be able to adapt, look at the squad sizes… and make sure guys weren’t blown out and overworked.”
BARA: In view of the coronavirus crisis, Bara has prepared a total of 230-bed quarantine and 17-bed isolation at various centres in the district.
Of all local bodies in the district, Nijgadh Municipality has the set up the largest quarantine facility with a capacity of 105 beds. Other local bodies as well are known to have set up their own quarantine facilities with at least four beds.
The district now has 10 persons in quarantine at Kalaiya Hospital. Though there were a total of 13 persons in quarantine up until Monday, three of them were sent home today after no visible symptoms of COVID-19 were seen in them during the 14-day quarantine period.
“Among those who have been allowed to go home, two persons had come to Nepal on a Qatar Airways plane on March 17,” said District Police Office spokesperson Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Gautam Mishra, citing the hospital. “Those now in quarantine at the hospital include a local who doesn’t have any travel history and another person from Udayapur,” he added.
(Reported by Puspa Raj Khatiwada)
NEW YORK: A Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds arrived Monday in New York City as the number of deaths in the state from the coronavirus outbreak climbed quickly.
The disease continued to claim the lives of health care workers. Mayor Bill de Blasio said President Donald Trump’s suggestion that thousands of medical masks are disappearing from New York City hospitals is “insulting” to front-line medical workers.
The latest coronavirus developments in New York:
SHIP ARRIVES AS TOLL RISES
A Navy hospital ship docked in New York City on Monday as the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the state soared to a “beyond staggering” 1,218.
The 1,000-bed USNS Comfort will be used as a “relief valve,” treating non-coronavirus patients while the city’s increasingly stressed hospitals handle people with COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Shortly after it arrived at a Manhattan pier, the governor announced that the statewide death toll had risen by 253 in a single day.
“That’s a lot of loss, that’s a lot of pain, that’s a lot of tears, that’s a lot of grief that people all across this state are feeling,” Cuomo said.
Most of the state’s fatalities have occurred in just the past 10 days. Cuomo said the ultimate number of COVID-19-related deaths will be staggering, then added: “To me, we’re beyond staggering already.”
The Comfort, which was also sent to New York after the 9/11 terror attacks, has 12 operating rooms that could be up and running within 24 hours, officials said.
The ship is docked just north of a temporary hospital constructed inside the cavernous Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. State and city officials are trying to increase hospital capacity by up to 87,000 beds to handle the outbreak.
“We bring a message to all New Yorkers – now, your Navy is returned and we are with you committed in this fight,” said Rear Admiral John Mustin.
There are 9,500 people in New York currently hospitalized for COVID-19, with more than 2,300 in intensive care. More than 66,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for the virus.
As the outbreak has worsened, some hospitals are now parking refrigerated trailers outside their doors to collect the remains of the dead.
At two Brooklyn hospitals, videos posted online by bystanders and a medical worker showed workers wearing protective masks and gowns loading bodies onto trailers from gurneys parked on the sidewalk.
The office of the city’s medical examiner confirmed on Monday that it has started using a temporary morgue set up last week in Manhattan to provide emergency capacity as the city’s permanent morgues fill up. The site near Bellevue Hospital includes a large tent and refrigeration units.
The U.S. military has sent 42 people to the city to help the medical examiner’s office deal with an influx of bodies.
Thomas Von Essen, the regional administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Monday his agency was also providing refrigeration trucks to the city.
“We in New York City have a desperate need for help over in Queens,” said Von Essen, who was the city’s fire commissioner on Sept. 11, 2001. “And we are working on that as we speak, there’s folks trying to put it all together.”
Queens has been the hardest hit of the five boroughs, with an outsized number of coronavirus cases and deaths.
Two more New York City health care workers have died of the coronavirus, days after the first confirmed death.
De Blasio announced Sunday the deaths of Freda Ocran, a psych educator at Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, and Theresa Lococo, a pediatric nurse at Kings County Hospital.
