North India Kaleidoscope Bureau
On members’ special demand, the Chandigarh Press Club is starting Sunday breakfast from February 23, 2020, on an experimental basis.
The breakfast will be served from 10 am to 12 noon.
There will be a special menu for breakfast.
Paranthas (alu, muli, gobhi) served with curd or butter.
Tea, coffee, cold coffee.
Tea, coffee, cold coffee.
Queppelin Technologies, a leading augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) application development company is now also the proud winner of a Clutch Leader Award. In their recent announcement of the coveted Leader Awards, the leading global ratings and reviews organization Clutch named the Gurugram based Queppelin, founded and run by two brothers, Dr. Pulkit Mathur and Prafulla Mathur, as among the top AR and VR companies.
Commenting on the recognition, Dr. Pulkit Mathur, CEO and Co-Founder, Queppelin, said, “Thank you for choosing us as a Clutch leader. It feels great to be recognized by a company whom so many enterprises trust for their critical projects.”. He added, “what makes it even more special is Clutch’s unique methodology to determine domain leadership. It is feedback from where it matters and that makes this recognition even more satisfying.”
The Leader Awards are only granted to the highest-performing B2B companies. AR/VR has certainly revolutionized the gaming industry, but these technologies have implications for a number of other fields, from education and medicine to architecture and business.
About Queppelin in AR/VR:
Queppelin helps businesses leverage the potential of Augmented & Virtual Reality to engage their users at a deeper level and provide products/services like never imagined before.
We also launched a large platform in Australia where users can recreate their own marker-based, markerless and teleport solutions in Augmented Reality. The project involved 30+ full-time developers and has been under development for the last 3 years at Queppelin.
Indian National Lok Dal press note in Hindi
केंद्र सरकार द्वारा प्रधानमंत्री फसल बीमा योजना में किए गए संशोधन के बारे में इनेलो नेता चौधरी अभय सिंह चौटाला ने कहा कि इस योजना में पहले प्रीमियम की राशि जमा करवाना अनिवार्य थी और अब किसान यह राशि स्वेच्छा के अनुसार जमा करवा सकेंगे। इस संशोधन से फसल बीमा योजना में जो कमियां थी, वह जस की तस हैं जिनकी वजह से यह किसानों के लिए वरदान की बजाय अभिशाप बन गई थी। पिछले वर्ष इस योजना में लगभग 13 हजार करोड़ रुपए का प्रीमियम जमा हुआ और किसानों को सात हजार करोड़ के दावों का भुगतान किया गया। इस योजना से किसानों की बजाय सरकार द्वारा बीमा निजी कंपनियों को लाभ देेने का लक्ष्य पूरा हुआ।
इनेलो नेता ने कहा कि 80 प्रतिशत किसान लघु व मध्यम वर्ग से हैं जो अपनी पारिवारिक जरूरतों के लिए खेती का धंधा करते हैं। इस योजना में जो शर्तें हैं उनको पूरा करना ग्रामीण आंचल के किसान के बस की बात नहीं। फसल बीमा योजना की शर्तों के अनुसार बुआई के दस दिनों के अंदर फसल का ब्यौरा देना होता है, अगर प्राकृतिक आपदाओं से फसल को नुकसान हुआ है तो फसल काटने के 14 दिनों के अंदर नुकसान के बारे में बीमा कंपनियों को बताना होगा। बीमा कंपनियां जब फसल के नुकसान का आकलन करती हैं वह वास्तविक नुकसान की अनदेखी करके अपने अनुसार आकलन करना किसान के हितों के विपरीत होता है।
उन्होंने कहा कि इस योजना के लाभ के लिए किसानों को कागजी कार्रवाई करने के लिए दर-दर भटकना पड़ता है। अगर कोई कमी रह जाए तो कंपनी बहाना बनाकर किसान को लाभ से वंचित कर देती है। अगर किसान ने खेत बंटाई पर लिया है तब किसान को जमीन के मालिक से लिखित रूप में एग्रीमेंट करवाकर उसकी एक कापी बीमा कंपनी को देनी अनिवार्य है। उपरोक्त सभी शर्तें पूरी करनी एक साधारण और अनपढ़ किसान के बस की बात नहीं।
इनेलो नेता ने कहा कि फसल बीमा योजना में संशोधन करने उपरांत सरकार का दावा है कि पांच वर्षों में 10 हजार किसान उत्पादक संगठनों का गठन करके किसानों को इस फसल बीमा योजना का ज्यादा लाभ प्राप्त होगा। यह किसान उत्पादक संगठन किसानों को बीज, खाद, कर्ज और तकनीक आदि के बारे में सलाह देंगे जबकि पहले ही कृषि किसान केंद्र हर जिला व तहसील स्तर पर कृषि बारे सलाह देने के लिए उपलब्ध हैं। इस संशोधन में कोई नई बात नहीं जिससे ये उम्मीद लगाई जा सके कि किसानों को संशोधित फसल बीमा योजना उपरांत फसलों के नुकसान की भरपाई सुनिश्चित और समयबद्ध होगी। सरकार को चाहिए कि किसानों को संशोधित फसल बीमा योजना के बारे में पूर्ण जानकारी उपलब्ध करवाने के लिए प्रशिक्षण शिविर लगाएं। इस योजना के बारे में पूरी जानकारी देकर प्राकृतिक आपदाओं द्वारा हुए फसल के नुकसान के आकलन के जो मापदण्ड हैं, उनको सरल करना चाहिए और नुकसान के मुआवजे की कुल राशि का कम से कम 25 प्रतिशत हिस्से की अदायगी अग्रिम तौर पर किसान को करनी चाहिए।
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This article titled “Coronavirus: third UK case confirmed as death toll in China passes 560 – latest news” was written by Jessica Murray (now) and Alison Rourke (earlier), for theguardian.com on Thursday 6th February 2020 13.24 UTC
Third coronavirus case in the UK confirmed
A third person in the UK has tested positive for the coronavirus, it has been confirmed.
The patient was diagnosed in Brighton, the Guardian understands, and is being transferred to an infectious diseases unit in a London hospital.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, said:
A further patient has tested positive for coronavirus bringing the total number of cases in the UK to three. The individual did not acquire this in the UK.
The patient is being transferred to a specialist NHS centre, and we are using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the virus. The NHS is well prepared to manage these cases and we are now working quickly to identify any contacts the patient has had.
There are two other confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK – an unnamed Chinese student from York University and his mother, who are being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
The University of York has said the student confirmed to have contracted the virus did not come into contact with other students.
China is not prepared for the scale of the coronavirus outbreak it is facing, but has mobilised the entire country to tackle the epidemic, Beijing’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, has said.
Answering questions from the media this morning, Liu said:
I can’t say China is prepared for this outbreak, we don’t have enough beds or hospitals. That’s why we have built two emergency hospitals in just ten days.
He added that the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, had held a meeting yesterday in which he had instructed medical personnel to work “around the clock” to treat patients.
Liu said he could understand the complaints of some residents in locked-down Wuhan, but said it would take some time for them to understand the urgency of the situation. He offered reassurances that all residents’ basic necessities were being provided for.
He stressed the rest of China was not in the same locked-down state as the Hubei province, but said some local authorities might have overreacted in their responses to the outbreak.
Finally, he said that communication between Xi and Boris Johnson was good, contrary to reports this morning which suggested there were concerns the prime minister had not sent a personal message of support over the coronavirus outbreak.
China ambassador criticises ‘rumour and panic’ over coronavirus
The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, warned against “rumours and panic” and called on the UK government to support to support China in its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
It is of hope that governments of all countries, including the UK, should understand and support China’s efforts, avoid overreaction, avoid creating panic, and ensure normal cooperation and exchanges between countries.
Some [media] reports are biased and even maintain malicious slander and disinformation. Rumours and panic are more frightening than the virus itself.
He defended China’s handling of the outbreak, saying the country had been “open, transparent and responsible with its cooperation with the world”.
He emphasised that any impact on China’s economy would be temporary and said the country disapproved of some travel and trade restrictions that had been imposed by other nations.
Finally he condemned “insulting and discriminatory behaviour targeting the overseas Chinese community” fed by panic over the virus.
Virgin Atlantic extends suspension of Shanghai flights
Virgin Atlantic has extended the suspension of its flights between Heathrow and Shanghai due to the coronavirus until 28 March.
A spokesman for the airline said:
We continue to monitor the coronavirus situation very carefully, including the latest guidance from the World Health Organization and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which on Tuesday issued new guidance to UK citizens to leave China if they are able to do so.
Given this new FCO advice, the increasing entry restrictions on recent visitors to mainland China, and our rigorous focus on safety, Virgin Atlantic has opted to extend the suspension of Heathrow-Shanghai operations until 28 March 2020.
They said all passengers booked to travel would receive the option of a refund. They should contact the customer care team via their SMS messaging system on +44 (0)7481 339184.
Countries across the globe, including the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, continue to impose travel restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia has announced it is banning its citizens from visiting China, and said expatriates will not be allowed to return to the country if they violate the travel restriction.
The kingdom’s General Directorate of Passports also said regulatory provisions on travel documents would be applied to citizens who travel to the coronavirus-hit country.
The US is temporarily barring entry to foreign nationals who have travelled to China within the last 14 days, while Japan is refusing entry to foreign nationals who have been to Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak, within the past fortnight.
More than 140 Russians have been evacuated from Wuhan, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, to a medical facility in Siberia guarded by members of Russia’s National Guard.
Inside, many have taken to Instagram to blog their time in quarantine, snapping photos of their dinner and exercise routines.
Pavel Lichman, a model who was evacuated from Wuhan, told the Guardian:
The quarantine is pretty hands-off and easy. The only thing is that we’re not allowed to come into contact with the people who are in the neighbouring rooms. We don’t leave our rooms. They bring us food. Doctors come in to test us: check our temperatures, inspect our throats, and measure the amount of oxygen in our blood.
If the evacuees leave their rooms, doctors warned, the two-week countdown starts again.
In the other rooms, Russians took stock of the bizarre turn of events and planned out their time in lockdown. “Plans for the next two weeks,” one young woman wrote, while firing up a Netflix documentary about the rapper Travis Scott.
Another modelled her striped pyjamas on a balcony overlooking a snowy forest of birch.
Student Marina Zaitseva was visiting Wuhan when the outbreak occurred. In an interview with the Fontanka.ru website, she described a difficult evacuation from China aboard a military plane with little idea of where they were headed.
When they arrived at the medical facility, they were told to give up their clothing for disinfecting. She said:
In the hall we were met by people not just in masks, but in full bodysuits. They met us as though we were radiating this virus.
The US is continuing to fly hundreds of its citizens out of Wuhan, the city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, in what it anticipates to be the last of its chartered flights.
On Wednesday, two planes flew 350 citizens back to an air force base in California, and two more flights will arrive from Wuhan this week. The US does not anticipate any further chartered flights after this.
Other countries are also airlifting their nationals from the area, including Singapore, which is arranging a second evacuation flight for later this week.
The Britons who were evacuated from Wuhan last week have been told they can leave the quarantine facility in the Wirral next Thursday.
Matt Raw, who was one of 83 British nationals airlifted out of Wuhan on the first evacuation flight, received the news last night:
We have just been advised that we are permitted to leave here on Thursday 13 February. We’ve basically done half our time and as long as the status quo remains and nobody gets sick, then we should be able to leave in a week’s time from now.
It’s excellent news to have an end date in sight.
Another 11 Britons were evacuated on a French-chartered flight on Sunday, after many failed to make it to the airport in time for the first flight.
They are being kept in quarantine separately from those on the first.
Chinese officials are reportedly “concerned” that Boris Johnson has not yet sent a personal message of support to the country over the coronavirus outbreak.
Stanley Johnson, the prime minister’s father, met the Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming on Tuesday, and reported back to UK officials – and accidentally copied in the BBC.
The email, to the environment minister Zac Goldsmith and other UK officials, said:
Re the outbreak of coronavirus, Mr Liu obviously was concerned that there had not yet – so he asserted – been direct contact between the PM and Chinese head of state or government in terms of a personal message or telephone call.
A government spokesman said the UK had been in close contact with the Chinese authorities since the outbreak.
A former special adviser to the World Health Organization has said he thinks researchers are “weeks away” from testing a coronavirus vaccine on animals, but it could be months before human trials.
Speaking on Sky News this morning, David Harper said: “The researchers around the world are working very hard.
“We feel that we’re within a matter of weeks of the animal tests that are necessary before we go into the trials of the vaccine in humans, which could take some months of course, but still very much shorter than we would normally expect for a vaccine of this type.”
A former World Health Organization official who helped lead the response to SARS has said “the full potential” of the coronavirus is not yet known.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, David Heyman, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene, said:
The full potential of this virus is not yet known. Will this virus become a virus which is endemic in humans and continue to transmit in the coming years?
We don’t understand the spectrum of the disease. We don’t know how many infections are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms like cold, so it is impossible to identify all cases.
He said the disease is spread via droplets, when people are in a close enough area that they can cough on each other, and there is no evidence to suggest it is transmissible over longer distances.
A British man who is among 3,700 people under a coronavirus quarantine on a cruise ship in Japan has voiced concerns over ongoing monitoring for the disease on board.
David Abel, from Northamptonshire, has praised Princess Cruises for its handling of the situation so far, but said fears remain about efforts to fight the disease on the ship.
“What health checks have we had in the last three or four days, or since the health check when the quarantine officers came on board? None whatsoever,” Abel said in a Facebook video post.
There has been no health check, so we do not know whether there are people on board still who have got symptoms that may have the virus. We do not know.
So I am now getting a fraction concerned about the health checks that I believe should be taking place, because if there are more infected people on board they should be taken off. We want a virus-free ship.
Health workers in the port city of Yokohama said on Thursday that 10 more people on the Diamond Princess had tested positive to the disease, in addition to 10 others on Wednesday when the ship was first isolated.
Those 20 people are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals while the remaining passengers are confined to their cabins.
Abel, who along with his wife are believed to be the only two Britons on board, added: “And what happens when we finally get back to the UK? Are we going to be put in quarantine yet again for another 14 days?”
It is thought the Foreign Office has offered support, but is letting cruise ship staff manage the situation.
China has announced it will halve tariffs on $75bn worth of US goods, as the country’s economy comes under additional pressure amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Tariffs on some goods will be cut from to from 10% to 5%, and from 5% to 2.5% on others.
The announcement is part of a partial resolution of the long-running trade war between the US and China agreed last month, and the US will also roll back some tariffs as part of the agreement.
The cuts will take effect on 14 February, but tariffs will remain on $35bn worth of US goods.
China’s economy has suffered as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with factories across the country closed and its manufacturing sector seeing a drop in production.
This is Jessica Murray taking over from Alison to track the latest developments with the coronavirus outbreak throughout the day.
Global health experts have warned that “hidden” coronavirus cases mean that we could just be seeing the “tip of the iceberg”.
Tom Frieden, a former director at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there could be “vastly more cases” than previously thought.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that containment is very unlikely,” Frieden said. “It probably isn’t worth giving up, but trying to contain Wuhan coronavirus like Sars and Mers is very unlikely, just because of the number of cases and the number of [Chinese] provinces and the ease with which it is ease spreading in families.”
It’s a fog of war reality, which is what makes me suspect that what are seeing is the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s a summary of what we know so far today about the spread of the coronavirus.
- China’s death toll grew to 563, with 28,018 confirmed cases
- Ten more people have been diagnosed with the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, moored at Yokohama in Japan
- Canada has told its citizens to leave China by commercial means if their presence in the country is “not essential”
- Taiwan has banned all international cruise ships from docking
- Adidas has closed China stores over virus outbreak
- Virgin Australia has announced it will cease flying to Hong Kong
- Shares have risen strongly again on Asian markets
Here’s the latest tracker image from Johns Hopkins University on the spread of the coronavirus. If you want to check in on the tracker, you can find it here.
A 28-year-old doctor in Hunan province has died after working for 10 days on the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese state media is reporting.
As we have reported today, the death doll in China for the coronavirus has passed 560. You can find our latest full report on the story here.
For a further exploration of why stock markets are surging ahead despite the prospect of a marked slowdown in China (see this blog post), look no further than this piece by our economics editor Larry Elliott.
But he asks whether the outbreak is the kind of freakish, unforeseen event that could yet spark a global economic crisis – a “black swan” event in the market parlance.
Hong Kong faces deepening economic crisis
Hong Kong’s economy faces a deepening recession as a result of the virus outbreak. Businesses in the territory have already been hit hard by months of sometimes violent street protests that have forced shops to close and transport to shut down.
The economy shrank 1.2% last year and economists at Fitch Solutions reckon it will contract by 2.6% this year with the vital retail sector brought ot its knees as the lucrative flow of Chinese tourists dries up thanks to the government’s new quarantine rules and airlines suspend flights in and out.
The sense of crisis has been heightened by panic buying in shops and supermarkets.
Read my full report here:
China launches trial of coronavirus treatment drug
China’s People’s Daily is reporting the drug Remdesivir is “officially” in clinical trial stage on coronavirus patients in Wuhan’s Jinyintan hospital.
“The trial will include 453 critically ill patients and 308 with less severe symptoms, a medical expert said,” the China Daily reported.
Canada tells citizens in China to leave by commercial means if presence in country is ‘not essential’
A couple of Canadian readers in China have got in touch with me to say the Canadian consular service in Beijing is advising Canadians to leave China at their own cost if their presence is not essential.
“Please note that the Travel Advice and Advisory for China has recently been updated to indicate: If your presence in China isn’t essential, you should consider leaving by commercial means,” the advisory says, dated 6 February.
The government previously chartered a flight from Wuhan to Canada for Canadian citizens looking to return to Canada.
International sports events being cancelled or postponed
The coronavirus is having a significant impact on sports events. Last week the Chinese Football Association cancelled all domestic games at all levels. Many other events are also being affected:
- The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which had been scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15, were postponed until next year
- The Asian Athletics Association cancelled its 12-13 February indoor championships in Hangzhou.
- Asian Champions League matches involving Chinese clubs Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG have been postponed.
- Guangzhou and the Shanghai clubs will join the competition in April, with their group matches due to be played in May.
- Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG were due to play away at Perth Glory and Sydney FC but Australian officials sought to reschedule matches after their government imposed a travel ban on foreign nationals arriving from China.
- A four-team women’s Olympic qualifying tournament involving China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand was moved from Wuhan and rearranged to be held in Australia by the AFC.
- Vietnam’s government said it would not allow the country to host sporting events in February, meaning home AFC Cup group stage matches for Ho Chi Minh City and Than Quang Ninh will have to be switched to away fixtures.
- Ho Chi Minh City will now face Yangon United in Myanmar on 11 February while Than Quang Ninh meet Ceres Negros on 25 February in the Philippines.
- The all-electric Formula E motor racing series abandoned plans for a race in Sanya on 21 March.
- The move puts Formula One in the spotlight, with Shanghai due to host the Chinese Grand Prix on 19 April, now looking in doubt.
- The China Masters tournament in Hainan due to take place 25 February-1 March, was postponed after several players withdrew. The BWF said it hoped the flagship Badminton Asia Championships could still go ahead in Wuhan from 21-26 April.
- The International Olympic Committee announced Jordan as hosts of the boxing qualifiers for Asia and Oceania after an event in Wuhan was cancelled. It will now take place in Amman, 3-11 March.
- The International Basketball Federation moved the 6-9 February Tokyo Olympics qualifiers to be held in Foshan to Belgrade.
- The FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifying match between China and Malaysia, to be held in Foshan on 24 February, will be rescheduled.
- The elite women’s LPGA golf tour cancelled the 5-8 March Blue Bay tournament to be held on Hainan.
- The PGA Tour Series-China moved its 25-28 February global qualifying tournament to Lagoi, Indonesia, from Haikou.
