German minister commits suicide after worries over financial fallout from COVID-19 crisis

CC™ Breaking News

Thomas Schaefer, the finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state, has committed suicide apparently after becoming “deeply worried” over how to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus, state premier Volker Bouffier said Sunday.

Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railway track on Saturday. The Wiesbaden prosecution’s office said they believe he died by suicide.

“We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all, we are immensely sad,” Bouffier said in a recorded statement.

Hesse is home to Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt, where major lenders like Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have their headquarters. The European Central Bank is also located in Frankfurt.

A visibly shaken Bouffier recalled that Schaefer, who was Hesse’s finance chief for 10 years, had been working “day and night” to help companies and workers deal with the economic impact of the pandemic. 

“Today we have to assume that he was deeply worried,” said Bouffier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.“It’s precise during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him,” he added. 

Popular and well-respected, Schaefer had long been touted as a possible successor to Bouffier. Like Bouffier, Schaefer belonged to Merkel’s centre-right CDU party. 

He leaves behind a wife and two children.


Report: Donald Trump sought Alex Rodriguez's (zero medical experience) advice on coronavirus pandemic

CC™ News - By Ryan Young

President Donald Trump apparently reached out to more in the sports world than just Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady this week while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Trump spoke with former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez on the phone this week from the Oval Office, according to ABC News’ John Santucci.

Trump was seeking Rodriguez’s thoughts on his response to the coronavirus, and had a “pleasant” conversation, per the report.

There were more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday night, according to The New York Times, the most among any country in the world, and more than 44,600 cases in New York alone.
The news comes just one day after Trump managed to bring up Brady during a coronavirus briefing, although it wasn’t exactly clear why he did.
“After a meeting with the world leaders, I spoke with the governors of our 50 states and territories,” Trump said Thursday. “Our team has been in constant communication with the governors, and we had a terrific meeting.
“Somebody in the fake news said that one of the governors said ‘oh we need Tom Brady.’ I said ‘yeah.’ He meant that in a positive way. He said ‘we need Tom Brady. We’re gonna do great.’ And he meant it very positively. But they took it differently. They think Tom Brady should be leading the effort. That’s only fake news. And I like Tom Brady. Spoke to him the other day. He’s a great guy.”
It’s likely that Trump was attempting to get back at Washington Gov. Jay Inslee by invoking Brady at the briefing. Inslee was quoted in a Washington Post story on Thursday morning as saying, “We need a Tom Brady” while pleading for more dramatic action from the president and for more medical supplies for his state amid the coronavirus pandemic. 
Trump has had a tumultuous relationship with Rodriguez, and has slammed him publicly multiple times in the past. He called Rodriguez a “bad guy” in an Entertainment Tonight interview in 2013, and once predicted that Rodriguez “will go down as the biggest sports embarrassment of all time.

What Trump gained from his call with Rodriguez — or why he’s even calling the ESPN analyst who has zero medical background — amid the global crisis is a mystery. 
Source: Yahoo Sports


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus

CC™ Global News 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that he is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19. 

“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” he said on Twitter, posting a video message.

“I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus,” he wrote.

“Be in no doubt that I can continue thanks to the wizardry of modern technology to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus,” he added in the video message.

A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement that Johnson, whose partner Carrie Symonds is pregnant, experienced mild symptoms on Thursday and was tested for COVID-19 on the personal advice of England’s chief medical officer.

The test was carried out in No 10 by NHS staff, the spokesperson added.

In his video message, Johnson thanked workers in Britain’s state-run National Health Service (NHS) for their efforts in battling the spread of the virus.

A total of 11,658 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Britain, and 578 deaths.
Earlier this week Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to Queen Elizabeth II, also tested positive for the virus.

The government confirmed this week that if Johnson was incapacitated, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would temporarily assume the role of prime minister.


Bill Gates on coronavirus: We need an extreme shutdown of 6 to 10 weeks

CC™ HealthWatch - By Aarthi Swaminathan 

Philanthropist and billionaire Bill Gates believes that America needs six to 10 weeks of “extreme shutdown” of regular life to get a handle on the new coronavirus outbreak (or COVID-19), contradicting comments from President Trump.

“It’s very irresponsible for somebody to suggest we can have the best of both worlds,” the Microsoft co-founder said in an interview with TED on Tuesday. “What we need is an extreme shutdown so that in six to 10 weeks, if things go well, then you can start opening back up.”

Gates noted that while isolation in populated areas — along with widespread testing — is difficult and “disastrous” for the economy, “the sooner you do it in a tough way, the sooner you can undo it.” 

President Donald Trump recently argued that restrictions should be loosened by Easter Sunday, April 12, with healthy people returning to work while people who are sick remain isolated.

“The expression ‘We can do two things at one time,’ … and that includes not just economics, that also includes life and death,” Trump said. “We have to keep it that way.” 

The U.S. stock market and economy have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. And the financial situation is becoming increasingly problematic for millions of Americans as unemployment claims rose to an historic 3.2 million for the week that ended March 21.

