Can San Francisco’s Movie Theater Decision Sink the July 17 Opening of ‘Tenet’?

San Francisco Mayor London Breed Thursday announced that the city’s stage 3 reopening, which includes cinemas, is tentatively set for mid-August. That, of course, is a month later than the scheduled release of the first two major-studio films, “Tenet” (Warner Bros.) July 17 and “Mulan” July 24.

Is this a major blow for the chances that these two films will open nationally and worldwide? By itself — no. But in the larger context, possibly.

The plan affects only those theaters within the boundaries of the city of San Francisco, a city that accounts for about 900,000 people in a metropolitan area of about 4.8 million. For a normal, first-run wide release, that would mean just five theaters out of about 4,000 in North America. Even as top-grossing locations, they’re still small in terms of the total gross. For “Dunkirk,” which made over $50 million in its opening weekend, these theaters contributed less than $400,000.

However, the city San Francisco most closely resembles in its population density and high theater capacity is New York (population: 7 million). That city is already expected to lag in reopening behind most of the country, and this precedent could encourage it to follow suit. If that happens, that that might be decisive.

Less clear is the impact on Los Angeles, city (4 million people) and county (10 million, including the city). These have mostly acted in unison (with the county positioned as ultimate authority below state level). So far, LA has opened up a little ahead of San Francisco — though not as quickly as the rest of the country.

Warner Bros. is seven weeks away from the scheduled date for “Tenet.” If the film isn’t going to open, the announcement can’t be delayed much longer; logistics make that impossible. Assume the studio is consulting with local officials to get the best reading; if both New York and Los Angeles County can’t confirm readiness, the decision is more likely to delay. Even New York alone might be enough to change plans.

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Judd Apatow, Wanda Sykes to Perform for 'Laughter in Lockdown' Fundraiser

NY Laughs has partnered with the Actors Fund for a COVID-19 relief livestream, Laughter in Lockdown, featuring performances from notable comedians to support other entertainment professionals struggling during the pandemic. The two-hour event will air Friday, May 29th at 8:00 p.m. ET on the NY Laughs website.

Hosted by Mo Amer, Laughter in Lockdown will feature appearances and performances by Judd Apatow, Wanda Sykes, Ray Romano, Roy Wood Jr., Craig Robinson, Carl Reiner, Dave Attell, Gary Gulman, Gina Yashere, Ian Edwards, Jeff Ross, Jim Norton, Jon Fisch, Keith Robinson, Marina Franklin, Moody McCarthy, Pete Holmes, Robert Kelly, Ronny Chieng, Ted Greenberg, Sal Vulcano, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Vanessa Hollingshead and more.

The Actors Fund, originally founded in 1882, has been providing extensive COVID-19 relief to actors and other industry professionals during the pandemic. Earlier this month, the non-profit reportedly raised $10.5 million in financial assistance over eight weeks for COVID-related support.

Brian Stokes Mitchell, chairman of the board of the Actors Fund and participant in the Laughter in Lockdown livestream, said, “Looking at a number — even one as large as 10 million — doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. In an instant, our friends and supporters, people like Rosie O’Donnell, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley and others, began dreaming of entirely new fundraising models that would prove to be nothing short of lifesaving. In all my years working with the Fund, I’ve never been so moved, so inspired, or so grateful.”

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Special needs people hit hard by circuit breaker

Teenager Amanda Khoo begs her mother to take her outdoors, but refuses to wear a mask when she steps out despite her family’s best efforts.

This is not because she lacks social responsibility. Rather, the 18-year-old has severe autism and cannot understand why she needs to stay at home or wear a mask.

Autism, clinically referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder and is characterised, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive behaviour.

The circuit breaker period in Singapore to curb and contain the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on Amanda’s family as her meltdowns have become a daily occurrence.

Like many autistic children, Amanda, who is non-verbal, gets frustrated when familiar routines are disrupted. She stomps her feet, screams in frustration and hits her head, including at night.

“I wake up every day with a heavy heart, wondering if it’s going to be a more difficult day. But we take it one day at a time,” says her mother, who works in education and wants to be known only as Madam K. Ooi.

She adds: “You can’t reason with a severely autistic child.”

Before the circuit breaker period, the teenager’s routine included school and going to a student care centre for special needs children on weekdays. There were also outings every Sunday to a mall, the supermarket or Changi Airport.

Senior psychologist Cindy Kua, who founded mental health therapy centre SkillBuilders, says routine helps to give people with autism spectrum disorder a sense of stability and security.

“Even for adults with typical functioning, staying at home for one month can be challenging, all the more for people with special needs who tend to have lower tolerance,” says Ms Kua, 39, whose special needs clients comprise children and young adults.

She says most of her clients were coping relatively well last month. However, in recent weeks, parents told her their children have become more irritable and are insisting on going back to school.

RESOURCES

Caregivers can access a range of resources online to help them tide through the pandemic.

1 Inclusive arts movement Superhero Me has produced a learning package to help children and people with disabilities understand routine changes due to the pandemic.