Stock markets continue to shrug off the deepening crisis with the Nikkei up a whopping 2.6% with less than an hour of trading to go while Seoul had also gained a healthy 2.55%. Hong Kong was even better, up 2.71%, and Shanghai was up 1.3%.
In Sydney, the Australian bourse rallying to its second highest close of all time. The ASX200 was paused at 7,047 points, a rise of 1% on the day and only 43 points off the record high set back in January.
Nguyen Trinh, senior economist for emerging Asia at the investment bank Natixis in Hong Kong, said investors were obviously expecting that the disruption seen across China would be temporary and that the policy response by China and Asian central banks would be enough to inject into markets much-needed liquidity.
However, she noted that commodities had seen a more turbulent few weeks with oil, for example, down more than 10% for the year.
The commodity market is much more aggressive in pricing in a reduction of activity with iron ore, copper, oil, soy beans all dropping more than double digits.
Canada prepares for evacuated citizens from Wuhan
Reuters is reporting that a small town in central Canada is preparing to for the arrival of some 200 evacuees from Wuhan.
Canada plans to fly the evacuees to the base in Trenton, Ontario, the country’s main military hub for air transport, and hold them in quarantine for two weeks.
The evacuees, who are expected to arrive from China on Friday, will be separated from each other and from others on the base, although family units will be kept together, the government has said. They will all stay at Yukon Lodge, a new facility on the base which resembles a small chain hotel.
Individuals will only be moved to a hospital if they require acute care, said the local health authority, but local hospitals were prepared, with 21 negative-pressure rooms at four of them.
“I was in the military, I know how it works,” said resident Joyce Aucoin, 81. “There’s going to be people upset about it but once they’re here and once they’re settled and they see what’s going on, I think it will all pass.”
Lynn Cao, 60, who owns a tobacco shop in the town, had been concerned about the plane arriving until she received reassuring emails from friends on the base.
Cao said she was more anxious about her mother and sister, who live near the Chinese capital Beijing, and had sent them a large number of face masks to limit their chances of infection.
The Chinese CGTN network has reported the criteria for patients being admitted to Wuhan’s three new temporary hospitals, including at the city’s international convention centre.
- People infected with #coronavirus
- Clinical manifestation that is mild
- Patients aged 18-65 who are able to take care of themselves
- Patients with no respiratory diseases, no cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and no psychosis
- Influenza-virus tested negative
The Chinese state tabloid Global Times has published a video showing police monitoring people who are not wearing face masks and telling them to go home and get their masks.
The outlet is also reporting that a new laboratory has been built in five days that will have the capacity to carry out 10,000 coronavirus tests per day.
In case you missed it yesterday, schools in China’s financial hub of Shanghai have been ordered to stay shut until at least the end of February.
Taiwan bans all international cruise ships from docking
Taiwan’s health authority banned all international cruise ships from docking at the island from Thursday amid increasing threat of the coronavirus outbreak, after 10 more people were tested positive for the virus on a quarantined cruise liner in Japan, Reuters is reporting.
Taiwan has also said it will suspend entry for all Chinese citizens who live in mainland China from Thursday.
Shanghai authorities recommend suspending all sports event in city, putting F1 GP in doubt
Reuters has reported that the Shanghai sports authorities have recommended the suspension of all sporting events in the city due to the coronavirus outbreak, casting further doubt on whether the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix will take place.
The fourth grand prix of the season is scheduled for 19 April. The race was expected to be on the agenda at a Formula One Strategy Group meeting on Wednesday amid increasing speculation that it could join the growing list of sports events already postponed or cancelled.
The Shanghai Sports General Association called on sports organisers to “strictly abide by the requirement of the Shanghai Sports Bureau to stop organising sports events during the epidemic.”
It said, in a statement translated by Reuters, that all sports events should be suspended “until the epidemic is over.”
Some Formula One insiders hold out little hope of the race happening.
I’ve done a number of posts about the cruise ship in Japan, but passengers on the World Dream, quarantined in Hong Kong’s Kai Tak terminal, with 3,600 people aboard, are also being screened for the virus after three passengers on a previous voyage were diagnosed with the virus.
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, has announced that the Ocean and Kai Tak cruise liner terminals, will be closed.
Lam has also ordered that anyone arriving from mainland China from Saturday, will be forced to face “compulsory quarantine” for 14 days in Hong Kong.
Global coronavirus infections
Associated Press have just published a list of global infections from the virus.
- Macau: 10
- Taiwan: 11
- Hong Kong: 21
- Japan: 45
- Singapore: 28
- Thailand: 25
- South Korea: 23
- Australia: 14
- Germany: 12
- United States: 11
- Malaysia: 10
- Vietnam: 10
- France: 6
- United Arab Emirates: 5
- Canada: 4
- India: 3
- Philippines: 3 cases, including 1 death
- Russia: 2
- Italy: 2
- Britain: 2
- Belgium: 1
- Nepal: 1
- Sri Lanka: 1
- Sweden: 1
- Spain: 1
- Cambodia: 1
- Finland: 1
Number of quarantine citizens in US approaches 400
In the United States, another 350 American evacuees from Wuhan have been placed under quarantine at two military bases in California, Reuters reports.
It brings to nearly 400 the number of people subject to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s first public health quarantine in 50 years.
“We are in a critical time period in the international spread of the virus, and this action is necessary to try to prevent the spread here,” said Dr Christopher Braden, deputy director of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.
There were long queues in supermarket across Hong Kong last night, with people panic buying toilet rolls and tissues, largely due to a rumour spreading online saying China will stop manufacturing toilet paper for the next two weeks. There was also a run on vitamins, rice and packet noodles, leaving supermarket shelves empty.
Adidas closes China stores over virus outbreak
Adidas has announced it is closing a “significant” number of its stores in China over the deadly new coronavirus, and warned it expects further impacts on its operations in the country.
It follows a similar move by its US rival Nike, Agence France Presse reports.
Adidas has around 500 of its own stores in China and some 11,500 outlets in franchise stores. The German sports wear giant said many of its franchise stores were also closing.
“We can confirm that we are currently experiencing a negative impact on our operations in China,” the statement added.
“However, at this point in time it is too early to assess the magnitude of this impact.”
Nike on Tuesday also said it expected the worsening outbreak of the virus to have “a material impact” on its Chinese business.
Here are some of the pictures emerging from the operation to hospitalise infected passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
The Chinese city of Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi province, will strictly monitor the entry and exit of residents from villages and residential compounds as it steps up its efforts to control the spread of a coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reports.
The city, which has a population of 5 million people, said on its official Weibo social media account that each family should assign one member to go out once every two days, and that people running fevers must go to a medical facility.
Jiangxi province is separated from the virus epicentre of Hubei by the Yangtze river. It had reported 600 infections of the coronavirus by the end of Wednesday, with no fatalities.
We are getting confirmation of the nationalities of the 10 new cases of coronavirus on the stricken cruise ship on Japan. The Guardian’s Tokyo correspondent, Justin McCurry, says there are four Japanese, two each from the US and Canada, and one each from New Zealand and Taiwan.
Virgin Australia ends all flights to Hong Kong
Virgin Australia has announced it will cease flights from Australia to Hong Kong because the route was “no longer a commercially viable”
Sydney-Hong Kong flights will stop on 2 March. In November, the airline announced the Melbourne-Hong Kong route would stop on 11 February.
The airline said growing uncertainty over the coronavirus outbreak and the decline due to civil unrest associated with the pro-democracy protests had prompted the move.
Virgin Australia Group chief commercial officer, John MacLeod said: “Hong Kong has continued to be a challenging market. With a decline in demand following ongoing civil unrest, and growing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak in the wider region, we have made the decision to withdraw services.
“While the decision to withdraw from the Hong Kong market has been a difficult one, it demonstrates our strong focus on driving greater financial discipline through our network.
“Current circumstances demonstrate that Hong Kong is no longer a commercially viable route for Virgin Australia to continue operating, however international tourism remains an important part of our strategy through our other international routes and partner airlines,” MacLeod said.
Still in Australia, and the prime minister, Scott Morrison has said a further 36 citizens and residents who left Wuhan on the Air New Zealand flight have now been transferred to Christmas Island, where other Australian evacuees from Wuhan are being held in quarantine for 14 days.
You can read our full report on evacuees on Christmas Island below.
Australia’s universities are going to come under financial pressure in coming weeks when classes start but Chinese students are unable to attend due to the coronavirus crisis, ratings agency S&P says.
Students from mainland China are about 38% of tertiary enrolments, S&P says.
International students are worth $11.3bn a year in fees, so that puts as much as $4.3bn in revenue at risk.
S&P says universities can’t easily cut costs, such as staff wages and building maintenance, to offset the potential revenue plunge.
“The health crisis underscores the risks that stem from the sector’s growing dependence on the lucrative international market, which has flourished against a backdrop of stagnant government funding and heavy investment in the pursuit of higher rankings,” the agency said.
S&P also says German carmaker Volkswagen stands to take the biggest hit from factory shutdowns in Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus outbreak, because it makes almost 40% of its cars and components in China.
“While the Chinese market maintains its long-term attraction for most global auto manufacturers and suppliers, recent developments may contribute to turning 2020 into an ever more challenging year for global automakers and suppliers than we originally expected,” analyst Vittoria Ferraris said.
One Guardian reader in Shandong province, who is a teacher, has got in touch with me to say there’s confusion among UK citizens there about the British foreign office’s advice to leave China if they can.
“My main hesitation with leaving China is I feel I would be more likely to contract the virus whilst in transit to the UK than if I stay in my apartment and wait for things to calm down here.
“My school is closed until at least the 17th of February (our classes have moved online) and I leave the apartment only for supplies and some exercise / fresh air. Whereas travelling to the UK would mean having to go on a train, tube and through at least two airports,” she says.
Japan confirms 10 new passengers diagnosed on ship
The 10 newly diagnosed Diamond Princess passengers include four Japanese nationals, the health ministry said on Thursday morning. The nationalities of the other six were not immediately available. The 10 patients comprise five people in their 70s, four in their 60s and one in his or her 50s, the ministry said.
Shares have risen strongly again on Asian markets where there appears to be more confidence – helped by another strong day on Wall Street – that the economic impact of the new coronavirus will not be too damaging.
The ASX200 is up 0.55% in Sydney, the Nikkei has surged 1.6% in Tokyo and Seoul has gained 1.27%. Brent crude rose $1.32 yesterday to $55.28 a barrel.
On the other side of the ledger, there is more evidence of how companies are being affected by the spread of the virus.
- Cathay Pacific has asked its entire workforce of 27,000 to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave. It said on Tuesday that it was cutting 30% of its capacity in the coming weeks.
- Adidas has announced that it is shutting a “significant” number of its 500 stores in China.
- Foxconn, which manufactures the Apple iPhone, said it had applied to the Chinese authorities to restart operations at factories in China next week but it could take one to two weeks from then to resume full production due to the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported, quoting a source with knowledge of the matter. However, a full resumption was not possible until late February due to various travel restrictions imposed to curb the virus.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has just interviewed an Australian passenger on the stranded Diamond Princess cruise liner in Yokohama, where 10 more people were diagnosed with coronavirus on the ship (in addition to 10 diagnosed on Wednesday).
Vera Koslova said frustration amongst passengers was rising: “There’s been no announcements made as yet by the captain to let us know that there has been more cases.”
“I’m quite patient and have a very positive attitude and know that the Australian government is trying to do everything possible as well as Japan. But, um, just getting a just a little bit more nervous now,” she said.
Qantas says it’s suspended a union delegate for telling employees it’s not safe to work on flights from China amid the coronavirus outbreak, Australian Associated Press reports (below).
Qantas says an employee has been stood down for spreading misinformation about the safety of working on flights from China amid the coronavirus outbreak, but the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) says the man was simply providing advice to colleagues on their rights.
The airline on Saturday announced it would suspend its two direct services to mainland China from 9 February due to travel restrictions imposed by other countries in the wake of the health crisis.
A Qantas employee – who is also a delegate of the TWU – was on Sunday stood down pending an investigation.
A source has told AAP the worker told other employees it was not safe to work on flights arriving from China – going against the advice of health authorities.
Employees have been provided with additional safety equipment.
Qantas Medical’s Dr Russell Brown said the airline would never ask employees to work in unsafe conditions.
“The TWU knows full well that the risk of aviation workers contracting coronavirus as a result of working on an aircraft originating from China is very low,” Dr Brown said in a statement on Thursday.
Just back to the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Yokohama … the Guardian’s Justin McCurry in Tokyo says health officials now have the results of 102 tests conducted on 273 passengers. A total of twenty were positive. He says the second group of patients found to have been infected will be taken to hospitals in Kanagawa prefecture, where Yokohama is located, according to the health ministry.
Just while we are on Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific announced on Wednesday that all 27,000 employees would be asked to take three weeks of unpaid leave over the coming months. The CEO, Augustus Tang, said the airline was facing a crisis in the wake of the virus outbreak.
“I am hoping all of you will participate, from our frontline employees to our senior leaders, and share in our current challenges,” Tang said in a video message posted online.
Months of pro-democracy protests, including sit-ins at Hong Kong’s international airport, had already taken a toll on the airline.
In his video message to employees, Tang warned Cathay was experiencing “one of the most difficult Chinese New Year holidays we have ever had” because of the virus.
“And we don’t know how long it will last,” he added. “With such an uncertain outlook, preserving our cash is now the key to protecting our business.”
He also warned that further steps may need to be taken. The airline has already reduced its flights to the Chinese mainland by 90%.
This week United Airlines announced it was suspending all flights to Hong Kong from 8-20 February, days after it cut its flights to mainland China. American airlines also announced it was suspending its flights to Hong Kong form Dallas/Fort Worth and and Los Angeles until 20 February.
Given the speed at which this story is moving, keeping track of global figures for the virus is quite a challenge.
The Hong Kong government has set up a tracker of cases there – you can find it here, and I have put a snapshot below, which shows 1 death, 21 confirmed cases, 154 cases hospitalised under investigation and 868 cases ruled out.
Interestingly the tracker also gives a geographic location for all cases.
Australian evacuees from Wuhan have arrived on Christmas Island where they will be quarantined before being allowed to return to their homes.
One of our reporters, Ben Doherty, is on Christmas Island and he has filed this on the arrival of the evacuees.
The national health commissions figures for China with regards to the virus have now been released and the headline figures are that as of midnight Wednesday into Thursday, there were 28,018 confirmed cases and 563 deaths in China.
It says there are 24,702 suspected cases.
A total of 282,813 close contacts have been traced, and 186,354 close contacts are still in medical observation.
Of the deaths in the past 24 hours, of the 73 new deaths recorded, 70 were in Hubei Province, and one each in Tianjin, Heilongjiang, and Guizhou.
The vast majority of new infections were also in (Hubei 2,987 out of 3,694).
The Japanese broadcaster NHK is citing the health ministry saying there are 10 new cases of coronavirus on the Diamond Princess, moored off Yokohama.
If the new infections are confirmed, that would bring the total number of coronavirus patients in Japan to 45, Reuters says.
The ship was caught up in the global coronavirus epidemic after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man tested positive for the virus after disembarking the ship late last month.
Passengers and their relatives took to social media to detail their predicament and conditions on the cruise ship. One passenger has tweeted a number of photos below.
Ten more people diagnosed on cruise ship in Japan – reports
We’re getting reports that another 10 people have tested positive for coronavirus onboard the cruise ship that is currently moored off Japan.
On Wednesday, it was confirmed that 10 people on board the Diamond Princess had tested positive, prompting authorities to instruct all passengers to remain inside their cabins. Thousands of people on the Diamond Princess face spending the next fortnight stuck off the Japanese port of Yokohama, as officials attempt to prevent further infection.
I’ll bring you more details on this as soon as they come in.
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, with me Alison Rourke.
New death toll figures are beginning to emerge from Hubei on the latest death toll from the coronavirus. The province has reported 70 new deaths, taking fatalities there to 549. It also reported 2,987 new confirmed cases taking cases in Hubei to 19,665.
These figures will be updated again when the national total is announced, but for the moment that brings the the death toll in China to 563. Total numbers of confirmed infections in China are over 28,000.
Here’s summary of the other key points so far:
- Chinese authorities say they face a “severe” shortage of hospital beds
- Global cases have been reported in 20 countries
- Tokyo’s Olympics chief executive said organisers were “extremely worried about how the virus could affect this year’s games
- All arrivals to Hong Kong from mainland China will face “compulsory quarantine”
You can also read our diary of a coronavirus evacuee, and comment pieces on the virus, including:
- China’s response to coronavirus exposes a dangerous obsession with secrecy
- Chinese people are enduring coronavirus like everyone else. Don’t traumatise us further
- The coronavirus lays bare the limits of WHO’s health diplomacy with China
If you want to get in touch, you can contact me via email@example.com
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
This article titled “Nancy Pelosi rips up copy of Trump’s State of the Union speech following divisive address – as it happened” was written by Joan E Greve in Washington, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 5th February 2020 05.31 UTC
State of the Union summary
- Trump’s annual address was bookended by two moments of tension between the president and the House speaker. When he arrived for his speech, Trump appeared to reject a handshake from Nancy Pelosi, and the speaker later tore up her copy of the president’s remarks as he was wrapping up.
- Trump’s speech was built around some made-for-television moments. Most notably, he awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh and reunited a military family attending the event.
- Trump made it through the speech without mentioning impeachment, marking a rare moment of restraint from the unpredictable president. He is likely waiting until tomorrow, when the Senate is expected to acquit him, to take a victory lap.
- Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and Texas congresswoman Veronica Escobar delivered the Democratic responses to the State of the Union, but their remarks were overshadowed by the tension between Trump and Pelosi.
The blog will be back tomorrow for live updates and analysis of the Senate’s final vote in the impeachment trial, so tune back in for that. And thank you for following our State of the Union coverage.
In her full statement about the State of the Union, Nancy Pelosi said Trump “gave no comfort” to families looking for better healthcare options and was “not truthful” about his healthcare policies.
“Next week, when the President presents his budget, the American people will see the stark reality of his agenda,” Pelosi said. “A federal budget should be a statement of our national values, and the President has sadly shown that he does not value the good health of the American people.
“Democrats continue to urge the President to abandon his assault on seniors and families and to join us to deliver real progress in lowering the price of prescription drugs and making the bold investments needed to rebuild America’s infrastructure in a green and modern way.”
Pelosi says State of the Union represents a ‘call to action’
Echoing her comments to reporters moments ago, Nancy Pelosi said in a tweet that Trump’s State of the Union represented a “manifesto of mistruths” and should serve as a “call to action.”
Some Republicans have criticized Pelosi for tearing up her copy of the State of the Union, but the House speaker is clearly not backing down.
More Iowa results released
Meanwhile, because this is arguably the most absurdly busy week Washington has seen in an absurdly busy era, more results have been released from last night’s Iowa caucuses.
The Iowa Democratic Party has released results from 9% more of the precincts, bringing the total percentage of reported precincts up to 71%.
The top-line notes are that Pete Buttigieg still leads, although his advantage over Bernie Sanders has slightly narrowed.
Even more consequentially, Joe Biden is facing the risk of not winning any delegates from Iowa. The former vice president needs to remain above 15% to be awarded delegates, and he’s currently flirting with that threshold.
Asked whether she would invite Trump to another State of the Union, Nancy Pelosi said she did not think that would be necessary because of the November election.
Leaving the Capitol, Nancy Pelosi said she ripped up her copy of the State of the Union because it was a “manifesto of mistruths.”
Other Democrats echoed the House speaker’s assessment of tonight’s speech:
But Republicans chastized Pelosi for the bold gesture:
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has issued a statement denouncing Trump’s State of the Union as a “shameful display”:
In one fell swoop, Trump delivered a speech worthy of the worst demagogue and turned his constitutional obligation to inform Congress about the state of our union into an episode of reality television. He even awarded our nation’s highest civilian honor, not to the real American hero in the gallery — one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen—but a conservative media personality who has done as much as Trump himself to divide our nation. It was a shameful display.
