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tv   Coronavirus  BBC News  July 19, 2020 4:30pm-5:01pm BST

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hello this is bbc news. the headlines... china denies an accusation by foreign minister, dominic raab that they're carrying out human rights abuses against its uighur population. can i ask you why people are kneeling blindfolded and shaven and being led to trains in modern china? why? what is going on there? i do not know where you get this video tape. it is deeply, deeply troubling. and the reports on the human aspect of it, from forced sterilisation to the education camps, are reminiscent of something we have not seen for a long, long time. meanwhile — china's ambassador to the uk tells the bbc the decision to drop huawei from it's 56 networks is a bad move for the country. there's been a record number of new cases of coronavirus in 2a hours — 260,000 cases were reported — the biggest increases were in the us, brazil,
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india and south africa. borisjohnson says he doesn't believe another nationwide lockdown will be needed — even if there's a second spike of coronavirus this winter. eu leaders meet for an unscheduled third day of talks on a post—coronavirus economic recovery plan. and the first official photos of the wedding of princess beatrice and italian count edoardo mapelli—mozzi are released — from their private ceremony on friday — attended by the queen and the duke of edinburgh. now on bbc news... philippa thomas hears from people around the world about their extraordinary experiences during the pandemic and how covid—19 has changed their lives.
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welcome to coronavirus: your stories, a programme about how covid—19 is changing lives around the world. i am philippa thomas. this week, we are talking to doctors who are fighting the virus in struggling states, countries that are more often in the headlines because of political conflict or terror attacks. in venezuela, a doctor who is treating covid patients every day says the worst is still to come. he tells me why he is taking the risk of saying this out loud when the government doesn't want to hear it. an international doctorjust returned from afghanistan and talks about what it is like to face a deadly disease in a state already battered by four decades of violence insurgency. and a newly graduated doctor in syria has some good news about incredible efforts being made by communities working together to protect themselves.
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let's go first to caracas, where drjulio castro is currently treating 70 covid patients in his private clinic and worrying about the thousands more venezuelans across the country who cannot get proper health care. we are heading close to 9000 cases all over venezuela. in the last five weeks, we have an increase in the number of cases by week, close to 35% every week. we are getting to the 90% occupancy in the icu units with the capacity up to the full level right now and we are still at the beginning of the exponential phase of the transmission of the coronavirus in venezuela. it is probably worth reminding our viewers, dr castro, you're talking to me from caracas, and that city and your country
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already is dealing with crisis with economic crisis. yes, indeed. we are in the middle of an economic crisis. the hyperinflation rate in the last year was close to 4000%. absolutely amazing. the health crisis has been in the last five years or so. we have been declared as a humanitarian situation in the last two years, but we are in the middle of a huge crisis besides the other crisis, the economic and political and health system crisis. it sounds like one storm coming up on top of another. does it ever make you feel desperate about the situation? well, we do. most of our physicians
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are very concerned. they are unprotected. they don't have the tools to cope or work with the patients. i'm talking about basic tools like surgical gloves or protection equipment or antibiotics or oxygen or mechanical ventilators. so we are pretty much working with all hands and most of the young doctors are already getting sick of covid—i9. so that is another real worry, when you look at your colleagues, especially in the public hospitals where there are not many resources. they are putting themselves at risk. they have double risk. they have community risk which is high. and they have a work risk, or a health risk related to theirjob.
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actually, we have no just doctors or nurses and also other health personnel who have been in danger or have been getting sick. close to 50% of the hospital, the bigger hospital in venezuela, do not have, right now, surgical masks, which is the basic markerfor us to monitor the protection equipment. so we are still, some of the bigger hospitals in venezuela do not have a single surgical mask or a single surgical glove to protect themselves. you were talking about the economic crisis that underlies the state of the health service. have you had conversations with patients, people who have covid who are worried about paying for medical treatment? the national average salary in venezuela, for example, for a doctor, is $6 a month. that is the regular salary for a medical doctor in venezuela.
