World Coronavirus Dispatch: Row over social distancing at French factory

People walk beside beach cabins on a pebbled beach in France. Photo: Reuters
Biden proposes $1.9 trillion spending package

Joe Biden is no mood to waste any time once he assumes office, and is already drawing plans to put together a concerted response to the pandemic. Signaling a shift from the previous administration, president-elect Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion rescue package to combat the economic downturn and the Covid-19 crisis, outlining the type of sweeping aid that Democrats have been demanding for months. The package includes more than $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly, and includes money to accelerate vaccine deployment and to safely reopen most schools within 100 days. Read here

Let's look at the global statistics

Global infections: 93,158,547

Change Over Yesterday: 780,481

Global deaths: 1,995,273

Nations with most cases: US (23,313,101), India (10,527,683), Brazil (8,324,294), Russia (3,483,531), United Kingdom (3,269,757).

Indonesia first to approve Sinovac vaccine outside China

Indonesia approved the vaccine against coronavirus developed by Chinese drugmaker Sinovac, after trials showed that it was safe and had an efficacy rate 65 per cent, becoming the first country outside China to give emergency-use nod. The approval comes in the light of findings that place the candidate’s efficacy among the lowest for new coronavirus vaccines. Clinical trial results out of Brazil last week showed the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 78 per cent. Participants experienced only minor side effects such as fatigue and fever, according to the head of Indonesia’s drug agency. Read here

China rushes to vaccinate 50 million

In one of the most ambitious vaccination drives on the planet, China is pushing ahead with its aim to vaccinate about 3.5 per cent of the population before the start of the lunar new year holiday in February, when hundreds of millions of people crisscross the country to visit family and celebrate. The country is battling its worst outbreak in 10 months as it reported consecutive days of more than 100 new cases, the highest daily totals since March. China has committed to using its own vaccines to inoculate its people, despite concerns over transparency in safety and efficacy and also to share them with the rest of the world, particularly developing nations. Read here

Row over social distancing alarms at French factory

Workers at a French factory making toilet paper and other hygiene products are opposing plans to introduce Covid-19 “social distancing” devices that sound alarms if the wearer is less than 2 metres from other person. However, union representatives see the system as particularly intrusive and say it is “comparable to those that try to dissuade dogs from barking.” Managers say the devices are being being deployed to protect workers’ health and are for their own safety and will be automatically deactivated in some areas like the firm’s canteen, lavatories and medical areas. Read here

How the pandemic rebooted retirement

The pandemic year of 2020 has showed many a glimpse of what retirement could look like, apart from providing a jarring reminder to people to put their financial affairs in order. Wealth managers say the pandemic has focused clients’ minds on the income they will need in retirement. And then there’s the impact on pensions and investments to consider. After the initial shock of the pandemic, those on the glide path to retirement are more mindful about their financial health — prompting many to seek professional financial advice. Read here

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