Hachiko 2.0: Dog patiently waits at hospital for 3 months after owner dies from coronavirus

Hachiko 2.0: Dog patiently waits at hospital for 3 months after owner dies from coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak has been tough for animals as well. Be it pet owners abandoning their furry friends with the fear of contracting the virus, or the exotic ones who crossed boundaries in search of food, the pandemic has been equally painful for the fauna.

History has witnessed several tales of dogs who have gone a step ahead to be with their owners and vice versa. Known as humankind’s best friend, these angelic animals have also been helping many cope through these trying times. With that being said, a dog in China has made headlines for waiting at a hospital for three months after its owner died from the coronavirus.

The owner of Xiao Bao, a 7-year-old mongrel, was admitted to the Wuhan Taikang Hospital in central China's Hubei Province, in February this year but died 5 days later from the virus. Xiao Bao, a loyal one, waited patiently at the hospital’s lobby for 3 months hoping to reunite with his owner. According to reports, the staff also tried to move the dog away from the vicinity but Xiao Bao found its way back.

Three months later, the hospital received several complaints about Xiao Bao causing a disturbance in the lobby, after which the staff called the Small Animal Protection Association that took it with them.

The story reminds us of Hachikō, a Japanese Akita dog, who loyally waited for his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, for over 9 years following Ueno's death.

Meanwhile, no new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in central China's Hubei Province. The province reported 38 new asymptomatic cases on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

By Sunday, Hubei had six existing confirmed COVID-19 cases, including one in severe condition and one in critical condition. The total number of asymptomatic cases under medical observation was 326 by Sunday, according to the commission.

The provincial capital Wuhan started a campaign on May 14 to expand nucleic acid testing in order to better know the number of asymptomatic cases or people who show no clear symptoms despite carrying the virus.

According to the latest figures released by the Wuhan municipal health commission, the city conducted more than 6 million nucleic acid tests between May 14 and 23. On Saturday alone, the city performed nearly 1.15 million tests.

Hubei has so far reported 68,135 confirmed COVID-19 cases in total, including 50,340 in Wuhan.


US President Donald Trump bans travel from Brazil due to coronavirus

US President Donald Trump bans travel from Brazil due to coronavirus

'Tested very positively': Trump's epic comment sums up America's incoherent response to COVID-19

'Tested very positively': Trump's epic comment sums up America's incoherent response to COVID-19

US President Donald Trump has been regularly testing for the novel coronavirus after one of his personal valets at the White House was infected about two weeks ago. The White House in a statement said that his "all negative to date". However, in a statement given to the press after his latest test, the president left many baffled for his use of words, enough to cause a quick scare.

"I tested very positively, in another sense, this morning. I tested positively toward negative, right? No, I tested perfectly this morning -- meaning I tested negative. But that's a way of saying it: positively toward the negative”, said Trump.

The clip of his statement soon hit the viral note. A Twitter user commented on the video stating, "I’d be nervous if this lunatic was my waiter at Denny’s but apparently it’s perfectly reasonable to give him access to 4,000 nuclear weapons."

In a memo on Monday, White House physician Sean Conley said that Trump "is in very good health and has remained symptom-free", reports Xinhua news agency.

The memo was released hours after Trump told reporters that he has taken hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug frequently touted by him as a potential cure against the coronavirus.

"A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it," said Trump, adding that he's taking it on a daily basis.

"All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK."

"You'd be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers before you catch it, the frontline workers, many, many are taking it," he told reporters.

Asked what his evidence of hydroxychloroquine’s positive benefits was, Trump said: "Here's my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it."

"I've heard a lot of good stories (about hydroxychloroquine) and if it's not good, I'll tell you right I'm not going to get hurt by it."

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned as recently as late April against the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 "outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems".

"Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19," the FDA said.

"They are being studied in clinical trials for COVID-19."

Conley, however, said that he and Trump "concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks" after their "numerous" discussions regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine.

"In consultation with our inter-agency partners and subject matter experts around the country, I continued to monitor the myriad studies investigating potential COVID-19 therapies, and I anticipate employing the same shared medical decision making based on the evidence at hand in the future," Conley added.

According to doctors, the drug has the potential to cause symptoms including heart failure, suicidal thoughts and signs of liver disease, said a BBC report.

Two recent studies, each involving around 1,400 COVID-19 patients in New York, did not find any benefits from hydroxychloroquine.

Another study by French researchers involved 84 hospital patients taking the drug and 97 others who received standard care.

It concluded hydroxychloroquine had no impact for better or worse.

Last month, the American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists issued a joint statement opposing the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 prevention.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a CNN interview on Monday night, urged Trump to be more cautious about taking the drug.

