International Covid-19 update | US records 1 509 deaths in 24 hours, Nigeria and France extend lockdowns, calls to loosen US sanctions in Cuba

2020-04-14 08:55

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

FOLLOW THE LIVE UPDATE | All the latest coronavirus and lockdown updates

US records 1 509 deaths in past 24 hours: Johns Hopkins tally

The United States recorded 1 509 deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic over the past 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University as of 20:30 on Monday.

The number of fatalities was similar to the previous day's toll of 1 514.

The outbreak has now claimed the lives of at least 23 529 people in the US, the most of any country.

The United States has more than 550 000 people infected with the virus, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

New York's governor declared on Monday that the "worst is over" for the state, despite deaths passing 10 000, as several states began devising a plan to reopen their shuttered economies.

President Donald Trump tweeted that any decision to end shutdowns rested with him, even though it was individual governors who rolled out the lockdowns.

America's federal system of government delegates powers to the governors of the 50 states, but the president in theory can use his powers to oversee a coordinated national strategy.


Nigeria president extends virus lockdown in Lagos and Abuja

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday announced a two-week extension to a lockdown in largest city Lagos, neighbouring Ogun state and capital Abuja, as authorities battle to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Buhari said in a televised address that "it has become necessary to extend the current restriction of movement" that was set to expire later on Monday.


A soldier checks the body temperature of a visitor
A soldier checks the body temperature of a visitor to the 68 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital at Yaba in Lagos. (Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP)

Calls to loosen US sanctions as Cuba battles pandemic

As the deadly coronavirus spreads across Cuba, with 726 cases recorded by Monday, a growing chorus of voices is calling for an easing of the decades-long US embargo.

During the pandemic, the embargo is "even more cruel" and having a more harmful impact than ever, said Nestor Marimon, head of international relations at the ministry of health.

Marimon and others say that while the blockade may not prevent the delivery of medical supplies, it severely complicates the process.

The government said that a recent shipment of masks, testing kits and ventilators that had been offered by Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, could not make it to the Communist-run island because the US shipping company was worried about US sanctions being imposed.

The embargo was imposed in 1962 to "deny resources to the Castro regime," resources which could be "used to control & abuse the rights of the Cuban people and interfere in countries around region," an implicit reference to Venezuela, said Michael Kozak, the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of Latin American affairs.

Since 1992, medicinal supplies have been exempted from the sanctions, as long as they are used exclusively to treat the general population.


Australia, New Zealand flatten virus curve but keep lockdowns intact

Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday brushed aside calls for an easing of tough restrictions on travel and public gatherings despite their success in curbing the spread of Covid-19.

The number of new coronavirus cases in the neighbouring nations has fallen dramatically in the last two weeks, raising hopes that difficult social distancing measures may be relaxed.

Australia registered just 63 new infections on Sunday and Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 6 366 for a population of 25 million.

It was the lowest two-day increase in a month.

New Zealand, a nation of five million, saw just eight new cases on Tuesday for a total of 1 072, its lowest daily increase in more than three weeks.


France extends lockdown as countries see hope of virus peak

France extended its nationwide lockdown on Monday for another month in a bid to halt the coronavirus pandemic, as other hard-hit countries considered easing their measures with hopes rising that death rates may soon plateau.

President Emmanuel Macron said the epidemic was "beginning to steady... (and) hope is returning," speaking in a televised address to the nation.

"May 11 will be the start of a new phase. It will be progressive and the rules can be adapted according to our results," he added.

France reported a slight increase in hospital deaths Monday - though still below its record numbers of last week - and a slight dip in intensive care patients for a fifth day running.


Turkey MPs back law freeing thousands of prisoners over coronavirus

The Turkish parliament on Tuesday approved a law that allows for the release tens of thousands of prisoners as a safety measure against the coronavirus outbreak.

"The draft has become law after being accepted," the official Twitter account for the parliament's general assembly said. Rights groups including Human Rights Watch criticised the law because detainees charged under controversial anti-terrorism laws are not included.

Read more on:    turkey  |  cuba  |  us  |  new zealand  |  france  |  australia  |  nigeria  |  coronavirus

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