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Selasa, 31 Maret 2020

Coronavirus - fears that Russia's President Putin has been exposed to infection - BBC News - BBC News

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  1. Coronavirus - fears that Russia's President Putin has been exposed to infection - BBC News  BBC News
  2. Oil gains nearly 2%, but posts worst month and quarter on record  CNBC
  3. Russian doctor who met Putin last week diagnosed with coronavirus  Reuters
  4. Trump and Putin Are All Talk on Oil Price Plunge  Bloomberg
  5. Coronavirus: Moscow goes into lockdown - BBC News  BBC News
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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2020-03-31 21:57:39Z
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Navy scrambles to aid aircraft carrier as more than 100 sailors test positive for coronavirus - POLITICO

The Navy is racing to find solutions to the deteriorating situation aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as more than 100 sailors test positive for the coronavirus, the head of the service said Tuesday.

During an appearance in CNN, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly responded to a letter written Sunday by Capt. Brett Crozier, the carrier's commanding officer, asking senior commanders for help as the ship goes through the painstaking process of testing all 5,000 crew members while it is sidelined in Guam.

Most of the crew is still aboard the ship, where tight spaces make social distancing impossible. In the letter, reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Crozier wrote that the “spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating” as the ship is docked in Guam.

“We are not at war,” the captain wrote. “Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.” A senior officer aboard the carrier separately told the newspaper that 150 to 200 sailors had tested positive.

The outbreak comes as the Pentagon takes drastic steps to stop the spread of the disease, including freezing the movement of troops worldwide, canceling exercises and halting the entrance of recruits for boot camp at some facilities.

Modly told CNN today that he has “been aware of [the carrier situation] for about 24 hours” and has been trying to get sailors off the ship for several days, but is having problems finding available space for the sailors to quarantine in Guam.

"The problem is that Guam doesn't have enough beds right now, so we're having to talk to the government there to see if we can get some hotel space, create some tent-type facilities there," he said.

Modly added that Navy leaders "don’t disagree with the CO on that ship and we’re [handling the situation] in a very methodical way because it's not the same as a cruise ship. I mean that ship has armaments on it, it has aircraft on it. We have to be able to fight fires if there are fires onboard the ship. We have to run a nuclear power plant."

Modly said the service could initially test only 200 people a day aboard the ship, but is ramping that up quickly.

"The key is to make sure that we can get a set of crew members that can all man those critical functions on the ship and make sure they are clean and get them back on while we clean the ship and get the other crew members off."

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2020-03-31 19:24:41Z
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Wild goats take over Welsh town amid coronavirus lockdown - CNN

It comes just days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced tighter restrictions around social movement last week in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Residents spotted herds of goats strolling around Llandudno on Friday and over the weekend, after more than a dozen of the animals ventured down from the Great Orme headland and roamed the streets of the coastal town.
Llandundo resident Carl Triggs pictured the wild goats on the street.
Videos and pictures shared online show the goats grazing on grass from church grounds, flower beds, and residential properties.
They are referred to as Great Orme Kashmiri goats, whose ancestors originated from northern India, according to the town's official website.
Town resident, Carl Triggs, was returning home after delivering personal protective equipment masks when he saw the goats.
"The goats live on the hill overlooking the town. They stay up there, very rarely venturing into the street," he told CNN.
The goats were roaming the street in front of Carl Triggs' car.
Resident Joanna Stallard spotted the goats in her garden and said they were a regular occurrence.
Mark Richards, from hotel Lansdowne House, told CNN: "They sometimes come to the foot of the Great Orme in March but this year they are all wandering the streets in town as there are no cars or people."
"They are becoming more and more confident with no people," he said, adding that it saves him cutting the hedge.
The Kashmiri goats walked around residential homes.
But local councilor Penny Andow told CNN she has lived in the area for 33 years and has never seen the goats venture from the Great Orme down into the town.
North Wales Police confirmed that they received a call on Saturday about the wild goats.
However, the force said it was "not that unusual in Llandudno."
"We are not aware of officers attending to them as they usually make their own way back," the police said in a statement sent to CNN.

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2020-03-31 20:24:57Z
52780700133499

Wild goats take over Welsh town amid coronavirus lockdown - CNN

It comes just days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced tighter restrictions around social movement last week in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Residents spotted herds of goats strolling around Llandudno on Friday and over the weekend, after more than a dozen of the animals ventured down from the Great Orme headland and roamed the streets of the coastal town.
Llandundo resident Carl Triggs pictured the wild goats on the street.
Videos and pictures shared online show the goats grazing on grass from church grounds, flower beds, and residential properties.
They are referred to as Great Orme Kashmiri goats, whose ancestors originated from northern India, according to the town's official website.
Town resident, Carl Triggs, was returning home after delivering personal protective equipment masks when he saw the goats.
"The goats live on the hill overlooking the town. They stay up there, very rarely venturing into the street," he told CNN.
The goats were roaming the street in front of Carl Triggs' car.
Resident Joanna Stallard spotted the goats in her garden and said they were a regular occurrence.
Mark Richards, from hotel Lansdowne House, told CNN: "They sometimes come to the foot of the Great Orme in March but this year they are all wandering the streets in town as there are no cars or people."
"They are becoming more and more confident with no people," he said, adding that it saves him cutting the hedge.
The Kashmiri goats walked around residential homes.
But local councilor Penny Andow told CNN she has lived in the area for 33 years and has never seen the goats venture from the Great Orme down into the town.
North Wales Police confirmed that they received a call on Saturday about the wild goats.
However, the force said it was "not that unusual in Llandudno."
"We are not aware of officers attending to them as they usually make their own way back," the police said in a statement sent to CNN.

