Black people in UK four times more likely to die of COVID-19 – UK Statistics office

Black people in the United Kingdom are more than four times as likely to die from coronavirus than white people, the UK’s statistics office said on Thursday.

Those of Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity also have a significantly higher chance of dying from COVID-19 than white people, even when adjusting for deprivation, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

“These results show that the difference between ethnic groups in COVID-19 mortality is partly a result of socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but a remaining part of the difference has not yet been explained,” ONS said.

Using models that adjusted for a range of socioeconomic factors, the statistics office said it was clear that there were significant differences in the risk of dying of COVID-19 among different ethnic groups.

“The risk of death involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) among some ethnic groups is significantly higher than that of those of white ethnicity,” ONS said.

“People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and Mixed ethnicities also had statistically significant raised risk of death involving COVID-19 compared with those of white ethnicity.”

Scientists studying the novel coronavirus caution that there were vast holes in their knowledge and cite striking differences in the death rates based on age, sex and ethnicity.

Genetics, they say, might hold many clues that could help eventually reveal a path to medicines or a vaccine that could treat the disease.

Without adjusting for a variety of factors including deprivation, education and health, the ONS found that Black males were 4.2 times more likely to die from a COVID-19-related cause and Black females were 4.3 times more likely than white ethnicity males and females.

The adjusted model showed that Black males and females were 1.9 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the white ethnic group.

Males of Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity are 1.8 times more likely to die, according to the adjusted model. Individuals from the Chinese and mixed ethnic group have similar risks to those with white ethnicity, the ONS said.

Data from the United States showed African Americans were more likely to die from COVID-19, highlighting long-standing disparities in health and inequalities in access to medical care.

In the UK, the government last month heeded calls to launch an inquiry into why ethnic minorities appear to be more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

Later, the main opposition Labour Party announced its own review.

Most doctors who have died on the UK’s front lines have been from non-white communities.

On Friday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said coronavirus patients from Black African backgrounds were dying in UK hospitals at more than three times the rate of white British people.

Poland postpones presidential vote amid coronavirus lockdown

The leader of Poland’s governing party and a partner in its governing coalition announced an agreement late on Wednesday to postpone Sunday’s presidential election, without setting a new date for the poll.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling Law and Justice party, and Jaroslaw Gowin, leader of a small party in the conservative coalition, announced in a joint statement that they had agreed to cancel Sunday’s vote and set a new date.

They called their decision “a solution that will guarantee Poles the opportunity to participate in democratic elections.”

The decision brought some clarity to a chaotic situation that left Poles uncertain about whether they would be casting votes this weekend.

The May 10 date had been set months ago, but the coronavirus pandemic and a government-ordered lockdown threw preparations into disarray.

Bitter fighting between the conservative governing party and its political opponents kept them from agreeing on an alternative.

The governing party had sought to stick to the election date by making it a postal vote, but proper legislation was still not approved. Many in Poland voiced concerns that such a vote organised at short notice might not be conducted property or meet democratic standards for fairness.

A disagreement between Kaczynski and Gowin had also created a impasse that had threatened to cause an larger political crisis. Their joint statement suggested the crisis had been averted.

Under their plan, after Sunday the Supreme Court will declare the election void because it does not happen, and then parliament Speaker Elzbieta Witek will announce a “new presidential election to be held on the first possible date.”

They did not indicate when that might be.

Under a constitutionally dictated timeline, the last possible date for the presidential election in 2020 would be on May 23. But they said they would amend legislation regulating elections in 2020, which might suggest a later date. The vote will be conducted by postal ballot.

Tennis: Bodies set up fund to support players

Tennis’ governing bodies have confirmed the creation of a Player Relief programme to support players affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund, which is already worth at least $6m (£4.8m), will target around 800 singles and doubles players from the ATP and WTA Tours.

The figure is likely to rise as donations from players, including Briton Andy Murray, will also be added.

Novak Djokovic has been campaigning for all of the men’s top 100 to donate.

The programme has been set up by the men’s ATP, the Women’s Tennis Association, the International Tennis Federation and the sport’s four Grand Slams – the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

The ATP and the WTA will administer the distribution of the money, with eligibility determined by both a player’s ranking and previous earnings.

The fund will be split equally between men and women.

World number one Djokovic – as president of the ATP Player Council, and in collaboration with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – had initially hoped the top male players would contribute to a separate $1m fund for men ranked outside the top 250.

But he admitted it was difficult to “pressure players into giving money, whatever their ranking is”.

Dominic Thiem, who was runner-up to Djokovic in this year’s Australian Open, had expressed his reservations.

“I’ve seen players on the ITF Tour who don’t commit to the sport 100%. Many of them are quite unprofessional. I don’t see why I should give them money,” he told the Austrian newspaper Krone.

Now players can make donations directly to the Player Relief programme, and the fund will further benefit from auctions and virtual tennis tournaments.

When Murray won last week’s Virtual Madrid Open, he donated half of his prize money to the NHS, and the other half to the fund.

In an interview on CNN on Friday, he explained why the money is so important and how more could be raised.

“Hopefully, in a few months’ time there might be some events we can put on as well to help raise some more money for those players, as they will be the ones feeling it the most just now,” he said.

“The players ranked in that ranking bracket will also be the future of our sport. There will be some young players coming through just now that will go on to be Grand Slam champions, and the number one and top 10 players in the world, so it’s important that we try and support those players just now in any way we can.”

