Indian-American Seema Verma named key member of Trump's COVID-19 task force | WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs Indian-American Seema Verma named key member of Trump’s COVID-19 task force – WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs
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New York, March 3 (IANS) Indian-American Seema Verma has been added as a “key member” of the the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, an official statement from US Vice President Mike Pence said.

Verma’s appointment comes at a time when over 100 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the US, six US citizens have died and the global death toll has topped 3,000.

Verma marked attendance on Monday in her new role during an evening briefing led by Pence.

President Donald Trump has made Pence his point-person for the coronavirus response. Pence in turn has tapped Ambassador Deborah Birx as his point person.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar chairs the task force but reports to Pence and Birx. Others on the task force include Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie and Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Verma is the latest addition.

She holds a Master’s degree in public health with a concentration in health policy and management from Johns Hopkins University.

Verma is the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and handles a $1 trillion budget that covers health programs for more than 130 million Americans.

Trump nominated Verma to head the CMS soon after his election in 2016. She was confirmed in March 2017.

Medicaid alone covers about one in 5 Americans, including vulnerable populations like pregnant women, newborns, elderly nursing home residents, and the severely disabled.

In many states, it is the single most important medical coverage for low-income residents.

In her new role, Verma will be working alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar with whom she has reportedly had such a “troubled working relationship” that Trump was recently forced to intervene.

According to Axios, Trump reportedly told both Verma and Azar that he was “fond” of them and they had to smoothen things out because healthcare would be on the ballot in 2020.

(Nikhila Natarajan can be contacted at @byniknat)

Sports

British PM rules out return of club cricket in wake of COVID-19 crisis

Following the conclusion of West Indies series, England will lock horns against Pakistan in three Tests and as many T20Is in August and September.

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Boris Johnson

London, July 3 : After referring to cricket ball as a natural vector of disease last month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes ‘teas’ and ‘changing rooms’ are some of the reasons why club cricket can’t return in the country.

Pubs and cafes are set to open in the country from July 4 but recreational cricket and club cricket in England haven”t recieved permission to go ahead yet.

“You made the same point about hairdressers and nail bars and it”s a valid point,” Johnson told LBC”s Nick Ferrari as per ESPNcricinfo. “There are reasons. You sound like Socrates there. These debates have gone round and round. There are various other considerations.

“The long answer, which I think probably Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer) would give if he were here about cricket, the risk is not so much the ball though that may be a factor, it”s the teas, the changing rooms and so on and so forth.

“There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis. You”ve taken me into a rabbit hole of detail when really what people understand is that this is a battle against a pandemic which we have fought so far with the use of social distancing measures and we are very largely winning,” he said.

International cricket, however, is set to return in the country with England taking on West Indies in a three-match Test series starting July 8 at the Ageas Bowl.

Following the conclusion of West Indies series, England will lock horns against Pakistan in three Tests and as many T20Is in August and September.

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Health

Except for Sindh, Pakistan Covid situation improving: Asad Umar

He also urged citizens to remain mindful of the fact that an improvement was only being seen because they were following precautionary measures.

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pakistan coronavirus

Islamabad, July 3 : Pakistan’s Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar on Friday said that while the country”s overall coronavirus situation was getting better, there was a significant lack of improvement in Sindh, particularly in the provincial capital Karachi.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the Minister said that the the number of deaths, patients admitted to hospitals and patients on ventilators has gone down, Dawn reported.

Crediting this development to citizens following precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus, Umar said if this continues, the country”s situation will continue to improve.

“However, there is only one area where we are not seeing that much improvement, which is in Sindh, especially Karachi,” he said.

He maintained that to address this, the National Command and Operation Centre team held a meeting with the provincial chief secretary and the provincial health minister and was working on a way to replicate the results in Sindh as in the rest of the country.

He also urged citizens to remain mindful of the fact that an improvement was only being seen because they were following precautionary measures.

“Don”t take this to mean that the pandemic is going away on its own and you can do whatever you want,” he cautioned, adding that a lapse in following preventive measures could cause the number of cases to rise again.

“I had earlier warned that our cases could reach 1.2 million by July end if we don”t take action or follow preventive measures. But because people are following precautionary measures and the administration is also taking action (things have been improving),” Umar added.

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World

Japan lodges protest with China over ships near disputed islets

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Shinzo Abe Japanese PM

Tokyo, July 3 : Japan on Friday said that it has lodged a protest with China over the intrusion by two China Coast Guard ships into Japanese territorial waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The two Chinese ships entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands at around 4:50 p.m. (local time) on Thursday and appeared to be trying to approach a Japanese fishing boat about 7 kms west of Uotsuri Island, according to the Japan Coast Guard.

As the two ships are still in territorial waters around the islands, which are administered by Japan but claimed by China, Tokyo has been demanding that the ships immediately leave the area, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

“We have been strongly urging (China) to stop trying to approach the Japanese fishing boat and leave our territorial waters immediately,” Suga said at a news conference, adding: “We will continue to deal with the matter calmly and resolutely.”

Japan Coast Guard patrol ships have been keeping a close watch on the Chinese ships and ensuring the safety of the Japanese fishing boat, according to Suga, the top government spokesman.

It is the first time since June 22 that a Chinese ship has entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkakus, which are called Diaoyu in Chinese, the japan times reported.

On that day, the city assembly of Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture passed a resolution to rename an administrative area covering the Senkaku Islands.

The name change from Tonoshiro to Tonoshiro Senkaku drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing.

China has sent its ships to waters around the islets for 80 days in a row, the longest streak since Japan put them under state control in September 2012, despite some recent thawing in bilateral relations that had been frayed over the Senkaku issue and conflicting views over history.

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