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and the cost is close to $1000 per day in private clinics right now. so it is impossible for a person who does not have international insurance to pay for critical care related to the covid—i9. even for doctors. physicians who do not have private insurance, it is impossible for them to pay for the medical care. and also, 95% of venezuelans do not have coverage for insurance. they have to go to the public hospital. we already talked about that situation. people are struggling, notjust for people in venezuela, everybody is struggling with the crisis. because if you get $6 or $10 a month, it is barely enough to find food.
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what is the hardest part of your own job? actually, it is difficult to deal with the information because we have a lack of transparency related to the numbers in venezuela because in venezuela, just one lab is doing the pcr. let me ask you about the tests, the pcr. my understanding is you are not allowed to carry out tests yourself. is that right? just one lab. 0nly they can do the pcr. which is under the regime control. and actually, some of the labs that have tried to do the pcr, they were shut down by the government two months ago. so right now, we still have just one lab. it sounds as if one of the biggest problems is that you know numbers are rising, but you don't know very much about the true numbers because from your point of view,
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there are not enough tests? absolutely. actually, we wonder what is the real number of pcr that we are doing in a daily basis in venezuela. because they have not said the numbers of pcr they are doing. according to some organisations, we are between 600 and 1000 test by day. columbia actually is doing close to 4000 or 6000 pcr by day. we need to go that far because otherwise, it is impossible to track the epidemic or to diagnose the patients and isolate the most cases we want. do you think venezuela is struggling compared to her neighbours?
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absolutely. notjust in pcr. 0ur health system is very far from columbia. we are the weakest health system in the region according to john hopkins‘ classification, so we are a pretty unstable system that absolutely puts in jeopardy all the citizens related to trying to cope with covid—19. it is difficult to ask you to sum this up, but could you tell me what you think the government is doing right and what it is doing wrong? well, i think the early quarantine was the right decision in early march. other than that, they have been doing a very weird strategy. right now, we are in the beginning of exponential phase and now we are releasing some measures like some states can have a normal life.
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they don't have any kind of restriction or quarantine. and the virus is already all over the place. all states in venezuela do have transmission, but we have 60% of the states today in a normalisation phase, which is absolutely weird. there is no country other than latin america who have been doing relaxation of the norms relating to the covid—19 even in the exponential phase and we are in the middle of that. drjulio castro, when you tell me these things about the state of venezuela, you're speaking out and it could be taken as critical of nicholas maduro's government. are you putting yourself at risk by speaking out? yes, for sure. when we complain about the numbers or complain about the hospital
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situation, we are in danger. notjust myself, all the physicians who are complaining are in jeopardy right now. venezuela doctorjulio castro in caracas. we talk next about a country that is already weakened by four decades of war. covid cases stand at 311,000 and rising in afghanistan. and lockdown is imposing extra hardships on a lot of families making do with very little. the international committee of the red cross runs a number of clinics there that are overseen by doctor gabriel mufuta, a congolese born doctor who has a decade of experience in war—torn countries. he has been speaking to me from ireland, he is there on a short break from kabul. the health system, which is weak and frail as it is known, a war—torn country, four decades
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of armed conflict, inevitably the country is facing difficulties to organise different sectors and the health sector is one of them. all the province's regions are reporting cases now. there have been decades of war in afghanistan and hospital infrastructure has been rundown. is this a problem now when you're looking at things like needing beds and needing oxygen? what is it like as a doctor trying to deal with this? after those four decades, the government is making an effort to help with the hospital staff, but unfortunately, the situation is still below standards. it doesn't follow properly. the ratio of health professionals versus population is still beneath what is required to how can i say be able to provide quality services, so generally speaking, facilities are overwhelmed.
