Spruced up

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Virus-hit province rewards doctors’ children with extra exam points

first_imgMore than 32,000 medical workers from elsewhere in China have been sent to the province as reinforcement, Hubei’s government said at a press conference Tuesday.Others argued the children themselves were undeserving of the reward.”It is not appropriate for the child to benefit from their parent’s devotion,” one user wrote.”This would lead to education unfairness.” Topics : Children of China’s frontline medical workers battling the deadly coronavirus will be awarded extra exam points when applying for schools and higher education, local officials said Tuesday.Doctors and nurses in Hubei province — where the outbreak originated and which has reported the majority of deaths — have been lionized online and by state media.China’s schooling system places a major emphasis on exams, and even younger children face extreme competition to get into top schools that parents believe will raise their chances of getting into a good university.center_img The measures will “further care for the province’s frontline medical staff” and encourage them to be more “resolute” in their fight to contain the virus, the province said in a statement.Children of medical workers applying for high school this year can receive an additional 10 points in their entrance exams, while younger children will be prioritized for admission at public kindergartens, according to officials.Although millions expressed their grief online when whistleblowing doctor Li Wenliang died — with other medical workers’ deaths similarly mourned on a smaller scale — Chinese social media users complained it was unfair to reward only medical staff in Hubei.”Bonus points are already unfair, but only offering it to Hubei staff makes it even more unfair to other provinces because they all went there to help,” one user on the Twitter-like Weibo platform wrote.last_img read more

Lana Soelistianingsih appointed LPS executive director

first_img “[I also hope Lana] will improve LPS’ performance in insuring deposits are more sustainable in the future,” the minister said in a statement.Read also: LPS lowers deposit insurance rates to 6.25 percent until end of yearShe added that she also hoped Lana could turn the LPS into a corporation that contributed more to the stability of the Indonesian financial system.Lana earned a Master’s degree in economic development from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, United States, in 1995, and a doctorate degree in economy from the University of Indonesia in 2003. She joined Indonesian investment management company PT Samuel Aset Manajemen (SAM) as the head of economics and research in October 2013. (hol)Topics : President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo appointed Lana Soelistianingsih as the new Deposit Insurance Corporation (LPS) executive director on Thursday, replacing Fauzi Ichsan. The decision to appoint Lana and honorably discharge Fauzi was stipulated in Presidential Decree No. 10/M/2020.Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who handed over the decree to Lana in a ceremony on Thursday, said she hoped Lana would be ready to collaborate with relevant parties and be aware of any economic challenges coming from inside and outside the country.last_img read more

Activists unconvinced as deliberations on mining law revision delayed ‘indefinitely’

