30 doctors in 27 days: Indonesia counts its losses as COVID-19 claims more lives

30 doctors in 27 days: Indonesia counts its losses as COVID-19 claims more lives
Gravediggers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) burry a coffin of a coronavirus disease victim, at the burial area provided by the government for COVID-19 victims, in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 28, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 June 2021

30 doctors in 27 days: Indonesia counts its losses as COVID-19 claims more lives

30 doctors in 27 days: Indonesia counts its losses as COVID-19 claims more lives
  • Government urged to impose large-scale restrictions across Java

JAKARTA: Indonesia grappled with a surge in COVID-19 cases on Monday, losing 30 doctors to the disease in nearly a month, amid a surge in infections which health officials predicted would occur after millions flouted health protocols during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday in May.

So far, 57,561 people have lost their lives to coronavirus since the start of the pandemic last year, including 423 on Monday, according to official data.

Among the total fatalities are 405 doctors, and hundreds of healthcare workers at the front line of the pandemic, while hospitals and community health centers continue to be overloaded with patients.

“Four more doctors died today due to COVID-19,” Dr. Adib Khumaidi, head of the Indonesian medical doctors’ association (IDI) mitigation team, told reporters on Sunday. “That brings the total number of doctors who died in June to 30.” 

Infections are spiking across Java, Indonesia’s most populated island, with Khumaidi saying they were also receiving reports from across the country.

He added that in the Kudus regency of Central Java, 853 doctors had been exposed to the disease and 231 were being treated, while five doctors were in a critical condition after being exposed to COVID-19 in East Java.

Yogyakarta and Jakarta – two special regions in Java – are also among areas where doctors had died after being infected with the virus, he said.

The pandemic has also taken a toll on nurses and healthcare professionals in the country, where the ratio of physicians per population is 0.4 per 1,000, according to a 2018 World Bank report.

According to Nursalam, a professor in nursing at Airlangga University in Surabaya, the provincial capital of East Java, at least 277 healthcare professionals in the province had succumbed to the disease, out of which 177 were nurses, including nine who died in June.

“Almost all of them have been vaccinated, but they were still exposed to the disease,” Nursalam told Arab News on Monday.

He cited several factors, including a weak immune system, comorbidities, and health workers dealing with patients exposed to the delta variant, especially Indonesian migrant workers who returned home to Bangkalan, a regency in East Java on the western side of Madura Island near Surabaya, where clusters of locally transmitted coronavirus emerged after the Eid holiday.

As of June 21, the number of healthcare professionals who had been fully vaccinated stood at 1,405,320 or almost 100 percent of the target population, according to official data.

Khumaidi said the grim numbers should act as a warning to the government to take drastic steps to prevent a collapse at the downstream level of the pandemic response.

“It is imperative to ensure optimal protection of health workers to reduce the burden to the health system,” the World Health Organization said in its weekly report on Indonesia issued on June 23.

Khumaidi acknowledged that clips on social media showing patients waiting outside hospital parking lots or in emergency tents portrayed the real situation.

“Those clips that went viral showed the factual condition on the ground,” he said.

On Friday, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that three major hospitals in Jakarta had been fully converted to treat COVID-19 patients, while five towers at a low-cost apartment complex in East Jakarta could accommodate asymptomatic patients who needed to self isolate as the Kemayoran Athlete’s Village emergency hospital was also full.

Sadikin also said the government was adding more beds, including 7,000 in Jakarta, and deploying more healthcare workers in regions where cases had spiked.

“But adding more beds and nurses would be meaningless if the number of patients continues to rise because people keep flouting health protocols. We need more stringent and stricter measures to control the outbreak,” Nursalam said.

During Sunday’s press conference, the medical association repeated its call to the government for the imposition of large-scale social restrictions simultaneously across Java for at least two weeks.

“The authorities must ensure that the restrictions are fully implemented to ensure its maximum result,” Khumaidi said.

In its June 23 report, the WHO also highlighted that “stricter implementation of public health and social measures including large-scale social restrictions may help.”

