Coronavirus wrap | Global cases top 1.5 million, Indian poor suffer, and study shows cats can catch coronavirus

2020-04-09 10:55

Keeping you up to date on the latest novel coronavirus (Covid-19) news from around the world.

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Global coronavirus cases top 1.5 million: AFP tally

More than 1.5 million cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered worldwide, according to a tally compiled by AFP at 05:30 GMT on Thursday from official sources.

Of the 1 502 478 infections, 87 320 people have died across 192 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China late last year.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. Many countries are only testing the most serious cases.

The US, where the pandemic is spreading most rapidly, has recorded 432 132 cases, including 14 817 deaths.

Spain has declared 146 690 cases with 14 555 deaths, and Italy 139 422 infections with 17 669 deaths.

Europe remains the worst hit continent with 772 592 cases and 61 118 deaths.


India's poor hit hardest by virus lockdown

With his rickshaw sitting idle outside his one-room shack, Sailesh Kumar is one of the hundreds of millions of poor Indians hit the hardest by the world's biggest coronavirus lockdown.

His family of six are stuck in their slum home outside New Delhi earning nothing and waiting desperately for money promised by the government.

Like an estimated 100 million others, Kumar is a migrant worker. He left his home village in Bihar, India's poorest state, seven years ago "for a better life" and "good education" for his kids.

Before India's 21-day lockdown began on March 25, the 38-year-old earned - on a good day - the equivalent of $4 a day cycling his rickshaw, while his wife cooked and cleaned as a domestic worker.

Now with all activity except essential services halted in the country of 1.3 billion people, Kumar can't work, and his wife's employers wouldn't even let her in the building.


Cats can catch coronavirus, study finds, prompting WHO probe

Cats can become infected with the new coronavirus but dogs appear not to be vulnerable, according to a new study in the journal Science, prompting the World Health Organisation (WHO) to say it will take a closer look at the transmission of the virus between humans and pets.

The study, published on Wednesday, found that ferrets can also become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the scientific term for the virus that causes the disease Covid-19.

The Science journal findings support an earlier study by Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department that pet cats, and even some dogs, can host the disease.

The Hong Kong study, however, said cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus to humans, even if they can test positive for low levels if they catch it from their owners.

The study, published in Science was aimed at identifying which animals are vulnerable to the virus so they can be used to test experimental vaccines to fight the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed more than 88 000 people around the world since it emerged in China late last year.

The disease is believed to have spread from bats to humans. There have been a handful of reported infections in cats and dogs, but no strong evidence that pets can be carriers.

- Al Jazeera

UN Security Council to meet on coronavirus pandemic

After weeks of disagreement - especially between the United States and China - the UN Security Council will meet on Thursday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic for the first time.

Led by Germany, nine of the council's 10 non-permanent members requested the closed-door meeting - a video conference to maintain social distancing - last week, fed up with the body's inaction over the unprecedented global crisis.

Talks are moving in the right direction, diplomats said, and Washington is no longer insisting UN language refer to the virus as coming from China, which had infuriated Beijing.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to focus on efforts to fight the pandemic, peacekeeping missions and fostering unity between the non-permanent members and the five permanent ones.

There are two competing texts up for debate.

One, spearheaded by Tunisia on behalf of the 10 non-permanent members and obtained by AFP, calls for "an urgent, coordinated and united international action to curb the impact of Covid-19", and urges an immediate global ceasefire on humanitarian grounds.

That draft resolution has been in development since 30 March, though a vote on it is not yet scheduled.

The second text, proposed by France, focuses on Guterres' call last month to cease all hostilities around the world as part of a "humanitarian pause" to fight the pandemic.

That one has so far only had input from the permanent members, which diplomats from non-permanent countries told AFP has been "very frustrating".


Taiwan demands apology from WHO chief over virus 'slander'

Taiwan demanded an apology from the World Health Organisation chief on Thursday after he accused the island's government of leading personal attacks against him and his agency's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for unity to fight the disease on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump criticised the global health body and threatened to cut its funding.

During the press conference he spoke of the abuse - including racial slurs - he had been subjected to since the public health crisis began.

Tedros largely avoided mentioning Trump by name but he did single out the government in Taipei, which has been frozen out of the WHO after political pressure from Beijing.

"Three months ago, this attack came from Taiwan," he told reporters in Geneva, referring to online criticism and insults.

"Taiwan, the Foreign Ministry also, they know the campaign. They didn't disassociate themselves. They even started criticising me in the middle of all that insult and slur, but I didn't care," Tedros said.

The comments sparked anger in Taiwan, which described Tedros' comments as "baseless".

"Our country has never encouraged the public to launch personal attacks against him or made any racially discriminatory comments," foreign ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou told reporters on Thursday.

The ministry added it was seeking an apology for "slander".


Read more on:    un  |  us  |  taiwan  |  india  |  coronavirus

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