Tag Archives: Health / Medicine

Italy is considering extending the COVID-19 state of emergency until January 31, media say | Instant News

FILE PHOTOS: People walking beside a test site at Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, September 23, 2020. REUTERS / Remo Casilli / File Photo

ROME (Reuters) – Italy is considering extending to January 31 next year its state of emergency over the COVID-19 crisis, two national newspapers said on Thursday.

The state of emergency, which expires in mid-October, gives the government greater powers, allowing officials to more easily bypass the bureaucracy that hinders many decision-making in Italy.

Dailies Il Messagero and Corriere della Sera said a cabinet meeting discussed the issue on Wednesday night.

“It’s not official yet … while at first (the government) talked about pushing it back to December 31, as long as the (government) meeting was considered to be beyond the end of the year, given that cohabitation with the virus was destined to last a long time,” said Il Messaggero.

Reporting by Maria Pia Quaglia; Written by Giulia Segreti; Edited by Clarence Fernandez


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No Australian, Pacific team in the New Zealand Super Rugby competition in 2021 | Instant News

FILE PHOTOS: Rugby Union – Super Rugby Final – Crusaders vs Lions – AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand – 4 August 2018 – David Havili of the Canterbury Crusaders scores an attempt when he is tackled by Ruan Combrinck of the South African Lions. REUTERS / Stringer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand will repeat the domestic Aotearoa Super Rugby competition in 2021, without involving any Australian or Pacific Island teams, the head of the national governing body said on Thursday.

New Zealand founded Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2020 for five of its professional franchises after the wider Super Rugby championship was abandoned due to COVID-19.

The Governing Body of New Zealand Rugby hopes to include teams from the Pacific islands for next year’s tournament and is inviting expressions of interest from Australia.

However, chairman Brett Impey said the pandemic had canceled those plans.

“COVID has forced us to think domestically for the next year,” Impey told reporters via video call.

“Given the success of Aotearoa’s Super Rugby, it has become very easy for us to do the same in 2021.”

The NZR’s decision means Australia is also expected to repeat the domestic AU Super Rugby competition in 2021.

Impey said he hopes Super Rugby Aotearoa can be expanded by up to three additional teams by 2022.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Written by Ian Ransom; Edited by Clarence Fernandez and Tomasz Janowski


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EXCLUSIVE-Brazil’s public sector is hit by lawsuits for labor violations COVID-19 | Instant News

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Dozens of local authorities and state-owned companies in Brazil face lawsuits accused of failing to protect workers including doctors and nurses from COVID-19, data obtained exclusively by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. reveal.

Labor prosecutors filed 69 lawsuits against city governments and state-controlled companies such as Banco do Brasil SA in the first half of this year for reported labor abuses due to the coronavirus such as not providing workers with protective equipment.

Local governments and other public sector bodies were the target of 30% of the 230 labor lawsuits related to the pandemic – more than any private sector industry except transportation – according to data obtained through the Access to Information Act.

The data has raised concerns about a lack of oversight by some of Brazil’s major companies as well as local authorities largely responsible for running the public health system in a country with the second highest COVID-19 mortality rate in the world.

Brazil has recorded more than 4.7 million cases since the pandemic began, with at least 143,000 deaths.

“(The government’s) actions are not only chaotic, but also disastrous. And they have to take responsibility for this, ”said Joao Domingos, head of the Brazilian Civil Service Confederation (CSPB).

“(The city government) is less sensitive so we need to take them to court for basics like maintaining the health of their employees,” added Domingos, whose organization represents more than 1,000 public trade unions.

Brazil’s labor secretariat – which is in the economy ministry – said it was not in charge of the public sector and referred inquiries to the secretariat for performance management and personnel. The division did not reply for comment.

Some 7,500 complaints about workplace abuses were filed against public bodies in the first eight months of this year – up from 7,200 for all of 2019 – labor prosecution data show. It is not known how many complaints have been linked to the pandemic.

“A large number of lawsuits stem from the fact that state entities consistently fail (to protect workers)”, said Ileana Neiva, head of Conap, the prosecutor’s division responsible for dealing with labor abuses in the public sector.

Labor prosecutors tend to agree and agree not to take further action if the employer addresses the issues raised, but if a case reaches court, the judge can sentence and fine the employer.

In addition, a labor judge can refer the case to an ordinary prosecutor who can then initiate a criminal investigation.

A total of 1,652 lawsuits were filed by labor prosecutors in the first half of 2020, so around 14% were related to COVID-19.


Some 30 municipalities have been prosecuted, most of them accused of failing to provide adequate protective equipment for health workers after COVID-19 hit Brazil in March, according to the data.

In some cases, public hospitals provide equipment rations among staff, while in other situations sub-standard face masks are provided, according to Conap’s Neiva.

An anesthetist in Belem – the capital of the northern state of Para and one of the governments facing lawsuits – said he had to buy his own face mask and ended up falling ill with COVID-19.

“I paid a heavy price, but I survived,” said Wilson Machado, 65. He works at the Mario Pinotti hospital where staff protested in April about a lack of protective gear.

At least 59 health workers in Belem have died from COVID-19 to date, according to local government data.

A lawsuit against Belem was filed on April 16 and the following day a judge issued an order ordering the city to supply medical equipment to staff until a final decision was reached.

In July, the Belem administration provided documents to the court to show they complied with the order, but prosecutors said the filing actually proved shortcomings were still ongoing.