The government, however, is adamant that tightened micro curbs remain the best option.

“The government has decided that the micro scale public activities restrictions remains the best policy to curb the spread of the COVID-19 down to the village level, or the root of the problem at the community level,” President Joko Widodo said on June 23. “(Large-scale) lockdown and the micro curbs are essentially the same, to restrict public activities. There is no need to contradict them. We should be able to control the exponent rise of cases if the micro curbs are well implemented.”


Iraqi migrants shot amid people-smuggling gang fight in France

Iraqi migrants shot amid people-smuggling gang fight in France
Updated 19 sec ago

Iraqi migrants shot amid people-smuggling gang fight in France

Iraqi migrants shot amid people-smuggling gang fight in France
  • 2 hospitalized after gunfire erupts between rival groups in Dunkirk

LONDON: Two Iraqi migrants have been hospitalized in serious conditions after rival people-smuggling gangs fired on each other in northern France.

Fighting erupted at the Grande Synthe camp in Dunkirk after gangs quarreled over territory for launching their small boats into the English Channel.

The camp, the largest in France, is reportedly controlled by Kurdish gangs, who organize territory and allocate migrants spaces on small boats. Up to 500 people are expected to live there, though this can fluctuate rapidly according to trips on the Channel.

The Times newspaper was told by a migrant that he saw men with rifles and pistols during the fighting on Sunday, with gunshots also heard on Friday. Bullet casings were found on the scene after the authorities came in.

The Dunkirk public prosecutor’s office has started investigating the incidents, but few expect any witnesses to come forward and provide evidence. The rapidly changing population also adds problems for the police, with many witnesses at risk of fleeing for Britain at any moment. The two men in hospital are so critically injured that they cannot give statements.

The witness said: “I saw men with guns, one a pistol, another with a rifle. It was many, many shots fired. Previously we’ve had fights but it was very small. This time there were a lot of gunshots. The volunteers ran away.”

Another witness told Le Parisien that they “heard gunshots,” which sounded like “bursts of Kalashnikovs.” They added: “Everyone got down on the ground.”

Volunteer worker association Utopia 56 announced that “at least three people” were rushed to hospital after the violence. A helicopter was destroyed in the clashes, as police and ambulances rushed to the scene.

The violent gangs in northern France have long been a concern for British authorities receiving migrants.

UK Border Force officials told The Times that migrants were regularly facing threats of violence, often at gun or knifepoint, if they questioned the seafaring quality of the small boats.

Richard Lederle, from the crime and financial investigations unit in the Home Office, said: “It often isn’t an option of choosing to get into the boats. It will affect their profit margins and business models as gangs are competing with each other.”

Christopher Tilley, chief of staff at the unit dealing with Channel crossings, said: “A lot of their business relies on word of mouth — they don’t want people saying, ‘Don’t go with that gang because it’s unsafe’ so they force them to board even when the boats are unsafe. They are pushing people across to maximise the profits. It’s ruthless and cut-throat.”


Europe needs migration pact to deal with staggering flow of refugees: WEF panel

Europe needs migration pact to deal with staggering flow of refugees: WEF panel
The WEF— running from May 22 to 26 — will see global business, technology and political leaders come together. (Supplied)
Updated 24 May 2022

Europe needs migration pact to deal with staggering flow of refugees: WEF panel

Europe needs migration pact to deal with staggering flow of refugees: WEF panel
  • Europe needs a holistic migration pact to deal with the growing number of Ukrainian refugees, Vice President for Promoting the European Way of Life in the European Commission says
  • The war has displaced 8 million within Ukraine and forced more than 6 million others to flee elsewhere

DAVOS: Europe must enact a stable and holistic migration pact to deal with the growing number of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, Vice President for Promoting the European Way of Life in the European Commission Margaritis Schinas said.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum session entitled “Responding to New Migration Flows in Europe,” Schinas said: “Europe will always remain an asylum destination for those who are fleeing war and persecution. This is the model of society we stand for. We have welcomed more than 5 million Ukrainian refugees, but we do not yet have a migration pact. This forces us to very often function like firefighters rather than architects.”