During the address, Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh, but he also recognized Charles McGee, one of the last living Tuskegee Airmen who was sitting in the chamber.
Former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich said he was “disgusted and insulted” by Nancy Pelosi’s decision to rip up the State of the Union.
Gingrich was House speaker during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and his wife now serves as the US ambassador to the Vatican.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo appeared to weigh in on Nancy Pelosi ripping up her copy of Trump’s State of the Union by sharing a meme of the character Lisa Simpson crying as she rips up an essay.
Vox’s Matthew Yglesias writes that Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “smart” and “boring” response to the State of the Union, which was immediately overshadowed by Nancy Pelosi tearing up her copy of the speech, demonstrates Democrats’ dilemma in the Trump era:
Whitmer probably made a smart choice by trying to give an earnest policy speech in her response to the State of the Union address, rather than one addressing the president’s crimes or the blood-soaked demagoguery of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in Trump’s speech Tuesday night. …
The problem is it was so boring that I was tempted not to write about it at all. But as someone who strongly believes that treating Trump as a more-or-less ‘normal’ Republican politician is the best way to beat him, I have an obligation not to just tune Democrats out when they try.
That, though, is easier said than done. Trump is such a larger-than-life personality and so skilled at pushing people’s buttons, that following a speech full of reality show antics (a live medal presentation to Rush Limbaugh!) with an earnest discussion of why his paid family leave plan is grossly inadequate compared to Democrats’ plans for real leave and a child allowance ends up seeming gray and sad.
Nancy Pelosi told Fox News that she ripped up her copy of Trump’s State of the Union speech because she couldn’t find “one page with truth on it.”
Asked about Nancy Pelosi ripping up the president’s speech, House Democrats seem to be shifting the focus back on to Trump, who appeared to reject the House speaker’s handshake when he arrived to deliver his State of the Union address.
After ripping up Trump’s State of the Union speech, Nancy Pelosi shared this photo from earlier in the night, when the president appeared to reject her handshake.
But Pelosi’s promise to “never stop extending the hand of friendship to get the job done” seemed to clash with her very public show of opposition to the president when she tore up his remarks.
Congressman Seth Moulton, another former Democratic presidential candidate, said he was among the House Democrats who walked out of the State of the Union.
In additional to the several Democratic lawmakers who walked out of Trump’s speech, at least 10 House Democrats did not attend the event in protest.
One Democratic senator, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, said it was “a mistake” for Democrats to attend the State of the Union at all, comparing the annual speech to a “2020 campaign rally.”
Republican congressman Billy Long said he told Nancy Pelosi that she should auction off her copy of the State of the Union, which she ripped up, for charity.
Long, an actual auctioneer, noted he is auctioning the tie he had Trump sign tonight to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Asked about Nancy Pelosi ripping up Trump’s speech, congressman Al Green, one of the House Democrats who boycotted the State of the Union, blamed the tension on the president for initially rejecting a handshake from the House speaker.
The Republican National Commitee has already started circulating the video of Nancy Pelosi tearing up Trump’s State of the Union speech, as some political commentators predicted the clip would soon find its way into a Republican attack ad.
White House criticizes Pelosi for ripping up speech
The White House has reacted to the clip of Nancy Pelosi tearing up the State of the Union speech, accusing the House speaker of disrespecting the guests Trump invited to the speech.
As Twitter erupted over Nancy Pelosi tearing up Trump’s State of the Union address, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered the Democrats’ English-language response to the speech.
“Every Democrat running for president has a plan to expand health coverage for all Americans,” Whitmer said, taking aim at Trump’s criticisms of the Democratic presidential candidates.
“President Trump, sadly, has a different plan. He’s asking the courts to rip those life-saving protections away. It’s pretty simple. Democrats are trying to make your health care better. Republicans in Washington are trying to take it away.”
But those policy-focused remarks were immediately overshadowed by the tension between Trump and Pelosi, especially considering the annual speech comes one day before the Senate is expected to acquit the president in the impeachment trial.
Longtime congressional reporters said Nancy Pelosi tearing up the paper copy of Trump’s speech underscored what an unprecedented State of the Union it was, from the president’s rejection of the speaker’s handshake to Republican cheers of “Four more years!” in the House chamber.
Pelosi also ignored the traditional introduction of the president as he walked into the chamber.
Asked why she tore up Trump’s speech, House speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was the “courteous thing to do considering the alternative.”
The moment immediately overshadowed the Democratic response being delivered by Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, who is focusing her remarks on healthcare and infrastructure.
Pelosi rips up copy of Trump’s speech after he finishes
Right after Trump concluded his speech, House speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to rip up the paper copy of his speech.
The State of the Union was bookended by Trump appearing to reject a handshake from the speaker and then Pelosi literally tearing apart his remarks.
Updated at 9.13am GMT
Trump ends speech without any mention of impeachment
Trump’s State of the Union ended without a single mention of impeachment, marking a moment of restraint from the unpredictable president.
Trump told reporters earlier today that he was “not bitter” about the impeachment and said his speech would be “extraordinarily low-key,” although the several House Democrats who walked out of the speech would probably disagree with that.
It appears Trump is waiting to take a victory lap until tomorrow, when the Senate is expected to acquit him.
Trump concludes State of the Union
Trump has now concluded his State of the Union after speaking for an hour and 18 minutes and is exiting the House chamber to compliments from Republican lawmakers.
Two Democrats, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and Texas congresswoman Veronica Escobar, will soon deliver responses to the speech.
Updated at 3.30am GMT
Trump reunites military family during State of the Union
In a made-for-television moment, Trump used his State of the Union to reunite a military family separated for seven months by the father’s deployment.
“War places a heavy burden on our Nation’s extraordinary military families, especially spouses like Amy Williams from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and her 2 children — 6-year-old Elliana and 3-year-old Rowan,” Trump said.
“For the past 7 months, she has done it all while her husband, Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams, is in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment to the Middle East.”
Trump then informed Amy and her children that Townsend was present tonight, and the woman burst into tears as her husband appeared in the chamber.
Parkland father escorted out of State of the Union
Fred Guttenberg, the father of a girl who was killed in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was escorted out of the House chamber after he voiced protest to Trump’s comments about gun rights.
“Just as we believe in the First Amendment, we also believe in another Constitutional right that is under siege all across our country,” Trump said. “So long as I am president I will always protect your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
Updated at 3.58am GMT
Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the only two members of “the Squad” to attend tonight’s State of the Union, have walked out of the House chamber.
The pair’s departure come shortly after Trump boasted about the number of conservative judges he has nominated since taking office.
“We have confirmed a record number of 187 new Federal judges to uphold our Constitution as written,” Trump said. “This includes two brilliant new Supreme Court Justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.”
Trump then ad-libbed: “And we have many in the pipeline.”
Updated at 3.17am GMT
Congressman Tim Ryan, a former Democratic presidential candidate who ended his campaign in October, said he walked out of the State of the Union because he has “had enough”:
Democrats in the House chamber groaned as Trump lamented the crime committed by undocumented immigrants, a frequent talking point for the president.
“Tragically, there are many cities in America where radical politicians have chosen to provide sanctuary for these criminal illegal aliens,” Trump said. “In sanctuary cities, local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public, instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed.”
But data clearly shows undocumented immigrants are much less likely to commit crime than native-born citizens. The Washington Post reported in 2018:
A number of studies published in the past several months clearly illustrate the consensus.
The first study, published by the libertarian Cato Institute in February, examines criminal conviction data for 2015 provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety. It found that native-born residents were much more likely to be convicted of a crime than immigrants in the country legally or illegally.
At least two House Democrats have walked out of Trump’s State of the Union speech as the president has criticized them on everything from prescription drug prices to reproductive rights.
Trump presents Rush Limbaugh with Presidential Medal of Freedom
Trump interrupted his stream of boasts about the economy and criticisms of Democrats to award the controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country,” Trump said to Limbaugh, who announced yesterday he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
“Rush, in recognition of all that you have done for our Nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity, I am proud to announce tonight that you will be receiving our country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
Trump then asked the first lady to present Limbaugh with the award, as Democrats in the chamber said “No!” in response to the announcement.
Among many other controversies, Limbaugh once referred to Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who testified to the House about the need for insurance companies to cover contraceptives, as a “slut” and “prostitute.”
Democrats chant name of prescription drug bill in pushback to Trump
As Trump called on Congress to pass a bipartisan bill aimed at lowering prescription drug prices, Democratic lawmakers pushed back by chanting the name of their House-passed bill.
“I am calling for bipartisan legislation that achieves the goal of dramatically lowering prescription drug prices,” Trump said. “Get a bill to my desk, and I will sign it into law without delay.”
House Democrats responded by chanting HR 3, their bill aimed at lowering prescription drug prices, which is named in honor of the late Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings.
Updated at 3.00am GMT
House speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be trying to fact-check Trump in real time as she sits behind the president in the chamber.
Trump warns against those seeking to ‘destroy American healthcare’
Trump took a direct shot at Democratic presidential candidates, like Bernie Sanders, who have called for a single-payer, government-run healthcare system.
“[A]s we work to improve Americans’ healthcare, there are those who want to take away your healthcare, take away your doctor, and abolish private insurance entirely,” Trump said.
“One hundred thirty-two lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our healthcare system, wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million very happy Americans. To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know: We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare!”
This diatribe prompted some outcry from the Democrats in the chamber:
It should also be noted that Trump’s claim of working to protect those with pre-existing conditions is not true:
Trump has given a boost to Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as he seeks to reignite his campaign to bring down Venezuela’s authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro.
Many suspect Trump is starting to give up on Guaidó, who with US backing has spent more than a year trying to unseat Maduro, so far without luck.
But in his speech tonight Trump reaffirmed US support for Venezuela’s “righteous struggle for freedom”.
“The United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro,” Trump said, to loud applause.
“Maduro is an illegitimate ruler – a tyrant who brutalises his people. But Maduro’s grip on tyranny will be smashed and broken,” he added.
Trump described Guaidó, 36, as “a very brave man who carries with him the hopes and aspirations of all Venezuelans” and “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela”.
Trump just introduced one of his State of the Union guests Charles McGee, the Tuskegee airman who also tossed the coin at the Super Bowl on Sunday.
“After more than 130 combat missions in World War II, he came back to a country still struggling for Civil Rights and went on to serve America in Korea and Vietnam,” Trump said of McGee.
“On December 7th, Charles celebrated his 100th birthday. A few weeks ago, I signed a bill promoting Charles McGee to Brigadier General. And earlier today, I pinned the stars on his shoulders in the Oval Office. General McGee: Our Nation salutes you.”
Another moment of bipartisan applause came when Trump introduced Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is a guest at the State of the Union tonight. (Read more about him here.)
The first moment of a bipartisan standing ovation tonight came when Trump touted efforts to reform the criminal justice system.
But Trump pointedly declined to credit Democrats when discussing the recent signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, even though Democratic lawmakers were key to the agreement’s success.
House Democrats were also not invited to the White House signing ceremony of the deal last week, even though administration officials have acknowledged the agreement would not have been reached without them.
As Trump started delivering his annual address, the White House said secretary of the interior David Bernhardt was acting as the “designated survivor” tonight.
Because a large number of senior officials gather at the Capitol for the State of the Union, the White House always designates a Cabinet member to remain behind in case disaster strikes.
The designated survivor is generally one of the lower-ranking Cabinet members. Last year, then-energy secretary Rick Perry served in the role.
Multiple veteran political reporters compared the atmosphere of Trump’s State of the Union to that of his campaign rallies, as Republican lawmakers chanted, “Four more years!” in the House chamber.
Although House speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly asked her caucus members to remain composed tonight, some Democrats audibly groaned when Trump boasted about reversing the “failed economic policies” of the Obama administration.
But Trump has actually added fewer jobs to the US economy per month than Barack Obama did in his second term:
Updated at 2.21am GMT
Republicans chant ‘four more years’ as Trump begins address
As Trump launched into his speech, which is built around the theme of “the great American comeback,” Republicans were quick to jump to their feet to applaud the president and chant, “Four more years!”
Meanwhile, Democrats were silent on the opposite side of the floor while Trump jumped into an address dominated by claiming credit for the strength of the US economy.
Also in the audience is Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, who – with Trump’s backing – has been battling to topple its authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro since last year – so far unsuccessfully.
Guaidó will be hoping for some words of support as he tries to revive his flagging campaign to reinvigorate his crisis-stricken nation.
Here is that moment when Trump appeared to reject a handshake from House speaker Nancy Pelosi as he arrived for his State of the Union address:
Trump snubs Pelosi’s handshake as he arrives for State of the Union
Trump has arrived on Capitol Hill for his State of the Union address and greeted a number of lawmakers and Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts,who has presided over his impeachment trial, as he arrived.
But Trump appeared to reject a handshake from House speaker Nancy Pelosi. The California Democrat seemed to extend a hand toward the president but was ignored.
First lady Melania Trump has arrived and is seated next to conservative radio-show host Rush Limbaugh, who is a guest of the president tonight.
Limbaugh announced yesterday that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, and Trump reportedly intends to award the controversial “shock jock”with the presidential medal of freedom.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi and vice president Mike Pence have taken their seats behind the president’s podium, as the chamber awaits Trump’s arrival.
The Supreme Court justices have arrived to witness the State of the Union, although five of the nine justices are not present tonight.
One of the judges present is obviously chief justice John Roberts, who has overseen the impeachment trial in the past few weeks.
The House impeachment managers are sitting together at the State of the Union and have been teh center of attention for their fellow Democrats.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi has also reportedly warned her caucus members to remain dignified if Trump veers into taunting them for the impeachment trial.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is wearing a Palestinian thobe to the State of the Union as her form of protesting the State of the Union.
Ilhan Omar, another member of the group of progressive congresswomen known as “the Squad,” is also using her attire to protest the president’s annual speech.
The two other members of the Squad, congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, have said they will not attend tonight to protest Trump’s policies and conduct in office.
Trump has officially left the White House and is on his way to the Capitol to deliver his third State of the Union address.
Farage to attend State of the Union
Nigel Farage, the prominent Brexiteer who has been a vocal supporter of Trump, said he would be attending tonight’s State of the Union.
Farage endorsed Trump during the 2016 election and has since interviewed the president on his conservative radio show.
Nancy Pelosi has arrived for Trump’s State of the Union tonight. As the House speaker, Pelosi will be seated behind Trump as he addresses the chamber, an awakward dynamic considering this is the same room where the president was impeached in December.
Pelosi joined dozens of other women lawmakers in wearing white to the event, in honor of the women’s suffrage movement.
Several House Democrats to boycott State of the Union
The State of the Union will begin in just 30 minutes, but at least 10 House Democrats, including well-known congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, will not be present because they are boycotting the event.
The Hill reports:
Most of the 10 Democrats — Reps. Al Green (Texas), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Hank Johnson (Ga.) and Frederica Wilson (Fla.) — have also opted against attending Trump’s past annual addresses to Congress in recent years as an expression of protest against his presidency.
Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley, who have been targets of Trump over the last year, both announced Tuesday that they will not be in the House chamber for the address.
AOC said in a tweet earlier today that she would not allow her presence at the annual address to “normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution”:
Trump’s speech excerpts claim victory with an eye toward reelection
The White House has released some of the excerpts from Trump’s speech tonight, and the bulk of them are dedicated to declaring victory on everything from trade deals to job creation.
“Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback,” the president is expected to say. “Tonight, I stand before you to share the incredible results. …
“In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back.”
Some of the speech clearly seems aimed at his reelection race later this year, pledging to protect the country from “socialism” and deliver the best healthcare options.
“A good life for American families also requires the most affordable, innovative, and high-quality healthcare system on earth,” Trump will say. “We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions. … We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.”
Some Democratic presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders have called for replacing the US healthcare system with a government-run, single-payer system, and Trump is clearly eager to contrast himself with the progressive White House hopeful.
White House officials have said the theme of Trump’s State of the Union speech will be “the great American comeback,” with the goal of touting the strength of the US economy and the appointment of conservative judges.
The theme is in line with Trump’s reelection slogan to “Keep America Great.” The president has consistently tried to convey his first term as one focused on delivering the campaign promises he made in 2016.
But Democrats scoff at that assessment, insisting the US economy has succeeded despite Trump’s efforts and accusing the president of failing to follow through on any of his signature campaign promises.
That clash will likely be on vivid display tonight as Trump delivers his speech, followed by two Democratic responses from Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and Texas congresswoman Veronica Escobar.
Two rising stars to deliver Democratic responses
Two rising stars on the left — Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and freshman congresswoman Veronica Escobar — will deliver the Democratic responses to the State of the Union, one in English and the other in Spanish.
Whitmer flipped her state’s governor’s mansion in 2018, and many senior Democrats pointed to her victory as a path forward for the party in the Midwest.
Whitmer won her race by 10 points by appealing to more moderate voters with her promise to “fix the damn roads,” and some Democrats believe that sort of pragmatism will be needed to win Michigan in the November election. (Trump narrowly carried the state over Hillary Clinton in 2016.)
Escobar is a first-term congresswoman from Texas, and her El Paso district, which was previously represented by former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, has been at the center of some high-profile fights with the Trump administration.
Given her city’s proximity to the US-Mexican border, Escobar has repeatedly clashed with the White House over immigration policies, and she called for stricter gun laws after a shooter spewing white nationalist beliefs killed 22 people at a local Walmart in August.
Put together, these two women appeal to crucial elements of the electorate whose votes Democrats will need to flip the White House in November.
Trump to deliver State of the Union as he awaits acquittal
Good evening, live blog readers!
Just one day after the disastrous Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the Union address to Congress as he awaits acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial.
The Senate will hold its final vote on the two articles of impeachment at 4pm ET tomorrow, and Trump is virtually guaranteed to be acquitted by the Republican-controlled chamber.
However, the vote did not come soon enough for the president to be able to take a victory lap in his annual speech tonight, so it will be hanging over his head as he addresses the American people in the same room where he was impeached by House Democrats less than two months ago.
Trump has said he does not intend to lash out against his Democratic foes tonight, but with this president, anything is possible. Some have also wondered if he’ll use the opportunity to mock Democrats for their mishandling of last night’s Iowa caucuses.
We’ll find out soon. The speech will begin at 9pm ET, so stay tuned.
Updated at 12.54am GMT
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
When women reach the polling booths to cast their vote in current village council elections in Rajasthan, they may be asked to remove their veil, showing their faces in front of strangers.
The move is controversial in this vast, conservative rural hinterland, where the veil is worn by Hindu and Muslim women as well as other groups.
But the state’s chief minister, Ashok Gehlot, wants the centuries-old custom, which he describes as a “relic of a bygone era”, banned. It’s part of his recently launched ghoonghat hatao (end the veil) campaign, which he claims seeks to empower women.
“Women need to be empowered. They have the capacity to bring changes in society and their role is very crucial. There is no need for women to wear the ghoonghat in a modern world where humans have reached the moon and Mars,” he said.
As well as asking women to remove veils during elections, local officials will visit villages every Friday in an attempt to persuade women to stop the practice and encourage husbands and fathers to back the move.
“We’re hoping that when people see this message being given by respected figures of authority, rather than activists, it will make an impression,” said Anuradha Saxena, assistant director of the women and child development department in Sikar district.
Posters are going up in government offices and public places and social media will be used to spread the message. Eventually, the campaign will be taken into schools so that young girls are taught that the veil is not necessary as an emblem of morality.
Though largely confined to rural areas, the custom, which can also be found in other parts of north India, is particularly common in Rajasthan. Women cover their faces in front of men and after marriage they often remain at home, accepting a traditional role under male authority. Women who fail to do so may be deemed immodest. Even royal women, who do not wear the veil, keep their heads covered in public.