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2020-03-31 19:12:59Z
52780700133499

Wild goats take over Welsh town amid coronavirus lockdown - CNN

It comes just days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced tighter restrictions around social movement last week in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Residents spotted herds of goats strolling around Llandudno on Friday and over the weekend, after more than a dozen of the animals ventured down from the Great Orme headland and roamed the streets of the coastal town.
Llandundo resident Carl Triggs pictured the wild goats on the street.
Videos and pictures shared online show the goats grazing on grass from church grounds, flower beds, and residential properties.
They are referred to as Great Orme Kashmiri goats, whose ancestors originated from northern India, according to the town's official website.
Town resident, Carl Triggs, was returning home after delivering personal protective equipment masks when he saw the goats.
"The goats live on the hill overlooking the town. They stay up there, very rarely venturing into the street," he told CNN.
The goats were roaming the street in front of Carl Triggs' car.
Resident Joanna Stallard spotted the goats in her garden and said they were a regular occurrence.
Mark Richards, from hotel Lansdowne House, told CNN: "They sometimes come to the foot of the Great Orme in March but this year they are all wandering the streets in town as there are no cars or people."
"They are becoming more and more confident with no people," he said, adding that it saves him cutting the hedge.
The Kashmiri goats walked around residential homes.
But local councilor Penny Andow told CNN she has lived in the area for 33 years and has never seen the goats venture from the Great Orme down into the town.
North Wales Police confirmed that they received a call on Saturday about the wild goats.
However, the force said it was "not that unusual in Llandudno."
"We are not aware of officers attending to them as they usually make their own way back," the police said in a statement sent to CNN.

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2020-03-31 17:25:05Z
52780700133499

Belarus' president dismisses coronavirus risk, encourages citizens to drink vodka and visit saunas - CNBC

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko talks during a Russian-Belarusian talks on February 15, 2019 in Sochi, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

As countries around the world effectively shut down to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, the authoritarian president of Belarus is urging citizens to drink vodka, go to saunas and return to work.

A global health crisis has prompted governments worldwide to impose draconian measures on the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people.

The restrictions range from so-called lockdowns and school closures to strict regulations on social distancing and public gatherings.

Yet in the Eastern European country of Belarus, borders remain open, and President Alexander Lukashenko remains unmoved by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lukashenko has refused to implement a lockdown in the country of roughly 9.5 million people, reportedly suggesting that others have done so as an act of "frenzy and psychosis," according to Sky News.

As of Tuesday, more than 801,000 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded worldwide, with 38,743 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

In Belarus — a country that borders Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Ukraine — 152 people have contracted COVID-19 infections, with no deaths.

'A complete outlier'

In an interview published Sunday in The Times newspaper in London, Lukashenko encouraged citizens to drink vodka (unless working) and visit the sauna at least twice a week to stay healthy.

The World Health Organization has warned that drinking alcohol does not prevent people from contracting COVID-19, adding it should always be consumed in moderation.

"Belarus is definitely a complete outlier," Matthias Karabaczek, Europe analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNBC via telephone on Tuesday.

Karabaczek said Lukashenko was taking a big risk by "refusing to accept the new reality of the coronavirus pandemic," warning that the economic impact of the health crisis was already "looking pretty grim for a relatively poor country."

He suggested the Belarusian president, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, was attempting to portray himself as a "strongman" leader ahead of presidential elections in August.

Sports leagues in the country have carried on as normal, with the 65-year-old Lukashenko himself taking part in an ice hockey match on Sunday.

Karabaczek said Lukashenko's participation in the game was an attempt to show the public that they were "all in this together," pointing out that Russian President Vladimir Putin has also previously taken part in ice hockey exhibition matches.

Belarus isn't the only country avoiding lockdowns. Sweden is allowing its citizens to adopt voluntary, softer measures to delay the spread of the virus. It has had 4,435 cases and 180 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data on Tuesday.

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2020-03-31 15:51:42Z
52780700610665

Royal no more: Harry and Meghan start uncertain new chapter - The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry and his wife Meghan officially make the transition Tuesday from senior members of Britain’s royal family to — well, it’s unclear. International celebrities, charity patrons, global influencers?

The royal schism that the couple triggered in January by announcing that they would step down from official duties, give up public funding, seek financial independence and swap the U.K. for North America becomes official on March 31.

The move has been made more complicated and poignant by the global coronavirus pandemic, which finds the couple and their 10-month-old son Archie in California, far from Harry’s father Prince Charles — who is recovering after testing positive for COVID-19 — and Harry’s 93-year-old grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

“As we can all feel, the world at this moment seems extraordinarily fragile,” the couple said in a final post Monday on their now-mothballed SussexRoyal Instagram account.

Top stories on the virus outbreak

“What’s most important right now is the health and well-being of everyone across the globe and finding solutions for the many issues that have presented themselves as a result of this pandemic,” they added. “As we all find the part we are to play in this global shift and changing of habits, we are focusing this new chapter to understand how we can best contribute.”

It is less than two years since ex-soldier Harry, who is sixth in line to the British throne, married American actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in a lavish ceremony watched by millions around the world.

Soon the couple began to bristle at intense scrutiny by the British media — which they said tipped into harassment. They decided to break free, in what Harry called a “leap of faith” as he sought a more peaceful life, without the journalists who have filmed, photographed and written about him since the day he was born.

