Covid-19 wrap: Iran cases jump by 3 000, Armenian PM tests positive and Italian doctor sparks row

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

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Iran says virus cases jump nearly 3 000 in a day, a 2-month high

Tehran – Iran on Monday announced almost 3 000 new coronavirus infections, its highest daily count in two months, as it warned of another "dangerous peak" in the Middle East's deadliest outbreak.

"People seem to think the coronavirus is over…some officials also believe everything" is back to normal, said Health Minister Saeed Namaki.

"The coronavirus is not only far from over, but we could at any moment see (another) dangerous peak," he said in a televised interview.

Ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour raised Iran's caseload to 154 445 with 2 979 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours. He added that the virus had claimed another 81 lives in the past day, up by 18 compared with Sunday and raising the total to 7,878.

 - AFP


Armenian PM tests positive for virus as cases surge

Yerevan – Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his family have tested positive for the coronavirus, he said on Monday, as the rate of new infections soared in the Caucasus nation.

"My coronavirus test was positive yesterday," Pashinyan said in a self-recorded video message on Facebook, adding that his family were also infected. He said he had no "visible symptoms" of the virus and would be working from home.

The prime minister and his wife Anna Hakobyan, who is a journalist, have four children.

The ex-Soviet republic of some three million has so far reported 9 492 cases of the coronavirus and 139 deaths.

 - AFP


Top Italian doctor's claim virus 'no longer exists' sparks row

Rome – A claim by a leading Italian doctor that the new coronavirus "no longer exists" in the country sparked a furore on Monday, with the government urging caution.

Italy is preparing this week for the next big step in easing a national lockdown imposed three months ago. From Wednesday, foreign tourists will be able to enter again and people will be able to move between regions.

But the government has insisted this is one of the most dangerous phases of a pandemic that has claimed 33 500 lives in the country.

It has urged people to abide by social distancing rules and wear masks to prevent the virus from spreading once again.

"In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy," said Alberto Zangrillo, head of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, the capital of the northern Lombardy region, which has been the worst-hit by the pandemic.

"The swabs performed over the past 10 days have showed a viral load that is absolutely infinitesimal in quantitative terms compared to those carried out a month or two months ago," he said in an interview on RAI television on Sunday.

That prompted cries of disbelief from other experts and a warning from the government that it was too early to celebrate.

 - AFP


Sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in Peru and Chile

Lima – Peru on Sunday reported 8 800 new Covid-19 infections, setting a new daily record for a country that already has the second highest number of novel coronavirus cases in Latin America after Brazil.

The death toll is now at 4 506, the third highest in the region – itself the new hotspot of the deadly disease – after Brazil and Mexico, with President Martin Vizcarra warning the country is only halfway through the crisis.

Infections have jumped in Peru despite a months-long mandatory lockdown and a night-time curfew and the government ordering international borders to be closed.

Neighbouring Chile on Sunday reported 57 more fatalities in the past 24 hours, a new record that brings the country's Covid-19 death toll to 1 054.

"We are facing the largest pandemic of the past 100 years," said Deputy Health Minister Paula Daza, as she announced the latest figures. "It is a tremendous challenge; we are living very difficult times in our country."

In Santiago, where the 80% of the virus cases were reported, 96% of the emergency room beds were taken, officials said.

 - AFP


Philippine capital reopens despite jump in virus cases

Manila – Manila emerged on Monday from one of the world's longest coronavirus lockdowns as the Philippines seeks to repair its badly damaged economy even as the number of new infections surges.

Streets in the capital were choked with traffic and limited public transport resumed as commuters flooded back to work in the city of 12 million after nearly three months of strict home quarantine.

Most businesses have been allowed to reopen in the city, but schools, bars, dine-in restaurants all remain shuttered.

"The virus is frightening but it's either you die from the virus or you die from hunger," salesperson Himmler Gaston, 59, told AFP as he entered the train station where commuters had their temperatures checked.

The Philippines has so far reported 18 638 cases and 960 deaths, but experts fear limited testing means the true figures are likely much higher.

 - AFP


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