France today became the third European country to go on lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, while in Spain, the number of new cases nudged the country ahead of South Korea as the world’s fourth hardest-hit country.Other European countries saw no let-up in cases, and more African countries detected their first cases. With about 179,000 global cases now reflected on the Johns Hopkins online dashboard, the proportion of cases outside China is increasing steadily, as are the share of deaths.WHO emphasizes testingAt a media telebriefing today, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said the rapid increase has come with a similar rapid rise in social distancing. However, there hasn’t been a vigorous enough push for isolation, testing, and contact tracing, which he said form the backbone of the response.Breaking chains of transmission requires testing and isolation, he said. “You can’t figure [out] a fire blindfolded is the simple message,” he said. “Test, test, test.”France lockdown is Europe’s thirdFrench President Emmanuel Macron today ordered a 15-day lockdown for the country, ordering people to leave their homes only for essential purposes starting tomorrow, CNBC and other outlets reported. He also said the second round of local elections is cancelled.The lockdown affects about 67 million people and comes 2 days after Spain announced a similar move. France today announced 1,210 new cases and 21 more deaths, raising its respective totals to 6,633 and 75. The country’s hot spots are the Alsace region in the northeast near the border with Germany and the greater Paris area, Agence France-Presse reported today.A French health official said the situation is deteriorating fast, with cases doubling every 3 days—a pace that threatens to overrun hospitals.Meanwhile, Italy announced 3,233 more cases, boosting its overall total to 27,980. And Spain announced 1,440 more cases, along with 48 more deaths, raising its total to 9,429 cases, 342 of them fatal. Germany’s total has risen to 7,241 cases, 15 of them fatal, and the United Kingdom today reported that its total has reached 1,543 cases, including 55 deaths.Middle East, Asia, Africa snapshotsIn Iran, behind Italy as the third hardest-hit country, the health ministry today reported 1,053 new cases, down from yesterday, along with 129 more deaths, raising its respective totals to 14,991 and 853.In a related development, a WHO mission just concluded a visit to Iraq, where experts reviewed the health ministry’s readiness to handle an increase in cases. Iraq reported its first case on Feb 22, which involved an Iranian student. So far, the country has confirmed 83 cases, 8 of them fatal.The WHO said Iraqi officials are concerned about the possibility of community transmission, which would threaten its fragile health system. Authorities have already banned major events, shuttered schools, and closed gathering places to slow the spread of the virus. So far, the WHO has provided health supplies and is working with local medical teams to establish negative-pressure rooms in three different cities.In Asia, cases rose by 125 in Malaysia today, most of them linked to a large gathering that drew several international participants to a mosque outside of Kuala Lumpur. So far, the country has reported 553 cases, Malaysia Today reported.South Korea’s cases continued to slow, with only 74 more reported today. In China, health officials reported only 16 new cases today, while the country announced a 14-day quarantine for all international travelers entering Beijing.Elsewhere, several more African countries, including Liberia, Central African Republic, and Sudan, have recently detected their first cases, bringing the total in the WHO’s African region to 327 cases from 27 different countries.
The Venerable Terry Lester, Archdeacon of ConstantiaThis week Christians everywhere will be recalling and remembering the events which occurred over 2 000 years ago in which a young man from Nazareth, about which it was believed nothing good could come, was led to a hill outside the capital of Judea, Jerusalem, carrying the cross on which he was to be crucified. His claim that he was God’s Son and his temerity in address-ing God as “Abba”, “Father”, offended the religious leaders of his day. Added to the claim of Jesus that God was Father, were the accompanying acts of kindness – feeding the hungry and healing the sick – revealing in these what is at the heart of God: compassion and grace. But it was his raising of Lazarus from the dead that forced the religious leaders to decide what their own response to Jesus would be. To this, one of them is recorded as saying: “You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” The political authorities in Palestine walked a tight-rope of looking after Rome’s interest on the one hand and the interests of the powerful religious leaders who held sway with the Torah. These provincial authorities were happy to defer to and appease the High Priest even when Pilate stated after putting Jesus on trial, “I find no case against him.” The Easter story we recall at this time is an invitation to encounter anew and afresh the Father of Jesus as our Father and to experience the economy of God as hope and light and where the despised and rejected, the weak and thirsty, the hungry and dying hold the space of God against the mighty and powerful, the conniving and vengeful and the plotters of evil and ill. Easter is about God bringing new life where we have grown weary from seeing evil thrive and the innocent stifled in their efforts to live.It is about God thwarting the efforts of sin and injustice and putting in its place love and light and love. Jesus lives! Hallelujah!
NORTH AMERICA: A Class 1 railway has ordered a pilot installation of TekTracking’s Safety Light Monitor, which is designed to measure and verify the operation of signal, level crossing and other safety-critical lights.The wireless, self-powered and robust multi-sensor devices are designed to operate for more than 10 years without intervention. ‘With SLM, fully automated test and inspection of crossing and signal locations is now viable, and this promises even greater safety gains for motorists and railway workers’, said CEO Greg Fogarty.
AUBURN – Call off the search party, Auburn found pass rush.After failing to register a sack against South Carolina and with just 12 in its first seven games, Auburn finally got pass from its defensive line in Saturday’s win at Ole Miss.The Tigers tied a season-high with four sacks of Bo Wallace, with three coming from the defensive line.“In some ways it was just individuals stepping up their game a little bit,” Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. “Other things it was working some personnel in there and trying to get the right combination of guys that can get that speed for a pass rush situation.”Auburn sacked Wallace twice during one three-and-out series late in the first half, the first coming from Angelo Blackson on first down, and linebackers Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost combined for a sack on third-and-11.“Coming into the game our big focus was to get Bo on the ground, to make Bo uncomfortable and I feel like we really succeeded with that,” McKinzy said. “We knew if Bo could stand back there eating a sandwich, we knew we were going to have a bad game. It wasn’t going to be the game that we wanted.”Gimel President brought Wallace down for a loss of nine yards later in the first half for his first career sack.Montravius Adams registered a sack midway through the third quarter.Elijah Daniel and LaDarius Owens were each originally credited with a sack but it was later amended to a rush by Wallace.“We moved Elijah inside and we’ve got (DaVonte Lambert) outside,” Johnson said. “I thought that Gabe (Wright) got better. We rotated him in a little bit and I thought that he was more productive.“We’ve tried to get the best ones with the skill set and the speed to get it done. At times it was hard to sub because of their pace, but when we were able to get them in the game it certainly helped.”To be sure, some of Auburn’s production was due to Ole Miss being without top offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil. The Rebels are also 12th in the SEC and 103rd nationally with 23 sacks allowed this season.But for an Auburn defense with just 16 sacks all season, including just 9 1/2 from the defensive line, it was a marked improvement for a group Johnson said looked like a pass skeleton earlier this season.“I’d say we’ve gotten better,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We felt like we needed to put some pressure on the quarterback to have a chance.”