UK may be moving too slowly to tackle COVID-19 outbreak, government adviser says

Commuters wearing face masks or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stand aboard a Victoria Line London underground tube train as they travel during the evening 'rush hour' in central London on September 23, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 26 September 2020

UK may be moving too slowly to tackle COVID-19 outbreak, government adviser says

  • Medley said SAGE had not discussed what impact the policy of closing hospitality services earlier would have on infection rates
  • Britain already has the highest death toll in Europe from COVID-19, at 41,936

LONDON: Britain could be moving too slowly to tackle the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases because of a lag between case numbers and deaths which means fatalities have remained relatively low, a government adviser said on Saturday.
Graham Medley, a professor of infectious disease modelling, said he worried the country could end up in a position it had tried to avoid.
“My concern is the lag, is the fact that we end up in a position that we didn’t intend to, either government or the population ..., because the numbers of deaths at the moment look very low, even though, as scientists, we say look infections are increasing,” he told BBC Radio.
“And unfortunately that lag means that we don’t act soon enough,” Medley, who attends the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) which advises government, said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed tougher restrictions in the last week to try to curb the spread of the virus, telling people to work from home if they can and ordering pubs and restaurants to close earlier.
Some politicians have questioned whether those measures go far enough however, with the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, telling households they also cannot mix indoors. Britain was slow to impose its first lockdown in March.
Medley said SAGE had not discussed what impact the policy of closing hospitality services earlier would have on infection rates.
Britain already has the highest death toll in Europe from COVID-19, at 41,936. While around 900 people died a day at the April peak of the pandemic, current death rates are around 30.
The Office for National Statistics said on Friday new cases in England had shot up to around 9,600 per day in the week to Sept. 19, up from around 6,000 the previous week.
Medley said that meant deaths would rise in three to four weeks to around 100 deaths a day. “And the things that we do now will not stop 100 people dying a day, but they will stop that progressing much higher,” he said.


Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

Updated 22 October 2020

Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

  • Abu Dhabi’s Al-Ma’arid Street renamed President Joko Widodo Street

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said it was “an honor” for him and his country that a street in the UAE capital had been named after him.

Al-Ma’arid Street, one of Abu Dhabi’s key roads, was on Monday renamed President Joko Widodo Street during a ceremony that coincided with the first anniversary of the Indonesian leader’s inauguration for a second term in office.

Writing on social media, Widodo said: “It is a recognition and an honor, not only for me, but for Indonesia.” He also expressed hope that the two countries’ relations would be “stronger, mutually strengthening, and beneficial for the people of the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UAE, Husin Bagis, told Arab News: “The initiative to rename the street after President Joko Widodo came from His Highness (Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan), who also presided over the street renaming ceremony on the spot.”

The envoy said that the street was near to the future location of the Indonesian Embassy compound, which was currently under construction.

According to UAE news agency WAM, the crown prince has also directed officials to build a mosque named after Widodo, in Abu Dhabi’s Diplomatic Area, in recognition of the Indonesian president’s close friendship with the UAE and his efforts to strengthen the relationship.

Indonesia-UAE relations have grown closer since Widodo’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, during which he secured investment projects worth $22.9 billion in what has officially been described as the biggest trade deal in the country’s history. The visit was to reciprocate the crown prince’s trip to Indonesia in July 2019.

Recent cooperation agreements between the two countries have included plans for the construction of a mosque on a plot of land in Widodo’s hometown of Solo in Central Java.

The mosque will be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated to take place in December.

Widodo is the latest Indonesian leader to be celebrated through an honorific street name in a foreign country. In Rabat, Morocco’s capital, Avenue Sukarno was named after Indonesia’s first president, while Mohammed Hatta Street in Haarlem, the Netherlands, recognizes the Southeast Asian country’s first vice president. Sukarno and Hatta are considered the fathers of Indonesia’s independence.

The name of the country’s third president, B. J. Habibie, appears on a bridge in Dili, the capital of East Timor, in honor of his decision to hold a referendum there which allowed East Timor to secede from Indonesia.