In morgues and shipping containers, Ecuadorians search for lost dead

GUAYAQUIL/QUITO, Ecuador (Reuters) – Dolores Centeno has scoured the morgues and cemeteries of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, for two months searching for her father’s body.

Now, in a desperate last attempt to find him, she hopes to catch a glimpse of a scar on his chest that would set him apart from the dozens of other decomposing corpses in a newly-filled shipping container.

Like other families looking for their loved ones in the coastal city ravaged by the coronavirus, Centeno is praying the body of her 63-year-old father is among the more than 130 bodies that authorities say they are holding in such containers, awaiting identification.

Guayaquil in March and April faced a brutal outbreak of the virus that left bodies piling up in overwhelmed hospitals and corpses sitting for days in houses before authorities came to retrieve them, as morgues overflowed.

The government established a task force to collect cadavers and deployed the containers to store the mounting bodies.

But the chaos gave way to disorganization. Bodies were lost or misidentified, resulting in families looking for loved ones in morgues, hospitals and now, shipping containers, across the city.

Experts have so far identified 64 corpses through fingerprint recognition. They are also relying on family identification and more time-intensive genetic testing, according to Mario Corrales, the head of Ecuador’s Forensic Sciences Criminalistics Laboratory.

Centeno’s father passed away in late March, hours after being admitted to one of the city’s public hospitals with respiratory problems. There was no paper trail to identify what happened to him after he was admitted, said Centeno.

Forensic experts asked Centeno if her father had any identifying scars, Centeno said. “He had two, the largest from an open heart operation and the other from hernia surgery.”

Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo told reporters on Monday that the government was working with a team of forensic doctors and scientists to identify the bodies “and to be able to give an answer to every last family that went through this unfortunate situation.”

“Every day progress is made on this issue, little by little,” she said.

Ecuador has officially reported over 37,000 coronavirus cases and more than 3,000 deaths, but authorities acknowledge both figures are likely significant underestimates due to a lack of testing.

Jorge Wated, the head of the task force responsible for collecting the deceased, said on Twitter on May 2 there were over 8,200 more deaths than would normally be projected in the province of Guayas, where Guayaquil is located, during April alone.

Wated did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno dissolved the task force in early May as the death toll stabilized.

INVESTIGATION

The country’s attorney general has since launched an investigation into three public hospitals in Guayaquil over allegations that they did not follow protocol for identifying bodies, while the government has set up a website where people can search for deceased family members.

If a patient was registered by authorities, the location of their remains is recorded on the site. But many Ecuadorians still have no answers.

“I looked for her in a container and I did not find her; I looked for her in the cemetery, I did not find her there either, she is not on any list,” said Victor Hugo Orellana, who is looking for the body of his 72-year-old mother, whose body he said he released to the government in March to be buried.

Her remains have since gone missing. 

The Health Ministry and hospitals under investigation did not respond to request for comment.

The Ombudsman’s Office asked a local judge to award reparations to the families of the deceased and to speed up the identification process. Those already identified will be transferred to city cemeteries for burial.

“If they told me that they already found him and cremated him, how am I going to know that it is really him?” said Luis Alvarado, who has been searching for his younger brother’s body since late March.

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WHO says the Americas are new epicenter of coronavirus pandemic

BRASILIA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the Americas the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and now is not the time for countries to ease restrictions, officials said in a Tuesday briefing.

Carissa Etienne, WHO director for the Americas and head of the Pan American Health Organization, said via videoconference that outbreaks were accelerating in countries such as Brazil, where the number of deaths reported in the last week was the highest in the world for a 7-day period since the coronavirus pandemic began.

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NYSE to reopen trading floor closed by coronavirus

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York Stock Exchange will partially reopen the trading floors at its iconic 11 Wall Street building on Tuesday for the first time since March 20 when the bourse was forced to go all-electronic due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s (ICE.N) NYSE floor will be different, with protective masks, strict social distancing requirements, and just around a quarter of the people, NYSE Chief Commercial Officer John Tuttle said in an interview. Still, he says the reopening is meaningful.

“The floor represents so much more than the several tens-of-thousands of square feet it occupies,” he said. “It’s a symbol of America, and it’s a symbol of capital markets; it’s a symbol of the economy and after two months of the country and essentially the world being offline, we want to lead from the front.”

