Coronavirus pandemic will drive carbon emissions down 6%, meteorological group says
from CNN's Simon Cullen
Global carbon emissions are expected to fall 6% this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said it’s “short-term” good news for the environment, but won’t be enough to get the world back on track to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement targets.
“This crisis has had an impact on the emissions of greenhouse gases,” Taalas said during a virtual press briefing. “We estimate that there is going to be a 6% drop in carbon emissions this year because of the lack of emissions from transportation and industry and energy production.”
The WMO says while the coronavirus pandemic may result in a temporary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, it is not a substitute for sustained climate action.
“Whilst Covid-19 has caused a severe international health and economic crisis, failure to tackle climate change may threaten human well-being, ecosystems and economies for centuries,” Taalas added. “We need to flatten both the pandemic and climate change curves.”
9:54 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020
Last major cruise ship at sea during coronavirus pandemic docks in Italy
From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite
The last major cruise ship remaining at sea during the coronavirus pandemic docked in the port of Genoa, Italy today, regional council member Giacomo Giampedrone told CNN.
“The Costa Deliziosa has docked and health care personnel will go on board shortly, to transport the body of a woman who died on April 6 to the forensic office where a coronavirus test will be done, mainly as a precaution. Her death seems not be related to coronavirus,” Giampedrone told CNN.
“This afternoon the first 540 passengers will disembark, while 897 more will do on Thursday afternoon,” Giampedrone said. "The ship is clean and with no people isolated on board,”
“We will carry out a protected disembarking, just like we did in other cases of cruise ships that had coronavirus cases on board. But this time we are protecting more the people on board, who have been sailing since mid-March, than vice versa” Giampedrone said.
Some context: The port of Genoa was chosen as the final destination of Costa Deliziosa by the Italian Transport Minister and the regional governor. The cruise line company will provide transportation to all passengers and the 900 crew members, according to Giampedrone.
9:49 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020
UK government can't promise free masks for everyone, health official says
From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy
If the UK changes its policy and begins recommending the use of face masks for the public, the government will not be able to promise everybody free masks, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Parliament today.
“We will follow the advice and will listen to what the SAGE [Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] says on masks. And then we will implement that,” Hancock said.
“I can't promise that we will give everybody free masks. I mean that would be an extraordinary undertaking," he added.
"And we do have to make sure we have supplies available especially for health and care staff where the scientific advice has been throughout that the wearing of masks is necessary in those circumstances,” Hancock explained. “We have got to make sure the provision is for them.”
Some context: The British government has faced intense criticism over its handling of the crisis, including a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers and a slow roll-out of coronavirus testing.
9:17 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020
Indian government issues urgent executive order to protect healthcare workers
From CNN's Vedika Sud and Esha Mitra in New Delhi
India's government has introduced an urgent executive order to discourage violence against health workers, according to a government announcement following a cabinet meeting today.
What this is about: Reports of attacks and discrimination against healthcare workers have surfaced in India over the past two months. In March, medical staff in the nation's capital New Delhi were being evicted and facing threats that their electricity would be cut off.
Earlier this month, CNN reported a mob pelted frontline health care workers with stones as they tried to treat a patient who was suspected of contracting the novel coronavirus in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
“Health workers who are trying to save the country from this epidemic are unfortunately facing attacks. No incident of violence or harassment against them will be tolerated. An ordinance has been brought in, it'll be implemented after President's sanction,” Union Minister P Javadekar said.
‘"We have zero tolerance and will not allow this in a civilized society,” the minister added. “Such crimes will now be cognizable and non-bailable. Investigation will be done in 30 days.”
8:02 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020
It's just gone 1 p.m. in London and 8 a.m. in New York. Here's what you need to know.
From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh
The coronavirus blame game has reached a new level after Missouri announced it was suing China over the crisis. The US state is seeking damages for what it described as a campaign of “deception” and insufficient action to halt a “preventable” pandemic — allegations Beijing strongly denies.
The conflagration over China is becoming a key flashpoint in the 2020 race, with President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden sparring over the country’s role in the spread of the virus. The battle could turn into a critical showdown in November’s election, Stephen Collinson writes.
Beijing has faced intense scrutiny and criticism over its handling of the coronavirus, and not only from Washington. But the pandemic still presents an opportunity for China to solidify its status as a superpower and global leader – especially as Trump alienates some allies with his “America First” approach, James Griffiths writes.
One outspoken critic of China’s government knows what it means to be socially isolated. The dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who was detained for three months by authorities back in 2011, told CNN that the coronavirus had only strengthened the “police state” in China.
With the Wuhan epidemic now contained, David Culver has returned to see how people there are navigating a new normal, after nearly three months living in lockdown.
Here are Wednesday's other developments...
