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Kenya frees 4,800 prisoners to curb spread of COVID-19

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Kenya’s Judiciary said on Thursday it has released 4,800 prisoners, who are serving sentences for petty offences to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.

David Maraga, Chief Justice, said the prisoners, who were serving jail terms of less than six months, have been released by the High Court in the last two weeks after review of their files.

“New inmates are being isolated to reduce the risk of infection and movement of inmates has been highly restricted.

“Prison visits have been suspended, including visits to the staff quarters.

“Prison labour has also been reduced to a bare minimum,’’ Maraga said in a statement issued on Thursday in Nairobi.

He said the move to isolate the inmates is in strict adherence to the safety measures put in place by the Health Ministry on coronavirus as regards to social distancing and hygiene standards.

The chief justice said the decision was also informed by the need to decongest Kenyan prisons in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

“The justice sector actors will embrace technology and plans are underway to enable inmates to participate in virtual trials as the prisoners are no longer being produced in open court,’’ said Maraga.

Kenya has so far confirmed 81 COVID-19 cases, three recoveries and one death amid stringent measures, including a night curfew and ban on international flights to help contain the spread of the virus.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
(NAN)

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Ghana close to easing COVID-19 restrictions: president

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Ghana is close to announcing a roadmap toward easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said Sunday.

Akufo-Addo said consultations are ongoing with relevant stakeholders on the form and timing of easing the restrictions.

Ghana banned social gatherings on March 15, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. The country also shut its entry points on March 22.

The president said the proposed easing of restrictions intends to restore “social and economic lives.”

“I expect these consultations to conclude this week so that I can announce to Ghanaians a clear roadmap for easing the restrictions. We have to find a way back, but in safety, for we cannot be under these restrictions forever,” he said.

Ghana’s number of COVID-19 cases increased to 6,683 as of Sunday, with the number of recoveries increasing to 1,998 and the death toll reaching 32.

(XINHUA)

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Tunisian PM vows to exit COVID-19 outbreak with slightest damage

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Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said on Sunday that his country is preparing to exit the stage of COVID-19 outbreak with the slightest damage.

The official TAP news agency quoted the prime minister as saying that “Tunisia, which has succeeded in controlling COVID-19, is about to exit from the outbreak stage with the slightest damage after registering more than 1,000 cases and most them have recovered.”

He also stressed the continuation of the national effort to fight against COVID-19 during the summer period.

The prime minister announced that the resumption of tourism activities will take place after July, which will contribute to reviving the national economy.

As of May 24, Tunisia reported a total of 1,048 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 48 deaths.

The government has imposed strict confinement measures shortly after the announcement of the first coronavirus case in the country on March 2.

The North African country has received several batches of medical aid from the Chinese government, Chinese foundations and companies since late March.

(XINHUA)

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Turkey, Iran presidents discuss cooperation against COVID-19 pandemic

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discussed cooperation possibilities in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic on the phone, local media reported on Sunday.

Both leaders reviewed the possible steps that would be taken in the postpandemic era, the state-run Anadolu agency said.

Erdogan and Rouhani also discussed regional issues and bilateral relations, the agency added.

(XINHUA)

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Roundup: Turkey’s COVID-19 cases surpass 156,000; Chinese experts in Algeria hold video conference on virus prevention

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Turkey’s COVID-19 cases on Sunday exceeded 156,000. Meanwhile, Chinese medical experts in Algeria shared with Chinese people in Tunisia the experience in the prevention of the coronavirus via a video conference.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Turkey, the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, increased to 156,827 after 1,141 new infections were reported, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted.

The death toll from the coronavirus in the country rose to 4,340 after 32 new fatalities were added in the past 24 hours, he said, adding that 1,092 more patients recovered, bringing the overall number of recoveries to 118,694.

On the same day, Chinese medical experts in Algeria answered questions related to COVID-19 during a video conference which was participated by workers from Chinese companies and Chinese people living in Tunisia.

At the invitation of the Algerian government, the Chinese medical expert team arrived in Algeria on May 14.

In Iran, the tally of COVID-19 infections reached 135,701 with 2,180 new infections.

The country also reported 58 new deaths from the virus on Sunday, raising the death toll to 7,417. A total of 105,801 coronavirus patients have recovered, with 2,615 still in critical condition.

Saudi Arabia announced 2,399 new cases and 11 more deaths, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 72,560 and the death toll to 390.

The kingdom also reported 2,284 more recovered patients, taking the total recoveries to 43,520.

In Qatar, 1,501 new cases of coronavirus infections were detected, bringing the total number to 43,714, of whom 23 have died and 9,170 recovered.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced 781 new COVID-19 cases and one more death, raising the tally of infections to 29,485 and the death toll to 245.

