Amazon to hire 100,000 workers as online orders surge on virus worries

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020   •   336

Amazon.com Inc said on Monday (March 16) it would hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States to tackle a surge in online orders, as consumers shop heavily fearing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Amazon said it would invest over $350 million to raise the pays for these employees in the U.S. and Canada by $2 an hour, 2 pounds in the UK and about 2 euros in the European Union.

It currently pays $15 an hour for workers in its U.S. fulfillment centers.

(Production: Catherine Koppel)

Tokyo residents welcome end of state of emergency

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

People in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday (May 26) woke up to their first day with loosened social distancing curbs, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for all areas in the country on Monday (May 25).

Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, as well as Hokkaido were the last remaining areas under emergency.

Many residents welcomed the government’s decision to end the emergency, though most said they are still alert for the virus since more people are out on the streets.

“I’m still a bit worried. There may be a second wave of an epidemic so we still need to be alert,” said 45-year-old Naoto Furuki who said the trains were a lot more crowded with commuters this morning.

With the emergency order lifted, Tokyo will move into “stage one” of loosening restrictions, allowing libraries and museums to reopen, and restaurants to stay open until later in the evening. Subsequent stages would see theatres, cinemas and fairgrounds reopen.

Company employee Daisuke Tominaga is happy that the emergency state is over, saying that the Japanese economy will collapse if businesses and people have to continue to live under restrictions.

“I want to go out drinking and attend concerts,” he said enthusiastically.

Many shops and restaurants have restarted operations since the government began lifting the emergency in rural and suburban areas earlier this month, but some stores remain closed. (Reuters)

(Production: Kim Kyung-Hoon, Akiko Okamoto, Travis Teo)

UK PM Johnson backs under-fire aide Cummings

UNTV News   •   May 25, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed his senior adviser Dominic Cummings on Sunday (May 24), despite calls from within his own Conservative Party for the aide to resign for traveling 400km during the coronavirus lockdown.

Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union, came under pressure when newspapers reported he had travelled from London to Durham in late March, when Britain was under a strict lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Johnson’s office said Cummings made the journey to ensure his 4-year-old son could be properly cared for by relatives if he too fell ill.

The journey took place at a time when millions of Britons were staying inside and foregoing contacts with friends and relatives. The government’s order at the time was everyone in a household where anyone had symptoms must not leave home.

With Johnson’s words that he had acted with integrity, Cummings was safe. But the row within the governing Conservatives looked set to ripple on, with those who called for the senior aide’s resignation expected to be marginalized.

The newspapers have since reported that Cummings was seen in northern England on other occasions. The government has denied this.

A number of cabinet ministers and the attorney general have said that the journey was justified. (Reuters)

(Production: Paul Warren, Gabriela Boccaccio, Michael Fiorentino)

COVID-19 infections climb while countries consider easing lockdown measures

UNTV News   •   May 7, 2020

Many countries around the world are now considering easing lockdown measures while drawing up plans for the next stage in the fight against COVID-19 as global cases continued to climb on Wednesday.

There had been 3,595,662 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, including 247,652 deaths, as of 07:06 CEST, Thursday, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States reached 1,228,177 as of 00:32 GMT Thursday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, the death toll from the disease in the country hit 73,207.

New York remains the hardest-hit state, with 333,549 cases and 25,073 deaths, followed by New Jersey with 131,890 cases and 8,549 deaths.

The United Kingdom had another 649 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the UK to 30,076, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick said on Wednesday.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community – and mean UK now has the highest fatality rate in all of Europe.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) that he will set out details of his plan to start relaxing the lockdown from Monday.

The prime minister has received criticism for his handling of the crisis with the newly-elected leader of the opposition Keir Starmer questioning the country’s slow response to the pandemic.

However, Johnson claimed that the country’s testing capability will be stepped up to 200,000 tests per day by the end of May, doubling the government’s current targets.

Italy saw a further 369 COVID-19 patients die over the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll to 29,684, with of total number of infections of 214,457, according to fresh figures released on Wednesday.

The country’s Civil Protection Department registered 91,528 active infections on Wednesday, down sharply from 98,467 a day earlier. The day also saw 8,014 additional recoveries, bringing that total to 93,245 – higher than the number active infections for the first time since the pandemic struck the northern Lombardy region in late February.

Italy entered into a national lockdown on March 10 to contain the outbreak. The lockdown was partly lifted on Monday as the country entered into the so-called “Phase Two,” involving the gradual resumption of social, economic and productive activities.

New infections of COVID-19 in Germany picked up slightly but were well below their peak as the number of confirmed cases increased by 947 within one day to a total of 164,807, Germany’s public health agency the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Wednesday.

According to the RKI, the number of COVID-19 deaths in Germany increased by 165 to 6,996 on Wednesday, resulting in a fatality rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases of 4.2 percent.

The estimated number of people in Germany who had already recovered from COVID-19 increased by around 2,300 within one day to 137,400 on Wednesday, according to the RKI.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the current figures released by the RKI were “very pleasing”. She also announced that COVID-19 restrictions in Germany would be eased while minimum social distance and hygiene rules would continue to apply.

France’s death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 25,809, the world’s fifth-highest behind the United States, Britain, Italy and Spain, according to figures released on Wednesday by the French Health Ministry.

On a daily basis, the tally grew by 278, down again from the 330 on Tuesday and the 306 recorded on Monday.

The number of patients in hospitals fell by 792 to 23,983. The same downward trend was reported in intensive care units where 3,147 patients required life support, down by 283 for the 29th day in a row.

From May 11, France will start to slowly ease confinement to guarantee people safety and inject dynamism into a plunging economy.

Schools will gradually reopen while workers will be allowed to return to workplaces and companies will be able to resume activities. Meanwhile, restaurants, cafes and beaches will remain closed until at least June, while professional sporting events are suspended until September.

Wearing a mask will be mandatory when riding on public transport. Religious ceremonies will be allowed from June 1 if social distancing rules are respected.

Russia confirmed 10,559 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, raising its total number of infections to 165,929, the country’s coronavirus response center said in a statement on Wednesday.

Single-day increases were over 10,000 for four consecutive days, the center’s data showed.

The death toll from the pandemic increased by 86 to 1,537, while 21,327 people have recovered, including 1,462 over the last 24 hours, the statement said.

Moscow, the country’s worst-hit region, confirmed 5,858 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 85,973.

More than 4.6 million lab tests for COVID-19 have been conducted across the country so far, the statement added.

Russia’s lockdown measures will expire on May 12, with Anna Popova, head of Russia’s consumer rights and human well-being watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, proposing that COVID-19 restrictions be lifted in three stages at an online conference with President Vladimir Putin and other officials on Wednesday.

Singapore reported 788 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 20,198, according to the country’s Ministry of Health (MOH).

Of the newly confirmed cases, 13 were in the community, 16 were work permit holders residing outside dormitories, and 759 were work permit holders residing in dormitories. There were no new imported cases. (Reuters)

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