Covid-19 wrap: 183 707 global deaths, US jobless total hits 26.4 million and WHO warns of malaria threat

2020-04-23 16:13

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

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Coronavirus toll at 11:00 (GMT) Thursday

Paris – The worldwide death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to 183 707 on Thursday, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 11:00 (GMT).

More than 2 636 740 declared cases have been registered in 193 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December. Of these cases, at least 696 700 are now considered recovered.

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 testing only the most serious cases.

In the United States, now the worst-hit country, the death toll stood at 46 785 with 842 624 infections. At least 76 614 patients have recovered. Italy is the next most affected country with 25 085 deaths and 187 327 confirmed infections.

 - AFP

Weekly US jobless claims 4.4 million, virus job loss total hits 26.4 million

Washington – Job losses from the coronavirus pandemic deepened last week with data on Thursday showing another 4.4 million US workers filed new claims for jobless benefits, bringing the total to 26.4 million since mid-March.

The total for the week ending 18 April is a drop from the initial claims filed in the previous three weeks, but remains at staggeringly high levels due to government-ordered shutdowns to stop the pandemic from spreading and intensifying.

The outbreak in the US has grown into the world's largest, with the death tally ever-increasing.

"We anticipate a further decline in claims next week, but the rate of fall of Google searches for 'file for unemployment' has slowed, suggesting it will take several more weeks before claims drop below one million," Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said.

 - AFP

WHO warns malaria deaths could double during virus pandemic

Geneva – The new coronavirus pandemic could severely disrupt access to anti-malaria nets and drugs in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday, warning that malaria deaths risked doubling if efforts are not urgently scaled up.

The UN health agency called on countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 95% of all the world's malaria cases and deaths occur, to rapidly distribute malaria prevention and treatment tools now, before they become too overwhelmed with novel coronavirus cases.

"Severe disruptions to insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines could lead to a doubling in the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year compared to 2018," the WHO warned, citing new modelling analysis.

 - AFP

Italy launches antibody tests for virus immunity

Rome – Italy began conducting antibody tests in the northern region of Lombardy on Thursday, seeking information about coronavirus immunity to help guide authorities as they reopen the long locked-down country.

Lombardy, the region hardest-hit by the coronavirus crisis in Europe's worst-affected country, is betting that the science about "herd immunity" derived from the blood tests will help the prosperous industrial region return to work faster and safer.

Although Germany has already started nationwide antibody tests and countries such as Finland and Britain have announced plans to roll them out, many questions remain about how reliable data derived from the tests will be.

"There's no guarantee that these antibodies protect from a new infection. We can only hope so for the moment. We'll know in the future," Guido Marinoni, president of Bergamo's surgical and dental association, told AFP on Thursday.

 - AFP

UAE considers reopening malls after virus shutdown

Dubai – The United Arab Emirates said on Thursday it is looking into reopening its massive shopping malls, a month after they were closed as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The restrictions have hit businesses hard, particularly retailers who had expected to cater to a rush of Ramadaan shoppers.

Health ministry and crisis authorities have requested a study into "the possibility of reopening commercial centres with their private sector partners while taking into consideration health requirements", the official WAM news agency reported.

The move comes as Muslims prepare for the holy month of Ramadaan, during which believers fast from dawn to dusk and traditionally gather around a family or community meal each evening.

Officials in the emirate of Dubai, whose vast shopping centres serve as its economic lifeline, said they were considering reopening malls "with necessary measures and precautions", according to local reports.

 - AFP

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