Covid-19 wrap: Worldwide death toll ticks past 190 000, US prods China again and cases surge in Djibouti

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Coronavirus death toll passes 190 000 worldwide - AFP tally

Paris – The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus pandemic crossed 190 000 on Friday, with nearly two-thirds of the fatalities in Europe, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources at 07:40 (GMT).

A total of 190 089 people have died and 2 698 733 been infected since the virus emerged in China in December. The hardest hit continent is Europe, with 116 221 deaths and 1 296 248 cases.

The country with the most deaths is the United States with 49 963, followed by Italy with 25 549, Spain with 22 157, France with 21 856 and Britain with 18 738.

 - AFP


Pompeo says China may have known of virus in November

Washington – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo charged on Thursday that China may have known of the new coronavirus as early as November, renewing accusations that Beijing has not been transparent and again drawing ire from China.

"You'll recall that the first cases of this were known by the Chinese government maybe as early as November, but certainly by mid-December," Pompeo said in an interview.

"They were slow to identify this for anyone in the world, including the World Health Organisation," he told conservative radio host Larry O'Connor.

Pompeo said the United States still wanted more information from China including the original sample of the SARS-CoV-2 virus detected in the metropolis of Wuhan.

"This issue of transparency is important not only as a historical matter to understand what happened back in November and December and January, but it's important even today," Pompeo said. "This is still impacting lots of lives here in the United States and, frankly, around the world."

 - AFP


Coronavirus surges in Djibouti as population ignores measures

Djibouti – Djibouti has seen a rapid spike in coronavirus cases, with the Horn of Africa nation now recording the highest prevalence on the continent as the population largely ignores measures imposed by authorities.

The tiny but strategically important country that hosts major US and French military bases has recorded 985 positive cases – small on a global scale, but the highest in East Africa. Two people have died.

This is largely due to testing. Djibouti, with a population of around one million, has conducted just over 10 000 tests – a similar number to neighbouring Ethiopia, which has more than 100 million people.

But more alarming than the figure itself is the runaway rate of multiplication: in just two weeks, Djibouti has recorded a seven-fold increase in cases. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday said that with 98.6 cases per 100 000 people, Djibouti has the highest prevalence on the continent.

"The epidemic is getting worse," the health ministry said last week.

 - AFP


UK submariners in hot water over lockdown party

London – A British Royal Navy submarine commander has been put on leave after ignoring social distancing rules and throwing a party for his crew on their arrival back home, media reports said on Friday.

Footage on social media showed two DJs playing dance music to the crew of the HMS Trenchant, who were sitting at tables eating barbecue after the vessel docked for repairs at its base near Plymouth, southwest England, following three months at sea.

The gathering went against government social distancing rules introduced to try to slow the spread of coronavirus, which has left more than 18 000 people dead in Britain alone.

"An investigation is under way. It would be inappropriate to comment further," said a Royal Navy spokesperson.

 - AFP


Philippines extends curbs

The Philippines extended to 15 May the quarantine covering the capital Manila and surrounding areas, but ordered restrictions be loosened in places with fewer coronavirus cases.

The lockdown covering Manila's 12 million people was due to expire at the end of April, but President Rodrigo Duterte announced an extension as the nation battles a growing number of infections and deaths.

 - AFP


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