The NYSE said most of its designated market makers, who oversee trading in the exchange’s 2,200 listed companies, will continue to work from home, as will most exchange employees.

The 100 or so traders, regulatory, and operational staff heading into the building, in a still-largely deserted lower Manhattan, have been asked to avoid public transportation, and everyone entering will be screened for signs of the virus.

The NYSE floor is the last physical U.S. stock trading venue, as a slew of all-electronic competitors have emerged and eaten away at the Big Board’s once dominant market share.

Since the move to electronic-only trading, there have been no major disruptions, even with record volumes and volatility, prompting rivals to say the floor, where stocks have changed hands since 1792, has no real utility.

The NYSE says recent data show there was less volatility and tighter bid-ask spreads for NYSE-listed stocks when floor brokers were present, translating into millions of dollars a day in savings for investors.

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Hot weather could have affected initial coronavirus spread in Wuhan

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The report, published by researchers at Chengdu University on Information Technology in China, studied the monthly average temperature, humidity and downward short-wave ultraviolet radiation in the different provinces in China during the outbreak’s early stages. The research is the latest in a series of studies conducted in recent months that explain how weather conditions might change the contagion of the coronavirus.

The team of researchers said the function of the results they retrieved were incomplete, but they suggest that several meteorological factors may have contributed to forming the ideal breeding ground for the virus.

Analysing figures from the European Center for Long-Term Weather Forecast (ECMWF), the researchers compared the weather conditions with a number of confirmed infections from each region in China in January and February.

The results showed there are three key weather conditions in which the pathogen can thrive more.

Temperature is one of the conditions cited by the researchers who said the report “showed that COVID-19 cases were concentrated in the provinces with temperatures in [the] range of 0–10 degrees Celsius.”

Increased humidity and UV light from the sun are the other two key factors named by the researchers.

They also said that the strength of solar radiation may change how the virus spreads.

Places with a lower solar radiation saw a higher number of infections, according to the research.

Higher-elevation areas, which experience more powerful UV radiation due to their altitude, saw less contagion.

Regions with drier climates, and therefore fewer clods interfering with solar rays, also experienced less transmission.

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“The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has a high altitude (approximately 4,000 m) and is subjected to strong solar radiation, resulting in a higher amount of UV-B radiation reaching the surface,” the researchers wrote about a large region of 965,000 square miles in southwest China.

“The weather in the arid region of the Northwest is clear with fewer clouds, and the radiation received on the surface is higher than in other parts of China,” the researchers stated in the report.

“As a result, it may be difficult for COVID-19 to spread in the plateau or the arid area in the northwest due to high UV-B radiation.”

AccuWeather Meteorologist Michael Steinberg said there are diverse factors that condition how much UV radiation reaches the Earth and seasonality is key to it.

Mr Steinberg said: ”UV radiation is emitted by the sun in a near-constant amount, but the amount that reaches the Earth varies.

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“It is partially blocked by the ozone layer and some kinds of clouds, especially thick ones, and influenced to a lesser degree by pressure, surface elevation, humidity, and several other factors.

“But the most important factors are the latitude, time of day, and time of year – these three determine the maximum possible level of UV – the actual amount is then determined by the other factors.”

The researchers’ findings, as well as earlier studies on the transmission of seasonal influenza, reveal that even just a month of favourable meteorological variation can greatly decrease infection.

“A further understanding of the environmental factors that are prevalent in the development of COVID-19 will help predict the potential risks of the global spread of this disease, and provide support for the prevention and surveillance of countries around the world,” they wrote.

When observing the summer in the United Stated, Mr Steinberg said humidity levels, temperature and radiation will be notably higher than in the winter, when the outbreak flared up.

“The amount of water vapour in the air (absolute humidity) and the specific humidity are typically much higher in the summer season, because the hotter air can hold more water vapour,” Mr Steinberg said.

“When the relative humidity (which is what weather reports usually present) is 100% in the winter at a temperature of 30 F, there is only about half as much actual water vapour in the air as in the summer when the relative humidity is 25% but the temperature is 84 F.”

