Weekly Report 17 April 2020


April 20, 2020

An American hospital in Chicago has been issuing Gilead Sciences’ antiviral medicine remdesivir to coronavirus patients, and the results are promising. Patients who were issued the drug saw “rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms” and “nearly all patients were discharged in less than a week.” Doctors and researchers are going to run more clinical trials in hopes that the drug will become the most efficient way to treat covid patients.

Coronavirus: Iran’s Parliament has stated that the reported death toll is “actually at least double that, as officials have not been counting community deaths.” The virus has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 4,700 Iranians. The number of cases is supposedly “eight to 10 times” higher than what has been reported, meaning that there are approximately 700,000 cases in Iran as opposed to 76,389.

Disinformation: The pro-Iranian group dubbed the International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM) has been spreading conspiracy theories on social media regarding the origins of the coronavirus. IUVM has openly blamed the United States for not only creating the virus but also for spreading it to “enemies” like Iran and China. The group has only reached about 5,000 people on social media thus far.

New reports are claiming that “China’s leaders allegedly failed to notify the public about the looming crisis during a critical six-day period.” Leaked documents have confirmed that government officials downplayed the severity of covid-19 and ignored warnings from a “top Chinese health adviser” who stated that this novel virus was “the most severe challenge since SARS in 2003.”

Chile’s Health Minister Jaime Mañalich said that patients who died of coronavirus are being counted among the recovery population because they are “no longer contagious.” It is unknown when Chile began including the dead among the number of people who have recovered. But the government claims that calculation has reportedly been adopted upon confirmation by international health experts.

Riots: A radical settler youth group set fire to a Palestinian camper and cars overnight on Monday. The group of settlers was placed in a secluded tent last week after they came in contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient.

Arrests: Israeli police raided a coronavirus testing clinic in the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan on Tuesday Night. They arrested its organizers because the clinic was collaborating with the Palestinian Authority to treat patients.

President Daniel Ortega has made a public appearance for the first time in over a month. In his speech, he “refused to adopt the social-distancing and lockdown measures in other countries,” and said that the novel virus is “a sign from God.”

Earlier this week, Israeli troops crossed the border that the United Nations had marked between Lebanon and Israel. The soldiers had brought a military bulldozer, a tent, and engineering equipment into the country. Lebanese forces “faced off” with the Israeli troops, forcing them to leave the area.

In an attempt to contain the coronavirus, Moscow, the epicenter of the virus in Russia, has “introduced a digital tracking system to enforce a coronavirus lockdown.” While critics have expressed their concerns about the threat of citizens’ privacy, Moscow will carry out its plan to have all residents over 14 download a QR code. The tracking “will initially only apply to people using public transport,” but “the restrictions will gradually scale up to passes for short trips around neighborhoods.”

After a fake news story surfaced about the possibility of an extended national lockdown, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has threatened the reporter with 20 years in prison. Thus far, only a few hundred people have been tested as of Monday night, and “more than 5,000 people had been arrested” for breaking quarantine.

Hong Kong
Activist Hendrick Lui has lost a “legal challenge” over a “police watchdog probe into [the] handling of protests” after the High Court dismissed a judicial review. The court has decided that the Independent Police Complaints Council’s (IPCC) initiation of a probe into the “police handling of large-scale protests” was completely legal, as the IPCC has been granted the power to “launch its own investigations.”

Eight Sudan Armed Forces soldiers forcibly removed El Safi El Degein, a 42-year-old farmer, from his home, and the Sudanese Human Rights and Development Organization (HUDO) has “expressed it concerns about El Degein’s detention,” as there were no reasons provided for his removal. It is believed that his detention is tied to his “political activities in the past’.’ El Degein has been denied visits from families, friends, and lawyers.

United States
On April 15th, protests against social distancing and shutdown measures occurred in several states. The biggest demonstration, called “operation gridlock”, took place in Lansing, the capital of Michigan. Thousands of people reached the state capitol by car to honk their horns and fly American flags as a sign of dissent.

Libya’s Government of National Accord carried out an airstrike on Tuesday, clearing “3,000 square kilometers of land occupied by Haftar’s militants following operations in western Libya”. The airstrikes were targeting militants who had openly shown their loyalty to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar.

Interim president Jeanine Añez has extended the government-mandated quarantine to April 30th. She also stated that the government would be offering “another pittance to Bolivia’s impoverished workers and peasants.” Families who fit under either of those categories will be given a “universal bonus” of less than $73.

Scientists have found six new types of coronavirus in bats in Myanmar. They have hypothesized that there are “thousands of coronaviruses – many of which have yet to be discovered” in bats.

After Reuters published a piece on Iraq’s response to COVID-19, “Iraq’s media regulator said it was revoking Reuters’ license for three months and fining it 25 million dinars.” The news agency has stated that it does not regret publishing the article and that all of their published works were “based on multiple, well-placed medical and political sources.”

On Wednesday, what is believed to be an Israeli aircraft “struck a vehicle” traveling “just inside Syria.” The airstrike was supposedly targeting a Hezbollah operative that had been accused of smuggling weapons. Israel has yet to release a statement regarding the attack.

North Korea
North Korea launched missiles on Tuesday amidst the global pandemic, and “analysts fear… Kim Jong-un may be lashing in the face of a mounting humanitarian crisis.”  North Korea has yet to report any coronavirus cases, but health experts are skeptical of these claims.