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Coronavirus Update: France Enters Nationwide Lockdown
Widespread containment measures are due to go into effect across much of Germany, France and Spain starting on Tuesday. Non-essential businesses and shops will be closed and residents have been urged to remain at home.
- The German foreign minister announced an "airlift" for thousands of German citizens stranded abroad.
- French President Emmanuel Macron ordered a nationwide lockdown and closed France's borders.
- Germany banned religious gatherings and ordered non-essential shops as well as playgrounds closed.
- Volkswagen said the majority of its factories in Europe would suspend production starting Friday.
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
11:29 Vietnam said it will introduce mandatory quarantine for people arriving from the U.S., Europe and ASEAN countries and suspend the issue of all new visas.
11:13 Iran's health ministry said Tuesday that 135 more people have died from COVID-19, which raises the country's official death toll to over 980. With over 16,000 confirmed cases, Iran is behind Italy and China for the highest number of COVID-19 cases worldwide.
11:00 A nationwide lockdown began in France at noon local time on Tuesday, requiring people to remain in their homes and only go out for the "bare essentials" like groceries, medicine and going to work.
There were reports of many Parisians crowding train stations attempting to leave the French capital for the countryside before the noon deadline. There were also reports of long lines of people outside supermarkets buying supplies in preparation for the lockdown.
The government said tens of thousands of police would patrol French cities, and anyone caught without a written declaration to justify their reason for being out could be punished with a fine of up to €135 ($150), according to Agence France Presse.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech Monday that the lockdown would be in place for at least 15 days. "We are at war" with coronavirus, said Macron. France currently has over 6,600 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 148 deaths.
10:10 The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a German public health institution, adjusted its coronavirus threat risk for Germany from "moderate" to "high" on Tuesday.
RKI chief Lothar Wieler said the risk adjustment is based on the continual increase in new infections, along with warning signs from public health facilities. Germany currently has over 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections.
09:45 The Robert Koch Institute said Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic could last two years, as pandemics tend to run their course in waves.
RKI chief Wieler said it is possible in an "extreme situation" that some of the restrictions enacted by countries would have to stay in place for this duration.
Wieler added that the duration of the pandemic depends on the speed of vaccine development, along with how many people become infected, recover, and develop immunity to coronavirus (SARS CoV 2), the virus that causes COVID-19.
09:21 Turkey's Foreign Ministry said it will start bringing home more than 3,600 Turkish citizens stranded in nine European countries. All of the returnees are expected to be transported home Tuesday on board more than 30 Turkish Airlines flights and will be quarantined after arrival for 14 days.
09:09 Pakistan confirmed its first fatality from a COVID-19 infection, Reuters reported. The death comes as the South Asian country saw a spike in cases Tuesday, with the current total at 187.
08:10 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany has made up to €50 million ($55.6 million) available to bring home "thousands" of German citizens stuck abroad.
Maas said Tuesday Germany will do "everything possible" to repatriate German citizens stuck in countries heavily affected by the coronavirus, including the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Morocco and Egypt. The foreign minister also advised against all tourist travel to any country.
"Stay at home. Help yourself and others," tweeted Maas.
08:00 German carmaker Volkswagen announced it would stop production at the vast majority of its factories in Germany and the rest of Europe starting Friday. Work is expected to be halted for up to three weeks.
07:46 German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said he expects Germany will have to "deal with the consequences" of the coronavirus outbreak until at least the end of May.
"I wouldn't advise anyone to bank on this being over in eight days," Altmaier told German broadcaster RTL on Tuesday.
07:14 U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech announced they would immediately begin working together to develop a vaccine.
06:31 Actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, were released from an Australian hospital Tuesday five days after they were diagnosed with COVID-19. The couple will now self-isolate in a rented house, according to media reports.
05:55 Kyrgyzstan has banned entry to all foreigners to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The central Asian country currently has no cases of COVID-19. Neighboring Kazakhstan reported an increase in cases from 14 to 27 on Tuesday.
05:43 India has closed the Taj Mahal, the country's top tourist site. The Indian financial hub of Mumbai ordered businesses providing non-essential services to keep half of staff home.
05:30 Japanese authorities will ask all travelers coming from Europe, including Japanese citizens, to self-quarantine for two weeks after arrival in Japan, according to Japanese media reports.
Japan will also begin refusing entry to foreigners who have been in certain areas of Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Ireland.
05:23 Malaysia said it will bar border crossings with Singapore for two weeks starting Wednesday. There were reports of people in Singapore rushing to stock up on food, as Malaysia is a source of many staple items. Singapore's government said there would be no food shortages.
04:14 Facebook said it would send home all contract workers who review content until further notice. The company said this could impact response times and there may be more mistakes. The contract staff will continue to be paid.
Content reviewing cannot be be done at home due to "due to safety, privacy and legal reasons."
03:35 Here's a round-up of recent measures set to be implemented by European countries to stem the spread of coronavirus (SARS CoV 2):
In Germany, residents will wake up to bans on religious gatherings and ceremonies with closures of playgrounds and non-essential stores. Local and regional train services will be reduced. The country closed its borders Monday to France, Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland.
The French government put its citizens on partial lockdown — from Tuesday at noon people will only be able to leave their homes for grocery shopping, work or to take a walk. The measures will remain in place for 15 days.
In Finland, school and universities will be replaced with distance learning from Wednesday for four weeks. Kindergartens will stay open with advice that children should stay home where possible. Public gatherings will be limited to 10 people.
Switzerland ordered a state of emergency ordering shops, restaurants, bars, leisure and other facilities to shut down until April 19. The measures do not include healthcare operations as well as supermarkets.
The UK issued coronavirus guidelines, saying people should practice social distancing, but schools will not be closed for the moment.
Spain and Italy's governments have already implemented similar lockdowns after the countries were hit hard by virus outbreaks. Currently there are 27,980 recorded cases of coronavirus in Italy and 9,942 in Spain.
03:00 The Philippines suspended trade on its local stock exchange, becoming the first country to do so over coronavirus fears.
02:20 Hundreds of prisoners escaped from four prisons in Brazil just a day before day-release privileges were set to be suspended, reported Sao Paulo state prison authorities.
The suspension of privileges was necessary because those returning to jail and "would have a high potential to install and propagate the coronavirus in a vulnerable population, generating health risks for servers and custodians" said authorities.
Law enforcement was dealing with the situation.
02:10 From midnight on Thursday all people entering Hong Kong will be quarantined for 14 days.
02:00 The UN security council has canceled all meetings that were due to go ahead this week.
01:52 Thieves took 50,000 protective face masks from a warehouse for hospital supplies in the German city of Cologne. "We're talking about items that normally worth pennies, but there is obviously a market for them now," said a spokeswoman for the city's hospitals.
01:35 New Zealand announced a NZ$12.1 billion ($7.3 billion, €6.26 billion) stimulus package to help its economy. Finance Minister Grant Robertson conceded "recession is almost certain" but the package would help soften the economic blow.
01:25 Online retail giant Amazon is benefiting from the virus, hiring 100,000 staff.
01:17 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a nationwide quarantine. He also called on world leaders to "wake up to this pandemic and take drastic measures in time." The number of cases in Venezuela has risen to 33.
01:10 South Korea reports 84 new cases, bringing the total up to 8,320.
01:00 Colombia will close all land, sea and river borders from midnight until the end of May. President Ivan Duque announced the measures on Twitter. Chile and Peru announced a total closure of their borders on Monday.
00:50 Mongolia reported three new coronavirus cases among citizens repatriated from virus-hit South Korea and Germany.
00:40 There could be up to 1,500 coronavirus patients hospitalized by the end of the week, said President of the German Hospital Society (DKG) Gerald Gass to German media outlet Funke Mediengruppe. Gass said that German hospitals are well prepared for such an increase in patients.
00:30 Ukraine became the latest European country to announce shutdowns of bars, restaurants and shopping malls. The measures to fight the virus came as President Volodymyr Zelensky promised to act "harshly and urgently."
The government introduced restrictions on public transport, including closing the country's three metro systems in Kiev, Kharkiv and Dnipro until April 3.
00:20 China had 13 deaths and 21 new infections Monday, reported its National Health Commission, up from 16 new infections on Sunday.
00:10 Here's a summary of global figures:
- 181,546 confirmed cases
- 7,126 global deaths
- 78,088 recovered
00:05 Follow yesterday's developments here: Coronavirus latest: French President Macron says 'we are at war' as he orders lockdown
Reposted with permission from DW.
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By Shelly Miller
The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.
