SINGAPORE – Nanyang Technological University (NTU) faculty and staff have rallied together to donate more than $10 million of their unused annual leave to support the university’s students.
In total, some 20,145 days of leave were contributed by 1,821 NTU employees, said the university on Monday (Nov 23).
Each employee donated an average of 11 days’ leave, with some contributing as many as 15 days. NTU employees receive between 21 and 42 days every year, depending on their employment scheme and length of service.
Senior vice-president of administration Tan Aik Na said: “Some of our students’ parents have lost their jobs or have had their income reduced. So, it is doubly important during the pandemic for us… to help these students.”
The donations were on a voluntary basis, with participating employees redeeming their unused leave for donation to a fund of their choice.
They could donate to the university’s bursaries, general endowment or education and student life fund.
They could also chip in to 18 other school or centre advancement funds that support student projects and club activities such as seminars and research initiatives.
Associate Professor Ivy Kwan was one of the employees who donated 15 days of leave.
She chose to support her alma mater, Nanyang Business School (NBS), where she also serves as assistant dean for career services.
“I teach at NBS and this is my little way of investing in the future of my students. I would definitely do it again in the future,” she said.
Mr Tan Suan Hai, a senior laboratory executive from the School of Computer Science and Engineering, also contributed 15 days of his personal leave to his school’s advancement fund.
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“I have always believed in the value of education, and the importance of students’ success. As I am unable to go on vacation this year, I felt I could turn this into something good,” said Mr Tan.
Dr Babu Narayanswamy, who is director at the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute, gave 14 days of his leave to the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Advancement Fund.
The materials scientist said: “While the Government has been doing all it can, I believe this is the time for those of us who can, to pitch in and help in whatever way possible.”
Another round of this donation exercise will be held in October 2021.
This initiative follows two others launched by the university – the NTU Priorities Fund and the OneNTU Fund – both of which were part of its Covid-19 Relief Package to help students facing financial difficulties.
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MOSCOW (XINHUA, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) – Russia registered 25,173 Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, a new all-time high, as the pandemic worsened in the cold season, said the country’s Covid-19 response centre on Monday (Nov 23).
The national tally of cases has grown to 2,114,502, including 36,540 deaths and 1,611,445 recoveries, the centre said in a statement.
Moscow, the country’s worst-hit region, reported 6,866 new cases over the past day, bringing the city’s total to 560,579.
So far, more than 72.9 million tests have been conducted in the country.
Russia has been working on a coronavirus vaccine and earlier this month said its Sputnik V vaccine is 92 per cent effective at protecting people from Covid-1, based on interim trial results.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which has been backing Sputnik V’s development, said the Russian trial would continue for six months.
Dr Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya Institute which developed the vaccine, said the interim results demonstrated that Sputnik V was effective and mass vaccinations would be rolled out in Russia in the coming weeks.
In later comments, aired by Rossiya-24 state TV channel, he said at least 1.5 million people in Russia were expected to receive the shot by the end of the year. He added that around 40,000 to 45,000 Russians had already been vaccinated.
Russia has the fifth-most cases globally, after the United States, India, Brazil and France.
When summer arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, skiers in search of an endless winter head south to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, a year-round outdoor adventure destination in northern Patagonia’s Lake District.
Home to roughly 100,000 permanent residents, the popular mountain retreat includes Catedral Alta Patagonia, one of the largest and most developed ski centers in South America. Nestled within Nahuel Huapi National Park, Catedral Alta Patagonia spans 3,000 scenic acres across the foothills of the Andes. From June to mid-October, its 34 lifts transport 29,000 skiers an hour to groomed and off-piste runs reaching an elevation of 6,900 feet. Those who love summer activities tend to visit from December through March to hike, fly-fish and cruise the region’s myriad mountains, lakes and rivers.
“People love Bariloche because it looks and feels like an alpine village, but it comes with world-class adventure activities at a fraction of the price,” said Juan Pablo Reynal, an Argentine-American whose father, William Reynal, owned the ski resort for more than 20 years.
Bariloche’s charming European character has its roots in the Germans, Swiss and Italians who immigrated to Argentina beginning in the 1800s, with a surge after World War II.