A 2017 survey by the Centre for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania found that 98% of women aged 18 to 25 in Rajasthan wore the veil.
Change is happening in the state, however. Young women from the countryside often abandon the veil when they arrive at college. Many women in urban areas have discarded the custom.
The campaign is still in its infancy, but Saxena said that at village meetings she has attended, reactions have been mixed. Most people feel deeply uneasy at the thought of stopping such an ingrained custom, she said. One woman told her she felt naked without it.
“A few weeks isn’t going to undo the habit of centuries, but once a few women take the lead, that will break down the resistance. All the state midwives and rural health workers keep their faces uncovered as they go about their work in villages, so they also set an example,” she said.
Prakash Chand Pawan, commissioner of the Rajasthan women empowerment department, said this was the first time any government in the state has attempted to ban the veil. “We are clear in our message. Look at urban women, we tell them. Despite no veil, they respect their elders and treat their family members with honour, so they can too,” said Pawan.
One of the posters shows a traditionally-turbaned man saying he will no longer support a dated custom and insists his wife and daughters discard the veil. His wife responds by saying that now she is more aware, she won’t cover her face – and won’t expect her daughter-in-law to do so either.
Conservative groups are, however, resisting the move. The Hindu fringe group Karni Sena said the veil was a vital part of Rajasthan tradition.
Though Gehlot’s campaign seems to be primarily aimed at Hindu women, an orthodox Muslim group echoed Karni Sena’s sentiments, telling Gehlot not to interfere in the community’s religious traditions.
Local activist Kavita Srivastava welcomed the campaign but said Gehlot needed to have a much more detailed and timebound action plan. “He also needs a plan in place to handle any backlash. Our experience shows that when ancient customs are challenged, it can trigger anger, even violence,” she said.
Gehlot says he wants the veil gone simply so that women can move in the world like men. “Let the women breathe in open air,” he said.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
The content previously published here has been withdrawn. We apologise for any inconvenience.
I was put off rice pudding for life at school, but recanted in India when I tasted kheer: sweet, creamy proof that I’d simply never eaten a good one. Consider the recipe below my attempt at short-grain evangelism. Deliciously rich and subtly spiced, I hope it will win this supremely comforting dessert a few more righteous converts.
Prep 15 min
Cook 2 hr
½ vanilla pod
50g soft light brown sugar
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
100g pudding rice (short-grain) – see step 4
1 litre full-cream milk
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
1 pinch salt
150ml double cream
2 tbsp sweet sherry, preferably Pedro Ximénez (optional)
1 Oven or hob?
Heat the oven to 160C (140 fan)/320F/gas 2½. If you prefer, you can make the pudding on the stove top in a heavy-based pan, partially covering the pan and cooking it over a very gentle heat, but I find it easier to keep a constant temperature in the oven. It also means you can leave it to do its own thing.
2 Choose your pot and melt the butter
However you’re ultimately cooking the pudding, you’ll need to start proceedings on the hob. If you have a medium pie dish that’s flameproof, start by melting the butter in that over a low heat, otherwise use a large pan. Meanwhile, slit the vanilla pod down its length and scrape out most of the seeds, setting both aside with the other spices.
3 Add the flavourings
Once the butter has melted, stir in the sugar and cook for a minute or so, until it dissolves, then add the bay leaf, vanilla pod and seeds, ground nutmeg and cinnamon, and toast for 30 seconds or so. Pour in the rice, and stir until the grains are well coated with butter and have become slightly translucent and started to swell.
4 A note on the rice
If you don’t have pudding rice, you can make this with risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli, vialone nano) or, at a pinch, even long-grain varieties, such as the pleasantly fragrant basmati, but they will absorb the milk at a different rate, which will alter the consistency of the finished dish, so check on the pudding at regular intervals and add more liquid as necessary.
5 Add the dairy, booze and lemon
Pour the milk into the pan, stirring as you do so to dislodge any clumps of rice or sugar that have formed on the bottom. Add the lemon zest, then stir in a pinch of salt, the cream and sherry, if using, and bring to just below a simmer. (If you don’t have sherry, but want to add some alcohol, see step 7.)
6 Bake the pudding
Put the pot or pie dish into the hot oven (or transfer the rice pudding mix to an ovenproof dish, if you need to), and bake for about two hours, until it has just set on top, but is still slightly wobbly when shaken. It may well need longer, but check on it regularly, because in this instance, too runny is better than too dry. And leave it to cool down to warm before tucking in.
7 Variations on the theme
This recipe is for a very basic rice pudding, and is easily adapted to other flavour combinations. The alcohol, for example, could be madeira, rum or whisky, or indeed any liqueur you fancy, from Irish cream to amaretto, though personally I’d steer clear of creme de menthe as a general rule, as well as in this pudding.
8 Fruit or no fruit?
I often serve rice pudding with stewed fruit – this one goes particularly well with apples – but you can also add a handful of dried fruit to the mixture at the same time as the lemon zest; if you like, soak it in warm sherry, rum, etc, for an hour or so beforehand. Others might well prefer chocolate chips, in which case I’d recommend swapping the lemon zest for orange.
9 Alternative flavourings
The spices are also up to you: substitute crushed cardamom pods and saffron for a more Indian note, add a dash of rose or orange blossom water for a taste of the Middle East (a scattering of roughly chopped pistachios or cashews would be good with either of those), or leave the spices out altogether if you prefer a plainer dessert, or if you want to serve the pudding with a highly flavoured jam or compote.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
- The head of the World Health Organization has written to all health ministers urging them immediately to improve data-sharing on coronavirus.
- Britons in China have criticised updated advice from the Foreign Office urging them to leave China if they can.
- Canada is preparing to repatriate about 300 of its citizens from Wuhan this Thursday.
- The number of people who have tested negative for the virus in the UK is now up to 414. Two people who have tested positive are in hospital in Newcastle.
- The death toll in China from the virus has increased to 425, and confirmed cases have passed 20,000. The mortality rate stands at 2.1%.
- The new hospital in Wuhan, built in 10 days, has accepted its first patients. Macau says it will shut its casinos for two weeks to try to stop spread of virus.
- Japan has prevented passengers from leaving a cruise ship after a male passenger was found to be infected with the coronavirus when he disembarked in Hong Kong late last month.
- Taiwan bans entry of foreign nationals who have visited China in previous 14 days.
- The US has reported its second human-to-human case of transmission. Belgian has reported its first coronavirus case, in a woman who was on a repatriation flight from Wuhan.
Updated at 6.52pm GMT
WHO chief urges health ministries to share coronavirus data
So far 22 nations have officially reported trade or travel-related measures linked to the coronavirus, which WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said should be “short in duration, proportionate” and reviewed regularly.
Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the WHO executive board that some restrictions went against the UN agency’s advice, and he told countries “not to over-react”.
So far 27 cases of person-to-person spread of the virus have been documented in nine countries outside of China, WHO officials said. The overall public health cost of the outbreak response from February to April is estimated at 5m, which does not include the social or economic consequences of the outbreak, they added.
Updated at 6.12pm GMT
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said it is taking steps to speed up the development of vaccines and treatments for coronavirus.
In a statement on the agency’s website, Guido Rasi, its executive director, said it had activated its plan for “managing emerging health threats”.
He said: “The new coronavirus has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization, and we are drawing on the strong expertise of the European medicines network to provide fast-track scientific advice and give prompt feedback on any proposed medicine developments.”
Updated at 6.12pm GMT
More Britons have been contacting the Guardian with their responses to the Foreign Office’s call for them to leave China.
David, a teacher and poet in Shanghai, who preferred to keep his surname private, said:
The announcement by Dominic Raab has certainly caused a stir, but feels particularly like something said as though in order to get excuses in early. The UK government was strongly criticised for its lamentable handling of the evacuations from Wuhan, and it’s announcement today feels a bit like “leave, because we won’t come and help you”.
For many of us this has put us in an impossible position. I’m gay, my partner is Chinese. We met in the UK and have been together many years, but we are not married. It would be very unlikely he’d be able to leave China with me – and I can’t exactly see our government handing out visas to partners and dependants.
It’s all a bit of a shocker really.
Tom Styles, a teacher at a language school in Huizhou, Guangdong province, said:
I’ve lived in China for the past 7 years … and myself and fellow Brits have been left baffled by today’s announcement by Dominic Raab. It seemed such a generic blanket statement …
How long should we go back for? What to do about our jobs (all of which have been very understanding and supportive giving us updates, free masks, advice etc). Why now? There seems to be no great spike in numbers compared to previous days, do they know something we don’t?
Unless there’s a good reason for this it doesn’t help with the general sense of paranoia at the moment and will add further worry to our friends and family back home.
Updated at 6.11pm GMT
Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, has sharply criticised the government’s advice to British nationals in China that they should return to the UK.
From the very start of this outbreak, the government’s response has been a total shambles, and now they appear to be telling British nationals in China simply to fend for themselves in terms of getting out of the country.
How on earth has the Foreign Office not got plans and protocols in place for how these crises are managed? The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens, at home and abroad, and Boris Johnson is manifestly failing to do that.
The AFP agency reports that the foreign ministers of France and Germany are considering the possibility that Europe could impose a US-style ban on foreign visitors who have recently been to China, in an effort to battle the spread of coronavirus.
“Indeed, there is the question of possible travel restrictions or at least increased examination [of travellers) at the border,” Germany’s Jens Spahn said at a meeting in Paris with his French counterpart Agnes Buzyn.
He was responding to a question about whether Europe would consider a ban similar to that imposed by the United States, which China has accused of spreading “panic”.
“It makes no sense that a single country takes measures” on a continent with border-free travel between most nations, said Spahn.
The new coronavirus has killed more than 400 people and infected a further 20,000 in China since emerging in December and has now spread to more than 20 other countries.
Buzyn agreed that travel restriction “is one of the questions for European ministers. We must have a coherent vision in the [passport-free] Schengen area. There is no sense in one country taking this type of decision while citizens move around freely.”
Buzyn said they would ask the Croatian presidency of the EU council to call a meeting of health ministers within days to discuss further measures needed in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
“We would like … closer cooperation so that we have exactly the same measures in all countries in order to be consistent in Europe since there is this free movement of people, and we wish to maintain this free movement.”
Updated at 5.47pm GMT
An eight-year-old boy has been diagnosed with coronavirus in Queensland, bringing Australia’s total number of patients with the illness up to 13, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports.
The child is Chinese and from Wuhan, where the outbreak began, and had been travelling in the same tour group as Queensland’s two other confirmed coronavirus patients, a 44-year-old man and a 42-year-old woman.
He has been placed in isolation at the Gold Coast university hospital and is in a stable condition, according to ABC.
Updated at 5.19pm GMT
The updated advice from the Foreign Office warning all British nationals to leave China has left many Britons wondering what to do. With many holding down jobs and relationships, keeping pets or even raising children in the country, it is not simple to up sticks and leave.
Robin Mitchell, a 38-year-old lecturer in Xiamen, Fujian province, has a six-year-old daughter with his Chinese partner. He said:
I have just read that the Foreign Office has advised us Brits to leave China, and that Professor Head thinks this move will be reassuring. I’d just like to assure the professor that this news is about as far from reassuring as possible.
For most expats, leaving China is not like cutting a holiday short. We have jobs, houses, pets and (most importantly of all) family here. I, and presumably hundreds or possibly thousands like me, have a child with a Chinese partner, which complicates matters even further as visa applications take months.
Since the outbreak the consulate has not made any attempt to contact any expat I know, and appears to have completely jumped ship (if media reports are to be believed).
If Dominic Raab is serious about our safety as his priority, he could start by assuring us that Chinese parents of British nationals will be allowed to enter the UK if we follow his advice and leave China.
Another Briton, a recent graduate who is working as an English teacher in Chengdu, and who preferred not to be named, called the Foreign Office advice an “unwelcome intervention”. He pointed out that, alongside financial responsibilities such as continuing to pay rent for their Chinese homes, some British nationals simply can’t afford a ticket out. He said:
The recent advice from the government – for UK nationals to leave China as soon as we are able – has come at an already tense time for many of us in Chengdu. As you will already know, the Chinese authorities have prolonged the spring festival until the 10th February, however, my company has put in place systems whereby we can, or rather have to, work from home. This mainly involves correcting students’ oral presentations or reading practice on the Chinese messaging app WeChat.
At the same time, many foreign teachers have chosen to take unpaid leave in order to return home. The company has not yet made it clear to us when classes will resume in earnest (though early March has made its way through the rumour mill) and this has left many of us in a state of limbo. Do we follow the precedent set by others, potentially leaving China for an uncertain length of time, which might in some way jeopardize our contracts, or do we hold out for further information from the company or the Chinese authorities, by which time it might be even more difficult to leave.
The advice from the UK government is therefore somewhat of an unwelcome intervention as no new information on the virus has been provided. It also ignores the fact that many of us in China have financial responsibilities, paying rent being chief amongst them, that we cannot simply ignore or afford to neglect. This is beside the fact that some of us simply can’t afford the price of a flight home at the moment.
We’re in a bind with no new information from either the Chinese or British governments with regards to the severity or spread of the virus and a lack of transparency from our company as to the future conditions of our employment. Many staff are understandably scared of the recent outbreak and what it might mean for our health but I would say that concerns regarding our employment are of equal if not greater immediate importance and unfortunately the government’s advice offers no easy solution pertaining to this issue.
Updated at 5.11pm GMT
Six more cases of coronavirus have been detected in Singapore, including four with no recent travel history to China, bringing the total number of infected patients in the city state up to 24, reports the English-language local news channel CNA.
CNA’s report cites Singapore’s health ministry as saying that the four cases of local transmission are linked to travellers from China, whilst the other two were Singaporeans repatriated from Wuhan on 30 January.
Levels of concern over the spread of coronavirus remain high in York, where the UK’s only two positive-tested cases of the illness were detected last week.
York Central’s MP, Rachael Maskell, raised concerns in a Commons debate about the coronavirus on Monday, in particular raising concerns about how MPs, the NHS, the council and other statutory agencies have been briefed over Coronavirus developments in the city, reports York paper The Press. She said:
I particularly thank Public Health England for the advice it has provided throughout the weekend, but levels of concern remain high in York. Not only is that impacting on the local economy, but people are concerned. That concern could be alleviated by better communication and if the statutory bodies — including the local authority, the university, the police and other authorities — are kept better informed about what is happening.
A reader from York emailed me to say he senses a huge disparity between what was happening in York, where the patients were detected, in Newcastle, where they have been taken for treatment, and in the Wirral, where British nationals repatriated from Wuhan have been taken to quarantine. He said:
In the Wirral there is military grade assistance to care for people suspected with Corona virus, whereas in York there is nothing, and we’ve actually had it here. There is huge concern about whether the virus was passed onto anyone.
PHE are not giving out any information and it’s impossible to know if we are at risk or not. We don’t know when the two individuals arrived, how they got here?, how long they stayed?, where did they go?, where did they eat? York City Council even announced that York was ‘safe and open for business’ shortly after the coronavirus discovery was published. This careless statement filled the streets over the weekend. York has given every opportunity possible to spread this virus.
Rachael Maskell, our local MP, has voiced her concerns over the lack of information whereas York city council have a blasé attitude of “just sneeze into your elbow and essentially keep calm and carry on.”
The people of York want answers so we can make informed decisions.
Updated at 5.11pm GMT
Canadian police have arrested a man on a charge of “mischief” after he falsely told passengers and crew on a Jamaica-bound flight he was infected with coronavirus, forcing the plane to turn back mid-flight, reports Leyland Cecco from Toronto.
The WestJet plane departed Toronto Monday morning for Montego Bay. Two hours into the flight— halfway to its destination— the 29 year old man told passengers he had recently visited China and contracted the virus.
Flight crews quickly gave the man a mask and rubber gloves, requesting he move to the back of the plane.
“Out of an abundance of caution, our crew followed all protocols for infectious disease on board, including sequestering an individual who made an unfounded claim regarding coronavirus,” WestJet said in a statement.
After the pilot was made aware of the situation, the plane turned around midair. Because the passenger’s claims of recently visiting China barred the flight from landing in the US, the pilot was forced to return back in Toronto, where police and medical crews were waiting.
WestJet apologized to frustrated passengers, placing them on a new flight that departed early Tuesday morning.
Updated at 4.40pm GMT
Canada readies flight to repatriate 300 nationals
Canada is preparing to repatriate about 300 of its citizens from Wuhan this Thursday, a Canadian government source has told Reuters.
Canadians in the city received an email from their government’s foreign ministry saying a plane was expected to leave on 6 February, according to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
However, a Canadian government source said the Chinese government had yet to give final consent for the flight, Reuters says. Residents of Wuhan and Hubei have been under quarantine for a few weeks as China attempts to contain the spread of the virus.
According to a portion of the letter the CBC posted online, not everyone who is eligible for a seat will get one.
Canadian evacuees will be flown first to Vancouver, where the plane will refuel, and then on to Trenton Air Force base in southern Ontario, where they will be placed in quarantine for 14 days.
Damien Gayle taking over the reins on the liveblog now. As usual I want to hear your news, experiences and questions, from wherever you are in the world, to make sure our coverage is comprehensive. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach me through my Twitter profile, @damiengayle.
Experts have described the Foreign Office’s decision to advise British nationals to leave China as “prudent” but say it should not be seen as sign that virus has become any more risky.
Dr Nathalie MacDermott, clinical lecturer, King’s College London, said:
“Given the increasing number of cases of 2019-nCoV in China and the spread to multiple large cities within China, which have now also demonstrated increasing numbers of cases and localised transmission within those cities, this advice is prudent. The advice is not an indicator of a change in what we understand of the virus or its virulence, it is a decision made on the proportionate risk to British citizens in light of the scale of the epidemic. While the risk to British citizens in China remains low, the continued spread of the virus in large cities increases the chances of infection and potentially the risk of implementation of transport restrictions in the future.”
Prof Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham, said:
“Clearly the government is getting concerned about the increasing number and spread of the novel coronavirus within China and the risk that this might pose to UK residents living or planning to visit China.”
“This is a judgement call – and not an easy one to make.”
Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said:
“This move will probably be reassuring to UK citizens in China. There may be significant local uncertainty as to how much risk there is of being exposed to this new coronavirus, and so it seems reasonable to makes attempts to support their removal from the country, until the spread of cases within China has reduced.”
Prof Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine, University of East Anglia, said:
“It should be noted that this is advice and not a legal restriction. The World Health Organization still says ‘WHO advises against the application of any restrictions of international traffic based on the information currently available on this event’. Given that the new advice is not an absolute restriction, the UK’s position does not conflict with that of the WHO.
“It is still not yet possible to know how the outbreak will develop over the coming weeks and months but the current risks to British Nationals resident in most of mainland China remains low.
“If this current epidemic does develop into a pandemic with outbreaks in multiple countries then travel restrictions will become increasingly difficult to implement and less relevant towards the control of international spread.”
These comments were compiled by the Science Media Centre.
Updated at 4.38pm GMT
414 people tested negative in the UK
The number of people who have tested negative for the virus in the UK is now up to 414, according to the latest daily update from the Department of Health and Social Care.
Two people who tested positive are being treated at a special unit in Newcastle.
A Belgian woman who has just tested positive for coronavirus was on the same French repatriation flight that brought back 11 UK evacuees from Wuhan.
The woman was one of nine Belgians on board the flight, Belgium’s health agency said.
It was a French chartered flight evacuated more than 250 people from 30 countries including the UK. The French plane first landed at a military airbase in Istres, southern France. The non-French evacuees were then flown to their respective countries.
Twenty evacuees presented some coronavirus symptoms and stayed at the military airbase to allow test to be carried out.
