Twisted cyber fraudsters scamming people out of thousands with fake lists of infected coronavirus patients in your area – The Sun

SICK fraudsters are cashing in on the spread of deadly coronavirus with scam e-mails claiming to list dozens of infected patients across Britain.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau said victims had been conned out of more than £800,000 in the last month.

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Fraud cops have received 21 reports where coronavirus has been used to part Brits from their cash by criminals.

In one scam, victims were sent an e-mail claiming to provide a link to the names of infected patients in the UK so they can check if they've come into contact.

The e-mail claims to be from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The message contains either a link to a phishing website or asks the victim to directly make a payment via bitcoin.

Another scam e-mail circulated by a number of potential victims on Twitter claims to be official government correspondence sent to the recipient.

It claims a new tax refund of £128.34 will be provided for help in protecting themselves against coronavirus.

A malicious link is provided with the words: 'Access your funds now'.

Other con artists have been claiming to sell protective face masks before taking money without sending any goods.

Action Fraud said one victim had been scammed out of £15,000 after placing an order for a large quantity of masks.

It is said to be one of 10 incidents where victims have tried to buy face masks from fraudsters.

A City of London Police spokesperson said: "Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.

"If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase.

"If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases."


So far, 116 people in Britain have been infected with the coronavirus, including a 75-year-old woman from Berkshire who died yesterday after catching the virus while suffering from underlying health conditions.

Health chiefs have urged shoppers not to panic buy as coronavirus spreads.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "The Government has supplies of the key things that are needed, and, within the food supply, we are absolutely confident that there won't be a problem there.

"And, crucially, we are working to makes sure that if people are self isolating, they will be able to get the food and supplies that they need."

He added there was "absolutely no need" for individual people "to go round buying more than they need."

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty also warned commuters and shoppers wearing face masks will have 'little effect' on stopping the spread of the virus.

The World Health Organisation has advised healthy people should only wear a mask if they are taking care of someone suspected to have the virus.

People who have been diagnosed with coronavirus or who are ill after returning from an affected area are advised not be out in public – with or without a mask.

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Joe Biden is back from the dead, but there are twists and turns ahead

So much for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous claim that there are no second acts in American life. Just look at Joe Biden. His political success this week represents one of the most epic political comebacks in the annals of American history.

A week ago, the 77-year-old former vice-president was widely written off as the Democratic candidate to face Donald Trump in November’s election. Media pundits were once again proverbially hammering nails into his political coffin. (I say “once again” because he spectacularly lost presidential bids in 1988 and 2008.)

It’s been a big comeback week for former vice-president Joe Biden.Credit:AP

Since last month’s debacles in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he finished fourth and fifth respectively, he looked doomed. (This writer called him “damaged goods”.) At the same time, the 78-year-old socialist outsider Bernie Sanders looked unbeatable.

But the experts were wrong. Following his South Carolina rout last weekend, Biden swept 10 out of the 14 Super Tuesday states. On February 22, the betting markets rated his chances of winning Virginia and Texas at 13 per cent, Oklahoma at 7 per cent and Minnesota at 1 per cent. A fortnight later, he won all states convincingly. Lazarus-like, Biden is back from the dead.

What accounts for such a remarkable comeback?

For one thing, there is a growing anxiety among Democrats that Sanders would be a liability against Trump in November’s election. His polarising socialism and vision of a “political revolution” unnerve many Americans, especially most of the Cold War-era voters over 45 years of age.

Also, other moderate candidates – Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg and now billionaire former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg – dropped out of the Democratic presidential race and endorsed Biden. As a result, the party has consolidated around a candidate to defeat Sanders.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, Biden does not have high disapproval ratings: he’s genuinely liked. Add to this Biden’s broad coalition – African Americans, Baby Boomers, suburban women and moderates – and the very real prospect that Biden could attract college-educated Republican voters, especially women, from relatively affluent suburban electorates (America’s version of Warringah or Wentworth) who are turned off by Trump’s polarising politics.

So, is Biden now the nominee? Not yet. Plenty of chances for twists and turns remain, and there is a real chance of a long drawn-out contest in the next four months before the party’s national convention.

Sanders won’t give up easily: he has created a nationwide, well-financed grassroots organisation with plenty of passion. With his progressive rival Elizabeth Warren’s withdrawal from the race, the Vermont senator is likely to attract more support.

In recent years, the Democrats have lurched to the left. From taxes, spending and regulation to trade, identity politics and energy policy, the party of FDR, JFK and Bill Clinton is now more interventionist and progressive. There is also a hankering for an outsider to take on Trump while Biden, who was elected to the Senate when Richard Nixon was president, is a quintessential Washington insider.

There are also Biden’s glaring flaws: he does not have a firm grasp of facts, details and language. He has recently declared “we choose truth over facts” and claimed that “150 million” – nearly half of the country – had died from gun violence since 2007.

If voters did not support his bid for the Senate (he’s running for president), he told a breakfast event last week, they should “vote for the other Biden” (there is only one Biden running for office!) He also embellishes stories. In 2008, he claimed to have rid Lebanon of Hezbollah.

Notwithstanding his many gaffes and stumbles, which the anti-Trump media is quite capable of ignoring anyway, Biden has lived up to the adage that old politicians never die, nor do they fade away.

