COVID-19: Indonesian churches alter Good Friday services to avoid spreading virus

first_imgAccording to Merry, the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) has offered three alternatives for Good Friday observances this year; congregants could observe the day in their respective homes, observance could be postponed until the end of the crisis, or services could be performed together online. “We have also read some theological references and have received suggestions from other pastors of the GMIT. But in the end, we decided to postpone the eucharist ritual of the upcoming Good Friday until the outbreak ends,” Merry said, adding that making the decision was not easy as many of the church’s congregants felt uneasy about the interruptions to Holy Week services.She said, however, that celebrating Easter during a pandemic should make the faithful feel even more gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice. “If, now, we are postponing the Lord’s Supper, it is because we believe that God’s blessing will keep flowing into our lives despite the postponement,” she said.Meanwhile, Christians in Manado, North Sulawesi will also experience different Good Friday services. The Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa (GMIM) has said that Good Friday will be observed from home through online streaming.“The ritual will be guided from the church and will be streamed to houses,” GMIM head Carry Mamusung said on Monday.“This decision was made after a coordination meeting with the North Sulawesi provincial administration, the regional leaders’ forum and religious leaders in light of the recent situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic,” GMIM synod council chairman Hein Arina said.The absence of congregational activities did not reduce the value of worship, he added. “It is only the place that is different than usual, but the value of our worship is not determined by whether we do it at home or at church.”Arina acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted the church’s religious activities but that every effort to end the pandemic had to be implemented.The diocese of Manado has issued a circular regarding pastoral activities during the COVID-19 outbreak, which includes the cancellation of non-mandatory congregational activities and the postponement of mandatory ones.“The [mandatory] liturgical activities can also be performed through live streaming,” Manado Bishop Benedictus ER Untu said.Several celebrations during Holy Week, the bishop said, would still involve churches and chapels with some adjustments to avoid crowds.Topics : The COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia has made the logistics of the services more complicated.The Christian Evangelical Church in Timor (GMIT) in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, for example, has decided to postpone its Lord’s Supper ritual, which was slated to take place during this week’s Good Friday observance.GMIT earlier canceled its Palm Sunday service to curb the spread of COVID-19. “The GMIT synodal assembly has decided that the performance of the Lord’s Supper ritual during Holy Week and Easter this year is postponed. We made the decision after much conversation, debate, prayer and reflection,” GMIT head Merry Kolimon told journalists in Kupang on Tuesday.   Churches across Indonesia have made adjustments to their approaching Good Friday services to adhere to social distancing measures and slow the spread of COVID-19.According to the 2010 census, about 7 percent of Indonesia’s population is Protestant – a grouping of a number of denominations – while 3 percent is Catholic. Several provinces have a majority-Christian population, including East Nusa Tenggara, North Sulawesi, Papua and West Papua.Most denominations of Christianity observe Good Friday, which commemorates the day that Jesus Christ was crucified. last_img read more

German economy to shrink by nearly 10% in Q2: experts

first_imgTopics : The second-quarter plunge is twice as big as any seen during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and marks the steepest fall since the institutes’ records began in 1970, the report noted.Over the full year, Germany’s economy is predicted to contract by 4.2 percent.Their forecast is in line with German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier’s recent assessment that the economy would contract by around five percent in 2020.Germany’s “Wise Men” council of economic experts last week issued a similar forecast, predicting a drop in GDP of between 2.8 and 5.4 percent this year. Like countries around the world, the German government has taken drastic steps to stem the spread of the virus, keeping millions of people at home, closing schools and shops and shutting down factories.Berlin has also unveiled an eye-watering 1.1 trillion euro rescue package to cushion the blow for companies and employees, even suspending a constitutional balanced-budget rule to ramp up its response.The package includes state guarantees for loans to businesses, easier access to benefits for workers placed on reduced hours, and direct support for the hardest-hit firms.But even with the unprecedented measures, the six institutes warned that the recession “would leave its mark” on the job market.Germany has long enjoyed record-low unemployment of around five percent, and German workers with their relatively high wages have for years been a key driver of the country’s growth via domestic consumption.Unemployment could climb to 5.9 percent report this year, the institutes said.The number of workers on shorter hours meanwhile is expected to hit 2.4 million, as giants like Lufthansa, Volkswagen, BMW and Puma join a slew of companies taking up a government scheme that tops up the pay of affected employees.Looking ahead, the institutes said Germany with its bulging state coffers was “well positioned” to cope with the economic slump and should bounce back in “the medium term”.For 2021, the institutes expert Germany to notch up growth of 5.8 percent.center_img The German economy, Europe’s biggest, is expected to shrink by nearly 10 percent in the second quarter as the coronavirus paralyzes the country, six leading research institutes warned Wednesday.”The corona pandemic will trigger a serious recession in Germany,” the think tanks including Ifo, DIW and RWI said in their annual spring report.Gross domestic product likely contracted by 1.9 percent in the first three months of 2020, and is set to shrink by a whopping 9.8 percent in the second quarter as companies feel the pain from widespread shutdowns.last_img read more

