COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Man Bought Lamborghini With PPP Loan, Prosecutors Say
A man in California who received more than $5 million in Payment Protection Program loans intended to help struggling businesses during the coronavirus pandemic was arrested on Friday on federal bank fraud and other charges after he used the money to buy a Lamborghini and other luxury cars, federal prosecutors said.

The man, Mustafa Qadiri, 38, of Irvine, was indicted by a federal grand jury on four counts of bank fraud, four counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and six counts of money laundering, the U.S. attorney in the Central District of California announced.

Federal prosecutors said Mr. Qadiri’s efforts to obtain federal loans started in late May 2020 and netted him nearly $5.1 million by early June. Mr. Qadiri is accused of using that money to go on a spending spree that included buying a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a Bentley and paying for “lavish vacations,” all of which are prohibited under the Payment Protection Program, prosecutors said.


... Some of Mr. Qadiri's assets have already been seized, prosecutors said. Federal agents confiscated a 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia that was registered to All American Capital Holdings, one of the companies listed on Mr. Qadiri’s P.P.P. loan applications, they said. A 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S, registered to the same company, was also seized, they said.

The 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia can sell for more than $100,000, according to Cars.com, which says in a review that the vehicle “can perform as well as strain gawkers’ necks.” It has a V-8 engine and 570 horsepower and can go from zero to 62 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds, “which is about as fast as anyone can expect to go in a car today that doesn’t shoot flames out the back,” the review says.

... A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said that if Mr. Qadiri was convicted, the charges against him carried a combined maximum penalty of 302 years in prison.

Numerous people have been arrested and charged with misusing pandemic relief funds. Mr. Qadiri is at least the third person to face charges specifying the purchase of a Lamborghini.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/10/us/ppp-loan-sports-cars.html

England Eases More Coronavirus Restrictions

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that England would move into its next reopening phase May 17, loosening limits on businesses and gatherings, and allowing people to make their own decisions about close contact, like hugging.

The data now support moving to Step 3 in England from next Monday, the 17th of May. This means the Rule of 6 for two households that is applied outdoors will now apply indoors, and the limit for outdoor meetings will increase to 30 from next Monday. You’ll be able to sit inside a pub and inside a restaurant. You’ll be able to go to the cinema and children will be able to use indoor play areas. We’re reopening hostels, hotels, B&Bs; we’ll reopen the doors to our theaters, concert halls and business conference centers. We’ll, unlock the turnstiles of our sports stadia, subject to capacity limits, and from next week, everyone will be able to travel within Britain and stay overnight. We’re updating the guidance on close contact between friends and family, setting out the risks for everyone to make their own choices. This doesn’t mean, we can suddenly throw caution to the winds. In fact, more than a year into this pandemic, we all know that close contact, such as hugging, is a direct way of transmitting this disease. So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones, whether they’ve had a vaccine, one or two doses, and whether there has been time for that vaccine to take effect. Remember, outdoors is always safer than indoors, and if you’re meeting indoors, remember to open a window and let in the fresh air.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/europe/100000007754763/england-loosens-coronavirus-restrictions.html

‘Moving in the Right Direction,’ Biden Says of Economic Growth

On Monday, President Biden gave an update on the economic outlook for the country after a disappointing monthly jobs report on Friday. The president maintained in his speech that economic growth was continuing, despite pandemic losses.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000007755076/biden-economy-speech.html

Covid: Dracula's castle in Romania offers tourists vaccine
Bran Castle
Visitors to Dracula's castle are being jabbed with needles rather than fangs after a Covid-19 vaccine centre has been set up at the Transylvanian site.

Medics with fang stickers on their scrubs are offering Pfizer shots to everyone who visits the 14th-century Bran Castle in central Romania.

It is part of a government drive to encourage more Romanians to get jabbed.


Some believe the castle inspired the vampire's lair in Bram Stoker's iconic novel Dracula.

Romania has recorded just over a million infections since the pandemic began, and nearly 29,000 deaths.

The country's government says it wants to vaccinate 10 million people by September, but almost half of Romanians say they are not inclined to get the jab - one of the highest hesitancy levels in Europe, according to a survey by Globesec.

Bran Castle hopes its unique initiative will help boost vaccination numbers. During every weekend in May, anyone can turn up without an appointment to get a jab, and they also get free entry to the castle's exhibit of 52 medieval torture instruments.

"The idea... was to show how people got jabbed 500-600 years ago in Europe," the castle's marketing director, Alexandru Priscu told Reuters news agency.
Read the full article: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-57049639

Virus Variant in India May Be More Transmissible, Says W.H.O.

The World Health Organization said Monday that the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus, which has spread throughout India is now a “variant of concern,” and may be fueling a rise in infections.

In consultation with our virus evolution working group, and our epi teams and our lab teams internally, there is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility of B.1.617. There is a preprint that is out. So this is a paper that has not undergone peer review, and it’s a limited number of patients, suggesting that there is some reduced neutralization. And as such, we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level.” “We are still in a perilous situation. The spread of variants, increased social mixing, the relaxation of public health and social measures, and inequitable vaccination are all driving transmission. Yes, vaccines are reducing severe disease and deaths in countries that are fortunate enough to have them in sufficient quantities, and early results suggest that vaccines might also drive down transmission.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000007755514/india-coronavirus-variant.html

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia