Our live blog on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the world is on every day from 1200-1600 Central European Summer Time (equivalent to 1400-1800 in Tbilisi and Dubai).
This blog is compiled by our team of journalists and researchers based in The Hague in the Netherlands and in Tbilisi, Georgia, working with partners and associates in a number of different countries. You can also follow us on twitter @commonspaceEU. We are happy to hear from you wherever you are. Please send us your comments, stories and suggestions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
This live blog has been running daily since 19 March. You can read earlier blogs here
Tuesday, 14 April 2020
1600 CEST (1800 Tbilisi/Dubai)
We are now pausing this blog for today. We will resume tomorrow at 12 noon CEST (1400 in Tbilisi and Dubai) with another four hours of live coverage on developments around the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East and beyond
Till then a good evening from our team in The Hague in the Netherlands and in Tbilisi in Georgia
Be safe Be Healthy Be Happy!
1545 CEST (1740 Tbilisi/Dubai)
Do you remember Brexit?
It feels like it was a hundred years ago when all we could talk about was Brexit. After having been infected with covid 19 the EU main negotiator Michel Barnier is back. I suspect his job has not become easier since he has been away. We are in any case happy to see him back
1540 CEST (1740 Tbilisi/Dubai)
An update from Georgia where it has just been announced that the curfew is now extended until 10 May
1530 CEST (1730 Tbilisi/Dubai)
Some of the creatures around us appear to be completely confused by the recent actions of human beings, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. In nature, birds appear to be delighted to be able to control back at least some of the habitat as humans retreat in self isolation.
With pets it is a different matter. They are used to routines set by their owners, and can get very confused if these routines change abruptly.
William Murray has been considering how are our four-legged friends affected, and how can we best look after them during the current pandemic. As always these public service announcements are researched to provide knowledge of best practice. Read this onne here
1500 CEST (1700 Tbilisi/Dubai)
Some updates now from the Caucasus Region
The Moscow Abkhaz Diaspora organized the delivery of humanitarian medical aid to Abkhazia to fight against coronavirus. Such significant assistance to Abkhazia was managed despite the difficult conditions during the pandemic, a source told the media. Funds were collected from within the movement.
The Ministry of Health of the de facto Republic will now distribute humanitarian aid to various medical institutions of Abkhazia.
A security guard at the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church has tested positive for the coronavirus. The security guard said he was at the Patriarchate two days ago but does not know how he contracted the virus. However, he says that he has not come in contact with any members of the clergy. This comes after a priest also tested positive and was admitted to the hospital today. Georgian Orthodox Church services have proceeded uninterrupted despite a ban on gatherings of more than three people.
It is understood that yesterday senior medical officials who are leading the Georgian effort to fight the pandemic had an audience with Patriarch Ilya II to explain to him the complex task they are dealing with
The latest covid 19 figures from Azerbaijan are that there are 1197 cases, and 13 have died.
In the meantimwe we would like to remind you that over the last week commonspace.eu has published reports prepared for us by analysts from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia describing the situation in their respective countries.
You can read these reports here
Benyamin Poghosyan: Coronavirus presents Armenia with difficult challenges on 7 April 2020 read it here
Ahmad Alili: Covid-19 is an important test for Azerbaijani unity on 11 April 2020 read it here
Ghia Abashidze: Georgia's successful fight against covid-19 on 14 April 2020 read it here
1430 CEST (1630 Tbilisi/Dubai)
There have been a number of recrimninations in Europe about solidarity or lack thereof. People have very different views on this. Former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi in this tweet rebukes a senator from Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) for comments he made on German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and for calling Germans "Hitler's grandchildren". Renzi offers his solidarity to the German Federal Chncellory and the German People. Senator you have no shame, he tells his compatriot.
Uno squallido senatore M5S insulta oggi la Merkel e attacca gli amici tedeschi definendoli nipotini di Hitler. La mia solidarietà alla Cancelliera e al popolo tedesco. Quel Senatore non conosce la parola vergogna. Mi vergogno io per lui e per il M5S che non espelle gente così— Matteo Renzi (@matteorenzi) April 14, 2020
1415 CEST (1615 Tbilisi/Dubai)
A final look at the MENA region by Noman Ahmed before we move back to Europe and the South Caucasus.
The UAE based Accubits Technologies launched an electronic pandemic management system to curb the spread of #COVID19. The platform named RebuildTheChain (RTC) enables governments to enforce lockdown by issuing health-card based access systems to efficiently control the spread of the pandemic.