Olympics official sees ‘real problems’ in holding Games in 2021

first_img“We can’t postpone it again and we have to assume that there won’t be a vaccine or, if there is a vaccine, it won’t be sufficient to share around the world,” he said.Without the safety net of a widely available vaccine, there could be enormous challenges in screening tens of thousands of people from all corners of the world, he said.”We’ve got real problems because we’ve got athletes having to come from 206 different nations,” said Coates.”We’ve got 11,000 athletes coming, 5,000 technical officials and coaches, 20,000 media, we’ve got 4,000 working on the organizing committee there at the moment, there will be 60,000 volunteers coming,” he said.  “There’s a lot of people.”Coates said if there are signs the pandemic is contained, even if not eradicated, by October, officials will start preparing “the different scenarios by which the sport could take place”.”Do we quarantine the Olympic village? Do all athletes when they get there go into quarantine? Do we restrict having spectators at the venues? Do we separate the athletes from the mixed zone where the media are?” Topics :center_img A senior Olympics official has warned that holding the postponed Tokyo Games next year faces “real problems”, with even a vaccine unlikely to stave off the threat of the coronavirus.John Coates, the International Olympic Committee’s pointman for Tokyo 2020, indicated that officials would start deciding in October if and how the pandemic-hit Games could go ahead in July 2021.He told a roundtable organized by Australian media giant News Corp that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been clear the Tokyo Olympics could not be delayed a second time.last_img read more

China parliament advances Hong Kong security law as US tensions rise

first_imgChina’s parliament on Thursday approved a decision to go forward with national security legislation for Hong Kong that democracy activists and Western countries fear could erode the city’s freedoms and jeopardize its role as a global financial hub.China says the new legislation will aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city/ But the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.Thursday’s move was quickly condemned by the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada. US President Donald Trump’s economic adviser warned that Hong Kong, which has enjoyed special privileges under US law based on its autonomy from Beijing, may now need to be treated like China when it comes to trade and other financial matters. Chinese authorities and Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed government say there is no threat to the city’s autonomy, but critics say the security legislation will erode the high degree of autonomy the former British colony has enjoyed under a “one country, two systems” formula since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.Riot police were out in force in Hong Kong on Thursday as its lawmakers debated a bill to criminalize disrespect of China’s national anthem. Dozens of protesters chanted slogans in a shopping mall, but there was no repeat of disturbances the previous day when police made 360 arrests.In Beijing, members of China’s mostly rubberstamp parliament burst into prolonged applause when a tally showed 2,878 votes to one in favor of moving forward with security legislation, with six abstentions.Details of the law, which could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city, are expected to be drawn up in coming weeks. It is expected to be enacted before September.Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said it would be good for Hong Kong’s long-term stability and prosperity and the “one country, two systems” formula would remain a national policy.TensionsBeijing’s move comes as US-China tensions have worsened amid mutual recriminations over the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China but has hit the United States hardest.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday Hong Kong no longer warranted special treatment under US law, given the erosion of autonomy in the territory.But it is far from clear that Trump will be prepared to take what analysts have called the nuclear option and completely end the special economic status Washington has conferred on Hong Kong since the end of British rule.US officials and people familiar with the discussions said the administration was crafting a range of options, including targeted sanctions, new tariffs and further restrictions on Chinese companies.Two sources told Reuters on Thursday that Washington was also planning to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students. Trump’s actions may be tempered by concern for the more than 1,300 US companies that have offices in Hong Kong and provide about 100,000 jobs. David Stilwell, the top US diplomat for East Asia, said steps would be calibrated to mitigate the impact on Hong Kong people and US businesses.Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer blamed Trump for failing to stand up for Hong Kong, saying in a tweet: “Pres. Trump will forever be known as the president who lost Hong Kong to the Chinese Communist Party because of his mollycoddling of Pres. Xi.”Democracy campaigners in Hong Kong were despondent.”This is the death knell for Hong Kong, make no mistake of it, this is the end of ‘one country, two systems’ … the Hong Kong that we loved, a free Hong Kong,” said lawmaker Dennis Kwok. Topics :center_img “We can’t let this go unnoticed and they will be held accountable for that,” Larry Kudlow told CNBC.Trump, who has vowed a tough US response, told reporters he would hold a news conference on China on Friday. “We’ll be making certain decisions and we’ll be discussing them tomorrow,” he said.Under congressional legislation Trump signed last year, it now falls to him to decide to end some, all or none of the US economic privileges Hong Kong enjoys.Trump offered a muted response to Hong Kong’s mass democracy protests last year while prioritizing a trade deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping that Trump saw as important for his November re-election bid. But ties with Beijing have since soured considerably.last_img read more