first_img“Yes [the meeting has been postponed]. This comes as a request from the government, in view of its current focus on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” Irawan told The Jakarta Post.Since coming back on March 30 from an extended recess period due to the COVID-19 outbreak, lawmakers have resumed their duties in the same way that most Indonesians have done over the past few weeks – through daily teleconferences in place of the usual physical meetings at the Senayan legislative complex in Jakarta.Activists have previously slammed House lawmakers for attempting to resume talks on a number of controversial bills, including proposed changes to the 2009 Mining Law, under the protective cover of government-mandated physical distancing measures, which has allowed both politicians and government officials to go about important decision making processes without supervision.Siti Rakhma Mary Herwati, head of the information management division at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), said that the process of deliberating the proposed revisions had so far not been transparent, whether at the commission level or at the working committee (panja). The House of Representatives narrowly escaped public scrutiny last week after it shelved a plan to deliberate a contentious mining law revision amid physical distancing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, but activists remain unconvinced that lawmakers won’t revive the plan again in the future.The Office of the House Secretary General issued Friday a letter announcing that a virtual work meeting between House Commission VII overseeing energy and Cabinet ministers in charge of the energy, home affairs, law, industry and finance portfolios, originally scheduled for April 8, would be “postponed until further notice”.Commission VII deputy chairman Gus Irawan Pasaribu, a Gerindra Party lawmaker, confirmed the postponement of the meeting on Monday. “All this time, the deliberation of the mining law revision has been closed to the public; us civil society groups were not involved in discussions, let alone the people most affected,” Rahma said. Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) activist Merah Jahansyah urged both the government and the House to focus on controlling the pandemic instead of passing bills that the public still deems controversial. “It’s not that the 2009 Law is without problems, but the question is, will the revision [guarantee] no more problems?” Merah said during an online discussion on Sunday.The plan to revise the mining law makes clear that the government will prioritize economic growth at the probable expense of its environmental commitments, with activists raising questions on the plan’s impact on natural disaster mitigation and coal consumption.The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry plans to loosen several restrictions to boost downstream mining industry growth. Notable relaxations include quadrupling the maximum size of traditional mining zones (WPR) to 100 hectares, erasing minimal concession sizes for mining firms and revoking a 40-year mining limit for mining companies that build smelters. There is also a revision that would allow mining activity in rivers and the sea, which Jatam has criticized as being an oversight in policymaking.Mining zones rarely take into account the ecological carrying capacity of the local environment, Merah said, citing a case of flooding earlier this year in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, allegedly caused by mining activities at the mouth of the Karang Mumus River, which flows into the city.“Carrying capacity has never been part of the government’s consideration, especially in the mining law revision,” he said, referring to the maximum population size that a local environment can sustain without destroying it.Meanwhile, AURIGA Nusantara activist Iqbal Damanik said that any deliberation of the proposed revision this year would coincide too much with the expiry of several contracts of work (KK) and coal contracts of work (PKP2B) held by major mining companies.These include PT Adaro Indonesia in 2022, PT Arutmin Indonesia in 2020, PT Berau Coal in 2025, PT Kideco Jaya Agung in 2023, PT Kaltim Prima Coal in 2021, PT Multi Harapan Utama in 2022 and PT Kendilo Coal Indonesia in 2021.According to Article 169 of the mining law revision draft, contracts of work that have yet to be extended can be subject to an extension as a special mining permit (IUPK) for up to 20 years over two periods.“If this bill is passed into law, then it is done in the interests [of the companies],” Iqbal said, suggesting instead that the House commission should inspect whether these firms have held their end of the bargain.In addition to the proposed mining law revisions, the House is expected to continue deliberations on the omnibus bill on job creation, which has been widely protested against for being too pro-business.As it relates to mining, the bill centralizes the issuance of permits to provide certainty for the big firms, while removing environmental protections such as the requirement to get environmental permits, and streamlining the process of obtaining an environmental impact analysis (Amdal).“This of course will cause chaos and legal uncertainty,” said Publish What You Pay (PWYP) activist Aryanto Nugroho, adding that it was not too late to take the contentious bills off the 2020 National Legislation Program.— Norman Harsono contributed to the story.Topics :last_img read more

