World battles coronavirus as cases continue to increase outside China

Members of the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the "White Helmets", prepare their sterilisation equipment before sterilising a hospital in Syria's northwestern Idlib. (AFP)
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Updated 27 March 2020

World battles coronavirus as cases continue to increase outside China

DUBAI: The world continues to battle COVID-19, with some countries’ death tolls and infected cases surpassing that of China.
Middle Eastern countries applied curfews, launched stay at home campaigns and some are enforcing work from home.
Dubai said all government sectors will start working from home on Sunday, while Saudi authorities continue enforcing curfews to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Thursday, March 26 (All times in GMT)

21:30 - The US has overtaken China to become the country with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, with more than 82.000 Americans now testing positive for COVID-19, according to WHO.

21:19 - European Union leaders agreed after six hours of wrangling to task the euro zone finance ministers to work out in two weeks details of a special credit line within the single-currency zone’s bailout fund to support economies hit by coronavirus, diplomatic sources said.
The fight over the scale and scope of the EU’s economic response to the pandemics pits Italy and Spain — seeking far-reaching measures — against Germany and the Netherlands, demanding to spare resources for later, if need be.

20:00 - The human and economic toll of the lockdowns against the coronavirus mounted Thursday as India struggled to feed the multitudes, Italy shut down most of its industry, and a record-shattering 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in a single week.

As the number of infections worldwide reached a half-million and deaths climbed to about 23,000, the damage to people's livelihoods and their well-being from the effort to flatten the rising curve started to come into focus.

19:30 - Riyadh's roads emptied early Thursday afternoon after the curfew was ectended in the capital, along with Makkah and Madinah, to start from 3 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.

18:25 - Almost all of Africa's airlines are currently grounded because of the coronavirus pandemic and several could go bankrupt, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) warned Thursday.

18:00 - Jordan recorded 40 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 212, while Irbid city has been completely cut off from the rest of the governorates. Elsewhere, Tunisia recorded 27 new cases, bringing the total number of those infected to 200.

17:40 - Normally a bustling causeway carrying people back and forth from one end of Dubai to the other - Sheikh Zayed Road looking much emptier than usual after the government's travel restrictions were put in place for this weekend...

17:15 - The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) told the Group of 20 wealthy nations on Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic is "accelerating at an exponential rate" and urged them to ramp up production of protective gear for health workers.

17:09 - The death toll in Italy has grown by 662 to 8,165, the Civil Protection Agency said on Thursday.
The total number of confirmed cases rose to 80,539 from a previous 74,386, the highest number of new cases since March 21.
Of those originally infected nationwide, 10,361 had fully recovered on Thursday compared to 9,362 the day before. 
The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy reported a steep rise in fatalities compared with the day before and remains in a critical situation, with a total of 4,861 deaths and 34,889 cases.

16:30 - Images from Madinah as people obey the 'stay at home' order from the government to prevent the spread of the virus...

16:15 - US President Donald Trump is expected to send US troops to the border with Canada to support border operations amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, according to government sources.

15:50 - China will drastically cut its international flight routes and bar entry to returning foreigners based in the country to stem the spread of the coronavirus, authorities said Thursday.

The country has not reported any new domestic COVID-19 infections for two consecutive days but officials have raised concerns about the number of imported cases, which have now surpassed 500.

15:15 - South Africa braced for a nationwide lockdown Thursday, joining other African countries imposing strict curfews and shutdowns in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus across the continent.

14:45 - New York's governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that the state's coronavirus death tally had jumped to 385, with 100 fatalities in the past day.

The announcement comes hours after the total US death toll surpassed 1,000. New York is at the epicenter of America's coronavirus battle and the state has now counted 37,258 positive cases, as it scrambles to prepare hospitals for an influx of new patients.

14:20 - Chinese scientists reported Thursday it is possible, although rare, for pregnant mothers with the COVID-19 illness to pass the infection down to their babies.

The team followed 33 pregnant women from Wuhan, the city where the disease behind a deadly pandemic was first identified -- and found that three babies were infected with the new coronavirus at birth (a rate of nine percent, albeit in a very small sample).

13:55 - Lebanon is to impose overnight closures from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. with some exceptions to confront the spread of the coronavirus.

12:40 – Saudi Ministry of Health recorded 112 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 1012. The Kingdom reported 33 recoveries and three deaths so far.

12:05 – Turkey could order the public to stay at home if coronavirus infections continue to spread, the government said on Thursday as it clamped down further on medical equipment leaving the country.

