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Coronavirus: Turkey’s biggest city Istanbul under lockdown

Turkey, which took over Iran as the worst hit country in the Middle East in terms of cases, has reported 126,045 COVID-19 infections, while the death toll stood at 3,397.

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Turkey Covid Lockdown

Istanbul, May 4 : Turkish authorities imposed a lockdown in the country’s biggest city of Istanbul with a population of 16 million, in line with the government’s measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, several on-duty officials, press members, and police forces were seen patrolling the city’s usually most crowded spots, while avenues, streets, and district centres were all deserted, reports Xinhua news agency.

Taking advantage of the curfew, city workers carried out several asphalt paving works on some streets and highways, the Istanbul municipality said.

Numerous teams were in the field during the lockdown by following the social distancing rule and wearing facial masks, the statement added.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier said the government would continue to impose curfews on 31 provinces on weekends until the end of May.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry announced on Sunday that it extended the travel restrictions for 31 provinces until Monday midnight.

The government will decide whether to continue the limitation at a cabinet meeting, which will be chaired by the President on Tuesday, it added.

According to Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin, the government would also consider easing the curfew for elderly people at the age of 65 and over.

Turkey, which took over Iran as the worst hit country in the Middle East in terms of cases, has reported 126,045 COVID-19 infections, while the death toll stood at 3,397.

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Earthquake tremors felt in Delhi-NCR

The earthquake struck at 7:00:48 PM IST at a depth of 5 km from the surface.

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Earthquake Strong

New Delhi: An earthquake of magnitude 4.5 was reported near Delhi on Friday evening, according to India’s National Center for Seismology.

The epicentre of the earthquake was 63 km southwest (SW) of Gurgaon in Haryana, India, the agency said.

The earthquake struck at 7:00:48 PM IST at a depth of 5 km from the surface.

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Fauci slams lack of unified US response; remains hopeful for vaccine

Asked about how he navigates White House politics, Fauci said his method hasn”t changed since he first stepped into the White House back in the 80s.

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Anthony Fauci

New York, July 3 : America’s top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci tore into the lack of a unified, national response to the coronavirus and warned that a “devil may care” interpretation in wide swathes of America to the re-opening effort is working to the country’s “detriment”.

Speaking at an online Harvard Business Review event Thursday afternoon, Fauci repeated his hope today for a “safe and effective” vaccine by the end of 2020 or by the first quarter of next year. That timeframe, Fauci said, “would be a success”.

Early preliminary data on “several” vaccine candidates are pointing to predictable immune response, Fauci said. “They can induce the kind of response we can predict to be protective”

Explaining his view of “success”, Fauci said America would “gladly accept” a vaccine where the person who gets the shot gets exposed, maybe infected but doesn”t get sick enough to need medical attention.

Responding to questions on a second wave, a visibly concerned Fauci said America is still in its first wave of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are still in the first wave. Take a look at the curve. It went up, flattened out and now going right back up.”

Infections per day in the US have soared to an all-time high of 50,700, more than doubling over the past month, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Fauci has warned in the past week that 100,000 cases per day won”t be a surprise if things continue in the current trajectory. Much of the sunbelt is now rolling back reopening plans in response to the latest surge in caseload, the highest the US has seen since the domestic outbreak began in January.

Fauci”s comments come 24 hours after US president Donald Trump shifted his stance on masks, saying he likes them because it makes him look like the Lone Ranger and would wear one if he were in a “tight situation”.

Trump has long resisted being photographed in a mask although recommendations to mask up came in early April, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Trump”s U-turn comes after the virus has roared into Republican strongholds with 75 per cent of new infections coming from states Trump won in 2016.

Asked about how he navigates White House politics, Fauci said his method hasn”t changed since he first stepped into the White House back in the 80s.

“I”m going to tell the truth and a lot of times, that”s going to be something that person doesn”t want to hear. So you”ve got to be aware of the fact that that person might not ask you back. And what happens if you do that, what happens is that people know that you”re not being partisan one way or the other, you just tell the truth. People respect you and they do ask you back.”

The US leads the world”s coronavirus caseload, with more than 2.7 million people sick and more than 128,000 dead since the first virus-linked fatality in early February this year.

Public health experts continue wringing their hands at the lack of national guidance on preventive measures as zig zag messaging and wild summer parties have sparked an alarming resurgence of COVID-19 in nearly half of the 50 states.

(Nikhila Natarajan is on Twitter @byniknat)

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162 killed in Myanmar jade mine landslide

Deadly landslides are frequent in Kachin state, known as land of jade, especially in Hpakant mining region.

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Myanmar jade mine landslide

Yangon, July 3 : At least 162 bodies have been found after a landslide at a jade mining site in northern Myanmar, officials said.

Rescue work has continued all day for people still missing at the site in the Hpakant area of Kachin state, the BBC reported.

A wave of mud and rock triggered by heavy rain engulfed those collecting stones, the fire service said.

Myanmar is the world’s biggest source of jade but its mines have seen numerous accidents, many involving people who scavenge for stones.

The country’s fire service department said in a Facebook post (in Burmese): “The jade miners were smothered by a wave of mud, which hit after heavy rainfall.”

It said that by 19.15 local time (12.45 GMT) “162 bodies were found and 54 injured people were taken [to hospital]”. No figure was given for the number of people still missing.

Kachin state’s minister of social affairs, Dashi La Seng, told BBC Burmese: “All of a sudden… huge amounts of mud together with rainwater ran into the pit. It was like a tsunami.”

Heavy rain continued all day during the rescue work.

Police said some people had defied a warning issued on Wednesday not to work in the area after the rainfall, although the advice may also have saved many lives.

Video of the incident shows a massive landslide pouring into a large flooded pit or lake.

Maung Khaing, a 38-year-old miner, told Reuters he saw a towering pile of waste close to collapse and people were shouting “run, run”.

He said: “Within a minute, all the people at the bottom [of the hill] just disappeared. I feel empty in my heart… There were people stuck in the mud shouting for help but no-one could help them.”

Hundreds of people gather at mines to sift through rubble discarded from lorries, hoping to find jade stones.

The rubble creates large slopes that can be dangerous in an area denuded of trees and resembling a moonscape.

More than 100 people died last year alone at mining sites.

Myanmar’s jade trade is reported to be worth more than $30bn (?24bn) a year. Hpakant is the site of the world’s biggest jade mine.

“Searching for precious stones is traditionally the only job for the people in this area. They have no other choice of livelihood,” local resident Shwe Thein told the BBC.

“They will mine by any means whether they have an official permit or not. Although the mudslides keep happening, many organisations, including armed groups, involved in jade mining are saying the situation here is good. So it’s difficult for the outside world to know the real situation here.”

The BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok says a new gemstone mining law was passed last year, but critics say the government has too few inspectors with only limited authority to stop illegal practices.

He says campaigners have accused the military, drug dealers, insurgent groups and Chinese business interests of controlling the jade trade and preventing a safer and more sustainable exploitation of the valuable gemstone.

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