Ukraine’s COVID-19 death toll could reach 4,000, health officials say

A serviceman wearing a protective face mask amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) walks in a street in central Kyiv, Ukraine July 30, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 August 2020

Ukraine’s COVID-19 death toll could reach 4,000, health officials say

  • Ukraine reported a record high 1,197 new coronavirus cases on July 29
  • Ukraine now has 71,056 cases of the virus since the start of the outbreak

KYIV: Health officials in Ukraine, which has seen a spike in coronavirus cases this week, said on Saturday the outbreak could cause the nation’s death toll to reach 4,000, more than double the current fatalities, Interfax Ukraine news agency said.
Ukraine reported a record high 1,197 new coronavirus cases on July 29 and a record number of hospital admissions, with health authorities blaming the jump on wider use of public transport and attendance at church services.
Deputy Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said preventative measures were the only way to contain the spread of the virus.
Ukrainians still have to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing rules in restaurants and public places, although the government said last week that it will allow individual regions to ease restrictions if warranted.
On Saturday, the country reported 1,172 new coronavirus cases versus 1,090 a day earlier.
Ukraine now has 71,056 cases of the virus since the start of the outbreak, including 1,709 deaths and 39,308 people who have recovered from COVID-19.
Lyashko said the total number of cases could reach 400,000 during the course of the epidemic.


US begins highest level Taiwan visit in decades

Updated 21 min 36 sec ago

US begins highest level Taiwan visit in decades

  • During the three-day visit Health Secretary Alex Azar will meet President Tsai Ing-wen
  • Under President Donald Trump, US relations with Taiwan have warmed dramatically

TAIPEI: A senior member of US President Donald Trump’s administration landed in Taiwan Sunday for Washington’s highest level visit since switching diplomatic recognition to China in 1979, a trip Beijing has condemned.
During the three-day visit Health Secretary Alex Azar will meet President Tsai Ing-wen, who advocates Taiwan being recognized as a sovereign nation and is loathed by China’s leaders.
Azar is the most senior US cabinet member to visit Taiwan in decades and his visit comes as relations between the world’s two biggest economic powers plunge to historic lows.
In recent days, Trump has ordered sweeping restrictions on popular Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat and the US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on Hong Kong’s leader over a tough law that curbs dissent.
Washington has billed the Taiwan trip as an opportunity to learn from the island’s fight against the coronavirus and to celebrate its progressive values.
“This trip is a recognition of Taiwan’s success in combating COVID-19 and a testament to the shared beliefs that open and democratic societies are best equipped to combating disease threats like COVID-19,” a health and human services department official told reporters ahead of the visit.
But Beijing balks at any recognition of self-ruled Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory and vows to one day seize, by force if necessary.
It has described Azar’s visit as a threat to “peace and stability,” while China’s defense minister warned against Washington making any “dangerous moves.”
As well as meeting Tsai, Azar will hold talks with his counterpart Chen Shih-chung and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
He will also meet coronavirus experts and give a speech to public health students as well as alumni of a training program with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Taiwan has become a poster child for defeating the coronavirus thanks to a well-honed track and tracing program as well as firm border controls.
Despite its proximity and economic links to China it has recorded fewer than 500 infections and seven deaths.
In contrast the US has recorded the most deaths in the world with more than 160,000 fatalities.
As public disapproval has grown for his handling of the epidemic, Trump has pivoted from his previous focus on striking a trade deal with China to blaming the country for the coronavirus crisis.
The two countries have clashed on a range of issues, from trade to espionage allegations and Beijing’s human rights record such as the mass incarceration of Uighur Muslims and the political crackdown in Hong Kong.
Washington remains the leading arms supplier to Taiwan but has historically been cautious in holding official contacts with it.
Under Trump, relations with Taiwan have warmed dramatically and he has approved a number of major military sales, including F-16 fighter jets.
The last cabinet minister to visit Taiwan was in 2014 when the then head of the Environmental Protection Agency led a delegation.