Asia

Iran parliament speaker tests positive for COVID-19

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran’s parliament speaker tested positive for COVID-19, state television reported Thursday, becoming the latest official to contract the disease in the hard hit country. Ali Larijani “was tested for coronavirus after showing certain symptoms, and as the result was positive, he is currently in quarantine and undergoing treatment,” the report said. Larijani, 62, is close to the Iranian leadership and president and was re-elected in 2016 for a second term as […]

China county in lockdown as fears grow over second wave of virus

BEIJING, China (AFP) — A Chinese county of around 600,000 residents has gone into lockdown after a woman who visited the area tested positive for the coronavirus, underscoring concerns over the second wave of domestic infections. The tightening comes as China reported 35 new confirmed cases on Thursday, drastically down from the peak of the crisis. But they were all imported, bringing the tally of such cases to 841 and adding to fears about infections […]

N. Korea insists it is free of coronavirus

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — North Korea remains totally free of the coronavirus, a senior health official in Pyongyang has insisted, despite mounting skepticism overseas as confirmed global infections near one million. The already isolated, nuclear-armed North quickly shut down its borders in January after the virus was first detected in neighboring China, and imposed strict containment measures. Pak Myong Su, director of the anti-epidemic department of the North’s Central Emergency Anti-epidemic Headquarters, insisted that […]

Iran floods leave 21 dead

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Flooding in Iran caused by heavy rainfall has left 21 people dead and one missing, an emergency services spokesman said Wednesday, even as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic. Mojtaba Khaledi told Iran’s ISNA news agency that 22 people had also been injured, with most of the casualties in southern or central provinces. He said 11 people had died in Fars province, three each in Hormozgan and Qom, two in Sistan […]

One Turkish doctor dies, over 600 health workers infected

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AFP) — A Turkish doctor died and more than 600 healthcare workers have been infected with the novel coronavirus, the health minister announced on Wednesday, without disguising his grief over the worsening situation. “The number of our doctor friends, nurses or other healthcare personnel affected by the novel coronavirus is high. This figure, which I reluctantly announce, is 601,” Minister Fahrettin Koca told a news conference, with a voice on the verge of […]

Iran hits out at US as virus death toll passes 3,000

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus has passed 3,000, the health ministry said on Wednesday, as President Hassan Rouhani accused Washington of missing a “historic opportunity” to lift sanctions. Tensions between the arch-foes have soared since President Donald Trump abandoned a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed sweeping sanctions. Tehran has repeatedly called on Washington to reverse its policy, which has been opposed by US allies, particularly since the COVID-19 […]

Russian plane heads to US with supplies for virus fight

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — A Russian military plane carrying medical equipment has departed for the United States, the defense ministry in Moscow said Wednesday, as the Kremlin flexes its soft power amid the coronavirus pandemic. Antonov-124, “with medical masks and medical equipment onboard”, left for the US overnight, a statement said, without providing further details. Video released by the ministry showed the cargo plane loaded with boxes preparing to take off from a military airbase […]

China reports 1,300 asymptomatic virus cases after public concern

BEIJING, China (AFP) — China on Wednesday said it has more than 1,300 asymptomatic coronavirus cases, the first time it has released such data following public concern over people who have tested positive but are not showing symptoms. Health officials also reported the first imported case from abroad in Wuhan — the epicenter where the virus first emerged late last year — heightening fears of infections being brought into China from other countries. Of 36 […]

China lockdown may have blocked 700,000 virus cases: researchers

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — China’s decision to lock down the city of Wuhan, ground zero for the global COVID-19 pandemic, may have prevented more than 700,000 new cases by delaying the spread of the virus, researchers said Tuesday. Drastic Chinese control measures in the first 50 days of the epidemic bought other cities across the country valuable time to prepare and install their own restrictions, according to the paper by researchers in China, the […]

Turkey virus death toll exceeds 200

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AFP) — More than 200 people have died from COVID-19 in Turkey, which has ramped up tests to more than 15,000 a day, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced Tuesday. Koca shared the latest figures on Twitter, saying that 46 people had died in the last 24 hours, raising the country’s overall death toll to 214. With 2,704 more cases of the novel coronavirus, the official total of those infected has reached 13,531. “The […]

Iran reports 141 new virus deaths, raising total to 2,898

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) –Iran said Tuesday 141 more people have died from the novel coronavirus, raising the official toll in one of the world’s worst-affected countries to 2,898. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 3,111 new infections have been confirmed over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 44,606. He said 3,703 of those hospitalized are in a critical condition and 14,656 have recovered. Iran has been scrambling to contain the COVID-19 outbreak since […]

Nineteen killed in massive China forest fire

BEIJING, China (AFP) — Eighteen firefighters and one forestry guide died while fighting a huge forest fire in southwestern China, the local government said Tuesday. State television footage showed large flames shooting into the sky from the mountains above the city of Xichang in Sichuan province, turning the sky orange. Heavy clouds of smoke billowed above the buildings and roads of the city, which has a population of some 700,000 people. The blaze started near […]