Harry has long had an uncomfortable relationship with the media, which he blames for the death of his mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.

Harry’s unhappiness increased after he began dating Markle, then the star of TV legal drama “Suits.” In 2016 he accused the media of harassing his then-girlfriend, and criticized “racial undertones” in some coverage of the biracial Markle.

It’s clear that Meghan’s upbeat Californian style — embodied in the glossy images and life-affirming messages of the couple’s Instagram account — rankled with sections of Britain’s tabloid press, which is both insatiable for royal content and fiercely judgmental of the family members.

The couple — who are keeping their titles, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but will no longer be called Their Royal Highnesses — had hoped to keep using the Sussex Royal brand in their new life. But last month they announced they wouldn’t seek to trademark the term because of U.K. rules governing use of the word “royal.”

The couple plans to launch a non-profit organization for their charitable activities in areas including youth empowerment, mental health, conservation, gender equality and education. Harry will also continue to oversee the Invictus Games, the Olympics-style competition he founded for wounded troops.

Meghan has been announced as the narrator of “Elephant,” a Disney nature documentary.

But for now, the couple’s office said they want the world to focus “on the global response to COVID-19.”

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend the next few months focusing on their family and continuing to do what they can, safely and privately, to support and work with their pre-existing charitable commitments while developing their future non-profit organisation,” the couple’s office said in a statement.

The newly independent Harry and Meghan will also need to earn money to help pay for a multi-million dollar security bill.

As senior royals, they have had bodyguards funded by British taxpayers. Since late last year, Harry and Meghan have since been based on Canada’s Vancouver Island, where security was provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Canadian authorities warned last month that would end once the couple ceased to be working royals.

The duke and duchess recently moved to the Los Angeles area, where Meghan grew up and where her mother still lives. The news led President Donald Trump to tweet on Sunday: “the U.S. will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!”

Harry and Meghan’s office said “security costs are being personally covered by the couple.”

Some royal historians warned that Harry and Meghan could struggle to find a fulfilling role. Comparisons have been drawn to King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 to marry divorced American Wallis Simpson. The couple lived the rest of their lives in luxurious but lonely self-imposed exile from Britain.

Royal historian Penny Junor said U.K.-based royals were helping boost the nation’s morale during the coronavirus pandemic. The queen has issued a message to the nation, while Harry’s brother Prince William and his children joined in a public round of applause for health care workers.

“All of this is absolutely what the family is about, and those members of the royal family that are on a limb now are pretty irrelevant,” Junor said.

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2020-03-31 15:13:27Z
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Belarus' president dismisses coronavirus risk, encourages citizens to drink vodka and visit saunas - CNBC

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko talks during a Russian-Belarusian talks on February 15, 2019 in Sochi, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

As countries around the world effectively shut down to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, the authoritarian president of Belarus is urging citizens to drink vodka, go to saunas and return to work.

A global health crisis has prompted governments worldwide to impose draconian measures on the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people.

The restrictions range from so-called lockdowns and school closures to strict regulations on social distancing and public gatherings.

Yet in the Eastern European country of Belarus, borders remain open, and President Alexander Lukashenko remains unmoved by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lukashenko has refused to implement a lockdown in the country of roughly 9.5 million people, reportedly suggesting that others have done so as an act of "frenzy and psychosis," according to Sky News.

As of Tuesday, more than 801,000 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded worldwide, with 38,743 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

In Belarus — a country that borders Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Ukraine — 152 people have contracted COVID-19 infections, with no deaths.

'A complete outlier'

In an interview published Sunday in The Times newspaper in London, Lukashenko encouraged citizens to drink vodka (unless working) and visit the sauna at least twice a week to stay healthy.

The World Health Organization has warned that drinking alcohol does not prevent people from contracting COVID-19, adding it should always be consumed in moderation.

"Belarus is definitely a complete outlier," Matthias Karabaczek, Europe analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNBC via telephone on Tuesday.

Karabaczek said Lukashenko was taking a big risk by "refusing to accept the new reality of the coronavirus pandemic," warning that the economic impact of the health crisis was already "looking pretty grim for a relatively poor country."

He suggested the Belarusian president, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, was attempting to portray himself as a "strongman" leader ahead of presidential elections in August.

Sports leagues in the country have carried on as normal, with the 65-year-old Lukashenko himself taking part in an ice hockey match on Sunday.

Karabaczek said Lukashenko's participation in the game was an attempt to show the public that they were "all in this together," pointing out that Russian President Vladimir Putin has also previously taken part in ice hockey exhibition matches.

Belarus isn't the only country avoiding lockdowns. Sweden is allowing its citizens to adopt voluntary, softer measures to delay the spread of the virus. It has had 4,435 cases and 180 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data on Tuesday.

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2020-03-31 14:59:47Z
52780700610665

Harry and Meghan bid farewell on last day as British royals - NBC News

LONDON — Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, came to the end of their roles as working British royals Tuesday, bidding farewell to fans on their official Instagram account, adding that "while you may not see us here, the work continues."

The couple stunned the public in January, when they announced they intended to "step back" from the royal family, divide their time between the United Kingdom and North America, and start paying their own bills.

"Thank you to this community — for the support, the inspiration and the shared commitment to the good in the world. We look forward to reconnecting with you soon. You’ve been great!" the couple wrote online.

