Chaos in the Caribbean as ports turn away cruises on virus fears

first_img“We believe that this was as a result of a small number of influenza-like cases on board,” the company said.Meanwhile, passengers aboard the MSC Meraviglia were awaiting test results in Cozumel, Mexico, after their ship was barred from docking in Jamaica and Grand Cayman.The episodes underscore the heightened concern of public officials over coronavirus following confirmed cases on a ship in Asia. Previously, vessels had been turned away or quarantined in Asia and Europe, but the new incidents strike closer to home for US and Latin American authorities and threaten the US industry’s core market of the Caribbean.The largest US-based operators — Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. — have lost about $31 billion in market value in about six weeks. Shares of Carnival, the industry giant, closed at their lowest in more than six years on Thursday. MSC Cruises, which operates the Meraviglia, is closely held, and Fred. Olsen is part of a larger company. The Dominican Republic turned away a cruise ship with about 1,500 people on board Thursday, the latest such episode as coronavirus concerns spread to tourist meccas in the Caribbean.Local officials there refused to let passengers leave the Braemar Thursday after learning that some aboard the ship, operated by Bonheur ASA’s Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, were under observation for flu, cough and respiratory problems.The company said no guests or crew had shown symptoms consistent with coronavirus, and that the move was an “overreaction.” A performer demonstrates on a iFly Holdings LLC body flying tunnel on The Spectrum of the Seas cruise ship, operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s cruise line brand Royal Caribbean International (RCI), as the ship sits berthed at the Marina Bay Cruise Center in Singapore, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. For the better part of a decade, wealthy Chinese tourists have been on a feeding frenzy for luxury brands, casinos and cruise lines. As a result, China became the world’s biggest spender in international tourism in 2012, according to data from the World Tourism Organization, a United Nations agency. ( Bloomberg/Bryan van der Beek)Risks come homeFrom the outset, cruise companies began to dial back their exposure in Asia, where the industry had a small but growing presence. But the spread to Europe — and the risk to the Americas — poses a greater risk to the companies, especially during what is typically peak booking season.In Cozumel, health officials were awaiting test results for a crew member and a passenger aboard the Meraviglia. The ship sailed for Cozumel after it was turned away in Jamaica and Grand Cayman.MSC Cruises said the ship would remain in Cozumel until results come in and was optimistic guests would be able to disembark on Friday for tourist activities.For a time Wednesday it was unclear whether the government would allow the ship to moor.MSC Cruises said it received “formal and final authorization” to dock. But overnight, state Governor Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez of Quintana Roo, where Cozumel is located, contradicted the company, saying no authorization would be given until after a health review.A Royal Caribbean cruise ship sits docked at Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. ( Bloomberg/Christopher Occhicone)Welcome homeIn Miami, where the MSC Cruise originated, Port Director Juan Kuryla said at a press conference Thursday that the ship was welcome back based on current information.Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also weighed in Thursday, reiterating that the ship could dock but saying an inspection was called for.“We’re permitting it to dock, and there may be a disembarking of those on the ship,” Lopez Obrador said at his morning press conference in Mexico City. “We gave instructions for an inspection to be done and that they be allowed to arrive and stay. We can’t act with discrimination.”center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Joe Biden says he would pick a woman as vice president

first_imgDemocratic presidential contender Joe Biden, who had hinted he might choose a woman as his vice presidential running mate if he is picked as the party’s nominee, committed to doing so during his debate with rival Bernie Sanders on Sunday.”If I’m elected president, my Cabinet, my administration, will look like the country, and I commit that I will in fact appoint and pick a woman as vice president. There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow. I would pick a woman as my vice president,” Biden said.There were originally a record-breaking six women vying for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November – US Senators Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with US Representative Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson. Only Gabbard remains in the race, although she is polling below 5 percent nationally and was not eligible to participate in the debate.Sanders said that “in all likelihood,” he would choose a woman as his running mate, but did not make as firm a commitment.”In all likelihood, I will. To me, it’s not just nominating a woman, it is making sure that we have a progressive woman, and there are progressive women out there. So my very strong tendency is to move in that direction,” Sanders said.Two women were previously nominated by the major parties for US vice president – – Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008. Both their tickets were defeated. Democrat Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated for president by a major party, lost to Trump in 2016.Topics :last_img read more