Using (RTC), governments can issue digital health cards to citizens to represent their current health status. Public places like banks, shopping malls, workplaces, etc. will only allow entry to people with 'no risk' health cards.
The platform mainly consists of a mobile application for citizens and a portal for healthcare departments or government agencies. A virtual 50-meter geofence warning system will trigger an alarm if the person is nearby an infection.
The RTC Platform abides by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws which ensure that each individual has full control over their own personal data. All data will be stored on secure and encrypted servers in each country.
Oman's Finance Ministry told all government agencies to cut their operational budgets for this year by at least 10 percent. The Ministry stressed that they should reduce them as much as possible. This includes reviewing salaries and benefits. Moreover, the Ministry said that all exceptional bonuses for state employees would be halted. The decisions will be applied to all ministries, agencies and public agencies as well as security and military bodies.
1350 CEST (1550 Tbilisi/Dubai)
Some say this is too early for this kind of discussion, but this polemic will be with us for a long time
"Beijing tried to use the coronavirus crisis to enhance its global standing. It's not working", writes John Lee Cheong Seong on South China Morning Post. "Despite American errors and poor leadership, the pandemic only proves that the foundations of underlying strength are still solid for the United States and fragile for China". read it here
1335 CEST (1535 Tbilisi/Dubai)
Iran's death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak in the country has reached 4683, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state TV.
Ninety-eight people have died in the past 24 hours, he said.
The Islamic Republic is the Middle Eastern country hardest hit by the new coronavirus and currently has 74,877 infected people, according to Jahan.
Volunteers from Basij forces wearing protective suits and face masks spray disinfectant in the streets of Tehran
(picture credit: West Asia News Agency WANA)
1320 CEST (1520 Tbilisi/Dubai)
For the next hour we are shifting our attention beyond Europe. And we start first with a look at some countries in the Middle East North Africa Region (MENA).
Noman Ahmed from our research team brings us up to speed:
Ultra-Orthodox Jews are outraged due to the enforcement of lockdown measures. This video of Jerusalem's Meah Shearim district circulated last night:
Ultra-Orthodox Jews are outraged because the lockdown measures in Jerusalem's Meah Shearim district.— ISCResearch (@ISCResearch) April 13, 2020
They calling law enforcement "Nazis" due to the strict restrictions. #Jerusalem #COVID2019 #coronavirus #MiddleEast pic.twitter.com/To1lhK5jm8
A UAE health official says the country can flatten the curve in about two to three weeks. This is only if people adhere to the strict social distancing guidelines.
Drones are being used in the UAE to fumigate public areas in the Emirates
Jordan is considering easing some restrictions to relieve the economic impact. A new
a defence order will be released in the next few days which will support businesses. All establishments that do reopen will have to adhere to high precautionary standards, but intercity travel will remain banned.
More than 4300 people were arrested over the weekend in Morocco for breaching emergency rules, according to official figures. Half of those were taken into police custody.
Authorities have arrested nearly 28,701 people across the country since mid-March, 15,545 of whom have been referred to court after being held in custody. Penalties can include up to three months in jail and fines of up to 1,300 dirhams ($130), or both.
1300 CEST (1500 Tbilisi/Dubai)
A row is erupting regarding how the number of death people from covid-19 is being reported, following news that hundreds who had died in Engliabnd and Wales, outside hospitals, had not been counted
This from the BBC
The UK has been releasing daily coronavirus death tolls, but the figures have been hospital deaths only - they have not included deaths at people's houses or in care homes.
New figures from the Office of National Statistics published on Tuesday provide more information on deaths in care homes, but they are about two weeks out of date. That's because they rely on death certificates, which take a while to process.
Health officials are now trying to find ways to provide more up-to-date information from care homes.
From later this week, deaths that are suspected or confirmed to involve Covid-19 will be recorded daily, England's care regulator has said.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says these new figures should provide a "clearer picture of deaths" and highlight worst-hit regions.
The CQC says it will work with the ONS and Public Health England.
It is currently unclear whether these figures will be released publicly.
1245 CEST (1445 Tbilisi/Dubai)
As we said at the start of this blog some European countries are now considering an exit strategy from the current lockdown which is cripling the world economies.
Maximiliaan van Lange from our Research Team has been looking at how some EU countries propose to do that:
Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, together with leaders of the federal states, will today discuss whether the national lockdown measures should be extended. The measures diffein different federal states. The current measures are in place until 19 April, the end of the Easter holidays in Germany.
