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Wuhan Plans to Test All 11 Million Citizens as New Coronavirus Cluster Emerges

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  • Wuhan officials have announced that the city now plans to test all of its residents for the coronavirus over a 10-day period.
  • The announcement comes after the city confirmed six new cases over the weekend, all of which have been traced back to an 89-year-old man. 
  • Even with the drastic measures, health officials are trying to reassure people by explaining that a small cluster of new cases does not necessarily mean a larger, second wave of the virus.
  • Another city in northeastern China, Shulan, reported more than a dozen cases over the weekend and has now re-entered lockdown, declaring itself in “wartime mode.”

Wuhan to Test All 11 Million Residents

After a small but concerning spike in COVID-19 cases, Wuhan officials have announced that they intend to test all of the city’s 11 million residents by the end of next week.

The announcement, made Monday, comes after Wuhan confirmed six new cases over the weekend. While such a number may seem small compared to what the United States is currently experiencing, for many, it’s a worrying sign of a potential second wave of cases.

That’s because, before these new cases, Wuhan went 35 days without seeing any new infections. On April 8, the city even reopened, ending a 76-day lockdown.

According to a notice ordering these tests, “Each district should make plans and arrangements to conduct nucleic acid tests on the entire population in its jurisdiction within a 10-day time limit.” 

Because of that, each district will also pay for testing all of its residents. 

The notice also went on to say that the first round of testing will focus on vulnerable groups such as the elderly or those who are immunocompromised. It will also reportedly focus on densely populated communities such as those with concentrated migrant populations. 

According to the Chinese financial news agency Yicai, more than one million people in the city have already been tested.

The Cluster of Cases Leading to this Testing

On Sunday, local health authorities reported that five people in a single residential compound— the Sanmin compound in the East West Lake district of Wuhan—had been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

All of those cases were then linked back to an 89-year-old man who was confirmed to have the coronavirus the day before.

Notably, this compound houses about 5,000 people. During the lockdown, 20 people there tested positive for the coronavirus. According to reports, that man was never tested, but it seems that he may have also contracted the virus during the lockdown.

That’s because on March 17th, he reportedly developed a fever, but he later recovered at home within ten days. Last month, however, his health issues resurfaced. He then seemingly spread the virus to his wife and two other elderly couples. 

As to why his symptoms seemingly came back out of nowhere, Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention told China Central Television, “…the course of disease could last 30 to 50 days for some patients. The virus could take longer to manifest itself in patients with weak immunity, who are also prone to ‘ons’ and ‘offs’ of symptoms.”

Wu also stressed that this small cluster of cases shouldn’t be considered the start of a second wave in Wuhan.

“There will not be a new minor peak,” he said. “We have had the epidemic under control after more than three months of efforts and accumulated considerable experience in both diagnosis and [epidemic] notification. Therefore, we will not allow scattered cases to develop into massive outbreaks.”

When asked if he believed it truly necessary to test everyone in Wuhan, Wu said that tests could be targeted to areas with known infections but that there’s no need to do it in residential areas without any cases.

Another Chinese City Re-enters Lockdown

On Tuesday, the National Health Commission reported only two new confirmed cases for Monday, both of them imported and neither in Wuhan. One is located in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region while the other is in the Shanghai municipality.

That doesn’t mean Wuhan is the only city in China seeing smaller clusters of cases. Over the weekend, the northeastern city of Shulan reported 14 new cases and has now declared that it’s in “wartime mode.”

Like the cases in Wuhan, they’ve all been traced back to a single person. This time it was a 45-year-old woman who was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Thursday, though it’s unknown how she actually contracted the virus.

Because of that, the city has now gone back into lockdown until the end of the month. 

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

International

200 Children Seeking Asylum in the U.K. Are Missing 

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The missing include at least 13 children under the age of 16. 


Children Missing From Hotels

There are 200 asylum-seeking children missing from government care in the United Kingdom according to the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Home Office.

When children are seeking asylum in the U.K. alone or separated from their parents, the government puts them up in hotel rooms for temporary accommodation. They have done so since 2021 and have temporarily accommodated 4,600 children in that time. However, Simon Murray, the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Home Office, said that 200 of the children placed in those hotels are missing, including at least 13 who are under the age of 16.

In response to this information, a collection of more than 100 charities sent a letter to the Prime Minister demanding the end of the procedure of placing kids in hotels over safety concerns. The letter says that these children are at risk of trafficking and exploitation by staying in these hotels alone.

Other officials have echoed these concerns, claiming these hotels are targets for organized crime where people use these vulnerable children for labor or trafficking.

Parliament Calls Incident “Horrific”

Murray told the House of Lords on Monday that despite the media reports, his department does not know of any kidnapping cases, though they are investigating. He went on to say there are many reasons why children go missing. 

However, lawmakers were not appeased by Murray’s assurances. In a later debate, one member of Parliament called the missing cases “horrific” and another said that it was “putting children at risk.”  The children’s commissioner for England also reportedly chimed in asking for, quote “assurances on the steps being taken to safeguard the children.” 

