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NASA suspends work on moon rocket, capsule due to COVID-19 threat


NASA is closing the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and the nearby Stennis Space Center in Mississippi because of the “rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community,” administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Thursday evening. As a result, work on the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsules, both critical elements in NASA’s Artemis moon program, will be suspended.

“The NASA and contractors teams will complete an orderly shutdown that puts all hardware in a safe condition until work can resume,” Bridenstine said in a blog post. “Once this is complete, personnel allowed onsite will be limited to those needed to protect life and critical infrastructure.”

“We realize there will be impacts to NASA missions,” he added, “but as our teams work to analyze the full picture and reduce risks we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce.”


California orders its nearly 40 million residents to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus


The nation’s most populous state is ordering its nearly 40 million residents to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order marks the first statewide mandatory restrictions issued in the United States to help combat the outbreak. It goes into effect Thursday at midnight and includes exemptions for essential services such as public safety and medical care.
Nineteen people have died and more than 900 have tested positive for coronavirus in California. The restrictions, which will remain in place until further notice, come a day after Newsom warned that more than half the state is projected to be infected with the virus in two months.

Essential services will be open

Under the order, essential services such as gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores and delivery restaurants will remain open. So will banks, local government offices that provide services and law enforcement agencies.

Nonessential services such as dine-in restaurants, bars, gyms and convention centers will shut down.

Social distance is still required
Even with the order, California residents can participate in some activities as long as people maintain a social distance, he said. “Go about the essential patterns of life, but do so by socially distancing themselves from others and do so using a common sense,” Newsom said. “Home isolation is not my preferred choice, but it is a necessary one. This is not a permanent state, it is a moment in time.”
The order will not be enforced by law enforcement, he added.

Big Brother Germany contestants are still unaware of coronavirus pandemic, will be told in special live show

Big Brother Germany contestants relax in a jacuzzi

The contestants of Big Brother Germany have not been told about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but after a social media uproar, will be informed about it on Tuesday.

The network said that it had taken “special hygienic measures” to protect the contestants, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, hasn’t detailed what these measures were. There have been more than 7000 cases of the coronavirus in Germany, with 17 deaths. Chancellor Angela Merkel has closed clubs, bars, leisure facilities, zoos and playgrounds. Sat 1 has said that none of the contestants has tested positive for the virus, which has infected celebrities such as Tom Hanks, his wife Rita Wilson, former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko and actor Idris Elba.

Contestants of Big Brother Canada were only recently made aware of the situation, while the BBC says that Big Brother Brazil contestants are also in the dark.

Coronavirus: Apple to accept apps from credible sources only; bans COVID-19-themed entertainment, game apps


Apple is stepping up efforts to combat misinformation and hoaxes around the coronavirus outbreak. The company on Saturday said it would accept only “reputable” and credible apps related to COVID-19. Apple has also banned entertainment or game apps with coronavirus as a theme on its App Store.

“…we’re evaluating apps critically to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions. Only developers from one of these recognized entities should submit an app related to COVID-19. Entertainment or game apps with COVID-19 as their theme will not be allowed,” Apple said on its developer website.

Apple said it is encouraging developers to choose “Time-Sensitive Event” on the expedite request form to fast-track review on App Store.

Apart from new stringent policies around COVID-19 themed apps, Apple has also waived off membership fees for the NGOs and government agencies which plan to distribute free apps on the App Store.

Misinformation has become a big challenge for social networking platforms since the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this month, Facebook announced giving free and unlimited “ad credits” to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It also said it was working with more agencies and organizations around the world to tackle misinformation related to COVID-19.

Google is also taking similar measures to prevent conspiracy theories and cyberattacks themed on coronavirus. “We are also helping WHO and government organizations run PSA ads,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a post earlier this month.

Apple, in the meanwhile cancelled the physical event for its annual WWDC developer conference, scheduled to take place in June this year. The company has also announced closing all stores outside Greater China until March 27.

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All of Italy is in lockdown as coronavirus cases rise

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Italy has been put under a dramatic total lockdown, as the coronavirus spreads in the country. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that he is extending restrictions already in place in the north.

“All the measure of the red zones are now extended to all of the national territory,” Conte said at a press conference on Monday evening as he also announced a ban on all public events.
The Prime Minister said the move was taken in order to protect the population, and especially the most fragile individuals. His announcement came at the end of a chaotic day that saw prison riots across the country


Ninety-seven people have died of the novel coronavirus since Sunday in Italy, bringing its total number of deaths to 463. The country has 9,172 cases so far, the most of any European country.

Italy Locks Down 15 Million After Massive Surge In Coronavirus Deaths

Coronavirus: The country on Sunday recorded the second-highest coronavirus toll in the world, after reporting a sharp jump in deaths and overtaking South Korea on infections.


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Milan: The sun shone on deserted squares in Milan and empty gondolas in Venice on Sunday as a quarter of Italy’s population came to grips with being cut off from the rest of the country, under new rules strictly limiting movement in and out of the new red zone.
While some packed their bags and fled, most in northern Italy stayed to brave a lockdown imposed by the government on some 15 million people, as it ramps up the fight against the deadly coronavirus.
The country on Sunday recorded the second-highest coronavirus toll in the world, after reporting a sharp jump in deaths — from 133 to 366 — and overtaking South Korea on infections.

19 Dead From Coronavirus In US, New York Declares State Of Emergency

The two latest deaths were in Washington’s King County, the hardest hit area in the US. (Reuters)

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Two more people succumbed to the novel coronavirus in Washington state, officials said on Saturday, bringing the nationwide total to 19, while the number of confirmed cases in New York rose to 89 and a cruise ship with infected passengers remained stranded outside San Francisco. More than half of all US states have reported cases of the coronavirus, which originated in China last year and causes the sometimes deadly respiratory illness COVID-19. As the outbreak takes root, daily life has become increasingly disrupted, with concerts and conferences cancelled and universities telling students to stay home and take classes online.

Airports in India set for coronavirus screening

All international passengers entering India will be screened at airports for the novel coronavirus outbreak (Covid-19), the government announced on Wednesday.

The decision came on the day India reported a sharp rise in infections — from six on Tuesday to 29 on Wednesday. Three of them — all in Kerala — have recovered.

“There have been cases in the past — like that of a group of Italian tourists coming to India on February 21, when Italy was not in the list of countries that were being screened at our airports,” Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said.

“At a high-level meeting that I held with various stakeholders (on Wednesday), it was decided to extend the universal screening to all international flights, and not just 12 countries,” he added.

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Paytm’s Gurugram, Noida offices employee tests positive for coronavirus

India’s leading digital payment platform Paytm on Wednesday decided to shut its offices in Gurugram and Noida for at least two days after one of its employees who had recently travelled to Italy was tested positive with COVID-19.

In an official statement, the company informed that it has suggested team members of the COVID-19 patient to get their health tests done immediately, while all their offices will remain shut for sanitising purposes.

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