History is littered with older politicians resurrecting themselves from many previous defeats and coming into power as the right person at the right time. Think of Winston Churchill in 1940, Robert Menzies in 1949, Charles De Gaulle in 1958, Richard Nixon in 1968, Yitzhak Rabin in 1992, John Howard in 1996 and Aung San Suu Kyi in 2015.

If Biden defeats first Sanders, then Trump in November’s election, he will join some prominent company. History will also judge this week as marking the turning point in his great political comeback.

Tom Switzer is executive director of the Centre for Independent Studies and a presenter at the ABC’s Radio National.

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Second coronavirus cruise passenger, 72, dies after getting off stricken Grand Princess ship – The Sun

A SECOND passenger has died after leaving coronavirus cruise ship the Grand Princess.

The 72-year-old was found dead at his home in Sunnyvale, California and he had been on the same voyage as another man, aged 71, who died of the virus after leaving the vessel.

The Grand Princes is being held off San Francisco after the traveller, from Sacramento, who had been on a voyage to Mexico in February, died of the coronavirus.

A desperate search is underway to track down the 2500 passengers who had sailed with the man, though some are currently still on the ship.

In the latest incident, police found the man unresponsive at his home in Sunnyvale, California and despite officers performing CPR, he died, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“It was later learned the patient had recently been on a cruise with two passengers were suspected of having COVID-19,” the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, referring to the official name for the virus.

The officers who performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation were quarantined at home, said the department chief Phan Ngo.

“We don’t yet know if the patient had COVID-19,” he added.

The passengers who are being tracked down got off the ship in San Francisco last week and fears are growing they could be "potentially spreading the virus".

The US death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 12 on Thursday, with all but one victim in Washington state.

The number of infections swelled to over 200, scattered across 18 states. Colorado and Nevada reported their first cases.

Those confirmed as being infected include Leanne and Robert Cummins of Santa Clara, California, who were on February cruise on the Grand Princess, ABC7 reports.

Two other passengers from that voyage have been hospitalized with the virus in Sonoma County, northern California

Officials in Nevada confirmed a man in his 50s from Washoe County who was on the Grand Princess also tested positive for the virus.

The test kits were delivered by the National Guard copter to the Grand Princess, which has 3,500 passengers and has been ordered to stay away from the coast of California.

The helicopter was scheduled to retrieve the kits later Thursday for delivery to a lab in California.

The test results could be processed in a few hours.

A Canadian man in his 60s from that voyage has also tested positive, and two other passengers from have been hospitalized.

Princess Cruise Lines has said that fewer than 100 people on the ship had been identified for testing.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.

“The ship will not come on shore until we appropriately assess the passengers,” he said

The governor had previously said that 21 people on the cruise ship may have shown coronavirus symptoms.

Dozens have had flu-like symptoms over the past two weeks, said Mary Ellen Carroll of San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management.

"Once we have results from the tests," she said, authorities "will determine the best location for the ship to berth.”

Some of the current passengers had been on the previous voyage, to various Mexican ports.

A passenger from the Mexico voyage says she and her husband became ill later but did not think much of it until the fellow traveler succumbed to the virus.

“They're telling us to stay home, but nobody told me until yesterday to stay home," Judy Cadiz said Thursday.

"We were in Sacramento, we were in Martinez, we were in Oakland. We took a train home from the cruise.

"I really hope that we're negative so nobody got infected.”

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Delivery firm Hermes to pay gig workers if they must self-isolate

One of the UK’s largest gig economy delivery firms has announced it will pay its self-employed couriers if they are told to self-isolate because of coronavirus, despite not normally providing sick pay.

Hermes, whose 15,000 couriers are normally paid only if they complete a parcel delivery or collection for retailers including John Lewis and Asos, said on Friday it had set aside a £1m support fund.

The move follows warnings from trade unions that a lack of sick pay for the more than 1 million gig economy workers could accelerate the spread of the virus, as workers would face financial difficulties if they did not carry on regardless of their or others’ health. Many gig workers are in public, highly mobile roles visiting hundreds of addresses every week delivering parcels and takeaways and carrying passengers in minicabs.

DPD UK, another large courier firm that relies on self-employed drivers, said on Tuesday it was not offering sick pay. Deliveroo, which uses self-employed couriers to deliver takeaways, said it was considering offering financial support to affected riders in the UK, as it has done in Hong Kong.

Uber, which works with more than 40,000 self-employed minicab drivers in London alone, is in talks with Axa insurance about extending drivers’ sickness cover to include self-isolation that does not involve sickness.

The GMB trade union welcomed the move by Hermes. “By setting up this fund to assist those couriers they are not just protecting people who deliver for them; they are helping to keep the British public safe,” said the national officer Mick Rix. “This is a very welcome step in the right direction, and all employers across the UK should follow their example.”

Self-employed workers are not eligible for statutory sick pay so Wednesday’s announcement from Boris Johnson that workers will be eligible for payments from the first day off work, rather than the fourth, does not help them.

The Department for Work and Pensions said welfare benefits including universal credit and employment and support allowance would be available, but these are considered by many to be too slow and cumbersome to apply for to be a viable short-term solution.

