Global virus deaths at 154,000; US cases at 700,000

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International desk, April 18: The number of deaths linked to the novel coronavirus has hit almost 154,000 worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, while Reuters news agency reported that the total number of infections in the United States has hit 700,000, up more than 30,000 from the previous day with few states still not reporting. The number of US deaths is hovering around 37,000.Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has accused US President Donald Trump of “fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies” after the latter urged supporters to “LIBERATE” three states led by Democratic governors, reports Al;jazeera.

The British government was too slow to react on several fronts to the novel coronavirus outbreak that could cause the deaths of 40,000 people in the United Kingdom, a leading public health professor told lawmakers on Friday.

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has said Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr prayers could take place at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

South Korea has reported 18 new cases of the coronavirus, its lowest daily jump since February 20, continuing a downward trend as officials discuss more sustainable forms of social distancing that allows for some communal and economic activity.

Figures released by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday brought national totals to 10,653 cases and 232 virus-related deaths, the Associated Press news agency repoted.

At least 993 of overall infections have been linked to arrivals from overseas.

Japan, alarmed by rising coronavirus deaths and the spectre of the collapse of the medical system, is scrambling to expand testing with drive-through facilities and general practitioners helping to collect samples, according to Reuters.

The decision to expand testing came as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week expanded a state of emergency, originally issued for Tokyo and six other areas, to the entire country, and warned of the growing burden on health facilities

Japan conducted about 52,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in March, or just 16 percent of the number carried out in South Korea, according to data from Oxford University.

China has reported 27 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as it tries to stem an upsurge in infections in a northeastern province bordering Russia.

Twenty of the new cases were in Heilongjiang province, including 13 Chinese nationals who had returned recently from Russia. The land border with Russia has been closed.

The confirmed cases brought the total to 82719, of which 77,029 have recovered. Meanwhile, China’s official death toll rose sharply to 4,632, reflecting a major upwards revision the previous day by authorities in Wuhan, the nation’s hardest-hit city.

From zero reported infections and fatalities in January and February, Indonesia now has the highest number of cases and deaths in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia has reported nearly 6,000 cases surpassing the Philippines. The death toll in Indonesia as of Friday was 520.

Canada’s transport agency has announced that all airline passengers would be required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering during travel to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The regulator said travellers must cover their mouth and nose during the boarding process and flights. The rule goes into effect on Monday.

Air Canada, the country’s largest carrier, had previously recommended that customers wear a face-covering over their mouth and noses while onboard its flights.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has announced that a large number of the migrants on a deportation flight from the United States to Guatemala earlier this week were infected with the novel coronavirus.

Earlier, it was reported that at least 44 of the 77 Guatemalans deported on Monday were infected with the coronavirus.

US President Donald Trump says he remains hopeful that he will be able to resume campaign rallies ahead of the November election.

Trump said that he does not want social distancing at his rallies, which typically draw big crowds, because doesn’t want attendees to miss the “flavour” of the experience. Trump stopped holding his big stadium rallies in early March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The president predicted that when the rallies resume they’ll be “bigger than ever.” He plans to travel to the US Military Academy in New York next month to deliver the commencement ceremony.

The Nigerian president’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, died on Friday after contracting the new coronavirus, two presidency spokesmen said on Twitter.

Kyari, who was in his 70s and had underlying health problems including diabetes, was the top official aide to 77-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari and one of the most powerful men in the country, Reuters news agency reported.

“The Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari,” said presidency spokesman Garba Shehu in a tweet, using an honorific title for Kyari.

Kyari’s was the highest-profile death due to the disease in the West African country, which has 493 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Mexican health officials have reported 578 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 60 new deaths, bringing the country’s total to 6,875 cases and 546 deaths.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Thursday the country might have nearly 56,000 people infected with the fast-spreading coronavirus.

Citing government models, Lopez-Gatell has said many who are infected likely did not have symptoms or were not diagnosed.

Mexico’s president says that United States President Donald Trump has promised Mexico will be able to buy 1,000 ventilators and other intensive-therapy equipment used in treating severe cases of COVID-19.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he spoke with Trump about Mexico’s request to purchase the machines, relatively few of which are available in Mexico.

Lopez Obrador said on Twitter that Trump “guaranteed me that by the end of this month” Mexico could buy 1,000 ventilators and possibly more.

Lopez Obrador calls it a “new gesture of solidarity with Mexico”. He says he suggested a meeting with Trump in June or July to personally express the country’s appreciation.