What we don’t know about coronavirus origins might kill us

first_imgTopics : Roughly 70% of emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic, or transmitted from animals to people. Genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 shows it’s related to two other deadly coronaviruses that originated in bats.Severe acute respiratory syndrome, which started in China in 2002, and Middle East respiratory syndrome a decade later spread to humans via a secondary animal source. In the case of SARS, experts pointed to civet cats—small, sleek nocturnal mammals used in wildlife dishes in China—as the probable conduit. With MERS, camels are believed to be the carrier.It’s presumed that SARS-CoV-2 has made a similar journey, yet investigators have yet to identify an intermediate animal host, according to Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO food safety and animal diseases expert. “We have some kind of a missing link in that story between the origin of the virus and when it started to circulate in humans,” he said.Household petsThat raises the disturbing possibility that an unknown animal source is still spreading the disease, known as Covid-19. WHO researchers reported Friday that household cats can transmit the virus to other felines, though there’s no evidence yet that pets can pass it along to humans.Standing in the way of a new scientific mission to learn more about the origins of the virus in China are practical issues of conducting impartial investigations in an authoritarian political system—and a US-China geopolitical rivalry that’s turned especially acrimonious of late.The Trump administration has accused Beijing of a massive cover-up about the severity of its epidemic. It has claimed, without providing evidence, that an accidental leak of the virus might have occurred at a bio-research lab in Wuhan, the city in central China where the outbreak was first identified. A Chinese official, in a tweet, accused the US military of introducing the pathogen to the country.Scientists who have studied the genetics of the virus are convinced it’s of natural origin rather than designed in a lab. An accidental release from the research center in Wuhan is possible in theory, but “just so implausible,” according to Stanley Perlman, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa, who has visited the facility and rates it highly.One reason is the reputation of Shi Zhengli, a 56-year-old deputy director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In 2004, Shi found a natural reservoir of coronaviruses in bat caves near Kunming, a city in China’s southern Yunnan province. In February she published a paper in the journal Nature saying that the genomic sequence of the new pathogen was 96% identical to that of a coronavirus identified in Yunnan.Shi told Scientific American that a review of genetic characteristics of viruses she’s worked with in the lab didn’t match those of the coronavirus spreading in humans. In a social media post the virologist said she would “swear on my life” the pathogen causing havoc had nothing to do with her lab. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has backed off earlier claims of “enormous evidence” that the virus escaped from a Wuhan laboratory.That still leaves scientists asking where and how the virus did jump into humans. So-called wet markets that sell live animals, like one in Wuhan to which many of the first cases of the illness were traced, have previously been implicated in the spread of disease. In this case, however, experts aren’t sure whether the outbreak actually started at the market, or was just discovered there.Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist at nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, said it’s likely that Covid-19 began before the December starting point currently assumed, perhaps even outside of Wuhan. He estimates that 1 million to 7 million people every year in Southern China and Southeast Asia may get infected with bat viruses. Most don’t spread readily between people and many fizzle out before reaching major population centers, he said.“This particular outbreak probably was in people circulating in South or Central China back in November” or even earlier, he said.Another scenario envisions someone closely tied to the wildlife trade bringing infected animals to the Wuhan market. Once the virus reached the flourishing megacity of 11 million, it grew exponentially.Another crucial question is whether the virus moved to humans directly from bats or through a secondary source. If it’s the latter, the farmed or wild animal may still be spreading the infection. Pangolins—scale-covered mammals that look a bit like anteaters—have been suggested as one possibility, though the evidence is preliminary. If Covid-19 came directly from bats, it’s crucial to nail down where this happened, so that the authorities can institute preventive measures, such as keeping people out of the caves in which the flying mammals dwell.Figuring out all of this will take plenty of scientific detective work. Viruses constantly incur small mutations in their genetic material. By following a trail of genetically similar versions, disease trackers can identify the progression of the pandemic through time. “Counting the mutations, you can kind of backtrack your virus to where it all started,” said WHO animal virus expert Embarek.Tracing back the virus to its ultimate origin will also take cooperation from the Chinese government—and a bit of luck. Investigators will need unfettered access to the Wuhan market, its wildlife vendors, patient data and animal population. Yet the price of keeping SARS-CoV-2’s origins shrouded in secrecy would be steep. If the current crisis has taught us anything, it’s this: As human populations expand and encroach on wildlife habitats, the risk from dangerous animal viruses continues to grow. And in an interconnected world, epidemics that were previously localized can race around the globe with blinding speed.Without better research and surveillance systems of emerging animal viruses and regulation of traditional markets and wildlife trade worldwide, the risks of future pandemics runs high.“If we don’t do anything, if we continue what we have been doing for the past 50 years,” said Daszak, “there will be another one.” Last week, the World Health Organization sought permission from Beijing to send a new scientific mission for more epidemiological detective work. China, which let a WHO team into the country in early February as its epidemic raged, hasn’t yet signed off.President Xi Jinping, who’s personally overseeing China’s virus response and investigation into how the outbreak started, is keeping tight control over Chinese scientific research, which must be approved prior to publication by authorities, according to two people familiar with the situation. However, as death tolls and joblessness rise worldwide, pressure on Beijing is intensifying to allow international researchers back in to interview survivors, do field work, and examine virus samples that the country has been stingy about sharing, according to the USNearly half a year into a historic global health crisis, there are still enormous gaps in our knowledge. Those unanswered questions are hampering our ability to contain the outbreak and to prevent future pandemics, while fueling a war of words between the US and China over the origins of the virus.center_img The best minds in virology are trying to unravel a mystery: How did a lethal coronavirus jump from the wilds of rural China to major human population centers? And what chain of genetic mutations produced a pathogen so perfectly adapted for stealth and mass transmission?Deciphering the creation story of SARS-CoV-2, as the virus now rampaging around the globe is known, is a crucial step toward arresting a pandemic that’s killed 270,000-plus and triggered what could be the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.While crash vaccine programs are underway in the US, Europe and China, an inoculation to ward off the virus may not be ready for months, and the jury’s out on potential treatments. In the meantime, to reduce the risk of deadly secondary outbreaks or the emergence of an entirely new strain, disease chasers need to retrace the pathogen’s journey around the globe. That means heading back to China, where it all started sometime in 2019.last_img read more