Trump backs off full immigration ban: Trump has announced a 60-day ban on immigrants seeking green cards to live in America permanently, but backed away from plans to stop workers entering the country on a temporary basis.
Famine of "biblical proportions": The developing world is facing “multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months” unless urgent action is taken, the UN’s food relief agency said. It warned that the pandemic would push an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation, on top of another 135 million who were already facing crisis levels of hunger.
Homeschooling widens inequality gap: A staggering 90% of the world's students are in lockdown. But it’s going to hit poor kids much harder than rich ones. The inequality gap, present in education systems at the best of times, is being exacerbated by school closures worldwide, experts say.
Bangladeshi garment workers face ruin: When Fatema Akther arrived for work at the Alif Casual Wear garment factory in Dhaka in late March, she had no idea it would be her last day. She’s one of millions of garment workers — most of them women — estimated to have been furloughed or laid off in Bangladeshi factories, as global demand for fast fashion dries up.
Warning of second wave next winter: The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that another wave of coronavirus next winter could be “even more difficult” than the current outbreak because it would coincide with flu season.
Boris Johnson's stand-in grilled over shortage of testing, during UK's first virtual Parliament session
From CNN's Rob Picheta and Sarah Dean in London
Britain's first virtual sitting of Parliament began with the First Secretary of State coming under intense scrutiny over the UK's jarring shortage of coronavirus testing.
Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Boris Johnson while the Prime Minister recovers from Covid-19, said the government is making "good progress" and would meet its target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April.
But opposition leader Keir Starmer, making his first appearance in the House of Commons since winning the Labour leadership election earlier this month, criticized the government's pace and pointed out the UK is "way behind" other European nations on testing.
He noted that a mere 18,206 tests were carried out on Monday, with just over a week until the end of April -- to which Raab responded that the UK's capacity for tests is at 40,000 a day.
"I think it’s really important that we fully understand what the First Secretary just said," Starmer said. "That means that the day before yesterday, 40,000 could have been carried out, but only 18,000 tests were actually carried out."
"All week I’ve heard from the frontline, from care workers, who are frankly desperate for tests for their residents and for themselves," Starmer said. "They would expect every test to be used every day … so there’s clearly a problem. Why isn’t the government using all the tests available?"
Criticism over the number of tests carried out, and over shortfalls in protective equipment for health care workers, has been leveled at the government throughout its coronavirus response.
Raab and Starmer, along with a handful of other MPs, were present in the chamber and sat a safe distance from each other. Most lawmakers joined the session remotely, via a video-conference service.
8:06 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020
Ukraine extends lockdown measures as it expects peak will hit in early May
from CNN's Nathan Hodge
Ukraine will extend coronavirus lockdown measures until May 11 after projections show it peaking early next month, the country’s Cabinet of Ministers said Wednesday.
“We need to tell people exactly when and what will be opened, and what the government’s plan of action is,” a statement from President Volodymyr Zelensky's office read. “Peak incidence is expected in early May. People need to understand whether it will be possible to walk in the parks, go to hairdressers, notaries, lawyers and other businesses."
The government was considering various options for modifying coronavirus restrictions to boost the morale of citizens and to help restart the economy, according to the statement.
7:55 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020
Female medical workers wearing badly fitted protective equipment, doctors’ union says
From CNN's Zamira Rahim
Female medical staff in the UK are struggling to find personal protective equipment (PPE) which fits them correctly, according to the British Medical Association (BMA). Most of the equipment is designed to fit men.
“It is vital that to keep staff in clinical environments safe they have an adequate supply of PPE and that it fits correctly," said Dr. Helen Fidler, deputy chair of BMA UK consultants committee. “However, we are aware that in the current crisis, female doctors and other NHS staff are having issues with filtering face piece (FFP) masks and other PPE not being available in smaller sizes as they tend to be designed to the size and shape of male bodies. "This is in spite of the fact that 75% of NHS workers are women. Correctly fitted PPE is essential for the protection of staff and patients and smaller sizes need to be made available urgently.”
7:39 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020
Indian government boosts protection for health workers
From Vedika Sud
The Indian government has introduced an urgent executive order to discourage violence against health workers.
The country's Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, has been amended, and those found guilty now face imprisonment from 6 months to 7 years.
"Health workers who are trying to save the country from this epidemic are unfortunately facing attacks. No incident of violence or harassment against them will be tolerated. An ordinance has been brought in, it'll be implemented after President's sanction," Union Minister P Javadekar said. "Such crime will now be cognizable and non-bailable. Investigation will be done in 30 days."
Earlier in the day, the Indian Medical Association withdrew its two-day protest, following a video conference with India’s Home Minister Amit Shah and Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
The protesting doctors demanded an urgent law to protect the healthcare workers from violent attacks.