Pride and caution in Wuhan on lockdown anniversary

  by Leo RAMIREZ / S├ębastien RICCI Agence France Presse WUHAN, CHina (AFP) — Exactly one year after it thrust the word “lockdown” into the global conversation, Wuhan passed the anniversary with a mix of pride at emerging from Covid-19’s grip and caution over a possible relapse. A year ago Saturday, Wuhan shocked the world by confining its 11 million anxious citizens to their homes, beginning a traumatic 76-day lockdown that underscored the growing threat […]

Magnitude 7.0 earthquake near Chilean Antarctic base: officials

  A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Saturday off the coast of Antarctica, with authorities issuing a tsunami warning for Chile’s Eduardo Frei base on the frigid continent, emergency officials said. The quake struck at 8:36 pm (2336 GMT) Saturday or 7:36 a.m. PHL time Sunday about 210 kilometers (130 miles) east of the base at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles), Chile’s National Emergency Office (Onemi) said, urging evacuation from “the beach area of the […]

Biden speaks with Canada’s Trudeau in first foreign leader call as US President

  OTTAWA, Canada (AFP) — In his first call to a foreign leader as US President, Joe Biden spoke with Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau Friday on a number of topics and made plans to continue the conversation next month, Ottawa and Washington said in separate statements. During the conversation, which Canada said lasted approximately 30 minutes, the two leaders covered everything from the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to the closure of the US-Canada border […]

German virus death toll tops 50,000 as new cases ease

  by Deborah COLE Agence France Presse BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — Germany on Friday recorded more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, as public health officials expressed cautious optimism about a slowing infection rate. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) disease control centre said 859 people died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 50,642. “That is a distressing, incomprehensible number to […]

Beijing launches mass testing to stem virus outbreak

  BEIJING, China (AFP) — Beijing on Friday kicked off a drive to test two million people in 48 hours as the city rushed to snuff out a new local cluster of cases believed to be linked to a more contagious virus variant. Long queues snaked through the Chinese capital — which reported 19 coronavirus cases in the past week — as the mass testing campaign got under way in Dongcheng and Xicheng districts. The […]

Hong Kong to impose first Covid-19 lockdown on virus-hit district: reports

  HONG KONG, China (AFP) — Thousands of Hong Kongers will be ordered to stay in their homes for the city’s first coronavirus lockdown, local media reported Friday, as authorities battle an outbreak in one of its poorest and most densely packed districts. The order bans anyone from leaving their apartment unless they can show a negative test where cases have surged in recent days, and will last until everyone within the designated area has […]

Protests hit Portland, Seattle hours after Biden inauguration

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Protests struck Portland and Seattle just hours after US President Joe Biden’s inauguration, police said Thursday, with Democratic Party and federal immigration offices vandalized and reports of tear gas and stun grenades used. The Pacific Northwest region emerged as a hotbed of demonstrations last year, but any hopes that the end of Donald Trump’s term in office would quickly halt violent unrest tied to far-left groups were dashed Wednesday. […]

Fauci says he feels liberated to speak on science under Biden

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — In his first White House briefing as President Joe Biden’s top advisor on Covid-19, Anthony Fauci said it was “liberating” that he could focus on science without fear of repercussion now that Donald Trump had left office. The top infectious disease scientist was briefing reporters Thursday on the state of the US outbreak that has claimed more than 408,000 lives. Asked to compare his experience under the previous administration […]

Biden undoes Trump migration orders, pushes for major reform

  by Laura BONILLA CAL / Catherine TRIOMPHE Agence France Presse NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Within hours of taking office, President Joe Biden undid some of Donald Trump’s most controversial immigration policies and sparked cautious hope that millions living in the shadows could one day get legal status in the US. Scribbled signatures from his pen on Wednesday lifted an entry ban for people from many majority Muslim nations and halted construction of […]

US resumes WHO support, launches $1.9 trillion virus plan

by Nina LARSON with AFP Bureaus Agence France Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The United States on Thursday said it would resume its funding for the UN’s health agency as President Joe Biden shifts towards greater international cooperation in the fight against Covid-19, while also launching a $1.9 trillion plan to tackle the pandemic at home. On his first day in the job, Biden confirmed he had reversed the decision of former president Donald Trump […]

Biden orders masks, travel clampdown in new war on Covid

by Sebastian Smith Agence France Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday tightened mask wearing rules and ordered quarantine for people flying into the United States, as he got to work on tackling the coronavirus pandemic on his first full day in power. Signing 10 executive orders in the White House, Biden told the nation that the Covid-19 death toll would likely rise from 400,000 to half a million next month […]

Just in: Five dead in India vaccine plant fire: CEO mourns ‘loss of life’

MUMBAI, India (AFP) — Five people died as a fire tore through a building in the world’s biggest vaccine production hub in western India Thursday, officials said. “Five people have died,” Pune city mayor Murlidhar Mohol told reporters following the fire at the Serum Institute of India. Rescue workers discovered five bodies in the under-construction building after the blaze was brought under control, media reports said, but the company insisted its production of drugs to […]