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Coronavirus fight: Chinese experts arrive in Nigeria, to remain in quarantine for 14 days

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A team of Chinese doctors and experts arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday to assist the country  in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

The team, which arrived in Nigeria through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, 

was received by a Federal Government delegation led by the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire.

The Chinese team of doctors and experts came along with a new consignment of kits and medical equipment.

Speaking to newsmen after their arrival, Ehanire thanked the Chinese government for sending experts and equipment to assist Nigeria in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

While congratulating China for being able to successfully manage the pandemic, the minister said that Nigeria had much to learn from the experiences of the Asian country.

Ehanire, however, said that the experts would be quarantined for 14 days before they begin working fully in Nigeria.

“They will be in quarantine for 14 days.

“They knew that before they came and they have undergone tests before they left their country.

“Nevertheless they would be in quarantine for 14 days.

“The NCDC has gone to see where they will be in quarantine and they will be paying visits there throughout the 14 days.

“We are very happy to see the equipment that have come today.

“This is the second consignment from China after the Jack Ma consignment.

“We believe it will help us a lot in addressing the gaps we would have had in commodities and also very important equipment.

“We have 50 ventilators more after this visit. Beyond the ventilators, we also have the oxygenator which is similar to a heart-lung machine, a very sophisticated machine to treat those cases where even a ventilator has failed.

“This is a very important addition to our regiment of treatment options,” he said.

The minister added that plans had already been made for the experts to begin to share experiences and answer questions even while in quarantine through teleconferencing.

“What they will be doing here is capacity building to add to the body of knowledge which our experts have.

“Even while they are on quarantine, I have requested that they connect with our doctors and experts via teleconferencing so that we can start early to ask questions and learn from their narratives,” he said.

The minister stressed that the experts were indeed needed as they had more experience in handling viral infections especially the new coronavirus.

He said that the Nigerian experts were also doing a good job but noted that every health or medical expert needed to learn from those with more experience.

“The medical team that came from Irrua are experts in managing viral diseases generally and this is a viral disease.

“But this coronavirus is a novel virus disease. So it has new dimensions which are new to us and even the experts among us would like to know more about it.

“So the visit of these experts from China will give us information not only on public health aspects but on case management and all the difficulties they had,” he added.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

Ifeanyi Nwoko: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

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Jordan’s king hails anti-coronavirus battle on 74th Independence Day

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King Abdullah II of Jordan on Monday commended all efforts exerted by the country’s various bodies in the battle against COVID-19.

The king made the remarks in an address to the nation on the occasion of Jordan’s 74th Independence Day.

“Our battle with coronavirus is one of those tough tests that have shown the efficiency of the state, its enduring institutions, and the strength of its army and security forces,” the king said in the address, according to a statement by the Royal Court obtained by Xinhua.

An official celebration was held in Jordan on Monday to mark the Independence Day.

Jordan won its full independence from the British mandate and declared itself a kingdom on May 25, 1946.

(XINHUA)

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Roundup: Major Mideast states announce further ease of anti-coronavirus precautions amid Eid al-Fitr festival

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Most of the major Middle East countries on Monday announced the further ease of the precautions against the novel coronavirus, as Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim festival of breaking the fast at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, is being observed across most of the region.

In Turkey, the hardest hit country by the coronavirus in the Middle East, reported 987 new cases on Monday, raising the total number to 157,814, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Meanwhile, the death toll from COVID-19 rose to 4,369 in Turkey after 29 new fatalities in the past 24 hours were confirmed, Koca added.

Turkey has been recently witnessing more signs of slowdown in the pandemic, with daily new infections kept at around 1,000 in the past week.

The Iranian authorities on Monday allowed partial reopening of the Muslim Shiite shrines across the country after more than two months of closure over the coronavirus pandemic.

The Iranian health ministry reported 2,023 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total number in the country to 137,724 since the outbreak in late February, state TV reported.

Meanwhile, the death toll has hit 7,451 in Iran and 107,713 have recovered with 2,585 still in critical condition, according to the country’s health ministry.

