UN chief calls for global unity in ‘fight of a generation’ against coronavirus epidemic

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A sign encouraging social distancing hangs in the boarding area at an Amtrak gate at Union Station on April 09, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)
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Updated 10 April 2020

UN chief calls for global unity in ‘fight of a generation’ against coronavirus epidemic

DUBAI: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for global unity to address the coronavirus crisis, that he described as the ‘fight of a generation’, as the highly contagious disease continued to affect large swathes of the world.

Middle East governments meanwhile continue to implement strict measures, including curfews and complete lockdowns, to contain the spread of the virus particularly in communities with dense expatriate populations.

Friday, April 10, 0020 (All times in GMT)

19:05 - Turkey ordered citizens to stay at home for 48 hours across 31 cities starting midnight Friday as it rolled out new strict measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
The interior ministry said in a statement the order would last until midnight Sunday in dozens of cities, including the economic hub of Istanbul and the capital Ankara.

18:15 - President Donald Trump on Friday said he will make an announcement next week on US funding to the World Health Organization, which he has recently threatened to cut.
"As you know, we have given them approximately $500 million a year, and we are going to be talking about that subject next week. We'll have a lot to say about it," Trump told a news conference at the White House.
He said he would make the announcement "sometime next week."

18:11 - President Donald Trump said on Friday that he thinks the United States will lose fewer than the initially projected 100,000 lives to COVID-19.
Trump suggested that the United States is nearing its peak infection rate and said the nationwide number of new coronavirus cases is flattening, with the situations in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Detroit, Michigan, stabilizing.
US deaths due to the virus topped 18,100 on Friday, according to a Reuters tally.

18:05 - The UAE announced 370 new cases of coronavirus, 150 recoveries and two deaths on Friday.  

17:51 - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Friday that he had taken the "difficult" decision to extend the Mediterranean country's economically crippling lockdown until May 3.
"We are extending the restrictions until May 3. It is a difficult but necessary decision for which I assume full political responsibility," Conte told the nation after Italy's world-topping coronavirus death toll rose to 18,849.

17:45 - The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has hit 100,000, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

17:30 - Tunisia secured a $743 million loan from the International Monetary Fund on Friday to help counter the economic effects of the coronavirus, finance minister Nizar Yaich told Reuters.

The loan will be extended under an IMF scheme to support countries during the coronavirus crisis, the official said.

Tunisia has confirmed 643 cases of the virus and 25 deaths.

17:20 - France reports 987 more coronavirus deaths, country's toll tops 13,000, according to officials.

16:50 - More than 1,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus in Turkey, according to the health minister Friday, as 4,747 new cases were recorded.

Fahrettin Koca shared the latest figures in an image on Twitter, showing 98 more people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the total death toll to 1,006. With the new cases of COVID-19, Turkey has officially recorded a total of 47,029 people with the virus.

15:50 - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been able walk short distances as part of the care he is receiving to aid his recovery, his office said on Friday.

Johnson came out of intensive care on Thursday after three nights and is recovering on a hospital ward.

"The prime minister has been able to do short walks, between periods of rest, as part of the care he is receiving," a Downing Street spokesman said.

"He has spoken to his doctors and thanks the whole clinical team for the incredible care he has received." 

15:45 - New York records 777 new deaths due to coronavirus infections, while total US death toll exceeds 17,000.

15:32 - Iraq's Health Ministry announces 47 new cases of coronavirus infections.

14:50 -  Egypt's Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowments) said on Friday that mosques will not open for taraweeh prayers during Ramadan unless the coronavirus crisis had come to an end by then. 

14:20 - The World Bank is giving the Philippines a $500 million loan to help the country’s fight against the coronavirus. FULL STORY HERE.

13:15 - Some good news for these Saudi citizens and residents as they return home on an evacauation flight.

12:30 - Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry announced a lockdown in six neighborhoods of Madinah effective from Friday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The lockdown applies to the following neighbourhoods in Madinah: Qurban, Al-Sharibat, Bani Dhafar, Bani Khidrah, Al-Jumuah and Iskaan. 

12:15 - Saudi Arabia announced 364 new cases of coronavirus on Friday taking the total number of cases in the Kingdom to 3,651.

All 364 cases were recorded on April 9.

Of the new cases reported, 90 patients tested positive for coronavirus in Makkah, 78 in Madinah, 69 in Riyadh and 54 in Jeddah.

12:08 - Bahrain reported 26 new cases of coronavirus on Friday taking the total number of cases to 917. The health ministry added that 530 patients have recovered so far.  

11:08 - France’s only aircraft carrier has confirmed 50 cases of the virus aboard and is heading back to port.

The French military says three of those aboard the Charles de Gaulle with the virus have been flown to a French hospital for treatment. Medics are staying aboard to track the infections and prevent further spread among the 1,700 crew after 50 of the 66 tests were positive.

US aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt experienced a similar outbreak, leading to a major controversy after its captain was fired.

Amid suspicions of an outbreak aboard the Charles de Gaulle, a medical team equipped with tests was flown to the French aircraft carrier on Wednesday while it was on a mission in the Atlantic Ocean.

09:55 – Up to 27 people test positive for coronavirus in Lebanon, raising total cases to 609.

09:55 – Qatar confirmed 136 new coronavirus patients.