The total number of recoveries from the virus in the UAE rose to 15,056 after 561 more patients fully recovered.

Kuwait reported 838 new cases and eight more deaths, raising the country’s total number of infections to 21,302 and the death toll to 156.

The country’s tally of recoveries hit 6,117 after 370 more patients recovered.

Egypt’s coronavirus cases soared to 17,265 after 752 new infections were added.

The country witnessed a record of 29 daily new fatalities of COVID-19, raising the death toll to 764. The Egyptian Health Ministry also reported 179 more cases of recoveries, increasing the total recoveries to 4,807.

The North African country has received three batches of medical aid from the Chinese government to help its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Israel reported five new COVID-19 cases, the lowest single-day rise in the country since March 7, bringing the tally of coronavirus infections to 16,717.

The number of recoveries in the country increased by 63 to 14,153.

It is worth noting that the death toll from COVID-19 in Israel remained 297 as no new death case has been recorded for four consecutive days.

Oman’s Ministry of Health announced 513 new cases of infections, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 7,770, including 36 deaths and 1,933 recoveries.

In Morocco, the tally of the coronavirus infections increased to 7,433 after 27 new cases were added, which included 199 fatalities and 4,703 recoveries.

Iraq confirmed 197 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 4,469, of whom 160 have died and 2,738 recovered.

In the mean time, the Iraqi Health Ministry said that further health preventive measures will be taken next week after the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, including maintaining the partial curfew to help curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Iraq has received batches of medical aid from China and the support from a team of Chinese medical experts during their 50-day stay.

In Lebanon, the number of COVID-19 infections increased by 17 to 1,114, while the death toll remained unchanged at 26.

Jordan registered four more infections, bringing the total coronavirus cases to 708, including nine deaths and 471 recoveries.

Meanwhile, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Yemen’s government-controlled provinces increased to 222, as 10 new cases were confirmed.

The death toll of the pandemic climbed to 42 in different areas of the government-controlled provinces, including the southern port city of Aden.

So far, the pro-government health authorities have recorded 10 recoveries.

In addition, health authorities in the Yemeni Houthi rebel-held capital Sanaa has declared earlier a total number of four infections in northern Yemen, including one death.

In Syria, 16 new cases were recorded, raising the overall number of infections in the country to 86 which included four fatalities and 41 recoveries.

(XINHUA)

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Argentine capital steps up restrictions as COVID-19 outbreak nears peak

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Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires on Sunday said it was stepping up social distancing measures in the lead up to an expected spike in cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The city announced it would further restrict commercial activity and people’s mobility, including by closing certain train stations.

“We took the decisions based on the data and the evidence, which today show that the peak of infection is arriving,” Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta said.

Local cases of infection have been steadily rising in the past two weeks, and city officials are concerned that population density in the capital and its metropolitan area will fuel a larger outbreak.

Officials closed 11 train stations, stepped up control at 36 entrances to the city, and intensified inspections of public transit, which is currently used exclusively by those considered to be essential workers.

Residents also must renew permits, which have now expired, that allow them to circulate.

“Millions of permits … have to be reissued one by one,” Rodriguez said.

Meanwhile, non-essential businesses at major shopping centers will remain closed to avoid mass gatherings, he said.

“The problem is not commercial activity, but all of the people that it brings together, including those going shopping and those going to take a stroll or window shopping. We are going to restrict commercial activity at centers that draw the most people,” said the mayor.

Argentina, which announced a general lockdown on March 20 that continues through June 7, has reported a total of 11,353 cases of infection, including 5,006 in the capital city of Buenos Aires and 3,864 in the province of Buenos Aires.

(XINHUA)

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5.8-magnitude quake jolts Wellington, New Zealand

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A 5.8-magnitude earthquake jolted north of Levin, a suburb town of Wellington, capital of New Zealand, GeoNet reported Monday.

The quake hit 30 km northwest of Levin at a depth of 37 km. The quake, categorised as “strong,” has been felt as far north as Gisborne of the North Island and near the bottom of the South Island, according to GeoNet.

GeoNet reported the quake occurred at 7:53 a.m. local time.

(XINHUA)

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Egypt sees daily record of 29 COVID-19 fatalities, death toll hits 764

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Egypt reported on Sunday a new single-day record of 29 COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 764 in the country.

The ministry’s spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement that 752 new cases have also been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections in Egypt to 17,265.

He added that 179 more coronavirus patients were completely cured and discharged from hospitals, raising the total recoveries in the country to 4,807.

During the six-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which started on Sunday, the evening 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.

Egypt and China join hands in fighting COVID-19 through mutual support and exchange of medical aid and expertise.