Saudi Arabia, also hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak, also announced on Monday the gradual ease of precautionary measures against the COVID-19, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The gradual steps, with social distancing regulations obeyed and based on medical reports of the spread of the virus, will start from Thursday and expand until the situation is back to normal, the SPA quoted Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah as saying.

Saudi Arabia has controlled the spread of the virus through early precautionary measures, especially maintaining a low death rate, the minister noted.

The Arab kingdom announced on Monday 2,235 new coronavirus cases, raising the total number of infections to 74,795, while death toll rose by nine to 399.

In Israel, only 17 new coronavirus cases were reported on Monday, bringing the total number in the country to 16,734.

After four consecutive days without a death case, the Israeli health ministry reported two new fatalities, bringing the death toll in the Jewish country from the COVID-19 to 281.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli transport ministry announced the full resumption of the state’s rail system on June 8.

It is worth noting that Israel’s GDP contracted by annualized 7.1 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the sharpest drop in the last 20 years and mainly due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released by the state’s Central Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

Palestine on Monday declared the end of lockdown and a set of new measures in dealing with the COVID-19, lifting the ban on movement between cities immediately, and allowing public transport to operate in terms of safety procedures.

Shops, commercial and industrial establishments, including cafes, restaurants, and health clubs as well as mosques and churches, will be allowed to reopen starting Tuesday morning, while official bodies will return to work regularly starting Wednesday morning after the end of Eid al-Fitr holiday, according to Palestine Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye.

The number of COVID-19 cases registered in Palestine has reached 602, including 475 recoveries and five deaths, with no new infections reported on Monday.

Qatar’s health ministry on Monday announced 1,751 new infections of the novel coronavirus, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 45,465.

As the first among the Gulf countries to report COVID-19 cases, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday announced 822 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number in the country to 30,307.

The UAE’s health ministry also confirmed three more deaths, bringing the death toll to 248.

In Kuwait, 665 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths were reported on Monday, raising the tally of infections to 21,967 and the death toll to 165, the health ministry said in a statement.

The Kuwaiti government has been imposing a full curfew in the Gulf country to curb the rapid increase of coronavirus cases.

Egypt recorded on Monday 702 new COVID-19 cases and 19 new deaths, bringing the total number of the cases and the death toll in the country to 17,967 and 783 respectively.

The North African country has already started easing restrictions and gradually reopening services and offices that have been halted since mid-March amid the government’s coexistence plan to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming services, businesses and economic activities.

In Morocco, 99 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 7,532 in the North African country, with 200 deaths and 4,774 recoveries.

Iraq confirmed 163 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number in the country to 4,632.

An Iraqi parliamentary crisis committee on Monday demanded reimposition of a full curfew after the end of the Eid al-Fitr holiday to curb the latest surge of COVID-19 cases.

In Jordan, both the public and private sectors will resume work on Tuesday after more than two months of stoppage as part of the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, as the kingdom reported three cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing the overall number to 711.

In Lebanon and Syria, the number of COVID-19 cases on Monday rose by five and 20 respectively to 1,119 and 106.

War-torn Yemen recorded on Monday 11 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the provinces controlled by the government, bringing the total number to 233.

(XINHUA)

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Saudi Arabia announces gradual ease of anti-coronavirus precautions

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Saudi Arabia announced on Monday the gradual ease of precautionary measures against the COVID-19, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The gradual steps, with social distancing regulations obeyed, will start from Thursday and expand until the situation is back to normal, the SPA quoted Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah as saying.

The easing will be based on medical reports of the spread of the virus, Rabiah added.

Saudi Arabia has controlled the spread of the virus through early precautionary measures, especially maintaining a low death rate, he noted.

The health ministry announced on Monday 2,235 new coronavirus cases, raising the number of infections to 74,795.

The death toll rose to 399 after nine fatalities were reported in the last 24 hours, while the recoveries reached 45,668.

On April 15, a team of eight Chinese medical experts visited the kingdom to assist its anti-coronavirus fight.

(XINHUA)

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UK to reopen thousands of shops as eases coronavirus lockdown: Johnson

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Britain will reopen thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.

Johnson also set out a timetable for businesses as part of moves to ease the coronavirus lockdown.

