Italy, Spain suffer record virus deaths as British PM tests positive; Italy’s new virus deaths at 969

  by Joe Jackson with Hazel Ward in Madrid and AFP bureaus Agence France Presse Italy on Friday recorded the most daily deaths of any country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and Spain had its deadliest day, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first major world leader to test positive. Italy reported 969 new deaths, Spain 769 and France 299 as Europe reeled from a crisis that led the United States […]

British PM Johnson tests positive for COVID-19

  LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that he is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19. “Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” he said on Twitter, posting a video message. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus,” he wrote. “Be in no doubt that I can […]

Switzerland virus cases top 10,000

by Robin MILLARD GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Switzerland on Thursday joined the small group of countries to declare more than 10,000 officially-recorded cases of COVID-19, as it launched plans to start tracking crowd build-ups through mobile phone data. The health ministry said 10,661 people in the Alpine country have tested positive for the new coronavirus — nearly 1,000 more than a day earlier — while 161 people have died. Switzerland, which is among the countries […]

France police turn to drones to help ensure virus confinement

by Jules BONNARD PARIS, France (AFP) — With millions locked down across France during the COVID-19 pandemic, overstretched police are struggling to ensure people stay indoors, especially with spring approaching. Authorities are increasingly turning to drones to patrol streets, parks and riverbanks, and manufacturers are more than happy to meet the demand. Authorities struggle at times to convince people to curb their instincts and spend less time outside, especially when the weather is good. The […]

France reports 365 more coronavirus deaths, including 16-year-old

PARIS, France (AFP) — France on Thursday reported that 365 people, including a 16-year-old girl, had died from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, the country’s highest daily toll. Top French health official Jerome Salomon told reporters that a total of 1,696 people had died in hospital in France from the virus, emphasizing that the toll does not include those who died at home or at retirement homes. He said that 29,155 people had […]

Dogs being trained to sniff out COVID-19: charity

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — A British charity has teamed up with scientists to see whether dogs could help detect COVID-19 through their keen sense of smell, they said on Friday. Medical Detection Dogs will work with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University in northeast England to determine whether canines could help diagnoses. It follows previous research into dogs’ ability to sniff out malaria and is based on a […]

UK records over 100 daily COVID-19 deaths for first time

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain recorded more than 100 coronavirus deaths in a 24-hour period for the first time on Thursday, with 115 people who tested positive for the virus dying. “As of 5pm (1700 GMT) on 25 March 2020, 578 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died,” said the official government website, up from 463 on Wednesday. A total of 11,658 cases have now been confirmed in Britain, […]

France stages first train evacuation of coronavirus patients

PARIS, France (AFP) — France on Thursday carried out its first train evacuation of coronavirus patients from the hard-hit east of the country, which has registered over 1,300 hospital deaths in the fast-spiraling epidemic. The specially adapted high-speed TGV train, which in normal times whizzes travelers between France’s main cities and to other European capitals, evacuated 20 patients from the Alsace region bordering Germany and Switzerland to help relieve overstretched facilities there, officials said. The […]

Spain virus death toll tops 4,000

MADRID, Spain (AFP) — The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged to 4,089 after 655 people died within 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday. It was a 19 percent increase in figures released Wednesday by the authorities in Spain, which has the world’s second-highest death toll from the disease after Italy. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 56,188, the ministry said. Despite a national lockdown imposed on March 14, which […]

Romania health official resigns as country struggles to stem virus

BUCHAREST, Romania (AFP) — Romania’s Health Minister Victor Costache resigned on Thursday following criticism of the government over its handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Costache did not give a reason for his resignation while Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said it was for “personal and professional reasons.” Orban added: “I regret his resignation, I understand it and I want to thank him for the good collaboration.” The government has come under fire as Romania’s hospitals […]

London hospitals facing ‘tsunami’ of virus patients: NHS official

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Hospitals in the British capital are being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, the head of an organization representing bosses in the state-run National Health Service said on Thursday. The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, told BBC radio that London hospitals had seen an “explosion of demand… in seriously ill patients”, likening it to a “continuous tsunami”, with numbers predicted to surge in the next fortnight. “They talk about the […]

Germany ramps up coronavirus tests to 500,000 a week

BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — Germany has boosted its coronavirus test rate to 500,000 a week, a virologist said Thursday, adding that early detection has been key in keeping the country’s death rate relatively low. “The reason why Germany has so few deaths compared to the number of infected people can be explained by the fact that we carry out an extremely large number of laboratory diagnostic tests,” said Christian Drosten, who heads the Institute of […]