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Japan, Olympics chief agree to postpone Tokyo Games over virus

first_img‘Stubbornness and arrogance’The IOC came under fire for taking so long to make its decision after other major events such as the European Football Championships already announced postponements.British cyclist Callum Skinner had strongly criticized IOC president Thomas Bach, accusing him of placing his own interests first. “Bach’s stubbornness and arrogance has spectacularly failed in this instance and he has weakened the Olympic movement,” Skinner wrote on Twitter.”This isn’t the first time he has put his own motives above the athletes and the movement.”But Tokyo 2020 organizers point to the unparalleled complexity — not to mention cost — of shifting the Games. It is not even clear venues will be available and tens of thousands of hotel rooms will need to be cancelled and rebooked.”It is mind-bogglingly complex to make a sudden change after seven years of preparation for the biggest sporting event in the world,” Michael Payne, the IOC’s former head of marketing, told AFP.Squeezing in the 16-day Games into what will already be a hugely crowded 2021 calendar is another major headache, with arguably the two biggest sports, swimming and athletics, due to hold their world championships that summer.However, World Athletics has already said it was prepared to shift its world championships, scheduled for August 6-15 next year in Oregon, to accommodate a move in the Games. Japan’s prime minister and the head of the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games by a year Tuesday in an extraordinary move, unprecedented in peacetime, as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic.”I proposed to postpone for about a year and president Bach responded with 100 percent agreement,” Shinzo Abe told reporters referring to Thomas Bach, head of the IOC.The move would be a devastating blow for the city of Tokyo, which had won widespread praise for its organization, with venues finished well ahead of time and tickets massively oversubscribed. But after Canada and Australia withdrew their teams and the powerful US Olympic Committee and World Athletics also joined the chorus calling for a postponement, the writing was on the wall for the July start.Tokyo was spending some $12.6 billion to host the Games, according to its latest budget, and experts believe a postponement could cost it some $6 billion in the short-term before recouping it when they eventually go ahead.It will also be a bitter blow to sponsors and major broadcasters who rely on the four-yearly extravaganza for critical advertising revenue.It is not the first time Tokyo has seen unscheduled changes to the Games — it was due to be the first Asian country to host the Olympics in 1940 before pulling out due to international pressure over its war with China. The Olympics, which has experienced boycotts, terrorist attacks and protests, but has been held every four years since 1948, would be the highest-profile event affected by the virus that has killed thousands and closed sports competitions worldwide.The IOC has come under increasing pressure in recent days to postpone the Games, scheduled to start on July 24, with 1.7 billion people across the planet in lockdown to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.Training has become impossible for many athletes and exposes them to the risk of contracting or spreading the disease. Competitions and qualifiers have been scrapped, while international travel is severely limited.On Sunday, the IOC had initially given itself a deadline of four weeks to come up with a proposal to postpone the Games, a Herculean task that touches on every aspect of Tokyo 2020 planning from venues to security to ticketing. Topics :last_img read more

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100 days later: Premier League returns after coronavirus exile