He told a news conference that from June 1, outdoor markets and care showrooms could be reopened as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

All other non-essential retail could reopen from June 15 if the government’s tests are met.

“There are careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country,’’ Johnson said.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Roundup: Italy starts serological screening as coronavirus death toll rises to 32,877

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A further 92 COVID-19 patients have died in the past 24 hours in Italy, bringing the country’s toll to 32,877 out of 230,158 cases of infection, the Civil Protection Department said on Monday.

Nationwide, the number of active infections dropped by 1,294 to 55,300 cases.

Of those who tested positive for the new coronavirus, 541 are in intensive care, 12 fewer compared to Sunday, and 8,185 are hospitalized with symptoms, down by 428 patients from Sunday.

The rest, 46,574 people, or about 84 percent of those who tested positive, are quarantined at home with no or only mild symptoms.

Recoveries rose by 1,502 compared to Sunday, bringing the nationwide total to 141,981.

Meanwhile, Italy started serological screening tests at the national level on Monday on a sample of 150,000 people to better understand how much the virus has spread across the resident population, and to ramp up the fight against the pandemic.

The screening will be carried out by some 700 volunteers of the Italian Red Cross through 21 regional operative centers under the coordination of a national support center, the Health Ministry stated.

The sample of the population, selected with the help of the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), includes six different age groups categorized according to gender, employment profile and region of residence.

The highest number of tests will be carried out in northern Lombardy (13,000), Veneto (13,000), Emilia Romagna (12,000) and Piedmont (10,000) — the four regions most affected by the pandemic — followed by the others according to their epidemiological situation.

Each person will take part in the screening on a voluntary basis only, and his/her personal data would remain anonymous and protected, the Health Ministry specified.

In case the serological test is positive — suggesting the person has been exposed to the coronavirus and is developing immunity (even without symptoms of the disease) — a swab test would follow to confirm or dismiss the result.

In related news on Monday, Italy’s Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia warned that the easing of restrictions on inter-regional movement — planned on June 3 — might be postponed if Italians were not to behave prudently in their social life.

This warning came after gatherings of people — in several cases not respecting social distancing rules and not wearing face masks — were seen in nightlife areas in some cities on Saturday and Sunday, including in northern Milan, Brescia (the seaside city of Rimini), some areas in Rome, and Messina in Sicily, according to the respective local authorities.

“We were not surprised by what took place last weekend,” Boccia told La Stampa newspaper in an interview.

“It is understandable for people to be eager to stay outdoors after two months (of lockdown). However, we cannot forget we are still in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Most citizens are respecting the rules and they are outraged at seeing the behavior of the few (who do not),” he stressed.

He explained that next weekend the government will evaluate the latest data on the contagion and it might deem it “unavoidable to take all the necessary time” before allowing inter-regional movement again.

The spread of the virus has perceptibly slowed down in recent weeks after first striking the country in late February. On May 18, the ten-week lockdown imposed on March 10 was further eased and shops, restaurants, bars, barbershops, beauty salons, museums and beachfront operators were all allowed to reopen on condition that they respect the rules on social distancing and regularly disinfect their facilities.

(XINHUA)

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Italy’s death toll from coronavirus rises by 92 to 32,877

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A further 92 COVID-19 patients had died in the past 24 hours in Italy, bringing the country’s toll to 32,877, out of total infection cases of 230,158, according to fresh figures on Monday.

Nationwide, the number of active infections dropped by 1,294 to 55,300 cases, according to the Civil Protection Department.

Of those who tested positive for the new coronavirus, 541 are in intensive care, 12 fewer compared to Sunday, and 8,185 are hospitalized with symptoms, down by 428 patients from Sunday.

The rest 46,574 people, or about 84 percent of those who tested positive, are quarantined at home with no symptoms or only mild symptoms.

Recoveries rose by 1,502 compared to Sunday, bringing the nationwide total to 141,981.

The pandemic has visibly slowed down in recent weeks after first striking the country in late February. On May 18, the ten-week lockdown imposed on March 10 was further eased and shops, restaurants, bars, barbershops, beauty salons, museums, and beachfront operators were all allowed to reopen, provided that they respect rules for social distancing and disinfect facilities.