Ocran was previously the head nurse of the psych unit at Jacobi and was working, in part, to support her mother in Africa, de Blasio said.
On March 20, Ocran changed her profile picture on Facebook to include a mantra familiar to people on the front lines of the coronavirus fight: “I can’t stay home … I’m a healthcare worker.”
Dr. James T. Goodrich, a pediatric neurosurgeon who once led a team of 40 doctors at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx in an operation to separate 13-month-old twin boys conjoined at the head, died of complications related to coronavirus on Monday.
“His expertise and ability were second only to his kind heart and manner,” Montefiore Medicine CEO Dr. Philip Ozuah said in a statement. The hospital didn’t say if Goodrich had recently treated people with COVID-19.
Also, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said five more of its employees had died from the coronavirus. Officials announced the deaths of subway system workers Scott Elijah, Caridad Santiago, and Victor Zapana, and two bus system employees, Ernesto Hernandez and Warren Tucker. The deaths of a subway conductor and a bus operator from the virus had been announced last week.
Nearly 5,200 New York Police Department officers were out sick on Monday, about 14.4% of the approximately 36,000-person force. In all, 930 members of the department have tested positive for the disease.
Several have died, including a school safety agent who perished Sunday, a detective and two other civilian workers.
The post ‘Staggering’: New York virus death toll rises above 1,200 appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
KATHMANDU: Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is pictured in all its quietness, on the eighth day of government-imposed lockdown, amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus infection, in Kathmandu.
MADRID: Spain’s coronavirus deaths jumped by a record number Tuesday as the country’s medical system strained to care for its tens of thousands of infected patients and the world total climbed to more than 800,000 case.
In the United States, where the spread of the coronavirus has been accelerating, New York’s governor begged for health care reinforcements, saying up to 1 million more workers were needed.
Spain and Italy are still struggling to avoid the collapse of their health systems, with Spain saying hospitals in at least half of its 17 regions are at or very near their ICU bed limits and more than 13,000 medical workers are among the country’s reported 94,417 infections.
Dozens of hotels across Spain have been converted into recovery rooms for patients in less-serious condition, and authorities are building makeshift field hospitals in sports centers, libraries and exhibition halls. So far they have added 23,000 beds.
Overnight, Spain recorded 849 new deaths, the highest daily toll since the pandemic hit the southern European country. It has now claimed the lives of 8,189 people in Spain, forcing Madrid to open a second temporary morgue this week after an ice rink pressed into service last week become overwhelmed.
Authorities are shifting ventilating machines to regions with the highest number of ICU patients, and moving the patients themselves between regions “has not been ruled out,” said Dr. María José Sierra of Spain’s health emergencies center.
Deaths climbed rapidly in the United States, which was poised to overtake China’s reported virus death toll of 3,300. But experts say all numbers reported by governments and states in this pandemic are faulty in different ways, due to the lack of testing, mild virus cases that are missed or the determination of some governments to try to shape their pandemic narrative.
“This is going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard,” cautioned Dr. Takeshi Kasai, the World Health Organization’s regional director for the Western Pacific. “We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation.”
Hard-hit Italy and Spain now account for more than half of the 38,714 COVID-19 deaths reported worldwide and the U.S. has the most confirmed cases at 164,610, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Italy’s death toll rose to nearly 11,600 — the highest in the world by far — but its rates of new infections were slowing.
A 12-year-old girl became the youngest person to die in Belgium, which has counted 705 deaths so far, including 98 in the last day. It was not disclosed whether she suffered from any underlying condition. The country of about 11.5 million people has reported more than 12,705 infections.
National crisis-center coronavirus spokesman Emmanuel Andre said Belgian authorities expect the disease to reach its peak in coming days, and that “we will arrive at a point where we’re close to saturation point at our hospitals.”