Hermes couriers are expected to be offered a lump sum for the two-week period of self-isolation being requested by health authorities of people who believe they may have come into contact with the virus.

“This is an extraordinary situation,” said Martijn De Lange, the chief executive of Hermes UK. “We have taken the decision to help support our couriers financially if they need help and also ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus. It is simply the right thing to do and I hope that other organisations will follow our lead.”

Hermes said it would also help couriers find someone to deliver on their behalf if they did not have a substitute. Usually that responsibility falls on the courier. It said it would also guarantee that their rounds would be kept open for them for when they returned.

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ANOTHER senior Iranian official dies from coronavirus

ANOTHER senior Iranian official dies from coronavirus: Foreign minister adviser, who took part in 1979 US embassy hostage crisis, is regime’s latest victim

  • Hossein Sheikholeslam, an aide of Mohammad Javad Zarif, died on Thursday
  • In 1979 he was one of the students who overran the US embassy in Tehran
  • He is the sixth politician or government official to die from the virus in Iran 
  • Death toll has reached 124 in Iran with 4,747 cases of coronavirus confirmed 

An adviser to Iran’s foreign minister who was involved in the 1979 US embassy hostage crisis has died from coronavirus, state media said today.

Hossein Sheikholeslam, an aide of Mohammad Javad Zarif, died late on Thursday according to official news agency IRNA which called him ‘a veteran and revolutionary diplomat’.

It comes as Iran warned it may use ‘force’ to limit travel between cities, as the death toll reached 124 with 4,747 cases of coronavirus reported across the Islamic republic. 

In 1979, Sheikholeslam was one of the Iranian students who stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took 52 people hostage in a 444-day crisis, a year after the toppling of the American-backed shah.  

A former ambassador to Syria, he also served as deputy foreign minister from 1981 to 1997.

He becomes the sixth politician or government official to be killed by the virus which has spread from Iran across the Middle East. 

Hossein Sheikholeslam (pictured), an aide of Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has become the latest senior official to die from coronavirus 

The virus has already killed Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a member of the Expediency Council which advises supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Other officials who died of coronavirus include MP Mohammad Ali Ramezani and Mojtaba Pourkhanali, an agriculture ministry official, both from Gilan, one of the country’s worst-hit provinces.

The others were Ahmad Toyserkani, an adviser to the judiciary chief, Hadi Khosroshahi, a former envoy to the Vatican and Mojtaba Fazeli, a secretary to a senior cleric.

Tehran MP Fatemeh Rahbar is currently in a coma after being infected, according to ISNA news agency.

A host of other officials have been infected and are under quarantine, including vice-president Masoumeh Ebtekar, better known in the West as ‘Screaming Mary’ for her role as a spokeswoman during the hostage crisis. 

Deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi was also infected last month, just a day after he had played down the outbreak in a sweaty appearance at a press conference. 

Grand ayatollah Musa Shobairi Zanjani, who is considered one of the country’s highest religious authorities, is also a virus patient. 

In 1979 Hossein Sheikholeslam was one of the Iranian students who stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took 52 people hostage in a 444-day crisis (pictured) 

Iran today confirmed coronavirus has killed 124 people amid 4,747 cases across the Islamic republic.

Authorities have also warned they may use ‘force’ to limit travel between cities.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour offered the figures at a televised news conference, acknowledging that the virus is now in all of Iran’s 31 provinces.

The treat to use force may be in place to stop people from using closed schools and universities as an excuse to go to the Caspian Sea and other tourist destinations. 

Images showed long lines of traffic as people tried to reach the Caspian coast from Tehran on Friday – despite authorities earlier telling people to remain in their cities.

The country announced on Thursday it would put checkpoints in place to limit travel between major cities, hoping to stem the spread of the virus.

Iran has closed schools and universities, suspended major cultural and sporting events and reduced working hours across the country to halt the rapid spread of coronavirus, which has spread to all of its 31 provinces. 

Health minister Saeed Namaki said yesterday that classrooms would remain closed until the end of the Persian year on March 19, which is followed by national holidays into April. 

‘People should not consider this as an opportunity to go travelling,’ the minister said. ‘They should stay home and take our warnings seriously.

‘This virus is highly contagious. It is a serious matter, do not joke about it.’ 

Iranian health workers disinfect the streets of the capital city Tehran yesterday with Iran battling the largest outbreak in the region 

The clerical regime has been criticised for its failure to shut down the holy city of Qom after Iran’s first cases were reported there. 

The city attracts Shi’ite pilgrims from across the Middle East and travellers linked to Iran have been blamed for spreading the virus around the region. 

Several countries have since closed borders or imposed travel bans to guard against virus patients from Iran. 

Iran has also been battling shortages of medical supplies including masks and testing kits, a problem exacerbated by US sanctions.   

The country has also cancelled Friday prayers in major cities including Tehran.  

Health minister Namaki said Iran had begun a national plan to combat coronavirus which will start in the handful of locations most affected by the disease and expand to other parts of the country, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Families would be contacted by telephone to help identify possible cases and health teams will disinfect public spaces, he said, listing the provinces of Qom, Gilan and Isfahan as the locations where the plan would begin.

