Coronavirus live news: US nears 10m cases as global infections pass 50m | World news

October was worst month for pandemic so far

A Reuters tally has calculated that October was the worst month of the coronavirus pandemic so far, with its second wave in the past 30 days accounting for a quarter of all cases.

The last month saw the spread of the virus accelerate at a rapid pace: while it took 32 days for cases to rise from 30 million to 40 million, it only took 21 days to add another 10 million.

The bleak milestone followed the US reporting more than 100,000 new cases on four consecutive days. The country broke its own record for daily cases nearly every day last week.

Europe has also greatly contributed to the global surge in cases. The region has reported around 12 million infections, making it the worst-affected region, overtaking Latin America. It also makes up almost a quarter (24%) of coronavirus deaths.

A Reuters analysis has shown the number of new coronavirus cases in Europe is growing by around one million every three days:

Economic fallout from Covid-19 makes prospect of third world war ‘a risk’



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Rotterdam: Whale sculpture saves train from plunging 10m into water | World News

A train that shot through a stop block was saved from a dramatic plunge into the water below – by a sculpture of a whale’s tail.

The metro train was left balancing on the tail fins – known as “flukes” – 10m above the ground near the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.

The crash happened just before midnight and woke people living in nearby houses, but thankfully, the train’s driver escaped injury.

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Dutch whale tail sculpture has stopped a metro train from crashing into water after it overran the stop blocks.

One nearby resident said: “It was a noise that lasted two or three seconds.”

“I realized that there was something on the tail… I thought ‘Something very odd is happening here’.”

Authorities were forced to tell sightseers to stay away after scores ignored coronavirus restrictions to visit the scene where workers are trying to remove the train.

Despite this, some 50 people remained as authorities worked against strengthening winds.

More from The Netherlands

“A team of experts is investigating how we can make it safe and get it down. It’s tricky,” a spokeswoman for the local security authority.

An photo taken in Spijkenisse, on November 2, 2020 shows a metro train that shot through a stop block at De Akkers metro station, without making any casualty. - A Dutch metro train was saved from disaster on November 2, 2020, when it smashed through a safety barrier but was prevented from plummeting into water by a sculpture of a whale tail. The driver of the train, who was the only person on board, was unharmed in the incident which happened just after midnight at Spi
The train shot through a stop block at De Akkers metro station

There were no passengers on the train when it crashed through stop barriers at the end of the station, which is the final stop on the line.

The driver was able to leave the train himself and was taken to hospital for a check-up.

The sculpture Whale Tails, is made of polyester and is the work of Maarten Struijs. The tails were placed in the water at the end of the metro tracks in 2002.

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Vastaamo’s ex-CEO and his parents have almost €10m in assets seized

NEARLY 10 MILLION EUROS’ WORTH of the assets of Ville Tapio, the newly fired chief executive of Psychotherapy Centre Vastaamo, and his parents has been seized as a precautionary measure, report Ilta-Sanomat and MTV Uutiset.

The seizure order was issued at the request of the majority owner of the service provider, PTK Midco, by the District Court of Helsinki.

The District Court of Helsinki issued the order ex parte on grounds that hearing the other party could have compromise the purpose of the measure, wrote Ilta-Sanomat. “There is a risk that the defendant would conceal, destroy or relinquish the assets or take another course of action that jeopardised the claim of the appellant,” the ruling reads according to the daily.

Vastaamo on Monday said PTK Midco has initiated civil proceedings in connection with its acquisition of the service provider in May 2019. The company also announced the firing of its chief executive, saying it has reason to believe he had knowledge of a hacking into its database for 18 months before the breach became public.

Its internal inquiries suggest that the hacking that led to the recent leak of sensitive client information took place in November 2018. The company filed a request for inquiry regarding the issue on 29 September, a couple of weeks before the hacking became public following the release of first batch of client data by the suspected hacker, on 21 October.

Helsingin Sanomat on Tuesday reported that Psychotherapy Centre Vastaamo has a dubious reputation in the field, with many experienced professionals telling that its activities had generated debate long before news about the hacking. The service provider is known for its aggressive communication and misleading marketing, for example.

“Vastaamo has an awful reputation among psychotherapists,” said one of the interviewees, insisting on anonymity.