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at the basic health level when they exist. otherwise, they are working at a substandard level and this makes a huge challenge for health staff to cope both with the ordinary work and covid, which comes as an additional layer of complexity with all the response. and how easy it is to track people moving backwards and forwards over the borders? by march, april, there has been a struggle to organise an appropriate screening at those borders entry points, but clearly coming from iran and pakistan, you all know that iran has had a high report of cases, and of course considering afghanistan, efforts should have been made all around the border but organising it was a struggle if i can say. and of course, for people to be screened, and for the virus to be traced, people have to want to come
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forward and say i might be positive. is that happening? at the beginning, it was difficult. and even though all of the health promotional awareness which is been developed throughout the country, we have to admit the effort has been made by all the humanitarian partners in the government themselves, but the stigma lends to people most of the time do not self report as much as they can possibly and looking at the magnitude of transmission and the country, it means that facilities are finding it difficult to diagnose and eventually isolate patients and of course facilities may be overwhelmed at this stage, so then we can see a lot of cases do not report to the health system by itself. that stays in the community. you use the word stigma. what do you mean by that? when a new phenomena
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like this appeared, of course the panic installed itself. among the health care workers themselves and in the community. so that is why any facility labelled as a covid—19 centre, people tend to avoid. so there is a stigma attached to having coronavirus and you talked about fear? is that also a fear of family having to be isolated or locked down? in case of death, unfortunately, the procedure around covid, the body is a bit different from the ordinary ones. family are kept more or less away from the body. or they have to be buried in a specific way which is not really acceptable as per culture. that is why people as soon as they see a relative getting seriously sick, it automatically turns to stay home so as when they pass away, at least they can still be around to participate to the last rites or for burial. dr gabriel mufuta, who oversees the red cross
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clinics in afghanistan. i am philippa thomas and you're watching coronavirus: your stories. this week, we are talking to doctors fighting the virus in struggling states. next, syria. it has been in the headlines for a decade now. since war broke out, more than 400,000 syrians have been killed, millions more have fled. those left behind are in a country particularly vulnerable to crisis. syria has already been through its coronavirus lockdown, but now the number of those infected is rising again, especially in and around damascus. and that is where we have been hearing about some of the civil society efforts that are helping people get what they need to survive. over the last three months, dana shubat has been coordinating awareness campaigns and helping to make and distribute supplies. dana has just graduated as a doctor. the war started when i was in my last year of high school.
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that year, we had to flee our house on july 15, 2012. after one week, we lost our farm and the hospital that my father was managing. so we started all over again in the capital damascus. we rented a house and we started to rebuild everything in our lives again. my father is a surgeon himself. he has been the manager of a hospital that was affected by the war in 2012, so we were raised loving medicine. you have been extremely busy. i know you have been very involved in civil society efforts to help with the pandemic. tell us something about what you have been able to do. we had the lockdown and we had all the procedures to make sure that the cases do not increase, so what i have done in the first
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place is to spread awareness and to spread the verified resources where they can get the real information, so i targeted the facebook pages that had a lot of likes in the society and gave them the information. people need to know because having people know the truth is a very big part of the solution. and dana, all around the world, there have been problems getting hold of supplies, of masks for example, and i understand you got around that partly because you're making them. we already have like a problem with important equipment and everything because due to the sanctions and everything, by what we have tried to do is to do them ourselves using diy techniques. we were creating designs of masks, facemasks, and other ppe and printing them by 3d printers and some of them were done them by hand.
