Things to Note, May 26th

Belarus’ Economy Can Face a Sever Shock, says World Bank

As a small, open, commodity-exporting economy, Belarus is heavily exposed to shocks caused by deep contractions in its main trading partners, the collapse of oil prices, and global financial volatility related to the COVID-19 pandemic, says the World Bank’s latest Economic Update for Belarus, released today. Belarus’ economy is anticipated to contract by at least 4 percent in 2020 – the largest decline in 25 years – and growth is expected to remain weak in the medium-term.

“The impacts of COVID-19 will be severe for Belarus,” said Alex Kremer, World Bank Country Manager for Belarus. “A faster return to normal, however, could be achieved by enabling social distancing to slow the spread of the virus and cash transfers to assist vulnerable households. In addition, policy measures to boost competitiveness and productivity will allow Belarus to take advantage of global trends expected to accelerate after COVID-19. These include the growth of digital services, as well as more opportunities for goods and services, as producers seek to diversify supply chains and relocate manufacturing closer to home.”

Brazil surpasses US in daily coronavirus death toll

Brazil daily coronavirus deaths were higher than fatalities in the United States for the first time over the last 24 hours, according to the country’s Health Ministry.

Brazil registered 807 deaths over the last 24 hours, whereas 620 died in the United States.

Brazil has the second worst outbreak in the world, with 374,898 cases, behind the US with 1.637 million cases. Total deaths in the US has reached 97,971, according to Reuters tally compared with Brazil at 23,473.

COVID-19 treatment: Endogenous cures can also do the trick!

China today boasts more than 3,500 years of traditional medicine practice. The Chinese have so perfected their art that Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is now studied in universities – just like Western or orthodox medicine, with students eventually qualifying as Doctor of Medicine, or MDs, in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Thus, the country is well placed to compare notes on traditional medicine.

Moreover, China’s technological and industrial advancement make a good case for collaboration with African traditional medicine and orthodox scientists. This, for example, could be done in the areas of peer review, obtaining relevant international patents, mass production, ensuring wider distribution…

“An unexpected lesson from the coronavirus pandemic is that pristine African remedies have given voice to the continent to henceforth provide solutions to international disasters,” says Prof. Fru Asanji Fobuzshi Angwafo, Director General of the Gynaeco-Obstetric and Pediatric Hospital in Yaounde, Cameroon. Constructed by the Chinese government, the hospital has received a number of Chinese medical teams over the years.

According to Prof. Angwafo, “budding scientific research, in the realm of traditional pharmacopoeia, has proffered endogenous responses, bringing a glimmer of hope to Africans in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic… These positive initiatives are begging for concerted efforts and resolve to structure and fund medicinal research and its champions,” he notes. “It is more compelling today to muster the vigor needed to protect African fauna and flora and reward the rigors of scientific distinction,” he underscores.

Cuba insists on maintaining preventative measures to control COVID-19

The Cuban government reiterated its decision to maintain measures adopted to control COVID-19 and not lower our guard despite the increasingly lower numbers of patients confirmed per day, six this Monday, as well as the reduced number of active patients, 159 of 1,947 total cases confirmed since March 11.

During the first of these regular meetings this week chaired by President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz emphasized the importance of convincing the population to avoid overconfidence and continue to abide by preventative measures.

In his usual update to the country’s leadership on the epidemic, Public Health Minister José Ángel Portal Miranda explained that 2,068 COVID-19 patients remain under care and observation, including those in hospitals, and isolation centers for contacts and suspected cases. This number, he said, is the lowest since April 22, when there were more than 10,700 in these categories.

He added that 96.8% of hospitalized patients are in stable condition; adding that total deaths remain at 82, none on Monday; and 15 medical discharges were granted, for a total of 1,704 patients recovered.

Defying U.S. sanctions, first Iranian tanker reaches Venezuela

The enhanced U.S. military presence in Caribbean waters did not deter Iran as the “Fortune,” the first of its five giant tankers full of gasoline and refinery supplies reached Venezuela’s waters late Saturday, May 23.

It docked today in the port of the El Palito refinery, 100 miles west of Caracas. At the port, the new Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami welcomed the ship: “This is how self-determination of the peoples is expressed. … we cannot allow any power to assume the role of super police, to dictate prohibitive measures here and there.

“How fortunate we are to count on Iran in these times!” he concluded.

Later, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino described Venezuela’s military ships and jet fighters accompanying the second tanker “Forest” as it approached the shore, and said, “This is solidarity between nations that marks a milestone in world geopolitics!”

The ships’ arrival is a major victory for both Iran and Venezuela. Iran’s generous act of solidarity extends a vital lifeline to the Bolivarian Revolution even as the Trump administration is stepping up its regime change campaign.

The Forest is close to arrival and three more ships, the Petunia, Flaxon and Clavell, will reach shore soon. They carry a reported total of 1.53 million barrels of fuel, plus spare parts, and refining additives.