(XINHUA)

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Spain revises down coronavirus death toll

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The coronavirus death toll in Spain rose by 50 to 26,834, said the Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare on Monday.

The death toll is nearly 2,000 fewer than that of 28,752 reported on Sunday after the ministry corrected the number, citing errors in calculation from some of Spain‘s Autonomous Communities.

Meanwhile, the ministry reported 132 new infections on Monday, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 235,400.

(XINHUA)

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Coronavirus cases in Albania top 1,000

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases across Albania has exceeded 1,000, health authorities reported on Monday.

Speaking at a daily briefing, Eugena Tomini, an expert from Public Health Institute, said that six coronavirus cases were registered in Albania over the last 24 hours, raising the total to 1,004.

“Since the start of the epidemic, about 79 percent of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 have already recovered,” Tomini said.

The Ministry of Health and Social Protection reiterated its call on all citizens to be careful, respect physical distance and personal hygiene, especially when the government has decided to ease the majority of restrictive measures imposed to curb the spread of the virus.

As of Monday, Albania confirmed 32 deaths from coronavirus. Health authorities have tested a total of 14,659 people suspected of being positive with the coronavirus, according to Tomini.

(XINHUA)

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Former UK PM Tony Blair questions Trump’s leadership in coronavirus pandemic

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Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair questioned U.S. President Donald Trump’s leadership in facing “terrifying” novel coronavirus pandemic and expressed his worry about the lack of global coordination in tackling the crisis, the British newspaper Daily Mail has reported.

“The worry I have that an absence of global coordination and global leadership that’s necessary for it is a huge problem,” the Daily Mail quoted Blair as saying, citing his recent interview with NBC News.

Blair, who served from 1997 to 2007 as British prime minister, said it’s important to bring the world together when facing the pandemic.

With “global coordination”, Blair said leaders could find a vaccine together, accelerate the development of therapeutics and testing capability, and organize economic measures to keep the international economy afloat, Daily Mail reported.

“It’s that global coordination, the absence of which means that each individual country’s less effective at dealing with the disease. That’s the thing that worries me,” he said.

Blair said in Western countries people are well-informed about the disease but not sufficiently informed about the economic collapse it could trigger.

“The safest thing for any political leader to do is just keep the lockdown because the risk of COVID-19 spreading is going to be minimal, but on the other hand if you’re looking responsibly into how you get through this into the medium term without the economic wreckage being absolutely devastated,” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

“The countries that locked down fast and that are building, testing, tracing and tracking capability fast, that then enables you to be more bold on the economy,” he said in the interview with NBC.

(XINHUA)

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Coronavirus-hit Kremlin spokesman discharged from hospital: media reports

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday was discharged from the hospital where he was treated for the COVID-19 infection, local media reported.

Interfax news agency reported that Peskov would have to stay at home in isolation for another two weeks.

On May 12, Peskov was hospitalized for coronavirus infection and was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia, according to Interfax.

TASS news agency quoted Peskov as saying that he will gradually start working from home.

Among Russian officials, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova, Science and Higher Education Minister Valery Falkov and Construction Minister Vladimir Yakushev had been confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus. All have recovered.

(XINHUA)

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Japan lifts state of emergency over coronavirus for entire country, ushers in era of “new normal”

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted the COVID-19 state of emergency in the five remaining prefectures still under restrictions, including Tokyo, as the spread of the virus has largely been brought under control.

“Today the government will lift the state of emergency across the nation. We’ve set some of the most strict criteria in the world to lift the declaration, and we concluded that prefectures across the country have met that standard,” the Japanese leader told a press conference.

The five prefectures that had remained under restrictions were Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Hokkaido.

The lifting of the state of emergency came after the government’s coronavirus advisory panel showed support for the move earlier in the day.

The emergency measures were issued first for Tokyo, Osaka and five other urban areas on April 7, before being expanded nationwide in mid-April and with the deadline extended thereafter until the end of May.