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that was activated in different cities around syria. we made the networks and found people that had the materials in every city. people that have 3d printers for example. but the main problem was the materials and to find the 3d printers because it is not common to have them around here. dana, you're talking to me from damascus, but i know you have been in contact with groups around syria. where are some of the other places where the civil society efforts have made a difference? i know that a lot of efforts have been made around. there were a group of biomedical engineers who have made masks —— i know that a lot of efforts have been made in homs. there were a group of biomedical
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engineers who have made masks and supplies centres with them. a lot of efforts have been made in aleppo, and damascus for sure. it is not hard to find people to initiate for this because syrian people have been used to helping each other, especially during these years. and the social activity has been very active and high. you have survived through the first lockdown, but i think cases are now rising again. are people worried about a big outbreak in syria? yes. actually, starting from two weeks, the cases have been increasing widely and a lot of fear is in the streets, but people are trying to take the procedures and to prevent themselves from getting infected, but still it is happening around the world. when it is a pandemic, it is a pandemic. it will spread somehow. and that is especially difficult in a society where you have had ten years of fighting and the infrastructure of the health service must be completely battered. yes, because these years we have lost a lot of hospitals and medical
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centres and a lot of medical equipment and like all areas, so there is pressure on the city centre hospitals now, prevention is not our first line of defence. it is our only line of defence. because if we lose prevention, we don't have the sufficient abilities to deal with the high number of cases. and if it does get worse, and lockdown comes back, that will be very difficult for people who are trying to make enough money to survive. it already has been a very difficult time for people because in the first lockdown, a lot of people work day by day and make their money and their food
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and basic equipment day by day. we have talked a lot about civil society efforts and what people can do for themselves. how important is that going to be in rebuilding syria going forward? it is very important because eventually, people are the basic stone in rebuilding the country. it is our responsibility. it's our country. we have lived in it ever since we were born. we love it. and we want it to recover and to be the country we really want to live in. dana shubat in damascus ending our programme on the fight against covid—19 in syria, venezuela, and afghanistan. i am philippa thomas. thank you forjoining us this week for coronavirus: your stories.
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hello there. what a difference a day makes. yesterday's cloud and rain, well, it's been replaced by sparkling blue sky and sunshine. just take a look at this weather watcher picture from whitworth in lancashire, glorious day here. however, different story down to the south east, we have had some heat, we have had some sunshinejust recently, but that was a thing of the past. this morning in finsbury, london, we started the day with some rain. the rain has eased away, but the cloud is taking its time to clear down to the kent coast. so the best of the sunshine further north and west, with a rash of showers driven on by brisk, westerly breeze into the far north of scotland. so this is how we are likely to close out our day. in terms of the feel of the weather, a little bit fresher, but i suppose if you've got the sunshine, you are not too bothered, but highs of 15—22 degrees. now, high pressure is going to build monday into tuesday, and that is good news, that means it is going to be a lot of quiet weather in the story. a few scattered showers continue during the early hours of monday morning in the north, but with those clearer skies, temperatures are likely to fall
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away, and so we could be greeted with single figures first thing on monday morning. a bit of a shock to the system, but there'll be lots of early—morning, sparkling summer sunshine, which will help lift those temperatures pretty readily. and so as we go through monday, again, still the risk of a few scattered showers into the north, but there will be lots of sunshine to look out for and temperatures will respond. so it will be a pleasant afternoon for many, with highest values, again, ranging from around 1a or 15 to 23, maybe 2a degrees if we get plenty of sunshine in the south east. that is the mid—70s. for the final day of the second test, well, it does look as though manchester may well stay dry and there will be lots of sunshine to look out for. that high pressure is still with us though, little change as we go into tuesday, just some cloud into the far north west later, an indication of a frontal system that is going to be a little bit of a hiccup through wednesday into thursday.
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could bring some rain into the far north west. high pressure builds, but as we head towards the weekend, it is just worth a quick heads up, things could turn a little bit more unsettled. a lot of uncertainty about that at the moment, so generally, we have got that little hiccup bringing some cloud and rain into the north west through wednesday, possibly thursday. dry and settled and a little bit warmer to the south.
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this is bbc news. the headlines at 5pm. china denies an accusation by foreign secretary dominic raab that they're carrying out human rights abuses against its uighur population. can i ask you why people are kneeling blindfolded and shaven and being led to trains in modern china? why? what is going on there? i do not know where you get this video tape. it is deeply, deeply troubling. and the reports on the human aspect of it, from forced sterilisation to the education camps, are reminiscent of something we have not seen for a long, long time. borisjohnson says he doesn't believe another nationwide lockdown will be needed —
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even if there's a second spike of coronavirus this winter.


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