12:00 – Israel has recorded a new coronavirus death, increasing toll to 6.

11:30 – Bahrain has confirmed 14 new coronavirus recoveries, bringing total number to 204.

WATCH: WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ message regarding the ‘second opportunity’ to stop coronavirus.

11:10 – Lebanon has recorded 35 new coronavirus cases, increasing total to 368, Skynews said. Two new coronavirus deaths were also reported.

11:05 – European airlines’ revenues are now expected to fall by $76 billion in 2020 with capacity down by more than 80 percent year-on-year, IATA said. Many of the region’s airlines have cash for less than two months’ shutdown, an IATA official added.

10:50 – Hospitals in the British capital are being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, the head of an organization representing bosses in the state-run National Health Service said on Thursday.




A notice board with information about social distancing is seen as a man rides a bicycle in Hyde Park in London on March 26, 2020. (Reuters)

10:50 – The World Health Organization’s (WHO) European office said  it saw “encouraging signs” as Italy reported a lower rate of infections of the new coronavirus, cautioning it was too early to say whether the worst had passed. “While the situation remains very serious, we are starting to see some encouraging signs. Italy, which has the highest number of cases in the region, has just seen a slightly lower rate of increase, though it is still too early to say that the pandemic is peaking in that country,” Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, told a press conference.

10:35 – Spain registered 655 fatalities from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours — down from over 700 on Wednesday, the health ministry reported as the total death toll from the epidemic in the country rose to over 4,000. The overall number of coronavirus cases soared to 56,188 from 47,610 on Wednesday. The number of reported deaths from the virus rose to 4,089 from 3,434 on Wednesday, the ministry said.

10:15 – The UAE will take part in the G20 summit chaired by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said in a tweet.

09:50 – Oman has reported 10 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases to 109, Omani press reported on Thursday. Oman’s health ministry also reported the recovery of 20 patients.
“Our goal was to achieve a slowdown in the spread of infections and this is what we were able to do,” the health ministry said in statement.

09:40 – Iran’s toll from coronavirus reached 2,234, and 29,406 people have been confirmed infected with new coronavirus, state TV reported.

09:25 – Palestine has reported 11 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected cases in the country to 84.

09:20 – The Lebanese Supreme Defense Council has advised government to extend by two weeks the shutdown to curb spread of coronavirus, according to Voice of Lebanon radio.

09:10 – The Kuwait health ministry said 136 people have finished coronavirus quarantine, total now at 853.

09:05 – Malaysia has reported 235 new coronavirus cases, the total is now 2,031. The country has also reported seven cases of the virus among employees of the royal palace, both the king and wife tested negative. READ THE REPORT

08:55 – Vietnam will ban gatherings of more than 20 people at a time for the next two weeks to help curb the spread of coronavirus, the Southeast Asian country’s prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, said.

08:25 – An Italian employee of the Holy See who lives in the same residence as Pope Francis was reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 and been hospitalized.

08:20 – Iran is grossly under-reporting coronavirus cases and deaths in the country, contrary to what various national and local media, regional authorities and health ministry officials are indicating, broadcast service Radio Farda said.

08:15 – Iraq has extended curfew for 14 additional days in Maysan governorate due to coronavirus, according to local reports.




A resident walks past shops in downtown Baghdad that were closed in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in this March 25, 2020 photo. (AP)

08:15 – The Philippine health ministry reported seven new coronavirus deaths and 71 new confirmed infections. It brings the country’s confirmed cases to 707 and deaths to 45 so far, among them six doctors, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a regular news conference. He said case numbers would rise in the coming days as more tests are carried out.

08:10 – Kuwait's Health Ministry reported six new coronavirus recoveries and 13 new cases, bringing the total number of infected cases to 208.

07:55 – About 611 expatriates and Gulf nationals left for their home countries while 306 Kuwaiti citizens were repatriated as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, the Kuwait Interior Ministry said.

07:35 – Britain’s Health Minister Matt Hancock said that 560,000 people had volunteered to help the National Health Service during the coronavirus crisis, more than double the number he had hoped to recruit.

07:35 – Moscow’s mayor said all shops except those selling food will be closed from March 28 to curb the coronavirus spread.

07:20 – The Japanese capital of Tokyo reported more than 40 new cases of coronavirus infections on Thursday for the second day running, Jiji News reported.




Above, a man with a mask waits to cross the street Thursday in Tokyo March 26, 2020. (AP)

07:00 – In India, the number of coronavirus cases has reached 649 and 13 deaths.