On Sunday, Namaki had said that 300,000 teams, including members of the Basij militia, would be sent out to perform door-to-door coronavirus screening.

The plan sparked criticism from Iranians online about the possibility of the teams spreading, rather than stopping, infections.

The latest plan announced on Thursday did not mention door-to-door screening. 

More than 4,990 cases of the virus, which causes the illness COVID-19, have been confirmed across the Middle East. Iran and Italy have the world’s highest death tolls outside of China.

In Tehran, firefighters sprayed disinfectant on a length of Tehran’s famous Valiasr Avenue.

‘It would be great if they did it every day,’ grocery store owner Reza Razaienejad said after the firefighters sprayed outside his shop. ‘It should not be just a one-time thing and should be done frequently, especially in places like here where movement and traffic happens a lot.’ 

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Greenpeace protestors reprimanded for posing for selfies in court

Greenpeace protestors break the law again by posing for selfies in court as they are fined for blockading BP’s headquarters on new CEO’s first day

  • The group of activists were arrested for a disruptive protest against fossil fuels 
  • Judge had to remind protestors that taking photographs in court is illegal
  • The protestors received a small fine for barricading  BP’s head office in London

Climate protesters who blockaded BP’s headquarters were reprimanded for taking selfies in the dock at magistrates court by the judge presiding their case. 

The demonstrators, who are largely ‘volunteer workers,’ crowded into the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and then proceeded to take out their phones and start snapping pictures. 

Security staff admonished the protestors and the court clerk ordered them to turn off their phones as district Judge Alexander Jacobs shook his head in disbelief.

Judge Alexander Jacobs reminded the protestors that: ‘Taking pictures in a criminal court is an offence.’ 

The protestors pictured smiling for a group photograph outside Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday after they were arrested for blocking entrances to BP’s head office in London

Taking photographs in a court is an offence under the Criminal Justice Act 1925 and the Contempt of Court Act 1981.  

The 20 demonstrators were part of a mass protest which began at 3am when they arrived in three trucks packed with 50 large wooden structures and placed five large steel containers outside the building in St James’s Square on 5 February.

The Greenpeace protest coincided with the appointment of BP’s new chief executive who was due to start his first day.

Michelle Louise Anderson, 38, Clara Elisabeth Andree, 29, Lucy Bridgewater, 38, Vivienne Hadlow, 36, Susan Harnett, 70, Christopher James Hyde, 52, Parascevou Sier, 60, and Mads Wulff, 53, admitted to wrongfully and without legal authority abstaining a person from doing their business.

Clement Barbet, 30, Thomas Andre Bonduelle, 56, Kim Harrison 36, Jane Christine Hayes, 60, Camilla Malin Eveline Lennerthson, 31, Vidar Melkevik, 42, Ian Mills, 54, Alain Pierre Perdrizet, 61, Alain Pierre Perdrizet, 61, Parascevou Sier, 60, Douglas Frederick Skinner, 66, and Elizabeth Stanton, 57, all admitted the same charge in a later hearing.

Simon Maughan prosecuting said: ‘This isn’t a case of a couple of protestors standing outside a door with some placards.

‘This is a very serious case that has affected a great number of people on that morning.

Mr Maughan said a text was sent out to BP staff alerting them of the demonstration and advising them to stay at home, but some members of staff did not receive the text and were prevented by protesters from entering the building.

The demonstrators took part in a mass protest arriving at BP’s head offices with 50 large wooden structures and placed large steel container in front of the building to obstruct entry

‘At 6:22am a text was sent out to all BP staff informing them that protesters were blocking the entrances,’ he said.

‘Some staff members attempted to gain access but were sent home and were unable to carry out their work on the site and were subsequently sent home,’ he said.

Mr Maughan said the demonstration had a financial impact on the company and harmed its reputation.

He explained how some protesters locked themselves to oil barrels outside the entrance plastered with the BP logo.

‘Ms Bridgewater was linked to barrel outside the entrance, her right arm was concealed in a barrel.

‘Mr Wulff was chained to a bin near BP property.

‘Ms Harrison was blocking a fire escape of the building.

‘Several others were blocking entry to the building.

‘This went on all morning and until just up to the afternoon, it gives you a flavour of the duration of this.

A protestor is seen being carried away from the scene by police

‘It has caused BP severe damage to its reputation as well as financial loss.

Milke Schwanz defending said: ‘All of these defendants do voluntary work except for a few.

‘Ms Harnett is 70 years old. She is retired, she has three grandchildren. She is honest and has a high regard for the law.

‘Ms Anderson is 38, she had a BA honours in Environmental Studies.

‘This is a matter Greanpeace have been campaigning on for decades.

‘There is not just a conscious motive but these actions are well-founded and recognised by others.’

Addressing the group, Judge Jacobs said: ‘This was a well planned, coordinated operation.

‘The action was organised to coincide with the start of work of the new BP CEO.

‘Your action caused disruption to BP.

‘It did not bring the company to a halt. But there was a loss I am told of 7,200 working hours.

‘Your specific intention was to protest but not to cause any violence. The protest, while disruptive, was peaceful.

Judge Jacob said he was satisfied there was no impact on others’ health and safety.