Britain puts $10 million into study on long term effects of COVID-19

first_imgRead also: Delirium, depression, anxiety, PTSD: The less discussed effects of COVID-19The Department of Health said 10,000 people would take part in the study, which is being led by the University of Leicester and hospitals in the city.Lung and blood samples of the patients will be taken and they will also be assessed by advanced imaging, and the findings will be used to develop new forms of personalized treatment.Topics : Britain is putting 8.4 million pounds ($10.49 million) into a new study to examine the long-term effects of COVID-19 on patients, the health ministry said on Sunday.The novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19 has been observed to cause many health impacts for some patients beyond immediate respiratory issues, but with other infected people asymptomatic, the workings of the virus are not fully understood.”As we continue our fight against this global pandemic, we are learning more and more about the impact the disease can have, not only on immediate health, but longer-term physical and mental health too,” health minister Matt Hancock said.last_img read more

‘Donors’ promise cancer patient millions in aid, pose for photos, but the money never comes

first_img“I’ve lost count as to how many times we were photographed holding up the false signs.”He said that, despite being lied to, there were no hard feelings. He only wished that Kinem could recover from her illness.Kinem’s jaw cancer started in 2009 when she discovered a big lump under her chin. The condition made it hard for the 45-year old to speak and eat, as her tongue was pushed forward. The cancer also knocked out her teeth.Nursam took his wife to doctors several times, but the latest visit was two years ago, when she was admitted to Moewardi Hospital in Surakarta for two weeks. However, he said, the doctors could not operate her as she did not meet some of the health conditions for surgery.  Nursam said they could not afford further medical treatment for his wife, since he, as the sole breadwinner of the family, was struggling to support their five children doing odd jobs. (aly)Topics : Kinem from Boyolali regency in Central Java has had a cancerous tumor on her jaw for 11 years. Her story has drawn make-believe donors who visited her home and asked her to pose for photos while holding up signs pledging tens of millions of rupiah.The family in Gilirejo hamlet of Gunungsari village was looking forward to the financial support for her treatment, but they never got their hands on the promised money.“My wife and I were only asked to hold up the signs, then they took our pictures. The nominal varied from Rp 10 million [US$680] to Rp 30 million. We once received Rp 7 million of Rp 30 million promised, but other than that, we received nothing,” Kinem’s husband Nursam said on Friday, as quoted by read more

China accuses US of ‘outright bullying’ over TikTok

first_img‘Global company’ On Monday, ByteDance said in a statement that it has always been committed to becoming a global company.”Based on the current situation, ByteDance is considering re-establishing TikTok headquarters in major markets outside the United States to better serve global users,” the statement said.UK media reported that it was considering a relocation to London.ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming also acknowledged on Monday “mounting complexities across the geopolitical landscape and significant external pressure” faced by the company, in a letter to staff, reported by Chinese media.He added that the company has “always been committed to ensuring user data security, as well as the platform neutrality and transparency”.Meanwhile, Wang urged the US on Tuesday to “refrain from politicizing economic issues” and to provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign market players. “It’s outright bullying.”The app has been under formal investigation on US national security grounds, because it collects large amounts of personal data on users and is legally bound to share it with authorities in Beijing if they demand it.Trump said that Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok, and has given ByteDance until mid-September to strike a deal, a tactic that is almost unheard of.”It’s got to be an American company… it’s got to be owned here,” Trump said on Monday. “We don’t want to have any problem with security.” Beijing slammed the move as “political manipulation”.Wang told a regular press briefing Tuesday: “The US, without providing any evidence, has been using an abused concept of national security… unjustifiably suppressing certain non-US companies.”He said the national security grounds for the US’s clampdown on Chinese firms “does not hold water”, adding that the companies conduct their business activities in accordance with international rules and US laws.”But the US is cracking down on them on trumped-up charges,” said Wang, who warned the US not to “open Pandora’s box”.TikTok has as many as one billion worldwide users, who make quirky 60-second videos with its smartphone app.But the pressure for a sale of its US and international business, based in Los Angeles, has left the company and its Chinese parent ByteDance facing tough decisions. Topics : China accused the United States on Tuesday of “bullying” over popular video app TikTok, after President Donald Trump ramped up pressure for its US operations to be sold to an American company.In the latest of a series of diplomatic spats between the world’s two biggest economies, Beijing hit back after Trump gave TikTok six weeks to arrange a sale of its US operations — and said that his government wanted a financial benefit from the deal.”This goes against the principles of the market economy and the [World Trade Organization’s] principles of openness, transparency and non-discrimination,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.last_img read more