The package includes a photo slideshow with videos and a comic strip. It was created with the support of Dr Lim Hong Huay, an epidemiologist and paediatrician; Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases expert; Eden School and the Lien Foundation. Go to superherome.sg/covid19

2 Dear Doctor, a series of weekly discussions from May 14 to June 4, aims to give parents of special needs children practical tips to cope with common challenges.

Helmed by the Lien Foundation and the National University Hospital’s child development unit, the sessions are held over Zoom and livestreamed every Thursday night.

Go to facebook.com/JourneywithGeorge

3 The Enabling Guide is an online resource by SG Enable, an agency set up by the Ministry of Social and Family Development to support people with disabilities. The website has information on disability schemes and services, and educational resources for caregivers to use.

Go to enablingguide.sg

The return of students to special education schools will be staggered from June 2. All students will be back in school by June 8.

Mrs Florence Choy says her son Julian, 16, who has moderate autism, misses going to school, working out at the gym and having play dates with his friends.

The 54-year-old business operations director recalls an incident in late April when he put on his uniform and insisted on going to school. She drove him there and he ate lunch during the 20-minute drive, as he usually did.

“I had to slowly drive past the school gates six times to show him the school was temporarily closed. We did a video call with his teachers, who showed him they were at home and reminded him there was no school,” says Mrs Choy. She also has a daughter, 13, who attends a mainstream school.

Julian, she adds, has been more frustrated in recent weeks and sometimes hits other members at home when he has a meltdown.

Frustration aside, the circuit breaker has also triggered anxiety among some who are autistic.

Mr Sean Bay, 25, who has mild to moderate autism, makes it a point every year to watch the National Day Parade with his friends, who are fellow Pathlight School alumni, either at the parade venue or from a vantage point.

Anxious about how the parade will be scaled down due to the pandemic, the part-time digital animation student at the Institute of Technical Education expressed his feelings by drawing parade participants donning masks and practising safe distancing.

His mother, content producer Koh Joh Ting, says: “He watches the parade religiously every year. It’s a huge event in his personal calendar.”

CAREGIVER BURNOUT

Dr Koh Hwan Cui, principal psychologist at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s (KKH) department of child development, says children with developmental needs and their parents have to cope with the new normal of staying home like everyone else.

However, these children may face more difficulty managing anxiety, changes in routines and stress, due to their communication, socio-emotional and behavioural needs.

Having to be teacher and therapist to their children during this period of home-based learning can be challenging for some parents as they may also be balancing work or household responsibilities, says Dr Koh.

When everyone else in the family has gone to bed, Mrs Choy stays up to spend some time alone. She realises she has been sleeping late, sometimes as late as 2am, since the circuit breaker period started as there are more responsibilities to tend to during the day.

Enter their world to discover what they like

“When everyone goes to bed, I just want to cling on to the quiet moment. Sometimes, I have the television on and I’m mindlessly watching it. It’s important to have that personal space,” she says, adding that she also does yoga to unwind.

For Madam Ooi, it is difficult to take a breather by taking Amanda out for even a quick walk in the neighbourhood when her daughter has a meltdown. The teenager yanks off her mask immediately after her mother puts it on.

“Her teachers have put together a nice story about mask-wearing. But Amanda has not worn a mask before and it is tough for her to understand, ‘why now?’. She doesn’t even allow us to put a plaster on her wound,” says Madam Ooi.

Dr Koh from KKH says: “Wearing a mask can be difficult for children aged two and older and those with developmental needs. For example, some children with autism or those with sensory issues may find it even more uncomfortable having something covering their mouth and nose.”

Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah said in Parliament on May 5 that children with special needs, accompanied by their parents, also need to go outdoors for some fresh air during the circuit breaker period.

She said children with ASD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, in particular, need this for self-regulation, and called on everyone to be more understanding when they see a parent with a special needs child outdoors.

“Sometimes, the children – and they could be adult children – will not be wearing a mask. The Government understands and has stated that enforcement will be flexible for such persons,” she said.

FINDING WAYS TO COPE

For some people with special needs, it helps to tap outlets such as the arts and cooking to keep themselves engaged at home.

Mr Bay – whose art has been featured on public transport and merchandise by The Art Faculty, which promotes the works of students with autism – has been honing his artistic skills on various software platforms.

Meanwhile, Ms Magdalene Ong has kept her son Chalmers Wong, 15, who has moderate to severe autism, occupied with cooking and his other hobbies, such as painting, sand art and playing the piano.

She has taught him to prepare more than 10 dishes, such as hor fun (fried flat rice noodles) and chicken wings, since the circuit breaker period started.

“To engage special needs children, you need to enter their world to discover what they like and develop their interests,” says Ms Ong, who has also experienced more challenges in caring for her son during this time.

His tantrums in recent weeks involve kicking and screaming, especially when he struggles to understand new concepts introduced in home-based learning.

Ms Ong, 49, who declines to give her occupation, says: “In the first or second week of the circuit breaker, he started screaming in the middle of the night and this went on for at least half an hour.”

Chalmers, who was a bowling champion in competitions such as last year’s Singapore Sports School Para Games, also misses his favourite activities.

He has written down a list of places he wants to visit when it is possible to do so again, such as church, Jurong Point and Marina Square. “He shows the list to me and puts it beside his bed like a teddy bear, although he seems to understand now that he has to stay at home,” says Ms Ong.