‘In my judgement the harm was low. While 7,200 hours to the company is a loss, there is no other evidence of impact on others.

‘You are all intelligent, honest and decent members of society. It is not in dispute that your motives were genuine.

Judge Jacobs discharged the activists and abstained from making them pay back any compensation to BP.

Sier, of Longland Road East Sussex and Mills, of Moorlands, Wiltshire were fined a total of £217 due to recent convictions of similar nature.

The others were all fined a total of £106. 


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LA suburb close to Kim Kardashian's home is hit with coronavirus

Mother reveals her husband and two sons from LA community less than 10 miles from Kim Kardashian’s home are among 15 friends who have tested positive for coronavirus following trip to exclusive Italian ski resort

  • Pam Angel’s husband and two adult sons are positive for coronavirus in Tarzana
  • One son is hospitalized at while other and husband are in self-quarantine 
  • Celebrities Will Smith, Drake and Katie Holmes all have homes in the area 
  • New cases returned from Cortina d’Ampezzo in Dolomite Mountains in February
  • Others in the group of about 15 fell ill after returning to their homes elsewhere 
  • One is ‘coughing up blood’ with symptoms ‘worse than what’s being told’
  • And a fourth man is said to be in a coma in Switzerland, where he now resides  
  • All those on the trip were previously ‘healthy guys in their 40’s and 50’s’ 
  • The US death toll from coronavirus has now risen to 12 with more than 200 cases

Pam Angel told KCBS-TV that her husband and two adult sons have coronavirus

A mother whose sons and husband who tested positive for coronavirus in a Los Angeles suburb 10 miles from Kim Kardashian’s home has spoken out.

Pam Angel told KCBS-TV that her husband and one of her adult sons are in self-quarantine, but her other son has underlying health issues and is being treated at Providence Tarzana Medical Center. 

‘He can’t talk without coughing. He feels like he has a pallet of bricks on his chest, he’s not eating,’ she said.

The three men were among a group of about 15 who traveled back to the United States on February 27 after visiting Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomite Mountains, can exclusively reveal.

The Los Angeles County Health Department has confirmed seven cases of coronavirus among a group of travelers who recently returned from northern Italy. 

Sources tell that the other members of the group, who reside elsewhere, have also fallen ill since returning home.

The group returned from Cortina d’Ampezzo, pictured, in the Dolomite Mountains in February

Angel says they didn’t realize at the time that there had been an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy.

‘It’s been aired that it was over in Asia and in China, but it wasn’t being aired that it was anywhere else,’ she said. 

Italy has been hard-hit by the coronavirus where more than 3,000 people have tested positive for the diseases, and more than 100 people have died. In the U.S, more than 200 people have tested positive, and 12 have died.  

Angel’s husband and sons live in Tarzana, which is less than 10 miles from Calabasas, which is home to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, as well as a string of other celebrities, including Drake and Will Smith.  

A fourth man, a US citizen and also on the trip, is said to be in a coma in Switzerland, where he now resides. 

The rest of the men who were on the trip, who were said to be ‘previously healthy guys in their 40s and 50s’ have all since fallen ill, with one coughing up blood, according to sources. 

They live in states across the U.S, including Arizona where two cases have been reported. 

Angel’s husband and sons live in Tarzana (above), a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley

One of those who returned from Italy is now said to be quarantined at Tarzana Medical Center (pictured) after arriving at LAX at the end of February

Tarzana, where three of the men live, is less than 10 miles away from the exclusive neighborhood of Calabasas, which is home to several celebrities including Kim Kardashian (pictured in Paris this week)

It comes as California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency as cases rise to 53 in the state, with San Francisco records its first two cases – a woman in her 40s, and a man in his 90s who has underlying health conditions.  

A source told of the ski trip friends: ‘The man hospitalized at Tarzana was traveling with two other friends and when they they arrived at LAX, the infected person was taken to the hospital. 

‘They were all screened, but since his two other friends had no symptoms they were told they could go home. 

‘Then days later, they both developed symptoms and have been diagnosed with the virus. They contacted officials and were instructed to self-quarantine at home for two weeks. 

‘The fact that they were able to just go home in the first place is really alarming because that means travelers are not being screened properly. 

‘Just think of all the other people on that flight. Do they even know they might be infected?’ 

The U.S. coronavirus death toll has risen to 12, while more than 200 people have tested positive for the disease

Celebrities including Will Smith, Drake and Katie Holmes all have homes in the nearby area. 

Others on the trip to northern Italy are said to live across the whole of the US, including Arizona where there are two cases, with symptoms ‘much worse than what’s being told to the public’. 

A source told ‘There were about 15 friends in the group that went on the ski trip in Northern Italy. They are all sick and one friend is still in Italy. He is American but lives in Switzerland. He is in a coma. 

‘The other friends live in different states, including Arizona. One person has been coughing up blood. It’s much worse than what’s being told to the public. 

‘[Donald] Trump has been saying it’s mild, well it’s not mild.’

 An increase in testing countrywide has seen a jump in confirmed cases in Washington state, California and New York – with Nevada and Tennessee each reporting their first cases in the last 24 hours.  

President Donald Trump boasted in a tweet on Thursday about the low US fatality count in comparison to the rest of the world.

