UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock today released US$15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help fund global efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus. The announcement came as the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded the global risk of the coronavirus outbreak to "very high" – its top level of risk assessment. The WHO has said there is still a chance of containing the virus if its chain of transmission is broken. The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning. There are now cases linked to Iran in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman, along with cases linked to Italy in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. The UN funding has been released to the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It will fund essential activities including monitoring the spread of the virus, investigating cases, and the operation of national laboratories.
Ukraine’s prime minister, Oleksiy Honcharuk, has submitted his resignation after an audio recording suggested he had criticised the president, but then appeared to say in comments to Reuters that he might stay in his job. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will consider the resignation letter later on Friday, the president’s office said. Speculation over Honcharuk’s position has grown this week after a recording of a man discussing Zelenskiy’s purported lack of knowledge of economics was circulated on messaging channels, apparently at a meeting of the prime minister, finance minister and the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) in December.
Tech giant Google is on the long list of firms caught donating to a Mississippi senator who has praised the Confederacy, expressed excitement at the prospect of attending a public hanging, and has been called a white supremacist. It seems the company has now, at its own sluggish pace, gone to the trouble of asking if maybe Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s campaign wouldn’t mind maybe returning that $5,000.