Trump asserted that the U.S. “wasn’t built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this,” adding: “America will again and soon be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting.” 

Experts — including those in Trump’s inner health care circle — have cautioned strongly against loosening precautionary measures too quickly, as it would lead to more catastrophe in the longer term.

“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks and other areas, at least going to be several weeks,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on March 20. “I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now, it’s going to be over. I don’t think there’s a chance of that.”

One former government official concurred. “I think the president needs to be listening carefully to our medical professionals,” former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade, later adding: “Once you’ve done that, then it’s perfectly appropriate to listen to the economic side.”

Gates echoed that view without naming Trump specifically.

“There really is no middle ground, and it’s very tough to say to people: ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner. We want you to keep spending because there’s maybe a politician who thinks GDP growth is all that counts,’” Gates said. “It’s very hard to tell people when there’s an epidemic spreading… that they should go about things, knowing that their activity is spreading this disease.” 

At the same time, Gates acknowledged that the uncertainty is going to take a massive toll on the global economy, particularly on developing countries.

We can’t say for sure that even the rich countries will be out of this in six to 10 weeks… the developing countries will bear a significant price,” Gates explained. “Two to three years from now, this thing, even on a global basis, will essentially be over with a gigantic price tag.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has thus far donated $100 million for programs to address the coronavirus pandemic, specifically to improve “detection, isolation, and treatment efforts… and accelerate the development of vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics.”

Gates had also resigned from the Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway boards earlier this month to commit to his philanthropic activities full time.

Source: Yahoo News!


Nobel Prize winner shares some good news about the coronavirus pandemic

CC™ News - By Shawn Langlois (MarketWatch)

Michael Levitt, a Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist, has delivered an optimistic take on the coronavirus pandemic to the Los Angeles Times over the weekend. 

Levitt was credited for correctly calling early on that China would get through the worst of its devastating outbreak before many other health experts predicted.

On Jan. 31, China had 46 new deaths compared with 42 the day before, which Levitt recognized as a slowing rate of growth. So he sent out an optimistic report.
“This suggests that the rate of increase in number of the deaths will slow down even more over the next week,” he said in a note widely shared on Chinese social media. Levitt, who won the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry, also said the number of deaths would soon start decreasing every day.
He ultimately nailed his call for a mid-February peak with a total tally of about 80,000 cases and 3,250 deaths. As of March 16, China had counted a total of 80,298 cases and 3,245 deaths — in a country of almost 1.4 billion people where about 10 million die every year.
He’s got a similar view for the United States.
 “What we need is to control the panic... we’re going to be fine,” he said, adding that the data doesn’t support the gloom and doom epidemiologist have been warning about.

Levitt looked at the stats from 78 countries with more than 50 reported cases of COVID-19 every day and sees “signs of recovery,” focusing on the number of new cases, not the cumulative figure.

“Numbers are still noisy but there are clear signs of slowed growth,” he told the L.A. Times, claiming that, however, the trajectory of deaths in the U.S. back up his findings.

There are now 35,224 cases and 471 deaths in the U.S., as of Monday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. On Friday afternoon, there were 16,018 cases and 210 deaths.

Levitt said social-distancing mandates and getting vaccinated against the flu are both critical to the fight against the spread. Italy’s strong anti-vaccine movement, he explained, likely played a factor in the explosion of cases, because the spread of the flu likely was a factor in overwhelming hospitals and increasing the chances of coronavirus going undetected.

He lays some of the blame on the media for sparking panic by focusing on the increase in cumulative cases and spotlighting celebrities, like Tom Hanks and Idris Elba, who have been infected.

Levitt is also worried that an overreaction could trigger another crisis, with lost jobs and hopelessness creating their own set of problems, such as a surge in suicide rate.

On Sunday, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said he sees the U.S. unemployment rate hitting 30% in the coming months as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. If his projection proves true, unemployment would be worse than it was during the Great Depression and three times worse than the 2007-’09 recession.

While those kinds headlines continue to spread fear, Levitt sticks by his simple message: The coronavirus pandemic is “not the end of the world.”


Adulterous husband contracts coronavirus on trip to Italy with mistress

CC™ News

A cheating UK husband is "in a blind panic" over his extra-marital affair - now that he contracted the coronavirus on a secret trip to Italy with his mistress, according to reports.

The unnamed patient, in his late 30s - described as "well-heeled and with a high-flying job" - told his wife he was away on a business trip within the UK, The Sun reported.

"This patient is the talk of public health officials," a source with knowledge of the situation told the outlet. "His case would be funny if it wasn't quite so serious."

"The man confessed [to doctors] what he'd been up to in Italy, and that his wife has no idea," the source added. "She thinks he just picked up the disease on his business trip away."

The man is expected to survive the infection - "unlike his extra-marital relationship," the source told the outlet.

The man's wife-only aware that he has COVID-19-has isolated herself in the couple's lavish home in Northern England.

