April, 23 2020 - 09:54 PM
Pandemic throws global economy into deeper decline
Global economic activity all but ground to a halt this month as government-imposed lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic took a particularly heavy toll on the world's service industry, surveys showed on Thursday.
The outbreak, which has infected more than 2.6 million people and killed more than 180,000 globally, has also crippled manufacturing, shutting factories and upending supply chains.
April, 23 2020 - 09:45 PM
Blood-pressure drugs are in the crosshairs of Covid-19 research
Scientists are baffled by how the coronavirus attacks the body - killing many patients while barely affecting others.
But some are tantalized by a clue: A disproportionate number of patients hospitalized by Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, have high blood pressure. Theories about why the condition makes them more vulnerable – and what patients should do about it – have sparked a fierce debate among scientists over the impact of widely prescribed blood-pressure drugs.
April, 23 2020 - 09:37 PM
Some Americans going back to work, even as virus erases more jobs
Some workers in Georgia and other US states prepared to go back to work for the first time in a month, as data released on Thursday showing soaring unemployment claims reaffirmed the grim economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic.
A Reuters tally shows more than 840,000 Americans have been infected and nearly 48,000 have died in the outbreak.
Angie Bullman was getting ready to reopen her suburban Atlanta, Georgia, hair salon on Friday in line with a lifting of restrictions on gyms, nail salons and other shops. She says she and her co-owner husband are fully booked for the weekend.
April, 23 2020 - 09:28 PM
Chinese investors flummoxed by India's new foreign investment rules
India's plan to screen foreign direct investments from neighbouring countries has Chinese firms concerned that such scrutiny will affect their projects and delay deals in one of Asia's most lucrative investment markets.
The tougher rules were not a surprise, as other countries are also on guard against fire sales of corporate assets during the coronavirus outbreak, but that they apply to investments from countries that share a land border with India raised eyebrows.
Unlike neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan, China has major investments in India.
April, 23 2020 - 09:02 PM
France first: Paris ignores EU calls to lift export bans on Covid-19 drugs
France has expanded its list of drugs that face export restrictions through the coronavirus crisis despite repeated calls from the European Union to lift curbs that could cause shortages in other countries, documents show.
The further clampdown on exports was adopted two days before EU leaders hold a conference call on Thursday meant to strengthen financial solidarity across the bloc in the fight against the pandemic and preserve its common market, which is based on free movement of goods.
The European Commission sent a letter on April 7 to the French government urging it to lift export restrictions on dozens of vital medicines to treat coronavirus patients, EU officials told Reuters.
April, 23 2020 - 08:44 PM
As virus advances, doctors rethink rush to ventilate
When he was diagnosed with Covid-19, Andre Bergmann knew exactly where he wanted to be treated: the Bethanien hospital lung clinic in Moers, near his home in northwestern Germany.
The clinic is known for its reluctance to put patients with breathing difficulties on mechanical ventilators - the kind that involve tubes down the throat.
The 48-year-old physician, father of two and aspiring triathlete worried that an invasive ventilator would be harmful. But soon after entering the clinic, Bergmann said, he struggled to breathe even with an oxygen mask, and felt so sick the ventilator seemed inevitable.
April, 23 2020 - 08:35 PM
Pompeo warns US may never restore WHO funding
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said a fundamental reform of the World Health Organization is needed following its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and that the United States, WHO's biggest donor, may never restore funding to the UN body.
"I think we need to take a real hard look at the WHO and what we do coming out of this," Pompeo told Fox News late on Wednesday.
"We reformed this back in 2007, so this isn't the first time we've had to deal with the shortcomings of this organization that sits inside the United Nations," he said. "We need a fix. We need a structural fix with the WHO."
April, 23 2020 - 08:19 PM
Tokyo launches coronavirus drive-through tests as crisis deepens
Tokyo’s first drive-through coronavirus test centre was launched this week, as Japan ramps up efforts to prevent its medical system crumbling under the growing weight of new infections.
The city Yokosuka, south of the capital, is starting walk-through testing on Friday - the first of its kind in Japan - in which a samples will be taken by a medical worker stationed in a phone booth-like protective box.
The launch of the time-efficient tests, which have already been put in place in countries such as neighbouring South Korea, follow criticism from medical experts over the limited access in Japan to PCR (polymerase chain reaction) swab tests.
April, 23 2020 - 08:12 PM
Merkel urges Germans to show resilience for long-haul coronavirus battle
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans on Thursday to show endurance and discipline to get through the coronavirus pandemic that is “still at the beginning”, and called for a bigger European Union budget to support economic recovery in the bloc.