It’s All About Fresh, Outside Air<p>The safest indoor space is one that constantly has lots of <a href="https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/how-does-outdoor-air-enter-building" target="_blank">outside air</a> replacing the stale air inside.</p><p>In commercial buildings, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143277/" target="_blank">outside air is usually pumped in</a> through heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. In <a href="https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/how-does-outdoor-air-enter-building" target="_blank">homes, outside air gets in</a> through open windows and doors, in addition to seeping in through various nooks and crannies.</p><p>Simply put, the more fresh, outside air inside a building, the better. Bringing in this air dilutes any contaminant in a building, whether a virus or a something else, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0668.2010.00703.x" target="_blank">reduces the exposure of anyone inside</a>. Environmental engineers like me quantify how much outside air is getting into a building using a measure called the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2013.30" target="_blank">air exchange rate</a>. This number quantifies the number of times the air inside a building gets replaced with air from outside in an hour.</p><p>While the exact rate depends on the number of people and size of the room, most experts consider roughly <a href="https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1600-0668.2002.01145.x" target="_blank">six air changes an hour</a> to be good for a 10-foot-by-10-foot room with three to four people in it. In a pandemic this should be higher, with one study from 2016 suggesting that an exchange rate of nine times per hour <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1420326X16631596" target="_blank">reduced the spread of SARS, MERS and H1N1</a> in a Hong Kong hospital.</p><p>Many buildings in the U.S., <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12403" target="_blank">especially schools</a>, do not meet recommended ventilation rates. Thankfully, it can be pretty easy to get more outside air into a building. Keeping <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0960-1481(99)00012-9" target="_blank">windows and doors open</a> is a good start. Putting a box fan in a window blowing out can greatly increase air exchange too. In buildings that don't have operable windows, you can change the mechanical ventilation system to increase how much air it is pumping. But in any room, the more people inside, the faster the air should be replaced.</p>
Using CO2 to Measure Air Circulation<p>So how do you know if the room you're in has enough air exchange? It's actually a pretty hard number to calculate. But there's an easy-to-measure proxy that can help. Every time you exhale, you <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12383" target="_blank">release CO2</a> into the air. Since the coronavirus is most often spread by breathing, coughing or talking, you can use <a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/dd7e/b2870c38f70e5285e5118ed6f158c091f7cf.pdf" target="_blank">CO2 levels</a> to see if the room is filling up with potentially infectious exhalations. The CO2 level lets you estimate if enough fresh outside air is getting in.</p><p>Outdoors, CO2 levels are just above 400 parts per million (ppm). A well ventilated room will have around <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0668.1999.00003.x" target="_blank">800 ppm of CO2</a>. Any higher than that and it is a sign the room might need more ventilation.</p><p>Last year, researchers in Taiwan reported on the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">effect of ventilation on a tuberculosis outbreak</a> at Taipei University. Many of the rooms in the school were underventilated and had CO2 levels above 3,000 ppm. When engineers improved air circulation and got CO2 levels under 600 ppm, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">the outbreak completely stopped</a>. According to the research, the increase in ventilation was responsible for 97% of the decrease in transmission.</p><p>Since the coronavirus is spread through the air, higher CO2 levels in a room likely mean there is a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">higher chance of transmission</a> if an infected person is inside. Based on the study above, I recommend trying to keep the CO2 levels below 600 ppm. You can buy <a href="https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-7-3325-2014" target="_blank">good CO2 meters</a> for around $100 online; just make sure that they are accurate to within 50 ppm.</p>
Air Cleaners<p>If you are in a room that can't get enough outside air for dilution, consider an air cleaner, also commonly called air purifiers. These machines remove particles from the air, usually using <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cap.2005.07.013" target="_blank">a filter</a> made of tightly woven fibers. They can <a href="https://shellym80304.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/miller-leiden-et-al-1996.pdf" target="_blank">capture particles containing bacteria and viruses</a> and can help reduce disease transmission.</p><p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that <a href="https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/air-cleaners-hvac-filters-and-coronavirus-covid-19" target="_blank">air cleaners can do this for the coronavirus</a>, but not all air cleaners are equal. Before you go out and buy one, there are few things to keep in mind.</p><p>The first thing to consider is <a href="https://shellym80304.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/air-cleaner-report.pdf" target="_blank">how effective an air cleaner's filter is</a>. Your best option is a cleaner that uses a high-efficiency particulate air (<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0021-8502(05)80214-9" target="_blank">HEPA</a>) filter, as these remove more than <a href="https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2771421" target="_blank">99.97% of all particle sizes</a>.</p><p>The second thing to consider is how powerful the cleaner is. The bigger the room – or the more people in it – the more air needs to be cleaned. I worked with some colleagues at Harvard to put together a tool to help teachers and schools determine <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NEhk1IEdbEi_b3wa6gI_zNs8uBJjlSS-86d4b7bW098/edit#gid=1275403500" target="_blank">how powerful of an air cleaner you need for different classroom sizes</a>.</p><p>The last thing to consider is the validity of the claims made by the company producing the air cleaner.</p><p>The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers certifies air cleaners, so the AHAM Verifide seal is a good place to start. Additionally, the California Air Resources Board has a <a href="https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/our-work/programs/air-cleaners-ozone-products/california-certified-air-cleaning-devices" target="_blank">list of air cleaners</a> that are certified as safe and effective, though not all of them use HEPA filters.</p>
Keep Air Fresh or Get Outside<p>Both the <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/transmission-of-sars-cov-2-implications-for-infection-prevention-precautions" target="_blank">World Health Organization</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/deciding-to-go-out.html" target="_blank">U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> say that poor ventilation increases the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.</p><p>If you are in control of your indoor environment, make sure you are getting enough fresh air from outside circulating into the building. A CO2 monitor can help give you a clue if there is enough ventilation, and if CO2 levels start going up, open some windows and <a href="https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/07/17/outdoor-gathering" target="_blank">take a break outside</a>. If you can't get enough fresh air into a room, an air cleaner might be a good idea. If you do get an air cleaner, be aware that they don't remove CO2, so even though the air might be safer, CO2 levels could still be high in the room.</p><p>If you walk into a building and it feels hot, stuffy and crowded, chances are that there is not enough ventilation. Turn around and leave.</p><p>By paying attention to air circulation and filtration, improving them where you can and staying away from places where you can't, you can add another powerful tool to your anti-coronavirus toolkit.</p>
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The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.
On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.
France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.
The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.
"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."
Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.
By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.
The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.
"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.
While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.
"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.
Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.
Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.
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Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).
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