During the country’s economic collapse in 2001, Juan Pablo Reynal was among the first to purchase land in the Arelauquen Golf & Country Club, an exclusive, 650-acre private development surrounded by a nature reserve of nearly 750 acres next to Lake Gutiérrez.
“A home on a 10,000-square-foot to 1.2-acre lot will sell for, on average, $500,000 to $2 million,” Mr. Reynal said, referring to current prices in the development.
Arelauquen includes approximately 330 upscale homes and 90 apartments, as well as 75 available lots surrounded by native coihue and cypress trees. Premium properties overlook the lake, the marina, the 18-hole golf course or the development’s two polo fields.
The current exchange rate has made the average homeowner fee of 40,000 Argentine pesos per month effectively much lower for overseas buyers. The official exchange rate is about 80 pesos to the dollar, but the parallel exchange rate used by foreigners when they buy pesos in Argentina is now above 160.
“The neighborhood is popular with expats because it has 24/7 security, high-end amenities and amazing views,” he said. “It’s also 15 minutes from the airport and downtown, and 10 minutes from the slopes of Cerro Catedral, which makes it a really convenient place to live.”
Mr. Reynal frequently rents his five-bedroom home in Arelauquen on Airbnb. His most recent tenant was a family of four from Southern California that spent a year in Bariloche.
“We wanted our children to experience a culture different to that of the U.S.,” said Todd Rohm, the father in the family. “The kids really enjoyed it, especially their friends in the community.”
His children attended a local primary school. “Argentina’s private schools offer a different philosophy on teaching, as compared to our experience in the U.S. public school system,” he said. “The U.S. is all about testing and rankings, and here they want to give kids a much broader, well-rounded education.”
Flavia Perez’s teenage son, Pablo Perez, grew up traveling every winter from São Paulo, Brazil, to Bariloche, where he learned to ski and snowboard. The family’s four-bedroom, 2,900-square-foot home, valued at $810,000, was bought by Ms. Perez’s former husband in 2009 as a quiet place to write.
“Everything in this house is about the view,” she said.
Wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramic views of Lake Gutiérrez and towering Andes peaks from most rooms in the house. Après-ski, she and her son enjoy the facilities in Arelauquen’s clubhouse, including the hot tub, restaurant and billiards table. When the residence is unoccupied, Ms. Perez rents out the house for approximately $450 per day.
A Buenos Aires resident, Cecilia Martínez grew up camping in Bariloche with her parents, who eventually built a retirement house on the nearby Llao Llao Peninsula. In 2004, Ms. Martínez and her husband, Eduardo Lombardi, decided to look for their own property for vacations with their three daughters.
Ms. Martínez fell in love with a 1.5-acre lot in Arelauquen that has a babbling brook fringed with wild daisies. The couple purchased the land for $500,000 and enlisted the Buenos Aires-based architecture studio Cociffi-Cociffi-Agazzi to design the residence.
The result was a five-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot house that cost $2 million. Divided across two floors and three sections, the house is linked by two vestibules, one of which features a glass floor hovering over the stream.
“It’s so silent here, when you open the windows you can hear the water flowing,” Ms. Martínez said.
Every room offers sweeping views of the lake and mountains.
“The landscape is the protagonist of this place,” said Estela Cociffi, a principal architect of the project.
The central part of the house features a double-height, open-plan kitchen, and a living and dining area anchored by a large fireplace. Five bedrooms and a yoga room with a sauna are in the north wing; the south wing is fitted with a game room, a media room, a large barbecue area, a wine cellar and a ski storage room.
“When we’re snowed in, it’s a really fun family corner,” Ms. Martínez said.
Ms. Cociffi and her husband, Julio Cociffi, built their own three-bedroom mountain house more than 30 years ago at the base of Catedral Alta Patagonia in Villa Cerro Catedral, a bucolic village of about 150 Bavarian-inspired homes connected by rustic dirt roads.
“We’re ski fanatics,” Ms. Cociffi said. “We spend the winter here and try to ski every day.”