Earlier this month, the pair returned to the United Kingdom from their base on Vancouver Island, Canada, for their final engagements as senior royals. Surrounded by Harry's immediate family, it marked the end of the couple's short era, which saw them go from being embraced to being rejected by some parts of the British media and public.

According to supporters, they were driven out by toxic press coverage, which often veered into racist harassment and bullying, while others say the couple were hardly the first royals to get a rough ride in the media.

When Harry and Meghan married on May 19, 2018, to much fanfare at Windsor Castle, she was hailed for modernizing the monarchy.

After the birth of their son Archie in 2019, the couple made no secret of the fact they felt the strain of the constant media attention and negative headlines.

Harry said the decision to step back was not one he had made lightly and had brought him "great sadness that it has come to this." His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, said in a statement that "Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family."

Their new role, independent of the royal family, will be reviewed next year. Meanwhile, the couple will no longer carry out official duties for the queen and won't use their royal highness titles or the word "royal" in the nonprofit organization they intend to establish. As yet, they have said little about the causes they intend to focus on.

Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a fly-past of aircraft by the Royal Air Force, in London on June 8, 2019.Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP - Getty Images file

Although he is stepping away from royal duties, Harry will remain sixth in line to the throne, behind his father, brother and William's children.

Last week, it was announced that Meghan, a former actress, would return to the small screen in her first post-royal project as the narrator of a new film about a family of elephants journeying across Africa, set to stream on Disney+ in early April.

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that the U.S. would not provide security for Harry and Meghan. A spokesperson for the couple said they would use privately funded security arrangements.

In their final message online, the couple also noted the coronavirus pandemic, stating that "the world at this moment seems extraordinarily fragile" and that they would be searching for ways to "understand how we can best contribute."

Harry's father, Prince Charles, tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, last week and on Monday, Clarence House confirmed that the 71-year-old had completed his period of self-isolation.

Rachel Elbaum , Henry Austin and Alexander Smith contributed.

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2020-03-31 14:54:29Z
52780697618128

Royal no more: Harry and Meghan start uncertain new chapter - The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry and his wife Meghan officially make the transition Tuesday from senior members of Britain’s royal family to — well, it’s unclear. International celebrities, charity patrons, global influencers?

The royal schism that the couple triggered in January by announcing that they would step down from official duties, give up public funding, seek financial independence and swap the U.K. for North America becomes official on March 31.

The move has been made more complicated and poignant by the global coronavirus pandemic, which finds the couple and their 10-month-old son Archie in California, far from Harry’s father Prince Charles — who is recovering after testing positive for COVID-19 — and Harry’s 93-year-old grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

“As we can all feel, the world at this moment seems extraordinarily fragile,” the couple said in a final post Monday on their now-mothballed SussexRoyal Instagram account.

Top stories on the virus outbreak

“What’s most important right now is the health and well-being of everyone across the globe and finding solutions for the many issues that have presented themselves as a result of this pandemic,” they added. “As we all find the part we are to play in this global shift and changing of habits, we are focusing this new chapter to understand how we can best contribute.”

It is less than two years since ex-soldier Harry, who is sixth in line to the British throne, married American actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in a lavish ceremony watched by millions around the world.

Soon the couple began to bristle at intense scrutiny by the British media — which they said tipped into harassment. They decided to break free, in what Harry called a “leap of faith” as he sought a more peaceful life, without the journalists who have filmed, photographed and written about him since the day he was born.

Harry has long had an uncomfortable relationship with the media, which he blames for the death of his mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.

Harry’s unhappiness increased after he began dating Markle, then the star of TV legal drama “Suits.” In 2016 he accused the media of harassing his then-girlfriend, and criticized “racial undertones” in some coverage of the biracial Markle.

It’s clear that Meghan’s upbeat Californian style — embodied in the glossy images and life-affirming messages of the couple’s Instagram account — rankled with sections of Britain’s tabloid press, which is both insatiable for royal content and fiercely judgmental of the family members.

The couple — who are keeping their titles, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but will no longer be called Their Royal Highnesses — had hoped to keep using the Sussex Royal brand in their new life. But last month they announced they wouldn’t seek to trademark the term because of U.K. rules governing use of the word “royal.”

The couple plans to launch a non-profit organization for their charitable activities in areas including youth empowerment, mental health, conservation, gender equality and education. Harry will also continue to oversee the Invictus Games, the Olympics-style competition he founded for wounded troops.

Meghan has been announced as the narrator of “Elephant,” a Disney nature documentary.

But for now, the couple’s office said they want the world to focus “on the global response to COVID-19.”

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend the next few months focusing on their family and continuing to do what they can, safely and privately, to support and work with their pre-existing charitable commitments while developing their future non-profit organisation,” the couple’s office said in a statement.

The newly independent Harry and Meghan will also need to earn money to help pay for a multi-million dollar security bill.

As senior royals, they have had bodyguards funded by British taxpayers. Since late last year, Harry and Meghan have since been based on Canada’s Vancouver Island, where security was provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Canadian authorities warned last month that would end once the couple ceased to be working royals.

The duke and duchess recently moved to the Los Angeles area, where Meghan grew up and where her mother still lives. The news led President Donald Trump to tweet on Sunday: “the U.S. will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!”

Harry and Meghan’s office said “security costs are being personally covered by the couple.”

Some royal historians warned that Harry and Meghan could struggle to find a fulfilling role. Comparisons have been drawn to King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 to marry divorced American Wallis Simpson. The couple lived the rest of their lives in luxurious but lonely self-imposed exile from Britain.

