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Wednesday, Apr 08, 2020

Coronavirus latest: 1 billion confined to homes as global death toll surges toward 13,000

Coronavirus latest: 1 billion confined to homes as global death toll surges toward 13,000

The virus death toll has crossed 12,700 worldwide, as worst-hit Italy reported a one-day record number of deaths – nearly 800. China reports 46 new coronavirus cases, all but one imported

Nearly 1 billion people around the world have been confined to their homes as US states implemented stay-at-home orders similar to those in Europe, and as deaths from the global coronavirus pandemic surged towards 13,000.

More than a third of Americans were adjusting to life in various phases of lockdown – including in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, three of the country’s most populous cities – with more states expected to ramp up restrictions.

The virus death toll soared to 12,725 worldwide as worst-hit Italy reported a one-day record number of deaths – nearly 800, with the country’s overall toll shooting past 4,800 – and Spain reported a 32 per cent spike in new deaths.

France’s toll jumped by 112 to 562, as police officials said helicopters and drones were being deployed to boost the government’s attempts to keep people in their homes.

On Sunday, mainland China reported 46 new cases, 45 of which were imported. The country confirmed six more deaths, five of which were from Hubei province, ground zero of China’s outbreak.

China has now recorded 81,054 coronavirus cases since the start of the outbreak, and 3,261 deaths, including six on Saturday. A total of 59,432 patients had recovered, according to the National Health Commission.

Hubei reported its fourth straight day of no new cases. The World Health Organisation said the central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected late last year, offered a glimmer of “hope for the rest of the world”.

Here are the updates:


Italy shuts factories as daily toll nears 800

The Italian government is closing all non-essential production activities in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said late Saturday.

Among other things, supermarkets, banks, post office and pharmacies will remain open, Conte added.

He spoke of the “greatest challenge since the Second World War”.

Italy reported almost 800 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday with the outbreak showing no signs of abating despite ever stricter curfews being enforced nationwide.

The Civil Protection Authority said 4,825 people had died, an increase of 793 compared with the day before, making it the highest daily fatality figure since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

The number of total infections rose by more than 4,800 to 53,578. Italy is the country with the most officially reported deaths due to the coronavirus in the world.


First cases confirmed in Gaza Strip

The Palestinian Health Ministry announced the first two cases of the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip early Sunday.

The ministry said the cases were two people who returned recently from Pakistan. It said they had been moved to isolation at a hospital in Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip.

The development added to fears of a potential outbreak in the crowded enclave, which has an overstretched health care system after years of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade and Palestinian political division.

The blockade has rendered Gaza off limits to foreign tourists, and Israel and Egypt have shut their borders with the territory as part of measures aimed at containing the virus.

Palestinians returning home can still enter Gaza, but are sent to quarantine centres.


More Sydney beaches closed

More Sydney beaches were closed Sunday to enforce social distancing decreed by Australian authorities to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to media reports.

Bondi Beach remained closed after being shut down on Saturday, and local councils closed all beaches across the eastern suburbs of the city in New South Wales.

Outside gatherings of more than 500 people are banned under regulations brought in by the Australian government to control the spread of the potentially deadly virus, and people are required to keep 1.5 metres distance from each other.

Eleven beaches south of Bondi were closed on Sunday.


Trump offers coronavirus ‘cooperation’ to Kim

North Korea welcomed what it said was a letter from US President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying it was a sign of “the special and very firm personal relations” between the two leaders despite recent frictions.

A senior Trump administration official confirmed Trump sent the letter and said it was “consistent with his efforts to engage global leaders during the ongoing pandemic”.

Trump “expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work, saying that he was impressed by the efforts made by the Chairman to defend his people from the serious threat of the epidemic,” North Korean state news agency KCNA reported. It did not say when the letter was received.




FAA temporarily halts all New York airport arrivals

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it temporarily halted flights arriving at New York City airports and Philadelphia on Saturday after a trainee at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Centre tested positive for Covid-19.

That forced the FAA to close some air space sectors and divert flights. The FAA issued a hold on flights landing at New York area airports. The order cited staffing issues at the New York Air Traffic Control Center. The FAA website said the ground stop had been lifted at Newark, LaGuardia and Philadelphia but was still in effect at New York JFK airport.


Pence tests negative

US Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, have tested negative for the coronavirus.

Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tweeted the results of the tests Saturday night.

Pence had announced earlier Saturday that, out of an abundance of caution, he and his wife would be tested for the virus. A member of the vice-president’s staff had tested positive for the virus.

The vice-president had said the staffer, who did not have close contact with either the president or vice president, was doing well. Still, Pence stood just a few feet from President Donald Trump at the podium during their press conference.


Argentina makes exemption for tooth fairy

In Argentina’s nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus, one magical being has been handed a presidential exemption: the tooth fairy.

President Alberto Fernandez last ordered all but essential workers to stay home and off the streets. But he was forced to amend the list of exceptions after receiving a message from the mother of a 7-year old boy who had recently lost his first tooth.

Aside from the tooth fairy, Argentina has also exempted key agricultural and export industry workers from the lockdown, and allows people on the streets to buy groceries and medicine, and for urgent medical needs.

The country thus far has confirmed 158 cases of coronavirus and four deaths from the disease.



France to use helicopters to enforce restrictions

France is calling up helicopters and drones to boost the government’s attempts to keep people in their homes.
One helicopter was already in use on Saturday, hovering above major Paris parks to ensure that confinement rules were respected.

A French navy helicopter-carrier was on the way to Toulon from where the vessel’s helicopters will evacuate coronavirus patients from Corsica to Marseille.

Drones will also be used to help keep people confined, in particular to keep an eye on the banks of the Seine river.
France has been in lockdown since Tuesday, with excursions from the home limited to buying food, visiting the doctor, walking the dog or going for a solitary jog.




Emirates suspends flights to dozens more cities

Dubai carrier Emirates Airlines announced Saturday it would suspend flights to dozens more cities, taking its total route closures past 100, in a bid to forestall the spread of coronavirus.

The United Arab Emirates on Friday announced its first two deaths from the disease. Total recorded infections in the UAE stood at 153, of which 38 have recovered.

The latest suspensions by Emirates Airlines take the carrier’s total closed routes to 111.

The airline normally serves 159 destinations.


Britain tells shoppers to stop panic buying

The British government on Saturday urged people to stop panic buying during the coronavirus crisis, claiming there was enough food for everyone.

With supermarket shelves still being stripped of essential items, including toilet paper, officials said there was no need for panic.
The plea to stop panic buying came as health department figures Saturday showed that 233 people have now died from Coivid-19 in the UK, with the number of those testing positive for the virus standing at 5,018.


Spanish PM says worst yet to come

The Spanish prime minister praised the nation on Saturday – one week after the government declared a state of emergency and then put the country under lockdown – and called on citizens to persevere through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number of people infected with the novel coronavirus took another big jump in Spain on Saturday, leaping by 5,000 for a total of 25,000 infected.

The number of dead also climbed to 1,300, from 1,000 the day before.

The region around Madrid one of the worst-hit in the country, with almost 9,000 cases of the coronavirus and 800 dead.

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