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Coronavirus News: Live Coverage and Updates



Early on Thursday, officials announced that nearly 15,000 new cases and 242 new deaths were recorded in a single day in Hubei Province, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, largely because the authorities there had expanded their diagnostic tools for counting new infections.

Until now, only infections confirmed by specialized testing kits were considered accurate. But those kits have been in such short supply — and so many sick people have gone untested — that the authorities in Hubei have started counting patients whose illness have been screened and identified by doctors.

The result was a sudden — and large — spike in the overall tally for the coronavirus: more than 1,300 people killed and well over 50,000 infected.

The change in how cases are counted is only one factor that has made it difficult for experts to determine the true scale of the epidemic. In fact, the shifting landscape of how infections are defined and confirmed has led to significant variations in the estimates for the extent of outbreak.

The Dalai Lama has canceled his public events because of the coronavirus outbreak, his office says.

“As a precautionary measure, in view of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, all engagements of His Holiness the Dalai Lama remain indefinitely postponed,” a statement says.

On March 9, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to appear at a teaching event in Dharamsala, India.

No other events appear on the schedule.

The Dalai Lama’s office has also issued an appeal, urging Tibetans across the world to “collectively pray for the speedy resolution to the crisis and the well-being of humanity.”

The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 45,000 people in Asia, according to statements from health officials. India, where the Dalai Lama lives, has at least three confirmed cases so far, according to the World Health Organization.

One of the world’s biggest technology trade shows was canceled on Wednesday as the coronavirus outbreak continued to disrupt the global business calendar.

Every year since 2006, Mobile World Congress has drawn representatives of major tech companies to Barcelona to gather in giant conference halls to launch products, hobnob with industry luminaries and discuss deals and partnerships. The event typically draws more than 100,000 attendees from nearly 200 countries across the world. This year’s event was scheduled to begin later this month.

But on Wednesday, the industry group that organizes the trade show, the Global System for Mobile Communications Association, said it was canceling the event because of “the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances.”

The cancellation of the show became inevitable when major companies including Nokia, Ericsson and Vodafone pulled out. The association had announced safety measures to try to keep the show on track, including not admitting people who had been to affected parts of China.

Last year, Mobile World Congress carried political significance when the U.S. government sent a delegation to warn wireless companies against using equipment sold by the Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Canceling the event is a blow to the city of Barcelona, which has hosted the conference for years and enjoys a strong economic boost from the thousands of attendees putting their company expense accounts to work at restaurants, hotels and corporate events.

Some of the coronavirus testing kits sent to states have flaws and do not work properly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

The C.D.C. began sending the kits to states to allow them to conduct their own testing and get results faster than they would by shipping samples to the C.D.C. in Atlanta. The failure of the kits means that states still have to depend on the C.D.C., which will delay results by several days.

On trial runs in some states, the kits produced results that were “inconclusive,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

Dr. Messonnier told reporters that the kits had been sent to 30 other countries as well, but said later Wednesday that she was mistaken.

There have been 13 confirmed cases of the infection in patients in the United States so far.

What was supposed to be a short detour on her way to begin another semester of studies in Australia has turned into an anxious limbo for one Chinese student when that country joined others in banning travelers arriving from mainland China.

Now, Iris Yao must wait on Jeju Island, off the coast of South Korea. According to the current regulations, she cannot make her way to Australia until she has been out of China for at least 14 days. Alone in a foreign country and made to feel like a pariah has left Ms. Yao, 22, depressed and frustrated.

She is one of tens of thousands of Chinese travelers whose plans have been upset by rapidly changing regulations thrown up across the region as the coronavirus has spread.

Ms. Yao arrived on the resort island last month for a short stay on her way back to her university in Sydney, Australia, from her hometown in Zhoushan, China. Since then, she has been virtually marooned on Jeju Island, known for its white sand beaches and volcanic landscape.

It might be slice of paradise, but she has not found it relaxing. Instead of the warm welcome once extended to wealthy Chinese tourists, the island’s locals have met Ms. Yao and other Chinese visitors with worry, discrimination and fear.

Some restaurants on the resort island have banned Chinese citizens. Employees at one asked her not to speak Mandarin while eating there, fearing she would scare away customers.