Royal historian Penny Junor said U.K.-based royals were helping boost the nation’s morale during the coronavirus pandemic. The queen has issued a message to the nation, while Harry’s brother Prince William and his children joined in a public round of applause for health care workers.

“All of this is absolutely what the family is about, and those members of the royal family that are on a limb now are pretty irrelevant,” Junor said.

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2020-03-31 14:45:23Z
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Belarus' president dismisses coronavirus risk, encourages citizens to drink vodka and visit saunas - CNBC

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko talks during a Russian-Belarusian talks on February 15, 2019 in Sochi, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

As countries around the world effectively shut down to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, the authoritarian president of Belarus is urging citizens to drink vodka, go to saunas and return to work.

A global health crisis has prompted governments worldwide to impose draconian measures on the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people.

The restrictions range from so-called lockdowns and school closures to strict regulations on social distancing and public gatherings.

Yet in the Eastern European country of Belarus, borders remain open, and President Alexander Lukashenko remains unmoved by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lukashenko has refused to implement a lockdown in the country of roughly 9.5 million people, reportedly suggesting that others have done so as an act of "frenzy and psychosis," according to Sky News.

As of Tuesday, more than 801,000 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded worldwide, with 38,743 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

In Belarus — a country that borders Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Ukraine — 152 people have contracted COVID-19 infections, with no deaths.

'A complete outlier'

In an interview published Sunday in The Times newspaper in London, Lukashenko encouraged citizens to drink vodka (unless working) and visit the sauna at least twice a week to stay healthy.

The World Health Organization has warned that drinking alcohol does not prevent people from contracting COVID-19, adding it should always be consumed in moderation.

"Belarus is definitely a complete outlier," Matthias Karabaczek, Europe analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNBC via telephone on Tuesday.

Karabaczek said Lukashenko was taking a big risk by "refusing to accept the new reality of the coronavirus pandemic," warning that the economic impact of the health crisis was already "looking pretty grim for a relatively poor country."

He suggested the Belarusian president, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, was attempting to portray himself as a "strongman" leader ahead of presidential elections in August.

Sports leagues in the country have carried on as normal, with the 65-year-old Lukashenko himself taking part in an ice hockey match on Sunday.

Karabaczek said Lukashenko's participation in the game was an attempt to show the public that they were "all in this together," pointing out that Russian President Vladimir Putin has also previously taken part in ice hockey exhibition matches.

Belarus isn't the only country avoiding lockdowns. Sweden is allowing its citizens to adopt voluntary, softer measures to delay the spread of the virus. It has had 4,435 cases and 180 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data on Tuesday.

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2020-03-31 14:41:44Z
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Hungary's Viktor Orban gets sweeping powers under 'coronavirus bill' - The - The Washington Post

Zoltan Balogh AP Two members of the military police patrol the streets in Budapest on Monday, as part of a lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus.

BERLIN — The Hungarian parliament on Monday handed the country’s populist prime minister, Viktor Orban, the power to govern unchallenged for as long as he sees fit, a move rights groups said effectively suspends democracy in the European Union member state in the name of fighting the novel coronavirus.

The “coronavirus bill,” which allows Orban to rule by decree and bypass the national assembly, passed by 137 to 53 votes despite opposition efforts to attach an expiration date on the state of emergency. The law also punishes those who “distort” or publish “false” information on the outbreak with five years in jail.

The government has said that the emergency powers are necessary to fight the outbreak, but political analysts say they have questions about whether Orban will relinquish them when the health crisis subsides. Hungary has 447 coronavirus cases and 15 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

“He is using this crisis to further increase his power,” said András Bíró-Nagy, the director of the Budapest-based Policy Solutions think tank. “The Hungarian prime minister enjoys the situation where he can act as a captain in a crisis. I don’t see him giving up these powers again easily.”

He pointed to the fact that Orban, leader of the right-wing anti-immigration Fidesz party, still holds emergency powers introduced in 2016 to deal with the migrant crisis.

Orban does not stand alone in being accused of a coronavirus power grab amid concerns that leaders with authoritarian tendencies could exploit the current crisis.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of carrying out what critics have dubbed a “coronavirus coup” to remain leader and delay his impending court proceedings. Security agencies have also been ordered to track users’ data without their consent.

Zoltan Mathe

AP

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban replies to faction leader of the oppositional Jobbik party Peter Jakab during a question-and-answer session of the Parliament as it approved legislation that extends a state of emergency and gives the government extraordinary powers to enact measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, failed to convince lawmakers to give him the authority to take over private businesses earlier this month. But even the emergency powers he has been granted have raised concerns given his past record of flouting the rule of law.

While expansive emergency measures in countries such as Britain, France and Italy may have an end date before they must gain parliamentary approval for extensions, the lifting of checks and balances on democracies needs to be closely monitored, rights activists say.

“In states of emergency, there may be a need to temporarily derogate from certain rights and procedures but any such measures need to be temporary, proportionate and absolutely necessary from a public health perspective,” said Lydia Gall, an Eastern Europe researcher with Human Rights Watch.

“Vaguely formulated provisions, as can be seen in the state-of-emergency legislation adopted, do not fulfill those criteria and certainly not when they are set for an indefinite period of time,” she added.

The vote by Hungary’s parliament effectively leaves the Orban administration free to pass any type of decree it sees fit, she said. “We will have to wait and see how the government will use this unlimited power.”