The Belgian woman who has tested positive showed no signs symptoms of the virus.
Earlier the WHO reported that the virus was stable and there was no evidence it was mutating, but Chinese scientists have reported “striking” mutations between family members, the South China Post reports.
Researchers studying a cluster of infections within a family in the southern province of Guangdong said the genes of the virus went through some significant changes as it spread within the family.
Viruses mutate all the time, but most changes are synonymous or “silent”, having little effect on the way the virus behaves. Others, known as nonsynonymous substitutions, can alter biological traits, allowing them to adapt to different environments.
Two nonsynonymous changes took place in the viral strains isolated from the family, according to a new study by Professor Cui Jie and colleagues at the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai.
This case indicated “viral evolution may have occurred during person-to-person transmission”, they wrote in the paper published in the journal National Science Review on 29 January.
Updated at 3.13pm GMT
What we know so far
Here’s a summary of what we know so far:
- The Foreign Office has urged UK citizens to leave China if they can. In updated travel advice it said: “commercial airlines are still operating, but it may become harder to access departure options over the coming weeks”.
- The World Health Organization said the virus is not yet a pandemic. It added that it was showing no evidence of mutating.
- The death toll in China from the virus has increased to 425, with confirmed cases passing 20,000. The mortality rate currently stands at 2.1%.
- The new hospital in Wuhan, built in 10 days, has accepted its first patients. Macau says it will shut its casinos for two weeks to try to stop spread of virus
- Japan has prevented passengers from leaving a cruise ship after a male passenger was found to be infected with the coronavirus when he disembarked in Hong Kong late last month.
- Taiwan bans entry of foreign nationals who have visited China in previous 14 days.
- The US has reported its second human-to-human case of transmission. Belgian has reported its first case in a woman who was on a repatriation flight from Wuhan.
Updated at 3.06pm GMT
The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has been noticeably absent from public view as his government scrambles to fight the coronavirus outbreak that claimed more than 400 lives and infected more than 20,000 people.
His most recent public appearance was on 28 January when he met the director general of the World Health Organization in Beijing and said he was “personally commanding” the response to the outbreak.
Yet Xi does not appear to be the face of the government’s fight against the virus. He has not been pictured visiting hospitals, doctors or patients. In the days after officials acknowledged the gravity of the crisis it was the premier, Li Keqiang, who visited Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak. While photos of a long convoy prompted rumours over the weekend that Xi was on his way to Wuhan, he has yet to turn up.
Foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, has confirmed that his officials are now urging UK citizens to leave China (see earlier). Raab said:
“We now advise British nationals in China to leave the country if they can, to minimise their risk of exposure to the virus.
“Where there are still British nationals in Hubei province who wish to be evacuated, we will continue to work around the clock to facilitate this.”
The Foreign Office said that commercial flights departing China were available throughout the country, except in Hubei where the virus originated.
Updated at 2.40pm GMT
Russia has sent planes to China as it begins its evacuation of Russian citizens from Wuhan and Hubei province, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.
More than 700 Russians are said to be living in the region, of which 132 had expressed a desire to return to Russia, the country’s embassy in Beijing has reported. They will be subjected to a two-week quarantine period, possibly at a Russian military hospital. The quarantine site has not been made public.
In the past few days, Russia has quickly stepped up travel restrictions to and from China. Late Monday night, the government announced a temporary ban on direct travel for foreigners from China to Russia, except via Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
Two cases of infection have been reported in Russia, one in Siberia and the other in Russia’s Far East. Both of the victims are Chinese citizens. One of the men, Yan Wunbin, wrote in a letter to the Chita.ru website that he was never given his test results and only learned that he had been diagnosed with the coronavirus from media reports.
He complained about conditions at the hospital in Russia’s Zabaykalsky Krai region about 240 miles from the Chinese border. There were not enough doctors on call and he was worried for the health of his two-year-old daughter, who was ill and in quarantine with him.
“If I am indeed infected, I want to apologise to everyone,” he wrote. “I am hoping for help, because my child has a temperature and diarrhoea. I understand from Chinese media that this is very dangerous, but the conditions in the hospital are not sufficient for our rehabilitation.”
Updated at 1.33pm GMT
Here’s a map showing where the virus has spread:
Updated at 1.08pm GMT
UK tells its citizens to leave China
The Foreign Office has urged UK citizens to leave China if they can. In updated travel advice it says:
The British Consulates-General in Wuhan and Chongqing are currently closed. If you’re in China and able to leave, you should do so. The elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be at heightened risk …
Some airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have announced a suspension of flights to and from mainland China. Other commercial airlines are still operating, but it may become harder to access departure options over the coming weeks.
Updated at 1.31pm GMT
There is no evidence so far that the virus is mutating, Briand is also reported to have said.
“It is quite a stable virus”, China Global Television Network quoted her .
Updated at 12.31pm GMT
WHO: coronavirus not yet pandemic
The World Health Organization has said the outbreak does not yet constitute a “pandemic”.
The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: “Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci.”
Briand said that while there is rapid spread of transmission in Hubei, the cases outside the province are mainly “spillover cases” with sporadic clusters of transmission.
At the same time, authorities in China have taken dramatic measures to halt transmission, while other affected countries have also taken steps to avoid the spread of the virus.
“We hope that based on those measures in Hubei but also in other places where we have had spillover, we can stop transmission and get rid of this virus,” she said.
Updated at 1.19pm GMT
Thousands of African students in Wuhan, the centre of the coronavirus epidemic, face dwindling food supplies, limited information and lockdowns restricting them to their campuses or hostels.
Two weeks after restrictions on movement were imposed, residents are running short of basic necessities, say students in the central Chinese city.
Several people described profound anxiety, insufficient food and a lack of information. Many complained about the lack of assistance received from their own embassies, but refrained from criticising Chinese authorities.
African countries are rushing to reinforce their defences against the rapidly spreading coronavirus, as health officials say many countries on the continent are ill-equipped to combat the potentially lethal disease.
There have been no verified infections in Africa to date, but porous borders, a continuing flow of travellers and poorly resourced healthcare systems have raised fears that the virus could spread rapidly if the precautions of local authorities prove inadequate.
“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director general, said last week.
Another British university has been hit by a coronavirus scare as a student returning from China was “self-isolated” amid fears they may have contracted the deadly illness.
The University of Southampton revealed the unnamed student felt “unwell” after landing in the UK yesterday, Solent News reports.
Fearing they had contracted the disease, the student went straight from the airport to their flat in the city and called an ambulance which took them to Southampton General hospital.
The student was kept in overnight. They were discharged this morning but only after being told they would have to ”self-isolate” until further notice.
The university said it had carried out a “deep clean” on the communal areas of the building including the lift to stop the spread of any potential outbreak.
A spokesman for the University of Southampton said: “We have spoken to the student’s flatmates and, also following the guidance from PHE, they have agreed to self-isolate until we receive further clarification from local health services.”
Updated at 12.01pm GMT
A London man who has just flown back from Shanghai to Gatwick said he was alarmed by the relaxed approach of British officials who refused to accept forms detailing where he had travelled in China.
Speaking to the Guardian, the man who did not want to be named, said China Air staff were very insistent that he fill in the two-page form, which asked for contact details and where he had been and where he planned to go next.
He said: “I was surprised to see that these were not accepted on arrival. I tried to hand them to staff, who said they had never seen these forms before and not to bother.”
He reported the incident to Public Health England.
He said: “When I passed through passport control, the guy said he’d never seen the form before. He said: ‘don’t bother with that, because if there’s any problems they would have told you directly’.”
“When I got to the customs I asked again and everyone was let through. I could have left other regions that have confirmed cases, including Shanghai, where there are also confirmed cases.
He added: “On the Shanghai side we were sprayed with aerosol disinfectant. Everyone’s made to wear a mask and the gloves, etc.”
The man contrasted the stringent virus controls being imposed in China with the relaxed approach in the UK.
“Everyone here is kind of blaming Chinese people, but they’re taking precautions and when you come here you are just let through. There is this self-righteous British tone from other media outlets constantly looking at how China is reacting to it, without asking what we could be doing. I’m not saying that we should automatically close the borders, but there’s middle steps that are not happening, and that just seems lazy and not planned out at the moment.”
“I was surprised because I know there has been concern to track the 2,000 people who flew to the UK from Wuhan before the outbreak was known. The fact they had not managed to find these 2,000 people sounded alarming to me. It has been declared a world public emergency, and the UK authorities still don’t seem to care about where people are going and where you’ve been.”
“In the district I live in there were no cases until yesterday, the day that I flew out. I’m happy to be back.
“Before I flew back I had self quarantine for 16 days. And on the journey I wore a mask, goggles, gloves and had alcohol handle gel.”
He still has the form and photographed a section to illustrate the tone of the document:
Updated at 1.08pm GMT
One of the infected Thai drivers, a 70-year-old, also had tuberculosis and was transferred into government care from a private hospital on Monday in a worse condition than the others.
The other driver was tracked down by Thai authorities after being identified as one of the people in contact with an infected Chinese tourist, Suwannachai said.
Thailand confirmed its first case of human-to-human transmission on Friday when a taxi driver tested positive. The country’s 25 cases consist of six Thais and 19 Chinese. Seventeen remain in hospital and eight have gone home, according to the health official.
Earlier on Tuesday, South Korea reported a 42-year-old woman has tested positive for coronavirus after visiting Thailand. It was not clear yet where she had contracted the virus.
Updated at 10.40am GMT
China’s national health commission announced on Tuesday that the national mortality rate of coronavirus is running at 2.1%.
In Hubei province, which accounts for 97% of all fatalities, the rate is 3%. The commission said 80% of deaths were of people over the age of 60 and 75% had underlying conditions.
The Guardian’s explainer on the virus points out that the current death rates are likely to be an overestimate. This is because more people are likely to have been infected by the virus but not suffered severe enough symptoms to attend hospital, and so have not been counted.
For comparison, seasonal flu typically has a mortality rate below 1% and is thought to cause about 400,000 deaths each year globally. Sars had a death rate of more than 10%.
Updated at 10.41am GMT
More patients have been transferred to a rapidly built new hospital in Wuhan.
The first 50 patients were moved into Huoshenshan hospital, a prefabricated structure on the outskirts of Wuhan.
The 1,000-bed facility is equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment, including negative-pressure isolation wards to prevent the virus from breaking the air seal. A second hospital, Leishenshan, is due to be ready soon and will provide a further 1,600 beds.
Updated at 10.42am GMT
The virus has created a rare opening in domestic media coverage for debate and criticism – some from government bodies such as the supreme people’s court or the usually pro-government editor of Global Times.
But analysts say the outbreak is just as likely to justify more surveillance and invasive methods by the government. “The epidemic has given the authorities an excuse to boost control over the country,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Definitely we will see more control and surveillance.”
Updated at 9.55am GMT
Hong Kong’s hospital authority says hospitals in the territory have admitted 64 people in the last 24 hours showing symptoms of coronavirus.
It comes after Hong Kong reported its first death from the virus – a 39-year-old man believed to have had underlying health issues.
An official also revealed that of the 17 confirmed case of the virus in Hong Kong, four are likely to have been locally transmitted.
Updated at 9.56am GMT
The authorities in Shanghai have confirmed that a seven-month-old baby girl has contracted the virus. She is the youngest person in the city to catch it, according to the Shanghai Daily.
The girl’s maternal grandparents came back to Shanghai from a trip to Wuhan on 20 January, an official said. He said the case underlined the need for anyone who has travel to Wuhan to disclose their movements to the authorities.
There are also reports of a confirmed case in a one-month-old in Guizhou.
Updated at 9.56am GMT
Officials from the world’s largest oil producers are meeting in Vienna, the headquarters of the Opec oil cartel, today and tomorrow to discuss the sharp slide in the crude oil price following the coronavirus outbreak.
Brent crude fell to its lowest level in more than a year yesterday, at .17 a barrel, while US crude dropped below a barrel. Prices have bounced back a little this morning on hopes of further production cuts.
Technical experts from Opec and its allies, including Russia – a group known as Opec+ – are expected to debate a cut of about 500,000 a barrels a day in Vienna, and whether to hold an emergency meeting of energy ministers in mid-February.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a note:
“Oil prices are now at levels where we would expect a supply response from both Opec and shale producers, and where China would likely seek to build crude inventories.”
At the same time, some calm has returned to world stock markets following last week’s heavy losses. Chinese central bankers have pumped extra liquidity into markets and perhaps instructions from authorities not to panic are working. All Asian and European stock markets are higher.
Chinese stocks rose between 1.3% and 1.8% and in London the FTSE 100 index is up 1.5% at 7434.39, a gain of more than 100 points.
Business Live has more:
Updated at 9.57am GMT
Adam Bridgeman and his wife and baby son were among 11 UK evacuees flown from Wuhan on a French-chartered flight, and are in now in quarantine at Arrowe Park in Wirral.
He missed a UK evacuation flight on Friday after confusion about whether his wife, Su, a Chinese national, would be allowed to travel. He told BBC Breakfast that all three of them were relieved to be back in the UK after an anxious flight.
Bridgeman said: “It was very stressful because we have a young young child, who is only one month old. We’re very worried about taking him to a place with lots of people who possibly have the virus, so it was it was an ordeal.”
He added: “As soon as we got here the NHS staff were very friendly and made us very comfortable. It really put us at ease, so we’re very relieved.
“We’re going to be tested soon. I’m not exactly sure. At the moment, we’re just in quarantine, and we’re isolated from anyone else. We have a little kind of apartment area. We’re not supposed to leave that. So I haven’t had a chance to sort of look around or see what how things are outside.”
Updated at 8.59am GMT
A London-based woman is in Wuhan with a suspected case of coronavirus after her father was tested positive for the virus on Monday.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast via video phone from a hospital in the city, Muying Shi said she was feeling “short of breath now and coughing a lot”.
But she was most concerned about her father. She said: “My dad is more serious than I am. He got his result back yesterday. And it was positive so he was transferred to a proper quarantine hospital yesterday afternoon.
“His oxygen level is dropping, which means he is deteriorating. So I’m worried.”
Shi said it was difficult to get information about her condition and that of her father. Shi said: “It’s not easy to reach out to doctors because they are in full suits and cannot take any phone calls. So the only information I’m getting is from my calls with my dad. And he is finding it hard to speak. I’m not very sure when he would be cured, or if he would be cured.
Speaking about her own condition, Shi said:
“For now, my oxygen level is OK. It’s normal, but I still feel that is hard to breathe.
“I haven’t heard anything from the nurses or the doctors. So I’m still waiting. And when I asked them they they are not sure, they’re waiting as well. I’m quarantined in theory.
“The hospital prescribed us with some antibiotics and anti-virus medications and we also found ourselves some medications that are said to be working on this virus, but so far we don’t have any confirmed information about which kind of medication would work. We’re just trying everything.
“I have thought about going back to London a lot. But now I’m not very hopeful because now we don’t even have any public transportation on the street, not to mention whether they would let people fly out of Wuhan.”
Updated at 8.38am GMT
Belgian woman on a repatriation flight tests positive
A Belgian woman who was on a repatriated flight from Wuhan on Sunday has tested positive for the coronavirus, Belgium’s health agency has announced.
In a statement, it said:
The person tested who tested positive shows no signs of illness at the moment. She was transferred last night to Saint Pierre University hospital in Brussels, one of the two reference centres in our country. This hospital has all the expertise and support necessary to guarantee the best care.
The agency said all nine Belgian on the flight had undergone a series of tests in a military hospital in the capital, Brussels. Eight of them tested negative.
A further person, from Denmark, who had not been able to return home on Sunday, had also tested negative, the agency said.
Updated at 7.36pm GMT
From gassy passengers to viral anthems: how Beijing is seeking to lighten the mood amid the coronavirus crisis. This includes state media striking an upbeat or humorous tone, in line with President Xi Jinping’s call for “public opinion guidance”. Read the full story below:
Reports that a South Korean person has tested positive for coronavirus following a visit to Thailand are likely to cause great concern to Thai officials. The outbreak has already dealt a massive blow to Thailand’s tourism industry, which relies upon Chinese visitors.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand said it expects 2 million fewer Chinese tourists this year than last year, when 11 million visited.
It is feared that tourists from elsewhere may also be deterred from travelling.
Thailand’s public health ministry has warned that an outbreak in a tourist area is possible, and last week the first case of human-to-human transmission was recorded when a taxi driver caught the virus from a traveller.
Here’s a summary of what we know so far about the coronavirus today.
- Hong Kong has reported its first death from the coronavirus – a 39-year-old man believed to have had underlying health issues
- Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, closed all but three border crossings with the mainland
- The death toll in China from the virus rose to 425, with confirmed cases passing 20,000
- Macau says it will shut its casinos for two weeks to try to stop spread of virus
- Wuhan’s new hospital built in 10 days accepted its first patients
- The US has reported its second human-to-human case of transmission
- The ratings agency Moodys says the economic impact of the virus on China will be “marked”
- Japan has prevented passengers from leaving a cruise ship after a male passenger was found to be infected with the coronavirus when he disembarked in Hong Kong late last month
- Australia is considering a second evacuation flight to get its remaining nationals out of Wuhan
- Taiwan bans entry of foreign nationals who have visited China in previous 14 days
Taiwan bans entry to foreign nationals who have visited China in 14 days
Taiwan’s foreign ministry has said the island will deny entry to all foreign nationals who had been to China during the past 14 days starting from Friday, due to the increasing threat from the coronavirus epidemic, Reuters reports.
The new incoming travel ban includes all foreign nationals who have been in China since 7 February, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement. It extends an existing ban on visitors from China but does not include visitors from Hong Kong and Macau.
South Korea has confirmed its 16th case of the coronavirus, reportedly involving a woman who recently returned from Thailand but had not visited China.
The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said the patient, a 42-year-old South Korean woman, started feeling ill on 25 January, six days after she returned from Thailand, according to the Yonhap news agency.
After her condition failed to improve, she was transferred to a general hospital in the city of Gwangju and tested positive for the illness.
The KCDC said the patient had been placed in quarantine while authorities attempt to determine her recent movements and track down people with whom she came into contact.
The case, which South Korean media is describing as one of human-to-human transmission, is reportedly the second involving a person who has not been to China.
The first was a 48-year-old Chinese man who worked as a tour guide in Japan who tested positive after arriving in South Korea, Yonhap said.
Public health authorities in South Korea have so far tested 607 people, 462 of whom were given the all-clear. Among the total, 129 are undergoing further health checks. In addition, more than 1,300 people who have been in contact with patients who tested positive are being monitored for symptoms.
South Korea, like neighbouring Japan, is barring foreign nationals who are from or have passed through Hubei province. The travel ban, which came into effect on Tuesday, applies to all non-Koreans who have been to the Chinese province in the past 14 days.
Macau to shut down casinos for two weeks
Macau will shut down all casinos for two weeks in an attempt to contain the coronavirus.
Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, told a press conference the government would meet with gaming operators to discuss the suspension, which is expected to include “casinos and related entertainment”.
There is no date for the suspension to start.
Macau has reported 10 cases of the virus and residents have been instructed to wear masks when travelling around the city and have been advised to stay home as much as possible.
Updated at 6.05am GMT
China has rejected Taiwan’s accusation that Beijing has restricted the island’s access to the WHO during the coronavirus outbreak. The Chinese state tabloid Global Times report says:
“We always care about the health and well-being of our Taiwan compatriots. There have been no barriers for Taiwan to get the latest information on the coronavirus outbreak, said Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, at a news conference on Tuesday.”
Updated at 5.54am GMT
Chinese women’s football team trains in ‘corridors’, quarantined in Brisbane hotel
The Chinese women’s football team have been forced to train in hotel corridors ahead of their Olympic qualifying opener in Sydney on Friday.
The team has been in isolation at a Brisbane CBD hotel since their arrival in Australia last week due to strict protocols in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
You can read our full story below.