Despite these struggles, she says one silver lining of the pandemic is that she has learnt new things about Chalmers, such as how he is able to empathise with her. She recalls an incident when, overwhelmed, she screamed and told him she was stressed by his tantrums. This prompted an unexpected reaction from Chalmers.

“He said he doesn’t want me to die. He associates stress with death because a few relatives died recently, mostly due to heart attacks. The next day, he did not throw any tantrums and I rewarded him with his favourite KFC meal.”

Caring for people with special needs

Parents can find safe ways to organise physical activities at home if their children with developmental needs enjoy going outdoors, says Dr Koh Hwan Cui, principal psychologist at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s department of child development.

She encourages parents to consider their children’s interests and strengths when planning activities for them.

For example, they can have obstacle races or get the children to dance to music, she says.

If the children do not want to take part in a new activity, parents can take the lead by doing it first and showing them it can be enjoyable, says Dr Koh.

For example, if the kids do not want to exercise, parents can go ahead with the exercise and continue doing it for a week. This shows the children they are also committed to exercising in the stay-at-home schedule.

“Parents are encouraged to provide their children with a variety of activities at home that includes physical exercises, learning and play activities,” she says.

She also cautions against allowing unlimited screen time to keep the children occupied, as research shows excessive screen time is associated with an increased risk of obesity and sleep problems. Poor sleep is also linked to depression, anxiety, hyperactivity and inattention.

She encourages parents to stop all screen activities at least an hour before the children’s bedtime.

Screen time can also be spent watching meaningful and developmentally appropriate programmes and engaging the children in discussions or activities related to these programmes, she adds.

On wearing masks when leaving the house, Dr Koh says parents can consider using games or their children’s favourite activities to have practice sessions at home. They can designate the area near the main door as the “mask-on area” and mark it with a picture of a person wearing a mask.

“They can provide labelled praises, for example, ‘Jay, good job keeping your mask on’ and lots of positive attention such as smiles and high-fives, or tangible rewards like a favourite sticker when the child wears the mask for a specific amount of time,” says Dr Koh.

Meanwhile, epidemiologist and paediatrician Lim Hong Huay says caregivers can try to stick to their children’s usual routines. “Try to get a sense of the child’s routine in school or at the early intervention centre and think of what it looks like in the family setting.”

Activities like a school-bus ride can be replaced with a car ride or a walk to the bus stop and back home. Visual and verbal cues, such as saying “school time”, can also help the child transit to home-based learning, says Dr Lim, who is a mother of three, two of whom have autism.

She led the development of Echo, a framework for early childhood intervention in Singapore.

She says: “See what the child is used to, what you can replace and see what the family is typically doing and who can help with responsibilities.”

She adds that parents and caregivers should also take time to practise self-care, for example, by getting their exercise fix.

“Carve out time for yourself and know what tops up your emotional tank. I think that is the most important thing to help us survive.”

Prisca Ang

Read the latest on the Covid-19 situation in Singapore and beyond on our dedicated site here.

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So much time, so little to do: My pursuit of hobby-ness during quarantine

SINGAPORE – I like to think that extroverts have had it the hardest during the circuit breaker.

This is what I tell anyone who will listen, but really, it is a watery excuse for how poorly I have adapted to the last three months of staying home.

Before, much of my life was motivated by Fomo – the fear of missing out. Whatever free time I had was spent checking out trendy restaurants and catching new exhibitions and theatre shows. Rarely did I “waste” it at home. I imagine many others felt the same.

Now, confronted with the prospect of no more outdoor socialising, people have retreated indoors and inwards to occupy themselves with hobbies.

Crafts, cooking, creative activities that make them happy which they used to have no time for. And shockingly, I have come to realise that I have none of the sort.

When did I get so boring?

My last real hobby was in primary school, when I crafted mini furniture out of beads, wood and foam pieces. They brought me immense joy, especially when I started selling boxed “bedroom sets” to classmates (a whole other story about monetising your hobby).

Later, I grew a passion for music – but singing for fun flew out the window when I turned it into my co-curricular activity.

Over the years, going out and attending events replaced my need to cultivate quiet pastimes at home.

As the concept of hobbies returns to our collective consciousness, so has a new form of Fomo. Scrolling through social media, I am hyper-aware of how everyone else is indulging in creative pursuits.

One friend has returned to her university hobby of painting, capturing gorgeous sunset vistas of the sea view from her apartment. Another is furiously crocheting as if on a mission to double her pillow count at home.

Some have rediscovered their calling as bookworms; others have become bona fide fitness bunnies. To say nothing of the sudden home bakers and chefs who have crawled, nay, burst out of the woodwork during quarantine.

The resulting anxiety can be paralysing. On my end, I have tried to keep up and dabble in various pastimes too. I revisited past hobbies – playing the ukulele, photography – and flirted with new ones – exercise and baking.

But these feelings of accomplishment are always fleeting; gone the moment I post about them on social media. And how can anything that I do for the ‘gram bring me true happiness?

I check in with my 16-year-old brother, who confirms he too has no hobbies in this time, apart from computer games. Occasionally this worries him.

“Do you feel like you’re not developing as a person?”

