Britain will start giving seriously ill coronavirus patients a basic steroid treatment hailed as a breakthough to help reduce the global pandemic’s death toll even as worrying new outbreaks surfaced in China and elsewhere.
An “extremely severe” cluster of cases in Beijing cast doubt over efforts to get the virus under control although Tuesday’s news from Britain came as a boost after months of grim statistics.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell meanwhile warned that the US economy is unlikely to recover as long as “significant uncertainty” remains over the course of the pandemic.
Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered the widely available steroid dexamethasone to more than 2,000 severely ill COVID-19 patients.
Among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator, dexamethasone reduced deaths by 35 percent.
“Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcome result,” said Peter Horby, professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford.
“Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said patients would start to receive the drug immediately.
“This is great news and I congratulate the Government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this lifesaving scientific breakthrough,” WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
More than eight million people have now been infected by the virus worldwide since it first emerged in China late last year, claiming 436,813 lives so far as the tolls still surge in Latin America and South Asia.
In Europe, caseloads and death rates have broadly declined.
The UK, however, is still struggling with the world’s third largest death toll and New Zealand — which had ended community transmission — said two new cases reported there were recent arrivals from Britain.
European countries are eager to drop coronavirus restrictions to save the imminent summer tourist season but Spain warned that it may quarantine British visitors should the UK persist with its plan to quarantine all overseas arrivals.
The latest reminder of the underlying threat came from China, which had largely brought its outbreak under control, as 27 infections were reported in Beijing, where a new cluster linked to a wholesale food market has sparked mass testing and neighbourhood lockdowns.
“The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe,” Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned, as the number of confirmed infections rose to 106.
Beijing authorities urged residents to not leave the city and closed schools again as officials scrambled to contain the outbreak.
In the US, the central bank chief Powell once again pledged the Fed will use all of its policy tools to help ensure recovery from the outbreak which he said has inflicted the worst pain on low-income and minority groups.
Despite a surprising rebound in employment in May, the US economy has shed nearly 20 million jobs since February and the contraction of GDP in the April-June quarter “is likely to be the most severe on record,” he said.
While China’s new cases have caused concern about a resurgence of the virus, the disease is also gaining momentum in other regions with massive populations.
Known infections in India have crossed 330,000 and already stretched authorities are bracing for the monsoon season, which causes outbreaks of other illnesses such as dengue fever and malaria every year.
Vidya Thakur, medical superintendent at Mumbai’s Rajawadi Hospital, is used to managing “heavy burdens”, she says.
But COVID-19 “has left us helpless… and the monsoon will make things even more difficult.”
In Latin America, countries are struggling to contain the disease while trying to ease the crushing economic blow dealt by widespread lockdowns and social distancing measures.
Peru reported its economy shrank by more than 40 percent year-on-year in April, while Chile extended its state of emergency by three months.
Ecuador, which has the region’s fourth highest official virus death toll after Brazil, Mexico and Peru, has extended its state of emergency for 60 more days.
The United States also agreed to keep its borders with Mexico and Canada closed until July 21, extending travel restrictions for a third time because of the pandemic.
Fans please stay away
After a gradual drop in new cases, European nations including Belgium, France, Germany and Greece have lifted border restrictions hoping to boost tourism and travel over the summer months.
But disruptions to normal social and economic life continue.
In Britain, the Premier League football season resumes on Wednesday, but in empty stadiums.
There are fears some supporters will ignore social-distancing rules by congregating outside the grounds where their teams are playing, risking new clusters of infections.
League chief executive Richard Masters said: “Please stay away and enjoy the matches at home. By turning up to the game you are putting things at jeopardy.”
The US Open tennis championships will also go ahead as scheduled in August without spectators, officials confirmed on Tuesday.
After weeks of uncertainty surrounding the tournament — which is being staged in the epicentre of the US virus crisis — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo formally agreed to allow it to go ahead.
Reporting and photos: AFP
Emirates undertakes largest known fleet retrofit project
Emirates has kick-started its plans to upgrade the entire interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today.
This ambitious project, representing a multi-billion dollar investment to ensure Emirates’ customers “fly better” for the coming years, officially commences in November and is managed entirely by Emirates’ Engineering team.
The target is to completely retrofit four Emirates aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over 2 years. Once the 67 earmarked A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 777s will undergo their facelift. This will see nearly 4,000 brand new Premium Economy seats installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded to a new style and design when the project is complete in April 2025.
In addition, carpets and stairs will be upgraded, and cabin interior panels refreshed with new tones and design motifs including the iconic ghaf trees which are native to the UAE.
No other airline has handled a retrofit of this magnitude in-house, and there’s no blueprint for such an undertaking. Therefore Emirates Engineering teams have been planning and testing extensively, to establish and streamline processes, and identify and address any possible snags.