To the east, Russia registered 500 new confirmed cases in the biggest spike since the beginning of the outbreak, bringing its total to 2,337. Moscow, the capital, has been on lockdown since Monday and the government is edging toward to declaring a national state of emergency.
In New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and health officials warned that the crisis unfolding there is just a preview of what other U.S. cities and towns will soon face. New York state’s death toll climbed by more than 250 people in a day to over 1,200.
“We’ve lost over 1,000 New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “To me, we’re beyond staggering already.”
Even before the governor’s appeal, close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals were volunteering in New York, and a Navy hospital ship arrived with 1,000 beds to relieve pressure on the city’s overwhelmed hospitals.
In California, officials put out a similar call for volunteers as coronavirus hospitalizations doubled over the last four days and the number of patients in intensive care tripled.
Experts maintain the pandemic will be defeated only by social distancing measures that have put billions of people on lockdown and upended the world’s economy.
Dr. Chiara Lepora in the virus hotspot of Lodi in northern Italy said the pandemic had revealed critical health care problems in developed countries.
“Outbreaks cannot be fought in hospitals,” she said. “Hospitals can only deal with the consequences.”
In the southern state of Florida, officials were meeting later Tuesday to decide whether to let the infection-plagued cruise ship Zaandam dock after more than two weeks at sea.
In a South American dream trip that turned into a nightmare, dozens on the ship have reported flu-like symptoms and four people have died. The company said eight people have tested positive but 2,300 other passengers and crew are in good health.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said the state’s health care resources are stretched too thin to allow the ship to dock.
More than 235 million people — about two of every three Americans — live in the 33 states where governors have ordered or recommended that residents stay home.
Worldwide, 800,049 people have been infected and 166,768 have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia and even death.
China on Tuesday reported just one new death from the coronavirus and 48 new cases, claiming that all new infections came from overseas. In Wuhan, people were ready to jump, cry and “revenge shop” as the Chinese city once at the center of the outbreak reopened.
About 75% of the shops reopened at the Chuhe Hanjie pedestrian mall. Shopkeepers limited the number of people allowed in, dispensing hand sanitizer and checking customers for signs of fever.
In Serbia, Hungary and other nations, concerns were rising that populist leaders were using the situation to try to seize more power and silence critics.
A human rights expert said while she understands the need to act swiftly to protect lives, the new states of emergency must include time limits and parliamentary oversight.
“A state of emergency — wherever it is declared and for whatever reason — must be proportionate to its aim, and only remain in place for as long as absolutely necessary,” said Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The economic devastation continued, with British Airways suspending all its flights at Gatwick Airport amid a collapse in demand as nations close borders and airlines slash flights.
In Japan, the countdown clocks were reset and ticking again for the Tokyo Olympics. The clocks now read 479 days to go, with the games scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021.
The post World virus infections top 800,000; Spain sees record deaths appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
LONDON: Prince Harry and his wife Meghan officially make the transition Tuesday from senior members of Britain’s royal family to — well, it’s unclear. International celebrities, charity patrons, global influencers?
The royal schism that the couple triggered in January by announcing that they would step down from official duties, give up public funding, seek financial independence and swap the UK for North America becomes official on March 31.
The move has been made more complicated and poignant by the global coronavirus pandemic, which finds the couple and their 10-month-old son Archie in California, far from Harry’s father Prince Charles — who is recovering after testing positive for COVID-19 — and Harry’s 93-year-old grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
“As we can all feel, the world at this moment seems extraordinarily fragile,” the couple said in a final post Monday on their now-mothballed SussexRoyal Instagram account.
“What’s most important right now is the health and well-being of everyone across the globe and finding solutions for the many issues that have presented themselves as a result of this pandemic,” they added. “As we all find the part we are to play in this global shift and changing of habits, we are focusing this new chapter to understand how we can best contribute.”
It is less than two years since ex-soldier Harry, who is sixth in line to the British throne, married American actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in a lavish ceremony watched by millions around the world.