He admitted to doctors that his affair is with a woman, but he refused to identify her, according to the report.

Italy is battling the largest coronavirus outbreak outside Asia - with 31,506 total cases and 2,503 deaths reported by Tuesday, officials announced.

Source: The Sun


Female doctor responsbile for the key detection of first Covid-19 case in Nigeria celebrated

CC™ Global News 

Nigeria’s Southwestern Ogun state government today revealed the identity of the doctor who suspected the index case of coronavirus in Nigeria. 

The state ministry of health in a series of tweets appreciated the doctor, Amarachukwu Allison, whose vigilance and brilliance it said “led to the early diagnosis and rapid containment" of the first Covid-19 infection brought into the country by an Italian expatriate.
Allison is a doctor at Lafarge Plc, a cement manufacturer. The disclosure comes almost a month after the index case of the Italian who arrived in Nigeria on February 24, was confirmed by the Lagos State government and the Federal government.
The Italian, who is a consultant with Lafarge, reportedly spent the night at an undisclosed hotel near Lagos airport and moved to the company’s facility in Ewekoro, Ogun state, the next morning.
He was said to have spent the night at Lafarge’s facility when he fell sick and was taken to the company’s medical centre where preliminary diagnosis began.
After testing positive for the disease, he was subsequently quarantined at the Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba, Lagos state. He has since recovered and tested negative twice after that, and has thus been discharged by the Lagos State medical outfit that treated him.
Responding to the Osun government’s tweet, Allison thanked God “for intuition and knowledge” and for the safety of her teammates.
“I want to thank God Almighty for intuition and knowledge and also for the safety of my teammates and I who worked together at the time,” she said.
“My special prayers to health workers around the world who have paid the supreme sacrifice and to all families who have lost loved ones. To all unsung heroes, thank you.”
She effectively enters the league of Stella Adadevoh, a Nigerian medic celebrated in the country for having kept out the Ebola epidemic from the country years back.
Adadevoh helped curb the spread of Ebola virus in Nigeria by placing the patient zero, Patrick Sawyer, in quarantine despite pressures from the Liberian government.


Iran leader refuses US help, citing virus conspiracy theory

CC™ Politico -  By Jon Gambrell (AP) 

Iran's supreme leader Sunday refused U.S. assistance to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus could be man-made by America. 

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments come as Iran faces crushing U.S. sanctions blocking the country from selling its crude oil and accessing international financial markets. 

But while Iranian civilian officials in recent days have increasingly criticized those sanctions, 80-year-old Khamenei instead chose to traffic in the same conspiracy theory increasingly used by Chinese officials about the new virus to deflect blame for the pandemic. 

“Possibly your (offered) medicine is a way to spread the virus more,” Khamenei said. “Or if you send therapists and doctors, maybe he wants to see the effect of the poison, since it is said that part of the virus is built for Iran." 

There is no scientific proof offered anywhere in the world to support Khamenei's comments. 

However, it comes after Chinese government spokesman Lijian Zhao tweeted earlier this month that it “might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe(s) us an explanation!”

Lijian likewise offered no evidence to support his claim, which saw the U.S. State Department summon China's ambassador to complain. 

Wuhan is the Chinese city where the first cases of the disease were detected in December. In recent days, the Trump administration has increasingly referred to the virus as the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus, while the World Health Organization used the term COVID-19 to describe the illness the virus causes. Even a U.S. senator from Arkansas has trafficked in the unfounded conspiracy theory it was a man-made Chinese bioweapon. 

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. 

Scientists have not yet determined exactly how the new coronavirus first infected people. Evidence suggests it originated in bats, which infected another animal that spread it to people at a market in Wuhan. The now-shuttered Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market advertised dozens of species such as giant salamanders, baby crocodiles and raccoon dogs that were often referred to as wildlife, even when they were farmed. 

An article published last week in the scientific journal Nature Medicine similarly said there is “strong evidence” the virus “is not the product of purposeful manipulation.” 

“It is improbable that (the virus) emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus,” the article's authors found. 

Khamenei made the comments in a speech in Tehran broadcast live Sunday across Iran marking Nowruz, the Persian New Year. He had called off his usual speech at Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad over the virus outbreak. 

His comments come as Iran has over 20,600 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus amid 1,556 reported deaths. 

Iran is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world by the new virus. Across the Mideast, Iran represents eight of 10 cases of the virus and those leaving the Islamic Republic have carried the virus to other countries. 

Reassigning blame could be helpful to Iran's government, which faced widespread public anger after denying for days it shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing 176 people. Widespread economic problems as well has seen mass demonstrations in recent years that saw hundreds reportedly killed. 

Iranian hard-liners have supported conspiracy theories in the past when it suited their interests. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, some publicly doubted al-Qaida's role and state TV promoting the unfounded conspiracy theory that the Americans blew up the building themselves. 

Former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad similarly raised doubt about the Sept. 11 attack, calling it a “big lie," while also describing the Holocaust as a “myth.” 

Associated Press writer Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.