Yes, he says, and so he has taken up a course on data analysis offered by his school. I am slightly repulsed, but impressed at what schools are teaching their students these days.

So I am back to square one – hobby-less and purposeless. Rather than feel like a jack of all trades and master of none, I fill my days with TV shows and movies, always swallowing a sense of shame at how uncreative I have turned out to be.

Desperate for some sign that I am not in this hobby rut alone, I take to mass-following Instagram accounts run by social media-savvy psychologists. Their pastel-hued posts reassure me that taking time to just sit with my feelings in a global crisis is warranted; that everyone copes differently; and that productivity is not, in fact, a measure of self-worth.

My favourite, a cheery quote that puts it quite simply: “You are only unproductive by the standards of the world we lived in two months ago. That world is gone now.”

I repost one on Instagram as a “public service”, to which a friend promptly replies: “Hobbies don’t have to be productive by the way – just whatever makes you happy or relaxed.”

She adds: “We don’t have to be churning out cakes or calligraphy lmao.”

For all the professional adviceI have been trying to imbibe, it is this one personal lmao (laughing my a** off) that rocks me into realisation: Why expend more emotional energy into forcing myself into a hobby? Ultimately, nothing I tried has made me happier than being in my Netflix black hole.

Could it be that I don’t have to constantly occupy myself to lead a meaningful life?

Yes, I decide, as I proceed to download Amazon Prime Video. If finding a hobby stresses me out more, then the purpose of even having it is defeated.

For every quarantine overachiever out there, there is an unproductive blob coming to terms with how little they are getting done. This blob is slowly but finally making peace with the fact that hobbies should be developed organically, and not sought out just because everyone on social media has one.

It will take time – and that, I have plenty.

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Guns N' Roses Postpone North American Stadium Tour

Guns N’ Roses are rescheduling their North American stadium tour “out of an abundance of caution,” presumably due to the coronavirus crisis. The trek was originally slated to kickoff on July 4th during Milwaukee’s Summerfest and wrap on August 26th at Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, Montana. The Smashing Pumpkins were set to open select dates during the tour. Guns N’ Roses also canceled their European tour, which was scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

“GN’R fam, some news: The North American tour is being rescheduled out of an abundance of caution,” the band posted on Twitter. “We will share the updated schedule as soon as the dates are finalized & all tickets will be honored accordingly.

“If you are a ticket holder and would prefer a refund, please visit Livenation.com/refund for your options,” the band continued. “Thank you for your understanding during this time as we look forward to coming back together very soon.”

Earlier this month, the band released a T-shirt that reads “Live N’ Let Die With COVID 45,” which looks to be a direct damning reference to President Trump’s tour of an Arizona factory making N95 masks for the federal government. During Trump’s factory visit, where he went maskless despite signs stating that masks were required, workers blasted the band’s cover of the James Bond theme song from Wings, “Live and Let Die.” Singer Axl Rose and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also had a heated Twitter exchange, which appeared to be over Mnuchin’s recommendation to travel domestically, despite numerous health officials’ recommendations to shelter at home.

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Justin Baldoni’s Wayfarer Studios Launches Social Distancing-Themed ‘Six Feet Apart Experiment’ Filmmaking Competition

EXCLUSIVE: Jane The Virgin alum Justin Baldoni has taken the concept of his film Five Feet Apart and turned it into a new $50,000 filmmaking competition that speaks to the age of COVID-19. Baldoni’s Wayfarer Studios and Wayfarer Entertainment have launched “The Six Feet Apart Experiment” to empower creatives with the access, opportunity and resources to produce innovative and socially impactful films during the current pandemic.

Released last year and directed and produced by Baldoni, Five Feet Apart starred Hayley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse as two patients with cystic fibrosis who make a romantic connection, but are unable to interact because of their illness. As a result, they must maintain a safe distance between them — which certainly speaks to the time.

“The idea came from true creative collaboration within our organization,” Baldoni told Deadline. “D’Angela Proctor, Wayfarer Entertainment’s CEO and I were on one of our weekly catch up calls when she told me she had a crazy idea to make a film during quarantine for very little money. She pitched me the bones of something really exciting that could be done cheaply a la The Blair Witch Project or Searching and that’s when the idea for the competition hit me.”

Baldoni said that this was “bigger than us” and built on that. “I remember all the hairs standing up on my arm and I asked her how she would feel if instead of us making the movie, we made it a national competition and empowered fresh filmmakers to make their own,” he continued. “She flipped it and said we had to do it. I then brought in Labid Aziz who is a partner and Wayfarer Studio’s new COO/CFO into the conversation and together as a family on FaceTime at 11pm on a Saturday we decided to create ‘The Six Feet Apart Experiment’.”

“The Six Feet Apart Experiment” challenges filmmakers and storytellers by pushing them to step outside the box, look past social isolation and use these current circumstances to fuel their creativity.

“I had no idea that our world would look the way it does just a year later,” Baldoni said about his film. “I just wanted to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis — it’s CF awareness month by the way — and show that you could make a teen movie with no sex (and no touching) built solely off chemistry and character development that could be a commercial success.”