Soon the couple began to bristle at intense scrutiny by the British media — which they said tipped into harassment. They decided to break free, in what Harry called a “leap of faith” as he sought a more peaceful life, without the journalists who have filmed, photographed and written about him since the day he was born.
Harry has long had an uncomfortable relationship with the media, which he blames for the death of his mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.
Harry’s unhappiness increased after he began dating Markle, then the star of TV legal drama “Suits.” In 2016 he accused the media of harassing his then-girlfriend, and criticized “racial undertones” in some coverage of the biracial Markle.
It’s clear that Meghan’s upbeat Californian style — embodied in the glossy images and life-affirming messages of the couple’s Instagram account — rankled with sections of Britain’s tabloid press, which is both insatiable for royal content and fiercely judgmental of the family members.
The couple — who are keeping their titles, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but will no longer be called Their Royal Highnesses — had hoped to keep using the Sussex Royal brand in their new life. But last month they announced they wouldn’t seek to trademark the term because of UK rules governing use of the word “royal.”
The couple plans to launch a non-profit organization for their charitable activities in areas including youth empowerment, mental health, conservation, gender equality and education. Harry will also continue to oversee the Invictus Games, the Olympics-style competition he founded for wounded troops.
Meghan has been announced as the narrator of “Elephant,” a Disney nature documentary.
But for now, the couple’s office said they want the world to focus “on the global response to COVID-19.”
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend the next few months focusing on their family and continuing to do what they can, safely and privately, to support and work with their pre-existing charitable commitments while developing their future non-profit organisation,” the couple’s office said in a statement.
The newly independent Harry and Meghan will also need to earn money to help pay for a multi-million dollar security bill.
As senior royals, they have had bodyguards funded by British taxpayers. Since late last year, Harry and Meghan have since been based on Canada’s Vancouver Island, where security was provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Canadian authorities warned last month that would end once the couple ceased to be working royals.
The duke and duchess recently moved to the Los Angeles area, where Meghan grew up and where her mother still lives. The news led President Donald Trump to tweet on Sunday: “the US will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!”
Harry and Meghan’s office said they had “no plans to ask the US government for security resources. Privately funded security arrangements have been made.”
Some royal historians warned that Harry and Meghan could struggle to find a fulfilling role. Comparisons have been drawn to King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 to marry divorced American Wallis Simpson. The couple lived the rest of their lives in luxurious but lonely self-imposed exile from Britain.
Royal historian Penny Junor said UK-based royals were helping boost the nation’s morale during the coronavirus pandemic. The queen has issued a message to the nation, while Harry’s brother Prince William and his children joined in a public round of applause for health care workers.
“All of this is absolutely what the family is about, and those members of the royal family that are on a limb now are pretty irrelevant,” Junor said.
The post Royal no more: Harry and Meghan start uncertain new chapter appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
KATHMANDU: The government has formally decided to suspend the much ambitious Visit Nepal Year 2020 project, in view of the global spread of coronavirus pandemic.
A meeting of the cabinet held almost two weeks ago took a decision to this effect, Keshav Bahadur Adhikari, Secretary for Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, told THT Online. “I received a notice yesterday regarding the stalling of the project. The secretariat will also be dissolved on the first day of the Bikram Samvat calendar,” the secretary elaborated.
“No other decision has been taken in this regard,” Adhikari said in response to a query regarding Minister Yogesh Bhattarai’s comment about ‘Visit Decade’ in store, in lieu of the Visit Nepal Year plans.
Prior to this, the Ministry had only notified the public informally about suspending the year-long-event till April.
The government had announced 2020 as the Visit Nepal Year with an aim of bringing in two million tourists. Nepal has gone into a nationwide lockdown, for two weeks, to slowdown the spread of the global pandemic that has infected close to 70,000 people while leading to a death of 33,106 people.
JAKARTA: Indonesia is set to release about 30,000 prisoners early as the Southeast Asian nation seeks to avoid a possible surge in coronavirus infections in its overcrowded prisons.