Murray went on to say that the use of hotels for asylum-seeking children will hopefully be phased out as soon as possible but did not give a timeline. 

The nonprofit Refugee Council called on the government in a tweet to spare no expense in the location of these missing kids.

See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (The Guardian) (The Telegraph)

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100,000 U.K. Nurses Launch Biggest Strike in NHS History

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Opposition leader Keir Starmer called the strike “a badge of shame on this government.”


The NHS Grinds to a Halt

Some 100,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the United Kingdom’s largest nursing union, launched a historic 12-hour strike Thursday after the government refused to negotiate on higher pay.

The work stoppage, which spans England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, is only the second in the RCN’s 106-year history and the largest the NHS has ever seen. It marks the breaking point for many underpaid nurses and the culmination of a years-long decline in the NHS’s quality of care, put under increasing stress by severe staffing shortages.

Although most NHS staff in England and Wales received a pay rise of around £1,400 this year, worth about 4% on average for nurses, they say it has not kept up with inflation as Britain plunges deeper into a cost-of-living crisis.

When inflation is accounted for, nurses’ pay dropped 1.2% every year from 2010 to 2017, according to the Health Foundation.

Meanwhile, the number of patients waiting for care has reached a record 7.2 million in England, or over one in eight residents, more than double what it was seven years ago.

In July, the cross-party Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee estimated the staffing shortfall could be as high as 50,000 nurses and 12,000 doctors, what one MP called the “greatest workforce crisis in history.”

Many nurses argue that boosting pay will help hospitals recruit more staff.

The RCN demanded a pay raise 5% above the retail rate of inflation, which amounts to a 19% increase, but both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the government’s health secretary have claimed that’s not affordable.

During Thursday’s strike, partial staffing continued to remain open for urgent care such as chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, and children’s accident and neonatal units.

Sunak and Starmer Brawl in Parliament

Labor leader Keir Starmer grilled Sunak during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on the upcoming strike.

“Tomorrow will be the first-ever nationwide nurse’s strike,” he said. “All the Prime Minister has to do to stop that is to open the door and discuss pay with them. If he did, the whole country would breathe a sigh of relief. Why won’t he?”

“We have consistently spoken to all the unions involved in all the pay disputes that there are,” Sunak replied. “Last year, when everyone else in the public sector had a public sector pay freeze, the nurses received a three-percent pay rise.”

Starmer fired back: “Nurses going on strike is a badge of shame for this government. Instead of showing leadership, he’s playing games with people’s health.”

Sunak called Starmer’s demand that he reopen negotiations with the RCN “just simply a political formula for avoiding taking a position on this issue.”

“If he thinks the strikes are wrong, he should say so,” Sunak said. “If he thinks it’s right that pay demands of nineteen percent are met, then he should say so. What’s weak, Mr. Speaker, is he’s not strong enough to stand up to the union.”

While Starmer has called on Sunak to negotiate with the RCN, he has not explicitly backed the 19% pay raise himself.

Unless the government returns to the bargaining table, the RCN plans to launch a second round of strikes on Dec. 20 to be followed by ambulance strikes that Wednesday and the next.

If the government still refuses to budge, the union said in a statement that nurses will strike for longer periods in more places starting in January, disrupting more health services.

Other industries are also set to see work stoppages this month, including workers on railways, buses, highways, and borders, as well as teachers, postal workers, baggage handlers, and paramedics.

See what others are saying: (BBC) (CNN) (The Guardian)

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International

Fortnite Developer Sued By Parents for Making the Game as “Addictive as Possible”

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One child mentioned in the lawsuit played over 7,700 rounds of Fortnite in two years.


Epic Games Sued 

A Quebec City judge recently approved a 2019 class-action lawsuit accusing Fortnite developer Epic Games of deliberately making Fortnite addictive.

The parents who brought forward the lawsuit claim their children have become so obsessed with the game that in some cases, they’ve stopped eating, showering, or socializing. The lawsuit claims that these kids have played thousands of games since Fortnite’s release in 2017. In one example, a teenager played over 7,700 games in less than two years. 

If the lawsuit succeeds, players addicted to Fortnite living in Quebec since September 2017 could receive compensation. The plaintiff’s attorney, Philippe Caron, reports that over 200 parents outside the lawsuit have reached out to him, saying their child’s well-being has diminished since downloading Fortnite. He told The Washington Post that they are very confident about their case. 

Epic Games Responds

“We plan to fight this in court,” Natalie Munoz, a spokesperson for Epic Games said to The Post, “We believe the evidence will show that this case is meritless.” 

Munoz also said that Fortnite does allow parents to supervise their child’s playtime and require permission for purchases.

The parents involved in the lawsuit are claiming that they were not aware of the dangers playing Fortnite could pose for their children. 

“If she had been informed by the defendants of the risks and dangers associated with the use of FORTNITE,” the lawsuit says of one guardian. “She would have categorically refused to allow the game to be downloaded.” 

See what others are saying: (BBC) (The Washington Post) (Deadline

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