Tag Archives: infectious diseases

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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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.

RESPECT FOR HEALTH WORKERS

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.

FROM BANKS TO RAILWAYS

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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German Merkel maintains government record during pandemic | World | Instant News


BERLIN (AP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday maintained her government record during the coronavirus pandemic, telling lawmakers that the country is faring well compared to many other nations.

The right-wing alternative to Germany, the biggest opposition party, accused Merkel during a budget debate in Parliament of using the crisis as an excuse to spend taxpayers’ money and promote what she described as “corona socialism.”

Merkel dismissed the accusations, noting that despite crafting an unprecedented stimulus package and violating previous lending rules, Germany continues to have the lowest public debt ratio of all countries in the G7 industrialized economies.

Germany, like many of its European neighbors, has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Official figures released Wednesday showed 1,798 new cases nationwide in the past 24 hours, taking the total since the start of the outbreak to 289,219. Germany also has nearly 9,500 confirmed virus-related deaths, that’s a quarter of that number in Britain or Italy.

The longtime leader, who said he would not run for a fifth term next year, said it was right to invest recovery funds into forward-looking technologies and industries that will help tackle climate change and a future-resilient economy.

Before concluding her speech, Merkel turned to the public directly, urging people to follow the rules put in place to limit the spread of the virus.

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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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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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