There are fears that it will be used to further curb independent voices and a free press, she said. Hungary has made several arrests in recent weeks of people accused of spreading “fake news” over the number of coronavirus cases in the country, even though many believe the real number of infections is higher.

While the Orban-controlled government says the constitutional court can still act as a check, observers point out that it has been stacked with Orban loyalists.

“In practice, everybody in Hungary knows the constitutional court is never going to go against Orban,” Bíró-Nagy said.

The European Union has already launched punitive measures against Orban’s government.

The bloc said that Orban’s attacks on the media, the judiciary and the rights of minorities pose a “systematic threat” to its core values.

But so far, it has not managed to shift Hungary’s course, and analysts say the 27-member bloc will now be distracted with the broader issues of dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

Reactions were muted on Monday.

Didier Reynders, the European Union commissioner for justice, said that the organization evaluates emergency measures taken by member states in relation to fundamental rights.

“This is particularly the case for the law passed today in Hungary concerning the state of emergency and new criminal penalties for the dissemination of false information,” he tweeted.

Others, including former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, called for decisive action.

“I have been dreaming of a ‘United States of Europe’ for years,” he wrote on Twitter. “Precisely for this reason, I have the right, and the duty, to say that after what Orban has done today, the European Union MUST act and make him change his mind. Or, simply, expel Hungary from the Union.”

László György Lukács, a right-wing parliamentarian with the Jobbik party, told the pro-government news site Hungary Today that he believed in tough measures to fight the virus but “Orbán must not use the epidemic to build a kingdom.”

Michael Birnbaum in Brussels and Steve Hendrix in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Read more

Coronavirus isolation brings new hardships for the world’s poor

Coronavirus triggers an ‘existential’ moment crisis for Europe

The new autocrats

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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2020-03-31 13:45:02Z
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Belarus' president dismisses coronavirus risk, encourages citizens to drink vodka and visit saunas - CNBC

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko talks during a Russian-Belarusian talks on February 15, 2019 in Sochi, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

As countries around the world effectively shut down in order to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, the president of Belarus has urged citizens to drink vodka, go to saunas and return to work.

A global health crisis has prompted governments worldwide to impose draconian measures on the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people.

The restrictions range from so-called lockdowns and school closures to strict regulations on social distancing and public gatherings.

Yet, in the eastern European country of Belarus, borders remain open and the country's authoritarian leader remains unmoved by the coronavirus pandemic.

President Alexander Lukashenko has refused to implement a lockdown in the country of roughly 9.5 million people, reportedly suggesting that others have done so as an act of "frenzy and psychosis," according to Sky News.

As of Tuesday, more than 801,000 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded worldwide, with 38,743 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

In Belarus — a country that borders Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Ukraine — 152 people have contracted COVID-19 infections, with no deaths.

'A complete outlier'

In remarks to U.K newspaper The Times, published Sunday, Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, encouraged citizens to drink vodka (unless working) and visit the sauna at least twice a week to stay healthy.

The WHO has warned that drinking alcohol does not prevent people from contracting the coronavirus infection, adding it should always be consumed in moderation.

"Belarus is definitely a complete outlier," Matthias Karabaczek, Europe analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), told CNBC via telephone on Tuesday.

Karabaczek said Lukashenko was taking a big risk by "refusing to accept the new reality of the coronavirus pandemic," warning that the economic impact of the health crisis was already "looking pretty grim for a relatively poor country."

He suggested the Belarusian president was attempting to portray himself as a "strongman" leader ahead of presidential elections in August later this year.

Sports leagues in the eastern European country have carried on as normal in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, with Lukashenko himself taking part in an ice hockey match on Sunday.

The EIU's Karabaczek's said Lukashenko's participation in the game was an attempt to show the public that they were "all in this together," pointing out that Russian President Vladimir Putin has also previously taken part in ice hockey exhibition matches.

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2020-03-31 13:13:31Z
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U.S. coronavirus death toll passes 3,000 as Spain and Italy honor their dead - NBC News

With more than 3,000 killed by the coronavirus in the U.S., according to numbers released Tuesday, the U.S. death toll is approaching China's where the pandemic broke out.

Spain, meanwhile, saw a massive surge of 9,222 new confirmed cases and 849 deaths in a single day, its Health Ministry announced, bringing total cases to 94,417 and deaths to 8,189.

Spain as well as Italy held a moment of silence to honor their dead at 12 p.m. (6 a.m. ET). The two countries account for more than half of the deaths globally.

On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned the situation in his state is a sign of things to come if other parts of the country don't act fast.

"There's nothing unique about New Yorkers' immune system. There is no American who is immune from this virus," he told Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC's The Last Word. "New York is just the test case for this. We're the canary in the coal mine"

A healthcare worker sits on a bench near Central park in the Manhattan borough of New York City on Monday.Jeenah Moon / Reuters

The number of people confirmed to be infected with the virus in the U.S. reached 163,838 as of 2:30 am ET, according to NBC News' tracker — the highest number for a single country in the world. More than a third of cases are in New York State.

Also on Monday, President Donald Trump said at a press conference that support was being rolled out across the country, including the construction of a 2,900-bed hospital in New York and thousands of more beds and equipment being distributed by the U.S. Navy and Army Corps of Engineers.

"It's been really pretty amazing what they've done," he said.

"I think we're going to be in very good shape," he added about preparations for the country to manage the growing rate of infections.

Trump also approved disaster declarations for the states of Rhode Island and Pennsylvania on Monday.

