Tuesday, December 07, 2021

July 16, 2021 BAGHDAD (AP) — No beds, medicines running low and hospital wards prone to fire — Iraq’s doctors say they are losing the battle against the coronavirus. And they say that was true even before a devastating blaze killed scores of people in a COVID-19 isolation unit this week.

Infections in Iraq have surged to record highs in a third wave spurred by the more aggressive delta variant, and long-neglected hospitals suffering the effects of decades of war are overwhelmed with severely ill patients, many of them this time young people.

Doctors are going online to plea for donations of medicine and bottled oxygen, and relatives are taking to social media to find hospital beds for their stricken loved ones.

“Every morning, it’s the same chaos repeated, wards overwhelmed with patients,” said Sarmed Ahmed, a doctor at Baghdad’s Al-Kindi Hospital.

Widespread distrust of Iraq’s crumbling health care system only intensified after Monday’s blaze at the Al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the southern city of Nasiriyah, the country’s second catastrophic fire at a coronavirus ward in less than three months.

Days after the latest fire, the death toll was in dispute, with the Health Ministry putting it at 60, local health officials saying 88, and Iraq’s state news agency reporting 92 dead.

Many blame corruption and mismanagement in the medical system for the disaster, and Iraq’s premier ordered the arrest of key health officials.

Doctors said they fear working in the country’s poorly constructed isolation wards and decried what they called lax safety measures.

“After both infernos, when I’m on call I numb myself because every hospital in Iraq is at high risk of burning down every single moment. So what can I do? I can’t quit my job. I can’t avoid the call,” said Hadeel al-Ashabl, a doctor in Baghdad who works in a new isolation ward similar to the one in Nasiriyah. “Patients are also not willing to be treated inside these hospitals, but it’s also out of their hands.”

Iraq recorded over 9,600 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday in the highest 24-hour total since the pandemic began. Daily case numbers have slowly been rising since May. More than 17,600 people have died of the virus, according to the Health Ministry.

In April, at least 82 people — most of them severely ill virus patients in need of ventilators to breathe — died in a fire at Baghdad’s Ibn al-Khateeb Hospital that broke out when an oxygen tank exploded. Iraq’s health minister resigned over the disaster.

Faulty construction and inadequate safety practices, involving in particular the handling of oxygen cylinders, have been blamed for the two hospital fires. The 70-bed ward at Al-Hussein Hospital was built three months ago using highly flammable interior wall panels, according to hospital workers and civil defense officials.

Inside one major Baghdad emergency room this week, relatives of COVID-19 patients sat on the floor because there were no chairs available.

With hospital space limited, Ahmed calls on Baghdad’s health directorate to advise him where to send patients. “They say, ‘Send five patients to this hospital, another five to this other,’ and so on,” he said.

Hadeel Almainy, a dentist in Baghdad, resorted to Facebook to find a place for her COVID-19-stricken father, pleading: “He can’t breathe, his skin is turning blue. The hospital couldn’t take us.”

In the southern city of Karbala, doctors have begged on social media for donations of remdesivir, an antiviral medication used to treat coronavirus patients.

Al-Shabl said medications and ventilators are running low at her hospital, and 60% of the COVID-19 patients there need breathing machines.

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, children have come to the hospital with severe virus symptoms, said Alya Yass, a pediatrician at Al-Numan Teaching Hospital in Baghdad.

Doctors blame widespread vaccine hesitancy for the current surge and fear the actual number of infections may be higher than ministry figures. Many Iraqis forgo testing because they don’t trust public hospitals.

Less than 3% of Iraq’s population has been vaccinated, according to a Health Ministry official who was not authorized to talk to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity. The ministry has openly blamed the public for flouting pandemic restrictions.

Health workers said they have expressed their concerns to superiors with little results.

Mohammed Jamal, a former doctor at Al-Sader Teaching Hospital in Basra, said he confronted a ministry inspection committee and asked: Why haven’t the medications been restocked or fire extinguishers replaced? Where is the fire system?

“They didn’t listen. They didn’t see,” he said.

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Entertainment

September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

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