COVID-19 data central govt announces different from what we report, Ridwan Kamil says

first_imgAs questions mount over the validity of the government’s COVID-19 data, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil confirmed that the numbers announced by the Health Ministry in its daily press conferences did not match that reported by his regional administration.“After [the COVID-19 outbreak] ends, I need to press the central government to give more powers to regional governments in dealing with crisis,” Ridwan said in a roundtable discussion with foreign ambassadors on Monday. He said this was necessary because regional administrations had a better grasp of grassroots level data. “For example, I reported 30 cases today, the central government put five in the report. I reported seven today, the central government reports 50,” he said. “That’s why in today’s pandemic we are using our own data, not using the central government’s data to create scientific data analysis.”According to the Health Ministry’s official count, the number of new cases in West Java has fluctuated widely in the past few weeks, with some days reporting zero new confirmed cases and other days more than 100 new cases.Ridwan said the data discrepancies also extended to government COVID-19 aid, adding that this confusion was the main cause of public dissatisfaction during the outbreak“We discuss the potential for social unrest [due to economic concerns] with the local intelligence agencies, but so far there has been no issue, only confusion from the public about how we’re handling [the outbreak],” he said.Topics :last_img read more

‘We are dying’: No new shopping center openings, leasing grinds to halt

first_imgThe market was projected to see a total of 205,000 square meters of new projects being developed this year, according to a quarterly report released on April 20 by Cushman & Wakefield, which operates in 60 countries. But Arief expected no new openings of shopping centers in the second quarter.“If the pandemic does not abate soon, then the occupancy rate of shopping centers in Jakarta is projected to decline,” Arief told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday. “It was because there were no tenants opening new stores in shopping centers, and many tenants that failed due to COVID-19 were forced to close their stores.”Cushman & Wakefield noted at least seven key lease transactions in the first quarter of the year — excluding lease renewal.The largest transaction in terms of area was by movie theater chain FLIX Cinema with 7,500 sq m of space at Mall of Indonesia, followed by clothing retail company H&M with 6,000 sq m of space at Mall Kelapa Gading, both in North Jakarta.“Many tenants are temporarily suspending their business expansion and postponing their fit-out work,” said Arief.Prior to the social restrictions in Jakarta, the national epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, the occupancy rate of shopping centers remained relatively stable at 80.8 percent in the January to March period, a decline of 0.3 percentage points from the previous quarter.Wendy Haryanto, the executive director of Jakarta Property Institute (JPI), a non-profit organization advising developers, said on May 15 that owners of retail property needed an elimination of the minimum utility bill to cut costs in order to survive the pandemic.For example, Grand Indonesia, a 17.5-hectare shopping center in Central Jakarta, may have to face a minimum monthly utility bill of Rp 4 billion, although its electricity consumption is estimated to be drastically lower because temporary closure is in place.“This is very difficult,” Wendy said in an online talk on May 15. “Eliminating the minimum utility bill for the property is a must.”Read also: Concerns mount over reopening of offices, malls as Indonesia steps into ‘new normal’Naomi Santosa, the head of property and asset management at real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), expected shopping centers to see shorter customer visits of between 2 and 3 hours a day as they mainly come for basic shopping needs in the early days after the restriction is lifted.“So people may not hang out with their friends for an entire day,” Naomi said in an online talk on May 15. “I do not see that happening in this particular time.”Topics : The retail property market recorded no new openings of shopping centers or leasing activities in April and May in Jakarta as shopping malls across the country temporarily closed to prevent further spread of COVID-19.Data compiled by the Indonesian Shopping Center Association (APPBI) show that 190 shopping malls across the country temporarily closed.Stefanus Ridwan, the chairman of the association, said Tuesday that some shopping malls had negotiated a one-month rent deferment deal with tenants to ease the financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Some also offered large discounts on rent or service charge. “We are dying, much less able to survive,” Stefanus, who also serves as president director of publicly listed real estate developer PT Pakuwon Jati, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. “We had hoped to make a profit during Idul Fitri, but in these conditions, we did not.”The government has planned to gradually reopen the economy under health protocols to establish a “new normal” amid the continued rise of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited Summarecon Mall in Bekasi, West Java, on Tuesday to take a look at the mall’s preparations for its upcoming reopening.Read also: ‘I don’t think we can wait’: Business groups ready for ‘new normal’ despite risksArief Rahardjo, the director of research and strategic consulting at real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, said the coronavirus restrictions in Jakarta, which were extended to June 4, forced newly developed shopping centers to delay their opening longer.last_img read more