The advisory panel had been focusing on criteria for the emergency period being lifted which was based around the number of newly reported cases over the past week, the availability of medical resources, and the capacity to provide virus tests and monitor the spread of the virus.

“The advisory panel has agreed that all prefectures no longer need to be under a state of emergency and that lifting the declaration is appropriate,” Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said, adding that the situation would be closely monitored and reviewed every three weeks.

Nishimura also said that social and economic activities, including large-scale events, would be phased back in, although people would still be asked not to travel across prefecture lines until the end of the month.

The government, while showing caution amid the coronavirus pandemic, has been keen to see the economy fully reopened as the five prefectures that had remained under emergency restrictions account for around one-third of the country’s gross domestic product.

Data released by the government showed that Japan’s economy shrank for a second straight quarter in the January-March period and entered a technical recession under the impact of the pandemic.

The Cabinet Office said the economy shrank by an annualized real 3.4 percent in the January-March period from the previous quarter.

The decrease in the quarter corresponds to a 0.9-percent decline on a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, the Cabinet Office said.

The Japanese leader is now tasked with ushering in a “new normal” for the society, which balances the rejuvenation of the economy with guarding against an explosive second wave of COVID-19 infections.

Abe had said earlier that another state of emergency could be declared if the country is faced with a second wave of infections.

“Our businesses and daily routines will be completely disrupted if we continue with strict curbs on social and economic activity. From now on, it’s important to think about how we can conduct business and live our lives while still controlling the risk of infection,” Abe said.

He said wearing face masks in public should be kept up and social distancing measures maintained. Abe also said that teleworking does not need to be immediately halted as medical experts have warned that relaxing too many restrictions too soon could trigger another wave of infections.

As for the greater Tokyo area, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike offered her thanks to the people for their efforts to help contain the pneumonia-causing virus, but warned them to remain cautious and not to let their guards down.

“There could be a second or third wave of infections so I need to ask the citizens of Tokyo for their continued cooperation,” Koike said.

Under Koike’s stewardship, the Tokyo metropolitan government has set out a roadmap toward resuming economic and social activities in the nation’s capital. The roadmap has been divided into three phases.

Phase one, which could kick off as soon as Tuesday, will see restrictions begin to be eased on museums and libraries. Restaurants and bars in this phase will be allowed to stay open until 10:00 p.m., beyond the previous closing time of 8:00 p.m. under the prior emergency measures.

The second phase, possibly to begin at the end of the month, involves easing the restrictions for cinemas and theaters and cram schools, while the final phase will allow restaurants to stay open until midnight and amusement parks and pachinko parlors to reopen, although high-risk businesses like karaoke bars, gyms and hostess bars will be requested to stay closed.

Professional sports, including baseball and basketball leagues, will be allowed to resume without spectators from June 19, according to the government’s latest plans issued Monday.

High schools that fall under the auspices of the Tokyo metropolitan government will be phased back in, with students rotating between classes and online learning. The number of students attending regular classes will be gradually increased, with the situation being constantly monitored, Tokyo officials said.

For the city to move to the next phase, there must be fewer than 20 daily infections on average across a week, with the percentage of untraceable cases remaining below 50 percent. The number of total weekly infections must be lower than the previous week, while the number of seriously ill, testing capacity and medical facilities’ occupancy rates will also be factored in, the officials said,

“Recently, the number of new cases in Tokyo has been relatively low. If this welcome trend continues, we may progress along the roadmap more quickly than expected. We want to be flexible,” Koike has said.

According to the latest figures on Monday evening from the health ministry and local authorities, 17 new COVID-19 infections were confirmed nationwide, bringing the total to 16,628 cases.

The death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus, including those from a cruise ship that had been quarantined in Yokohama, totals 864 people.

(XINHUA)

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Japan lifts state of emergency over coronavirus for entire country

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted the COVID-19 state of emergency in the five remaining prefectures still under restrictions, including Tokyo, as the spread of the virus has largely been brought under control.

“Today the government will lift the state of emergency across the nation. We’ve set some of the most strict criteria in the world to lift the declaration, and we concluded that prefectures across the country have met that standard,” Abe told a press conference.

The five prefectures that had remained under restrictions were Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Hokkaido.