A document issued by the law and human rights ministry reviewed by Reuters stipulated that adult prisoners would be eligible for parole if they had served two-thirds of their sentences, while children would be eligible if they served half of their jail term.
Ministry spokesman Bambang Wiyono said on Tuesday the parole would encompass around 30,000 prisoners.
Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation and President Joko Widodo on Tuesday declared a national public health emergency in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak. So far, the government has reported 1,414 infections and 122 deaths from the virus, but some officials and experts believe a lack of testing has masked the scale of the outbreak.
Official data shows there are 270,386 prisoners across Indonesia, more than twice the official capacity of its jails, as a war on drugs has led to a surge in the number of people locked up. Many centers also lack proper sanitation, which makes inmates particularly vulnerable to the spread of diseases.
Erasmus Napitupulu, executive director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), welcomed the parole, but urged the government to widen it to include more prisoners.
Other countries including Iran and the United States have also released prisoners early in a bid to stem the accelerating spread of coronavirus in jails.
Widodo has said he would impose stricter rules on mobility and social distancing as a study presented to the government warned that more than 140,000 people could die from the coronavirus by May unless it takes tougher action.
The post Indonesia to release 30,000 prisoners early amid virus concerns appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
NEW DELHI: Indian authorities sealed off the headquarters of a Muslim missionary group on Tuesday and ordered an investigation into accusations it held religious meetings that officials fear may have infected dozens of people with the coronavirus.
India has registered 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, of whom 32 have died, the health ministry said. The numbers are small compared with the United States, Italy and China but health officials say India faces a huge surge that could overwhelm its weak public health system.
One of the coronavirus hot spots that the government of the capital, New Delhi, has flagged is a Muslim quarter where the 100-year-old Tablighi Jamaat group is based, after dozens of people tested positive for the virus and at least seven died.
Authorities said people kept visiting the Tablighi centre, in a five-storey building in a neighbourhood of narrow, winding lanes, from other parts of the country, and it held prayer meetings, despite government orders on social distancing.
Hundreds of people were crammed into the group’s building until the weekend when authorities began taking them out for testing.
“It looks like social distancing and quarantine protocols were not practiced here,” the city administration said in a statement.
“The administrators violated these conditions and several cases of corona positive patients have been found … By this gross act of negligence many lives have been endangered … this is nothing but a criminal act.”
India is under a 21-day strict lockdown that will end mid-April to try and stem the spread of the coronavirus.
But Musharraf Ali, one of the administrators of the Tablighi centre in Delhi, said the group had been seeking help from police and the city administration to deal with people streaming in. But the lockdown had made things more difficult.
“Under such compelling circumstances there was no option … but to accommodate the stranded visitors with prescribed medical precautions until such time that the situation becomes conducive for their movement or arrangements are made by the authorities,” the Tablighi said in a statement.
The Tablighi, one of the world’s largest missionary movements, hosted a gathering last month at a mosque complex on the outskirts of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur that has emerged as a source of hundreds of coronavirus infections across Southeast Asia.
In Pakistan, the group called off a congregation on the outskirts of the city of Lahore last month, but there were still 1,100 people staying on a group premises. At least 27 have tested positive for the virus, the health minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Yasmin Rashid, told Geo TV this week.
Following is data on the spread of the coronavirus in South Asia’s eight countries, according to government figures:
- Pakistan has registered 1,625 cases, including 20 deaths.
- India has registered 1,251 cases, including 32 deaths.
- Sri Lanka has registered 122 cases, including one death.
- Afghanistan has registered 170 cases, including 3 deaths.
- Bangladesh has registered 48 cases, including 5 deaths.
- Maldives has registered 28 cases and no deaths.
- Nepal has registered five cases and no deaths.
- Bhutan has registered four cases and no deaths.