09:47Iran’s total death toll from coronavirus outbreak reached 4,232, while contamination cases rose to 68,192, country’s health ministry said.

09:38 – Spain’s coronavirus patients have reached 157,022 on Friday from 152,446 on Thursday, while the country's death toll stood at 15,843.




Gonzalo Garcia is examined by Spanish emergency medical workers after being earlier hospitalized with coronavirus. (AP)

09:29 – Morocco said there were 57 new coronavirus cases, raising total infections to 1,431, and 114 deaths.

09:20 – The Kuwait health ministry has reported 83 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 993.

09:15 – French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said Friday it would offer 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, to governments worldwide if studies show it can safely to be used to treat COVID-19 patients. READ THE STORY

08:50Indonesia reported 219 new coronavirus cases and 26 new deaths, a health ministry official Achmad Yurianto told reporters.

08:29 – Palestine said there were there new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 266.

08:07 – The Philippine health ministry reported 18 more coronavirus deaths and 119 new cases.

07:34 – Kuwait health ministry confirmed the recovery of 12 coronavirus patients, bringing the total to 123.

06:47 – Soldiers and police hit the streets of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta Friday to enforce its toughest social-distancing rules yet as coronavirus infections surge and critics warn of a looming public-health disaster.

06:45 – Israel health ministry said there were 127 new coronavirus cases, bringing tthe total to 10,095, while there have been 92 deaths.




Residents play tennis on an empty road during lockdown in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, Israel on Thursday, April 9, 2020. (AP)

06:38 – Oman reported 27 new coronavirus cases, raising total to 484 cases.

05:49 – Another horror day of the coronavirus pandemic saw the global death toll pass 94,000, although there were tentative signs of hope that the crisis was peaking in the United States and Europe.

05:11Yemen confirmed its first coronavirus case, the Supreme national Emergency Committee said.

05:02Thailand reported 50 new coronavirus cases and the death of a 43-year-old woman.

03:20 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the Security Council to display unity as it met to discuss what he called the “fight of a generation” – the global coronavirus pandemic. READ THE STORY

01:40 – The South Korean city of Daegu, which endured the first large coronavirus outbreak outside of China, on Friday reported zero new cases for the first time since late February, as new infections across the country dropped to record lows.

00:54 – The United States recorded 1,783 COVID-19 deaths over the past 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University as of 8:30 p.m. Thursday (0030 GMT Friday).

00:48 – China reported a fall in new coronavirus cases, particularly imported and asymptomatic infections which authorities fear could see a second wave of COVID-19 as city and travel restrictions are lifted.

00:07 – Worries that the COVID-19 threat will persist into the November election is driving a push for US voters to vote by mail nationwide, but the biggest opponent is President Donald Trump, who admits it threatens his Republican Party. READ THE STORY

Thursday, April 9, 0020 (All times in GMT)

21:06 – The UAE has conducted over 40,000 COVID-19 tests across all sections of the population, over the past two days. The accelerated investigative and check-up measures resulted in the detection of 331 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of people infected to 2,990 in the country.

22:00 -  UAE airline FlyDubai announces plans to fly 10 repatriation flights over the next week. It has already operated 23 between March 19 and April 8, flying 2,800 people.

A mask-clad employee walks past a FlyDubai airplane at Dubai International Airport. (Karim Sahib/AFP)

19:30Lebanon will continue with its repatriation of stranded citizens from abroad because of tighter travel restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus.

18:09Oman’s Ministry of Health announced the death of a third COVID-19 patient, an expatriate aged 41.


Syria Kurdish-led force launches new anti-Daesh campaign

Updated 05 June 2020

Syria Kurdish-led force launches new anti-Daesh campaign

  • Operations will focus on the vast east Syria desert near the border with Iraq

BEIRUT: US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria announced Friday a fresh campaign to hunt down remnants of the Daesh group near the Iraqi border following a recent uptick in attacks.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led paramilitary alliance that has spearheaded the ground fight against Daesh in Syria since 2015, said that the new campaign is being carried out in coordination with the Iraqi army and the US-led coalition.
“This campaign will target ISIS’s hideouts and hotbeds,” it said, using a different acronym for the militant group.
It said operations will focus on the vast east Syria desert near the border with Iraq where Daesh has conducted a spate of attacks in recent months.
Since the loss of its last territory in Syria in March 2019, Daesh attacks have been restricted to the vast desert that stretches from the heavily populated Orontes valley in the west all the way to Iraqi border.
It regularly targets SDF forces and has vowed to seek revenge for the defeat of its so-called “caliphate”.
The SDF, with backing from its coalition allies, launched a campaign to hunt down sleeper cells after it forced Daesh militants out of their last Syrian redoubt in the desert hamlet of Baghouz in March 2019.
A raid in October by US special forces killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant group which once controlled large swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria.
Last month, the United Nations accused the Daesh group and others in Syria of exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to step up violence on civilians, describing the situation as a “ticking time-bomb”.
Across the border in Iraq, Daesh has exploited a coronavirus lockdown, coalition troop withdrawals and simmering political disputes to ramp up attacks.
Iraq declared Daesh defeated in late 2017 but sleeper cells have survived in remote northern and western areas, where security gaps mean the group wages occasional attacks.
They have spiked since early April as militants plant explosives, shoot up police patrols and launch mortar and rocket fire at villages.