Trump says coronavirus task force will wind down as focus shifts to reopening
UNTV News • May 6, 2020 • 298
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (May 5) the White House coronavirus task force would wind down as the country moves into a second phase of dealing with the aftermath of the outbreak.
“Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job,” Trump said during a visit to a mask factory in Arizona. “But we’re now looking at a little bit of a different form and that form is safety and opening and we’ll have a different group probably set up for that.”
Asked if he was proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” in the fight against coronavirus, Trump said, “No, not at all. The mission accomplished is when it’s over.”
Trump said Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, doctors who assumed a high profile during weeks of nationally televised news briefings, would remain advisers after the group is dismantled. Fauci leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Birx was response coordinator for the force.
“We can’t keep our country closed for the next five years,” Trump said, when asked why it was time to wind down the task force.
At least 70,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, the respiratory illness it causes. The U.S. death toll is the highest in the world.
Trump placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the task force, which has been meeting almost every day since it was formed in March.
Most experts have suggested clinical trials to guarantee a vaccine is safe and effective could take a minimum of 12 to 18 months.
The White House task force has been less visible in recent days as Trump turned his attention to efforts to reopen the U.S. economy. It did not meet on Monday or Saturday.
Trump made the comments during a visit to the Honeywell International Inc aerospace facility in Phoenix, a factory that is now making protective face masks.
Before touring the factory, he met with Native American tribal leaders and signed a proclamation “officially recognizing the grave issue of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.” (Reuters)
New Zealand’s embattled Health Minister David Clark resigned on Thursday (July 2) after security slip-ups at quarantine facilities where the coronavirus was detected just days after officials declared it had been eliminated from the country.
Clark was also under fire for personally breaching strict lockdown rules twice earlier in the year, by taking his family on a beach trip and driving to a mountain biking track.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who had earlier refused calls to sack Clark, citing his critical role in the country’s response to the pandemic, said she agreed with his decision.
Recent opinion polls have Ardern’s Labour Party far ahead of its main rival National Party, putting it on track to win a Sept. 19 general election, but public confidence in her government has been undermined by a series of blunders.
Ardern had declared in early June that New Zealand had eliminated coronavirus, although she warned there would almost certainly be new cases, as she lifted social distancing restrictions.
Just days later it was revealed that two women who arrived from Britain who were allowed to leave quarantine early on compassionate grounds later tested positive for the virus.
Ardern appointed Education Minister Chris Hipkins as interim health minister until the September election, after which she said she would consider a permanent replacement. (Reuters)
Egypt restarted international flights and reopened major tourist attractions across the country on Wednesday (July 1) after over three months of closure due to the coronavirus.
Egypt had ordered shut airports and historical sites in mid-March when the government introduced measures to help curb the spread of the virus, including a ban on large public gatherings.
Last month the government announced it would restart tourism to resorts in the coastal cities of South Sinai and the Red Sea and in Marsa Matrouh which lies on the Mediterranean.
Egyptian minister of antiquities Khaled al-Anany said that two flights had arrived this morning in South Sinai and the Red Sea with tourists from the Ukraine. He also said that historical sites in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, as well as in other cities were reopened.
Al-Anany told reporters the sites would operate mainly for Egyptians and foreigners residing in Egypt until tourism picks up worldwide.
Egypt’s ministry of civil aviation said that 16 flights took off from Cairo International Airport and while two arrival terminals were seen empty on Wednesday morning, a screen showed four scheduled flights expected to arrive from Toulouse, Kuwait, Tunis, and Amman.
Tourism, which accounts for five percent of of Egypt’s total GDP, was shuttered due to the pandemic.
Egypt has so far registered 68,311 cases of the coronavirus and 2,953 deaths. (Reuters)
(Production: Ahmed Fahmy, Sherif Fahmy, Seham Eloraby)
Schools across Thailand re-opened on Wednesday (July 1) with coronavirus prevention measures in place, following months of closure.
Nearly 5,000 students returned to Sam Khok school, about 50 km north of Bangkok, wearing face masks and receiving face shields and temperature checks from the school.
“Once students arrive at school, teachers hand face masks to them because it’s mandatory to wear them. We (school) are also providing face shields for students’ project presentations or for eating,” said principal Chuchart Thiengtham.
He added that students were told to stay in home quarantine for 15 days before school re-started as an extra precaution.
The school has also turned old ballot boxes into classroom partitions to enforce social distancing between students.
“I feel safe, but annoyed at the same time because partition blocked my view,” said 17-year-old student, Soponwich Thianthong.
Thailand on Wednesday marked 37 days without a case of local transmission. The coronavirus has killed 58 people among its 3,173 infections.
The country has extended an emergency decree until the end of July in a bid to avoid the risk of a second wave of the coronavirus, although it is also set to ease more restrictions on Wednesday, including reopening bars and allowing some foreigners into the country. (Reuters)
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