Merkel is worried that Germans are relaxing their social distancing efforts after the federal and regional governments agreed to reopen some shops this week.
Germany has the fifth highest COVID-19 caseload behind the United States, Spain, Italy and France, but has kept fatalities down after early and extensive testing.
April, 23 2020 - 07:57 PM
ICRC donates vital medical equipment to Gaza in coronavirus crisis
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday donated vital intensive care equipment to Gaza hospitals but said they remain underequipped for any wider outbreak of the new coronavirus in the territory.
With passage through Gaza's borders tightly controlled by neighbouring Israel and Egypt, only 17 people have tested positive in the Palestinian territory for the novel coronavirus.
April, 23 2020 - 07:44 PM
Locked down Catalans mark St. George's Day with roses on balconies
Stuck at home due to the coronavirus lockdown, inhabitants of Spain’s Catalonia region kept up St. George’s Day traditions on Thursday with roses on balconies and book-sharing online.
The legendary dragon-slayer is the proud northeastern region’s patron saint - known as “Sant Jordi” in the local language - as well as England’s.
Catalans generally crowd the streets with loved ones, exchanging books and roses in representation of the flower that came from the dragon’s spilt blood.
But due to the COVID-19 disease, streets including Barcelona’s famous La Rambla boulevard were virtually deserted.
Not to be deterred, however, some Catalans had flowers delivered via online purchases and placed them on balconies, together with drawings of roses and other aspects of the legend, social media posts showed. Regional flags abounded too.
April, 23 2020 - 07:42 PM
On the margins of Paris, the food bank queues grow longer
The queue for the food bank snaked for hundreds of metres, out of the shuttered marketplace bordered by tower blocks and down the side of a four-lane highway on the outskirts of one of Europe's wealthiest cities.
In Paris's depressed suburbs, the number of people relying on food handouts is soaring as a strict coronavirus lockdown plunges France into its deepest recession since World War Two.
Many worked in the grey economy before the outbreak, and now receive little protection from France's generous welfare state.
April, 23 2020 - 07:36 PM
Lombardy becomes latest Italian region to start own coronavirus tests
The northern Italian region of Lombardy, at the epicentre of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, began an antibody testing programme on Thursday as it prepared to start opening up its economy following weeks of lockdown.
The so-called serological tests on intravenous blood samples, using a kit designed by diagnostics specialist Diasorin, will be carried out in 14 of the worst-hit areas of Lombardy before being extended to the whole region next week.
Unlike nasal swab tests, which look for the presence of the coronavirus directly, the serological tests look for antibodies that indicate viral contagion, but they are quicker and simpler to administer.
April, 23 2020 - 07:02 PM
Scotland's Sturgeon says life will not return to normal in the near future
Life is unlikely to return to normal even when the tighest coronavirus restrictions are lifted and social distancing measures could be in place for the rest of this year and beyond, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Thursday.
“A return to normal as we knew it is not on the cards in the near future... What we will be seeking to do is find a new normal - a way of living alongside this virus but in a form that keeps it under control,” Sturgeon said at a news conference.
“Social distancing and limiting our contacts with others will be a fact of life for a long time to come, certainly until treatments and ultimately a vaccine offer different solutions. So that means possibly for the rest of this year, and maybe even beyond.”
April, 23 2020 - 06:48 PM
Lockdown exit in France will not be done region by region: presidency
French President Emmanuel Macron told mayors that unwinding the coronavirus lockdown would not be done region by region, the presidency’s office said on Thursday.
Mayors were also told at a video conference call with Macron that non-professional masks for the public would be recommended but not compulsory, his office added.
April, 23 2020 - 06:12 PM
Swiss government expects deep recession due to coronavirus
The Swiss government forecast the country’s economy will shrink 6.7 percent this year, saying it expected the recession triggered by the coronavirus epidemic to be worse than initially feared.
It expects the economy to grow 5.2 percent next year adjusted for large sporting events, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said on Thursday in a revision of its March forecast.
It had originally said it expected the country’s economy to shrink 1.5 percent in 2020, before rebounding with a 3.3% increase in output in 2021.
April, 23 2020 - 05:28 PM
UK PM Johnson sure to be back at work soon, minister says
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is recovering well from grave COVID-19 complications and will be back at work soon, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said on Thursday.
“He is also right now, as he is fully recovering, doing what we are asking people across the country to do, he is taking the advice of the medical experts and the doctors and doing as the doctors outlined him to do,” Lewis told Sky.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him back in full swing and in full grip of the reins as prime minister of the country. I’m sure he will be very soon, I am sure he will be very keen to get back but I think he is also doing the right thing.”