AEON Mall BSD City closes after employees contract COVID-19

first_imgThe employees who tested positive apparently worked in the management room, but authorities have decided to disinfect all parts of the four-story building, inside and outside, including the parking area.The mall will reopen after the sterilization process complete.Tangerang COVID-19 task force spokesperson Hendra Tarmizi said the cases were revealed after one of the infected employees visited a local hospital after experiencing symptoms. “He was suffering from a cold and a headache. His swab test result showed he had contracted COVID-19,” Hendra said. (vny)Topics : Shopping center AEON Mall BSD City in Tangerang, Banten, will be closed for the next seven days, until Aug. 12, after two of its employees tested positive for COVID-19.Authorities will sterilize the facility and conduct rapid tests on 1,200 of the mall’s employees and tenants.”We will finish the rapid tests within three days,” Tangerang regency secretary Moch. Maesal Rasyid said as quoted by on Thursday.The sterilization process, meanwhile, would take longer than three days, Maesal added.last_img read more

Highest daily spike sees Jakarta logging 658 new COVID-19 cases

first_img“Of the 658 positive cases, 98 were the accumulation of the previous day’s data that had just been reported,” Weningtyas Purnomorini, the head of health services at the Jakarta Health Agency, said on Friday.Jakarta has conducted a total of 41,914 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests per 1 million people to date, with 43,330 people in the city having been tested over the past seven days.As of Thursday, 15,201 infected people have recovered and 922 have died due to the respiratory disease, according to the Jakarta administration’s official COVID-19 tally.Read also: Discourse: Indonesia must go back to basics for COVID-19 recovery: UN official Jakarta reported 658 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the highest one-day spike since the first infections were recorded in March, bringing the total number of cases in the capital to 24,521.The latest figure continues the trend of rising positive cases in Jakarta over the past few weeks following the city’s decision to gradually ease restrictions and reopen businesses and offices under health protocols on June 4.Jakarta’s authorities, however, have said that the rise in positive cases in the capital is due to the administration’s aggressive contact tracing of COVID-19-positive cases. The national COVID-19 task force recently revealed that office buildings had emerged as new clusters of coronavirus transmission, particularly inside those that lack ventilation or room for social distancing.In Jakarta alone, 68 distinct office clusters had been found as of July 26, which included buildings belonging to public institutions, ministries and state-owned enterprises.Tests also reveal an increase in COVID-19 clusters in Jakarta’s houses of worship, where the positivity rate, which refers to the percentage of positive results from all tests conducted in a cluster, had reached 74 percent, according to an epidemiologist.Jakarta Health Agency data from June 4 to July 28 shows there were 114 confirmed cases from clusters at nine houses of worship across the capital. Most of them were located in churches and mosques, with three clusters each and a total of 40 cases.Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, therefore, decided to extend the transitional large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) until mid-August as the pandemic showed no signs of letting up in the city of some 10 million people.The capital’s positivity rate has hit 7.4 percent in the past week, above the figure recommended by the World Health Organization for relaxations, which is 5 percent or below. (vny)Topics :last_img read more

20,000 paper birds help fund COVID-19 units at Belgium hospital

first_img“I had a very serious heart surgery and I was well taken care of by this hospital. It’s why I wanted to help them,” Kaisin told Reuters.Kaisin also organized an art auction which raised a further 300,000 euros ($353,000)for the hospital, which he said would support its medical research, including into the side effects of potential COVID-19 treatments.  Topics : A flock of 20,000 multicolored origami birds has been installed in a cathedral in Brussels, Belgium, as part of a fundraising artwork that has paid for two COVID-19 units at a local hospital.Suspended from the ceiling of the medieval Cathedral of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula by thin wires, the paper creations have come from as far afield as Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo, after Belgian designer Charles Kaisin asked people to send in home-made birds, or deposit them in boxes in 160 shops around Brussels.Each bird was matched by a donation from companies including French energy firm Engie, raising 101,625 euros ($119,744) for two units for COVID-19 patients at the Erasmus hospital in Brussels.last_img read more