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China coronavirus toll reaches 304, 14,380 infected

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Beijing, Chinese health authorities on Sunday said that the death toll in the country due to the deadly novel coronavirus has increased to 304, with 14,380 infected cases.

The National Health Commission that 2,110 patients remained in severe condition, and 19,544 people were suspected of being infected with the virus, Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 328 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

The Commission said 163,844 close contacts had been traced, adding that among them, 8,044 were discharged on Saturday, with 137,594 others still under medical observation.

The Philippines on Sunday reported the country’s first death from the novel coronavirus, making it the first country outside China to report a fatality.

The victim was a 44-year-old Chinese male from the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, who came to the Philippines via Hong Kong on January 21, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

Duque told the media that the unidentified man, who died on Saturday, was the second confirmed case in the Philippines.

The victim was admitted for pneumonia on January 25 after experiencing fever, cough and sore throat, he said, adding: “Over the course of the patient’s admission he developed severe pneumonia. In his last few days the patient was stable and showed signs of improvement.

“However, the condition of the patient deteriorated within the last 24 hours resulting in his demise.”The World Health Organization, which has declared the outbreak as a global health emergency, said the victim appeared to have been infected before arriving in the Philippines, the BBC reported.

Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the WHO representative to the Philippines, urged people to remain calm, saying: “This is the first reported death outside China. However, we need to take into mind that this is not a locally acquired case. This patient came from the epicentre of this outbreak.”

Outside of China, the countries that have confirmed coronavirus cases are Thailand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Macao, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the US, Germany, France, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Italy, the UK, Russia, Cambodia, Finland, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Spain and Sweden.

Some countries have closed their borders to people coming from China, as officials work to control the rapid spread of the virus. The US and Australia have said they will deny entry to all foreign visitors who had recently been to China, where the 2019-nCov strain of the coronavirus first emerged in December 2019.

Other countries including New Zealand, Russia, Japan, Pakistan and Italy have also announced similar travel restrictions.

Hong Kong hospital workers have voted to go on strike from Monday unless the territory’s border with mainland China is completely closed, which the city’s government has refused to do.

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UK lockdown could be extended into May: Report

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London, April 9 (IANS) Ministers were said to be preparing to extend the UK lockdown into May, with advisers insisting the coronavirus peak could still be 10 days away, a media report said on Thursday.

In Wednesday’s Downing Street briefing, Indian-origin Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to give any hints on if the restrictions would be eased, adding there would be a Cobra meeting to review the situation on Thursday, chaired by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is currently deputising for the coronavirus-stricken Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said the Metro newspaper report.

Johnson was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital on Sunday, on the advice of his doctor, after continuing to have a cough and high temperature 10 days after testing positive for the virus.

The Prime Minister was given oxygen before being taken to intensive care on Monday. He was currently “responding to treatment” and remained clinically stable.

The government has reportedly been told that the country’s deadliest day could be April 18, meaning that Britons will be told to stay inside until at least next month, according to the newspaper.

The news comes after the UK death toll jumped by 938 people in just one day, taking the total number of fatalities to 7.097, while the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased to 61,474.

In the press briefing on Wednesday, Sunak claimed that the government was currently focusing on the “here, the now and the present” rather than when the restrictions will end.

When pressed on the issue by journalists, he responded: “What really matters is that people stay at home.”

Also On Wednesday, the Downing Street said a review of lockdown rules would go ahead next week, but the public must “stick with” the measures at what was a “critical time”, the BBC reported.

A ban on public gatherings of more than two people and the closure of shops selling non-essential goods were among the series of restrictions announced by Johnson on March 23 to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Downing Street said a relaxation of the rules would be considered “on or around” the three-week mark on April 13.

Speaking to the BBC, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I think we’re nowhere near lifting the lockdown.

“We think the peak – which is the worst part of the virus – is still probably a week and a half away.”


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Islamic State launches rocket attack on Bagram air base in Kabul

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New Delhi/Kabul, April 9 (IANS) The Islamic State Khorasan Province launched yet another rocket attack on Bagram air base on Thursday, making it their third such assault this year in Afghanistan.

The ISKP claimed the responsibility for the early morning rocket attack on the base in Parwan, Afghanistan.

Sources said though four to five BM1 rockets were fired at the airfield using a vehicle parked in the village of Dasht-e-Ufian, no casualties were reported. The vehicle was blown up, either by the Islamic State or the Afghan forces in retaliation.

A rocket attack on the Bagram air base last month was the first on NATO forces since the signing of the US-Taliban peace deal.

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Over 800 people stranded in virus-hit Wuhan return to Beijing

More than 61,000 people who work or live in Beijing have returned from Hubei Province since March 25.

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Beijing, April 9 : The first batch of 866 people stranded in virus-hit Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province, has arrived in Beijing by a train after Wuhan lifted its outbound travel restrictions on the same day.

Beijing residents who were stranded in Wuhan are required to apply for a return through a mini-program on instant messaging app WeChat. Statistics showed that more than 11,000 people asked for a return to the national capital, said Chen Bei, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government, at a press conference on Wednesday, reported Xinhua news agency.

Starting Wednesday, around 1,000 stranded people are expected to return to Beijing from Wuhan each day via train or car. They should undergo nucleic acid testing (NAT) in Wuhan within seven days before departure, Chen said.

The transport of the people will be carried out in a well-organized and spot-to-spot way, and all returned personnel will be brought under closed-loop management, with a two-week mandatory quarantine, either at home or at a designated venue. Another round of NAT is required after the quarantine, Chen noted.

More than 61,000 people who work or live in Beijing have returned from Hubei Province since March 25.

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