Saudi king urges ‘effective’ G20 response to virus crisis

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday urged G20 leaders to take “effective and coordinated” action to combat the global crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and called on them to assist developing nations. While wealthy nations including the US have unveiled mammoth stimulus packages, there has so far been no collective action plan from the G20, and it has been criticized for its slow response. In opening remarks as G20 […]

Chinese city eases virus lockdown but life is far from normal

by Jing Xuan TENG HUANGGANG, China (AFP) — Banners warning that playing cards together is suicide and guards yelling at crowds to separate: a Chinese city near the coronavirus ground zero remains far from normal even after emerging from a two-month lockdown. Huanggang, home to 7.5 million people, was among the worst-affected areas in Hubei, the province where the new coronavirus first emerged late last year before morphing into a deadly pandemic. Travel restrictions were […]

Wuhan lockdown bought health systems vital time: study

by Patrick GALEY PARIS, France (AFP) — The lockdown in the Chinese outbreak city of Wuhan brought the COVID-19 epidemic crashing to a halt, giving health systems crucial breathing room to deal with serious cases, new research showed Thursday. Chinese authorities ordered schools, universities and businesses shut following a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the transport hub in January, confining millions of people to their homes in a bid to contain the outbreak. The measures […]

Iran reports 157 new virus deaths, imposes intercity ban

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran on Thursday announced 157 new deaths from coronavirus, raising the official number of fatalities to 2,234, as it slapped a ban on intercity travel to try to curb the spread. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour also said that 2,389 new cases have been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of declared infections in one of the world’s wost-hit countries to 29,406. “Fortunately, until today 10,457 of […]

Iraq extends nationwide curfew until April 11

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFP) — The Iraqi government said Thursday that it will extend a countrywide lockdown it imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic until April 11. Schools, universities, shopping centers, and other large gathering places will remain closed, as will the country’s international airports. Authorities have confirmed that at least 29 Iraqis have died from COVID-19 and nearly 350 others have contracted the disease. But there are fears the real number is much higher, […]

Tokyo urged to stay home at weekend as virus cases climb

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Tokyo’s governor urged residents to stay home this weekend, warning of a possible “explosion” of the coronavirus with a record 41 new cases discovered on Wednesday. Yuriko Koike said the Japanese capital, so far spared the draconian measures seen in other major global cities, was at a “critical stage” in containing the virus that has confined one-third of the planet to their homes. “We urge people at all costs to refrain […]

Virus panic grips Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

by Suzauddin RUBEL with Sam JAHAN in Dhaka KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh (AFP) — The sewage-soaked alleys and cramped canvas and bamboo shacks that house one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are a horrifying scene for experts watching the coronavirus pandemic creep closer. The wretched conditions in the camps, where most of the stateless Muslims arrived in 2017 to escape a Myanmar military clampdown across the nearby border, are fertile ground for any disease. The public in […]

Iran coronavirus death toll tops 2,000: health official

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran’s president warned that his government was poised to introduce tough new measures against the coronavirus Wednesday as the death toll from one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks topped 2,000. President Hassan Rouhani said that the new measures, which could be adopted as soon as Wednesday evening, included Iran’s first restrictions on movement to try to stem the spread of the virus and were likely to be “difficult” for the public. […]

Taiwan anger over China military drills during virus outbreak

The self-ruled democratic island has had to scramble its own fighter jets in response to recent Chinese maneuvers, designed to show that Beijing’s military might remains unbowed by the health crisis. But the tactic is winning few friends among the Taiwanese. “As the world grapples with the severity of the COVID19 pandemic, China’s military maneuvers around Taiwan have continued unabated,” President Tsai Ing-wen said in a tweet late Tuesday accompanied by pictures of her visiting […]

Indians race for supplies as coronavirus lockdown bites

by Aishwarya Kumar with Ammu Kannampilly in Mumbai NEW DELHI, India (AFP) — Anxious Indians raced for essentials on Wednesday as an unprecedented 21-day lockdown across the nation of 1.3 billion people all but emptied normally traffic-choked roads. Many shelves in the megacities of New Delhi and Mumbai were stripped bare of staples like lentils and rice as the world’s second-most populous country lurched into a shutdown aimed at slowing the spread of the new […]

Virus-striken Diamond Princess leaves Yokohama

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AFP) — The Diamond Princess, a coronavirus-hit cruise ship off Japan that saw 712 passengers and crew contracting the disease with 10 deaths, left its moorings in Yokohama Wednesday, a city official said. The ship, which originally carried some 3,700 passengers and crew members, dominated international headlines as Japan’s clumsy handling of its quarantine made it at one point the biggest cluster of coronavirus carriers outside China. “Disinfection work has been finished. Quarantine […]

Hubei residents rush to leave China virus epicenter as lockdown lifts

by Jing Xuan TENG MACHENG, China (AFP) — Huge crowds jammed trains and buses in Hubei province on Wednesday as people seized their first chance to travel after two months under lockdown at the epicenter of China’s coronavirus outbreak. Strict curbs on daily life are finally being lifted, allowing healthy people to head home and see loved ones after weeks of separation. At a railway station in the city of Macheng, AFP reporters saw long […]