Paolo Maldini and Prince Albert II of Monaco among celebrities testing positive for coronavirus

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Former Italy and AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini has tested positive for the coronavirus. (Reuters)
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Prince Albert II is continuing to work from his home office, the Palace of Monaco said in a statement. (AFP)
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Updated 24 March 2020

Paolo Maldini and Prince Albert II of Monaco among celebrities testing positive for coronavirus

  • Former AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini and his footballer son Daniel announced they were positive Saturday
  • Prince Albert II of Monaco has tested positive, although there are no concerns for his health the palace said on March 19

PARIS: The growing list of world celebrities who have been hit by the novel coronavirus includes Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and former Italy and AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini.
Veteran Afro-jazz star Manu Dibango is among the first worldwide stars to die as a result of COVID-19.
The 86-year-old Dibango, from Cameroon, died in a hospital in France on Tuesday after contracting the virus.
Congolese music legend Aurlus Mabele, known as the “King of Soukous,” a high-tempo modern variant of Congolese rumba, died in Paris Thursday of the coronavirus, aged 67.
Spanish opera star Domingo said Sunday he had tested positive, adding he was “in good health.”
Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and his wife, actress and singer Rita Wilson, said on Monday they were doing better after nearly two weeks quarantine in Australia.
British actor Idris Elba said on March 16 that he had tested positive for the virus and gone into self-isolation.
Chilean author Luis Sepulveda, who lives in northern Spain, also has the virus and is in hospital. He felt the first symptoms on February 25.
The first test result for quarantined German Chancellor Angela Merkel came back negative on Monday. Merkel had decided Sunday to self-isolate after being treated by a doctor who has since tested positive for the virus.
Prince Albert II of Monaco has tested positive, although there are “no concerns for his health” the palace said on March 19.
Michel Barnier, who leads EU negotiations with Britain on Brexit, announced in a Twitter video on March 19 that he had tested positive.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in isolation since March 13 after his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tested positive.
Members of governments in several countries — Australia, Brazil, Britain, Burkina Faso, France, Iran, Morocco, Norway, Poland and Spain — have been infected.
On Tuesday Finland said Nobel laureate and former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, aged 82, has contracted the virus.
Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz died on Saturday aged 76, three days after being hospitalized with the coronavirus
In Italy several players at Juventus are infected, including France’s 2018 World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi and Argentinian attacker Paulo Dybala.
Former AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini and his footballer son Daniel announced they were positive Saturday.
At Fiorentina, another top Italian club, 10 players are infected.
In England, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi have both tested positive.
In 12 days at least 14 players from the NBA have tested positive, including Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant. Most of them have said they are without symptoms according to NBA boss Adam Silver.


Mafias looking to gain from Italy’s economic losses

A police car passes the Maschio Angioino castle, as Italy struggles to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Naples on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 31 March 2020

Mafias looking to gain from Italy’s economic losses

  • Businesses at risk of bankruptcy due to coronavirus lockdown may turn to organized crime to stay afloat

ROME: As Italy mourns nearly 11,000 dead from coronavirus, and braces for the devastation of the eurozone’s third-largest economy, investigators in the country believe that organized crime is looking to capitalize on the situation.

The Economist Intelligence Unit last week said it expects Italy’s gross domestic product to contract by a colossal 7 percent for the year.
Italian experts believe that some 65 percent of small and medium businesses in the country are at risk of bankruptcy. That is music to the mob’s ears.
Italy’s mafias, from the historic Cosa Nostra in Sicily to the immensely powerful ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria and the trigger-happy Camorra in Naples, were “caught on the back foot by the virus, but are now organizing themselves,” Bologna’s Chief Prosecutor Ignazio de Francisci told Arab News.
Last weekend, Italy’s secret service warned the government of potential riots in the country’s south, fomented by organized crime, should the virus epicenter move from north to south.
The mob was believed by some crime experts to have orchestrated revolts in jails nationwide early on in the pandemic, with prisoners demanding early release, fearful of catching the disease in overcrowded facilities.
“The mob will be looking for loopholes in the system. We’ll have to keep our eyes open for suspicious operations, the creation of new companies, dummy corporations,” said De Francisci, who was a member of the anti-mafia judiciary established in the Palermo Court by Judge Giovanni Falcone, who was killed along with his wife and three security escorts in 1992 when a bomb exploded under their car on a Sicilian motorway.
Giuseppe Pignatone, a former mafia-hunter in the city of Reggio Calabria who was recently appointed by Pope Francis as chief justice in the Vatican, said the epidemic will “inevitably make the judiciary’s job more difficult over the coming weeks and years.”
Italian anti-Camorra author Roberto Saviano, who lives under police protection, said in an article in La Repubblica daily: “Just look at the portfolio of the mafias, to see how much they can earn from this pandemic.”
He added: “Where have they invested the last few decades? Multi-service companies (canteens, cleaning, disinfection), waste recycling, transportation, funeral homes, oil and food distribution. That’s how they’ll make money. The mafias know what you have, and will need, and they give it, and will give it, on their own terms.”
Saviano, who wrote “Gomorra,” a bestseller on the illegal activities of the Camorra, recalled the last big epidemic in Italy, the 1884 cholera outbreak in Naples, which killed more than half of the city’s inhabitants.
At the time, the government paid out immense sums for a cleanup, most of which went straight into the Camorra’s pockets.
It could be the same story this time. “The mafia is already carefully planning ahead to when the economy will start to be rebuilt,” said De Francisci.
Mafias are believed to be selling medical-grade masks originally intended for hospitals on the dark web, and they also have influence in the supply of groceries. They have an estimated turnover of €120 billion ($133 billion) per year.

HIGHLIGHT

Italian experts believe that some 65 percent of small and medium businesses in the country are at risk of bankruptcy. That is music to the mob’s ears.

And they are preparing for a cocaine boom when people come out of quarantine. According to a police report, mafia-linked drug dealers are already dodging the strict limits on movements placed on Italians by posing as pizza drivers and doing home deliveries.
A wave of mafia-linked extortion rackets is also predicted in the wake of the financial disaster caused by the virus.
The closures of restaurants and hotels will have a devastating effect. If money does not come from the state soon, many will fail. And in order not to fail, business owners could turn to criminal organizations.
Despite the nation’s public debt and its difficult relations with the EU and the European Central Bank, Italy’s government has already started pumping billions of euros to subsidize those who are not receiving a salary due to the closure of the businesses in which they were employed.
And Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that mayors this week will issue food vouchers to help low-income people cope with the economic consequences of coronavirus.
Using an initial €400 million fund, and with an advance payment of €4.3 billion, the government wants to help the poorest sections of society.
Local municipalities will have to use this fund to buy food, medicines and other essential goods for citizens with low incomes.
This came after police with batons and guns moved in to protect supermarkets in Sicily after reports of looting by locals who could no longer afford food.
A group of locals ran out of a supermarket in the city of Palermo without paying. “We have no money to pay. We have to eat,” someone reportedly shouted at the cashiers.
Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando, who is recognized worldwide as one of the most engaged politicians against organized crime, told Arab News: “We’re sure that the mafia is behind all this. The state has to be watchful and provide municipalities with enough financial resources so that those in need won’t go to the mob for protection and support.”