Updated at 5.45am GMT
The city of Taizhou, 860km east of Wuhan, and three districts of the city of Hangzhou (capital of China’s Zhejiang province) – including the area with the main office of Chinese tech giant Alibaba – will now only allow one person per household to go outside every two days to buy necessities, AFP is reporting officials saying.
I have just been looking at figures of daily increases in deaths from the virus in China and of new infections. The state-run Global Times has put the figures from the National Health Commission into a useful graphic.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency is reporting that South Korean airlines have suspended more than half of their flight services to China.
As of Tuesday, industry leader Korean Air Lines Co. and seven other carriers have temporarily suspended 55 out of their 100 routes to the neighbouring country, it says.
The airlines have also decided to reduce flights on 17 routes to Chinese cities, including the capital Beijing.
Updated at 5.28am GMT
Taiwan calls China ‘vile’ over restricted access to WHO
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday China was “vile” for restricting the island’s access to the WHO during the coronavirus outbreak, adding to tensions with Beijing over the growing health crisis.
China, where the outbreak began, said on Monday that it had shared full information on the virus with authorities in Taiwan, where there have been 10 confirmed cases, and that channels of communication were “unblocked”.
President Xi warns virus ‘directly affects’ economic and social stability of China
The Chinese state news agency Xinhau reports that China’s President Xi has made an important speech to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Monday to address the coronavirus outbreak.
The outcome of the epidemic prevention and control directly affects people’s lives and health, the overall economic and social stability and the country’s opening-up, Xinhau says.
Xinhau says Xi demanded “resolute opposition against bureaucratism and the practice of formalities for formalities’ sake in the prevention work”.
Those who disobey the unified command or shirk off responsibilities will be punished, Xi said. The report said that the party and government leaders supervising them would also be held accountable in severe cases.
A plane sent by Thailand to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan left Bangkok this morning. Around 144 people have reportedly registered to board. They will be flown home tonight and transferred to a navy base in Chonburi province, where they will remain in quarantine for 14 days. Anyone who boarded the flight will also have been screened by Chinese medical authorities.
Thailand, which reported its first case of human-to-human transmission last week, has stepped up surveillance measures at airports, tourism hotspots and in its shopping malls. Information signs have also been placed on public transport systems in Bangkok, where many commuters are wearing masks. On Tuesday, the government also announced it would be placing face masks and alcohol-based hand sanitiser on the state price control list, following a surge in demand for both items
Greg Hunt is being asked about the Chinese embassy’s news conference earlier, in which Wang Xining, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in Australia, criticised Australia’s decision to restrict entry to Australia of foreigners who have been in China in the past 14 days. He said it left some Chinese students stranded in Australia.
Hunt doesn’t give a very clear answer, apart from saying the Australian government is following advice of medical experts.
Economic impact on China will be ‘marked’ – Moodys
A fall in consumer spending as large parts of China continues to be shut down will cause a “marked” impact on the economy, according to economists at the rating agency Moodys. The shut down will lower discretionary consumer spending on transportation, retail, tourism and entertainment, they said, and could also disrupt domestic supply chains if the outbreak persists, resulting in a broader hit to the economy.
They added that while China has the financial resources to absorb the shock, the country’s economy may not find it as easy to bounce back as it did during the Sars outbreak in 2003. This is because, as our financial editor Nils Pratley has pointed out, the makeup of China’s economy is quite different now and much more dependent on consumer spending than it was 17 years ago.
The amplified role of consumer demand as a driver of growth raises the risk that the economic dampening effect of the current coronavirus outbreak could be greater than in 2003. In addition, the fact that the epidemic broke out just ahead of the Lunar New Year, a period of very high seasonal consumption and travel, will exacerbate the economic impact.
Hunt says at this stage there are expected to be 50 Australians on New Zealand’s evacuation flight from Wuhan. He says Australian citizens who are flying to NZ will be repatriated by Australia: “It will be our responsibility,” he says.
Updated at 4.33am GMT
Australia considering second evacuation flight from Wuhan
The Australian health minister Greg Hunt is holding a news conference.
He says there are 12 confirmed cases in Australia.
“Two (cases) in South Australia, two in Queensland, four in Victoria, and four in New South Wales. And three of those in New South Wales are clear of the virus,” Hunt says.
Regarding the evacuations of Australians to Christmas Island where they are being held in quarantine, Hunt says all travellers have been examined and there are no cases of confirmed coronavirus. A pregnant woman and her partner who were on the flight are now in isolation in Perth.
He says an Air New Zealand flight will arrive in Wuhan in the next 24 hours. Australians may be on that flight.
Discussions are underway about a possible second flight to evacuate Australians from Wuhan.
Updated at 4.31am GMT
Radio New Zealand is reporting that two people are in isolation at a Fiji hospital with what the health ministry describes as mild symptoms of the coronavirus. If confirmed, these would be the first two cases in the Pacific.
The Hong Kong resident who died had reportedly returned from Wuhan on 23 January via a high-speed rail link after a two-day trip.
Hong Kong Free Press reports that the man did not visit a wet market or medical facility during his time in Wuhan. He said he had felt muscle pain since 29 January and a fever since 31 January. He died on Tuesday at Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung
His death comes at a time when Hong Kong enters a second day of phased strikes by hundreds of medical workers, amid fierce debate over whether Hong Kong should seal its border with the mainland.
The China Development Forum, a major international conference, has been postponed until further notice, organisers have said. It usually takes place in mid-March.
Last year, the event proved a meeting point between dozens of central government officials, more than 100 overseas business delegates and nearly 30 scholars.
Wang Xining talked about the impact of the travel restrictions on Chinese students studying in Australia. He says some students were caught in transit after the changed travel restrictions were announced.
“There were still some people who already departed from China and, on February 2, about- some say 50, some say 70 people – most of them are students – were stranded in the airport in Sydney, Brisbane, and some in Melbourne. We are not happy about this situation because they were not alerted – there’s not enough time to be alerted about the restriction,” he says.
Updated at 3.34am GMT
Chinese embassy in Canberra asks Australia to follow WHO guidelines
We are just seeing a news conference in Australia being held by the Chinese embassy in Canberra. The speaker, Wang Xining, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in Australia, has said that President Xi Jingping is “in personal command” of efforts to combat the epidemic.
“All the governments (in China) – at different levels – are mobilised to carry out the request from the central government,” he said.
He paid tribute to the medical workers treating patients and recounts measures Beijing has taken to control the virus, including extending lunar new year holidays.
“China has been very open, transparent, and responsible in working with the international community and other countries to prevent the virus from further outbreak. So we shared information from the very beginning with other countries and the international health institutions, including WHO, which have won wide commendation from WHO leadership, from Director-General Tedross himself, and from many other leaders from other countries. We will continue to do that,” he said.
Asked about restrictions in Australia on the entry of foreign nationals who have been in China in the past 14 days, he says:
“It is our hope that theAustralian government contemplates and implements preventive measures on the basis of scientific, comprehensive, objective assessment of this situation in China, with a reference of the recommendations made by the international health institutions including WHO,” he said.
This appears to be a thinly-veiled swipe at Australia’s travel restrictions, and a call for countries to fall in line with WHO recommendations, which “advises against the application of any restrictions of international traffic based on the information currently available on this (coronavirus) event”.
Updated at 3.35am GMT
And some more details on that reported death in Hong Kong. The South China Morning Post is reporting that the man had lived in Whampoa Garden with his mother. It says the mother was confirmed on 2 February as Hong Kong’s 15th case, but did not have a recent history of travel.
We are waiting for a press conference from the Hong Kong Hospital Authority (HA), but in the meantime the HA has said due to the absence of a “large number of medical staff in public hospitals today”, some emergency services have been severely affected. This follows industrial action that began on Monday calling for Hong Kong to close its border with China.
The statement says emergency departments of public hospitals can only focus on manpower to provide emergency services. It calls on patients with mild illnesses to go to private hospitals or clinics.
Specialist clinics can only provide a limited amount of services. Patients can call to change the appointment appointment later. If there is a need for supplementary medicine, they can go to the specialist clinic to add medicine.
“The Hospital Authority calls on all absent health care workers to return to work as soon as possible with the patient’s well-being as the main premise to provide patients with the services they need.”
Local media reports Hong Kong reports first death from virus
Chinese state media has reported that a 39-year-old man diagnosed with coronavirus has died in Hong Kong, citing local media. He would be only the second death outside mainland China from the virus.
A local outlet in Hong Kong, HK01 has reported that the man also had a “long-term illness and is known to have a cardiac arrest” at the Princess Margaret Hospital on Tuesday morning. Details will be announced at a press conference of the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority at 4.30pm local time.
HK01 says is understood that a man was the 13th confirmed case in Hong Kong and had been diagnosed on 31 January.
Another outlet in Hong Kong, RTHK, said the man had taken the high-speed train from Hong Kong to Wuhan on 21 January and from Changshanan to Hong Kong on 23 January.
RTHK reports that the Centre for Health Protection as saying he hadn’t visited any health care facilities, wet markets or seafood markets, nor had any exposure to wild animals during the incubation period.
Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has closed all but three border crossings with the mainland, but insisted some checkpoints must stay open.
Here’s today’s front page from the South China Morning Post.
There’s been huge demand for face masks with many outlets running out and long queues at shops in the city.
We are getting reports that there has been a death from coronavirus in Hong Kong. The Reuters news agency is quoting TVB news. I’ll bring you confirmation of this as soon as I have it.
Yesterday medical workers in Hong Kong when on strike, calling for the border with China to be shut. Hong Kong currently has 15 declared cases, according to Johns Hopkins University’s virus tracker.
Chinese shares up
Trading has resumed again on the Chinese stock markets and they are looking m,uch healthier than yesterday. The Shanghai Composite – the country’s benchmark – is up 0.3% after 30 minutes trading, comparing favourably with yesterday’s falls of 8%. The Shenzhen Component index is up 1.2%.
It’s harder to say what will happen from here. Our financial editor Nils Pratley points out that assuming the markets will bounce back in the same as they did after Sars in 2003 is dangerous. China has changed a lot since then, becoming more interconnected with the world, so the impact will be magnified. We just don’t know should be the starting point, he says.
Here’s his column:
China’s Global TV network, CGTN, is reporting that the Huoshenshan hospital, a SARS treatment-model makeshift hospital in Wuhan, started admitting patients on Tuesday morning. It was built in around 10 days.
CGTN has also published a video story of a patient’s journey from fever to diagnosis.
The city of Wuhan at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak, has been in lockdown as it attempts to control the spread virus. You can see our picture gallery of life in the city below.
Japan is preventing passengers from leaving a cruise ship after a male passenger was found to be infected with the coronavirus when he disembarked in Hong Kong late last month, the health ministry said.
Several dozen quarantine officers were checking the health of the 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew members, Japan’s health ministry said on Tuesday.
The vessel arrived at Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Monday evening, with passengers informed that their departure would be delayed for 24 hours while tests were carried out, according to Kyodo news agency.
At least seven people on the vessel said they felt unwell, Kyodo said. The results of their tests will be available on Tuesday.
The infected passenger, a Hong Kong resident in his 80s, tested positive for the virus last weekend after returning home on the vessel on 25 January, authorities in Hong Kong said. He had boarded the cruise liner at Yokohama on 20 January. The ship has since made stops in Vietnam, Taiwan and the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.
The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said Japan would work closely with the World Health Organization to ensure that the virus, which has infected 20 people in Japan, does not disrupt preparations for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
“We will closely work with the World Health Organization and others to make sure that preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics proceed without any impact from the outbreak,” Abe told MPs.
The Olympics minister, Seiko Hashimoto, said the Games’ organisers and sports associations could meet this week to discuss their response to the outbreak, days after organisers addressed false online rumours that the Games would be cancelled.
MPs in Japan, where 20 people have tested positive for the respiratory illness, have called on the Abe administration to do more to protect the public, including making tests more widely available. Testing is currently conducted only at government-run or public institutions, such as the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo.
“We have already started developing a simple test kit,” Abe said, adding that improving the testing regime was an “urgent task”.
Japan is preventing foreign nationals who have been to Hubei in the previous two weeks from entering the country, joining other countries in imposing travel restrictions in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. Holders of Chinese passports issued in Hubei are also barred.
The government’s chief spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said eight people had been prevented from entering Japan over the weekend.
Updated at 1.46am GMT
There has been a lot of discussion social media and from emails from Guardian readers about how many people have had the virus and recovered.
This has been quite a difficult figure to pin down globally.
The latest figure that I have from the National Health Commission is that 632 people in China have so far recovered from the virus.
Outside of China the most up-to-date figures I have on recoveries (from Johns Hopkins University) are:
- Australia 2
- Japan 1
- Vietnam 1
Updated at 1.47am GMT
Chinese state media is reporting that a one-month-old baby has been confirmed as having the coronavirus in Guizhou province.
Just breaking down those figures for the virus in China, the National Health Commission says:
- Of the 3,235 newly confirmed cases, 2,345 cases are in Hubei province. This includes 492 severe cases,442 of which are in Hubei province
- All 64 new deaths are in Hubei province
- Of 5,072 new suspected cases, 3,182 are in Hubei province
- There are 23,214 suspected cases nationally
- It says “at present, 221,015 close contacts have been tracked”. 171,329 are currently undergoing medical observation and 12,755 were released from medical observation on the same day
China’s confirmed cases of coronavirus passes 20,000
Chinese state media has confirmed that confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country have passed 20,000. The People’s Daily says there are now 20,438 cases confirmed on the Chinese mainland. The death toll in China remains at 425.
Stock markets calmer, but oil set for more falls
The outlook on the financial markets is calmer today after stocks rallied around the world on Monday despite the spectacular falls of 8% on Chinese markets.
This morning the ASX200 in Sydney is up slightly and while the Nikkei in Tokyo is off about 0.35%, shares in Seoul are up 0.7%.
It could all change again when the Shanghai and Shanzhen bourses open later today. But the feeling among investors in Europe and the US on Monday was that the virus was being brought under control and would not have too great an impact on the world economy.
In addition, Brent crude oil futures crashed to .11 a barrel, bringing losses for the year so far to 18%. US crude sank to .99.
Seema Shah, the chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, said: “If the Sars episode is anything to go by, we should expect markets to bounce back sharply once the outbreak has peaked.”
Read the full story from economics editor Larry Elliott here:
I am seeing on the Chinese site Tencent News that confirmed coronavirus infections in China have passed 20,000. The agency is owned by Tencent, the major technology company based in Shenzhen that owns the social media platform WeChat. It has been extremely accurate with its figures throughout this virus outbreak.
I’m trying to confirm the numbers with the Chinese Health Commission but their site is understandably heavily overloaded and often difficult to access.
Updated at 2.14am GMT
US reports second human-to-human case of transmission
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced second case of transmission of the new coronavirus within the country.
“We expect to see more cases of person-to-person spread,” said the CDC’s Dr Nancy Messonnier.
It takes the US total number of cases to 11.
Washington has taken some of the most stringent measures in terms of airport arrivals from China, something that has been criticised by Beijing.
Foreign nationals who have been in China in the past 14 days are banned from entering the US.
Citizens and permanent residents arriving in the United States on commercial airlines are being directed to one of 11 US airports for additional health assessments. If they show virus symptoms such as fever, US citizens and those who are exempt will be transferred for medical evaluation, and will not be allowed to complete their travel plans.
Updated at 12.40am GMT
First up, let’s have a look at the death toll. It has jumped 64 from this time yesterday, to a total of 425 inside China, according to the latest figures (one death has also been recorded in the Philippines). This Chinese figure is an increase of just under 18% in 24 hours.
The confirmed cases of infection have gone up to 19,726, an increase of 2,521, which rounds up to a 15% increase over a day.
While these figures are significant, it’s worth noting that the rate of increase in both deaths and infections is lower on a day-by-day basis than it was on some occasions last week (where the death-toll increase was 29% on one day).
It’s obviously hard to tell if this represents a trend of any kind, given the relatively few days of data to look at, but I thought it was interesting, none-the less.
This image from the Johns Hopkins below shows the trend visually. If you want to check in with the tracker later, you can find it here.
Updated at 12.24am GMT
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, with me Alison Rourke.
We have just had the latest figures from the Chinese authorities on the virus which show:
- The death toll inside China is 425, a jump of 19% on this time yesterday (more on that later)
- Confirmed infections are 19,726 inside China
- Global infections currently stand at 185. This includes Hong Kong (15), Macau (8) and Taiwan (10)
- There has been one death outside of China, in the Philippines, of a man from Wuhan
A few other key points before we kick off our coverage:
- China’s leadership has admitted “shortcomings” in its coronavirus response
- Chinese authorities said they “urgently” needed medical equipment and surgical masks, protective suits and safety goggles as it battles to control the outbreak
- The US has announced a second case of transmission of the new coronavirus within the United States
- China’s new hospital in Wuhan, built in around 10 days, opened on Monday
You can find our most up-to-date coverage below, including:
- China’s leadership admits ‘shortcomings’ in coronavirus response
- Coronavirus: British evacuee falls ill during flight from China
- How to protect yourself
- Hundreds of Canadians await evacuation flight from Wuhan
As always, you can contact me at email@example.com.
Updated at 11.57pm GMT
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
This article titled “‘I’ll destroy your family’: India’s activists tell of false arrest and torture in custody” was written by Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Delhi and Shaikh Azizur Rahman in Lucknow, for The Observer on Saturday 1st February 2020 18.05 UTC
At 73 years old, Mohammad Shoaib had grown used to harassment from police. As one of India’s highest-profile activists, he had made a name fighting for Muslims falsely accused of being terrorists by the police, earning him powerful enemies.
But in late December, as he was brought into the police station in Lucknow, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, in the middle of the night, he felt something had shifted. “Police officers abused me badly while I was in their custody and they threatened me in many ways,” he said. “One [senior officer] said to me at the police station: ‘I will fuck your mother. I am going to throw all your family members in jail where they will rot for life. I will destroy your family’.”
As India erupted in protest over a controversial new citizenship bill late last year, Shoaib was among dozens of leading social and legal activists who began to be systematically and illegally targeted, rounded up and detained by police, with several tortured and most kept in prison on fabricated charges, without ever being presented to a magistrate, as the law requires.
While the BJP government is notoriously intolerant of critics, the systematic crackdown on some of the most recognisable civil society activists has been unprecedented in both scale and fervour. It has also been concentrated in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP government led by chief minister Yogi Adityanath, known for his anti-Muslim and staunchly Hindu nationalist rhetoric, vowed “revenge” on those who had taken to the streets to protest at the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Police have been accused of firing on protesters, rounding up hundreds of innocent Muslims in the state and torturing men, women and children in custody.
In seven cases recounted to the Observer, activists alleged they had been detained on entirely falsified charges by police. For Shoaib, his detention was particularly farcical. He stands accused of leading a protest that turned violent in Lucknow on 19 December, despite the fact it occurred while he was under police house arrest, having been detained the night before. “Police kept my house under watch and restrained me from going out. How could I possibly be present at the protest site, away from my home that afternoon?” he said. “Yet, the police charged me with attempted murder, arson and rioting. For years many police officers have viewed me as their enemy and now they are portraying me as a conspirator and violent rioter, without any basis.”
After police failed to produce any evidence before a judge, Shoaib was bailed last month, following weeks behind bars. But the charges have not been dropped. “Activists are facing an increased level of pressure or crackdown,” he said of the past three months. “The government is trying to silence all types of dissent and shrink the space for activism. It is trying to break the backbone of activism in the state.” Sadaf Jafar, another prominent activist in Uttar Pradesh and spokesperson for the Congress political party, wept as she recounted the torture she says she endured when arrested on 19 December.