06:30 – Russian government officials announced the halting of all international flights starting from Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic. An exception will be made for flights bringing Russians home from abroad, according to a statement published Thursday on the cabinet’s website.

06:10 – Iran has started intercity travel ban amid fears of second wave of coronavirus. The country has also extended the suspension of schools and universities and banned gatherings.

05:00 – Several Abu Dhabi banks will implement a comprehensive package of financial incentives to help consumers and businesses in the emirate cope with the economic uncertainties because of the coronavirus outbreak. READ THE STORY

04:55 – Six people in Kuwait have recovered from COVID-19, raising the country's total recoveries to 49, Kuwaiti Minister of Health Sheikh Basel Al-Sabah said on Thursday. The number of infected cases in Kuwait is 195.

03:40 – The US Senate passed the nation’s largest-ever rescue package late Wednesday, a $2 trillion lifeline to suffering Americans, depleted hospitals and an economy all ravaged by a rapidly spreading coronavirus crisis.
Wednesday, March 25 (All times in GMT)
 

20:30 – UAE authorities said permits and residence visas will be renewed automatically and without medical tests for laborers and service staff, such as domestic workers.

19:50 – Morocco recorded 55 new cases of coronavirus and another death, bringing the tolls to 225 and six.

19:00 – All governmental sectors in Dubai will start working from home as of Sunday to curb the spread of COVID-19.

17:45 – An Omani Royal Air Force aircraft flew to China to collect medical equipment.

16:20 – Bahrain’s health ministry has reported the COVID-19 death of a 78-year-old male Bahraini national who suffered from chronic health problems. The total number of confirmed cases in the country has reached 190.

Related


Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

A Yemeni tries to catch locusts on the rooftop of his house as they swarm several parts of the country bringing in devastations and destruction of major seasonal crops. (AFP)
Updated 11 min 6 sec ago

Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

  • Billions of locusts invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring seasonal crops

AL-MUKALLA: Locust swarms have swept over farms in central, southern and eastern parts of Yemen, ravaging crops and stoking fears of food insecurity.

Residents and farmers in the provinces of Marib, Hadramout, Mahra and Abyan said that billions of locusts had invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring important seasonal crops such as dates and causing heavy losses.
“This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters,” Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, an agricultural official from Hadramout’s Sah district, told Arab News on Sunday.
Images and videos posted on social media showed layers of creeping locusts laying waste to lemon farms in Marb, dates and alfalfa farms in Hadramout and flying swarms plunging cities into darkness. “The locusts have eaten all kinds of green trees, including the sesban tree. The losses are huge,” Abu Baker added.
Heavy rains and flash floods have hit several Yemeni provinces over the last couple of months, creating fruitful conditions for locusts to reproduce. Farmers complained that locusts had wiped out entire seasonal crops that are grown after rains.
Abu Baker said that he visited several affected farms in Hadramout, where farmers told him that if the government would not compensate them for the damage that it should at least get ready for a second potential locust wave that might occur in 10 days.
“The current swarms laid eggs that are expected to hatch in 10 days. We are bracing for the second wave of the locusts.”  
Last year, the UN said that the war in Yemen had disrupted vital monitoring and control efforts and several waves of locusts to hit neighboring countries had originated from Yemen.

This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters.

Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, a Yemeni agricultural official

Yemeni government officials, responsible for battling the spread of locusts, have complained that fighting and a lack of funding have obstructed vital operations for combating the insects.
Ashor Al-Zubairi, the director of the Locust Control Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture in Hadramout’s Seiyun city, said that the ministry was carrying out a combat operation funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization in Hadramout and Mahra, but complained that the operation might fall short of its target due to a lack of funding and equipment.
“The spraying campaign will end in a week which is not enough to cover the entire plagued areas,” Al-Zubairi told Arab News. “We suggested increasing the number of spraying equipment or extending the campaign.”
He said that a large number of villagers had lost their source of income after the locusts ate crops and sheep food, predicting that the outbreak would likely last for at least two weeks if urgent control operations were not intensified and fighting continued. “Combating teams could not cross into some areas in Marib due to fighting.”
The widespread locust invasion comes as the World Food Programme (WFP) on July 10 sent an appeal for urgent funds for its programs in Yemen, warning that people would face starvation otherwise.
“There are 10 million people who are facing (an) acute food shortage, and we are ringing the alarm bell for these people, because their situation is deteriorating because of escalation and because of the lockdowns, the constraints and the social-economic impact of the coronavirus,” WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.