Wellington: German magazine giant Bauer Media Group closed its New Zealand titles Thursday due to the coronavirus, sparking criticism from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the government offered the company financial help. The move will cost 237 jobs and spell the end of prestigious current affairs titles such as the New Zealand Listener and North and South, as well as best-sellers including Women’s Day. While Bauer cited the “severe economic impact” of the pandemic as the reason for the closures, Ardern suggested the publisher was intent on closing anyway in a media market that was already struggling before the virus. “In my view this appears to have been a decision that has been made at the same time as COVID-19, but not because of it,” Ardern told reporters. Another major publisher NZME this week closed its Radio Sport station and rumours abound that cuts are imminent among other major media players in the South Pacific nation.
Putin extends curfew till end April
Moscow: President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said Russians will continue not going to work while receiving pay until the end of the month to combat the coronavirus. “I’ve taken a decision to extend the period of non-working days until April 30,” Putin said in an address, adding that each region can decide what lockdown measures are needed. Since Monday Russians have had a period of national non-working days when they are still entitled to full pay in a bid to reduce transmission of the virus.
Hungary law can imprison scribes
Brussels: European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen expressed concern Thursday over a coronavirus emergency law in Hungary that has given nationalist premier Viktor Orban sweeping powers. While saying EU countries may need extraordinary measures to tackle the pandemic, she added: “I am concerned that certain measures go too far – and I’m particularly concerned with the situation in Hungary.” Hungary’s Parliament, dominated by Orban’s ruling party, handed the prime minister the power from Tuesday to rule by decree until his government decides the virus crisis is over. The emergency law also threatens journalists with prison if they publish what it deems “falsehoods” about the virus or the government’s actions to slow it.
Myanmar camps face ‘catastrophe’: rights group
Yangon: Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by conflict in Myanmar face a health “catastrophe” from the coronavirus pandemic, a rights group warned, as international calls grow for an end to fighting. Overcrowded camps with an estimated 350,000 people were “COVID-19 tinderboxes”, Human Rights Watch said. Myanmar has 16 confirmed infections and one death, but experts say the lack of testing and poor health infrastructure mean the true figure is likely far higher in the impoverished country, long wracked by ethnic and religious violence.
Fragrance maker to producer sanitizers
Zurich: Swiss fragrance producer Givaudan said Thursday it would produce 60 tonnes of hand sanitizer over the next two weeks to meet chronic shortages of the product needed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.The world’s biggest fragrance and flavoring company said it had set up a dedicated production line at its factory in Geneva for hand sanitizer, which would be donated to local hospitals, transportation workers and others in need. The company, which supplies prestige names in perfumes including Christian Dior and Prada, said in a statement that its Geneva factory would produce the equivalent of around 700,000 bottles of hand sanitizer by mid-April.3 Indians stay back in Italy to finish work
New Delhi: Three Indians pursuing academic careers in Italy stayed back when COVID-19 was sweeping across the European nation – one to complete his doctorate, the second for coronavirus related research and the third to see how the country with the world’s second-best healthcare facilities tackles the pandemic. All three are from Assam and have been staying in Italy for nearly four years. On March 24, as India began a 21-day lockdown to curtail the spread of the virus, Prabin Upadhyaya was awarded his doctorate online. The biologist did his PhD in neurosciences and imaging from the Gabriele d’Annunzio University in Chieti city in central Italy’s Abruzzo region. Upadhyaya has no regrets and Akash Deep Biswas, a PhD scholar of Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and a computational biologist, doesn’t either. Promit Choudhury from Silchar is doing his masters at Politecnico Di Milano in Italy’s worst-hit Lombardy province.