She says she was arrested while protesting peacefully at the Lucknow rally against the new citizenship law, and was among those later facing 20 charges, including inciting violence and attempted murder. She was detained until early January, when a judge granted her bail due to lack of evidence. While in the police station, Jafar said, officers subjected her to relentless racist and Islamophobic slurs. “They started slapping and beating me, calling me ‘Pakistani’ and other language I could never repeat.
“One of the female officers, who was filled with this anger, shouted: ‘I am going to beat you so hard I draw blood’,” said Jafar. “She pulled my hair and clawed my face and hands. And then another senior male officer told me he had seen me ‘talking big’ at the protest and that he would teach me a lesson; that he would charge me with attempted murder and make sure I ‘rotted in prison’. He pulled me down by my hair, kicked me in my stomach and knees… I have spent my life fighting for people’s rights but I never imagined the police would act in this way.”
It is not just Muslim activists who report torture. Deepak Kabir, 44, a prominent Hindu poet and activist, said he had been arrested and badly beaten after he went into a police station to look for fellow activists. “They are going after activists because we are willing to fight,” he said. “It’s a very thought out process to target well-known faces because if they crush us, then everyone else is immediately intimidated.”
SR Darapuri, 76, a former senior police officer turned activist, who has long irritated authorities in Uttar Pradesh with his outspoken comments about extrajudicial killings by police, alleged the police had gone to “extreme lengths” to arrest and then charge him with rioting, attempted murder and criminal conspiracy related to Lucknow protests that turned violent. “For 46 hours they kept me without food,” he said. “I am a retired senior police officer from the rank as high as inspector general and I was forced to endure such torture.” Darapuri described how, after his arrest at home on 20 December, police brought him before a magistrate, as is legally required before he could be sent to jail. But the magistrate refused to grant permission, citing lack of evidence, and criticised the officers for Darapuri’s “wrongful arrest”. But that did not stop them. “After taking me back to Hazratganj police station, the police officer recorded a report in which he stated that I had been taken to a magistrate but he was not available,” he said. “This was not the truth. The magistrate refused to remand me in custody because he believed I was innocent.”
The same day, Darapuri was taken to jail where he was kept until 5 December, when he was bailed. At the hearing the Uttar Pradesh police failed to produce any evidence against him, claiming video footage of his alleged offences was “too hazy or grainy and none of the people there could be identified”.
The Uttar Pradesh police and government have denied any wrongful and illegal arrests and torture in custody. Uttar Pradesh BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said: “Bail doesn’t mean that Sadaf and Darapuri have been given a clean chit. They will have to face trial in court. The statements made by them after release are objectionable, baseless and provocative.”
Yet the arrests of activists have continued. Last Wednesday, hours before he was due to address an anti-CAA rally in Mumbai, activist Dr Kafeel Khan was arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police Special Task Force for allegedly delivering a “provocative” speech in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, at a rally on 12 December. On Friday, police filed new complaints against Shoaib, Kabir and several other activists after they staged a peaceful candlelit vigil against the act.
Sandeep Pandey, another prominent Lucknow-based activist involved in the anti-CAA protests described the escalation in attacks on critics. “My emails and phones have been kept under surveillance by the government,” he said. “We have been jailed before for activism-related activities but we used to get bail and come out of jail. Police didn’t misbehave with us. Now, in recent months, police have changed their attitude towards us and we are being badly abused by them… The rights activists are facing the worst crackdown in Uttar Pradesh; in no other state in India is the situation is as bad,” he said. “This is out and out a fascist regime.”
The passing of the citizenship amendment act in December has led to India’s greatest unrest for more than four decades. The law says all Hindu, Christian, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh migrants who arrived from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2014 can claim citizenship. But the same does not apply to Muslim migrants. Many believe the act brazenly discriminates against Muslims and could tear apart the secular foundations of India. There are also fears that associated plans for a national register of citizens will require only Muslims to produce evidence of their nationality, and could lead to detentions and deportation. Over the past month, millions have taken to the streets every week in the first backlash against Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP government, and the response has increasingly been one of force, with public gatherings banned and peaceful student protesters met with violence and openly communal and anti-Muslim rhetoric used in the BJP campaign for the Delhi state elections which will be held next weekend.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
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Buy next week’s Observer Digital Edition to see the completed puzzle.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
The Morrison government has backtracked on a contentious plan to charge people ,000 for their evacuation from China to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, while Peter Dutton has departed from the government script by urging Australians planning an overseas holiday to stay home instead.
With senior government figures on Sunday warning the pandemic will, alongside the drought and the bushfires, create a significant hit on the Australian economy, the home affairs minister urged Australians to spend their money at home.
“We need Australians, frankly, if they are considering a holiday at the moment, to reconsider whether an outbound overseas trip is what they want to do,” Dutton told Sky News. “If they’ve thought about seeing parts of Australia, now might be a good time to book that holiday.”
The government’s official travel advice, thus far, covers travel to and from China, which is the epicentre of the virus. The chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, told reporters later in the morning he wasn’t part of any “discussion” with Dutton before his remarks, “but I think it’s always sensible when you’re planning to travel to consider the health advisories at the time”.
“But at the moment, the medical advice is principally around China.”
As well as departing from the official travel advice, Dutton also appeared unaware during his interview on Sunday morning that the government had dumped the plan to charge people for their evacuations to Christmas Island. He said cost recovery was “common sense” and he noted “most people will have paid much more than that for a return commercial flight”.
The health minister Greg Hunt later told reporters the mix up happened because “the point was that the treasurer was announcing it this morning”.
The government late on Saturday implemented significant border control measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus. Scott Morrison announced that foreign arrivals from mainland China will not be allowed entry into Australia. Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family, legal guardians and spouses will be excepted from the strict measure.
While the government advised last week it would apply cost recovery to looming evacuations from China, Josh Frydenberg said on Sunday that would no longer be the case. He blamed the about face on the foreign affairs department, which he said had given the government incorrect information about past practices.
The government had said previous governments had charged for airlifts such as those run out of Lebanon in 2006, and Egypt in 2011. But this was fiercely contested.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd, foreign minister at the time of the Arab Spring and the Egyptian evacuation, said online: “Morrison’s claim that Labor charged Australians for tickets on charter flights out of Egypt during the 2011 uprising is an outright falsehood”.
“The cost (about 00 per person) was borne by the government. Why is ‘Scotty from Marketing’ slugging Aussies to get them out of Wuhan?”
The prime minister Julia Gillard said in a media release “the charter will be provided free of charge”, and the then head of the department of foreign affairs and trade, Dennis Richardson, confirmed at Senate estimates the costs of the charter were all borne by the government.
Frydenberg said the government was still working with the Chinese government to determine when the first plane removing people to quarantine in Christmas Island would proceed. “We hope that approval is imminent,” the treasurer said.
Frydenberg was asked on the ABC on Sunday whether the various hits on the economy could result in a negative quarter of growth, given growth was already weak before the disasters of the summer.
The treasurer said he did not intend to speculate. He noted the economy had been resilient to date, but there were now many factors beyond the government’s control.
“There are things that we can control and things that we can’t control,” he said. “When it comes to the outbreak of the virus, when it comes to the fires, when it comes to the floods, when it comes to the trade tensions between the United States and China – we can’t control those factors – but it does underline the importance of our disciplined economic management.”
Frydenberg refused to say whether he would, in the circumstances, be able to deliver a budget surplus, despite declaring definitively last year that the budget was back in the black.
He said the government’s primary focus was not on the number, but on “delivering the support to the Australians who need it”.
Asked whether he got a bit carried away in the lead-up to the election in declaring repeatedly “the budget is back in the black”, when the government had not yet delivered a surplus, and the economy was exposed to a number of external shocks, Frydenberg said the government had delivered a balanced budget, and “that’s a significant achievement”.
“In terms of a surplus, you’ll have to tune in on budget night,” he said. “What we do know is that these events outside of our control are going to have a significant impact on the Australian economy”.
With economic growth now imperilled because of the calamities of the summer, Dutton told Sky News the government was looking at measures to help the tourism sector, which has been hit by people staying away in the peak holiday seasons because of the bushfires, and now the impact of the virus. “The government will have more to say in due course,” he said.
“There is no question this will have an impact on the economy, but the first priority for the government at this point is the health and wellbeing of Australians,” Dutton said.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
This article titled “Trump impeachment: Republicans aim to block witnesses as key vote approaches – as it happened” was written by Maanvi Singh in San Francisco (now) and Joan E Greve in Washington (earlier), for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th January 2020 04.17 UTC
The Senate trial has adjourned for the day.
- Today’s question-and-answer session focused on whether or not to call witnesses – especially John Bolton – and the motivations behind Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.
- Over eight hours, senators often lobbed softball questions in order to give their side a chance to reiterate their case for or against removing Donald Trump from office.
- The president’s lawyers contended that the president was right and reasonable to investigate his political rivals, and reiterated their view that nothing short of a statutory crime was grounds for impeaching a president. House managers hit back that the defense’s position ran counter to that of a consensus of legal scholars.
- As the Iowa caucus approaches, Democratic senators who are running for president have had to get creative about how they campaign.
- The trial will resume at 1pm ET tomorrow.
Updated at 4.17am GMT
Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz is now trying another strategy to dissuade senators from indicting the president: He’s arguing removing Donald Trump from office was deepen political divisions.
“Families are broken up, friends won’t speak to each other,” Dershowitz said. “I’m not suggesting that the. impeachment decision by the House has brought that on us —perhaps it’s merely a symptom.”
He urged those who object to Trump’s conduct to “campaign against the president”, noting that Democrats could rid the country of Trump in a mere eight months.
Dershowitz was responding to a softball question from GOP Senators Wicker, McSally and Moran tossed at him: “What specific danger does this impeachment pose to our republic, to its citizens?”
Updated at 3.59am GMT
During a brief recess in the Senate trial, Bernie Sanders called into a campaign event in Iowa.
Warren sent her dog to campaign in her stead.
Writes The Guardian’s Lauren Gambino:
The rules of the trial effectively prohibit double-duty: senators must be in their seats six days a week. No cellphones. And absolutely no talking, archaically but loosely enforced on “pain of imprisonment”.
The situation has forced the Democrats to get creative about how they campaign from hundreds of miles away, in a state where voters famously like to meet their candidates before making a decision.
Updated at 3.52am GMT
Senators took another brief recess before resuming the question and answer session. Most often, senators have been fishing for answers.
Democratic senators have given House managers a chance to reiterate the key arguments they laid out during their opening statement. Republican senators have been giving Trump’s defense team many chances to double down on the Bidens and Burisma.
For instance, Senator Gary Peters, a Democrat of Michigan, asked to House managers: “Does an impeachable abuse of power require that a President’s corrupt plan actually succeed?” and gave Zoe Lofgren a chance to reiterate what the managers have been saying all along — the plan need not have panned out, it’s the intention that’s impeachable.
Right after, GOP Senators Barrasso, Risch, Hawley and Moran asked the president’s counsel, almost rhetorically: “Can the Senate convict the US sitting President of obstruction of Congress for exercising the President’s Constitutional authorities or rights.”
Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz has argued that it was right for Donald Trump to decide to investigate Joe Biden and his family after Biden announced his presidential campaign.
At that point, Biden’s went from being “has-been” to a public figure deserving of scrutiny, Derschowitz said, seemingly leaning into the Democrats’ argument that Trump abused power by asking Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
If a presidential candidate has a “corrupt” son there’s a “good reason for upping the interest in his son”, Dershowitz said.
Updated at 2.50am GMT
The question of whether or not to call witnesses – especially John Bolton – has, as Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow noted, been “un undercurrent” of today’s impeachment proceedings. Impeachment managers and Trump’s defense have continued to clash over the issue.
The Guardian’s Tom McCarthy notes:
If the Senate votes to call witnesses, Trump’s legal team warned, “that changes the nature and scope of the proceedings” and could lead to court challenges that would draw the trial out.
Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, argued that Roberts, “a perfectly good chief justice”, could make fast rulings that would prevent the testimony of Bolton or others from creating a lengthy detour in the trial.
“They could no longer contest the facts,” Schiff said of Trump’s defense team. “So now they have fallen back on, ‘You shouldn’t hear any further evidence on this subject.’ Think about the precedent you would be setting if you don’t allow witnesses in a trial.”
The relatively fast-paced question period, which allowed five minutes per response to each of 54 questions before the dinner break, came after a week in which the two sides made strictly siloed opening arguments, speaking for multiple days each to lay out their cases to the senators.
Updated at 2.38am GMT
The last two questions have come from presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Sanders asked: “Why should we be expected to believe that anything President Trump says has credibility?” He noted that the media have documented “thousands of lies” from Trump, and forcing Chief Justice John Roberts to read out the tally: “more than 16,200 as of Jan. 20.”
Warren posed a hypothetical: “If Ukrainian president Zelenskiy called President Trump and offered dirt on President Trump’s political rivals in exchange for Trump handing over hundreds of millions in military aid, that would clearly be bribery and an impeachable offense. So why would it be more acceptable and somehow not impeachable for the reverse?”
More on how the impeachment trial is affecting the Democratic primary race:
Updated at 2.13am GMT
Donald Trump’s defense has argued that if senators were to call witnesses, the trial would drag on for too long.
“I want Adam Schiff. I want Hunter Biden. I want Joe Biden. I want the whistleblower,” said Jay Sekulow, the lead attorney defending Trump. “If we get anybody we want, we’ll be here for a very long time.”
He added: “The fact of the matter is, we’re not here to argue witnesses tonight, but obviously it is an undercurrent.”
Lead House manager Adam Schiff, in turn, appealed to the floor: “Don’t be thrown off by this claim that if we call witnesses, we will make you pay.”
Appealing to senators, once again, to consider calling former national security adviser John Bolton as a witness, Schiff added: “I’m no fan of John Bolton but I like him a little more than I used to.”
Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama, told reporters during the dinner break that he’s “keeping an open mind to hear all the evidence” in the trial. Jones has been viewed as a potential swing vote on the question of whether to acquit or indict Donald Trump.
“I’m open to acquit, I’m open to convict,” he said. “Okay? I want to hear all the evidence, I want to hear witnesses.”
Still, Jones seemed unimpressed with Trump’s defense team, taking issue with their focus on the Bidens. “If they wanted to go after the Bidens, they should have done it a long time ago and nobody did that. Nobody did that, ever,” he said.
He also seemed unconvinced by Alan Dershowitz’s argument that nothing short of a crime was ground for impeachment. “We should probably just abolish the Supreme Court and let professor Dershowitz be the Supreme Court justice,” Jones snarked.
Senator Rand Paul’s question has been rejected, possibly because it names the whistleblower whose complaint launched the impeachment inquiry.
Chief Justice John Roberts essentially refused to read the question out, according to reports.
Donald Trump has his supporters have previously publicized the alleged name of the whistleblower, and have called for the whistleblower to testify in the impeachment inquiry.
Updated at 12.53am GMT
Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general who was fired by Donald Trump in 2018 has waded into the debate over whether John Bolton should testify in the Senate trial.
Bolton’s behavior “is an act of disloyalty to the administration one serves and tends to undermine the unity and teamwork needed to reach the highest level of effectiveness,” Sessions wrote in a series of tweets.
Trump has said he never would have named Sessions Attorney General had he known that Sessions would recuse himself from the investigation into Russian election interference.
Since then, Sessions has endeavored to repair his relationship with Trump, especially now that he is campaigning to take back his former Senate seat in Alabama. An endorsement from Trump could give Sessions a huge boost in a competitive primary battle.
Senator Joe Manchin posed a question pointed toward Alan Dershowitz, noting that “high crimes and misdemeanors” clearly doesn’t refer to a statutory crime.
“What has happened in the past 22 years to change the original intent of the framers?” he asked. Dershowitz’s response: “What happened was that the current president was impeached.”
Democrats have been repeatedly harkening back to comments Dershowitz made more two decades ago, during Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Back then, Dershowitz said that “if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need technical crime.”
Throughout Trump’s impeachment trial, Dershowitz has said his views have evolved since, insisting that despite a consensus of legal scholars arguing otherwise, nothing short of a criminal act is grounds to impeach a president.
At one point, the Trump lawyer and Harvard Law professor took aim at one of his Harvard colleagues, Laurence Tribe, who has advised House Democrats on impeachment.
“Professor Tribe got woke, and with no apparent new research, he came to the conclusion, ‘Oh, but this president can be charged while sitting in office.’ That’s not the kind of scholarship that should influence your decision,” Dershowitz said.
House manager Adam Schiff hit back: “I don’t think you can write off the consensus of constitutional opinion by saying they’re all Never Trumpers.”
The Senate has now taken a 45-minute dinner break.
Updated at 12.07am GMT
As senators mull the merits of calling John Bolton as a witness, an attorney for the former national security adviser has issued a statement.
“I have received no response whatever to my urgent request for the NSC’s immediate guidance as to any concerns it may have with respect to the chapter of the manuscript dealing with Ambassador Bolton’s involvement in matters related to Ukraine,” said Charles Cooper, an attorney for Bolton.
Cooper also shared his reply to a National Security Council letter saying Bolton’s manuscript contained classified information. “We do not believe that any of the information could reasonably be considered classified,” he wrote in an emailed response.
The lawyer requested “urgent” guidance from the NSC given that Bolton may be called to testify in the Senate trial. “If he is asked to testify, it seems certain he will be asked questions that will elicit much of the information contained in the chapter of the manuscript dealing with his involvement in matters related to Ukraine,” Cooper wrote.
Updated at 11.23pm GMT
Lisa Murkowski, along with other senators asked another interesting question, posed to both the House managers and Trump’s defense: What standard of proof should be used in impeachment trials.
House manage Zoe Lofgren said the House Judiciary Committee followed the same standard used during Richard Nixon’s impeachment process, only admitting evidence that was more likely true than not true.
White House counsel Patrick Philbin argued that neither a “preponderance of evidence” nor a “clear and convincing” amount met the standard. Lawmakers must make a case “beyond a reasonable doubt”, he said.
Updated at 10.42pm GMT
Ted Cruz, a Republican senator of Texas, asked Adam Schiff if the whistleblower whose complaint kicked off the impeachment inquiry worked with Joe Biden to take down Donald Trump.
In response, Schiff said he did not know who the whistleblower is. “I have not met them,” he said, adding the idea that the whistleblower tried to get Trump impeached “is a complete and total fiction”.
“I’m not going to go anything which would reveal the name of the whistleblower,” Schiff said.
That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague Maanvi Singh will take over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- One of Trump’s lawyers, Alan Dershowitz, made the controversial argument that the president’s request for Ukraine to investigate Democrats was in the public interest because Trump considered his reelection to be in the public interest. Many commentators responded by pointing out that such logic could justify nearly any action carried out by a sitting president.
- The White House sent a letter to John Bolton’s lawyer saying the former national security adviser’s book contained “significant amounts of classified information” and “may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information.”
- The impeachment managers used their answers in today’s proceedings to argue in favor of calling witnesses, including Bolton, to testify in the trial.
- Trump’s Republican allies appear confident they will be able to block witness testimony in the impeachment trial, potentially setting up a Friday night vote to acquit the president.
Maanvi will have more updates and analysis of the trial coming up, so stay tuned.
Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, two of the Republican senators considered most likely to support witness testimony, have asked a question about whether Trump raised any concerns about Hunter Biden’s business activities in Ukraine before Joe Biden launched his presidential bid.
Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin responded by blaming House Democrats for not waiting to hear from senior administration officials who could shed more light on that question. (Of course, many of those officials were subpoenaed by the House but refused to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.)
Philbin also pointed to two phone calls that Trump previously had with the Ukrainian president, in which the general subject of anti-corruption efforts was raised, to argue the request for investigations of Democrats was an extension of that goal.
Responding to a question from Republican senator Shelley Moore Capito, deputy White House counsel Mike Purpura said Ukraine did not know about the hold on its military assistance until it was publicly reported.