The post India cracks down on Muslim missionary group linked to coronavirus cases appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
DAMAULI: Patients and other health service seekers have been left in a lurch since the doctors have not been attending their duty regularly at Damauli Hospital, in Tanahun district.
Patients have been deprived of health services at the hospital due to doctors’ irregular attendance since the government imposed nationwide lockdown on March 23 in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.
It has been reported that the doctors do not want to take any risk as the hospital lacks medical supplies including personal protective equipment (PPE) at a time when coronavirus pandemic is spreading.
Although a few staff members including staff nurse, auxiliary nurse midwives, pharmacist, and personnel at Out Patient Department (OPD) ticket counter have been attending to their duties, they keep mum on the irregular attendance of doctors.
Likewise, patients complained that the hospital’s medical superintendent has not come into contact for a long time. The health service seekers have lamented that the hospital did not have availability of blood and medicines. However, Dr Ramhari Dahal spoke in defence of the doctors saying he was attending his patients from time to time. He said the doctors were advised to prepare and take measures to fight against the spreading of coronavirus.
A patient — Ishwari Adhikari, resident of Sewar, Byas Municipality-10 — visiting the hospital today for health check-up said she was returning home after doctors were not available in the hospital. She said she was going to reserve an ambulance to consult with doctors in another hospital in Pokhara. Another patient, a new mother from Sange, Byas-6 said she was returning home as the hospital did not have good services.
The post Patients left in lurch as docs attend Damauli Hospital irregularly appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
DUBAI: Dubai enforced the UAE’s first full lockdown on a district housing the emirate’s famous gold and spice markets on Tuesday, to disinfect the normally bustling tourist and trade area as part of efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The United Arab Emirates has extended a daily overnight curfew for a nationwide disinfection drive to April 5, but Dubai announced late on Monday that a 24-hour curfew would be imposed on Al Ras district for two weeks starting Tuesday.
“I am glad they are doing this because it is for our protection,” said one rice trader who works in Al Ras but resides in Sharjah emirate. The trader, who declined to be named, told Reuters he is now conducting his business online.
Dubai closed the main road entrances to Al Ras and halted public transport to the area, which abuts Dubai Creek, where dhow have been banned from transporting goods between Dubai and Iran, a regional epicenter for the virus.
Dubai Health Authority will provide essential supplies to Al Ras residents, Dubai Media Office tweeted.
The UAE has confirmed 611 coronavirus cases, with five deaths. The total number of infections in the six Gulf Arab states stands at more than 3,700, with 18 deaths.
The UAE plans to open drive-thru testing centers across the country, the region’s business and tourism hub, after first was opened last week in the capital, Abu Dhabi.
“We will never hesitate to take any measures against any potential threat to people’s life. At the same time, we won’t let the development grind to a halt,” Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nayhan, the country’s de facto ruler, said in comments carried on state media.
In Kuwait, Health Minister Basil al-Sabah was quoted on Tuesday as saying a clearer picture would emerge by early June on the success of containment efforts. Kuwait was the first Gulf state to halt passenger flights and impose a partial curfew.
“If infection numbers stabilize, there may be a gradual easing of current measures,” he told Al Rai newspaper. “But if the average rate of transmission increases then … I do not rule out the cabinet enforcing a full curfew.”
Kuwait has recorded 266 infections. Its larger neighbor, Saudi Arabia, has passed 1,400, with eight deaths.
Saudi media posted a video showing security forces deployed in a sealed-off district in Mecca. The kingdom has extended its first lockdown, in the eastern Qatif region, to several districts in some main cities and imposed a partial nationwide curfew.
The post UAE imposes first lockdown on historic district to slow coronavirus appeared first on The Himalayan Times.
KATHMANDU: Considering the nationwide lockdown and necessity to stay home to minimise the chance of contracting and spreading coronavirus, Nepal Life Insurance Co (NLIC) has initiated online services for maturity claim and claim intimation, as per a media release.
The company has set up virtual office whereby its staffers are providing services to customers from their homes.