“This is a demonstration of how … the state is behaving in terms of health care,” said prosecutor Rejane Alves, referring not only to Para but also to local government responses across Brazil.

Public hospitals have been understaffed and underfunded due to years of economic hardship, prosecutors said.

“The issue predates the pandemic, (which has) only clarified the true scenario, for both the population and health professionals,” said Alves, who is handling the ongoing lawsuit.

Responding to inquiries from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Belem administration denied failing to provide equipment, saying it had proven it was supplying medical facilities on a weekly basis.


At least eight state-owned companies have also been sued – from Banco do Brasil to Sao Paulo-based railway company CPTM.

Banco do Brasil was sued in May and accused of not giving face masks to security guards in Rio de Janeiro.

The bank denies the claim, and says it is appealing an order ordering him to provide a mask.

CPTM was sued by prosecutors in April on the grounds of not providing protective gear and asking staff who said they felt ill to show doctors notes if they did not show up for work.

“We were made to work because we were essential workers,” said Eluiz Alves, president of the railway workers’ union in Sao Paulo.

The union said at least four CPTM employees had died from COVID-19 to date.

Earlier this month, CPTM was ordered by a judge to allow its staff to skip work if sick without a doctor’s note but was exempted from failing to provide protective gear. The company said it would appeal the court’s ruling on the doctor’s letter.

Prosecutor Marcelo Freire said he considered the lawsuit successful because working conditions at the company had improved. He is now focused on several other cases related to the pandemic, some involving public bodies and state-owned companies.

“I have a lot of coronavirus in my folder. Lots of them.” (Reported by Fabio Teixeira @ffctt; Edited by Kieran Guilbert and Belinda Goldsmith. Please pay tribute to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charity, covering the lives of people around the world who struggle to live free or fair. news.trust.org)


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Lonza believes that the 2020 target is for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine supply | Instant News

VISP, Switzerland (Reuters) – Lonza is confident that the US and Swiss plants he is building to help COVID-19 vaccine candidate Moderna are ready for commercial production this year, executives at the Swiss company said on Tuesday.

A logo is drawn on the Ibex building in Lonza, where the Moderna mRNA coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine will be produced, in Visp, Switzerland, September 29, 2020. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse

The new production line at the Lonza site in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, aims to start making vaccine ingredients in November, while three production lines at Visp, deep in the valley in the Swiss Alps – to supply 300 million doses of vaccine per year – should begin shipping in December.

No vaccine for COVID-19 has yet been approved, but several are in advanced trials, including from Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, whose candidates rely on previously never approved technology to enlarge human cells to help trigger an immune response.

Torsten Schmidt, who heads the Visp Lonza facility, where the $ 210 million Moderna production line has been around 50% complete, said he had secured the equipment needed to avoid a last-minute setback.

“The delivery of the equipment is very important,” Schmidt said in an interview. “You usually wait 12 months, you’re talking about 4-5 months here. In the end, the CEO has spoken with the supplier CEO, to deliver equipment. “

Lonza, whose share is up 60% this year, has a 10-year contract to supply materials to Moderna, including up to 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine annually.

The ingredients include synthetic versions of messenger RNA (mRNA), the genetic material, packaged in tiny fat droplets called nanolipids, to instruct human cells to make a form of viral spike protein that doesn’t replicate and triggers an immune response in the body. .

They will be frozen at -70 degrees Celsius, then shipped from Visp to Laboratorios Farmacéuticos Rovi SA Spain to be “filled and finished,” the final stage of manufacture.

STILL Hiring

Lonza still employs about the 200 workers needed to operate the Moderna production line in Visp, which is located where the Alps lead to the nearby ski town of Zermatt, near the famous Matterhorn, and Saas Fe.

Overall, Lonza expects to have around 4,000 workers at Visp by January, from 3,500 now, following a recruitment driven by drug manufacturing for other customers, as well as Moderna. They include Roche, Sanofi and Humanigen California, who are partnering on other COVID-19 projects.

However prepared Lonza is, exactly when a Moderna vaccine becomes available depends on the trials and regulators. The US company says about 20 million doses must be ready by the end of the year.

Lonza pharmaceuticals unit revenue has seen a double-digit percentage increase, prompting the Basel-based company earlier this year to seek to abandon its $ 1.8 billion-a-year specialty chemicals business after sales of products, such as animal feed supplements and resins. stagnant.

Talks with potential buyers are ongoing, said Renzo Cicillini, head of the Visp Lonza website.


In Visp, two hours by train from Zurich and Milan, Italy, about 8,000 residents are accustomed to Lonza taking a behind-the-scenes role in making medicine for a more well-known company, said the city’s mayor, Niklaus Furger.

But the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 1 million people and wreaked havoc on the global economy, has made Visp’s people hope for success that will put him on the map.

“The idea that a vaccine might be produced in Visp by which we can fight the pandemic would be very good,” Furger told Reuters at Visp city hall. “To be sure, the world’s attention will be on Visp with Lonza, something we will admit to be a little proud of.”

Reporting by John Miller; editing by Barbara Lewis


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Brazil reported 32,058 cases of the new coronavirus, 863 deaths | Instant News

FILE PHOTO: Doctor Luciana Haddad poses near graffiti created to honor health workers during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the das Clinicas Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 18, 2020. REUTERS / Amanda Perobelli

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil recorded an additional 32,058 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 863 deaths from the disease, the Health Ministry said Tuesday.

Brazil has registered more than 4.7 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 142,921, according to ministry data.

Reporting by Jake Spring; Edited by Leslie Adler


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