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Live Blog - 24 April 2020
24 April 2020

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 editor@commonspace.eu

This live blog has been running daily since 19 March. You can read earlier blogs here

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Friday, 24 April 2020

1600 CEST (1800 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We are now pausing this blog for today. This blog will now resume on Monday, 27 April 2020 at 12 noon CEST (14.00 in Tbilisi and in Dubai)

We want to wish all our readers a good evening and a happy weekend

Join us again on Monday. Until then, Be Safe! Be Healthy! Be Happy!

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1545 CEST (1745 Tbilisi/Dubai)

Ramadan in the time of corona

Today is the first day of the month of Ramadan, which in most countries started last night with the sighting of the new moon. It is also the first Friday of the Muslim Holy month, when normally mosques throughout the Muslim world will be packed with people attending Friday prayers.

Today these prayers were held by lone Imams in empty mosques, as this picture from Reuters shows of a mosque in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

We wish our Muslim readers, Ramadan Mubarak, and peace, good health and happiness in this time of global pandemic.

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1515 CEST (1715 Tbilisi/Dubai)

When vaccines are useful, and when they are not!

Over the last five weeks parallel to this blog, commonspace.eu has been publishing daily information briefs about health and wellness issues, which have been ably and meticulously researched and written by our colleague William Murray from LINKS Europe in The Hague.

Today, William writes about the WHO World Immunisation Week, that starts today. The WHO has been for decades on the forefront of immunisation programmes that have eradicated illness and disease in many countries world wide, including the poorest. Even without the coronavirus threat this campagn is important. Read William's article here

Last night, the president of the United States made an astonishing suggestion that injecting disinfectant may cure coronavirus. Every medical scientist worth his salt immediately stood up and said "No they don't. D'ont do it." Even disinfectamnt companies such as Dettol have issued very strong statements saying that disinfectant should not be injected. (Read more on the BBC website here)

These are not light issues and we should all be very responsible when we talk or write about such things. Which is why our health articles are always meticulously researched and contain the sources from where the information is taken.

Commonspace.eu is committed to combat fake news wherever it comes from.

1445 CEST (1645 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We have reported on this blog on how artists are reacting to the extraordinary situation resulting from the pandemic. The webblog The New Arab has been looking at the topic from a Middle Eastern perspectiveThe Covid-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences on the lives of people in the Middle East, from some of the highest global death rates in countries such as Iran, to major financial losses as businesses are forced to shut down.
The art world is no exception, with leading international art fairs and exhibitions postponed with no certain reschedule dates, and independent galleries and museums forced to temporarily close their doors to visitors.

Unsurprisingly, individual artists, gallery owners, and cultural practitioners are still reeling from the damaging effects.

One immediate response from art institutions when lockdown policies were initially announced was a move to digital spaces. Art Dubai, a leading art fair in the region, has been postponed until 2021, but responded by creating an online catalogue to facilitate online sales.

Virtual Reality (VR) has also proven to be a popular medium through which galleries and arts institutions are attempting to bypass cancelled events and exhibitions.

read more here

1430 CEST (1630 Tbilisi/Dubai)

Noman Ahmed from our research team has been looking at the situation in the North Caucasus. Here is an update from Daghestan:

Dagestan 

The number of confirmed cases of #COVID19 in Dagestan has spiked over the last 24 hours and jumped by 113, the largest increase reported. 

The total number of confirmed cases stands at 567, up from 154 about a week ago. New infections were registered in 16 areas. 

 

1400 CEST (1600 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We now have an update from across the Caucasus Region

 Georgia

Georgia keeps reporting astonishing low numbers of covid-19 cases.

According to the figures released this morning there are now 431 confirmed cases. 5 people have died.

This morning the Georgian government announced a package of measures aimed at supporting people with disabilities. They will receive GEL 600 for six months. It is estimated that around 40,000 will benefit from this scheme which is going to cost the Georgian government GEL 25 million.

 Armenia

Armenia, and Armenians world-wide, are today marking Armenian Genocide Day.

The country's political and religious leadership this morning visited the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial to pay their respects to the victims of the atrocities committed in Anatolia at the beginning of the 20th century which resulted in the deaths of large numbers of Armenians who were then living in the Ottoman Empire

 The ceremony took place in a rainy Yerevan, in a somewhat different form than usual because of coronavirus. Normally on such occasions the officials will gather together for the ceremony, but this year each arrived separately.

In Armenia the total number of infected people reached 1596, of whom 27 died.

 Azerbaijan

The country's health authorities have released the daily figures for covid-19 for Friday.

So far, 1,592 people have been infected with coronavirus in Azerbaijan, 21 have died, and 558 are being treated in special hospitals. Of these, 16 are in critical condition, 23 are in moderate condition, and the health of others is stable.

During the past period, 114,410 tests were conducted to identify new cases of infection.

 

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1340 CEST (1540 Tbilisi/Dubai)

  Russia

Russia confirmed 5,849 new coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the country's official number of cases to 68,622. 615 people have now died from the virus.