He continues, “Look, no one could have predicted we would be all living like the characters from that film, but my hope is that the experience of watching FFA can give people compassion for what it’s like to live in a pre and post COVID-19 world as an immune-suppressed person. We have to realize that we are staying home and wearing masks to protect our most vulnerable. This is not our rights being taken away… this is love.”

Submissions from aspiring filmmakers, including screenwriters, directors and/or producers for scripted and experimental feature-length storytelling projects, will be accepted through June 5 (applicants can submit as individuals or as a team). The film doesn’t necessarily have to have a specific genre, but “they must capture the spirit of Wayfarer to create radically sincere content that celebrates and elevates the human spirit.”

On June 22, up to five filmmakers will be selected and they will be paired with a seasoned storyteller who will mentor them throughout the production process. Wayfarer Studios and Wayfarer Entertainment will provide the winners with $50,000 in production financing and in-kind services. As the title of the competition suggests, all projects must be filmed with social distancing guidelines in mind and feature innovative filmmaking techniques. This includes webcams, mobile phones, user-generated and sourced footage. Filmmakers are asked to submit pitches for original stories – screenplays or experimental – with complete scripts encouraged but not required. For a full list of guidelines visit www.sixfeetapartexperiment.com.

“I hope it brings not just a moment, but a surge or a wave of creativity,” he said of the competition. “I hope it inspires people from all over the country, young and old, from all communities and in particular communities we don’t often see represented on screen. This is the time when the blades are sharpened and the gold is melted in the fire. Some of the most beautiful moments in my last two films came when all our plans flew out the window and preparation met the opportunity to pivot and adapt.”

“This is a time for creatives to adapt and use their genius to create something we haven’t seen before. I’m so excited to see not just what people come up with, but to see people pushing cinema forward in a new way,” he adds. “Over the last hundred years, when the world is in the most pain and turmoil, it’s the creatives who always find ways to bring us hope and lift us up. It doesn’t come from us, but through us, and I believe deeply that this virus as terrible and devastating as it has been for millions and millions of people around the world also presents an opportunity to create a new normal. To push our civilization and industries forward. And what better way to see what’s possible in cinema then to reach out to the undiscovered voices in our country and give them the chance to have their voices heard and create.”

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China reports no new COVID-19 cases as Wuhan prepares to test citizens

China reports no new coronavirus cases after recent infections raised second spike fears as Wuhan prepares to test ALL 11million citizens in 10 days

  • China reported no new native infections and one imported case on Tuesday
  • It comes after officials had registered double-digit growths two days in a row
  • Wuhan recorded a new cluster over the weekend, raising fears of another wave
  • The city has reportedly ordered all citizens to be tested in a ’10 day great battle’ 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

China reported no new domestic coronavirus infections on Tuesday, after two consecutive days of double-digit increases fuelled fears of a second wave of infections.

The news came as the government of Wuhan ordered its districts to test all of their residents in the next 10 days to prevent a fresh outbreak, according to a directive.

China has largely brought the virus under control, but it remains on edge, fearful that a virus rebound could undermine its efforts to get the economy back up and running.

China reported no new domestic coronavirus infections and one imported case on Tuesday. Pictured, a worker in Wuhan checks a woman’s temperature before allowing her to take a taxi

China has largely brought the virus under control, but it remains on edge, fearful that a virus rebound could undermine its efforts to reboot its economy. Pictured, a worker watches screens showing the temperature of passengers at a train station in Wuhan on Tuesday

A new cluster reappeared over the weekend in the city of Wuhan, where the pandemic first emerged, while Shulan in north-eastern China was placed under lockdown on Sunday after another outbreak emerged.

Shulan, a city of around 600,000 people in Jilin province, had registered 12 COVID-19 cases in the space of two days, all linked to the same source. A 13th case was reported yesterday.

The Chinese National Health Commission has set out a team of experts to Shulan to help it fight the disease, according to a spokesperson of the Commission.

The Wuhan government yesterday ordered all of its 11million citizens to be tested for COVID-19 in a ’10 day great battle’ to avoid a comeback of the killer infection.

It came after officials reported the first cluster of infections in Wuhan since a lockdown on the central Chinese city was lifted a month ago, stoking concerns of a wider resurgence of the disease.

The order for all citizens to undergo testing appeared in an emergency document issued last night by the Wuhan counter-epidemic command centre, it is reported. A grade-three student of Hubei Wuchang Experimental High School is pictured receiving nucleic acid test on April 30

The five new confirmed cases in Wuhan all live in the same residential compound. One of them was the wife of an 89-year-old male patient reported a day earlier in the first confirmed case in the city in more than a month.

The order for all citizens to undergo testing appeared in an emergency document issued last night by the Wuhan Command Centre for the Control and Prevention of Coronavirus Pneumonia Epidemic to all of its district branches, reported Chinese news outlets, including The Paper and Beijing News.  

All districts must submit their official plans on how to organise the medical checks by noon today and will have 10 days to carry out nucleic acid tests on their residents, it is understood.

The nucleic acid test detects the presence of the novel coronavirus in a person’s body. 