A future EU migration policy would need a holistic approach that includes strong relations with origin and transit countries, a collective and uniform border system and procedures within EU countries, and solidarity across all levels of society to deal with the burdens of global crises, the vice president said.

Moldova is one example of how joint border controls and communication on all levels can help facilitate the movement of refugees, according to Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gavrilița.

About half a million people have crossed the border from Ukraine into Moldova, the prime minister said, adding that contingency plans in place allowed thousands of migrants who had fled in a hurry to enter the country without sufficient documents. 

Hundreds of Moldovans also scurried to provide aid and volunteer their services to help facilitate the influx of Ukrainians coming into the country, she said. 

The WEF session came after the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, announced Monday that the number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution around the world had crossed the bleak milestone of 100 million for the first time. 

The war in Ukraine alone has displaced 8 million within the country and forced more than 6 million others to flee elsewhere, according to the new data from UNHCR. 

By the end of 2021, about 90 million people were forcibly displaced around the world as a result of conflicts and new waves of violence in countries that include Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Burkina Faso. 

The WEF— running from May 22 to 26 — will see global business, technology and political leaders come together for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss climate, technology and geopolitical issues, including the consequences of the outbreak and the Ukraine crisis.


UK lawmakers criticize ‘absence’ of Afghan evacuation plan

UK lawmakers criticize ‘absence’ of Afghan evacuation plan
Updated 24 May 2022

UK lawmakers criticize ‘absence’ of Afghan evacuation plan

UK lawmakers criticize ‘absence’ of Afghan evacuation plan
  • The committee criticized the Foreign Office for the “total absence” of a plan for evacuating Afghans

LONDON: Britain’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was a “disaster and betrayal” hampered by a lack of leadership from senior politicians and civil servants, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said in a report released Tuesday.
The committee criticized the Foreign Office for the “total absence” of a plan for evacuating Afghans who supported the UK mission despite knowing for 18 months that such an evacuation might be necessary.
This was compounded by the fact that there seemed to be no clear lines of leadership among political leaders, with decisions made on the basis of “untraceable and unaccountable political interventions,” the committee said in its report.
“The fact that the Foreign Office’s senior leaders were on holiday when Kabul fell marks a fundamental lack of seriousness, grip or leadership at a time of national emergency,” the committee said.
The report was based on an eight-month inquiry during which the committee heard testimony from 20 witnesses and reviewed written evidence from 36 organizations.


Beijing ramps up COVID-19 quarantine, Shanghai residents decry uneven rules

Beijing ramps up COVID-19 quarantine, Shanghai residents decry uneven rules
Updated 24 May 2022

Beijing ramps up COVID-19 quarantine, Shanghai residents decry uneven rules

Beijing ramps up COVID-19 quarantine, Shanghai residents decry uneven rules
  • Chinese vice premier: Situation in Beijing manageable, but containment efforts cannot ease