“The fear toward the virus is everywhere,” she said. “I think it’s unfair for all Chinese citizens; they are not allowed to go into restaurants or cannot speak Mandarin.”

London is experiencing its first case of coronavirus, the British authorities said on Wednesday.

The patient, who is the United Kingdom’s ninth case, contracted the virus in China and is being treated at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Britain has confirmed nine cases of coronavirus infections, with five believed to be linked to a British businessman who may have contracted the virus in Singapore. The man, Steve Walsh, is believed to be the cause of five additional cases in France.

Credit…Via FTI Consulting

On Wednesday, Mr. Walsh released a statement saying he has been released from the hospital and returned home, even as public health officials continue to try to trace the contacts of some of the people he is believed to have infected.

The strategic incident director of Britain’s National Health Service, Prof. Keith Willett, said Mr. Walsh had developed only “mild” symptoms of the virus and had made a full recovery.

“He is no longer contagious and poses no risk to the public,” Professor Willett said in a statement. “He is keen to return to his normal life and spend time with his family out of the media spotlight.”

The Chinese authorities have approved a broad strategy for trying to bring the coronavirus outbreak under control while restarting economic production, state news outlets reported Wednesday evening.

President Xi Jinping ordered that tax cuts be drafted and put into effect.

Premier Li Keqiang, the country’s No. 2 official, and the country’s cabinet called for major construction projects to begin across the country as soon as possible.

State-owned enterprises were told to cut rents. Banks were ordered to keep interest rates low.

City governments were told to make sure that workers who went home for the Lunar New Year holiday could reach their jobs.

The two most powerful political bodies in China — the Standing Committee of the Communist Party Politburo and the government’s cabinet of ministers — each issued similar orders. Both groups produced hints of the fairly broad stimulus program that many economists expect soon.

None of the announcements directly addressed the difficult balancing act that China now faces: how to put more than 700 million workers back on the job without creating conditions that could allow the virus to spread.

The coronavirus has jumped from ship to shore, officials in Japan said on Wednesday, after an employee of the country’s Health Ministry who had surveyed passengers on a quarantined cruise ship tested positive for the virus.

In addition, 39 new confirmed cases were announced among the more than 3,600 crew and passengers on the ship, bringing the total number of infected people to 175.

The ship, known as the Diamond Princess, has been under quarantine for more than a week in the port of Yokohama. The quarantine began after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Japanese authorities have been slowly moving those with the illness off the ship and to hospitals. But onboard, many passengers are complaining that they lack information and have poor access to medicines.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry asked the Japanese authorities to allow 15 Israelis to disembark the ship, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that it was examining other options for them to complete their 14-day quarantine.

Barring unforeseen developments, the ship’s quarantine is supposed to end on Feb. 19.

The cruise line has been providing internet and telephone service to allow the passengers to stay in touch with their families back home, and the Israelis have been airing their frustrations in the Israeli news media.

“We came on the cruise to celebrate a birthday,” Shimon Dahan, 69, told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. “We were enjoying every moment, then it turned into a nightmare.”

The Foreign Ministry said the Israeli Embassy in Japan was supplying the Israeli citizens with medicines and kosher food.

A cruise ship carrying 1,400 passengers that had been refused permission to stop in Japan, Guam, Taiwan and the Philippines, despite having no diagnoses of coronavirus, may have found a place to dock.

On Wednesday, Cambodia said it would allow the ship, the Westerdam, to dock on Thursday morning and the passengers to disembark, according to a statement from the cruise line Holland America, which owns the ship.

“Westerdam is now sailing for Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where the current cruise will end,” according to a statement from the company. “We are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support,” the statement added.

The cruise ship had been on a 14-day voyage after departing from Hong Kong on Feb. 1.

On Wednesday, Holland America said, “All guests on board are healthy, and despite erroneous reports, there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, nor have there ever been.”

The death toll from the coronavirus in China reached a new high on Wednesday, at least 1,114, even as Chinese officials said that the rate of new infections showed signs of slowing.

Nationwide, 98 new deaths and more than 2,015 new cases have emerged since Tuesday, according to data from the Chinese health authorities and from the World Health Organization.

The newly reported infections on Tuesday represented the lowest in China in a single day since Jan. 30, when there were 1,982 new confirmed cases.