The lifting of the state of emergency came after the government’s coronavirus advisory panel showed support for the move earlier in the day.

The emergency measures were issued first for Tokyo, Osaka and five other urban areas on April 7, before being expanded nationwide in mid-April and with the deadline extended thereafter until the end of May.

The advisory panel had been focusing on criteria for the emergency period being lifted which was based around the number of newly reported cases over the past week, the availability of medical resources, and the capacity to provide virus tests and monitor the spread of the virus.

“The advisory panel has agreed that all prefectures no longer need to be under a state of emergency and that lifting the declaration is appropriate,” Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said, adding that the situation would be closely monitored and reviewed every three weeks.

Nishimura also said that social and economic activities, including large-scale events, would be phased back in, although people would still be asked not to travel across prefecture lines until the end of the month.

The government, while showing caution amid the coronavirus pandemic, has been keen to see the economy fully reopened as the five prefectures that had remained under emergency restrictions account for around one-third of the country’s gross domestic product.

Data released by the government showed that Japan’s economy shrank for a second straight quarter in the January-March period and entered a technical recession under the impact of the pandemic.

The Cabinet Office said the economy shrank by an annualized real 3.4 percent in the January-March period from the previous quarter.

The decrease in the quarter corresponds to a 0.9-percent decline on a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, the Cabinet Office said.

The Japanese leader is now tasked with ushering in a “new normal” for the society, which balances the rejuvenation of the economy with guarding against an explosive second wave of COVID-19 infections.

Abe had said earlier that another state of emergency could be declared if the country is faced with a second wave of infections.

“Our businesses and daily routines will be completely disrupted if we continue with strict curbs on social and economic activity. From now on, it’s important to think about how we can conduct business and live our lives while still controlling the risk of infection,” Abe said.

He said wearing face masks in public should be kept up and social distancing measures maintained. Abe also said that teleworking does not need to be immediately halted as medical experts have warned that relaxing too many restrictions too soon could trigger another wave of infections.

(XINHUA)

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Palestinian Authority to lift coronavirus restrictions

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The Palestinian Authorities on Monday said it would ease restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus over the course of the coming week.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said restrictions would be lifted in stages by Wednesday.

“Public transport will resume and mosques, churches, shops, parks, restaurants and cafes are to gradually reopen.

“Classes for older children will resume coming week, though the regular school year is already over,’’ Shtayyeh said.

He, however, warned that the restrictions imposed in March would return should the numbers of new infections begin to rise.

The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed 368 coronavirus cases in the West Bank and 55 in the Gaza Strip, with three virus-related deaths across both territories.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye (NAN)

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Japan lifts state of emergency over coronavirus for Tokyo, 4 other prefectures

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted the state of emergency in Japan for the five remaining prefectures, including Tokyo, as the spread of the virus has been brought under control.

“Today the government will lift the state of emergency across the nation. We’ve set some of the most strict criteria in the world to lift the declaration, and we concluded that prefectures across the country have met that standard,” the Japanese leader told a press conference.

The remaining prefectures that were still subject to restrictions under the emergency declaration were Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Hokkaido prefectures.

Abe’s remarks and the official lifting of the state of emergency for the five prefectures brought an end to emergency measures issued first for Tokyo, Osaka and five other urban areas on April 7. The announcement came after the government’s coronavirus advisory panel showed support for the move earlier in the day.

The advisory panel had been focusing on the lifting criteria which was based around the number of newly reported cases over the past week, the availability of medical resources, and the capacity to provide virus tests and monitor the spread of the virus.

“The advisory panel has agreed that all prefectures no longer need to be under a state of emergency and that lifting the declaration is appropriate,” Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said, adding that the situation would be closely monitored and reviewed every three weeks.

Nishimura also said that social and economic activities, including large-scale events, would be phased back in, although people would still be asked not to travel across prefecture lines until the end of this month.

The government, while showing caution amid the coronavirus pandemic, has been keen to see the economy fully reopened as the five prefectures account for around one-third of the country’s gross domestic product.