BEIJING/SHANGHAI: Beijing stepped up quarantine efforts to end its month-old COVID-19 outbreak as fresh signs of frustration emerged in Shanghai, where some bemoaned unfair curbs with the city of 25 million preparing to lift a prolonged lockdown in just over a week.
Even as China’s drastic attempts to eradicate COVID-19 entirely — its “zero-COVID” approach — bite into prospects for the world’s second-biggest economy, new reported infection numbers remain well below levels seen in many Western cities. The capital reported 48 new cases for Monday among its population of 22 million, with Shanghai reporting fewer than 500.
Still, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan called for more thorough measures to cut virus transmission and adhere to the nation’s zero-COVID-19 policy during an inspection tour in Beijing, state agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.
The situation in Beijing was manageable, but containment efforts cannot ease, she said, according to Xinhua.
In one example of the stringency of Beijing’s approach, around 1,800 people in one city neighborhood were relocated to Zhangjiakou city in the nearby Hebei province for quarantine, the state-backed Beijing Daily reported.
Still in place are instructions for residents in six of the capital’s 16 districts to work from home, while a further three districts encouraged people to follow such measures, with each district responsible for implementing its own guidelines.
Beijing had already reduced public transport, requesting some shopping malls and other venues to close and sealing buildings where new cases were detected.
In Shanghai, authorities plan to keep most restrictions in place this month, before a more complete lifting of the two-month-old lockdown from June 1. Even then, public venues will have to cap people flows at 75 percent of capacity.
With Shanghai officially declared to be a zero-COVID-19 city, some authorities allowed more people to leave their homes for brief periods over the past week, and more supermarkets and pharmacies were authorized to reopen and provide deliveries.
But other lower-level officials separately tightened restrictions in some neighborhoods, ordering residents back indoors to cement progress achieved so far during the city’s final lap toward exiting the lockdown.
That has led to frustration and complaints of uneven treatment among some residents.
While the zero-COVID-19 status describes the entire city, and residents in some compounds have been allowed to move in and out of their homes freely, others have been told they can only go out for a few hours, and many of those stuck indoors were told nothing.
Videos circulating on social media this week showed residents arguing with officials to be let out of their residential compounds.
The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
One resident said people in his compound decided on the WeChat social media platform to go out in groups.
“Let’s strike at our gate tonight to demand that we be allowed to go out like many of other compounds in the neighborhood,” he quoted one of his neighbors as saying in the group chat.
A video he shared then showed a group of people arguing at the entrance of the compound with a man who described himself as a sub-district official, who asked the residents to go back inside and discuss the situation.
“Don’t bother with him,” one person said as some people were socialising outside the compound.
People in at least two other compounds were planning to try going outside despite not being told they were allowed to do so, residents said.


FBI counts 61 ‘active shooter’ incidents last year, up 52 percent from 2020

The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings. (REUTERS)
The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 May 2022

FBI counts 61 ‘active shooter’ incidents last year, up 52 percent from 2020

The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings. (REUTERS)
  • The Las Vegas attack alone helped push 2017’s annual casualty toll — 143 killed and 591 wounded — to record highs even though there were only 31 active shooting incidents that year, about half the number in 2021

WASHINGTON: The United States experienced 61 “active shooter” incidents last year, up sharply in the sheer number of attacks, casualties and geographic distribution from 2021 and the highest tally in over 20 years, the FBI reported on Monday.
The 2021 total, spread over 30 states, was 52 percent higher than 2020 and about double each of the three previous years, according to the FBI. The agency defines an active shooter as someone engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a public space in seemingly random fashion.
Commercial businesses accounted for just over half of all such incidents last year, which also was notable for an emerging trend of “roving active shooters” opening fire in multiple locations, as was the case with a gunman who attacked several Atlanta-area day spas, the FBI said.
Last year’s active-shooter carnage left 103 people dead and 140 wounded, the report said. By contrast, the FBI counted 40 active-shooter attacks in 19 states that killed 38 people and wounded 126 in 2020, a year that coincided with the height of restrictions on social and economic life due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Comparisons with recent years are heavily skewed by data from 2017, the year a gunman opened fire on an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas from a high-rise hotel window, killing 56 people and wounding hundreds more in a single incident.
The Las Vegas attack alone helped push 2017’s annual casualty toll — 143 killed and 591 wounded — to record highs even though there were only 31 active shooting incidents that year, about half the number in 2021.
As high as last year’s death toll was, it ranks as only the seventh deadliest year in active shooting incidents dating back to 2000, the first year for which FBI figures are available. Still, it marks the biggest number of such attacks on record, exceeding only the 40 recorded in 2020.
California, despite having some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, accounted for more active shooter incidents than any other state last year, six out of 61, followed by Texas and Georgia with five each, according to the report.
The single deadliest incident of 2021 was the mass shooting at the Kings Soopers Grocery Store in Boulder, Colorado, in which 10 victims perished. Eight were killed and seven wounded at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis.
The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings, which the government defines as at least killings in a single incident.
Excluded from the data were gang- or drug-related acts of violence, incidents defined strictly as domestic disputes, isolated hostage situations or crossfire from other criminal acts, the FBI said.