Over 100 arrested after violent disorder at far-right linked UK protest

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Police in London said they arrested more than 100 people on Saturday after far-right protesters holding a counter-demonstration against anti-racism activists clashed with officers. Thousands of people defied the coronavirus restrictions to assemble in and around Parliament Square, in the centre of the capital. That required “major” policing operation the Metropolitan Police Service said, adding that they had encountered “pockets of violence directed towards our officers”. Television footage showed some […]

China reports progress in swine fever vaccine trials

BEIJING, China (AFP) — A vaccine developed in China for African swine fever, which devastated the country’s pig herd and caused pork prices to soar, is progressing smoothly, according to results reported on Wednesday. The widespread outbreak of swine fever since August 2018 has disrupted the supply of pork in China, where it is a staple meat, with millions of animals culled. The disease wiped out about 40 percent of the country’s pig herd, causing […]

Face masks, health checks and long check-ins: the future of flying

by Martin Abbugao / Haeril Halim in Jakarta SINGAPORE, Singapore (AFP) — Cabin crew in protective suits, health certifications for passengers, mandatory face masks, and longer check-in times. This is the new reality of mass air travel. As people dream of taking to the skies once more, they face the prospect that changes to curb the spread of coronavirus will be even more challenging than those brought in after the 2001 terror attacks in the […]

WHO backs masks where virus widespread, distancing tough

  by Robin MILLARD Agence France Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization on Friday backed the use of fabric facemasks in places where the new coronavirus is widespread and physical distancing is difficult, in a change of advice. As the deadly virus continues to spread, the WHO issued updated guidance on who should wear a mask, when it should be worn and what it should be made of. The use of masks […]

Pygmies return to forest to isolate against coronavirus

by Camille LAFFONT PICTURES BY FLORENT VERGNES Agence France-Presse BAYANGA, Central African Republic (AFP) — Dzanga-Sangha, a wildlife sanctuary in southwest Central African Republic, is a remote place, linked to the rest of the world by a narrow trail that becomes impassable in heavy rain. But for the region’s Pygmies—outcasts in a country already ranked among the poorest in the world—Dzanga-Sangha’s isolation could be a blessing. As coronavirus spreads in the CAR, with more than 1,000 […]

Russia struggles to clean up Arctic river fuel spill

by Maria ANTONOVA Agence France-Presse MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Russia on Thursday intensified efforts to clean up a major fuel spill that environmentalists say is the worst such accident in the Arctic, as investigators made their first arrest. A diesel reservoir collapsed at a power station outside the northern Siberian city of Norilsk on Friday, releasing 15,000 tonnes of fuel into a river and 6,000 tonnes into the soil, according to Russia’s state environmental watchdog. […]

Virus patients with high blood pressure twice as likely to die: study

PARIS, France (AFP) — Patients with high blood pressure admitted to hospital with coronavirus infections are twice as likely to die as those without the condition, researchers said on Friday. For in-patients with the virus who had stopped taking medication for high blood pressure, the risk of dying doubled again, they reported in the European Heart Journal. “It is important that patients with high blood pressure realize that they are at increased risk of dying […]

Roche wins US clearance for virus treatment test

ZURICH, Switzerland (AFP) — Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche said Thursday the US authorities had given it emergency clearance for a test identifying patients most at risk of a dangerous immune response to coronavirus infection. Some of those worst affected display a very severe inflammatory response to COVID-19 as the body tries to combat the infection but ends up also destroying healthy tissue and even organs such as the kidneys with life-threatening implications. Very ill patients […]

Weak demand pushing oil, gas toward ‘terminal decline’: report

by Marlowe HOOD Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Falling fossil fuel demand coupled with mounting risk for investors could slash the value of oil, gas and coal reserves by two thirds, sending shock waves through the global economy, energy analysts warned Thursday. The value of projected profits for the sector could also fall by two thirds, according to a report from Carbon Tracker, a non-profit financial think tank focused on aligning capital markets with […]

Hydroxychloroquine ineffective at preventing COVID-19: trial

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Taking hydroxychloroquine shortly after being exposed to COVID-19 does not help prevent infection in a statistically meaningful way, scientists reported Wednesday following a clinical trial. The medicine has been touted by US President Donald Trump, who has said he used it as a prophylaxis against the novel coronavirus. But an experiment involving 821 people across the United States and Canada showed it did not work significantly better than a placebo […]

Malaysian university moots robot graduation ceremonies to cut virus risk

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — A Malaysian university is considering using robots dressed in gowns and mortarboards to act as stand-ins at graduation ceremonies to prevent coronavirus infections — but students have blown a fuse at the idea. A video of the planned ceremonies released by the university shows two elegantly attired, waist-high robots being handed diplomas by high-ranking university officials. The students’ faces appear on screens mounted on the robots’ heads. Associate professor Engku […]

Scottish island pilots drone deliveries of medical supplies

by Stuart GRAHAM Agence France-Presse OBAN, United Kingdom(AFP) — In a field overlooking the Lorn and Islands Hospital in the town of Oban on Scotland’s remote west coast, an anxious Duncan Walker trained his eyes above a nearby hill. Walker, chief executive of drone delivery company Skyports, is working with Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) to trial whether medical supplies like COVID-19 tests and protective equipment can be flown from the hospital to the Isle of […]