Tapio himself responded to the issue on Monday, saying he had no knowledge of the data breach and the data security shortcomings that caused it until an audit completed by Nixu, a Finnish cybersecurity specialist, in October.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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New low dependency mental health unit to be built in $10m Canberra Hospital upgrade | The Canberra Times

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A new low dependency mental health unit will lead to a further 10 beds added to the Canberra Hospital as part of a $10 million ward upgrade. The project, which has been funded by the federal government’s community health and hospitals program, is expected to be completed by the middle of 2021. Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury said the added beds would help the hospital deal with an increase in demand for mental health services. “The [ward] 12B Low Dependency Unit will reduce waiting times for mental health patients and improve access to specialised and individual interventions, reducing recovery time and length of stay in hospital,” Mr Rattenbury said. “These additional beds will also improve patient flow throughout the system, reducing pressure on acute and sub-acute inpatient beds.” The clinical director of adult acute mental health services at Canberra Hospital, Dr Florian Wertenauer, said a multidisciplinary team would staff the new low dependency unit. The unit would support people with a range of psychiatric presentations, including psychosis and mood disorders, as well as crisis admissions, with an average stay length envisaged to be between 10 and 14 days, he said. “Where a person may need a more intensive treatment regime or for instance are at a higher risk of harm to themselves or others, then the existing adult mental health unit at Canberra Hospital would be more appropriate,” Dr Wertenauer said. Mental health presentations at the Canberra Hospital emergency department have increased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, putting additional strain on an already stretched department. Mr Rattenbury said there had been a 68 per cent growth in emergency department presentations to the adult mental health unit in the past five years. “Ultimately, we expect to see improved patient outcomes through faster admission and access to the mental health services that the patient needs,” he said. Mr Rattenbury said the ACT government was also upgrading the adult mental health unit to allow for greater flexibility in accessing high dependency beds. Between July 2019 and the end of February, 3.1 patients were admitted each day on average to the adult mental health unit at Canberra Hospital, up from 2.4 in 2018-19. The ward refurbishment will add to the 97 mental health unit beds already available in ACT public hospitals. Dr Wertenauer said the new unit would allow for faster treatment times and reduced wait times in the emergency department. “Having a new low dependency unit in a separate location at the Canberra Hospital will allow the multidisciplinary team to create a therapeutic environment that can provide more tailored treatment approaches for individuals,” he said. “Co-location within the hospital will facilitate cooperation with medical and surgical units, which will be of benefit to a number of our consumers.” ACT Health confirmed last month it expected a greater need for mental health services as a direct result of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has been widely expected to have a significant and ongoing impact on community mental health. Last year, The Canberra Times revealed internal ACT Health documents said there was a high risk of patients who had serious mental health illnesses waiting long periods within the emergency department and other wards before being transferred to mental health care locations.

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Ryan Kent: Rangers reject Leeds United’s £10m offer for winger

Ryan Kent scored Rangers’ opening goal of the season against Aberdeen

Rangers have rejected an offer for winger Ryan Kent from Leeds United worth around £10m, says manager Steven Gerrard.

The 23-year-old Englishman joined Rangers from Liverpool for a fee reported to be £6.5m in September 2019 after an initial year-long loan.

He has made 80 appearances for the Glasgow side, scoring 16 goals.

“The message is hands off – Ryan is a player we want to keep hold of,” Gerrard said.

“Yes we’ve had contact from Leeds. An opening bid has been strongly rejected. They are way, way off with that opening bid. That’s the truth and the reality. He’s a player who is not for sale.”

Kent, who was linked with Leeds before joining Rangers, came through the youth ranks at Anfield and had loan spells with Coventry City, Barnsley, Freiburg and Bristol City before heading for the Scottish Premiership.

Gerrard has also confirmed that centre-half Leon Balogun, midfielder Joe Aribo and striker Jermain Defoe will again be missing through injury for Saturday’s visit by Kilmarnock, but goalkeeper Allan McGregor is back in contention.

More to follow.

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Medicinal cannabis scheme in Tasmania has families waiting as $10m facility opens

Production of medicinal cannabis in Tasmania is booming, but those wanting to use it for medical reasons say the state’s scheme is failing and driving more people to the black market.

Lyn Cleaver, who lives outside Launceston, has been illegally growing and producing cannabis oil to help her son Jeremy for years.