As well as an increment in humidity, the strength of solar radiation also rises substantially in the US during summer season, Mr Steinber said.

“The seasonal variation is much greater at higher latitudes,” he said, “but on average across the United States, the daily high UV Index level might be 8-9 in the summer and 2-3 in the winter.”

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Lufthansa says Germany approves stabilization package

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany’s new Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) has approved a 9 billion euro ($9.80 billion) stabilization package for Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), Germany’s flagship carrier said on Monday.

“The Executive Board also supports the package”, Lufthansa said, adding that the bailout still need consent from shareholders as well as the European Commission.

The bailout comprises an equity injection by the government, which will take a 20% stake by buying new shares at the nominal value of 2.56 euros apiece or for a total of about 300 million euros. The WSF plans to sell its shareholding by end-2023.

Separately, the WSF will make a capital contribution of 5.7 billion euros in the form of a so-called silent stake, which is unlimited in duration and can be terminated by company on a quarterly basis in whole or in part.

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A part of that silent stake can be swapped into an additional 5% equity stake if Lufthansa does not pay the coupon or Germany moves to protect Lufthansa against a takeover.

The coupon on the silent participation starts with 4% and rises to 9.5% by 2027.

The stabilization measures are supplemented by a syndicated credit facility of up to 3 billion euros with the participation of German state bank KfW and private banks with a term of three years.

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Exclusive: Ukraine's anti-graft bureau probes state tender for medical suits

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian anti-corruption officials are investigating a tender for 71,000 hospital protective suits during the coronavirus pandemic after the government for the first time bypassed its own procurement rules in the health sector.

Ukraine, long dogged by rampant corruption, has won rare praise from international donors for its efforts to overhaul procurement processes and tackle graft in its health system. The donors’ aid, which hinges on Kiev’s success in tackling graft, is sorely needed as a deep recession looms.

Asked about the tender, Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau (NABU) told Reuters it was working on a pretrial investigation into possible abuse of office after an unnamed lawmaker raised concerns on the issue. NABU gave no further details, saying that divulging information could harm its investigation.

The head of Medical Procurement of Ukraine (MPU), a state body set up in 2018 to combat corruption in the awarding of health sector contracts, accused the government of violating its own rules by overruling his agency’s choice for the tender and awarding the contract to a company that delivered the suits very late and at an inflated price.

“This practice is counterproductive and illegal,” Arsen Zhumadilov told Reuters in an interview.

The MPU handles procurement of medicines and medical equipment on behalf of the health ministry.

The health ministry denies any wrongdoing in the medical suits case and said it was forced to act due to Zhumadilov’s own mismanagement of the situation.

URGENT NEED

The row comes at a testing time for Ukraine, which has so far reported 21,245 cases of COVID-19, the lung disease caused by the new coronavirus, with 623 deaths. Medics accounted for about a fifth of Ukraine’s cases, highlighting the urgent need for more protective suits.

Last month MPU conducted a tender and awarded the contract to Textil-Kontakt, which had already supplied suits to hospitals. But the government voided the deal, saying Textil’s gear offered no better protection than a painter’s overalls and lacked the proper certification.

“(Doctors) need personal protective equipment. If, instead of a biological protection suit, a house painter’s overall is bought … well, I’m sorry,” Health Minister Maksym Stepanov told Reuters.

Textil and Zhumadilov said Textil’s suits fulfilled health ministry criteria. It had already made around 23,500 suits when the contract was cancelled, said Textil founder Oleksandr Sokolovsky.

The government then awarded the contract to a firm called Meddiv, which charged 489 hryvnias ($18) per suit, compared to Textil’s 245 hryvnias.

Meddiv did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Meddiv imported the suits from China, causing weeks of delay, and as of May 19 only around 29,000 had arrived in Ukraine, according to customs documents published by an opposition lawmaker.

Meddiv’s lack of experience in handling larger contracts or overseas shipments should have excluded it from the bidding process, Zhumadilov said.

“Our anti-corruption officer said that according to our procedures this company could not have qualified for our tender,” he added.

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UK PM Johnson's close aide Cummings broke lockdown rules: newspapers

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s closest adviser, Dominic Cummings, travelled more than 400 km from his London home after showing symptoms of coronavirus, breaking the government’s lockdown rules, the Guardian and Mirror newspapers reported on Friday.