‘With approximately 100,000 CoronaVirus cases worldwide, and 3,280 deaths, the United States, because of quick action on closing our borders, has, as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!’ he tweeted.

Celebrities Will Smith,left, Drake, right and Katie Holmes all have homes in the area

Kim Kardashian and her mother Kris Jenner snapped up a condos worth about $1.5 million each in Calabasas

Will Smith’s Calabaas home, which he shares with wife Jada

Rapper Drake stayed in this $10,000-a-night canyon-side retreat in Beverly Hills after his European tour

But the death of the former cruise passenger in California marked the first coronavirus fatality in the US outside of Washington state, where 10 people have died in a cluster of at least 39 infections in the Seattle area. 

California’s first coronavirus victim – a 71-year-old man – had boarded the Grand Princess in San Francisco on February 11 for a 10 day voyage to Mexico, arriving back on February 21.

The man subsequently fell ill and went to hospital in Placer County, to the east of Sacramento, where he was diagnosed with the virus before he died. 

Addressing the cruise ship off the coast of California, Governor Gavin Newsom said vessel would remain at sea until passengers and crew complaining of symptoms that may be consistent with the coronavirus can be tested to determine whether they have it.

Coronavirus testing kits were flown out to the ship on Thursday and samples will be analyzed at a state laboratory in the San Francisco Bay area, a process Newsom said should produce results in a matter of hours.  


Like other coronaviruses, including those that cause the common cold and that triggered SARS, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness.  

  • The most common symptoms are: 
  • Fever 
  • Dry cough 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Fatigue 

Although having a runny nose doesn’t rule out coronavirus, it doesn’t thus far appear to be a primary symptom. 

Most people only become mildly ill, but the infection can turn serious and even deadly, especially for those who are older or have underlying health conditions.  

In these cases, patients develop pneumonia, which can cause: 

  • Potentially with yellow, green or bloody mucus
  • Fever, sweating and shaking chills
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Rapid or shallow breathing 
  • Pain when breathing, especially when breathing deeply or coughing 
  • Low appetite, energy and fatigue 
  • Nausea and vomiting (more common in children) 
  • Confusion (more common in elderly people)
  • Some patients have also reported diarrhea and kidney failure has occassionally been a complication. 

Avoid people with these symtpoms. If you develop them, call your health care provider before going to the hospital or doctor, so they and you can prepare to minimize possivle exposure if they suspect you have coronavirus. 

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Bloomberg Super PAC to replace campaign, aid Democratic nominee

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg confirmed Thursday that he’s turning his defunct campaign into his own “independent” Super PAC to aid the Democratic nominee and defeat President Trump in November’s general election — particularly deploying what could be hundreds of millions of dollars in resources in six battleground states, sources told The Post.

The independent expenditure group — commonly referred to as a super Political Action Committee or PAC — will focus on the general election and not put its thumb on the scale in the Democratic primary contest between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Bloomberg endorsed Biden on Wednesday when exiting the race as a presidential candidate after a poor showing in the Super Tuesday primaries despite burning through more than $500 million.

“Mike will deliver on his commitment to beating Trump via a new independent expenditure effort, the name/budget/scope of which is to be determined,” a Bloomberg insider said.

“It will include field offices in the six battleground states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It will be pro-nominee, anti-Trump and will support down-ballot Dems as well,” the Bloomberg source added.

Hawkfish, the digital agency launched by Bloomberg, will continue to exist as a separate entity and be used to place ads on social media.

The source said like all independent expenditure groups, the Bloomberg Super PAC, won’t be able to coordinate with any campaign.

The Post reported Wednesday that Bloomberg, the former three-term New York City mayor, was mulling setting up a pro-Democrat, anti-Trump Super PAC.

Bloomberg — worth $65 billion — could dump hundreds of millions of dollars into the Super PAC to pay for ads, deploy staff to knock on doors and even repurpose his campaign offices to promote Biden or slam Trump.

The Bloomberg campaign had 2,400 paid staff — including 2,000 in 43 states and territories and another 400 at its Times Square headquarters.

The Bloomberg source did not say how many campaign staffers will be reassigned to the Super Pac — but it could easily be in the hundreds.

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Prince William has only had 'two sips' of Guinness so far in Ireland

Prince William reveals he’s only had ‘two sips’ of Guinness so far in Ireland because officials ‘keep taking them away’ as he chats with locals during coastal walk with Kate Middleton

  • William spoke to locals while he and Kate enjoyed a romantic clifftop walk
  • Royal couple strolled along a path on the Howth peninsula under blue skies
  • Kate said they will go to Galway, and a local said ‘better pints of Guinness’ there
  • William replied: ‘I’ve been allowed two sips so far… it gets taken away from me’

Prince William joked that he has only been allowed ‘two sips’ of Guinness so far in Ireland before officials take keep taking them away from him.

The Duke of Cambridge was speaking to locals yesterday while he and Kate spent quality time together outside Dublin and enjoyed a romantic clifftop walk.

Walking hand-in-hand and with the stunning coastline as a backdrop, the royal couple strolled along a path on the Howth peninsula under blue skies.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the cliff walk during a visit to Howth Head yesterday

William and Kate walk along Howth Cliff under blue skies yesterday during their tour of Ireland

And they bumped into a group of locals, with William telling them they wanted to ‘come and get some fresh air’ during their trip which had been ‘really good’.