"He's our President and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists," said the California Democrat.

Former White House butler Wilson Jerman, who worked for 11 presidents, dies of coronavirus

Former White House butler Wilson Jerman, who worked for 11 presidents, dies of coronavirus

A former White House butler, who worked for 11 presidents, died at the age of 91 after contracting the coronavirus.

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman was one of the White House’s longest-serving employees. According to reports, he was promoted to butler under former President John F. Kennedy, a move that was orchestrated by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, granddaughter Jamila Garrett told a media outlet.


As per a report BBC, in his last position, he served as a maître d' in the Obama White House. Jerman initially retired from the White House in 1997 but went back in 2003. He left his position in 2012, and President Obama honoured him with a series of plaques, one that represented each of the presidents he had served, Jerman's granddaughter Shanta Taylor Gay told CNN. His granddaughter, Shanta Taylor Gay said that Jerman died on May 16.

Former first lady Hillary Clinton tweeted that she and former President Bill Clinton are saddened by his death. "Jerman served as a White House butler across 11 presidencies and made generations of first families feel at home, including ours," Clinton wrote on Thursday. "Our warmest condolences to his loved ones."


Philippines a global hot spot for online child abuse: Study

Philippines a global hot spot for online child abuse: Study

Manila: The Philippines has emerged as a global hot spot for online child sexual exploitation, and coronavirus lockdowns that restrict millions to their homes may be worsening the abuses, a U.S. official said Thursday.

A new study released by the Washington-based International Justice Mission on Thursday said Philippine cases of online child sexual exploitation have increased sharply in recent years with parents conniving to have their own children victimized for the money. The nongovernmental group has helped track down and prosecute offenders in the Philippines.

"The global shutdown with the COVID-19 pandemic seems to only be increasing these phenomena," U.S. State Department official John Richmond, who oversees U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking, said in an online launch of the study.

In most cases "the traffickers are actually parents or close family members of the kids they are exploiting," Richmond said. "And so lockdown orders mean that children are being locked down with their traffickers." The webcam scheme has involved pedophiles in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia who pay facilitators to sexually abuse children, even babies, in the privacy of Philippine homes. They watch and help direct the abuses through online livestreaming services.

The wide use of English, availability of internet connections and widespread international cash transfer systems have combined with long-entrenched poverty and wide access to vulnerable kids to allow many abuses to happen in the Philippines.

Citing online tips on abuses, the study said the estimated number of Internet Protocol addresses used for online child sexual exploitation in the Philippines rose sharply from about 23,333 in 2014 to 81,723 in 2017 - a 250% increase. An IP address identifies a computer connected to the internet.

The study showed 64% of online sexual child abuse cases in the Philippines were initiated by foreign authorities largely because of a lack of capability to detect the livestreamed abuse, which is often uncovered only when foreign law enforcers accost an offender abroad.

"The tech industry should prioritize detection of all child sexual exploitation materials because of the gravity of harm that repeated sexual exploitation causes victims," International Justice Mission Philippine Director Samson Inocencio Jr. said. "There are children who need rescue now, but rescue starts with timely detection and robust reporting." In 90 cases involving 381 victims from 2011 to 2017, 43 victims were abused from two months to four years. The period of abuse for the others was not known, according to the study.

It said victims have an average age of 11 years, with the youngest less than 1 year old. Another unsettling finding was that nearly half of the abuses was arranged by the parents or other relatives of the victims.

"We need to act as a global community - ending impunity in both source countries like the Philippines and demand countries," Philippine Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said.


Rocket hits near US embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone

Rocket hits near US embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone

Baghdad [Iraq]: A rocket hit near the US embassy in Baghdad on early Tuesday morning and caused a large explosion, according to the military's statement cited by CGTN, China's state news agency.

The rocket was fired from an eastern district of Baghdad and hit an empty building inside the heavily fortified green zone in Baghdad, the statement said.

The green zone also houses other diplomatic compounds in Iraq. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and no casualties were reported.

Though the sprawling Green Zone complex and the surrounding area have been a frequent target for rocket strikes over the years - at least 27 so far in 2020 alone - such incidents have decreased in recent weeks, with the last one coming on May 6 near the Baghdad International Airport, located some 25 kilometers west of the Green Zone. If confirmed, Tuesday's strike would also come as the first since the appointment of Iraq's new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, a former intelligence chief.

After temporarily restoring funds, Donald Trump threatens to permanently cut off US funding of WHO

After temporarily restoring funds, Donald Trump threatens to permanently cut off US funding of WHO

US President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to permanently cut off US funding of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Donald Trump tweeted the letter he had sent to WHO Directer General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory!" he said.