In China, the rate of deaths has slowed with only one more reported from Monday, bringing the total to 3,187. As the country eases restrictions following the slowdown of the spread of the virus, factories have reopened, allowing for China's manufacturing industry to rebound this month.

But the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing cautioned that the world's second-largest economy still faces challenges in rebuilding supply chains while authorities try to prevent a spike in infections as employees return to work.

The World Health Organization has also warned the pandemic is "far from over" in Asia.

"This going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard," said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the western pacific region, during a press conference in Manila, the Philippines, on Monday.

"We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation," he said.

Japan's Foreign Minister announced Tuesday that it would ban its citizens from travelling to 73 countries including the United States, China, South Korea and most of Europe to prevent the spread of the virus. It would also ban entry to people coming from those countries.

France hit a grim milestone with its highest jump in death toll for a single day on Monday with 418 new deaths reported. It brought the country's total to 3,024. The country’s Director General of Health Jerome Salomon said more than 5,000 patients are in critical condition in intensive care.

In Italy, flags flew at half-staff around the nation.

Italy's Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the nationwide lockdown due to end this Friday will likely be extended until Easter, after having met with a scientific committee advising the government on how to contain the virus.

Even after the lockdown is lifted, strict measures on businesses to keep people at a safe distance from one another will likely continue and some businesses like gyms and beauty parlors may remain closed longer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lidia Sirna and Nancy Ing contributed.

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2020-03-31 11:53:58Z
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Post-Soviet strongmen prescribe vodka, hockey and folk medicine against coronavirus - CNN

Take, for instance, Belarus, a small country sandwiched between Russia and European Union member Poland: President Alexander Lukashenko has shrugged off concerns about Covid-19, telling his people that hockey, vodka, and banya -- a traditional sauna -- are the best cures.
Lukashenko, who has ruled the country of 9.5 million people for more than a quarter of a century, has imposed few restrictions to prevent coronavirus from spreading further.
Restaurants, parks and bars remain open. Mass sporting events go on as scheduled and attract hundreds of spectators, in defiance of the World Health Organization's social distancing recommendations. The Belarussian Premier League is now the only soccer competition on the continent.
And Lukashenko himself hasn't limited public appearances, opting to play in a hockey match on Saturday.
Football is shut down across Europe due to the coronavirus, but in Belarus it's business as usual
"It's better to die standing than to live on your knees," he said, rinkside in full hockey gear, in an interview with state television. "This is a fridge, this is healthy, there is nothing better than sport, especially ice which is the real anti-viral medicine."
Belarus has officially reported 94 cases of coronavirus -- and no deaths -- but Lukashenko's critics have cast doubt on those statistics, warning that authorities there could be downplaying the numbers as the country gears up for a presidential election later this year.
Lukashenko has made his own recommendations to combat the virus, suggesting that Belarusians should drink vodka to "poison the virus," or attend a banya.
"I once mentioned that people need to go to banya to fight different viruses, this one included, since Covid-19 doesn't like high temperatures and dies at +60 C, as the experts informed me," Lukashenko said, adding that if you don't have hand sanitizer, drink vodka.
"When you get out of sauna you shouldn't just wash your hands — down a shot of vodka," he said. "I don't drink myself, and I don't advocate for it, but I'll be okay with, it's tolerable at least until Victory Day on May 9."
There is no clear evidence to indicate that the coronavirus can be controlled by high temperatures, experts say.

Business as usual

Belarus has yet to close its borders -- its response so far has been limited to a two-week quarantine order for all those arriving in the country. But all of its neighbors — Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia -- have shut theirs.
Work hasn't stopped either, as Lukashenko is concerned at how the coronavirus response is hurting the global economy. He says he found inspiration in US President Donald Trump's suggestion that the cure for Covid-19 should not be worse than the virus itself.
"I liked his recent statements very much," Lukashenko said of Trump, during a visit to a plaster plant last week, according to an official transcript. "He said, 'If we do not immediately return to enterprises and start working, then much more Americans will die from unemployment than from coronavirus.' Now you understand why I didn't close the factories."
In post-Soviet Central Asia, some local strongmen have also taken the path of coronavirus denial.
In Tajikistan, a remote nation bordering Afghanistan, President Emomali Rahmon has continued a schedule of public appearances and plans to convene parliament in mid-April.
'Better to die standing than to live on your knees,' says Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko at ice hockey match
Last week, Rahmon -- who is referred to in government news releases as the "Founder of Peace and National Unity and Leader of the Nation" — paid visits to cities taking part in a nationwide beautification project, the Republic Flower Contest, and handed out gifts to orphans.
"This humane initiative of the Head of State caused great joy," the government news release stated.
Rahmon also went ahead with massive celebrations for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, taking part in festivities at the central stadium in the city of Khujand on March 22. The government news release featured crowds of spectators in national dress watching a colorful, choreographed spectacle and a speech by the leader.
Iran, by contrast, curtailed Persian New Year celebration plans, banning non-essential travel and closing shops, in the wake of a large Covid-19 outbreak.
That's not to say that Tajikistan takes coronavirus completely lightly. Tajikistan has no officially recorded cases of coronavirus, but it closed to international flights on March 19 -- cutting off an economic lifeline for a country that is heavily dependent on remittances from migrant labor. And Rahmon most recently conferred with the president of neighboring Kyrgyzstan on measures to contain the virus.
Turkmenistan, another former Soviet republic, has taken a decidedly different approach. The isolated republic is ruled by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who has built a formidable personality cult and has promoted folk medicine in his writings, which are mandatory reading for public officials.
How Russia is using authoritarian tech to curb coronavirus
A March 13 readout of a cabinet meeting made no mention of the novel coronavirus or Covid-19, but did include a lengthy discourse on the benefits of burning yuzarlik (Peganum harmala), a folk remedy, to prevent infectious diseases.
"The first volume of the head of state's book, Medicinal Plants of Turkmenistan, describes methods for the preparation and use of harmala concoctions," the readout states. "Our ancestors kept it in houses in the form of bundles of their branches. At times, people fumigated their home with them. They thus carried out the prevention of infectious diseases."
As other world leaders grapple with how to handle the coronavirus pandemic -- in some cases from within self-isolation — Berdymukhamedov continues to devote time to of his primary passions: Horseback riding. On Sunday, Turkmenistan's state news agency reported that the president spent the day at the Akhal-Teke equestrian complex, where he went riding and started work on a new book.