Virus deaths reach 375,000 as Latin America struggles

first_img‘Framework’ for flying Businesses have been under immense pressure as lockdowns keep consumers and employees at home, with the global airline industry among the hardest hit after tourism dried up.As the sector seeks to forge a future amid the continued threat from the virus, the International Civil Aviation Organization on Monday released a “framework” for assuring the safety of passengers and workers.Travellers should be forced to present health certificates at airports and undergo temperature checks, the ICAO said.There were also snippets of inspiration however among the reams of bad news.Hundreds of bands took their music to the streets of Lithuania to lift people’s spirits as the Baltic nation allowed public gatherings again.”Our orchestra is extremely happy to meet and make music again,” said Modestas Barkauskas, chief conductor of the St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra in the capital Vilnius.”We want to share our joy with you because music is medicine for the soul.” Topics : Brazil, Peru, Chile and Mexico are suffering the highest daily increases, but numbers are also on the rise in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Haiti.The region has logged one million cases and recorded more than 50,000 deaths, with Brazil accounting for more than half of those cases and close to 60 percent of the fatalities.The mayor of Rio de Janeiro said Monday, however, that the popular tourist city would start gradually easing lockdown measures from Tuesday, beginning with the re-opening of places of worship, and water sports.Mexico also began re-opening on Monday, reactivating the automotive industry, mining and construction even as the country recorded more than 10,000 virus deaths.Ryan warned that the region faces a tough battle in the weeks ahead.”I don’t believe we have reached the peak in that transmission and, at this point, I cannot predict when we will,” he said. The march of the illness across the Americas comes as other parts of the world return to relative normality after weeks of restrictions on daily life that have wrecked economies and left millions jobless.Schools, swimming pools, pubs and tourist sites have begun to open again in Europe as the continent continues easing lockdowns despite the threat of a second wave of infections.The pandemic has now infected at least 6.2 million since erupting in China in late 2019.Four of the 10 countries across the globe with the greatest number of new coronavirus infections on Monday were in Latin America, WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said. The global death toll from the coronavirus topped 375,000 on Tuesday as the disease continued to tear through Latin America, but in Europe the return to normality gathered pace with the French heading back to their beloved cafes and restaurants.Healthcare systems across Latin America risk being overwhelmed by the illness, the World Health Organization said, as fatalities from the disease in hard-hit Brazil neared 30,000.The warning from the global health body came as a sister UN agency issued new guidelines for pandemic-hit airlines that reveal what flying might look like when passenger planes take to the skies again in earnest. Gatherings hit Much of East Asia, meanwhile, has seen infections slow to a trickle in recent weeks, but restrictions on mass gatherings remain.Hong Kong’s annual candlelight vigil for those killed in China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown has been banned for the first time due to COVID-19 concerns. And in New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern criticized Black Lives Matter protesters for flouting social distancing rules when the country is on the verge of eliminating the virus.Pupils wearing face masks returned to schools in Singapore and some workplaces re-opened as restrictions were eased Tuesday in the Asian city-state.But there was alarm from Bangladesh, where an official said a 71-year-old became the first Rohingya refugee to die of the virus in camps for those fleeing Myanmar.The man was among at least 29 Rohingya to test positive in the shelters, which are home to nearly one million people. ‘Light at the end’ In Europe however, countries have started to emerge from lockdowns — cautiously adopting a post-pandemic version of normal. Bars resumed service in Finland and Norway — with social distancing restrictions or shortened hours in place — while some schools in Britain and Greece opened their doors. Britain reported 111 more virus deaths on Monday, the lowest daily toll since its lockdown started on March 23.London’s Camden Market cautiously opened for the first time in 10 weeks, with stallholders excited to welcome customers.”We are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mario Warner, owner of a nearby clothing store that has been given the green light to open in two weeks.Greece opened some hotels, schools, pools and tattoo parlors, while Italy re-opened the Colosseum, although only to Italians.There was also good news from Spain, which on Monday recorded its first 24-hour period without a COVID-19 death since March 3.France registered 31 deaths over the last 24 hours and on Tuesday re-opened cafes, restaurants and bistros that have been closed since its lockdown began in mid-March.”Optimism reigns today,” said Herve Becam of the country’s UMIH hospitality union.The unshackling of eateries came as finance minister Bruno Le Maire said the French economy is set to shrink 11 percent this year, a contraction he called a “brutal” shock.last_img read more

