Supermarket battle could transform retail property

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  • Oxford retail: Oxford blues

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  • Supermarket battle could transform retail property

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  • Northern star Hancock quits McCabe’s Scarborough

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  • Walkie-talkie over and out?

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  • Limited virus testing in Japan masks true scale of infection

    first_imgJapan’s low level of confirmed infections has enabled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to maintain a relatively relaxed stance on the outbreak compared with South Korea and China, where more than 78,000 cases and over 2,700 deaths have been recorded.Unlike other countries in the region, Japan hasn’t imposed travel bans on citizens from highly infected nations — including China — and Abe has encouraged, but not enforced, the cancellation of major public events. Many people in Tokyo continued to commute to work in packed trains. As public criticism mounted, Abe announced Thursday evening that schools will be shut from next week to April.“In order to grasp the current situation, we should test,” said Kazuhiro Haraguchi, a lawmaker with Japan’s opposition Democratic Party for the People. “Tests are not 100% reliable, but we need to know the facts.”Minister Kato said that public health centers had refused to test some people for the virus, probably because they were concerned they didn’t have sufficient capacity.Reflecting growing concerns over the outbreak in Japan as well as globally, the Nikkei 225 dropped as much as 3.5% in Friday morning trade and is down more than 9% so far this week.Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, right, covers his face next to Taro Aso, deputy prime minister and finance minister, while attending a budget committee session at the lower house of parliament in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Bloomberg/Kiyoshi Ota)As cases mount, Japan rapidly becomes a coronavirus hotbed The country has already come under fire for not testing the Diamond Princess passengers more extensively, with at least two Japanese testing positive for the virus after they returned home. Both had used public transport and been out in the general public after disembarking from the ship.There’s also rising anxiety over the number of Japanese virus patients whose infection routes can’t be traced. For example authorities have not yet been able to identify connections between those who got infected in the northern island of Hokkaido, which has now grown to become the biggest outbreak in Japan with 54 cases.Unlike some other Asian countries, Japan didn’t see a widespread local outbreak during the SARS and MERS virus epidemics. That lack of experience may have left it ill-equipped for dealing with the novel coronavirus, which is thought to be more infectious than those diseases, though less deadly.An employee, center, uses a sewing machine while making {reusable-type} face masks at the Clever Co. factory in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (Bloomberg/Kiyoshi Ota)How the novel coronavirus can (maybe) infect You: QuickTakeUnlike South Korea and many other developed countries, Japan doesn’t have a Center for Disease Control, meaning virus prevention and outbreak control is in the hands of bureaucrats from the health ministry, aided by a group of experts.While there is a national benchmark for how testing for the virus should be undertaken, some cities and regions are applying different standards.The official guidance is for anyone with mild symptoms to stay at home. Those with serious conditions are told to contact a hotline, where they can be linked to an appropriate medical facility. Doctors can recommend testing at Japan’s local public health centers if they suspect a coronavirus infection.Approach criticizedSome public health centers — including in Tokyo, the city of Nagoya and the Wakayama prefecture — say they haven’t had consistent supplies of testing kits to meet requirements. Wakayama, which has confirmed 11 virus infections, is using its own parameters to decide when testing is needed.Hospitals and clinics could also be concerned that if a case is confirmed on site, they’ll be forced to shut down for disinfection, according to opposition lawmaker Haraguchi, who wants the government to compensate operators in these cases.Even a member of the government’s expert panel on the virus has criticized their efforts on diagnosis. Hitoshi Oshitani, a professor at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, said last week that Japan’s initial efforts at testing were like using a pen light to hunt for a ping pong ball in the Tokyo Dome baseball stadium.The handling of the Diamond Princess virus outbreak had already undermined trust in the government’s capacity to handle the crisis. After discovering cases of the virus, Japan locked the ship down for 14 days, a move that some public health experts said probably fueled the spread on board. About a fifth of the ship’s 3,700 passengers and crew have tested positive for the virus.Workers in protective gear walk near the Diamond Princess cruise ship, operated by Carnival Corp., docked in Yokohama, Japan, on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. Japan confirmed 41 more cases of the new coronavirus aboard the quarantined cruise ship, and denied entry to another vessel as it sought to control the spread of the deadly infection, with thousands now stranded on stricken luxury liners. (Bloomberg/Toru Hanai)‘Get tested’Health minister Kato told parliament this week the government is working on a system to support the private sector to conducts tests so that more people can be tested for the virus.With trust in authorities eroded, a broader testing regime is now needed to calm public unease, said Kenji Shibuya, director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, and a former chief of health policy at the World Health Organization.“Scientifically we should target and prioritize the patients,” he said by email. “But it is now beyond that — we are dealing with public fear, and to tackle it, we need to give people an opportunity to get tested.” Topics : “For every one who tests positive there are probably hundreds with mild symptoms,” said Masahiro Kami, chair of the Medical Governance Research Institute in Tokyo, and a practicing doctor. “Those with mild symptoms are not being tested.”While the government says it has the capacity to conduct 3,800 tests a day, only 5,700 were actually carried out between Feb. 18-23, Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told parliament Wednesday. That included the tests made on passengers and crew of the Diamond Princess, where Japan’s attempt to quarantine the boat resulted in an explosion in infections to more than 700 cases.An ambulance travels away from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, operated by Carnival Corp., docked in Yokohama, Japan, on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Aircraft chartered by the U.S. State Department are to arrive Sunday in Japan to evacuate about 400 citizens from the Diamond Princess. (Bloomberg/Toru Hanai)No banscenter_img Japan is becoming a center of concern as the coronavirus spreads globally, with the country’s official infection tally suspected to be the tip of the iceberg of a much wider outbreak.As of Friday, Japan had about 200 confirmed cases of the pneumonia-causing virus, excluding those that erupted on the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship quarantined for weeks in Yokohama harbor. In neighboring South Korea, however, the number of infections has swelled rapidly, reaching almost 1,800 after the government tested tens of thousands of people to get a clearer picture of the deadly outbreak.That divergence has experts — and members of the public — concerned about Japan’s approach to diagnosis.last_img read more