first_imgRelegation-threatened Aston Villa get the ball rolling on Wednesday with their home game against European hopefuls Sheffield United.Pep Guardiola’s second-placed City provide the star power when Arsenal visit the Etihad Stadium a few hours later.A City defeat would mean leaders Liverpool would clinch the title if they won at Merseyside rivals Everton on Sunday.It was the announcement that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had contracted the virus in March that forced the Premier League to press pause. ‘A little bit weird’ Having followed the return of Germany’s Bundesliga and La Liga in Spain, City manager Pep Guardiola is well aware what an unusual experience it will be.”It was a little bit weird watching the games,” he said. “When you play at home you have that extra intensity and passion from the crowd. That is not going to happen.”But when the players were little kids they played in the streets without spectators and they played good. That is what they have to do. It is a football game. Try to follow what they know.”Concerned that the hectic schedule will impact his players’ fitness and the quality of their performances, Guardiola added: “The problem is not to play one game, it is to play another and another with a lack of physical training to be prepared. “They had six weeks [to prepare] in Germany, double what we had, and five weeks in Spain.”We have to adapt as quick as possible. In terms of the rhythm, if teams don’t rotate their performance goes down immediately. There will be a lot of ups and downs in the games.”The Premier League’s rush to finish the season has drawn criticism from some clubs and players, including City stars Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling.With England so badly hit by the pandemic and Guardiola’s own mother dying of the virus in Spain, the City boss was asked if he had doubts about whether the Premier League should return now.”Sometimes,” he said. “I understand we have to do it. Always you had the feeling the damage for the clubs was huge. You have to do it to reduce the impact as much as possible. “We were in contact with the doctors, the scientists. They allowed us to play so of course we do it.”But overall the health of the people (is most important). Nobody wants to die because they are contaminated. The social distance, the mask, the hand sanitizer. “We have to stay alert because the virus is still there.” Topics : The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return on Wednesday after 100 days in lockdown, with Manchester City’s clash against Arsenal taking center stage at the start of a frenetic dash to finish the season.While the coronavirus pandemic means the Premier League will look very different from three months ago, football-starved fans will be able to feast on 92 games crammed into less than six weeks.There is still much to decide over the rest of the season, with Liverpool on the brink of their first English title for 30 years, Champions League places up for grabs and a heated relegation battle going down to the wire. With all games being played behind closed doors, players will have to get used to the eerie silence in the usually noisy stands.Piping crowd chants into stadiums, cardboard cut-outs of supporters and live video fan walls will add color but the absence of fans will be a jarring sight at first.In total, about 300 people will be allowed in stadiums for each match, with strict health protocols in place.There will be widespread disinfection of changing facilities, dugouts, matchballs, goalposts, corner flags and substitution boards.People other than players and coaching staff on team benches must wear face coverings.Players have been told to maintain social-distancing during goal celebrations and encouraged not to spit.last_img read more

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Suspicious side gig: Nearly 400 state officials have concurrent roles at state firms

first_imgThe Indonesian Ombudsman has found that hundreds of state officials, including active members of the police and military, sit as commissioners of state-owned enterprises, resulting in what it says is a conflict of interest and poor accountability.In a statement issued on Sunday, Ombudsman member Alamsyah Saragih said that data collected by his office indicated that 397 state officials had concurrent roles at state firms, while 167 others had secured positions at subsidiaries of those companies.Of those found to have second positions at state firms, 65 percent are active members of the National Police, the Indonesian Military, the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), the State Audit Agency (BPKP) or local administrations, according to the Ombudsman. In addition, staff members at 16 state universities, including the University of Indonesia and Gadjah Mada University, were found to have taken simultaneous roles at state enterprises.Alamsyah said the phenomenon was partly the result of a legal loophole in the amended Government Regulation No. 53/2010 on civil servant discipline, which supposedly did not forbid state employees from assuming secondary roles as commissioners of state enterprises or any of their subsidiaries unless those employees served as active members of political parties.He said Law No. 25/2009 on public service – which, on paper, prohibits civil servants from securing concurrent positions at state firms – had often been deflected by those holding both positions on the basis of semantics.“The Ombudsman had found that the clash between the two regulations has resulted in an [unfair] recruitment process, ethical negligence, conflicts of interest, discrimination and poor accountability,” Alamsyah said, adding that his office would officially write to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry about its concerns.Topics :last_img read more

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‘It’s a very emotional time’: Hong Kongers pack memories for new life overseas

first_imgWong’s parents, an accountant and social worker, both have British National Overseas passports, providing them a path to citizenship in the United Kingdom, where they will fly to next year.Wong hopes to accompany them but says if he can’t due to visa issues, he will consider South Korea until he can join his parents and members of his extended family, who are also leaving for the United Kingdom.The speed at which Beijing raced through the legislation and a lack of transparency until it took effect close to midnight on June 30 drew criticism from all corners of the world, including Washington, Ottawa, London, Taipei and Japan.On Thursday, Canberra said it was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and announced measures to attract people and businesses from the global financial hub.The Chinese government has condemned foreign interference in the affairs of its freest city.A Hong Kong immigration lawyer told Reuters she had been inundated with inquiries from people eager to get to Britain since the law was introduced, with a noticeable spike in the number of extended families seeking information.”One of my friends is a teacher in Hong Kong. She’s been teaching for over 10 years and she said she has four siblings and the five families altogether they want to move,” said Janine Miu, Managing Director at UK Immigration Specialist.Miu said she had also seen a shift in the demographic of people rushing for the exit, from more wealthy and experienced people to younger individuals and couples with small children.Critics of the law fear it will be used by mainland and local authorities to crush dissent in Hong Kong, while supporters say it will bring stability after months of unrest.Although China’s law also applies to activities abroad, Wong plans to lobby overseas support for those he leaves behind.”I will not turn my back on my own people,” he said.  When college graduate Wong, 23, leaves Hong Kong to escape Beijing’s new national security law, it will be his friends, the stunning views over Victoria Harbor and the city’s famous dim sum he will miss the most.Wong is joining a flood of fellow Hong Kongers fleeing what they see as a more authoritarian era under the legislation, which punishes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces with up to life in prison.China says the new law is vital to plug gaping holes in national security defenses exposed by months of sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China protests that rocked the city over the last year. Waving a Union Jack flag, Wong and his family attended some pro-democracy rallies and called on the British government to support residents of its former colony, an act that could now violate the vaguely defined law.Wong said while the prospect of a new life in a different country is exciting, his family is also fraught with sadness.”When you pack everything, you’re packing your memories in Hong Kong. You got photos and toys from childhood, you are packing your memories into a box and sending them to a foreign country, so it’s a very emotional time,” he told Reuters.”Hopefully I can pack up everything,” said Wong, who declined to give his full name for fear of retribution.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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France new COVID-19 cases spike again, uptick in ICU units