The total number of confirmed cases rose to 44,730. Most of the newly reported deaths occurred in Hubei Province, the heart of the outbreak.

There are 441 cases of the new coronavirus disease outside China, in 24 countries. Of the 48 new cases confirmed outside China yesterday, 40 were on board the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship quarantined in the port of Yokohama, Japan.

The Ministry of Education in China instructed schools on Wednesday to find ways to keep the country’s 190 million primary and secondary students busy during the suspension of the school year, but it discouraged any significant efforts to provide classes online.

In a notice posted on its website, the ministry urged provincial school administrators to draw up detailed study plans for students who, like everyone else, are largely confined to their homes.

The ministry encouraged reading and physical exercises and, if possible, online tutoring, though it also warned that primary-school students especially should not spend too much time online. It also announced that special programing on China’s national education television channel, CETV 4, would begin next week; the network had a similar role during the SARS epidemic in 2003.

The coronavirus epidemic that began in Wuhan has now thrown the country’s schools and universities into chaos. Some provinces, including Liaoning and Sichuan, plan to reopen primary and secondary schools on Feb. 17, at least for now, while others have already postponed the school year until at least March, including Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangdong.

The delays could have the greatest impact on those students preparing for the major national exams for high school and college held at the end of spring.

The United States will allow nonemergency consulate employees in Hong Kong and their families to leave because of the coronavirus outbreak, a State Department official said on Wednesday.

The decision to allow voluntary departures was made in response to continuing uncertainty surrounding the outbreak and practical considerations such as school closings, the official said.

The consulate in Hong Kong will remain open and continue to provide regular services.

A similar decision was made to allow nonemergency State Department personnel and their families to leave mainland China in late January.

The State Department chartered flights and evacuated about 850 people from Wuhan, where the outbreak began late last year, including employees of the United States Consulate in the city.

Hong Kong has 50 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death. The State Department’s travel advisory for the city is at Level 2, the second-lowest of four levels, and recommends that visitors to Hong Kong “exercise increased caution” because of the outbreak.

This month, the warning for mainland China was raised to 4, the highest level.

“Do not travel to China due to the novel coronavirus,” it said.

The coronavirus outbreak in China has generated economic waves that are rocking commodities markets and disrupting the supply networks that act as the backbone of the global economy.

In Australia, after hauling hundreds of thousands of tons of iron ore to China, returning freighters can face a 14-day quarantine.

One of the world’s largest copper mining companies, BHP, has been in talks to possibly delay shipments to Chinese ports.

And China is turning back deliveries of liquefied natural gas, potentially disrupting shipments from Qatar to Indonesia.

“We’re seeing a rippling out,” said Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup in New York. “And we don’t see it stopping.”

Prices for key industrial raw materials such as copper, iron ore, nickel, aluminum and liquid natural gas have plummeted since the virus emerged.

And manufacturers, mining companies and commodity producers of all stripes are weighing whether they will be forced to cut back on production for fear of adding to a growing inventory glut.

Airbnb will suspend bookings in Beijing until May 1, the company said on Wednesday.

The decision was made “in accordance with guidance issued by the government to all companies in the short-term rental industry,” a spokesman for the company said. He added that existing reservations would be refunded.

Airbnb has also waived cancellation fees for travel to and from mainland China until the end of February. Travelers who had booked stays in Hubei, the province at the center of the outbreak, can cancel reservations without charge until April 1.

The company had continued to accept reservations throughout China during the busy travel season before and after the Lunar New Year holiday, even as the government started to lock down cities and impose road restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.

The company also said it would set aside $10 million “to support hosts in the next few years, during the recovery period of the local tourism industry.”

Reporting and research was contributed by Amber Wang, Zoe Mou, Albee Zhang, Yiwei Wang, Claire Fu, Amy Qin, Sui-Lee Wee, Steven Lee Myers, Keith Bradsher, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Matt Phillips, Austin Ramzy, Tiffany May, Elian Peltier, Yonette Joseph, Megan Specia, Heather Murphy, Iliana Magra and Ceylan Yeginsu.