The Mayor's Office in Moscow said it will not ease the city's self-isolation orders during the May holidays which include Mayday (Labour Day) and Victory Day. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin warned that the regions' hospitals risk running out of beds within three to four weeks at current rates of infection.

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1315 CEST (1515 Tbilisi/Dubai)

  UK Test website could not cope with demand

The UK's Department of Health has apologised after its new coronavirus testing website closed to applications hours after it launched.

In a tweet, the department said there had been "significant demand" for the tests from essential workers, millions of whom are now eligible for coronavirus testing

 

 

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1245 CEST (1445 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We continue in Europe, with updates from some European countries compiled by Maximiliaan van Lange from our Research Team 

 The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, municipal councillors have expressed concerns about the functioning of local democracy during the pandemic. In several municipalities, the gap between councillors and the municipal executive has widened. In some municipalities, all meetings have been suspended. On the financial level, councillors complain they are getting little insight into municipal expenditure on anti-crisis measures.

Also, today (24 April) reports are circulating on Dutch news sites about illegal hairdressing activities in the Netherlands. More and more hairdressers continue to work illegally, despite the Covid-19 ruling forbidding this. Hairdressers who continue to work despite the ban risk a fine of 4,000 euros. Customers also risk a fine of 390 euros. Illegal hairdressing is done in hairdressing salons or at customers' homes. The hairdressing industry organisation strongly advises against this.

 Germany

The Robert Koch-Institut (RKI) has advised the German government that the number of new Covid-19 infections in Germany must fall below 1,000 before lockdown measures can be relaxed. The number of new infections must be reduced to a few hundred per day.

The number of new infections today (24 April) is lower than yesterday in Germany. Covid-19 has been diagnosed in 2337 people in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 150,383. On Thursday, 2352, people tested positive for the virus.

 Hungary

Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, announced Friday (April 24) that the Hungarian government intends to relax the current lockdown measures from the beginning of May. Orbán says that the measures that will continue to apply are those for the elderly, the sick, and people living in large cities. This target group is more at risk. The goal is for people to be able to go back to work from May onwards and for the economy to get back on its feet.

 Belgium

In Belgium, 1,496 new infections have been reported in the last 24 hours, a sharp increase compared to the past week. This afternoon at 2.30 p.m., the National Security Council will meet in the country, and a decision will be taken on possible easing of measures as of 4 May.

In addition, the University of Antwerp reports in a study that 3% of Belgians have built up immunity against Covid-19. This figure is equal to the immunity in the Netherlands.

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1215 CEST (1415 Tbilisi/Dubai)

 We continue with the theme of the European Union

This morning the European Policy Centre in Brussels published a thoughtful paper, written by its Director, Fabian Zuleeg

The paper, The economic impact of the covid-19 on the EU says that the coronavirus will trigger a long and uncertain crisis, and that we need a better understanding of what is happening, and what comes next.

Zuleeg argues,

"The only effective instrument that has been created to deal with cross-border challenges like this pandemic and its aftermath is the European Union. However, it crucially depends on whether Europe will deliver collectively. This will require fast and decisive action, including unconditional and effective solidarity. Old divisions should not be allowed to stand in the way of an effective crisis response. 

The key lesson is that at a time when many instincts point to a greater focus on the national level and greater sovereignty and self-reliance, the best answer lies in greater cooperation, at the very least at the European level."

You can read the paper here 

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Good day, and welcome to this live blog on commonspace.eu.

It is Friday, 24 April 2020 - 12 noon Central European Summer Time, equivalent to 14.00 hours in Tbilisi and in Dubai.

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered global economic disruption not seen since World War 2. Europe, one of the epicentres of the pandemic has been badly hit  - tens of thousands of European have died since February as a result. The measures put in place by governments to safeguard the health of the population have been so intense that they would have been dismissed as unimaginable and undoable even a few months ago. Europe is now preparing for the aftermath, as health restrictions start being eased, even if ever so cautiously. A big debate about how to do this is ongoing, and will remain like this for some time.

But a virtual summit of EU leaders yesterday essentially resolved one question that had been nagging for a while: European leaders have agreed that Europeans are all in this together, and will together have to work to rebuild what has been destroyed. This will entail mobilising the financial resources necessary, and that is going to be a lot of resources. European Commission president said unambiguously: we are not talking about a billion; we are talking about a trillion. Europe will also work with its neighbours, and with the wider international community, and we have seen examples of this already, including through increased support for Associate and partner countries. The European Union is an imperfect organisation, but undoubtedly it is needed now more then ever.

As this pandemic has raged on, the European Union has been under attack from fake news. As the battle to defeat coronavirus continues, and as plans are prepared for how to deal with the economic consequences of the pandemic, we must remain alert to those who think they can use the pandemic as a smoke screen to harm the values Europe is based and the institutions that underpin them.

The message #StrongerTogether has never been so important.

That is why for the cover photo of our live blog today we have chosen the European flag flying to the background of the Italian Alps, as we discuss and explore some of these issues, and much more, in this live blog for the next four hours.

 

 

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