The North African country has received three batches of medical aid from the Chinese government to help its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

(XINHUA)

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5.6-magnitude quake hits 29 km WNW of Foxton, New Zealand — USGS

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A 5.6-magnitude earthquake jolted 29 km WNW of Foxton, New Zealand at 19:53:32 GMT on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter, with a depth of 51.89 km, was initially determined to be at 40.3929 degrees south latitude and 174.966 degrees east longitude.

(XINHUA)

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Italy’s daily COVID-19 death toll continues to fall

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Italy recorded just 50 deaths from COVID-19 Sunday, its lowest daily death toll since the COVID-19 outbreak’s earliest days, though the hard-hit northern region of Lombardy did not update its death-toll data for the last 24 hours.

The overall trend for the death toll has been improving in recent weeks. After reaching a one-day high of nearly 1,000 in late March, numbers have gradually decreased.

Earlier this week, the number was 99, the first time in double digits since the country recorded 97 deaths on March 9, the day Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the nationwide lockdown, effective the following morning.

Officially, Sunday’s total of 50 deaths was the lowest since the country saw only 36 deaths on March 7.

But even without a complete report from Lombardy, the number continues the recent trend. Over the 24-hour period from Friday to Saturday, Italy recorded 119 deaths.

Lombardy has suffered more than any other Italian region from the COVID-19 outbreak: with 15,840 deaths recorded as of Saturday, it has seen nearly half of Italy’s total of 32,785 deaths, despite having only around one-sixth of the country’s total population.

Nationwide, the number of new infections fell by 1,158 to 56,594, while those cured rose by 1,639 to 140,479.

Italy is set to start a national serological screening process in the coming week. The first phase of the testing will include 150,000 individuals divided to reflect the country’s overall demographics in order to determine how widespread the coronavirus antibody is. Once complete, the testing will be widened.

The most common way to have the coronavirus antibody is to have been infected and recovered. It is believed that individuals with the coronavirus antibody are either immune from COVID-19 or are far less likely to be re-infected.

(XINHUA)

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Iraq to maintain partial curfew after fast-breaking feast to curb COVID-19 spread

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The Iraqi Health Ministry on Sunday said that further health preventive measures will be taken next week after the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, including maintaining the partial curfew to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

“The health measures after Eid al-Fitr holiday … will include continuing the partial curfew, and the ministry will assess the epidemiological situation after the holiday to take measures appropriate to the health situation,” the health minister Hassan al-Tamimi said in a statement.

Al-Tamimi attributed the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases to the lack of abidance by some citizens to the health preventive measures and curfew instructions.

Also in the day, the ministry recorded 197 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections to 4,469 in the country.

Eight more people died during the day, seven of them in Baghdad’s hospitals and one in Wasit, bringing the death toll in the country to 160, while 2,738 others have recovered so far.

The new cases were recorded after 6,503 test kits were used across the country during the past 24 hours, and a total of 188,685 tests have been carried out since the outbreak of the disease, according to the statement.

Since the outbreak of the disease, Iraq has been taking measures to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, including a nationwide curfew.

On May 10, the Higher Committee for Health and National Safety, headed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, decided to partially lift the curfew, while full curfew will continue for Friday and Saturday in addition to the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr in late May.

Eid al-Fitr is the festival of breaking the fasting after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

On April 26, a Chinese team of medical experts left Iraq after a 50-day stay to support Iraq in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. China has also donated batches of medical supplies to Iraq to help combatting the coronavirus.

(XINHUA)

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Israel reports no COVID-19 death cases for 4 consecutive days

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Israel’s Ministry of Health reported no death from novel coronavirus on Sunday, for four days in a row.

According to the ministry, the number of victims in Israel has remained at 279 since the last death case occurred on May 20.

The ministry also reported five new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number to 16,717.

This is the lowest daily number since March 7, when four patients tested positive.

The number of patients in serious condition dropped from 47 to 44, out of 126 patients currently hospitalized.

The number of recoveries increased by 63 to 14,153, while the number of active cases dropped to 2,285, the lowest since March 24.

Also on Sunday, Israeli health minister Yuli Edelstein and culture minister Hili Tropper agreed that plays, movies and shows will resume for public on June 14 under restrictions.

Thus, these events can take place at a maximum occupancy of 75 percent, maintaining distance among people, ensuring the wearing of face masks, and taking hygiene measures.

In addition, it will be possible to purchase tickets only online.