  • British supermarkets’ plea to shoppers – stop panic buying

    first_imgAnecdotal evidence suggested activity has stepped-up further since Thursday when Prime Minister Boris Johnson said those showing even mild symptoms of having the virus should self-isolate for at least seven days.As of Saturday, 21 people had died after testing positive for COVID-19 in Britain, health authorities said.In the letter to customers, Dickinson says food retailers are working closely with government and suppliers to keep food moving quickly through the system and making more deliveries to stores to ensure shelves are stocked.She also says retailers with online delivery and click-and-collect services are running at full capacity.Tesco chairman John Allan said on Thursday it was unlikely the retailer, which has a 27.2 percent UK grocery market share, would experience anything more than “very short term, temporary” shortages of certain products.Topics : Britain’s food retailers appealed to shoppers on Sunday to stop panic buying during the coronavirus outbreak, saying purchasing more than they need would mean others will be left without.The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents supermarket groups including market leader Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons, said retailers have come together to write to their customers, calling on them to be considerate in the way they shop.Their letter will be published in adverts in national newspapers on Sunday and Monday. “We understand your concerns but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without. There is enough for everyone if we all work together,” Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, says in the letter.Social media has been awash over the last week with pictures of empty shelves in Britain’s major supermarkets, with items like dried pasta, toilet rolls and canned food particularly sought after.Trading in UK supermarkets has been intense, with some shop bosses saying it can only be compared to the pre-Christmas rush.Read also: Why rational people are panic buying as coronavirus spreadslast_img read more