Professional tennis is suspended until at least 13 July, and a decision is expected next week about the European clay-court tournaments which take place in the three weeks to follow.

It seems inevitable all will be cancelled because government restrictions on large-scale gatherings remain in place in virtually all of the countries in question.

The US Tennis Association will then decide in June whether the US Open can go ahead in New York from 31 August.

Coronavirus: I used chloroquine to get cured – Bauchi Gov

Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed says he has no apologies for backing the use of Chroloquine and  Zithromax to treat coronavirus patients in his state.

The ex-Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, who was the state’s  CoVID-19 index case,  had said he was treated with the drugs while in self-isolation, after he tested positive for the killer virus on March 23.

And Mohammed said he suffered criticism for authorising the use of the drugs to treat the disease in the state.

However, the governor said he did not recommend any self-medication.

He said,  “Pertaining what I said about the use of chloroquine, Zinc, Zithromax and Vitamin C for the treatment of COVID-19. I was misquoted. I was once a COVID-19 patient. How did I get cured? I only made a recommendation and it was not a recommendation of the committee for COVID-19 in the state.

“I have no apologies for saying that I used chloroquine, Zinc, Zithromax and Vitamin C to get cured, but Allah cured me.

“It is not Chloroquine or anything, many countries are using modern medicine to combat the pandemic. It is common knowledge that COVID-19 has no vaccine and drugs, we are just groping in the dark. But if you have symptoms of fever, you take chloroquine and cure it.

“If you have symptoms of infection, you take Zithromax and cure it. If you have symptoms of weakness, you can take Panadol to cure it. You don’t need a doctor. However, doctors are prescribing.

“I did not take these drugs on my own, I took  them  based on the recommendation.”

Venezuela broadcasts video of captured US mercenary

Venezuelan state television broadcast on Wednesday a video of captured American Luke Denman, in which he said he was instructed to seize control of Caracas’s airport and bring in a plane to fly President Nicolas Maduro to the United States.

Venezuelan authorities on Monday arrested Denman, another US citizen, Airan Berry, and 11 other “terrorists” in what Maduro has called a failed plot coordinated with officials in Washington to enter the country via the Caribbean coast and oust him.

“Donald Trump is the direct chief of this invasion,” Maduro said in televised comments, after the video of Denman was broadcast.

Jordan Goudreau, head of Florida-based security company SilverCorp USA and a US military veteran, has claimed responsibility for the incursion. Goudreau said he was working with two US citizens in an operation designed to capture, not kill, Maduro and “liberate” Venezuela.

The Associated Press news agency reported on Wednesday that Goudreau is currently under federal investigation for arms trafficking. The investigation is in its initial stages and it’s unclear if it will result in charges, a law enforcement official told the AP, and stems from a frenzy of contradictory comments Goudreau has made since Sunday’s raid.

Members of the US Congress are also asking the State Department about its knowledge of Goudreau’s plans and raised concerns that he possibly violated arms trafficking rules.

An AP investigation published prior to the failed raid places Goudreau at the center of a plot hatched with a rebellious former Venezuelan Army General, Cliver Alcalá, to secretly train dozens of Venezuelan military deserters in secret camps in Colombia to carry out a swift operation against Maduro.

Goudreau’s possible involvement in weapons smuggling stems from the March 23 seizure by police in Colombia of a stockpile of weapons being transported in a truck. The stockpile, worth around $150,000, included spotting scopes, night vision goggles, two-way radios and 26 American-made assault rifles with the serial numbers filed off.

Maduro said on Wednesday that he would seek Goudreau’s extradition from the US.

US President Donald Trump has denied involvement in Sunday’s ill-fated mission. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the US government would use “every tool” to secure the Americans’ return if they were being held in Venezuela.

Denman, 34, in the video statement from an undisclosed location, answered questions from a person off-camera speaking in English. Denman said his mission was to secure the airport and establish a security perimeter, though it was unclear how he planned to get Maduro on a plane.

In March, the US Department of Justice charged Maduro and a dozen other current and former Venezuelan officials with “narco-terrorism” and the Trump administration offered a reward of $15m for information leading to his arrest.

Brazil: Bolsonaro’s spokesman tests positive for virus

Otavio Rego Barros, spokesman for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The 59-year-old former army general “ishome following all recommended protocols” after his positive test result was confirmed on Tuesday, the president’s office says.

More than 20 top Bolsonaro officials have tested positive for the virus, including communications chief Fabio Wajngarten and National Security Minister Augusto Heleno. Bolsonaro himself says he tested negative.

US officials warn against ‘COVID-19 parties’

Officials in the US state of Washington are expressing concern over reports of people organising “COVID-19 parties” to intentionally spread the virus.

“Gathering in groups in the midst of this pandemic can be incredibly dangerous and puts people at increased risk for hospitalisation and even death,” warns John Wiesman, the state’s secretary of health.

“Furthermore, it is unknown if people who recover from COVID-19 have long-term protection,” he says. “There is still a lot we don’t know about this virus, including any long-term health issues which may occur after infection.”

Wiesman’s comments came after officials in the state’s Walla Walla County reported that some of the 94 cases in the region appear to have been intentionally spread or contracted at so-called “COVID-19 parties”. The aim of these gatherings is for non-infected people to mingle with an infected person in an effort to catch the virus.