WHO to send experts to China as countries rush to evacuate citizens

UNTV News   •   January 29, 2020   •   332

China has agreed that the World Health Organization (WHO) could send international experts to the country, in an effort to increase understanding of coronavirus and guide the global response to the outbreak, the U.N. agency said on Tuesday (January 28).

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who made a two-day visit to China, met with President Xi Jinping, as well the health and foreign ministers.

After Ghebreyesus’ visit, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said that a better understanding of the virus’ ability to spread from person-to-person was urgently needed in order to advise other countries where cases have been detected.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in China surged to 4,515 as of Monday (January 27) from 2,835 the previous day, the Chinese government said.

Cases have also been confirmed in countries including France, Germany and Thailand.

Wuhan, where the virus originated, is under virtual quarantine, with a lockdown on transport and bans on gatherings. Tens of millions in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, live under some form of travel curb. (Reuters)

(Production: Cecile Mantovani)

Global COVID-19 fight continues as curve flattens in hardest-hit European countries

UNTV News   •   April 7, 2020

The global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues with a glimmer of hope that some of the hardest-hit European countries have reported a reducing daily number of cases over the past weekend, suggesting a possible flattening of the curve.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global death toll from the pandemic has climbed to 62,955 as of 18:00 CET Sunday with globally confirmed cases reaching 1,136,851.

A total of 208 countries and regions have now reported COVID-19 cases on the same day, one more than the previous day.

The United States has registered the highest number of global cases with 273,808 confirmed cases as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) on Sunday.

Plagued by the highly contagious disease, attitudes towards masks are changing in the country after officials from the White House and state governments have started encouraging the use of the protective gear, though U.S.President Donald Trump appeared to claim he would not personally wear one.

However, there remains a significant shortage and some people are dusting off their sewing machines to make their own, with reports that one Chicago-based dry cleaning and laundry business has started making and selling handmade masks made from leftover clothing materials.

Another concern surrounds the low inventory of testing reagents and the shortage in the number of medical staff which has forced many test points to close.

Spain has overtaken Italy to become the country with the most confirmed cases in Europe. Construction teams are working around the clock to build three more field hospitals in Valencia, Castellon and Alicante as Spain bids to contain the virus.

But there is some encouragement that the number of new cases and new deaths of COVID-19 has continued to fall for several days, according to daily data published by the Spanish Ministry for Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services on Sunday.

A total of 6,023 new infections were registered between Saturday and Sunday, fewer than the 7,026 new cases in the previous 24 hours and 7,472 between Thursday and Friday, bringing the country’s total cases to 130,759.

The situation is also showing signs of progress in Italy. The one-day COVID-19 death toll showed its smallest increase in nearly three weeks during past weekend and the number of hospitalized patients declined, according to Angelo Borrelli, head of Italy’s Civil Protection Department said Sunday.

The confirmed cases in Italy stood at 124,632 as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) on Sunday, while the overall death toll was 15,362.

Italy is considering moving to “phase two” of emergency with the falling trend in new infections.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Germany climbed to 91,714 as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, with a total death toll of 1,342, according to the WHO.

Meanwhile, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) on Sunday called on the federal government to introduce a second aid package to support the economy, according to the German Press Agency (DPA).

In several German cities, police have moved to enforce social distancing rules as some ventured out to enjoy the spring weather outdoors over the weekend. German media group Focus Online reported that security officers and police in Dusseldorf dissolved a crowd of around 200 people on the Rhine on Sunday in order to maintain the necessary distance between people.

While the total coronavirus fatalities in France swelled to 7,546 as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, the number of critically-ill patients in the country has been increasing less rapidly.

French authorities on Sunday warned that the virus “continues to hit hard,” urging people to continue to respect the confinement protocols. Warm spring weather had incited some Parisians to head out, defying a lockdown imposed in mid-March to stem the virus spread.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that the existing restrictions imposed to curb the COVID-19 spread in the country would be eased gradually in the following weeks, the official IRNA news agency reported.

WHO data shows that by 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, Iran had 58,226 confirmed cases and an overall death toll of 3,452.

Low-risk businesses will resume their activities from April 11 in different provinces except Tehran, with the capital city set to resume one week later on April 18, Rouhani said. Two thirds of all government employees will return to work in offices from April 11.

Meanwhile, there was concern in the UK as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital for tests on Sunday after suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus. Downing Street underscored that this was not an emergency admission and that Johnson remains in charge of the government.

On the same day, Queen Elizabeth II delivered a rare television address to Britain and nations around the world, with the long-reigning monarch urging people to rise to the challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In Asia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, due to the recent surging COVID-19 cases in Tokyo and other large cities, government sources said Monday.

As of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, the total confirmed cases in Japan reached 3,271, with an overall death toll of 70.

Singapore has launched a mobile app to help track potential cases and control community spread of the coronavirus as it saw its case numbers hit 1,309 on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Manpower said in a joint statement that transmissions within Singapore’s foreign worker dormitories had continued to rise, and the city state was seeing more confirmed cases and ill workers.

As a result, two dormitories had been declared as isolation areas, with on-site medical support deployed and food and essential supplies provided, according to the statement.

The Singapore Government has announced that most workplaces will be shut down and many food establishments would be closed for a month from Tuesday as part of the so-called ‘circuit breaker’ measures designed to stop the the spread of COVID-19. (REUTERS CONNECT)

Demand for coffins increase dramatically amid coronavirus outbreak in Spain

UNTV News   •   April 7, 2020

The demand for coffins has increased dramatically due to the coronavirus outbreak in Spain, director of a coffin company in Valdemoro told Reuters on Friday (April 3).

“During this current situation of coronavirus, the volume of coffins that are being used has increased in a dramatic way, by eight or even by ten times that we are supplying everyday,” Maria Chao said.

Piles of coffins were seen wrapped in bubble wrap and being loaded in a truck ready to supply morgues including the ice-rink and City of Justice which have been turned into make-shift morgues in the Madrid region.

As with worst-hit Italy, Spain has seen the rate of new infections and deaths slow in recent days, giving cause for hope the peak has passed. On Sunday (April 5), it reported 674 fatalities in the previous 24 hours – a 6% increase in total, but half the pace of a week previously. (REUTERS CONNECT)

(Production: Juan Medina, Raul Cadenas, Miguel Gutierrez, May Ponzo)

South Korea reports fewer than 50 new coronavirus cases for first time since February 29 peak

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020

South Korea reported fewer than 50 new coronavirus cases for the first time since its peak at the end of February as daily infections in Asia’s largest outbreak outside China continued a downward trend.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Monday (April 6) there were 47 new infections as of midnight on Sunday (April 5) compared with 81 recorded a day earlier, taking the national cumulative tally to 10,284.

But officials urged even greater vigilance, saying a large epidemic could reemerge at any time, with smaller outbreaks in churches, hospitals and nursing homes, as well as infections among travelers, continuing to arise.

A fall in daily demand for tests to some 6,000 from around 10,000 over the weekend contributed to the decline in numbers, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said. (REUTERS CONNECT)

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