The architects kept it simple when designing the 1,615-square-foot, three-level residence set on 16,000 square feet of land. Standout features include a large bow window, a sun room and an outdoor terrace with panoramic views of Nahuel Huapi Lake and Mount Catedral. In the living room, Mr. Cociffi built a fireplace that doubles as an indoor barbecue pit.
The tranquillity of Villa Cerro Catedral is what persuaded Mariana Barsotti and her husband, Carlos María de Elizalde, to move to Bariloche from Buenos Aires more than 15 years ago.
“We wanted to raise our son more connected to nature,” Ms. Barsotti said.
In 2005, the couple purchased one of the village’s original homes, built in the 1970s with brick, cement and roof shingles hewed from Patagonian cypress. They paid $85,000 and invested another $50,000 to renovate the house and add a fourth bedroom.
The couple also built two 800-square-foot, two-bedroom cabins on their nearly half-acre property to accommodate visitors during winter and summer months.
“We can see the ski lifts from our living room and walk to them in five minutes,” Ms. Barsotti said.
Dez Bartelt, a former professional climber, and her husband, the extreme skier Garret Bartelt, typically split their time between Aspen, Colo., and Bariloche. They bought their two-bedroom Bavarian-style home on Lake Gutiérrez shortly after the economic crash in 2001, which greatly lowered property prices.
“Bariloche has the kindest people I’ve ever known, and I’ve traveled to pretty much every country in the world,” Ms. Bartelt said. “I’ve encouraged many friends and associates to move down here, and quite a few of them have.”
“If you love the outdoors, there’s always something you can be doing,” she said.
Andrés Amos, a Christie’s real estate agent specializing in Patagonia, said that “Bariloche has long been a retreat for savvy investors with an adventurous spirit.”
Christie’s International Real Estate has listings in Bariloche that include a large private residence in Arelauquen and lakefront chalets on multiacre plots with private docks near Llao Llao Resort, Golf & Spa, a world-famous mountain lodge built in 1938 by the top Argentine architect Alejandro Bustillo. Prices range from $1 million to $4.8 million.
Norberto Quiroga, the founder of the real estate, property management and consulting firm Quiroga Propiedades, assists buyers and sellers with residential and commercial real estate.
“Now is a good time to invest in Bariloche because of the strength of the dollar,” he said. “It’s more than tripled against the peso in the past year, and prices have dropped around 30 percent.”
There are several new developments under construction in Bariloche, including Barrancas de Dina Huapi, a 400-acre private community with 439 lots and 250 condominiums on the eastern shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi close to the Limay River. Prices range from $50,000 for a 16,000-square-foot lot to $300,000 for one-acre hillside lots.
Investors interested in buying a luxury condo or apartment can choose from several new buildings.
Capitalinas Bariloche is a mixed-used venture featuring an upscale 48-room hotel and 72 one- and two-bedroom residences starting at 936 square feet. The waterfront property, expected to be completed next April, overlooks Lake Nahuel Huapi and is near the city center. Apartments start at $300,000, and buyers can add them to the hotel’s pool of rentals for annual returns up to 8 percent of the cost of the unit (based on a 65 percent average hotel occupancy for the year).
Similarly, a development called Los Cauquenes offers two- and three-bedroom top-end condos on roughly five acres of forested property just minutes from the city center. Twenty-five lakefront residences ranging from nearly 1,300 square feet to 2,150 square feet have premium finishings, plus balconies and laundry units. Amenities include a heated pool and 24-hour security. Only two units are left on the market, and 12 remaining units are set for construction, selling for $300 per square foot.
Robert Eiletz, a developer from Buenos Aires, is constructing apartment buildings in Arelauquen. Each three-story structure will have two- to three-bedroom apartments ranging from approximately 1,290 square feet to 2,580 square feet, and selling for about $2,300 to $3,200 per square foot.
In recent years, Argentina’s fraught economic situation has resulted in a declining peso, spiraling inflation and decreased market confidence.
“Construction costs have gone down because prices in pesos haven’t caught up to the strength of the dollar,” Mr. Eiletz said. “Since property values have remained stable and tourism to Bariloche continues to grow, it makes for a good investment.”
Considering years of heavy peso devaluations, the local real estate market in Bariloche is struggling along with the rest of the economy, said Mr. Amos, the Christie’s agent.