More than one million Wuhan residents have already undergone tests, but the scale of testing is ‘not enough’, an insider told the press. Residents of Wuhan are pictured riding their bicycles 

More than one million Wuhan residents have already undergone nucleic acid tests in the past. However, the scale of testing is ‘not enough’ to effectively prevent a new outbreak, according to Shanghai-based news outlet Yicai, citing an insider.

It remains unclear if those who have been tested would be included in the new testing plan. 

All of the latest confirmed cases were previously classified as asymptomatic, people who test positive for the virus and are capable of infecting others but do not show clinical signs such as a fever.

The number of asymptomatic cases in China is not known, as they only appear on the radar of health officials when they show up positive during tests conducted as part of contact tracing and health checks.

In Wuhan (pictured), 3,869 people have died of COVID-19, and 50,339 have so far been infected, according to Hubei Provincial Health Commission. The country’s official death toll remains at 4,633, while the total number of infections in the mainland is 82,919

On Monday, China’s National Health Commission reported 17 new cases, five of them in Wuhan. Seven of the new cases were imported.

A day earlier, China announced the first double-digit increase in nationwide cases in nearly 10 days, saying 14 new infections had been confirmed.

For the 27th consecutive day, there were no deaths reported. One imported case was recorded in the province of Inner Mongolia.

The country’s official death toll remains at 4,633, while the total number of infections in the mainland is 82,919.

In Wuhan, 3,869 people have died of COVID-19, and 50,339 have so far been infected, according to Hubei Provincial Health Commission. 

Last month, the city revised its coronavirus death toll up by 50 per cent. The move sparked further doubts over the authenticity of China’s official COVID-19 figures.

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Blood plasma Covid-19 treatment set to be trialled at London hospital

Hundreds of NHS coronavirus patients are to be treated with the blood plasma of virus survivors as part of trial into the promising therapy at St Thomas’ hospital

  • Hope is antibodies in recovered patients can boost immune system in sufferers 
  • Currently enough plasma to treat 143 people and transfusions to begin ‘in weeks’
  • If effective, therapy would be scaled-up nationally to treat 5,000 patients a week
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Hundreds of NHS coronavirus patients will be given the blood of virus survivors as part of a new treatment being trialled at London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital.   

The hope from the trial, which has now started, is that antibodies in recovered patients’ blood can bolster the struggling immune system of infected people.  

The treatment – used for around a century for other infections – works using the liquid part of the blood, known as convalescent plasma.

This antibody-rich plasma is injected into critically unwell COVID-19 patients who are struggling to produce their own antibodies, with hopes it can help clear the virus.

Last week, NHS Blood and Transplant began collecting blood from survivors – including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who fell ill with the virus in March.

There is currently enough plasma to treat 143 patients and transfusions will begin in weeks, according to hospital bosses. 

If effective, the treatment would be scaled-up nationally to provide up to 10,000 units per week, enough for 5,000 patients.  

The health secretary posted the image on Twitter as a nurse took blood from his arm on Saturday

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) photos show former patients making the donation in a process known as plasmapheresis. Pictured: Laura Martin at Tooting Blood Donor Centre, south west London

Guy´s and St Thomas´ hospital is set to trial a potential treatment for Covid-19 using the blood plasma from recovered patients (Ian Nicholson/PA)

More than 6,500 people have registered their interest to take part in the trial in London. 

Donating takes around 45 minutes and medics filter the blood through a machine to remove the plasma, in a process known as plasmapheresis. 

Donors must have tested positive for the illness either at home or in hospital, but should now be three to four weeks into their recovery, ideally 29 days. 

The promising therapy, which was first used a century ago in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, has been used already in China and the US. 

Plasma exchange is carried out by a specially trained nurse. A person’s vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels) are checked before, during and after the exchange and any changes will be recorded.

During the procedure, a patient is monitored for any side effects and the appropriate treatment is administered if needed. An Optia machine automatically takes the blood, spins it, collects the plasma into a bag and returns fresh plasma or albumin to the person, along with their blood cells.

The patient is asked to remain on a bed throughout the procedure and to stay fairly still. This is to ensure a smooth flow of blood being removed from the veins and replacement fluid being returned.

But the person should be able to sit up on the bed to read, eat or drink while they are connected to the exchange machine. Once the main part of the exchange is complete, the remaining fluids are returned and the person is disconnected from the machine.

Source: NHS

When someone contracts coronavirus, their immune system produces antibodies which attack the virus.

The antibodies build up over a month and are stored in the plasma, ready to be released if the virus enters their body again. 

There is no cure for the killer coronavirus and thousands of patients worldwide are involved in trials of promising medicines.

A key advantage to the blood based therapy is that it’s available immediately and relies only drawing blood from a former patient.

It is also significantly cheaper than developing a new drug, which costs millions to take through trials and regulation before mass production. 

Infusing patients with blood plasma has also been used to tackle SARS and MERS, two similar coronaviruses, as well as the deadly infection Ebola. 

Plasma makes up around 55 per cent of all blood volume and provides the liquid for red and white blood cells to be carried around the body in.

By injecting this into patients it can provide their bodies with a vital dose of crucial substances called antibodies.

Antibodies can only be created by people who have already been infected and learnt how to fight off an infection, such as SARS-CoV-2. 

It may be the best hope for COVID-19 patients while scientists work to develop new, specific treatments for the disease.