first_imgFrance’s new COVID-19 infections rose by more than 1,600 over 24 hours for the second day running on Thursday, putting the country at levels not seen since late May, while the number of affected patients in intensive care units has also risen.At 1,604, the daily tally of new cases is lower than Wednesday’s 1,695, but still not far from the May, 30 figure of 1,828 cases. The total number of cases has reached 195,633.The seven-day moving average of new cases, now standing at 1,351, has risen on all but one day over the last 11 days, spiking by almost 50% over that period. The 1,351 figure is five times higher than a low point of 272 seen on May 27 but also more than three times less than a April 1 peak of 4,537.Despite the surge in new cases, the number of people hospitalized for the disease kept going down, by 88 to 5,060, extending a 10-week-long trend.Nevertheless, the number of people in ICUs was up by six, at 390, reaching a 10-day high.French health authorities reported seven additional deaths from the disease, bringing the total to 30,312, the seventh-highest in the world.  Topics :last_img read more

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‘Hard to comprehend’: Brutal Bayern hits eight past Barcelona

first_img“In the 7-1 win in Brazil we didn’t have the same amount of control. Yes we were good but tonight the way we dominated the game was brutal,” said Mueller.This was Bayern’s 19th consecutive victory in all competitions, and a 28th game unbeaten for Hansi Flick’s side. The club has now scored 39 goals in nine Champions League outings this season.But the story of this game is Barcelona’s remarkable capitulation and the question is what happens to the club now.Messi was 27 when Barca last won the Champions League in 2015. He is 33 now and this game may make up his mind that he needs to finally leave the Camp Nou if he is to win it again.Barca has just about been here before: It was torn apart by Bayern in the 2013 semifinal, losing 7-0 on aggregate, but this was eight goals in 90 minutes.And with an ageing team featuring six players aged 31 or older, this has to be the end of an era.”I don’t know how to label it,” said Gerard Pique.”The club needs changes. I’m not talking about the level of the players or coach, but structurally the club needs all sorts of changes.”Coach Quique Setien will certainly not survive. His team, having already come second to Real Madrid in La Liga, simply could not cope with Bayern’s pressing. Bayern went ahead in the fourth minute as Mueller controlled a ball in from the left by Perisic and played a one-two with Lewandowski to scuff a shot low past compatriot Marc-Andre ter Stegen.They did leave themselves open at the back and parity was restored when Alaba, in attempting to stop Jordi Alba’s cross, sliced the ball over Manuel Neuer and into his own net.For a very brief spell Barca was even on top, as Neuer saved from Suarez and a Messi cross came back off the far upright.But Bayern, suffocating its opponent with its pressing, went back in front midway through the first half. Gnabry won back possession on the edge of the final third before feeding Perisic, who fired past Ter Stegen and into the far corner.That was the first of three goals in a 10-minute spell.Leon Goretzka’s deft touch over the top took out Clement Lenglet and Gnabry drilled home to make it 3-1. Then Mueller stole in front of Lenglet to turn in Kimmich’s delivery from the right for 4-1.Suarez briefly gave Barca something to cling to as he controlled Alba’s assist, bodyswerved away from Jerome Boateng and fired home.Yet there would be no comeback, as Kimmich converted Bayern’s fifth following a remarkable assist by Alphonso Davies, and then Lewandowski headed in Coutinho’s cross to make it six.As Barcelona collapsed, Coutinho made it seven in the 85th minute at the end of a move started when Messi was robbed of possession and then had time to score another in the 88th minute.Topics : A merciless Bayern Munich inflicted a humiliating, record defeat on Barcelona on Friday, recording a scarcely believable 8-2 victory in the club’s Champions League quarterfinal in Lisbon to leave Lionel Messi forlorn and surely hastening in the end of an era in Catalonia.Thomas Mueller scored twice either side of goals from Ivan Perisic and Serge Gnabry in a stunning opening 31 minutes at an empty Estadio da Luz, with a David Alaba own-goal having briefly brought Barcelona back level.Luis Suarez pulled it back to 4-2 at one point in the second half, but Barcelona then caved in, with Joshua Kimmich getting Bayern’s fifth before three more goals in the final stages, one for the prolific Robert Lewandowski and two for substitute Philippe Coutinho. That was the really humiliating part for the beaten side, with Coutinho on loan in Bavaria from Barcelona, who spent 160 million euros on signing the Brazilian in 2018 but never got the best out of him.”We knew it is never easy against Barcelona, but this is an unbelievable result,” said Kimmich. “It’s hard to comprehend.”It is Barcelona’s worst European defeat and the worst of Messi’s career. The game was eerily reminiscent of Germany’s 7-1 destruction of Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, a game in which Mueller also played and scored.Germany went on to win that World Cup and Bayern look a good bet to win this Champions League, although the club will surely face a sterner test in the semifinal regardless of whether it is against Manchester City or Lyon.last_img read more