Cummings, a polarising figure in Britain since he masterminded the successful campaign to leave the European Union in 2016, travelled to Durham in northern England in late March, when a strict lockdown was already in place, the reports said.

A spokesman for Johnson’s Downing Street office said it would make no comment. Cummings could not immediately be reached.

The opposition Labour Party said Downing Street should explain his actions. “The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings,” a spokeswoman said.

Johnson imposed a national lockdown on March 23, asking Britons to stay at home. Non-essential travel was not allowed.

On March 27, Johnson announced that he had tested positive for the virus. On the weekend of March 28-29, Cummings also developed symptoms of the virus. Downing Street said he was self-isolating at home. He returned to the office on April 14.

The Guardian and the Mirror reported that on March 31, police in Durham received a report that Cummings was staying at an address in the city.

“Officers made contact with the owners of that address who confirmed that the individual in question was present and was self-isolating in part of the house,” a spokesman for Durham police was quoted as saying in both newspapers’ reports.

“Officers explained to the family the guidelines around self-isolation and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel.”

No comment from Durham police was immediately available.

The two newspapers said that the property where Cummings stayed in Durham was his parents’ house.

The BBC’s political editor quoted a source close to Cummings as saying he did travel to Durham during lockdown but did not breach the rules as he needed his parents’ help with childcare while he was ill. Cummings and his wife have a young son.

The reports could put Cummings in a difficult position, after several senior people involved in the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak were forced to resign when it emerged that they had broken the lockdown rules.

Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson resigned from his role as a government advisor on May 5 after the Daily Telegraph reported he had met his girlfriend.

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood resigned on April 5 after she broke her own advice to stay at home by visiting her second home on two weekends.

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Ministers rejected school reopening plan recommended by Sage experts

A low-risk scenario where pupils in England would attend school on alternating weeks was presented to the government as the most likely way to gain popular support before ministers instead settled on their plan for a widespread reopening on 1 June, newly published papers have revealed.

The government’s plan for reopening schools to entire classes of reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils on 1 June was not among the nine scenarios modelled for Sage by the Department for Education. But one of the scientists’ preferred options of splitting classes and having pupils attend on alternate weeks, which they said had “particular potential merit”, was passed over.

The papers of scientific advice prepared for Sage and its subcommittees reveal high levels of uncertainty around different scenarios for school reopenings, and over the likelihood of transmission of the Covid-19 virus by children of different ages.

One of the most recent papers, discussing the effects of increasing school attendance on transmission, concludes: “There is substantial uncertainty, with the relative contribution of school openings being driven also by the relative susceptibility and infectivity of children of different ages compared to adults, as well as the extent to which social distancing is or is not sustained in the wider population.”

The stash of documents released by Sage and the government on Friday afternoon show the scientific advisers wrestling with questions of how easily children could transmit coronavirus, with the experts conceding that exposure outside the schoolyard was likely to be highly influential.

Collectively, the scientific advice appears to do little to assuage fears among parents and teachers over the potential risks in reopening schools to reception, year 1 and year 6 as soon as 1 June, as Boris Johnson pledged earlier this month. On Thursday the governments of both Scotland and Northern Ireland announced that schools in those countries would not return until after the summer holidays.

A modelling paper stated: “The modelling consistently suggests that resuming early-years provision has a smaller relative impact than primary school, which in turn has a smaller relative impact than resuming secondary schooling. However, this analysis does not incorporate potential for indirect impacts on contacts outside of school – which may differ by age of child.”

The modelling of infection spread – carried out by four institutions, including Public Health England – also did not account for the activities of children within schools: “It is important to understand what is going on inside of the school (eg physical distancing, hygiene measures, and more). The potential effect of such actions is not incorporated into the modelling.”

Sage looked at the modelling for nine different scenarios outlined by the Department for Education, from total closure to full reopening. But none of the published scenarios included the three year groups that the government eventually chose.

The committee that examined the modelling appeared to favour two scenarios that would have split both primary and secondary school classes and have different groups of children attend on alternate weeks, labelled scenario seven, which would have seen a low level of potential transmission according to the four results.

