Coronavirus cases top 500 on cruise ship off Japan

by Harumi OZAWA TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Another 88 people aboard a cruise ship off Japan have tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities said Tuesday, as those free of the disease hoped they were spending their last night on board before disembarking. The new cases take the total from the Diamond Princess to 542 — easily the biggest cluster outside the epicenter in China — as the cruise ship has proved an especially virulent breeding […]

Qatar says, talks stall with Saudi to defuse Gulf crisis

by Gregory WALTON DOHA, Qatar (AFP) — Talks between Doha and Riyadh to resolve a two-year regional spat have stalled, Qatar’s foreign minister said, after a flurry of diplomacy late last year raised hopes the damaging rift was being healed. Saudi Arabia, along with its allies the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, cut all diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017. The four governments accused Doha of backing radical Islamists, including […]

UK to repatriate citizens from ship quarantined off Japan

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — The British government on Tuesday became the latest country to announce it will evacuate its citizens stranded onboard a cruise ship quarantined off Japan because of the new coronavirus. Britain said it would organize a flight to repatriate its nationals from the Diamond Princess vessel, where more than 450 people have tested positive for COVID-19. That follows the United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and South Korea all saying they […]

Shanghai virus hospital tries array of treatments in ‘big test’

by Noel CELIS SHANGHAI, China (AFP) — In a sprawling medical compound an hour’s drive from downtown Shanghai, doctors are employing a patchwork of coronavirus treatments in a race to save victims of an epidemic for which there is still no established cure. The Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center is the designated facility for coronavirus cases in China’s biggest city, which was previously used to treat victims of the 2002-03 SARS epidemic (Severe Acute Respiratory […]

Bushfire crisis hit 75% of Australians: survey

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Three in four Australians — almost 18 million people — were affected by the country’s deadly bushfire crisis, according to a survey released Tuesday that also pointed to plummeting support for the government and for coal projects. The Australian National University study showed the vast human scale of the five-month crisis, which killed more than 30 people and destroyed thousands of homes. “Nearly every Australian has been touched by these fires […]

Wuhan hospital director dies of coronavirus

BEIJING, China (AFP) — A hospital director at the epicenter of China’s virus epidemic died Tuesday, state media said, the latest medical worker to fall victim to the coronavirus which has spread across the country. The COVID-19 virus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan late last year, has spread to more than 72,000 people and killed 1,900 in China. Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died Tuesday morning after “all-out […]

WHO warns against virus over-reaction as death toll hits 1,868

by Laurent THOMET BEIJING, China (AFP) — The World Health Organization has warned against a global over-reaction to the new coronavirus epidemic following panic-buying, event cancellations and concerns about cruise ship travel, as China’s official death toll neared 1,900 on Tuesday. More than 72,000 people have now been infected in China and hundreds more abroad, although the WHO stressed the disease has infected a “tiny” proportion of people outside its epicenter and the mortality rate […]

China virus death toll passes 1,800: govt

BEIJING, China (AFP) — The death toll from China’s new coronavirus epidemic jumped past 1,800 on Tuesday after 93 more people died in Hubei province, the hard-hit epicenter of the outbreak. In its daily update, the province’s health commission also reported 1,807 new cases, a smaller number of infections compared to those declared on Monday. The new cases mean more than 72,300 people have now been affected across the country. Most of the cases are […]

France confirms first case of ruinous tomato virus

PARIS, France (AFP) — Tomato plants in France’s far-west Finistere region has been contaminated with a destructive virus that can lead to whole crops being wasted, the agriculture ministry said on Monday. A farm had been isolated and greenhouses full of tomatoes would be destroyed, as there is no known treatment, it said. The tomato brown rugose fruit virus, known as ToBRFV, leads to rough discolored patches on the fruit that render it unsellable — […]

China asks recovered patients to donate plasma for virus treatment

BEIJING, China (AFP) — Chinese health officials Monday urged patients who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate blood so that plasma can be extracted to treat others who are critically ill. Drugmakers are racing to develop a vaccine and treatment for the epidemic, which has killed 1,770 people and infected over 70,500 people across China. Plasma from patients who have recovered from a spell of pneumonia triggered by COVID-19 contains antibodies that can help […]

Storm Dennis wreaks deadly havoc across flood-hit Britain

by Joe JACKSON LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain on Monday battled the fallout from Storm Dennis after the second severe storm in seven days left one woman dead over the weekend. Winds of more than 90 miles (140 kilometers) an hour, along with more than a month’s worth of rain in 48 hours in some places, led officials to issue rare “danger to life” warnings. A 55-year-old woman was found dead after being swept […]

13 US citizens at ‘high risk’ of coronavirus being treated in Nebraska

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Thirteen US citizens deemed “high risk” for the deadly new coronavirus are being treated at a federally designated facility in the University of Nebraska following their evacuation from a cruise ship in Japan, officials said Monday. A total of 338 Americans were flown home from the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan’s Yokohama, touching down first at Travis Air Force Base in California shortly before midnight Sunday. The second flight […]