Kate said it was ‘such a great day to come and see the view’ before being asked if she was enjoying Ireland. She replied: ‘Yeah, we’re loving it, thank you.

‘We’ve got a few bits left – we’re going to Galway tomorrow.’ A local then replied: ‘Always fabulous, better pints of Guinness in Galway.’

And William said: ‘I know, I’ve been allowed two sips so far. Every time I have the third sip it gets taken away from me. Finish a pint by the time I…’

Prince William holds a pint of Guinness at the Storehouse Gravity Bar in Dublin on Tuesday

A resident replied: ‘It’s a bit of a tough gig.’ William responded: ‘Yeah, tough gig.’ The couple then walked off as a local told them: ‘Thanks for coming out.’

The Duke and Duchess were both handed a pint of the black stuff as they visited the world famous Guinness Storehouse in Dublin on Tuesday evening.

William sipped his pint enthusiastically, although it was soon taken away from him as he walked to a stage to give a speech to the gathered audience.

The Storehouse is a major visitor attraction which tells the story of the famous drink – with the duke toasting his hosts in Gaelic, raising his pint and saying ‘Slainte’.

William’s pint was taken away from him as he walked to a stage before speaking on Tuesday

He also addressed the guests from the worlds of sport, film, television and the armed forces in Irish, calling them ‘dhaoine uaisle’ – ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’.

‘Ireland is a country that we have both heard so much about, so we are really excited to be here with you to see it first-hand for ourselves,’ the duke said.

‘In coming to the Guinness Storehouse, we are retracing the footsteps of my grandmother, who was shown how to pour the perfect pint here in 2011.

‘Ladies and Gentlemen let me tell you it is not often that I find myself following the Queen to a pub.’

William and Kate hold their Guinness pints at the Storehouse Gravity Bar in Dublin on Tuesday

During the reception William and Kate were introduced to groups of guests, from film and TV, sports, sustainability and environment, creative and cultural Ireland, education and research, the charity sector and uniformed services.

They included Game Of Thrones star Liam Cunningham, who played Davos Seaworth in the HBO series and Misfits actor Robert Sheehan, comedian Deirdre O’Kane and actors Sarah Bolger and Orla Brady.

The duke and duchess’s outing came after a day of formal engagements to launch their first official visit to Ireland, nine years after the Queen became the first British monarch to visit the country since its independence.

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‘A new cold war’: China hawks have built a cosy nest in the White House

Washington: Rick Scott, a Republican senator from Florida, has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. As Florida's governor he signed some of the country's toughest anti-abortion policies into law and was an early supporter of Donald Trump's presidential bid.

Ed Markey, a senator from solidly Democratic Massachusetts, co-authored the expansive Green New Deal plan with New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Markey has been rated the most progressive member of the US Senate; Scott has been rated its equal-most conservative member.

The two men agree on almost nothing. But this week they came together to introduce a Senate resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee to strip Beijing of hosting rights for the 2022 Olympics.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called the Chinese Communist Party “the central threat of our times”.Credit:AP

"China’s human rights abuses and crackdown on democracy leave it well short of the Olympic Charter standard that calls for the preservation of human dignity and denounces discrimination of any kind," Markey said.

Scott said: "Communist China should not be allowed to host the 2022 Olympic Games while simultaneously running concentration camps, violating human rights and oppressing the people of Hong Kong."

Their resolution was just the latest drop in a flood of tough-on-China measures that has poured out of the US Congress.

In today's deeply-polarised Washington, agreement between Republicans and Democrats on big issues has become virtually impossible.

The exception to that rule is China. There is a strong bipartisan consensus that the US needs take a much more hardline approach to the rising superpower than it did in the past.

This is reflected in the increasingly bellicose language used by US politicians, cabinet members, agency heads and think tank policy wonks.

Attorney-General William Barr openly refers to China as a "dictatorship" in his speeches. Earlier this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Chinese Communist Party “the central threat of our times".

In a speech last week to the right-wing Hudson Institute, Rick Scott referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as "a despot in disguise" and "Mao Zedong with a makeover".

"Communist China does not want to join the community of nations so much as it wants to rule it," the Florida senator said. "The result, whether we want to admit it or not, is a new Cold War."

US politicians are increasingly open in their condemnation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.Credit:AP

Such talk is a dramatic turnaround from just a few years ago, when both Democrats and Republicans were focused on deepening co-operation with China.

"I have been astounded at how quickly the pendulum has swung," says Anja Manuel, a former senior State Department official and the author of This Brave New World: India, China and the United States.

"The consensus during the Clinton, Bush and early Obama years was to try to bring China along as part of the international system, to help make it a responsible stakeholder.

"Now there is a much harder, aggressive line from both the left and the right.

"Talk to the big Democrats about this and they are almost as tough on China as the Republicans."

The centrepiece of Trump's tough-on-China approach has been trade. Barack Obama tried to curtail China's economic influence through the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership; Trump has preferred to use tariffs on Chinese imports to gain leverage.

