Sydney – Australian authorities confirmed Wednesday the death of a firefighter as a result of bushfires that have ravaged the country since September, bringing the death toll to 26.
Matt Kavanagh, 43, died wile on duty after a Friday crash between two vehicles which police linked to the bushfires, Victoria’s Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said.
This is the third death in Victoria due to the fires, which have already caused 20 fatalities in New South Wales and three more in South Australia.
The confirmation came as firefighters continued their struggle to control dozens of fires that have been raging in the country’s southeast as temperatures are expected to rise above 40C (104F) at the end of the week.
On Tuesday, they took advantage of improved weather conditions to bolster preparations against the blazes that continue to burn in those areas.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, during a visit to Kangaroo Island – the country’s third largest isle – told reporters weather conditions were expected to worsen in the coming days.
Two people died on the island at the end of the year amid the fires still blazing countrywide.
The fires have burned more than 50 houses and almost half of this tourist island, located some 112 kilometers (69.5 miles) from Adelaide, home to 60,000 kangaroos, 50,000 koalas and other endangered animals who are suffering the catastrophe’s consequences.
The Insurance Council of Australia said Tuesday a total AU$700 million ($485 million) of accumulated damages have been recorded since September, with nearly 9,000 fire-related claims.
Morrison, heavily criticized for his handling of the crisis, announced Monday a package of AU$2 billion over the next two years to finance the recovery of affected areas.
The fires have razed more than 8 million hectares of land throughout the country, equivalent to the area of Austria, including some 2,000 homes.
They broke out before the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere, which begins in December and where a shortage of rain is expected until the end of March. EFE-EPA
CHINA – The number of deaths from 2019 novel coronavirus has breached the 1,000 mark, according to the latest report from China Global Television Network (CGTN).
Earlier on Tuesday (February 11), Chinese health authorities reported an additional 108 deaths overnight, pushing the total number of fatalities in China to 1,016 while confirmed cases also spiked to 42,638.
Officials are expected to provide the exact count throughout the day.
Outside mainland China, there are more than 300 other confirmed cases with one confirmed death recorded in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.
Over the weekend, 2019-nCoV surpassed the number of deaths by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which killed only 774 individuals during the 2003 outbreak that originated in southern China.
On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited treatment facilities for nCoV patients in Beijing.
The Chinese leader also spoke to medical workers in Wuhan City, the epicenter of the virus, via video conferencing.
China’s state television CCTV said Xi emphasized resolutely winning the fight against novel coronavirus which he dubbed as the “people’s war.”
Meanwhile in Wuhan City, authorities are combing communities to locate every confirmed or suspected patient and bring them under proper treatment.
Vehicles struggled through flooded roads on Friday (February 7) as the biggest rainfall in almost 20 years drenched Australia’s wildfire-ravaged east coast, dousing the blazes and providing welcome relief to farmers battling an extended drought.
The downpour came with its own risks – officials warned of flash floods and landslides across New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state – but was generally greeted jubilantly after months of devastating bushfires.
The deluge had the effect of calming the number of active fires in NSW by 20 in a single day, a success rate that NSW RFS said it was “over the moon” about.
Around 11.7 million hectares of Australian wilderness have been razed by a series of huge wildfires since September that have also killed 33 people and more than a billion animals. The horrific extended bushfire season has followed a three-year drought across the country. (Reuters)
China’s health authorities Wednesday (February 3) said it received 3,887 new confirmed cases and 65 new deaths of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Among the new confirmed cases and deaths, 3,156 and 65 are in central China’s Hubei Province, the epicenter of the viral pneumonia outbreak.
The National Health Commission said in its daily report that 431 (377 in Hubei) more patients were in critical conditions and 262 (125 in Hubei) discharged from hospitals after recovery on Tuesday.
The Commission said by 24:00 Tuesday (February 2), a total of 24,324 confirmed cases of the viral pneumonia had been reported, 3,219 people remained in critical conditions, 490 people had died of the disease, and 892 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.
People suspected of getting infected with the virus increased by 3,971 (1,957 in Hubei) on Tuesday, bringing the total suspected cases to 23,260.
A total of 252,154 close contacts have been traced down, the commission said, adding that among them, 18,457 were discharged from medical observation on Tuesday, with 185,555 others still under medical observation.
By the end of Tuesday, 18 confirmed cases had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (one death), 10 in the Macao Special Administrative Region and 11 in the Taiwan region.
The death toll increased by 65 in just 24 hours, according to the National Health Commission.—Reuters
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