“Historically, sellers tend to lower their expectations during economic crises and decrease asking prices, turning into a very attractive market for buyers. It’s the same story today.”
The pandemic may present an opportunity to reshape the future of emergency medicine.
The coronavirus has already prompted health care leaders to rethink how to deliver care to make the most of available resources, both physical and digital. If the shift to greater use of telemedicine continues after the pandemic, it could reduce reliance on the emergency room, where crowding has long been a problem.
This could happen if telemedicine increases the ability for doctors to see more patients more quickly. A Veterans Health Administration study found that same-day access to primary care was associated with fewer emergency visits for conditions that weren’t true emergencies.
During the pandemic, educational campaigns have tried to raise awareness about telemedicine, offering guidelines on when people should seek immediate attention, and when an online consultation is adequate. And American Medical Association officials are seeking to keep the regulatory flexibility on telemedicine that has been allowed during the pandemic.
Of course, telemedicine isn’t a solution for every health problem. And patients with limited digital fluency and access may get left behind as reliance on telemedicine grows. But the potential payoff is large: A review of medical records of older patients found that 27 percent of emergency room visits could have been replaced with telemedicine.
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, more than 90 percent of emergency departments are routinely crowded, which has long been recognized as problematic.
On average, a patient visiting an emergency room will wait about 40 minutes. Although that’s down from about an hour a decade ago, 17 percent of patients visiting an emergency department in 2017 waited over an hour. About 2.5 percent waited more than two and a half hours.
As many studies have documented, longer wait times can be harmful. For some conditions, a systematic review in 2018 found, longer waits are associated with lower-quality care and adverse health outcomes that include increased mortality. One study found that crowding in the emergency room is associated with a longer wait for antibiotics for pneumonia patients.
“Early antibiotics are critical for a number of common and serious conditions treated in the E.D., including pneumonia,” said Dr. Laura Burke, an emergency physician with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Patients who have delays in antibiotic treatment have higher death rates.”
Another study of nearly 200 California hospitals in 2007 found crowded emergency departments were associated with longer hospital stays, higher costs and a greater chance of death.
This crowding and its adverse consequences are problems in other countries, too. A 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper examined emergency department wait times in England. Beginning in 2004, a policy penalized hospitals if their emergency departments did not complete treatment for the vast majority of patients within four hours, admitting them to the hospital if necessary for subsequent care. Large fines were imposed for failing to meet this target and, in some cases, hospital managers lost their jobs.
The study found that the policy reduced the time a patient spent in the emergency department by 19 minutes, on average, or about 8 percent. It also found a reduction in 30-day mortality of 14 percent and in one-year mortality of 3 percent.
Longer waits can also increase costs, according to a study published last year in Economic Inquiry. A 10-minute-longer wait increases the cost to care for patients with true emergencies by an average of 6 percent. The study took advantage of the fact that emergency department triage nurses make different decisions about how quickly to treat similar patients, which inserts a degree of randomness into their waiting times.
“The longer patients wait, the more their conditions can deteriorate,” said the study author, Lindsey Woodworth, an economist with the University of South Carolina. “Sicker patients cost more to treat.”
A big contributor to crowding, Dr. Burke said, is that some types of patients — in particular those needing behavioral health care — are hard to move out of the emergency department, even when they no longer need to be there. “Many hospitals do not reserve enough beds for behavioral health patients,” she said. “These patients often wait days in the E.D. for definitive care and, by taking up space in the E.D., they delay the E.D. care for other patients.”
Because the bottleneck in this case is the need for more hospital beds for patients with mental health conditions, this is not necessarily a problem that telemedicine can address.
Additionally, many people end up waiting in the emergency department on the advice of other medical providers, though they may not need to. Their problems could be handled elsewhere. Although estimates vary, some studies suggest up to a third of E.D. visits are avoidable.
Although health care coverage has grown since passage of the Affordable Care Act, newly insured people tend not to have a regular source of care like a primary care physician. When health problems arise, those newly insured tend to visit the emergency department, just as they might have before they were covered.