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2020-03-31 10:54:54Z
52780700217279

Hungary's Viktor Orban gets sweeping powers under 'coronavirus bill' - The - The Washington Post

Zoltan Balogh AP Two members of the military police patrol the streets in Budapest on Monday, as part of a lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus.

BERLIN — The Hungarian parliament on Monday handed the country’s populist prime minister, Viktor Orban, the power to govern unchallenged for as long as he sees fit, a move rights groups said effectively suspends democracy in the European Union member state in the name of fighting the novel coronavirus.

The “coronavirus bill,” which allows Orban to rule by decree and bypass the national assembly, passed by 137 to 53 votes despite opposition efforts to attach an expiration date on the state of emergency. The law also punishes those who “distort” or publish “false” information on the outbreak with five years in jail.

The government has said that the emergency powers are necessary to fight the outbreak, but political analysts say they have questions about whether Orban will relinquish them when the health crisis subsides. Hungary has 447 coronavirus cases and 15 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

“He is using this crisis to further increase his power,” said András Bíró-Nagy, the director of the Budapest-based Policy Solutions think tank. “The Hungarian prime minister enjoys the situation where he can act as a captain in a crisis. I don’t see him giving up these powers again easily.”

He pointed to the fact that Orban, leader of the right-wing anti-immigration Fidesz party, still holds emergency powers introduced in 2016 to deal with the migrant crisis.

Orban does not stand alone in being accused of a coronavirus power grab amid concerns that leaders with authoritarian tendencies could exploit the current crisis.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of carrying out what critics have dubbed a “coronavirus coup” to remain leader and delay his impending court proceedings. Security agencies have also been ordered to track users’ data without their consent.

Zoltan Mathe

AP

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban replies to faction leader of the oppositional Jobbik party Peter Jakab during a question-and-answer session of the Parliament as it approved legislation that extends a state of emergency and gives the government extraordinary powers to enact measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, failed to convince lawmakers to give him the authority to take over private businesses earlier this month. But even the emergency powers he has been granted have raised concerns given his past record of flouting the rule of law.

While expansive emergency measures in countries such as Britain, France and Italy may have an end date before they must gain parliamentary approval for extensions, the lifting of checks and balances on democracies needs to be closely monitored, rights activists say.

“In states of emergency, there may be a need to temporarily derogate from certain rights and procedures but any such measures need to be temporary, proportionate and absolutely necessary from a public health perspective,” said Lydia Gall, an Eastern Europe researcher with Human Rights Watch.

“Vaguely formulated provisions, as can be seen in the state-of-emergency legislation adopted, do not fulfill those criteria and certainly not when they are set for an indefinite period of time,” she added.

The vote by Hungary’s parliament effectively leaves the Orban administration free to pass any type of decree it sees fit, she said. “We will have to wait and see how the government will use this unlimited power.”

There are fears that it will be used to further curb independent voices and a free press, she said. Hungary has made several arrests in recent weeks of people accused of spreading “fake news” over the number of coronavirus cases in the country, even though many believe the real number of infections is higher.

While the Orban-controlled government says the constitutional court can still act as a check, observers point out that it has been stacked with Orban loyalists.

“In practice, everybody in Hungary knows the constitutional court is never going to go against Orban,” Bíró-Nagy said.

The European Union has already launched punitive measures against Orban’s government.

The bloc said that Orban’s attacks on the media, the judiciary and the rights of minorities pose a “systematic threat” to its core values.

But so far, it has not managed to shift Hungary’s course, and analysts say the 27-member bloc will now be distracted with the broader issues of dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

Reactions were muted on Monday.

Didier Reynders, the European Union commissioner for justice, said that the organization evaluates emergency measures taken by member states in relation to fundamental rights.

“This is particularly the case for the law passed today in Hungary concerning the state of emergency and new criminal penalties for the dissemination of false information,” he tweeted.

Others, including former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, called for decisive action.

“I have been dreaming of a ‘United States of Europe’ for years,” he wrote on Twitter. “Precisely for this reason, I have the right, and the duty, to say that after what Orban has done today, the European Union MUST act and make him change his mind. Or, simply, expel Hungary from the Union.”

László György Lukács, a right-wing parliamentarian with the Jobbik party, told the pro-government news site Hungary Today that he believed in tough measures to fight the virus but “Orbán must not use the epidemic to build a kingdom.”

Michael Birnbaum in Brussels and Steve Hendrix in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Read more

Coronavirus isolation brings new hardships for the world’s poor

Coronavirus triggers an ‘existential’ moment crisis for Europe

The new autocrats

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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2020-03-31 11:05:59Z
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