The recent paper on modelling continued: “Scenario 7 (alternating one/two weeks on, one/two weeks off) may be a good way to stop extensive transmission chains in schools. When this effect in schools is embedded into the wider community, the impact is less strong, but still has some value in reducing overall R.” But it added: “The modelling of Scenario 7 is the least robust of the scenarios, and further exploration is needed.”

Under “behavioural factors” the committee’s advice stated: “Scenario 7 is likely to be the most effective strategy to make school attendance normative. If steps are taken to synchronise attendance for families with multiple children, this may be the most effective at enabling parents to return to work.

“Scenario 7b, where children alternate in and out of school on a weekly basis, was perceived to be potentially preferable – both developmentally and practically – for young children and working parents.”

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The group looking at the role of children in transmission was most supportive of the reopening option involving split classes coming in on alternating weeks, across both primary and secondary schools.

“Although not initially one of the options proposed by DfE, options 7b (classes split in two, with children attending on alternate weeks) emerged from the joint discussions as having particular potential merit for further consideration,” according to one paper prepared for a meeting on 30 April, just days before Boris Johnson’s announcement on 10 May that primary schools would reopen.

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One paper prepared by Sage’s modelling and behavioural subgroups on 16 April warned that, as a result of school closures, some children would have “experienced a shock to their education which will persist and affect their educational and work outcomes for the rest of their lives”.

The experts conceded that “many children will adapt and be just fine”, with lockdown providing some families the chance to “bond more closely”, but they raised serious concerns about children who were already vulnerable, in particular those with special educational needs and disability.

A period of home learning, they added, would reinforce existing inequalities between children, while months off school would mean emerging learning difficulties were missed.

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Rudderless after a rally, stock markets look for next catalyst

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global equity markets have shuffled up about 1% this month despite the world starting to re-open after the coronavirus-driven lockdowns and U.S. and European economic data showing glimmers of a recovery.

The sideways movement is in sharp contrast to the roughly 30% rally in late March and April, when investors were able to shrug off far more dire economic data and look towards recovery backed by government support.

In some ways, not much has changed in the world’s understanding of the coronavirus and its economic impact. Some investors, economists and public health experts have been warning for weeks that re-opening will be slow, vaccines will take months and the recovery will be prolonged.

And yet, investors appear to be taking heed only now.

In interviews, investors said the explanation partly lies in the failure of the market’s collective wisdom. Stock markets misread how fast growth may rebound. And now they need a new catalyst, such as a vaccine or substantial new stimulus, before they can decide whether to flee or hold the course. But it is proving to be elusive.

“Markets have essentially been range bound for more than a month now waiting for a new driver to emerge,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz. He said that positive news on reopenings and vaccines were insufficient to compensate for the string of negative data and concerns about the sharpness of the recovery.

The market’s conundrum underscores a larger predicament facing global policymakers in the battle against the coronavirus. The $15 trillion-plus pledged in global stimulus inflated stock markets in April, as investors took heart that governments will not let the global economy completely melt down. But while the money kept economies afloat, it cannot engineer a recovery.

For that, the virus must first be brought under control.

(GRAPHIC: Dead cat bounce? – here)

TUG OF WAR

Kasper Elmgreen, head of equities at Europe’s largest asset manager, Amundi, described markets as caught in a “tug of war” between bull and bear forces.

Elmgreen described the bullish forces as “the extraordinary fiscal and monetary stimulus that came much faster and more forcefully than during the past crisis.”

On the other side, he said is persistent uncertainty over the pace and shape of economic and earnings recovery. Markets are being premature in pricing a return to normalcy even next year, he added.

“If there is light at the end of the tunnel, corporates are not seeing it,” said Elmgreen.

Indeed, measured against forward earnings, European and U.S. equities are trading back at early-March levels, when the COVID-19 impact was yet to be felt.

But with the world economy predicted to witness its biggest contraction since the Great Depression, U.S. and European earnings should decline 40-45% in the second quarter, Refinitiv data shows.

Influential U.S. investors David Tepper and Stanley Druckenmiller recently described markets as overvalued and with terrible risk-reward. Druckenmiller dismissed V-recovery hopes as “a fantasy”.