In situations that aren’t true emergencies, urgent care centers or retail clinics may provide faster care. But sometimes the only source of help available in the middle of the night is an emergency room. One study found that when urgent care centers close, emergency room volume increases. It’s worth mentioning that lower-income patients or those without coverage may be unable to afford care at these centers.
Once the pandemic fades, the momentum from telemedicine may continue, with the possibility of making progress on a problem that shouldn’t wait.
Wondering how you can help as a consumer? Here are some ideas.
By Ellen Rosen
In the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, consumers buoyed small businesses with gift card purchases and online fund-raising campaigns. But as the pandemic persisted and restrictions constrained operating hours, many independent businesses continued to struggle.
Throughout the country, owners have creatively come up with strategies to keep businesses afloat, which benefits consumers, proprietors and a neighborhood’s commercial health
“There’s a multiplier effect,” said Bill Brunelle, the managing partner of Independent We Stand, an organization that helps its small-business members nationwide with marketing. “If you buy at a hardware store, that owner may hire a local accountant, while the employees may go to local restaurants and other nearby stores. The success of one business can steamroll through the economy.”
Ande Breunig, a real estate agent in Evanston, Ill., said, “Everyone complains about the lack of retailing, but we can only keep these businesses afloat with our participation.” Ms. Breunig started a Facebook group hoping to motivate residents to increase their support of local shops and services.
So how can consumers contribute to this virtuous cycle, especially during the all-important holiday season? Here are some tips to consider.
Before you reflexively hit “place order” with an e-commerce behemoth, find out whether a local retailer offers the same item. Independent bookstores, for example, can often order and quickly receive your selection. While you can get many things online, “go for a walk, go into a store, keep your mask on and shop,” said Ellen Baer, the president and chief executive of the Hudson Square Business Improvement District, devoted to an area west of SoHo in Manhattan. “Think of the people on the other end of the purchase.”
But shopping locally does not necessarily mean forgoing all online sites. Platforms like Bookshop and Alibris connect users to small booksellers. Clothing boutiques can sell through sites like Shopify, Lyst.com and Farfetch, as well as Sook, a newcomer that also hosts stores selling housewares.
When sending gifts to out-of-town friends and family, look for independent stores in their towns. And don’t assume that an e-commerce site can out-deliver a local business — even online sites have experienced delays because of the pandemic’s supply-chain disruption.
Go to the Source
There are always times when you need delivery. But on other days, think twice about how you order takeout. Rather than using a delivery app, ask for curbside pickup: Sites like Grubhub and Uber Eats charge restaurants fees that can reduce already thin margins. Instacart and Shipt, two companies that offer shopping and delivery, also charge the merchants who use the sites.
And while it is easy to purchase through a so-called digital shop on sites like Facebook and Instagram, shopping through third-party apps typically reduces the net profit for the merchant. (Facebook, which owns Instagram, has waived selling fees through the end of the year but will re-evaluate the practice in January, a Facebook spokeswoman said in an email.)
Help bolster a business’s social media presence by “liking” hardware stores, dry cleaners and other independent shops on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Write positive reviews, post photos generously of purchases, and don’t forget to tag the businesses. And consider slightly broader efforts, like community email lists and social media groups like Nextdoor.
Retailers are savvy when it comes to selling, but many don’t fully understand that social media plays a crucial role, Ms. Breunig said. Through her Facebook group, she started an “adopt a shop” effort, in which residents select a store and commit to shopping there once a week (with no spending minimum) and posting about their experiences on Facebook. Within five days, Ms. Breunig said, 24 Evanston stores were “adopted.”
You can double the effect of philanthropic efforts by involving small businesses whenever possible. Order meals for essential workers from independent restaurants. Shop local when buying for clothing drives. And even if it’s a bit more expensive, purchase from local markets for food drives.
Suzanne Fiske, the director of on-air development for WHYY, the public radio and television stations in Philadelphia, had yet another idea. “Our listeners care about the mom-and-pop shop next door that is having trouble during the pandemic,” she said, so she asked donors on social media platforms to name their favorite local business when they contributed to be read aloud. The station awarded the two with the most votes — Horsham Square Pharmacy in Horsham, Pa., and MYX, a Bryn Mawr, Pa., start-up that creates a custom-blend beverage dispenser — radio advertising worth $3,500. The promotion also motivated listener donations, with more than 700 contributors calling on the day of the small-business challenge, close to three times the typical number, Ms. Fiske added.