Trials began on an A380 in July, where experienced engineers literally took each cabin apart piece-by-piece and logged every step. From removing seats and panelling to bolts and screws, every action was tested, timed and mapped out. Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new Premium Economy Class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for expert teams to review and address.
As part of the programme, new purpose-built workshops will be set up at Emirates Engineering to repaint, re-trim and re-upholster Business and Economy Class seats with new covers and cushioning. First Class suites will be carefully disassembled and sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, arm rests and other materials.
From the trials, Engineers discovered several unexpected solutions for instance: that existing food catering trucks could be easily repurposed to move parts destined for refurbishment from the aircraft to the workshop for their refresh, as these vehicles had doors of the right width and offer sufficient space.
Until the retrofit programme starts in earnest in November, a cross-disciplinary team has been assembled to regularly review the planning process, address any issues, and track updates on various aspects of the project such as procurement, staffing, and training.
Emirates’ new Premium Economy cabin class, which offers luxurious seats, more legroom, and a service to rival many airlines’ business offering, is currently available to Emirates customers travelling on popular A380 routes to London, Paris, Sydney. More customers will be able to experience the airline’s new Premium Economy cabins starting from year end, as the retrofit programme picks up momentum.
Eleanor helps over 30 Maldives hotels elevate guest services
Eleanor has been named as one of the top 10 concierge software providers globally.
Based on accurate, timely reviews from real users, the HotelTechAwards rank the world’s best hotel software firms and products and it also provides hoteliers direct access to a growing network of hotel technology professionals and decision-makers.
“The guest experience is the cornerstone of our platform. Our unified resort wide solution, Eleanor, has been built for resorts off the back of many years working in the industry and addresses the needs of both Sales and Marketing departments and perhaps just as importantly, the operational requirements of the team on the ground at the property. The days of resorts working with disjointed systems are now behind us,” says Darren Caple, co-founder and CEO.
“We are on a mission to make the guest’s resort experience as easy and as frictionless as possible. Whereas traditional providers in the market have come at this purely from a guest communication perspective, our background in resorts has allowed us to combine this basic requirement with the streamlining of operational processes. The result is truly a resort wide solution that removes the need for countless different systems to be deployed.
Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. More than 30 properties in the Maldives use our Eleanor platform to help butlers and guest services elevate the guest experience. These properties are seeing an increase in incremental revenue by over 30% and operational efficiencies of 600+ man hours per month. We are also beginning to roll out the platform in some Caribbean properties!”
Eleanor is making waves in the hospitality industry by pushing the conventional limits of what a resort guest app can achieve through its unique ability to facilitate direct bookings for services and activities. The traditional ‘request to book’ feature that is common amongst almost all other hotel apps is removed by a power booking and operational platform sitting at the heart of the solution that covers all the resorts’ departments. It’s this module which realises enormous operational benefits and insights for the resort.
“We, at Eleanor, are humbled and honoured that our clients have provided such positive reviews. Feedback from our clients, partners and hoteliers are incredibly valuable for us and we will continue to improve our offering and services”, said Caple.
To celebrate this success, Eleanor is currently offering resorts a free one month trial, together with free setup and training and discounted monthly fees.
Eleanor, founded in 2018 and has its headquarters in the United Kingdom. Created from over 15 years of hands-on expertise, Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to its guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. Eleanor also helps to unlock operational efficiencies and boost incremental revenue and guest loyalty.
Hotel Tech Report’s Best Concierge Software 2022 Runner Up, reviewed as a preferred and reliable hotel software product by the global hotelier community.
For more information, visit www.eleanorapp.com.
Emirates’ recruiters scour the world for cabin crew talent with 30 city stops
Emirates, the world’s most global airline, is seeking talented people with a passion for service to join its award-winning cabin crew team.
As air travel returns with a vengeance, the airline’s recruiters are busy meeting and hiring candidates in 30 cities from now until the end of June. In this latest drive, Emirates’ teams will travel from Australia to the UK, and dozens of European cities in between, as well as Cairo, Algiers, Tunis and Bahrain.
Abdulaziz Al Ali, Emirates Group’s Executive Vice President for Human Resources said: “There’s no more exciting airline than Emirates for anyone interested in a flying career, and we’ve received tremendous interest since we began our recruitment drive for cabin crew in November.”
“While parts of the application process are done online, we always make the effort to meet our candidates in person whenever we can, and that is why our Talent Acquisition team is doing a whirlwind 30-city tour over the next 6 weeks to assess prospective candidates.”
Emirates’ truly global cabin crew team represent 160 nationalities, reflecting its customer mix and international operations in over 130 cities on six continents.
All Emirates crew are based in the exciting cosmopolitan city of Dubai, with company-provided accommodation, tax-free salary and more benefits.
Interested candidates can read more about the Emirates cabin crew role, and apply online at: https://www.emiratesgroupcareers.com/cabin-crew/
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