The first donations of the plasma in the UK have been collected and transfusions will begin in ‘the coming weeks’, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre said. 

The hospital says if the trials prove the treatment to be effective, NHS Blood and Transplant will begin a national programme to deliver up to 10,000 units of convalescent plasma per week to the NHS, enough to treat 5,000 patients each week.

The trial is co-led by Dr Manu Shankar-Hari, a consultant in intensive care medicine at the hospital, along with experts from NHS Blood and Transplant and the University of Cambridge.

Dr Shankar-Hari said: ‘As a new disease, there are no proven drugs to treat critically ill patients with COVID-19. Providing critically ill patients with plasma from patients who have recovered… could improve their chances of recovery.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘This global pandemic is the biggest public health emergency this generation has faced and we are doing absolutely everything we can to beat it.

‘The UK has world-leading life sciences and research sectors and I have every hope this treatment will be a major milestone in our fight against this disease.

‘Hundreds of people are participating in national trials already for potential treatments and the scaling up of convalescent plasma collection means thousands could potentially benefit from it in the future.’  

Previous research has suggested that antibodies drawn from the blood of COVID-19 survivors improves the symptoms of patients severely ill with the disease.

Scientists in China who carried out the preliminary study said no serious adverse reactions were observed after convalescent plasma transfusion.

Ten patients received a 200ml dose of plasma, and researchers said all clinical symptoms, which also included fever and cough, subsided within three days.  

WHAT IS CONVALESCENT PLASMA AND WHERE HAS IT BEEN USED?

Convalescent plasma has been used to treat infections for at least a century, dating back to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.  

It was also trialed during the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza virus pandemic, 2003 SARS epidemic, and the 2012 MERS epidemic. 

Convalescent plasma was used as a last resort to improve the survival rate of patients with SARS whose condition continued to deteriorate.

It has been proven ‘effective and life-saving’ against other infections, such as rabies and diphtheria, said Dr Mike Ryan, of the World Health Organization.

‘It is a very important area to pursue,’ Dr Ryan said.

Although promising, convalescent plasma has not been shown to be effective in every disease studied, the FDA say.

Is it already being used for COVID-19 patients?

Before it can be routinely given to patients with COVID-19, it is important to determine whether it is safe and effective through clinical trials.

The FDA said it was ‘facilitating access’ for the treatment to be used on patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections’.

It came after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that plasma would be tested there to treat the sickest of the state’s coronavirus patients.  

COVID-19 patients in Beijing, Wuhan and Shanghai are being treated with this method, authorities report. 

Lu Hongzhou, professor and co-director of the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre, said in February the hospital had set up a special clinic to administer plasma therapy and was selecting patients who were willing to donate. 

‘We are positive that this method can be very effective in our patients,’ he said.

Meanwhile, the head of a Wuhan hospital said plasma infusions from recovered patients had shown some encouraging preliminary results.

The MHRA has approved the use of the therapy in the UK, but it has not been revealed which hospitals have already tried it. 

How does it work? 

Blood banks take plasma donations much like they take donations of whole blood; regular plasma is used in hospitals and emergency rooms every day.

If someone’s donating only plasma, their blood is drawn through a tube, the plasma is separated and the rest infused back into the donor’s body.

Then that plasma is tested and purified to be sure it doesn’t harbor any blood-borne viruses and is safe to use.

For COVID-19 research, people who have recovered from the coronavirus would be donating.  

Scientists would measure how many antibodies are in a unit of donated plasma – tests just now being developed that aren’t available to the general public – as they figure out what’s a good dose, and how often a survivor could donate.

There is also the possibility that asymptomatic patients – those who never showed symptoms or became unwell – would be able to donate. But these ‘silent carriers’ would need to be found via testing first.

Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda is working on a drug that contains recovered patients antibodies in a pill form, Stat News reported. 

Could it work as a vaccine? 

While scientists race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, blood plasma therapy could provide temporary  protection for the most vulnerable in a similar fashion. 

A vaccine trains people’s immune systems to make their own antibodies against a target germ. The plasma infusion approach would give people a temporary shot of someone else’s antibodies that are short-lived and require repeated doses.

If US regulator the FDA agrees, a second study would give antibody-rich plasma infusions to certain people at high risk from repeated exposures to COVID-19, such as hospital workers or first responders, said Dr Liise-anne Pirofski of New York’s Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

That also might include nursing homes when a resident becomes ill, in hopes of giving the other people in the home some protection, she said.

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How a Top Producer Is Rethinking Collaboration in the Age of Quarantine

This is the sixth installment of Rolling Stone‘s Music in Crisis series, which looks at how people all across the music industry are coping with the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 15, as several states were getting close to ordering residents to shelter in place, the writer-producer Ricky Reed (Lizzo, Halsey, Kesha) published an open letter addressed to the songwriting community. “Stop doing the things you really don’t want to stop doing,” he wrote. “No sessions. No meetings. No shows. No going to packed bars. No eating at restaurants. No brunch.” “Be an introvert,” he concluded, to “save the world.”