Service businesses — including personal trainers and hair salons — have especially been affected by the pandemic since they are among the trickiest to reopen. Gift cards help, but so does generous tipping for the ones that are open.
And remember that small businesses rely on regular customers, even as they try to attract new ones. Like so many others, Symone Johnson, who owns Indulge Hair Salon LLC in Englewood, N.J., was unprepared for a sudden closure in March. She began making videos to help her clients style their own hair without charge and hosted virtual sessions to recreate an online version to allow socializing.
Her clients offered to pay, but she declined, she said. “I didn’t do it for the financial benefit — it kept me busy and I didn’t think of myself.” New clients came after watching the videos, she said, and both they and the pre-existing clientele showed their generosity. “Instead of a 20 percent tip, it became a 50 percent tip,” Ms. Johnson said.
Accept the Rack Rate
Everyone loves a discount, but perhaps now is not the time. If you can afford it, pay full price.
Participate in Community Efforts
While the pandemic has left many feeling isolated, local business organizations are trying to fill the void with socially distanced community programs that can spur economic activity.
The Chamber of Commerce in Wellfleet, Mass., on Cape Cod, for example, is sponsoring a monthlong, online bingo contest in which each square is a “call to action,” including donating to a local nonprofit or taking a virtual class.
Share ideas with local business organizations or municipal governments seeking ways to help. Downtown Phoenix is expanding its traditional holiday market, Phoestivus, to use empty storefronts to showcase the creations of local artisans as well as some retailers’ inventory. Items displayed in the storefronts can be purchased on smartphones using QR codes or other forms of touch-free payment.
“It’s a way to bring a community out,” said Samantha Jackson, the senior director of strategy and community affairs at the nonprofit Downtown Phoenix Inc. “There are people who don’t come downtown who stick to their neighborhoods who are surprised at how nice it is.”
Offer Your Skills
If you’re an accountant, a lawyer, a banker, or a digital marketing specialist, to name just a few, local businesses may welcome your help. Kimberly Pardiwala, for example, who most recently led a business that arranged group sales for Broadway shows, grew concerned that restaurants would again suffer with the onset of cold weather. The Larchmont, N.Y., resident approached David Masliah, the owner of the town’s popular Encore Bistro to order prix fixe dinners regularly for her neighborhood association. “We are all so separate now, so it’s important to restore our community,” she said.
Proprietors are under enormous, sometimes existential, pressure right now, so share emotional support when you can. Ask retailers how they are holding up and inquire about employees who may now be unemployed.
Tributes have poured in after a loving grandmother became the third worker at an autism charity to die from coronavirus.
Tracey Donnelly, 53, died in hospital in Sunderland, the North East Autism Society said.
Her death follows those of Sue Gargett, 53, and 66-year-old Margaret Blyth – but the charity said there was no evidence of them contracting the disease at work.
Tracey was a much loved mum and grandma whose death has “ripped the heart” out of the team, her widow said.
Her grieving husband, George, described his late wife as an “extra special person in every way”, Chronicle Live reported.
He said: “I loved her the first time I saw her, and I always will.”
Tracey joined the NEAS five years ago and was the care manager of several residential homes across Sunderland.
George, said: “She was so proud to be part of the North East Autism Society, working alongside a fantastic team, and caring so much for the service-users. All she ever wanted was the best for them.”
“The one bit of comfort I’ve been able to draw is the number of private messages I’ve had from her colleagues, along with a letter from the parent of one of the service-users. That shows what she meant to everyone.”
Chief executive John Phillipson said there was "shock and sadness" at Mrs Donnelly's death.
UK secures 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine that is up to 90% effective
Paying tribute to his former colleague, he said: "There is genuine shock and sadness across the society at this bitter loss. Tracey was dedicated, very popular, well respected, and will be greatly missed by us all.”
The charity, which has 850 staff, has been hit especially hard by the pandemic with three members of staff now dying having tested positive for the disease.
However, there is no evidence that any of them were infected while carrying out their duties.