On May 18, data released by the government showed that Japan’s economy shrank for a second straight quarter in the January-March period and entered a technical recession as a result of the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cabinet Office said the economy shrank by an annualized real 3.4 percent in the January-March period from the previous quarter.

The decrease in the quarter corresponds to a 0.9 percent decline on a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, the Cabinet Office said.

The Japanese leader is now tasked with ushering in a “new normal” for society, which balances the rejuvenation of the country’s recession-hit economy, while ensuring the nation is not hit by an explosive second wave of COVID-19 infections.

(XINHUA)

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Roundup: Egyptians stay indoors on fast-breaking day under anti-coronavirus measures

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Egypt celebrated on Sunday the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which comes after the holy fasting month of Ramadan, amid tight anti-COVID-19 restrictions.

Unlike previous years, streets, public parks and beaches that used to be overcrowded with people were almost empty as the security beefed up presence to impose a lockdown, social distancing measures as well as a 13-hour curfew that starts in the afternoon.

During the feast, Egyptians used to flock to public parks, zoos and other outdoor places to mark the festival. However, the spread of the novel coronavirus has kept millions of them indoors to avoid infection.

The most populous Arab country has so far confirmed 17,265 COVID-19 cases, including 764 deaths and 4,807 recoveries.

The Egyptian government decided to impose a stricter package of anti-COVID-19 measures during the six-day holiday to combat the spread of the virus.

In the holiday, the curfew in Egypt lasts for 13 hours instead of nine to maintain social distancing and avoid gatherings amid the increasing COVID-19 infections.

After the Islamic holiday, the curfew will be reduced to 10 hours for two weeks and then, the government will consider from mid-June easing restrictions and gradually resuming several suspended activities.

Egypt has already started easing restrictions and gradually reopening services and offices that have been halted since mid-March amid the government’s “coexistence plan” to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming services, businesses and economic activities.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Interior Ministry announced that its security plans included intensifying security presence in all axes, roads, streets, squares and vital areas.

The plan also included following up on the implementation of the precautionary measures to preserve citizens’ well-being within the comprehensive plan to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which includes the closure of beaches, public parks, shops, malls, restaurants, and areas providing entertainment services.

The interior ministry announced on Sunday that 5,532 inmates were pardoned and released on the occasion of the Eid al-Fitr holiday. The move came in accordance with a recent presidential decree, the ministry said in a statement.

It has been a custom for Egyptian presidents to pardon prisoners, mainly those who have spent more than half of their terms as well as patients and the elderly people, on national and significant religious occasions.

(XINHUA)

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Spain’s coronavirus death toll rises to 28,752

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The coronavirus death toll in Spain rose by 70 to 28,752, according to the Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare on Sunday.

According to the ministry, 70 people lost their lives in the 24 hours until midnight on Saturday, 22 more than the number reported a day earlier.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 235,772 from 235,290, it said.

(XINHUA)

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Economy

MPC: Don predicts CRR reduction to 22.5% due to coronavirus

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A Professor of Finance and Capital Market has said that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would reduce the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) by five per cent during its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting on Thursday.

Prof. Uche Uwaleke of Nasarawa State University made the prediction in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Lagos.

Uwaleke, who spoke on the expectations from the meeting slated for May 28, said the MPC would likely reduce the CRR from 27.5 per cent to its previous level of 22.5 per cent.

“The MPC will most likely adopt a slightly dovish approach which may entail reducing the CRR from 27.5 per cent to its previous level of 22.5 per cent, while retaining the other policy rates.

“That is, the MPR at 13.5 per cent, Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent and the asymmetric corridor at +2-5.

“A reduction in the CRR will be the right decision to take as it will free up some funds for banks given that they are not remunerated for cash reserve with the CBN,” Uwaleke stated.

He noted that the reduction would be a breather and would support the banks not to lay off staff due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Uwaleke added that the CRR reduction would enable banks to maintain the Loan to Deposit Ratio put in place to enhance credit to the private sector, especially in this period of COVID-19.

“I think the choice before the MPC on May 28 will be either to maintain the policy parameters or relax them.

“The issue of further tightening of the policy may not arise as that could spark an outcry in view of the difficult times the economy is passing through.