Europe sets sights on dud antibody tests amid COVID-19 free-for-all

first_imgMuch is on the line, even beyond the potential for fraud.Governments and companies are relying on these tests to measure how widely the virus has spread as they rush to get their economies and employees back to work and avoid a second wave of infections, even if they do not prove immunity.False results could undermine that effort.Many people have also been using kits, also known as serological or blood tests, at home or for personal checks in clinics. Topics : Since April the number of antibody kits carrying the region’s CE mark of quality doubled to more than 200, according to a list compiled by the EU Commission, the EU executive.Some of these kits are unreliable, half a dozen national regulators and industry sources across Europe told Reuters. A dozen tests have been subject to regulators’ warnings for mis-selling, including in Spain and Sweden.At least nine of them are no longer allowed to be sold in the United States, according to a Reuters analysis of public data from the Food and Drug Administration, which clamped down on the sector last month.The EU Commission is now looking at changing the self-certification regime that allows test-makers to label their products with the CE mark themselves, an EU official and two European regulatory sources told Reuters, declining to be named as the plans have not been made public.Among changes being examined, companies could be required to have tests reviewed by independent watchdogs before placing the CE mark on them, the sources said.That would mark a significant toughening of the current regime, whereby makers merely self-certify compliance with EU safety rules and supervisors can subsequently penalize them if their claims turn out to be false.Guidance setting out minimum performance criteria for tests could also be adopted, the two regulatory sources told Reuters. Under current rules, kits can carry a CE mark regardless of their accuracy.When asked about the plans, a spokesman for the Commission, the EU executive, said it was “currently considering the best way forward”.”We are assessing a number of different instruments available together with member states to see which action is the most appropriate,” he added.’Spending lots of money’Scientists have not yet definitively proven whether or how long COVID-19 survivors are immune to new infections, even if they developed antibodies.Nevertheless, many people are willing to pay for the tests – and many don’t come cheap, selling for anything from a few euros to more than 150 euros in some private clinics in Europe.It’s a potentially lucrative business: testing about 450 million people in the EU would cost billions of euros based on such prices.”People might be spending lots of money for nothing,” said Pauline Constant of BEUC, a European consumer organization.Severin Schwan, CEO of Swiss drug giant Roche which has its own antibody test, sounded an alarm in late April, when he said some tests on the market were a “disaster”. The World Health Organization also warned that tests on the market were not sufficiently reliable and could not prove immunity.Such comments were backed up by a study conducted by the Dutch regulator who found in May that none of 16 reviewed tests were trustworthy.”The test results are not reliable. The percentage of false positive and false negative results is too high,” the study concluded, without naming the manufacturers.”Those tests are quite meaningless,” said a spokesman for the Dutch Health and Youth Care Inspectorate, a part of the health ministry that supervises public health.Despite the poor results, clinics and labs in the Netherlands are still allowed to offer these tests.Industry backs rule reviewIntroducing an independent review of products would bring forward an EU reform that had been agreed before the coronavirus crisis but was not due to take effect until 2022.In the absence of an EU performance standard for tests, France has already set its own thresholds. About 60 kits have met the country’s requirement of at least 90% of correct positive results, a measure known as sensitivity, and 98% of correct negative results, so-called specificity.Under current EU rules, overseen and enforced by national watchdogs, manufacturers must seek authorization before using the CE mark only for so-called home or self-tests, which are those who can be performed at home without professional advice.About a dozen antibody devices have been unlawfully marketed as CE-marked self-tests without prior authorization, according to the Spanish and Swedish regulators.Low performance is not in itself illegal and has been tolerated in Europe in the initial phase of the COVID-19 crisis because tests were rare. But companies cannot exaggerate the accuracy of their devices.An official at the Swedish regulator said the body had yet to start performance checks, while two pharmaceutical industry sources said such checks were rare in Europe.There is however a balance to be struck on regulation, according to industry experts who worry that if new rules are too strict or onerous they could delay the deployment of tests to conduct large-scale epidemiological surveys.But greater scrutiny could help improve the tarnished reputation of the sector.MedTechEurope, the trading body for medical technology firms including Abbott, Roche and Siemens Healthineers , backed plans to review industry regulations.”We support the intention of these plans, and would welcome the opportunity to provide the industry’s input into this debate on how to best ensure only well-performing tests are on the market,” it said.center_img The market for COVID-19 antibody tests is red-hot. It has ballooned in a matter of months as hundreds of products flood the world for people who want to find out whether they’ve already had the virus.The problem is, some of them don’t work properly.As a result, European authorities aim to tighten regulation of the new sector, to weed out tests that give consistently inaccurate results and crack down on companies that make false claims, three sources familiar with the plans told Reuters.last_img read more