Purpura insisted Ukrainian officials first learned of the hold on the aid when Politico reported about it in late August.
But the New York Times has reported that Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, Olena Zerkal, learned of the aid freeze in July.
Trump and his allies have argued that the president’s July phone call could not have been interpreted as a quid pro quo because Ukrainian officials did not yet know of the aid freeze.
Responding to a question from Senate Democrats, deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin said the White House counsel’s office was “notified” when John Bolton’s manuscript was sent to the national security council for review.
Philbin reiterated that no outside the NSC has reviewed the manuscript and then read the White House’s letter to Bolton’s lawyer regarding the book.
In the letter, the NSC said Bolton’s book contained “significant amounts of classified information” and “may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information.”
Jay Sekulow, one of the Trump’s lawyers, said that the president’s team would call witnesses if the Democratic proposal for witness testimony were approved.
“Of course, if witnesses are called by the House managers … the president’s counsel would have the opportunity to call witnesses as well, which we would,” Sekulow said.
But at the moment, Republican senators appear confident they will be able to defeat a motion to call witnesses in the impeachment trial.
If they do, the Senate could move to a vote on whether to remove Trump from office as soon as Friday night.
During the recess, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer downplayed expectations about the vote on witness testimony, as Trump’s Senate allies voiced confidence that a vote to acquit would take place on Friday night.
The Senate impeachment trial has resumed, and the first question is on the Republican side for Trump’s legal team.
A group of Senate Republicans, led by Jim Inhofe, asked a question about the Obama administration’s decision not to provide lethal aid to Ukraine.
The question was clearly setting up an opportunity for Trump’s lawyers to repeat their talking points about the current administration providing anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, an opportunity that deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin jumped at.
Republican senators say they are planning on a vote to acquit on Friday night if the Democratic proposal to call witnesses fails.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has called for a brief recess; the impeachment trial will resume in about 20 minutes.
Roberts quotes ‘Access Hollywood’ tape as part of Kamala Harris’ question
Posing a question to the impeachment managers, Democratic senator Kamala Harris invoked the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump described groping women.
At one point in the tape, Trump said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it.” Harris compared that comment to Richard Nixon saying, “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts read both of these quotes aloud.
Harris’ question centered on whether it would undermine the US justice system if the Senate fails to hold Trump accountable.
Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff warned that a Senate acquittal could set a dangerous precedent for future presidents.
“If you look in the pattern of the president’s conduct and his words, what you see is a president who identifies the state as being himself,” Schiff said.
The question-and-answer session has been going on for about two and a half hours now, so five and a half hours remain in today’s proceedings.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell just said each side would get one more question before the impeachment trial recesses for 15 minutes.
When his Senate colleagues Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz posed their hypothetical question about his son being involved with a corrupt Russian company, Mitt Romney appeared bemused.
In their question, Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz flipped lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff’s hypothetical about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on its head.
Schiff earlier asked the senators to imagine a situation in which Obama had asked Russia to investigate Romney, the former president’s 2012 election opponent, arguing Obama absolutely would have been impeached for such behavior.
Clearly targeting Joe Biden and his son, Graham and Cruz asked, “If Obama had evidence that Mitt Romney’s son was being paid million a year by a corrupt Russian company … would Obama have authority to ask if that potential corruption be investigated?”
Schiff replied, “That hypothetical is a bit off.” Nonetheless, the impeachment manager went on to make the argument that a president requesting an probe of his political rival tainted any potential investigation, even if there were legitimate questions about corruption.
Schiff added that Trump’s alleged request focused on Ukraine announcing an investigation of the Bidens rather than actually launching them, which casts doubt upon his interest in cracking down on corruption.
The impeachment managers have repeatedly used their answers to make an argument for calling witnesses, specifically John Bolton.
Impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries made the argument that witnesses have been called in every one of the Senate’s 15 impeachment trials. (Obviously, not all of those impeachment trials were against presidents.)
“Why should this president be treated differently?” Jeffries asked.
Democratic senators were visibly stunned when Alan Dershowitz made his argument that Trump was acting in the public interest by pushing for investigations of Democrats because the president considers his reelection to be in the public interest.
Dershowitz stretches definition of ‘public interest’
Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin has retaken the podium on behalf of the president’s team, but fellow Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz has delivered the most controversial answer of the day so far.
Asked whether a quid pro quo matters in deciding to remove a president from office, Dershowitz argued Trump was acting in the public interest by pushing for investigations of Democrats because an officeholder’s reelection can be in the public interest.
Many commentators warned that this sweepingly broad definition of the public interest could justify almost any action of a sitting president.
Updated at 7.43pm GMT
Responding to the question about whether a quid pro quo matters, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff criticized Alan Dershowitz argument that Trump acted out of “mixed motives.”
Schiff asked the senators to imagine a scenario in which Barack Obama asked a foreign country to investigate Mitt Romney, the former president’s 2012 election opponent who is now sitting in the Senate chamber.
“Does any of us have a question that Barack Obama would be impeached?” Schiff asked.
The House intelligence committee chairman concluded by saying that not all quid pro quos are the same. “Some are legitimate; some are corrupt,” Schiff said. “And you don’t need to be a mindreader to figure out which is which.”
Republican senator Ted Cruz posed this question to Trump’s lawyers: does it matter if there was a quid pro quo?
Alan Dershowitz, who previously argued it would not be impeachable if Trump did tie Ukraine’s military assistance to investigations of Democrats, responded by saying a quid pro quo is only against the law if the “quo” is illegal.
Dershowitz said the president’s actions were at least partly motivated by the public interest, arguing that Trump cannot be impeached based on “mixed motives.”
Inside the Senate chamber where the impeachment trial is being held, the impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers are scrambling to produce the best responses to the senators’ questions.
Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin described impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries’ answer as a “misrepresentation of the record.”
Jeffries said in response to a question from Senate Republicans that Trump had not made any claims of executive privilege, instead pursuing a strategy of “blanket defiance.”
But Philbin said the White House never cited executive privilege because they considered House subpoenas to be “invalid” and based on a rushed timeline.
John Kennedy has just become the first Republican senator to pose a question to the impeachment managers, although he also posed it to Trump’s lawyers.
Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts said each side would be given two and a half minutes to answer the question, which centered on why the House did not challenge the president’s claims of executive privilege during the impeachment inquiry.
Impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries pointed out that Trump never officially invoked executive privilege, instead resting his defense on “this notion of blanket defiance.”
So far, the questions in today’s proceedings have served as another opportunity for the impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers to repeat their talking points from the opening arguments.
Mitt Romney, one of only a few Republican senators who has indicated support for calling witnesses in the impeachment trial, has released the six questions he intends to ask during the question-and-answer sessions.
The questions are wide-ranging, covering everything from Rudy Giulaini’s activities in Ukraine to the timeline of the freeze on Ukraine’s military assistance.
But Romney’s last question concerns Joe Biden, asking the impeachment managers whether they believe the former vice president or his son did anything corrupt or “otherwise inappropriate” in Ukraine.
The House impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers are presenting polar opposite arguments about potentially calling witnesses to testify in the trial.
Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin warned that calling witnesses could set a dangerous precedent by transforming the Senate into an investigative body.
But lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff replied, “Think about the precedent you would be setting if you don’t call witnesses in a trial. … That to me is the much more dangerous precedent.”
Gardner opposes witness testimony
Cory Gardner, a Republican senator who is facing a difficult reelection in Colorado later this year, has issued a statement saying he does not support witness testimony in the impeachment trial.
“I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness,” Gardner told Colorado Politics, referring to the officials who testified during the House impeachment inquiry.
“I have approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and have reached this decision after carefully weighing the House managers and defense arguments and closely reviewing the evidence from the House, which included well over 100 hours of testimony from 17 witnesses.”
During a meeting with other Republican senators yesterday, Gardner expressed a fear that a prolonged trial could lead to more Democratic attacks on vulnerable incumbents.
Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin made the dubious claim that Mick Mulvaney’s comments at his October press conference, at which he infamously confirmed a quid pro quo in the freeze on Ukraine’s military assistance, were “garbled or misunderstood.”
In reality, Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, repeatedly said during the press conference that the aid freeze was tied to a request for an investigation into the 2016 election.
Mulvaney later walked back those comments, but there was nothing “garbled” about them.
Democrats’ first question focuses on Bolton
The first question from Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer was posed to the House impeachment managers and centered on the potential testimony of John Bolton.
Schumer asked whether it was possible to have a fair trial without senators hearing more information about the former national security adviser, who has reportedly alleged that Trump directly tied Ukraine’s military assistance to investigations of Democrats.
“The short answer to that question is no,” said lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff. The House intelligence committee chairman argued that Bolton’s testimony was “essential” to determining Trump’s motivation in holding up Ukraine’s aid.
“Don’t wait for the book,” Schiff said. “Don’t wait until March 17, when it is in black and white, to find out the answer to your question.”
Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin responded to the question from Republican senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney by arguing the impeachment managers had not met their burden of proof for the first article of impeachment.
Philbin said the evidence showed Trump was acting, at least partly, out of “legitimate public interest” in his interactions with Ukraine and thus his pushing for investigations into Joe Biden and the 2016 election was justified.
The impeachment managers would have to show there was no public interest concern to make their case, Philbin said, claiming that the managers had failed at that task.
First question comes from Collins, Murkowski and Romney
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said questions should be kept to five minutes, and questions will alternate between Republicans and Democrats.
The first question is from three Republican senators who appear to be currently leaning toward allowing witness testimony in the trial: Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney.
The three senators posed a question to the president’s legal team: “If President Trump had more than one motive for his alleged conduct … how should the Senate consider more than one motive in its assessment of article I?” The first article of impeachment is abuse of power.
Impeachment trial resumes with question-and-answer session
Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts has assumed his post, and the Senate impeachment trial has now officially resumed.
Today will be the first of two eight-hour sessions in which senators can submit questions, read by Roberts, to the impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers.
White House letter claims Bolton’s book contains classified information
The White House has indeed sent a letter to John Bolton’s attorney saying his client’s book cannot be published in its current form, confirming CNN’s earlier scoop.
The letter claims Bolton’s manuscripts contains “significant amounts of classified information” and “may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information.”
Bolton’s team has said the former national security adviser does not believe the manuscript contains classified information, but he still submitted it to the national security council as a precaution.
Senior House Democrat says Bolton raised concerns about Yovanovitch ouster
Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House foreign relations committee, has just put out a statement contradicting Trump’s claim that John Bolton did not raise concerns about Ukraine when he left the administration in September.
“President Trump is wrong that John Bolton didn’t say anything about the Trump-Ukraine Scandal at the time the President fired him,” Engel said in the statement. “He said something to me.
“On September 19, shortly after Ambassador Bolton’s departure as national security advisor, my staff reached out to him at my request. …
“He and I spoke by telephone on September 23. On that call, Ambassador Bolton suggested to me—unprompted—that the committee look into the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal as our top diplomat in Kyiv.”
Yovanovitch’s removal as ambassador to Ukraine has become a key point of interest in the impeachment trial, after the longtime diplomat testified that she was ousted due to a smear campaign led by some of Trump’s allies, including Rudy Giuliani, as they pushed for investigations into the Democrats.
“It’s telling that, of all people, John Bolton is now the target of right-wing ire,” Engel concluded. “It underscores just how important it is that the Senate subpoena Ambassador Bolton as a witness.”
Updated at 6.07pm GMT
The impeachment trial is set to resume with the first of two question-and-answer sessions in about 30 minutes.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Trump lashed out against John Bolton, as questions lingered over whether Republicans had the votes to block witness testimony in the impeachment trial.
- Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani who has been indicted on campaign-finance charges, arrived at the Capitol but was not allowed into the Senate chamber where the trial is being held because of his ankle monitor.
- Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, hailing the deal as a “colossal victory” even as economists voiced skepticism of its ultimate benefits.
The blog will have much more coming up, so stay tuned.
White House reportedly threatens Bolton not to publish book
According to CNN, the White House has threatened John Bolton not to publish his book, which reportedly includes an allegation that Trump directly tied Ukraine’s military assistance to investigations of Democrats.
Trump has been tweeting about the former national security adviser’s book today, confusingly arguing that the unpublished memoir includes both false and classified information.
The book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” is set for publication on March 17, likely after the Senate votes on whether to remove Trump from office.
Senate Democrats have insisted Bolton should testify in the impeachment trial to make the details of the book available before the vote on acquittal.
Trump signs USMCA trade deal
Trump has officially signed the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, hailing the deal as a “colossal victory” that replaces the “nightmare” of NAFTA.
However, a number of economists have noted that the deal’s greatest selling point is putting an end to the market uncertainty caused by Trump’s repeated threats to kill the North American trade agreement.
After a very dramatic arrival at the Capitol, Lev Parnas will not be allowed to enter the Senate chamber where the impeachment trial is being held, because of his ankle monitor.
His attorney will be allowed to enter the chamber, and Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, will watch the proceedings elsewhere.
Although Lev Parnas has arrived on Capitol Hill, it appears the former associate of Rudy Giuliani may not be able to actually enter the Senate chamber where the impeachment trial is being held.
A spokesperson for Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said the lawyer of Lev Parnas reached out to request tickets for the impeachment trial.
Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, was just spotted on Capitol Hill and told congressional reporters that senators should call witnesses in the trial.
Parnas appears on Capitol Hill
As Trump continues to speak at the USMCA signing ceremony, a key figure in the impeachment inquiry has appeared on Capitol Hill.
Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani who has been indicted on campaign-finance charges, arrived at the Capitol and immediately went to the office of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.
Asked what he wanted to tell senators, Parnas replied, “Call the witnesses.” A reporter followed up by asking what he would want senators to know if he wasn’t called to testify.
“The president knew everything that was going on in Ukraine,” Parnas replied, adding that there were “many quid pro quos.”
Speaking at the White House for the signing of USMCA, Trump made repeated reference to the impeachment trial, suggesting that Lindsey Graham was probably missing the ceremony to hold a press conference.
When he mentioned Ted Cruz, the president joked that the Republican senator was “dying to get back there and ask those questions,” referring to today’s proceedings.
The president also praised John Cornyn, who is up for reelection in Texas this year. “You don’t have to worry about Beto either, do you, John?” Trump asked, apparently mocking former Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke.
Trump touches on impeachment during USMCA ceremony
Trump has now started addressing a crowd at the White House for the signing ceremony of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
The president described the renegotiated deal as a “colossal victory” that cleaned up the “nightmare” of NAFTA.
Trump praised Republican senators like Chuck Grassley, Pat Roberts and Martha McSally for their work on the deal but then added, “Maybe I’m just being nice to them because I want their vote.”
The president joked that he already had the House vote, citing the 197 members who opposed his impeachment, even though both articles of impeachment were approved.
Trump did not mention the House Democrats who administration officials have credited for helping to craft the trade deal.
Updated at 7.25pm GMT
Graham says witness testimony is ‘unnecessary’
Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s closest Senate allies, said he considered witness testimony to be “unnecessary” for the impeachment trial.
Graham expressed concern about efforts to discredit John Bolton, as the president’s lawyers tried to do yesterday as they concluded their opening arguments.
But echoing the president’s team, Graham said Trump’s actions would not be impeachable even if he did directly tie Ukraine’s military assistance to investigations of Democrats, as Bolton has reportedly alleged.
“For the sake of argument, one could assume everything attributable to John Bolton is accurate and still the House case would fall well below the standards to remove a president from office,” Graham said.
Trump will soon participate in a White House signing ceremony for the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, known as USMCA.
Administration officials worked with House Democrats to craft the final deal, and some at the White House have acknowledged the agreement was significantly improved thanks to the work of Democratic lawmakers.
Despite that, Trump did not invite House Democrats to the signing ceremony, although speaker Nancy Pelosi highlighted USMCA during a press conference this morning.
As Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell tries to wrangle the votes to block witness testimony, another Republican senator appears to be leaning against calling witnesses in the impeachment trial.
Pat Toomey, a Republican of Pennsylvania, told a reporter that he was “very, very skeptical” any witness would change his mind on acquittal, while emphasizing both sides should be allowed to call witnesses if the Democrats’ proposal passes.
Toomey specifically mentioned Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, and Democratic senator Joe Manchin also appeared open to calling Biden to testify earlier today.
Democratic senator Doug Jones, who faces a difficult reelection race in Alabama later this year, said the ultimate decision over witness testimony could affect his vote on whether to remove Trump from office.
But Jones made clear he is not rushing to make any decisions about acquittal until all of the evidence is presented.
“I’m a lawyer,” Jones said. “I’ve sat in on so many jury trials, and every one I sit in, the judge says ‘do not make up your minds until you’ve heard all the evidence and consider everything.’”
New Iowa poll shows close race in first voting state
A new poll from Iowa shows a close race in the first voting state between five Democratic presidential candidates: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.
The Monmouth University poll found that Biden and Sanders lead the pack at 23% and 21%, respectively. Buttigieg and Warren are effectively tied at 16% and 15%, and Klobuchar slightly trails at 10%.
But perhaps most interestingly, only 47% of likely caucusgoers say they are firmly decided on which candidate they will support, meaning more than half of Iowa Democrats could change their mind before the caucuses on Monday.
Iowa voters are notoriously indecisive about their presidential choices, with polls often swinging significantly up until the day of the caucuses.
However, voters in Iowa also expect to see the candidates they are supporting in person, which could pose a problem for the four Democratic senators — Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar and Michael Bennet — who are currently stuck in Washington because of the impeachment trial.
Manchin indicates support for calling Hunter Biden to testify
Joe Manchin suggested on MSNBC this morning that he would support calling Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, to testify in the impeachment trial.
“You know, I think so. I really do,” Manchin said when asked if Biden was a “relevant witness.” “I don’t have a problem there, because this is why we are where we are. Now, I think that he can clear himself, what I know and what I’ve heard.”
Manchin is the first Democratic senator to indicate support for Biden’s potential testimony. His comments come a week after minority leader Chuck Schumer said a potential witness trade involving the Bidens was “off the table.”
Republicans have tried to paint Biden’s business activities in Ukraine as corrupt, even though Ukrainian and US officials have dismissed those allegations.
Manchin later made clear that he considered calling Joe Biden to testify to be a “bridge too far.”
Trump lashes out against Bolton
Trump has already been tweeting away this morning, attacking John Bolton for his “nasty & untrue book,” which reportedly alleges that the president directly tied Ukraine’s military assistance to investigations of Democrats.
But Trump also claimed the former national security adviser’s book was filled with classified information, which would seem to contradict his assertion that the book’s details were false.
Bolton’s allegations are now at the heart of the debate over whether the Senate will approve witness testimony in the impeachment trial, as Democrats say they must hear from the former administration official.
Bolton left the administration in September, and he and Trump publicly sparred over whether the departure was the result of a firing or a resignation.
Bolton also served as the US ambassador to the UN under George W Bush, but the hawkish official was unable to secure Senate confirmation, so he resigned at the end of his recess appointment in 2006.
Uncertainty looms over witness testimony in impeachment trial
The impeachment trial of Donald Trump continues today with the first of two days of question-and-answer sessions, beginning at 1pm ET.
But the real question remains whether Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell will be able to wrangle the votes to block witnesses from testifying in the trial, as Democrats try to pick off four Republicans to back their proposal.
At a meeting yesterday following the conclusion of the trial’s opening arguments, McConnell said he does not yet have the votes to block witness testimony, but an administration official said the White House is confident the proposal will be rejected.
The matter will likely come up for a vote on Friday. If it fails, Trump could be acquitted in as soon as two days.
Here’s what else the blog is keeping its eye on:
- Trump will sign the renegotiated North American trade deal (USMCA) at 11am ET.
- Several Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, are in Iowa, with only five days to go until the caucuses.
- Secretary of state Mike Pompeo is expected to skip an appearance before the House foreign relations committee.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Updated at 2.10pm GMT
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