April, 23 2020 - 05:12 PM
Swiss coronavirus death toll rises to 1,268; positive tests almost 28,500
The Swiss death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 1,268, the country’s public health agency said on Thursday, rising from 1,217 people on Wednesday.
The number of positive tests has increased to 28,496 from 28,268 on Wednesday, it said. The increase in new cases has eased in recent days as Switzerland prepares to loosen restrictions introduced to slow the spread of the disease.
April, 23 2020 - 04:51 PM
Too poor to buy, too scared to meet: Palestinians face joyless Ramadan
The electric lanterns and ornate decorations of Ramadan would normally be hanging in the streets of Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem by now, but not this year amid coronavirus restrictions and growing economic woes.
The holy fasting month is expected to start on Friday but, as elsewhere, Palestinians this year are facing the prospect of celebrations without the usual large gatherings for family meals or evening prayers, known as Tarawih.
April, 23 2020 - 04:44 PM
Greece extends coronavirus lockdown measures by a week to May 4
Greece on Thursday extended its general coronavirus lockdown by a week to May 4, saying any relaxation would be staggered out over May and June.
Greek authorities imposed a blanket shutdown of public life from mid-March to stem coronavirus contagion, and the country has recorded a significantly lower outbreak of the COVID-19 respiratory disease than many other European nations.
Restrictions, which include movements by members of the public only with an officially approved permit, will be extended to May 4 from April 27, government spokesman Stelios Petsas told a news briefing.
“The objective of the confinement measures is not to remain in a glass bowl, stuck in our homes. The objective is to take our lives back and win back our way of life which was temporarily deprived of us by this cunning and invisible enemy,” Petsas said.
By Wednesday evening, Greece had reported 2,408 cases of COVID-19 and 121 deaths.
April, 23 2020 - 04:23 PM
Finland PM to work from home as precaution against coronavirus
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin will work from home from Thursday as a precaution against possible exposure to the coronavirus, her office said.
The decision was made after Marin was told a close contact of someone who had been working at her official residence last week had tested positive on Wednesday.
“The possibility of exposure is extremely low,” the office wrote in a statement, adding Marin was symptomless and feeling well.
The individual, who was also asymptomatic, did not meet the prime minister, her family members or her advisory staff when working at the residence, the office said.
April, 23 2020 - 04:03 PM
Italy's Triboo starts selling Chinese Covid-19 antibody tests
Italian digital services company Triboo (TB.MI) said on Thursday it had started selling antibody tests for Covid-19 produced by China's SOBC Outdo Biotech, as Italy draws closer to easing the lockdown measures imposed to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
Pharmaceutical firms are racing to develop tests that could tell whether people have had Covid-19 and authorities have been trying to set up broad-based testing systems as part of plans for a controlled return to work after weeks of lockdown.
April, 23 2020 - 03:46 PM
EU leaders to take step to joint financing of post-pandemic recovery
European Union leaders will move on Thursday towards joint financing of a recovery after the coronavirus pandemic by asking the European Commission to propose a fund sufficiently big to target the most affected sectors and regions.
Many leaders see the massive joint recovery financing as a crucial tool of EU solidarity as some in the 27-nation bloc will have a harder time than others regaining their economic footing after the deepest-ever EU recession this year.
April, 23 2020 - 03:38 PM
Spain's death toll from coronavirus rises to 22,157
The Spanish health ministry said on Thursday that 440 people died from the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, which brought total fatalities to 22,157.
That was slightly higher than the previous day when 435 people died. The number of diagnosed cases rose to 213,024 from 208,389 the day before, Reuters reported.
April, 23 2020 - 03:27 PM
Bangladesh confirms 7 more deaths from coronavirus, 414 new cases
Bangladesh today confirmed seven more deaths from the novel coronavirus and 414 new cases of infection after testing 3,416 samples in last 24 hours.
With this, the death toll from the deadly virus rises to 127 and the number of total infected person stands at 4,186. 16 patients have cured in last 24 hours.
April, 23 2020 - 03:19 PM
Global coronavirus cases top 2.6 million with 183,424 deaths
The worldwide death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to at least 184,614.
Some 2,648,317 declared cases have been registered in 193 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December, according to data collected from worldometers.
Of these cases, at least 784,986 are now considered recovered.