Trump in the letter said that if the WHO “does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”

Donald J. Trump

This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory!

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
7:55 PM - May 18, 2020
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Donald Trump also attacked the WHO, saying the UN health body was a 'puppet' of China. Donald Trump claimed that more people would have died from coronavirus in the country had he not imposed a ban on travel from China, which was 'opposed' by the health agency.

"They (WHO) are a puppet of China. They're China-centric, to put it nicer. But they're a puppet of China. I think they have done a very sad job. The United States pays them USD 450 million a year. China pays them USD 38 million a year," Trump told reporters at the White House. He also said that the World Health Organization was against the imposition of a ban on travel from China in late January.

Earlier, Donald Trump backed Australia-led calls for an independent inquiry into the WHO's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donald J. Trump

We are with them! https://twitter.com/sbsnews/status/1262114445536440320 …

SBS News

India, Japan, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Indonesia, Russia, and all 27 EU member states are backing Australia's push for a probe into the COVID-19 pandemic. https://bit.ly/2Zd6wJS 

7:41 AM - May 18, 2020
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Re-tweeting a media report which mentioned several countries "backing Australia's push for a probe into the COVID-19 pandemic", the US President tweeted: "We are with them." World Health Organisation (WHO) has faced criticism globally over the handling of the pandemic.

Global coronavirus cases rises to 4.8 million: Johns Hopkins University

Global coronavirus cases rises to 4.8 million: Johns Hopkins University

Washington: The overall number of global coronavirus cases has increased to over 4.8 million, while the death toll has surpassed 318,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Tuesday morning, the total number of cases stood at 4,801,282, while the death toll increased to 318,465, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US currently accounts for the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 1,508,291 and 90,340, respectively.

In terms of cases, Russia has the second highest number of infections at 290,678, followed by Brazil (255,368), the UK (247,709), Spain (231,606), Italy (225,886), France (180,051), Germany (176,551), Turkey (150,593) and Iran (122,492), the CSSE figures showed.

Meanwhile, the UK accounted for the second highest COVID-19 deaths worldwide at 34,876.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (32,007), France (28,242), Spain (27,709) and Brazil (16,853).


Coronavirus update: Donald Trump to look into legislation proposing to sanctions on China

Coronavirus update: Donald Trump to look into legislation proposing to sanctions on China

Washington: US President Donald Trump has said that he will look into the legislation introduced in the Senate a day earlier that proposes sanctions on China if it fails to cooperate and provide a full accounting of the events leading up to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus, which first emerged in China's Wuhan city last year, has claimed nearly 3,00,000 lives and infected over 4.3 million people across the world so far. The US alone has recorded close to 85,000 COVID-19 deaths.

"I will certainly look at it (the legislation), they build to sanction China so I will certainly take a look at it. I have not seen it yet," Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

The legislation was introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham and eight other senators on Tuesday. The COVID-19 Accountability Act mandates the president to make a certification to Congress within 60 days that China has provided a full and complete accounting to any COVID-19 investigation led by the US, its allies or UN affiliates such as the World Health Organization and has closed all operating wet markets that have the potential to expose humans to health risks through the introduction of zoonotic disease into the human population.

Without the certification, the president would be authorised to impose a range of sanctions such as asset freezes, travel bans, visa revocations, restricting United States financial institutions from making loans or underwritings to Chinese businesses and prohibiting Chinese firms from being listed on American stock exchanges.

Following the Senate legislation, Congressman Doug Collins on Wednesday introduced the COVID-19 Accountability Act to hold China accountable for creating a global pandemic by giving the president the authority to impose sanctions on China if they fail to cooperate.

The legislation is co-sponsored by more than two dozen lawmakers.

"While the Chinese Communist regime has inflicted harm on the US for decades, the coronavirus outbreak has shined a light on the urgent need to change course," said Collins.

"The Chinese Communist regime's coverup of the coronavirus outbreak cost hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide and caused unfathomable harm to the global economy, and they must be held accountable.

By giving the president the authority to impose a wide range of sanctions on Chinese officials, the COVID-19 Accountability Act will guarantee China is held fully accountable for the worldwide devastation they've caused and will ensure the American people get the answers they deserve," he said.

Meanwhile, Congressman Max Rose, Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, and Congressman Mark Walker, a ranking member of the subcommittee, urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) to focus on China and provide the subcommittee with details of its intelligence assessments on China's actions related to the pandemic.

"While the coronavirus pandemic travelled the world and devastated my district, China continues to hide critical information for their own benefit," Rose said.

"The Communist Chinese Government cannot be trusted, but I trust our intelligence community can help us get the facts in order to help us beat this pandemic and save lives," he said.

"China's blatant disregard for humanity during the coronavirus pandemic has endangered the lives of Americans in North Carolina's sixth district and across this nation," Walker said.

"Enough is enough. I urge the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis to fully investigate these atrocities and get to the bottom of China's apparent malpractice," he added.

Even amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese government and Communist Party's efforts to steal intellectual property and trade secrets from American companies remains an ongoing threat, Senator Marco Rubio said.

"Adjusting to the new reality caused by the pandemic, Beijing has shifted its recruitment efforts for the Thousand Talents Program online, and it has increased efforts to hack US medical research institutes for COVID-19 information.

Policymakers at every level of the US government, as well as the private sector, must be clear-eyed about this threat and work diligently to protect against it," Rubio said.

A day earlier, Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to US stock exchanges, major pension plans and underwriters urging them to review their policies and discontinue coordination with US-listed Chinese-based companies considering the growing threat of Communist China.

Separately Congresswoman Jackie Walorski called for the select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis to focus on safely getting America back to work and holding China accountable, rather than conducting partisan investigations and scoring political points.

During the panel's first public hearing, Walorski highlighted questions about China's actions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic that have gone unanswered even as Democrats in the subcommittee's first official action sent harassing letters to American businesses trying to save jobs.

A senior State Department official travelling with the Secretary of State told reporters in Germany that COVID-19 highlights the dangers of dealing with states that are not transparent, that don't have fair trade practices, that leverage trade get certain outcomes from their trade partners.

"Aside from sort of debt traps that we're seeing, we've seen in Djibouti, elsewhere, right, where you have to give China a 99-year lease on a port -- to other states. So a region where they're really in debt and it's causing major issues with the economy," the official said.

"But in particular there's the issue of strategic investment, that there is no such thing as a privately owned, independent company in China, right. If you use (Chinese technology company) Huawei, if you use any type of company that has access to your DNA, that DNA becomes property and that information becomes property of the Chinese Communist Party. And so that's a security issue," the official said.


Qatar Airways to give free flight tickets to 1,00,000 frontline health workers

Qatar Airways to give free flight tickets to 1,00,000 frontline health workers

In a bid to thank all the frontline healthworkers fighting the battle against coronavirus, Qatar Airways has said that it will give away 100,000 free tickets to frontline healthcare professionals to say thank you for their exemplary work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given the airline’s work at the frontline of global efforts to repatriate stranded passengers, it now seeks to recognise and reward the world’s frontline healthcare workers.

How to apply?

The giveaway will open at 00.01 AM on 12 May and close at 23:59 on 18 May (Doha time). Healthcare professionals can register for this exclusive offer at qatarairways.com/ThankYouHeroes by submitting a form to receive a unique promotion code, offered on a first come, first served basis.

Who are eligible?

Healthcare professionals from every country in the world will be eligible for tickets. To ensure the application process is fair and transparent, each country will receive a daily allocation of tickets, depending on its population size, staggered over a seven day period from 12 to 18 May. The daily allocation will be released at 00:01 AM Doha time throughout the campaign period.

Healthcare professionals that receive the promotion code can book up to two complimentary Economy Class return tickets on Qatar Airways operated flights – one for themselves and one for a companion – to anywhere on the airline’s global network. Tickets must be booked before 26 November, with travel valid until 10 December 2020. The tickets will be fully flexible, with an unlimited number of destination or date changes allowed without any fees. Fare and surcharges will be waived on tickets, airport taxes apply.*

Commenting on this, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “We at Qatar Airways are incredibly grateful for the commitment and hard work of healthcare professionals around the world who looked after people in these times of uncertainty. Their heroic display of kindness, dedication, and professionalism has saved hundreds of thousands of lives around the world."

He added, “We have built a strong level of trust with passengers, governments, trade partners, and airports as a reliable partner during this crisis and we intend to continue delivering on this mission by acknowledging the incredible efforts of these heroes. Our crew and operation has never given up during these past three months, never abandoned hope or their mission to help people get home to their loved ones and we do not intend to do so now."

“United in dedication, we share our gratitude. Now it is our turn to give something back to those on the healthcare frontline. There are no words or gestures that are enough to repay these brave men and women but we hope that our small offer of a complimentary return flight on Qatar Airways will allow them to enjoy a well-deserved holiday, visit family and friends or explore a destination they have always dreamed of, as travel restrictions start to ease,” he adds.

Moreover, as a further gesture of appreciation, healthcare professionals will be offered additionally a voucher with 35% discount to redeem at Qatar Duty Free retail outlets at the airline’s state-of-the-art hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha, which will be valid for use up to 31 December 2020.