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Australia virus cases dive to 5-week low

first_imgThe country’s most populous state, neighboring New South Wales, reported just one new case as an emergency cabinet of state and federal leaders discussed the prospect of relaxing closures of state borders that have been in place for months.”Today’s meeting of national cabinet came during what I would describe as a week of increased hope,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a televised news conference.”We’re doing better than most and many of the developed world in this situation.”Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said new case numbers in his state had fallen faster than he expected after the state imposed a nightly curfew and shuttered many businesses. Topics : “We are all pleased to see a ‘one’ in front of these additional case numbers,” Andrews said. “To be at this point shows that the strategy is working.”With cases in Victoria declining and low or zero levels of infections elsewhere – some states had yet to report daily figures by mid-afternoon – business leaders have called for an easing of internal travel restrictions to alleviate the blow to business and the economy.Many states have closed their borders to prevent the spread of infection, and Queensland’s premier said earlier this week its border won’t reopen to any states with cases of community transmission.However, Prime Minister Morrison said Queensland had now agreed to relax a ban on interstate travel for people seeking health services. He said he would call for an agreed definition of a “hot spot” so the authorities and travellers could understand who was, or was not, allowed to travel interstate.Qantas Airways Ltd said this week that state border closures were severely hampering a recovery in the domestic aviation market, while retail group Wesfarmers said the restrictions were causing “enormous hardship”.Other than the Victoria outbreak, Australia has largely avoided the high casualty numbers of many other nations with just under 24,500 infections and 472 deaths linked to the virus. center_img Australia headed for its lowest daily increase in coronavirus infections in five weeks on Friday as the hotspot state of Victoria neared the midway point of lockdown, prompting the prime minister to hail “a week of increased hope”.While the rest of Australia eases restrictions, the home state of a quarter of its population is in a six-week lockdown due to a second wave of virus infections.Victoria reported 179 new cases in the past 24 hours, from 240 a day earlier and down from over 700 a day two weeks ago. The state reported nine deaths.last_img read more

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Swiss group Roche to launch 15-minute coronavirus test

first_img“At launch, there will be 40 million SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Tests available, per month,” a capacity that would more than double by the end of the year, said the company statement.Roche will launch and distribute the product in partnership with biotech company SD Biosensor Inc. Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche on Tuesday announced it would launch at the end of September a test that detects the novel coronavirus within 15 minutes.They said the test identifies the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has caused the global pandemic that has so far killed more than 851,000 people worldwide.It will first be available for countries that recognize the CE mark for products sold in the Euroupean Union, but they would be urgently seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Topics :last_img read more

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