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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE with triple rear camera setup, 5G, a 120Hz refresh rate display launched- Technology News, Firstpost




Samsung launched the Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition) at a Galaxy fan event. The Galaxy S20 FE comes with an Infinity-O display that has a 120Hz refresh rate, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset and triple rear camera setup. The smartphone comes in both 4G and 5G variants, and three storage variants that offer up to 8 GB RAM and 256 GB of internal storage. Galaxy S20 FE is a trimmed-down version of the Galaxy S20 that was launched in India back in February this year at Rs 66,999.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE pricing, availability

The 5G variant of the smartphone is priced at $699 (approx. Rs 51,400). It comes in 6 GB RAM + 128 GB storage variant, 8 GB RAM +128 GB storage variant and 8 GB RAM + 256 GB storage variant. In terms of colours, Galaxy S20 FE comes in Cloud Red, Cloud Orange, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud Navy and Cloud White colour variants.

 Samsung Galaxy S20 FE with triple rear camera setup, 5G, a 120Hz refresh rate display launched

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

It will go be available for purchase on 2 October only in select markets. India pricing and availability of the smartphone have not been announced yet.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE specifications

The smartphone features a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED Infinity O display that comes with a 120 Hz refresh rate and a resolution of 1,080 x 2,400 pixels. The 4G variant is powered by the Exynos 990 chipset whereas the 5G variant is equipped with a Snapdragon 865 processor. In terms of storage, both 4G and 5G variants offer up to 8 GB RAM and 256 GB of internal storage.

For photography, Galaxy S20 FE sports a triple rear camera setup that houses a 12 MP primary sensor, a 12 MP ultra-wide lens and an 8 MP telephoto lens. For selfies, it comes with a 32 MP front camera.

The smartphone comes with a 4,500mAh battery that comes with support for 15W fast charging and wireless charging.

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Walcott quits, Agard returns – Tech News TT




Above: Good times. George Hill and Dr Ronald Walcott in 2012. Photo By Mark Lyndersay.

TSTT has announced the resignation of Dr Ronald Walcott and the appointment of Lisa Agard as acting CEO.

Walcott served as CEO for six years, taking the role after the departure of George Hill. Both men were key players in the company’s push to 4G, Hill as Chief Technology Officer and Walcott as Executive VP for Mobile, overseeing the migration from Nortel hardware to Huawei installations and guiding the marketing push to migrate customers to the new standard.

Walcott ends his half-decade in the role on October 01, 2020, having overseen a massive staff rationalisation exercise, a 2016 loss of $316 million, the design of a new five-year $3.7 billion restructuring plan.

He led the Zero-copper campaign to switch legacy copper landlines to fixed wireless connections, a project formally announced in October 2018 which remains incomplete.

Beginning in November 2018 the company began staff retrenchments which would result in the separation of more than 600 employees.

In May 2017, Walcott guided the company’s acquisition of the fledgling and largely faltering Massy broadband operation Amplia.

Helming Amplia were two TSTT veterans, Lisa Agard and Trevor Deane.

At that point, the company was experiencing a 99 percent drop in profitability against a $230 million investment in building a fibre network.

Walcott’s departure follows the resignation of Chief Technical Officer Hassel Bacchus, who is is now a Minister in the Ministry of Public Administration. Bacchus was overseeing, as part of his duties, the reengineering of the company’s financial backoffice, another project which is not completed to the satisfaction of the company’s customers.

A recent press release photo of Dr Ronald Walcott.

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Facebook to reject political ads that prematurely claim election victory




Facebook said Wednesday it would not allow people to run ads on its services that declare victory in the November election before news organizations have declared a winner.

“Facebook will be rejecting political ads that claim victory before the results of the 2020 election have been declared,” company spokesman Andy Stone said in a tweet.

The tech company has been fine-tuning its rules for what politicians, campaigns and potentially others can say on Facebook out of concern that people could try to manipulate its online social network to spread false information or sow unrest.

Facebook has said it has signed partnerships with the Reuters news agency and with the National Election Pool, a consortium of news organizations including NBC News, to determine winners in the election.

Susan Rice, former national security adviser in the Obama White House, is among the people who have expressed concern that President Donald Trump could claim victory wrongly and prematurely.

For non-advertising posts that seek to declare victory, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this month that the company would add a label to such posts noting that official results were not yet in.

The news organizations, Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post, would “provide authoritative information about election results.”

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