But no sessions doesn’t mean no songwriting. Around the music industry, writers have started trying to craft songs together over Zoom and FaceTime. Reed goes one step further by live-streaming some of these sessions. “This began as a mental health exercise for me to keep from going crazy,” Reed tells Rolling Stone. “How can we really spread inspiration and challenge our community to shake off this freeze, when anxiety puts you in that freeze state?” 

The series, which initially aired once a week but is now moving to a Monday and Thursday schedule, includes multiple parts: Reed takes questions from his audience, gently critiques demo tracks from strangers, then listens to three “starter beats” provided by other professional musicians before choosing one to turn into a fully realized track. He solicits vocal ideas from pals like Teddy Geiger, who has helped write several of Shawn Mendes’ hits, and weaves those into the production in real time. Reed is genial and charismatic as he tinkers with drum machine sounds, adjusts tempos, and drinks red wine from an overlarge mug; the videos offer a remarkable window into modern music-making. 

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“This resonates with people in the writing community, particularly writers who are feeling isolated, and people who are outside of that community as well,” says Jenna Rubenstein, songwriter relations lead for YouTube, which is helping Reed with his series. “It can mimic the flow of a traditional session.”

Reed spoke with Rolling Stone about the inspiration behind the series and the challenges of collaborating remotely.

When this all started, I was texting with friends of mine. A lot of us were still trying to wrap our heads around this thing. And some of my writer friends were like, “I’m out here working on artist-who-will-remain-nameless’ album, or a new single for so-and-so.” But I’m from the Bay Area, and my friends there were starting to shelter in place. 

On the one hand, there’s that side of me that’s like, let’s chill for a second. Then there’s that other nagging thing inside of me: What’s gonna happen to my job? The food chain of the music industry, with the live music business coming to a halt — artists release music based on when they can go on tour. All of a sudden it starts to hit me. Am I irrelevant? Is new music irrelevant? For my own mental health, I need to be creating. 

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But we stuck to it. We put together a second session. There’s a lag. You’re talking over somebody by accident. Someone’s got their speakers turned up too loud, and there’s an echo. The second day is a little better, but still clunky. Once you’re five, six, seven sessions in, and you get a little bit of a flow going, you can actually make good music. I’ve now been part of sessions where, if anything, we’ve gotten things that are more emotionally rich than regular sessions. Everyone who is doing sessions right now is really trying. If you’re slugging it out, you’re fighting your way through this, it means you really have something to say. Because the shit ain’t fun. 

With a few cables and adapters I scraped together at my house, I put together my first set-up to live-stream audio for songwriting sessions. When I feel motivated creatively, work on an idea for two or three hours, it’s the one thing that can really take me out of that anxious state. Our goal was, what can we do that will actually inspire some type of community and creativity?

Part of the reason this was a good outlet for me also is it’s kind of like learning a new instrument. I had to learn a bunch of new software platforms, try to understand the way the cameras work, get a little lighting set-up. If you start on episode one, I’m in my kitchen and the Pro Tools audio is crashing every five seconds. I’m like holding my headphones up to the mic to show people what I’m doing because the audio isn’t coming through. With every episode there is a slight upgrade in the quality, a few less technical difficulties. When I added a second camera, I was very proud of that. I felt like I was in a damn ESPN production studio. The first time I switched over to camera two I was really feeling myself. 

Even before the new quarantine normal, in sessions with artists and songwriters you have to set a tone. It’s like you’re inviting someone into your home, regardless of if you’re at some dark, impersonal studio space. You have to let the artist and everyone there feel welcome, check in on their needs, check in on an emotional level. Not being too armchair therapist, but try to meet them where they’re at. Then you have to keep the energy up and going and ride it out until you get to something you love. That’s the same formula that I’m bringing to the streaming sessions. That’s my job. 

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Right now we’re just uploading the demos [when we finish them] as kind of an open source situation and encouraging people to put vocals on them, remix them. Record producers are so secretive. We use scarcity as part of our business model. You’re not gonna see my tricks. You’re not gonna hear my music until you’re hearing a superstar mixed and mastered on top of it. Our first idea with this was, what if we just showed our process to the people? 

Making music in this sort of open-source way might be a way to make music start to feel urgent again, relevant again. For me, all I can listen to is music from my childhood. I can listen to that, instrumental, ambient music, jazz. I can’t really bear taking in new music or new releases. My heart doesn’t have space for it. I’m hoping that by creating in this way, through this platform, that maybe we would be lucky enough to put some charge on the stuff that’s being made right now. 

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BTS Suspend World Tour Due to COVID-19

BTS confirmed on Tuesday that they’ll be suspending their planned world tour over coronavirus concerns.

The seven-member South Korean group had previously postponed the North American leg of their Map of the Soul tour that was scheduled to kick off April 25th, as well as canceled a planned concert in Seoul.

The canceled tour dates include shows across Europe and Asia, with two dates at London’s Twickenham Stadium that were set for July.

“Due to the nature of BTS concerts involving travel by thousands of international fans no matter where the performances are held, it is also difficult to resume the tour with the current strict restrictions on cross-border movement still in place,” BTS’ management, Big Hit Entertainment, said in a statement. “Moreover it is impossible at this time to predict when the first performance marking the start of the tour will be able to begin. Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to suspend the previously announced tour schedule and develop a new schedule.”

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