While some Democrats criticised Trump's unpredictable policy-making style, the Democrats' Senate leader Chuck Schumer urged the President to hang tough with China on trade. "Don’t back down," he tweeted to Trump at the height of the US-China trade war. "Strength is the only way to win with China."

Like Trump, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has branded China a currency manipulator and has called for new rules to prevent the dumping of cheap Chinese goods in the US.

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Donald Trump to China in November 2017.Credit:AP

Echoing Rick Scott's Cold War rhetoric, Democratic senator Mark Warner used a speech last year to warn that the US faces a modern-day "Sputnik moment"; just as it risked losing the space race to the Soviet Union in the 1960s, it is now in danger of being overtaken by China on technology.

"We have to wake this country up to what China is doing," Warner told the Brookings Institution.

"In areas like 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, semiconductors, robotics, hypersonics, augmented reality and biotech, President Xi is making a play for first place, and he’s doing it using the model that the United States pioneered into technological dominance in the 20th century."

Anja Manuel says the Washington foreign policy establishment's assertive turn on China began in the middle of 2015. The hardening of views was largely a reaction to Xi's increasingly authoritarian and expansionist posture, she says.

It was at this time that the Chinese government released its Made in China 2025 plan, outlining its goal to become an advanced technology powerhouse. The Chinese military also became increasingly active in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile US business leaders were beginning to grasp the systemic barriers they faced in gaining access to the Chinese market.

A few weeks ago, Republican senator Dan Sullivan and Democratic colleague Chris Van Hollen introduced the True Reciprocity Act, which targets what they called the "substantial imbalance" in the US-China relationship. The aim is to get the US government to treat Chinese diplomats, journalists, businesses and non-government groups as their American counterparts are treated in China.

Pompeo's decree this week that five Chinese media outlets – including the official news agency Xinhua – reduce their US-based staff numbers by 40 per cent was exactly what Sullivan and Van Hollen had in mind. Pompeo's move was widely seen as an act of retaliation for China's decision to revoke the visas of three Wall Street Journal reporters last month.

While a more aggressive stance towards China was needed, Manuel says such tit-for-tat policies are going too far.

"We don't want to 'out-China' China," she says. "Our China policy has become completely un-nuanced."

Spy game

To his friends and colleagues at Harvard University, Charles Lieber looked like the very model of a respectable university professor. Leiber, the chair of the university's chemical department, had won prestigious prizes and published hundreds of journal articles.

Then, in late January, FBI agents visited him at his office and arrested him. A few days later Leiber appeared in handcuffs and prison gear at a Massachusetts courthouse to face accusations of "aiding the People’s Republic of China".

The FBI alleges that Lieber lied about his involvement with the Chinese government's Thousand Talents Plan, which encourages overseas researchers to bring their expertise to China in exchange for research funding and lab space.

The FBI claims Lieber received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Wuhan University of Technology, but denied being a participant in the Thousand Talents Plan.

On the same day, the FBI charged cancer researcher Zaosong Zheng with stealing 21 vials of biological research and attempting to smuggle them out of the US on a flight destined for China.

FBI director Christopher Wray labelled Chinese espionage the greatest threat to America’s economic prosperity.Credit:Bloomberg

A few days after these charges were laid, FBI Director Christopher Wray gave a major speech in Washington. His message was blunt: Chinese espionage is the greatest threat to America's economic prosperity.

Chinese spies, Wray said, had "targeted companies producing everything from proprietary rice and corn seeds to software for wind turbines to high-end medical devices".

"The Chinese government is fighting a generational fight to surpass our country in economic and technological leadership," Wray said.

"But not through legitimate innovation, not through fair and lawful competition, and not by giving their citizens the freedom of thought and speech and creativity we treasure here in the United States.

"Instead, they’ve shown that they’re willing to steal their way up the economic ladder at our expense."

Wray said the FBI currently has about 1000 investigations open into Chinese technology theft.

Chinese academics and students in China say they have recently experienced unusually long processing delays on visa applications, forceful questioning by Customs officers at airports and surprise visits from law enforcement officials on campus.

University leaders, while accepting the need to prevent espionage, say there is a danger the crackdown will lead to a form of racial profiling against native Chinese students and academics at American universities.

In an open letter last year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology president L. Rafael Reif warned that "we must take great care not to create a toxic atmosphere of unfounded suspicion and fear".

"Looking at cases across the nation, small numbers of researchers of Chinese background may indeed have acted in bad faith, but they are the exception and very far from the rule," Reif wrote.

"Yet faculty members, post-docs, research staff and students tell me that, in their dealings with government agencies, they now feel unfairly scrutinised, stigmatised and on edge – because of their Chinese ethnicity alone."

There have been examples of overreach. In 2015 US prosecutors were forced to drop charges against Sherry Chen, a Chinese-born hydrologist they had accused of spying.

They also dropped charges against Chinese-born American physicist Xiaoxing Xi, whom they accused of sending restricted technology to China.

Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, says she believes there would be a slight softening of views if the Democrats seize the White House in November.

A Biden administration would seek to co-operate with China on reducing carbon emissions – something Trump, who calls climate change a "hoax", has no interest in.

But she says there will be no return to the optimism of the past. The age of the China hawks is here to stay.

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