Covid-19 wrap | Food production a priority in the US, thousands die with coronavirus-like symptoms, and Japan names pachinko parlours


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US lockdown: Food production a priority as Covid-19 measures ease

As several US states start to lift their coronavirus lockdowns, one of the priorities will be repairing the nation's food supply chain.

The outbreak has significantly affected the US meat and dairy industries, with staff getting sick and products going to waste.

- Al Jazeera

Indonesia: More than 2 200 died with coronavirus-like symptoms

More than 2 200 Indonesians have died with acute symptoms of Covid-19 but were not recorded as victims of the disease, a Reuters review of data from 16 of the country's 34 provinces showed.

Three medical experts said the figures indicated the national death toll was likely to be much higher than the official figure of 765.

Indonesia has one of the lowest testing rates in the world, and some epidemiologists say that has made it harder to get an accurate picture of the extent of infections in the world's fourth-most populous country.

The most current data from the 16 provinces shows there were 2 212 deaths of patients under supervision because they had acute coronavirus symptoms. Indonesia's health ministry uses the acronym PDP to classify these patients when there is no other clinical explanation for their symptoms.

The data is collated by provincial agencies daily or weekly from figures supplied by hospitals, clinics and officials overseeing burials. It was obtained by Reuters by checking websites, talking to provincial officials and reviewing World Health Organisation (WHO) reports.

The 2 212 deaths were in addition to the deaths of 693 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 in those provinces and were officially recorded as victims of the disease.

The 16 provinces account for more than three-quarters of the country's 260 million population.

- Al Jazeera

Japan's ANA net profit dives 75% as virus hits air travel

Japanese airline ANA Holdings said on Tuesday its annual net profit dived 75%, hit by massive falls in demand and cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

For the fiscal year to March 2020, the firm logged a net profit of ¥27.6 billion ($258 million), while operating profit tumbled 63.2% to ¥60.8 billion, on sales of ¥1 974 billion, which were down 4.1%.

The carrier said it suffered a "dramatic decrease" in air transportation business.

"While ANA sought to reduce costs and combat the increase in expenses... the number of scheduled flights were significantly reduced to match the sudden decline in demand in the fourth quarter," it said in a statement.

The company did not release earnings forecasts for the current financial year, citing uncertainty over the pandemic.


Shame game: Japan names pachinko parlours bucking closure call

Japanese governors are turning to an old-fashioned weapon in a bid to get the country's pachinko gambling parlours to close during the coronavirus pandemic: naming and shaming.

The country is under a month-long state of emergency and officials have asked non-essential businesses to shut their doors.

But Japanese law does not allow the government to force closures, or punish those who stay open, leaving officials turning to a bit of public shaming in the hopes of obtaining compliance.

Spearheading the effort is Osaka governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, who has fended off critics who accuse him of unfairly pressuring businesses.

"It is very possible that infections spread at these places," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"I am not doing this to make examples out of them or to apply pressure. This is being done to ask Osaka residents not to go there."

Pachinko is an enormously popular form of gambling in Japan, involving a variety of machines that range from pinball types to some similar to slot machines.

Across the nation, roughly 10 000 establishments operate rows of colourful gaming machines often in large, windowless halls that blare loud music and electronic beeps with players given just enough space to sit next to one another to play.


Australia NRL fines players for quarantine breaches

Australia's National Rugby League heavily fined four players for breaching coronavirus lockdown rules on Tuesday, underlining the disciplinary difficulties facing the sport as it seeks to resume play next month.

The NRL said the punishments, which come with the threat of suspensions for further breaches, sent a strong message to players who are hoping to gather soon in Sydney to begin training under tight restrictions.

It said the offenders showed "blatant disregard for public health orders" and significantly damaged the NRL's reputation ahead of the planned restart.

"We are focused on resuming the competition on May 28, something our fans and stakeholders are excited about," NRL action chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement.

"Players who do not comply with community and NRL protocols will face sanction."

Three of the players - Latrell Mitchell from South Sydney Rabbitohs, Melbourne Storm's Josh Addo-Carr and Newcastle Knight Tyronne Roberts-Davis - went on a camping trip at Taree in rural New South Wales with friends over the weekend.

They were caught after footage of Addo-Carr shooting rifles and Mitchell riding trailbikes was posted on social media.

Another high-profile player, Nathan Cleary of the Penrith Panthers, apologised after photographs were published of him ignoring social distancing rules to party in a room full of women.

Mitchell and Addo-Carr were each fined A$50 000 ($32 000), with A$30 000 suspended, while Roberts-Davis and Cleary were ordered to pay A$10 000, with A$6 000 suspended.


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