April, 23 2020 - 02:53 PM
Philippines nears 7,000 coronavirus cases, reports 16 new deaths
The Philippines' health ministry on Thursday reported 16 new coronavirus deaths and 271 confirmed infections, ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's decision whether to lift or extend quarantine measures on the country's main island.
In a bulletin, the health ministry said total deaths have increased to 462 while infections have risen to 6,981. But 29 more patients have recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 722, Reuters reported.
April, 23 2020 - 02:19 PM
Russia's new coronavirus cases fall for third day running as total passes 62,000
Russia recorded 4,774 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, a fall in the number of daily new cases for the third day running, bringing its nationwide tally to 62,773, the Russian coronavirus crisis response centre said on Thursday.
Forty-two people with the virus died in the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 555, it said, Reuters reported.
April, 23 2020 - 02:01 PM
Singapore confirms 1,037 new COVID-19 cases
Singapore's health ministry said it had preliminarily confirmed 1,037 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the Southeast Asian city-state's total infections to 11,178.
The health ministry said the vast majority of the new cases were migrant workers residing in dormitories, many of which are under government-ordered quarantine due to mass outbreaks, Reuters reported.
April, 23 2020 - 01:25 PM
Virus could mean 1.2bln fewer airline passengers: UN agency
The coronavirus pandemic could mean 1.2 billion fewer airline passengers worldwide by September, the International Civil Aviation Organisation said Wednesday.
The “most substantial reduction in passenger numbers,” the UN agency said in a statement, “is expected to be in Europe, especially during its peak summer travel season, followed by the Asia-Pacific,” AFP reported
Airline capacity could also be significantly slashed, it said, resulting in a drop in airline revenues in the first nine months of the year by as much as $160-253 billion.
The projections are more dire than the ICAO’s initial estimates in February when the outbreak seemed to be mostly localized in China, where almost all of the first 1,400 Covid-19 deaths were recorded.
The ICAO said then that the airline industry was facing a $4-5 billion drop in revenue.
April, 23 2020 - 01:07 PM
Adults suffer sudden strokes caused by Covid-19
Adults in their 30s and 40s who are not terribly ill appear to be suffering sudden strokes by the new coronavirus, doctors say.
The evidence of Covid-19 infection causing blood clot in unusual way is growing and stroke is an expected consequence of that, CNN reported.
Doctors said patients may be unwilling to call 911 because they have heard hospitals are overwhelmed by coronavirus cases.
April, 23 2020 - 12:37 PM
France reports 544 new coronavirus deaths, total toll 21,340
France on Wednesday reported 544 more deaths from COVID-19 in hospitals and nursing homes over the last 24 hours, but registered new falls in the total numbers of coronavirus patients.
The total toll from the epidemic in France has now risen to 21,340, top health official Jerome Salomon told reporters, while adding that there were now 365 fewer coronavirus patients in hospital and 215 fewer in intensive care compared with the day earlier, AFP reported.
April, 23 2020 - 12:17 PM
'Virus will be with us for a long time': WHO urges US to reconsider funding
The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday that he hoped the Trump administration would reconsider its suspension of funding, but that his main focus was on ending the pandemic and saving lives.
There were "worrying upward trends" in early epidemics in parts of Africa and central and South America, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, Reuters reported.
"Most countries are still in the early stages of their epidemics and some that were affected early in the pandemic are starting to see a resurgence in cases," Tedros told Geneva journalists in a virtual briefing.
April, 23 2020 - 11:37 AM
US sees 1,738 new coronavirus deaths in 24 hours
The United States on Wednesday recorded 1,738 deaths from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, a lower toll than the day before, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The new deaths bring the total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the US to 46,583 since the outbreak began there, by far the highest figures recorded by any country caught in the global pandemic, AFP reported.
April, 23 2020 - 11:21 AM
Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 2,352 to 148,046
Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 2,352 to 148,046, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday, marking a third consecutive day of new infections accelerating.
The reported death toll rose by 215 to 5,094, the tally showed, Reuters reported.
April, 23 2020 - 11:07 AM
China reports 10 new coronavirus cases in mainland vs 30 a day earlier
Mainland China reported 10 new coronavirus cases as of the end of April 22, down from 30 a day earlier as the number of so-called imported cases involving travellers from overseas declined, the National Health Commission said today.
The commission said six of the new COVID-19 cases confirmed on Wednesday were imported, down from 23 a day earlier. The number of new asymptomatic patients, who are infected but do not show symptoms, also declined to 27 from 42 a day earlier, Reuters reported.
Total number of confirmed coronavirus cases for mainland China now stands at 82,798. No new Covid-19 deaths were reported, leaving the toll unchanged at 4,632.