Tracey leaves behind four sons – Steve, Christopher, Ben and Jack. She also had three step-children – Hayley, Jonathan, and Emma – and eight grandchildren.
At least 199 health and care workers have died due to coronavirus, according to estimations.
Yesterday England’s death count rose by another 398 yesterday, bringing the grim total to 55,025.
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Coronavirus has swept across the world infecting more than 59 million people worldwide. In Europe, there have been more than 15.6m cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began with France reporting the highest number of cases followed by Russia, Spain and the UK. Express.co.uk explores how France, Germany and Spain are dealing with the covid crisis.
France has confirmed the four highest number of cases in the world.
As of November 23, there have been 2,140,208 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.
In France, there have been 48,732 covid deaths.
The region of Ile-de-France has the highest number of cases, with 632,273 cases as of November 23.
French President Emmanuel Macron will announce a three-step plan on Tuesday which will include some light easing of the current lockdown restrictions ahead of Christmas, including the reopening of non-essential retail.
The French Government on Friday suggested it was ready to reopen shops in time for the crucial Christmas shopping period.
New data in the country suggesting the country is past the worst of its second wave encouraged officials to take this move.
France is currently in lockdown, which is due to end on December 1.
However, the Government has repeatedly claimed the lockdown may be extended if necessary.
The Government added it will continue to review the measures in effect in the country on a fortnightly basis and make any necessary changes as required.
Officials have yet to make a decision about Christmas, including whether trains will offer a fuller service over the holiday period.
Germany has the 13th highest number of coronavirus cases in the world at more than 930,000.
Currently, there are 933,325 coronavirus cases and 14,365 deaths.
The highest number of cases were in Nordrhein-Westfalen where 234,395 cases in total.
So far there have been 618,743 recoveries from the virus, with 300,317 active cases.
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Germany altered its testing criteria ahead of winter changing its recommendations for who should be tested from November 11.
Previously anyone with COVID-19 symptoms could be tested, but now there is a special focus on people with more pronounced coronavirus symptoms.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet with Germany’s 16 state leaders on Wednesday, November 25, to decide the fate of the nation’s “lockdown lite”.
This “lockdown lite” includes shops remaining open and gatherings between two households permitted.
A draft proposal shows current restrictions will be extended until at least December 20, which means Christmas markets will likely remain closed.
Several senior Government officials are calling for an extension of these restrictions for this period.
Since the start of the pandemic, Spain has confirmed 1,556,730 cases of covid, meaning Spain has had the sixth-highest number of cases in the world.
In total, the country has recorded 42,619 deaths during the pandemic.
The country has recorded less than 400 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days.
This is a radical decrease compared to almost 530 cases at the beginning of November.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday announced the country will have vaccinated a large part of its 47 million population against coronavirus by mid-2021.
Last month the country implemented a state of emergency enabling regional Governments to impose virus restrictions such as nighttime curfew and limitations on inter-regional travel.
Health Minister Salvador Illa will meet with regional health experts on Wednesday to discuss plans for restrictions over the Christmas period.
Some regions of Spain have already eased their lockdown restrictions, with bars and restaurants reopening today in Catalonia, but the nation remains in a state of emergency and overnight curfews are still in force.
In terms of Christmas, choices regarding the festive season will be in the control of Spain’s autonomous regions to decide.
Mr Illa has, however, made it clear that caution will be required as infection rates remain stubbornly high.
The offense involved one man, one piece of cardboard and one smiley face.
On Monday, Jolovan Wham, a civil rights activist, was charged at a court in Singapore with illegal public assembly for holding up a cardboard sign with a smiley face on it near a police station in March. It was a protest of one person. He had, he admitted, drawn the smiley face himself.
Averse to potential threats to its stable, orderly state, Singapore is bound by strict rules on civil liberties, such as freedom of speech and assembly. Public protest without a permit is allowed in just one spot in the city-state, and only after completing a registration process. The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, which was enacted last year, polices activity online.
Mr. Wham said he had held up the smiley face sign in support of two young activists who had been investigated for holding up signs calling for Singapore to fight climate change by reducing the city-state’s dependence on oil.