Baffled by light sentences sought for Novel Baswedan’s attackers, netizens turn to humor

first_imgSocial media users have aired their collective disappointment and bewilderment at the one-year prison sentence demanded for police officers who allegedly attacked Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan through sarcastic videos and memes.One particular video, posted by young comedian Bintang Emon on Friday, went viral over the weekend and drew praise from Novel himself. In the video, Emon poked fun at the prosecutors’ insistence that the defendants in the case – Chief Brig. Ronny Bugis and Brig. Rahmat Kadir – had ‘accidentally’ thrown sulfuric acid in Novel’s face in April 2017, claiming that they had initially aimed for his torso. The skit was met with praise among fellow netizens and celebrities, with some lauding Emon’s decision to use his penchant for humor to speak up about the notoriously difficult case.“So cool of you to speak up about this kind of topic. Respect,” singer Vidi Aldiano commented on the video.“Great, someone finally dares [to speak up]. He’s going to have to make an apology video at the Jakarta Police soon,” filmmaker Ernest Prakasa jokingly responded to the video, in reference to the recent trend of internet influencers publicly apologizing for past controversies.Novel himself also went on the record as saying that he found Emon’s video amusing.“That boy is ingenious,” he said on Saturday as quoted by tempo.co.Meanwhile, netizens on Twitter have also conveyed their astonishment at the latest development in Novel’s long-gestating case through memes.Twitter user @davadntrt posted an illustration of a cartoon character lying awake in their bed, while ruminating on the possibility of someone accidentally spilling acid on another person’s face.me rn.#NovelBaswedan pic.twitter.com/8U6NLmrHMl— Son Of Dadang (@davadntrt) June 12, 2020“How could someone ACCIDENTALLY throw acid on another person’s face?” the character said in a thought bubble.Another user, @trimuktiwijaya, brought up the issue in a comic strip featuring Nickelodeon’s popular cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants. In the comic, Spongebob defends himself from a court verdict by claiming that he had only accidentally committed the offenses. The judge listens and decides to reduce the punishment to just one year in prison.#GakSengaja ke tweet pic.twitter.com/vzyOyEbU3y— 3mkt (@trimuktiwijaya) June 13, 2020“I tweeted this by accident,” @trimuktiwijaya wrote in the caption.Prosecutors demanded on Friday that defendants Ronny and Rahmat be given one-year prison terms for their involvement in the acid attack on Novel, in which the KPK investigator lost an eye.Ronny and Rahmat have been accused of attacking Novel because of the latter’s work as an investigator for the KPK, which saw several powerful and corrupt politicians and government officials as well as police officers end up behind bars. Shortly after he was arrested, Ronny said that he considered Novel, who previously served as a police officer, a traitor.Topics :center_img “We live on Earth, gravity [pulls objects] downwards. There’s no way that [liquid] splashed onto the body could find its way to the face,” the comedian quipped in the video.“Unless Pak Novel Baswedan walked [while performing] a handstand. In that case, you may protest to the judge: ‘Your Honor, I initially aimed for his body, but because he was [walking on his hands], the acid was spilled onto his face.’”Emon’s video has since drawn more than 7 million views on Instagram alone as of Sunday afternoon. Clips of his skit have also been reposted on Twitter, giving rise to the trending topic “Gak Sengaja” (by accident) on the platform.last_img read more