(GRAPHIC: Rebound in global equity valuations – here)

EARLY WARNINGS

To be sure, many investors and policymakers initially believed the economic impact of the crisis could be brief, supporting the market’s optimism.

But the stock market has a history of missing warning signals. In the current crisis, too, signs that it was not going to be smooth sailing got downplayed.

Paul O’Connor, head of multi-asset at Janus Henderson, said April “wasn’t a rally that said the world is feeling better about growth or a reappraisal of the macro environment.”

Nervousness was evident all along in bond yields that didn’t rise, gold’s 7% price gain and investors’ refusal to deploy the $4.7 trillion stashed in U.S. money market funds, he noted.

There were other loud warnings, too.

Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said as early as March 3 that it would take at least 12-18 months until a coronavirus vaccine is ready to be deployed. On April 7, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned against expecting a quick recovery, saying it was likely that activity will only be restarted gradually and may need to be slowed again if the virus resurges.

CUTTING RISK

The sobering calls are coming true. Experience of countries in Asia, which had dealt with the virus for longer than the West, show that even after months of lockdown, consumers won’t necessarily head out en masse to dine or shop, reducing the likelihood of a V-shaped recovery.

A slow, U-shaped recovery, or worse, a W-shaped double-dip is now expected by 75% of the investors polled by Bank of America Corp’s  securities division.

“We thought central bank interventions had taken out some of the tail risks in the market,” said Wouter Sturkenboom, who helps formulate investment strategy for $350 billion in client assets at Northern Trust Asset Management.

Sturkenboom added risk, including equities, to his portfolio during the March rout and stayed overweight through April. But last week he cut the weighting of risky assets by 7% in favour of cash and cash-like assets. 

“We worry that the initial bounce in growth will be smaller and more gradual than hoped for. The risk of a downside surprise looks about equal to the likelihood of an upside surprise at this point,” Sturkenboom said.  

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What’s going on? North Korea cracks down on ‘grasshopper markets’ – hint at internal chaos

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And the situation has become so bad at one point police used weapons on residents protesting at the situation, an insider has claimed. Officially, the Hermit State – led by Kim Jong-un – has no cases of the disease – but the knock-on impact on the country’s economy is proving a worry in itself.

Major marketplaces across the region have already been closed down, piling pressure on people who earn most of their income from side businesses selling a range of everyday goods such as clothes, cooking oil, meat and other food, because they struggle to live on government-assigned jobs which pay a monthly salary averaging barely £4 a month.

As a result, so-called grasshopper markets, named after merchants who grab their goods and flee at the first sign of trouble, have become increasingly common – prompting the authorities to launch a crackdown on these as well.

A resident of Ryanggang, who requested anonymity to speak freely, told RFA’s Korean Service Sunday: “Authorities shut down marketplaces in the province starting May 15 as part of their coronavirus measures.

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“The authorities are stepping up their crackdown to prevent us from starting up grasshopper markets.”

Hyesan, the province’s capital had three official markets, in Hyesin, Wiyon and Ryonbong markets, all open for three hours a day.

However, the source added: “But now these have been closed and the authorities are now starting to crack down on businesses that try to defy the closure.

“As most of the residents make their living in marketplaces, residents are getting angry that the government is shutting them down.

“Authorities aren’t paying attention to the livelihood of residents that have become more difficult due to the coronavirus crisis.”

The source said: “When Wiyon market shut down, some of the merchants opened a grasshopper market in the alley, but the cops showed up and kicked them out.”

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“They made even grasshopper markets unavailable, so now there is friction between groups of inspectors and residents.”

Residents are also becoming suspicious of the government’s motives, the insider said.

They added: “Is it really due to the coronavirus or is it a trick to drive residents to rural mobilisation?”

Another resident of Ryanggang told a similar story.

They said: “Residents protest fiercely when the cops come in and shut down grasshopper markets.

“Some of the merchants who have to close down when the police come by end up getting in shouting matches and physical fights in the grasshopper market.

“Most of the residents are living from hand to mouth.

“And they became even more desperate when authorities made the decision to shut down the markets.

“There was even a small disturbance in which residents protested in groups against the police, who tried to suppress them by actually using weapons against them.”

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