President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation on Monday evening (13 April) and extended the lockdown measures in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to at least 11 May. However, even after 11 May, cafes and restaurants will not allowed to open. Significant events such as music festivals and conferences are forbidden until at least July. Schools will gradually reopen from 11 May.
The National Security Council will hold a press conference tomorrow (15 April) with an update on the lockdown measures. It is expected that the measures will be extended until at least 3 May, although according to Belgian sources mid-May seems more realistic.
In Luxembourg, the Minister of Health, Paulette Lenert, promised on Friday (10 April) citizens of the country that an update from the government is expected this week on a plan to lift the current lockdown measures
1220 CEST (1420 Tbilisi/Dubai)
In laboratories across the world scientists are in a desperate race to find a vaccine that can prevent covid-19 from spreading. This story from France speaks of some of the challenges.
The new coronavirus can survive long exposure to high temperatures, according to an experiment by a team of French scientists.
Professor Remi Charrel and colleagues at the Aix-Marseille University in southern France heated the virus that causes Covid-19 to 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit) for an hour and found that some strains were still able to replicate.
The scientists had to bring the temperature to almost boiling point to kill the virus completely, according to their non-peer-reviewed paper released on bioRxiv.org on Saturday. The results have implications for the safety of lab technicians working with the virus.
The team in France infected African green monkey kidney cells, a standard host material for viral activity tests, with a strain isolated from a patient in Berlin, Germany. The cells were loaded into tubes representing two different types of environments, one "clean" and the other "dirty" with animal proteins to simulate biological contamination in real-life samples, such as an oral swab.
After the heating, the viral strains in the clean environment were thoroughly deactivated. Some strains in the dirty samples, however, survived. The heating process resulted in a clear drop in infectivity but enough living strains remained to be able to start another round of infection, said the paper.
There has been rapidly increasing demand around the world to perform tests on the new coronavirus. But some of the work has had to be performed in less protected laboratories. Technicians in these labs were directly exposed to the samples, requiring that they be "deactivated" before further processing.
1210 CEST (1410 Tbilisi/Dubai)
An update now on the situation across the South Caucasus
Georgia this morning issued the latest figures, which show that the number of those infected by COVID-19 is 296, and there have been three deaths.
These figures are amongst the lowest worldwide.
Writing in a commentary on commonspace.eu, Georgian political analyst Ghia Abashidze said that Georgia’s success so far has been due to early firm action on the part of government and a broad sense of national solidarity. But he raises the danger that a “church cluster” may erupt if social distancing is not observed as the Georgian Church celebrates Orthodox easter this Sunday. You can read it here
The number of deaths in Armenia has now reached 16. There are over one thousand cases registered. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a facebook message that the average age of those who died was 74.8 years.
The number of cases in Azerbaijan is now 1148, and 12 people have died.
In somewhat surreal situation, the self-declared Nagorno-Karabaklh Republic is holding the second round of presidential elections today. Turnout by 11.00 am local time (0900 CEST) was said to be 15.2%
Several covid 19 cases have been noted in the territory. The de facto authorities say they have identified three clusters of the virus, two of which are now under control.
Welcome to the commonspace.eu live blog on the coronavirus pandemic and its global impact.
It is 12 noon Central European Summer Time, equivalent to 14.00 in Tbilisi and in Dubai, on Tuesday, 14 April 2020.
In many countries governments have announced that the lockdown due to coronavirus will be extended into the month of May. In some countries some easing of restrictions have been brought in an effort to keep the economy going. It is estimated that half the population of the world is under some kind of shutdown.
Britain has been one of the countries most hardly hit by COVID-19 The latest figures show that Britain has registered nearly 90,000 cases of covid 19, and that more than 11,000 people have died. Our solidarity is with the people of Britain in these difficult times. Among those who had the virus was British prime minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalised last week in intensive care. He has since been released from hospital and is recuperating at Chequers, the prime ministers’ country residence.
Our cover picture today is from Whitehall in London, the centre of British political power. The monument in the middle is the Cenotaph - the memorial to those who died in war, where the British political and military eliute meet every year inn November on Remembrance Sunday to honour the fallen. On its left are 10 Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the Treasury, whilst on the right is the Ministry of Defence. The emptiness of what is normally a very busy street somehow symbolises the sense of vacuum that is felt around the world and an eerie feeling of foreboding about what is to come.
Georgia's Inter-ethnic relations under pressure as fighting between Armenians and Azerbaijanis rages