BRITISH PM JOHNSON IN INTENSIVE CARE
LONDON – British prime minister Boris Johnson was battling the coronavirus in intensive care yesterday, raising serious concerns about his health and his government’s response to the still-escalating outbreak.
“The prime minister has been stable overnight and remains in good spirits,” his official spokesman told reporters at a daily briefing. He added the 55-year-old Conservative premier was receiving “standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any other assistance” and had not required a ventilator.
Johnson was admitted to intensive care on Monday evening and asked foreign secretary Dominic Raab to deputise for him “where necessary”, effectively putting him in charge.
Johnson had already spent Sunday night at a London hospital after being taken in for tests following concerns he still had a cough and high temperature, 10 days after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
RWANDA MINISTERS TO FOREGO MONTH’S PAY
KIGALI – Politicians and top civil servants in Rwanda will have their salaries this month redirected to welfare programmes to help the poor cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus.
Prime minister Edouard Ngirente said the salary sacrifice would show “solidarity” with the people, who have been under a tough lockdown and strict curbs on freedoms to contain the spread of the virus.
“The government of Rwanda has decided, over and above ongoing social protection initiatives, that all cabinet members, permanent secretaries, heads of public institutions and other senior officials shall forfeit one month’s salary (April),” he said in a statement on Sunday.
STATE OF EMERGENCY IN JAPAN
TOKYO – Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe yesterday declared a state of emergency to fight coronavirus infections in major population centres and rolled out a nearly US$1 trillion stimulus package to soften the economic blow.
The state of emergency, giving authorities more power to press people to stay at home and businesses to close, will last a month and be imposed in the capital, Tokyo, and six other prefectures, accounting for about 44% of Japan’s population.
“It is no exaggeration to say that Japan’s economy, and the world economy, are facing the biggest crisis since postwar right now. We will protect employment and life at all costs,” Abe told a news conference.
CHINA SAYS NO NEW DEATHS IN PANDEMIC
BEIJING – Mainland China reported no coronavirus deaths for the first time since the pandemic began and a drop in new cases yesterday – a day before the central city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged late in December, was set to lift its lockdown.
China had 32 new infections on Monday, down from 39 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.
For the first time since the commission began publishing nationwide data in late January, Hubei’s provincial capital of Wuhan saw no new deaths, joining the rest of mainland China, which has recorded none since 31 March.
SPAIN’S CORONAVIRUS DEATHS NEAR 14 000
MADRID – The pace of coronavirus deaths in Spain ticked up for the first time in five days yesterday, with 743 people succumbing overnight, but there was still hope that the country’s lockdown might be eased soon.
Yesterday’s toll from the health ministry compared to 637 people who died during the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 13 798 – the second highest in the world after Italy.
Still, the proportional daily increase of 5,7% was about half that reported a week ago.
“It is normal to have some oscillations […] What matters is to see the trend and the cumulative data,” said Maria José Sierra, deputy chief of health emergencies, adding that the latest data included some delayed notifications from the weekend.