  • Ethiopia reports first two deaths from coronavirus

    first_imgEthiopia on Sunday announced the first two deaths of patients suffering from COVID-19, as officials ramped up testing to get a clearer picture of the outbreak there.The first victim was a 60-year-old Ethiopian woman who had spent six days in intensive care, a health ministry statement said, with the second a 56-year-old Ethiopian man diagnosed with COVID-19 last Thursday.”It is my deepest regret to announce the first death of a patient from #COVID19 in Ethiopia,” Health Minister Lia Tadesse said in announcing the country’s first fatality on Twitter. Four hours later, Lia published a second post expressing “great sadness” as another death emerged.Ethiopia, a country of more than 100 million people, confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 13 and has recorded just 43 in total — mostly people with a history of recent foreign travel. But testing has been extremely limited. As of Friday, the country had conducted just 1,222 tests, according to the Ethiopian Public Health Institute. South Africa, by comparison, has performed tens of thousands of tests. Ethiopian officials said Saturday they were conducting an additional 647 tests, notably of targeted health workers, transportation sector workers who have “direct contact with passengers” and randomly selected people in Addis Ababa, the capital, and the city of Adama in the Oromia region.It was intended to help determine whether there has been undetected community transmission, said Dr Adisu Kebede, director of national laboratory capacity building.”There are also a few cases that we identified that have no travel history and things like that, and from their contacts, you can guess that there is community transmission already,” Adisu said. “The WHO recommended ‘test, test, test,’ so we had to test more people,” he added. The country has “around 23,000″ testing kits available, the vast majority donated last month by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, Adisu said. It has no rapid testing capacity and can currently process no more than 500 tests per day, Adisu said. The goal is to push that figure to over 1,000 by the end of the month. Abiy resists lockdownEthiopia has closed land borders and schools, freed thousands of prisoners to ease overcrowding, sprayed main streets in the capital with disinfectant and discouraged large gatherings. Orthodox Christian leaders have encouraged worshippers to pray at home, and police were deployed Sunday to prevent large crowds from descending on one of the capital’s main cathedrals. Orthodox Christians make up 40 percent of the country’s population.Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has refrained from imposing the kinds of lockdown seen elsewhere in the region, including in Uganda, Rwanda and Mauritius. “We can’t impose a lockdown like more developed nations, as there are many citizens who don’t have homes,” Abiy said Saturday. “Even those who have homes have to make ends meet daily.” Topics :last_img read more

  • Pertamina offers 50 percent fuel cashback for app-based ‘ojek’ drivers

    first_imgState-owned fuel distributor Pertamina rolled out on Tuesday a fuel discount scheme for app-based ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers, who are the logistical lifeline for many self-isolating Indonesians.Pertamina’s promotion, which will run until July 12, grants a driver a 50 percent discount worth up to Rp 15,000 (95 US cents) when paying for nonsubsidized gasoline using LinkAja, an e-wallet app partly owned by Pertamina. The discount will be given as a cashback within the e-wallet.The scheme is also limited to 10,000 drivers per day and, in enforcing the limit, drivers have to register with the MyPertamina app. The fuel company has allocated Rp13.5 billion for the promotion. “We hope this three-month program will reduce the costs borne by drivers when working,” said Pertamina president director Nicke Widyawati on Monday.Read also: Four upstream oil and gas projects worth $45m set to kick off in first quarterDemand for online delivery services, whether for meals or groceries, has risen over the past month while demand for rides has fallen as many Indonesian cities, including Jakarta, implement stricter physical distancing measures.A report by big data firm Statqo Analytics said ride-hailing apps Grab and Gojek had experienced a 16 percent and 14 percent downturn, respectively, among their active ride-hailing users within the last week of March.Meanwhile, a study by mobile marketing analytics and attribution platform AppsFlyer showed that downloads of food and beverage delivery apps had risen 23 percent from January to early March in Indonesia, while food delivery orders rose 11 percent.A sign of MyPertamina apps service are seen at Cikini gas station, Jakarta, Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (JP/Seto Wardhana )Pertamina, also on Monday, inaugurated a door-to-door delivery service for fuel, cooking gas and lubricants in 67 cities, including Greater Jakarta, Bandung in West Java and Denpasar in Bali. The service can be accessed through the company’s call center number 135 or WhatsApp account at 08111350135.Topics :last_img read more