April, 23 2020 - 10:49 AM
Japan reports 14 more coronavirus cases on Italian cruise ship
Fourteen more coronavirus infections have been confirmed on the Italian cruise ship Costa Atlantica docked for repairs in Japan, a local official said on Thursday, bringing the total to at least 48.
Half of them were cooks and the other half staff in charge of serving food to the crew, the official told a livestreamed news conference, Reuters reported.
The Costa Atlantica infections come after the cases on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama two months ago, where more than 700 passengers and crew were found to be infected, although this time only crew members were on board.
The Costa Cruises-operated ship was taken into a shipyard in Nagasaki city in western Japan in late February by a unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries after the COVID-19 pandemic had scuttled plans for scheduled repairs in China.
The latest cases have raised concern about the potential impact on Nagasaki residents after revelations some crew had left the restricted area despite assurances from the ship operator that they would stay within the wharf, according to Nagasaki officials.
The Italian cruise ship is carrying 623 crew members and no passengers. Officials said they hoped to eventually test all on board.
As of Wednesday, 34 had tested positive for the new coronavirus. One member who had previously been transferred to a local hospital was now in a serious condition and on a ventilator, the official said.
Japan has seen more than 11,500 infections and close to 300 deaths from the new coronavirus, excluding figures from the Diamond Princess.
April, 23 2020 - 10:33 AM
UN warns against repressive measures amid coronavirus crisis
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday the coronavirus could give some countries an excuse to adopt repressive measures for reasons unrelated to the pandemic as he warned that the outbreak risks becoming a human rights crisis.
Guterres released a UN report highlighting how human rights should guide the response and recovery to the health, social and economic crisis gripping the world. He added that while the virus does not discriminate, its impacts do.
April, 23 2020 - 10:19 AM
Italy’s official virus death toll tops 25,000
Italy’s official death toll from the novel coronavirus topped 25,000 on Wednesday but the number of those currently being treated for its symptoms declined for a third successive day.
The 437 fatalities reported by the civil protection services moved the Mediterranean country’s formal toll over the past two months to 25,085 — second only to the United States, AFP reported.
April, 23 2020 - 10:01 AM
Thailand reports 13 new coronavirus cases, one new death
Thailand reported 13 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and one more death, a 78-year-old woman who had other health complications.
Of the new cases, five were linked to previous cases and five had no known links, Reuters reported.
Three other new cases were reported from the southern island of Phuket where the authorities are aggressively testing the population because the infection rate there is severe, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government's Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.
Since the outbreak escalated in January, Thailand has reported a total of 2,839 cases and 50 fatalities, while 2,430 patients have recovered and gone home.
April, 23 2020 - 09:21 AM
Coronavirus death toll tops 110,000 in Europe
The death toll from the novel coronavirus in Europe has passed 110,000, according to figures compiled by AFP from official sources by 0920 GMT on Wednesday.
With 110,192 people dead from 1,246,840 cases registered, Europe is the hardest hit continent by the pandemic that has killed 177,368 people around the world, AFP reported.
Italy has recorded 24,648 deaths, Spain 21,717, France 20,796 and Britain 17,337.
April, 23 2020 - 09:14 AM
Mexico coronavirus cases top 10,000 as sickly economy contracts
Mexico reported on Wednesday it now has over 10,000 cases of coronavirus, the fifth-highest tally in Latin America, as containment measures and rock-bottom crude prices wreak economic havoc on the oil-producing country.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has frequently expressed optimism that Mexicans will overcome the outbreak, arguing that tight-knit families offer the best protection, even as he has balked at more aggressive stimulus measures to help both businesses and individuals, Reuters reported.
Mexico’s economy, Latin America’s second biggest and already ailing before the outbreak, is expected to contract by as much as 10% this year.
As late as March 22, Lopez Obrador was still encouraging Mexicans to go out with their families to restaurants, while allies, including the mayor of Mexico City, began ordering the closure of movie theaters and gyms and asking residents to stay home.
Earlier this week Mexico entered into the so-called “Phase 3” of the spread of the novel coronavirus, the most serious stage, as senior health officials warned that the transmission of the virus is intensifying.
Mexico has so far registered 970 coronavirus deaths and 10,544 confirmed infections.
April, 23 2020 - 08:59 AM
Panama reports 171 new coronavirus cases
Panama posted 171 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the country’s total to nearly 5,000 infected persons, the health ministry said.
Officials also confirmed three more deaths stemming from the 4,992 confirmed cases, raising Panama’s death toll from the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the virus to 144, Reuters reported.