Covid-19 wrap: Global deaths hover around 300 000, US jobless at 2.98m and China accuses US of 'smearing'

2020-05-14 15:59

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 novel coronavirus has killed at least 297 259 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 11:00 (GMT) on Thursday.

At least 4 362 090 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 1 514 600 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.

Over the past 24 hours, 5 259 deaths and 89 210 new cases have been recorded.

The United States has the highest number of total deaths with 84 136 from 1 390 764 cases. At least 243 430 have been declared recovered. Britain has the second-highest toll with 33 186 deaths from 229 705 cases.

It is followed by Italy with 31 106 deaths and 222 104 cases, Spain with 27 321 deaths and 229 540 infections and France with 27 074 fatalities and 178 060 cases.

 - AFP

New US jobless claims slow, but still high at 2.98 million

Washington – New US claims for unemployment benefits continued to slow in the latest week but at 2.98 million showed the coronavirus pandemic continues to destroy jobs, according to government data released on Thursday.

The number of people filing for jobless benefits for the first time in the week ended 9 May decreased about 200 000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said, but the level was well above what analysts expected and remained far higher than any week prior to the pandemic.

The new data brings the total job losses since economic shutdowns began in mid-March to 36.5 million, a figure rivalled only by the Great Depression 90 years ago.

That is pushing the unemployment rate closer to Depression-era levels as well, jumping to 14.7% in April with 20.5 million job losses in a single month as governments ordered businesses closed to stop the spread of the virus that has killed more than 84 000 people in the United States.

 - AFP

China rejects US claim of attempted vaccine theft as 'smearing'

Beijing – Beijing accused the United States on Thursday of smearing China after Washington alleged Chinese hackers were attempting to steal research on developing a vaccine against the coronavirus.

The claims have added fuel to tensions between the global superpowers, who have traded barbs over the origin of the pandemic that has killed 300 000 people worldwide.

US authorities said on Wednesday that Chinese hackers were trying to obtain coronavirus data on treatments and vaccines, warning the effort involved Chinese government-affiliated groups and others.

The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said China's efforts posed a "significant threat" to the US response to Covid-19.

"China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to such smearing," foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing. "Judging from past records, the US has carried out the largest cybertheft operations worldwide."

He stressed that Beijing has significant achievements of its own in the fight against the pandemic.

 - AFP

Cyprus frees man jailed for visiting lover on lockdown

Nicosia – The president of Cyprus on Thursday ordered the release of a man jailed for breaching a coronavirus curfew to see his girlfriend, officials said.

A court sentenced the 35-year-old Cypriot man to 45 days in prison on Tuesday, after police caught him violating restrictions on movement and breaking a curfew in March.

A public outcry followed the ruling, which the island's attorney general said was inappropriate. President Nicos Anastasiades agreed.

"Exercising the powers provided to him by the Constitution, following a recommendation by the Attorney General, the president decided to suspend the sentencing," a statement by deputy government spokesperson Panayiotis Sentonas said.

The president's ruling took into account that two days after the incident, a decision was made that "offences of this nature are punishable by on-the-spot fines".

The man told officers he was travelling to visit his girlfriend when stopped for breaking the curfew shortly after 21:00 on 25 March.

 - AFP

Thousands cram into Indonesian airport terminal

Thousands of people crammed into a terminal at Jakarta's main airport, breaking social distancing rules after the Indonesian government lifted a ban on air travel imposed to fight the spread of the virus.

Images of the scene went viral online, prompting airport officials to intervene and separate baggage-laden travellers. The flight ban was relaxed last week, earlier than originally anticipated, even as the number of cases continues to rise sharply in Indonesia.

 - AFP

Bangladesh builds mega field hospital as outbreak worsens

Bangladesh has prepared a huge field hospital in three weeks to treat coronavirus patients in an attempt to fight the intensifying outbreak in the country.

The South Asian nation has reported nearly 18 000 infections and 269 deaths from Covid-19 despite a countrywide lockdown, but critics say the numbers are far lower than the true virus figures because of insufficient testing.

 - AFP

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Read more on:    indonesia  |  cyprus  |  us  |  china  |  bangladesh  |  health  |  lockdown  |  coronavirus

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