“You would think that the Singaporean authorities would be smart enough to not take on such a ridiculous case that will make them a laughingstock around the world, but they are blinded by their command and control mind-set that prefers maximum response to the slightest provocation,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.
Mr. Wham, who wore a smiley face shirt and face mask as he traveled to his court hearing on Monday, was also charged with contravening the Public Order Act for an incident in 2018 when he held up a typed message on a piece of paper outside the former State Courts building. The message called for defamation charges to be dropped against an online media editor and writer who had accused high-ranking government officials of corruption.
In both cases, Mr. Wham said he lingered for barely “more than several seconds,” just enough time for photographs to be taken and posted on social media. If found guilty, he could be fined up to $3,725 for each infraction.
“The Public Order Act was purportedly enacted to preserve public order and the safety of individuals, both of which were not compromised when I took the photos and uploaded them on social media,” Mr. Wham said. “The charges demonstrate that our laws have the potential to be applied in ridiculous and overbearing ways.”
Public protest without a permit in Singapore is confined to one location, a spot in a park called the Speakers’ Corner. In a statement released on Friday, the police said that “the Speakers’ Corner is the proper avenue for Singaporeans to express their views on issues that concern them, and to allow Singaporeans to conduct assemblies without the need for a permit, subject to certain conditions being met.”
With coronavirus restrictions in place, the Speakers’ Corner is currently not in use.
Mr. Wham, who has worked as a social worker, has also lobbied for migrant worker rights in Singapore. While the city-state has kept its coronavirus death toll below 30 people, the virus spread quickly in crowded dormitories for foreign manual laborers.
Earlier this year, Mr. Wham was jailed twice. In August, he served 10 days in prison for violating the Public Order Act by organizing a conference in which Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong democracy activist, participated by video conferencing. (On Monday, in a separate case, Mr. Wong pleaded guilty to unauthorized assembly in Hong Kong.)
Upholding Mr. Wham’s conviction in that case and dismissing a constitutional challenge to the Public Order Act, the Court of Appeals said that “it is, unfortunately, an inescapable fact of modern life that national politics anywhere are often the target of interference by foreign entities or individuals who are promoting their own agendas.”
And in March, Mr. Wham spent a week in prison for contempt of court, after having unfavorably compared the judiciary in Singapore with that of neighboring Malaysia.
Shortly before his first stint in prison this year, Mr. Wham posted a message on social media.
“It should never be an offense to speak your truth,” he wrote. “If we can’t speak up, assemble freely, and campaign without looking over our shoulders, the reforms we want can only be done on the terms of those in power.”
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Staff
(Reuters) – European shares jumped on Monday as encouraging developments around a coronavirus vaccine spurred bets of a faster economic revival globally, even as a surge in infection rates clouded near-term outlook.
AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine, developed along with the University of Oxford, could be around 90% effective under one dosing regimen. However, its shares dropped 1%.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.5% by 0810 GMT and hit a fresh high since late February, with energy and banks leading early gains.
The benchmark index clocked a third straight week of gains on Friday following recent COVID-19 vaccine breakthroughs.
Euro zone and UK business activity data for November are due later in the day, with investors looking to gauge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the manufacturing and services sectors.
In company news, French bank Credit Agricole jumped 3.9% after its Italian unit launched an offer to buy Italian bank Credito Valtellinese (Creval).
CALIFORNIA (NYTIMES) – Two people were stabbed to death and others injured Sunday (Nov 22) night at a church in San Jose, California.
There were “multiple stabbing victims”, the police said in a post on Twitter. No services were being held at the time of the attack at Grace Baptist Church, and they added that “unhoused individuals” had been brought to the church out of the cold.
The church is near the campus of San Jose State University, according to local news reports.
Mayor Sam Liccardo initially said on Twitter, before deleting the post: “Our hearts go out to the families of the two community members who have succumbed to stabbing wounds in the attack at Grace Baptist Church downtown tonight. SJPD has arrested the suspect.
“Others are seriously wounded, & we keep them in our prayers.”
He later tweeted that a statement would be coming shortly and police said they had made no arrests. No further information on a motive or a suspect was immediately available.
San Jose, a city of a little more than 1 million people, is in Silicon Valley, a major tech hub in the Bay Area of California.