Drop in new China virus cases as death toll reaches 2,345: govt

  BEIJING, China (AFP) — The death toll in China from the new coronavirus outbreak rose by 109, the National Health Commission said Saturday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,345. Another 397 new cases were reported nationwide, down from nearly 900 officially reported Friday, bringing the total number of cases to over 76,000. The drop in new cases of the novel coronavirus came as officials in Hubei province — whose capital city Wuhan […]

First European dies from coronavirus in Italy, hours after lockdown on 10 towns due to rising cases

by Ella IDE Agence France Presse ROME, Italy (AFP) — An Italian man became the first European to die after being infected with the coronavirus Friday, just hours after 10 towns in the country were locked down following a flurry of new cases. The 78-year old from the Veneto region who had tested positive for the virus died in hospital, where he had been admitted 10 days earlier for an unrelated health issue, Italy’s health […]

Ukraine health chief to join China evacuees in bid to ease virus panic

by Dmytro GORSHKOV KIEV, Ukraine (AFP) — Ukraine’s health minister volunteered to spend two weeks in quarantine as authorities looked to ease panic Friday after protesters attacked buses carrying evacuees from coronavirus-hit China. On Thursday, protesters had blocked roads and hurled stones at vehicles carrying 72 people evacuated from China and bound for a medical facility in the town of Novi Sanzhary in the central Poltava region. Protesters said they feared the evacuees would be […]

US says, preparing to sign deal with Taliban on February 29

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — The United States is preparing to sign a deal with the Taliban on February 29, building on an agreement on reducing violence across Afghanistan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday. “Upon successful implementation of this understanding, signing of the US-Taliban agreement is expected to move forward,” he said in a statement released after visiting Saudi Arabia. A week-long “reduction in violence” between the Taliban, the US and Afghan security […]

Iraq, Kuwait on alert as coronavirus deaths rise in Iran

by Salam FARAJ BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFP) — Iraqi and Kuwaiti authorities were on high alert Friday after banning travel the previous day to and from Iran, where authorities say the death toll from the new coronavirus has hit four. Iran’s health ministry Friday reported two more deaths among 13 newly diagnosed cases of the COVID-19 virus, doubling the total number of deaths in the Islamic republic and taking the total number of diagnosed infections there […]

UPDATED: Israel confirms first case of new coronavirus

JERUSALEM, Undefined (AFP) — Israel confirmed its first case of new coronavirus Friday, in a citizen who flew home from Japan earlier this week after being quarantined on the stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess. “One of the passengers who returned home from the cruise ship in Japan tested positive in a checkup by the health ministry’s central laboratory,” a ministry statement said. A total of 15 Israelis were among the passengers quarantined on board the […]

Erdogan urges ‘concrete action’ over Idlib crisis

ANKARA, Turkey (AFP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for “concrete action” to prevent a crisis in Syria’s last rebel stronghold in a phone call with his French and German counterparts, his office said Friday. A humanitarian crisis has unfolded in the northwestern province of Idlib as the Syrian regime, backed by Russian airstrikes, presses on with an offensive that has forced nearly one million civilians to flee their homes. “The president stressed the […]

Iran says, two more deaths among 13 new coronavirus cases

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran’s health ministry Friday reported two more deaths among 13 new cases of coronavirus in the Islamic republic, bringing the total number of deaths to four and infections to 18. “Thirteen new cases have been confirmed,” ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Twitter. “Unfortunately two of them have lost their lives.” The COVID-19 outbreak first appeared in Iran on Wednesday, when officials said it killed two elderly people in the Shiite […]

Plane lands with Canadians evacuated from Japan virus ship

OTTAWA, Canada (AFP) — A chartered plane carrying more than 200 Canadians evacuated from the coronavirus-quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship landed at a military base in Ontario province early Friday. All the passengers who arrived at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, 200 kilometers (120 miles) southwest of Ottawa, had tested negative for COVID-19, CBC reported. They will, however, be quarantined for a further 14 days at the Nav Centre in Cornwall, Ontario, a hotel and conference […]

DIY virus protection: Hong Kongers making own masks amid shortages

by Yan Zhao and Katie Forster HONG KONG, China (AFP) — With chronic face mask shortages in the midst of a virus outbreak, Hong Kongers have started making their own — with a pop-up production line and seamstresses churning them out on sewing machines. In one of the most densely populated cities on earth, face masks have become hot property as people scramble for protection against the new deadly coronavirus. Long queues — sometimes thousands […]

Young Chinese doctor dies of coronavirus

BEIJING, China (AFP) — A 29-year-old doctor at the epicenter of China’s new coronavirus outbreak has died from the disease, one of the youngest known fatalities of the epidemic and the latest among medical workers. Peng Yinhua died Thursday after becoming infected while working at Wuhan’s Jiangxia district People’s No. 1 Hospital, official news agency Xinhua reported. The respiratory and critical illness doctor had planned to get married during the Lunar New Year holiday but […]

59 Hong Kong police quarantined after meal with virus colleague

HONG KONG, China (AFP) — Dozens of Hong Kong police officers have been placed in quarantine after attending a banquet with a colleague who later tested positive for the new coronavirus, officials said Friday. The news prompted celebrations among some pro-democracy protesters, a vivid illustration of how deeply polarised the city has become after months of rallies and thousands of arrests last year. The 48-year-old officer found to be carrying the virus had dinner on […]