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Emirates cuts 9,000 jobs; Step up virus action—WHO

Emirates airline has cut a tenth of its workforce during the novel coronavirus pandemic in layoffs that could rise to 15 percent, or 9,000 jobs, its president said, according to a report on Saturday.

The Middle East’s largest carrier, which operates a fleet of 270 wide-bodied aircraft, halted operations in late March as part of global shutdowns to stem the spread of the virus.

It resumed two weeks later on a limited network and plans to fly to 58 cities by mid-August, down from about 157 before the crisis.

However, its president Tim Clark has said previously that it could take up to four years for operations to return to “some degree of normality,” and the airline has been staging rounds of layoffs, as recently as last week, without disclosing numbers.

Before the crisis hit, Emirates employed some 60,000 staff, including 4,300 pilots and nearly 22,000 cabin crew, according to its annual report.

Clark said in an interview with the BBC that the airline had already cut a tenth of its staff and that Emirates “will probably have to let go of a few more, probably up to 15 percent.”

WHO calls for more aggressive response

The World Health Organization has urged countries grappling with coronavirus to step up control measures, saying it is still possible to rein it in, as some nations clamp fresh restrictions on citizens.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on countries to adopt an aggressive approach, highlighting Italy, Spain, South Korea and India’s biggest slum to show it was possible to stop the spread, no matter how bad the outbreak.

The health agency’s comments came as US President Donald Trump was forced to cancel an election rally in New Hampshire, citing an approaching storm.

Trump has pushed to hold large gatherings against health advice as epidemiologists warn of the dangers posed by the virus moving through the air in crowded and confined spaces.

High blood sugar levels linked to virus deaths

Patients with abnormally high blood sugar levels are more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19, researchers in China said Saturday.

It is the first time scientists have been able to confirm that patients with hyperglycemia, but not diagnosed with diabetes, are at higher risk of death from COVID-19, they wrote in the journal Diabetologia. 

The researchers examined death rates for 605 COVID-19 patients at two hospitals in Wuhan, China.

Having high blood pressure is “independently associated” with increased risk of death and complications from COVID-19, they wrote.

The study builds on previous research on diabetic patients.

The authors suggested that blood clotting, the weakening of blood vessel linings, and cytokine storm syndrome – an overreaction of the immune system – could all play a role. 

Topics: novel coronavirus pandemic , layoff , World Health Organization , high blood sugar levels
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