Gasoline has been virtually unavailable at the gas pumps for weeks.

Hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin combo may be potentially lethal:  Study

Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, which have been proposed for treatment of COVID-19 patients, are a potentially lethal combination, and may have a serious impact on the cardiovascular system, according to a study.

The researchers, including those from Vanderbilt University and Stanford University in the US, carried out an observational, retrospective meta-analysis of a WHO database encompassing over 21 million adverse event case reports.

The reports span across all medication classes from over 130 countries between November 14, 1967, and March 1, 2020 — mainly before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, compared cardiovascular adverse-drug-reactions (CV-ADRs) in patients who received hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, or the combination of both medications with all other cardiovascular medications in the database.

Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, alone or in combination, have been proposed for treatment of COVID-19 patients, the researchers said.

They explained that reports of potentially lethal acute cardiac proarrhythmogenic effects — promoting irregular heart rhythms — have been described mainly with azithromycin but also with hydroxychloroquine.

Iconic sites reopen as world eyes life after lockdown

THE CHURCH of the Nativity and the ruins of ancient Pompeii reopened to pilgrims and tourists on Tuesday, as countries further eased coronavirus controls and reopened shuttered economies.

For many nations, including hard-hit Italy and Spain, the summer season will be key to saving what is left of the tourism industry and the latest tentative steps out of lockdown buoyed world markets.

But, while now past its peak in Asia and much of Europe, the new coronavirus is continuing its spread. On Tuesday, the number of cases passed the 5.5 million mark, according to an AFP tally of official sources.

The number of declared cases in the world has doubled in a month and more than one million new cases of Covid-19 have been registered in the last 11 days. More than 346,000 deaths have been recorded worldwide.

Nuclear Infrastructure Development to Reap the Benefits of Research Reactors

The Milestone approach is a comprehensive scheme divided into three phases that lay out what a country must accomplish in 19 areas of infrastructure development, including nuclear safety, human resources, financing, and management. It can be used both for nuclear power programs and research reactor programs.

While the general contours of the approach are largely similar for research reactor programs and nuclear power programs, the main distinction is related to the level of utilization: research reactors have a wide range of applications, whereas nuclear power reactors are primarily used to generate electricity. This means that when a country uses the Milestones approach for research reactors, it must first determine what the research reactor will be used for. Knowing the research reactor’s purpose is essential not only to identify the specific infrastructure elements required, such as the types of specialists to hire and facilities to build, but also to effectively apply the Milestones approach.

The research reactor development process is organized into three main phases: preparing a feasibility report to justify the need for a research reactor project; setting up for construction of the reactor, including the establishment of legal and regulatory frameworks; and commissioning and constructing the new reactor.

OECD GDP falls by 1.8% in the first quarter of 2020

Following the introduction of COVID-19 containment measures across the world, real gross domestic product (GDP) in the OECD area fell by 1.8% in the first quarter of 2020, the largest drop since the 2.3% contraction in the first quarter of 2009 at the height of the financial crisis, according to provisional estimates.

Among the Major Seven, GDP dropped significantly in France and Italy, where lockdown measures were most stringent and implemented earliest (by minus 5.8% and minus 4.7% respectively, compared with minus 0.1% and minus 0.3%, in the previous quarter).

GDP also fell sharply in Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom (by minus 2.6%, minus 2.2% and minus 2.0% respectively, compared with 0.1%, minus 0.1% and 0.0% in the previous quarter‎).

In the United States, where many states introduced ‘stay-at-home’ measures in late March, the contraction in GDP was less dramatic (by minus 1.2%, compared with 0.5% in the previous quarter).

In Japan, where containment measures have been less stringent, GDP contracted by minus 0.9% in the first quarter of 2020, compared with minus 1.9% in the previous quarter.

In the euro area and in the European Union GDP shrank by minus 3.8% and minus 3.3% respectively, compared with growth of 0.1% and 0.2% in the previous quarter.

Year-on-year GDP growth for the OECD area fell to minus 0.8% in the first quarter of 2020, following growth of 1.6% in the previous quarter. Among the Major Seven economies, the United States recorded the highest annual growth (0.3%), while France recorded the sharpest annual fall (minus 5.4%).

LOCAL:  Mine exposure puts Hideaway Hills families on the edge

Dozens of Black Hawk residents are dealing with the emotional and financial fallout after a sinkhole exposed the fact that part of their community was built over a mine.

The April 27 discovery impacted not just the 15 families who were forced to evacuate from East Daisy Street in the Hideaway Hills community, but others who live in fear that their homes are also at risk.

“I don’t want to necessarily call it a trauma, but it is. We had to completely uproot” and “in the middle of a pandemic,” said Allison Ireland, who had to evacuate with her husband, two children and two dogs.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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