Jeremy has severe refractory epilepsy and an acquired brain injury from encephalitis — an inflammation of the brain — and suffers from regular seizures.

The family has previously applied to join Tasmania’s medicinal cannabis controlled access scheme but were rejected because they had not “tried and failed” every conventional medication available.

Ms Cleaver said her son had adverse reactions to many conventional medications, which was why they turned to cannabis oil.

Ms Cleaver says she is about to apply again to have Jeremy legally prescribed cannabis oil.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Manika Champ)

“It’s both incredibly empowering to do this for Jeremy and terrifying at the same time,” Ms Cleaver said.

The family is about to try again to join the Government’s scheme with the help of their neurologist.

“We’re fortunate because we can cultivate Jeremy’s medicine ourselves, a lot of parents who are out there can’t and are picking over mouldy cannabis that they’re buying off the black market to make medicine for their children.

“That is alarming and that in itself should make the Government realise that the way the scheme is working in Tasmania isn’t working overwhelmingly for patients.”

‘Mainland position a much better system’

Tasmania started its medicinal cannabis controlled access scheme in September 2017 — in the three years, only 16 patients have been approved from 36 applications.

In other parts of Australia, general practitioners can apply for patients to be prescribed with legal medicinal cannabis.

In Tasmania, that application can only be made by certain health specialists.

Ivan Dean standing at his desk looking at paperwork
Ivan Dean says the scheme for medicinal cannabis is failing patients.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Manika Champ)

MLC Ivan Dean, who is a former police commander, said the fact Tasmanian GPs could not prescribe was a barrier.

“Getting a specialist doctor in the first place is quite difficult for a lot of these people. The mainland position is a much better system.”

In March, a Senate committee tasked with investigating the “current barriers to patient access to medicinal cannabis in Australia” recommended:

“That the Tasmanian Government immediately join all other jurisdictions in participating in the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s single national online application pathway for accessing unregistered medicinal cannabis and reducing state-based requirements for medicinal cannabis approval.”

Tasmanian Labor senators Anne Urquhart and Catryna Bilyk, who were part of that inquiry, have also written to Health Minister Sarah Courtney calling for Tasmania’s scheme to be improved.

Providing cannabis to the country

Former health minister Michael Ferguson, who introduced the state’s scheme in 2017, helped officially open a $10 million medicinal cannabis processing facility at Westbury in Tasmania’s north earlier this week.

Three men inspecting green cannabis plants inside a new medicinal cannabis grow house at Westbury in northern Tasmania
Michael Ferguson (centre) believes the state’s controlled access scheme is better than other states.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Manika Champ)

The Tasmanian Alkaloids facility aims to produce nine million bottles of medicine each year, which will be distributed across Australia through government schemes.

Executive general manager Colin Ralph said the product was already being sent across the country.

“[We’ll] be working with the regulatory authorities and making sure that the Australian patients are covered firstly and then we’ll be looking to export out,” he said.

The State Government provided a $10 million loan for the facility.

Mr Ferguson said he believed Tasmania’s scheme was better than those run in other states, mainly because it heavily subsidised the cost of medicine for participants.

He said the national approach was not what Tasmanian medical professionals wanted.

Two men in white lab gowns in front of green cannabis plants
State coordinator-general John Perry (left) and Colin Ralph from Tasmanian Alkaloids inside the new facility.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Manika Champ)

Tim Jackson, chairman of the Tasmanian branch of the Royal Australian College of GPs, said while it was the college’s policy that all states should be on an equal page, it was not a bad thing that Tasmania was moving slowly.

“The evidence is still a little bit sketchy as to what conditions we should be using medicinal cannabis for and what are the potential side effects,” Dr Jackson said.

“With further training, I think GPs would be happy to prescribe, but because of the limited number of conditions that would require this treatment, it’s probably better to limit the prescribing to people who do it more often [for now].”

Those still waiting for a legal prescription, like Ms Cleaver, hope more patients and not just businesses will soon benefit from the growth of medicinal cannabis industry.

“I think it’s wonderful that industry is being supported within the state to produce cannabinoid medicines, but it’s a real slap in the face to patients like Jeremy that can’t access the legal product and rely on us taking a risk,” she said.

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