“Essentially, the MPC will take into consideration the rising inflation rate which is moving far away from the CBN threshold of 9% and fast closing in on the MPR of 13.5%.

“If not put in check and it surpasses the benchmark rate, then we have a situation in which real returns are negative and becomes a disincentive to investors, especially portfolio investors.

“So, the MPC will be mindful not to discourage Foreign Portfolio Investment because of its positive impact on external reserves.

“The MPC will be the knock-on of a lower MPR on exchange rate against the backdrop of the move to merge the official and autonomous foreign exchange rates in line with the condition for accessing the $3.4 billion IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument Facility.

“These factors will feature prominently in the considerations to retain the policy rates including the huge fiscal deficit in the 2020 budget that will be financed largely through borrowing by the government.

“On the other hand, the MPC will equally be concerned about the current economic recession occasioned by COVID-19 and the collapse in crude oil price.

“The need for complementary measures in support of government’s stimulus packages and the ones by the CBN.

“I also expect the MPC to consider the effect of a high MPR on the asset quality of banks especially its potential to increase non performing loans arising from inability of many bank customers hard-hit by the pandemic to meet their loan terms and conditions.

“Against this backdrop, I see the balance of risks weighing in favour of economic growth stimulation,” Uwaleke said.

He said the CBN governor might seize the opportunity of the MPC meeting to unveil some heterodox measures aimed at containing the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Foreign

Saudi Arabia registers 2,399 new coronavirus cases, 72,560 in total

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Saudi Arabia registered on Sunday 2,399 new coronavirus cases, increasing the total number of infections to 72,560.

The death toll increased to 390 with 11 new fatalities, the health ministry tweeted.

The overall recovered cases increased to 43,520 with 2,284 new recoveries, it said.

Saudi Arabia enforces a 24-hour nationwide lockdown during the Eid al-Fitr holiday from May 23 to 27 as part of the precautionary measures against coronavirus.

(XINHUA)

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Sport

Bournemouth player one of two more coronavirus positive tests in EPL

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English Premier League (EPL) clubside Bournemouth confirmed on Sunday that one of their players is among the two latest people across the league to test positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement, Bournemouth said the player would now self-isolate for seven days, as per the protocols.

Six people across three clubs including at least one player from Watford tested positive for the virus in the first round of tests.

In a statement on its website, the Premier League said the two positive tests came from a round of 996 tests across all 20 clubs, with each club increasing their tests from 40 to 50.

“The Premier League can today confirm that on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 22 May, 996 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, two have tested positive from two clubs,” the Premier League said.

A third round of tests will take place at the 20 clubs on Monday and Tuesday.

The Premier League is still hoping to resume the season in June.
OLAL

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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Politics

Ex-lawmaker urges Muslims to pray for end of coronavirus

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A former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr Olusegun Olulade, told Muslims on Sunday to use the Eid-el-Fitr celebration to pray to God to heal Nigeria and the world of COVID-19.

In his Sallah message to Muslims, Olulade said they should pray to God so that normalcy would return to the world, particularly Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Eid-el-Fitr is celebrated after successful completion of the 30-day Ramadan fasting.

Olulade, who represented Epe Constituency II from 2011 to 2019, lauded Muslims for going through the fasting, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawmaker told Muslims to remain committed to the teaching and lessons of Ramadan.

“The fasting may have come and gone but as Muslims, you must not forget all the lessons learnt during the Ramadan period. We must remain committed to all these lessons.

“As we celebrate Eid-el-Fitri, we must not forget that the world is going through a devastating period because of coronavirus.

“Our ways of life are not what it used to be. Today, we cannot do some things the way we use to do them before.

“Today, Muslims cannot go to the praying ground to observe Eid prayers. We cannot gather to hold Sallah celebration.

“This is indeed, a trying time for the world but in all, we should appreciate Almighty Allah for counting us to be among those who are witnessing today.

“You may not have the opportunity to go to praying grounds for prayers but we should use today to ask God to heal the world of this pandemic so that normalcy can return to the world.”

Olulade prayed that Allah would give the faithful opportunity to celebrate many more years in good health.

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

 

 

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