(XINHUA)

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Defiant Netanyahu goes on trial in Israel charged with corruption

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Defiant Netanyahu goes on trial in Israel charged with corruption

Jerusalem, May 24, 2020   Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday became the first serving Israeli Prime Minister to go on trial, proclaiming his innocence in the corridor before walking into court to face charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes the hand of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo following their meeting in Jerusalem (Photo by Sebastian Scheiner / POOL / AFP)

The trial came a week after Israel’s longest-serving leader was sworn in to a record fifth term, demonstrating his knack for survival by securing an unexpected power-sharing deal with his main opponent after three inconclusive elections in a year.

He says the cases against him are a left-wing plot to unseat him.

Netanyahu, 70, was indicted in November in cases involving gifts from millionaire friends and for allegedly seeking regulatory favours for media tycoons in return for favourable coverage.

He appeared at Jerusalem District Court flanked by a clutch of cabinet ministers from his right-wing Likud party.

In the courtroom, Netanyahu and the judges wore face masks because of the coronavirus crisis.

One of the judges asked Netanyahu whether he had read and understood the indictment. He replied: “Yes, your Honour.”

The hearing lasted an hour. The court excused Netanyahu from appearing in person at the next hearing set for July 19. Israeli analysts say the trial could last months or even years.

Before the hearing, Netanyahu appealed to public opinion, taking off his mask to address television cameras in the courthouse hallway.

“These investigations were tainted and stitched-up from the first moment,” Netanyahu said.

“I am appearing here today as your prime minister, standing tall and with head high,” he said.

In a statement, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said prosecutors “will continue to conduct themselves without fear, even given the preposterous attempt – which should be rejected out of hand – to ascribe ulterior motives to law-enforcement authorities”.

Supporters, some in masks, rallied outside the East Jerusalem building, their chants of “Bibi, King of Israel”, using his nickname, audible in the courthouse.

One supporter’s sign read: “You’ll never walk alone”. Many waved blue-and-white Israeli flags.

Anti-Netanyahu demonstrators gathered outside his residence in central Jerusalem holding up a banner reading “Crime Minister,” a slogan that also appeared on some face masks.

Netanyahu, in power now for 11 straight years plus three in the 1990s, kept the position of prime minister by securing the power-sharing deal last month with his main opponent, the centrist former general Benny Gantz.

The pact also opens the way for Netanyahu to proceed towards a pledged annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, land that Palestinians envisage as part of a future independent state.

Bribery charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine. Fraud and breach of trust carry a prison sentence of up to three years.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

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Greece reports 2 new COVID-19 cases, restaurants and bars to reopen

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Greece recorded two new COVID-19 cases and no deaths within the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry announced on Sunday.

The total number of cases in the country now stands at 2,878, and the death toll, at 171. Currently, 19 people are being treated in intensive care units.

On Monday, the country will enter the fourth phase of the government’s plan to lift COVID-19 restrictive measures. Restaurants, cafes, and bars can reopen, while traveling to and from all Greek islands is permitted following stringent health protocols.

“The epidemiological data is good so far and the recommendations are followed,” Nikos Hardalias, deputy minister for Civil Protection and Crises Management at the Ministry of Citizen Protection, said during a press briefing.

Greece was under lockdown from March 23 as part of measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Since May 4, the government has started gradually lifting the restrictions.

(XINHUA)

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Yemeni gov’t reports 10 more COVID-19 cases, 222 in total

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The total number of COVID-19 cases in Yemen’s government-controlled provinces increased to 222 on Sunday, as 10 new cases were confirmed.

The Yemeni Health Ministry said in a brief statement that “during the past 24 hours, 10 cases of COVID-19 were detected in four provinces controlled by the government.”

The ministry said that the number of recoveries in the government-controlled areas increased to 10 since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus on April 10.

Also, the government announced that the death toll from the virus climbed to 42 in different areas under its control, including the southern port city of Aden.

The Yemeni government has taken several measures to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, including imposing a partial overnight curfew in Aden and other major cities under its control.

The government called on donors and relevant international humanitarian organizations to provide support to help contain the pandemic.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi group seized control of much of the country’s north and forced the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of Sanaa.

(XINHUA)

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COVID-19 hospitalizations in France slightly up

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The number of patients hospitalized for the COVID-19 infection in France rose by seven to 17,185 in the last 24 hours, the first such increase since mid-April, according to data released on Sunday by the Health Ministry.

The number of patients in intensive care continued the downward trend, falling by 10 to 1,655.

The number of confirmed cases, meanwhile, rose to 144,921, an increase of 115 — the lowest daily increase since mid-March.

The overall death toll in hospitals and in social and medico-social establishments will be updated on Monday.

In the past two weeks of deconfinement, France has maintained almost all coronavirus-linked indicators in green. “But specialists remain cautious about a disease whose incubation time can reach 14 days. The coming week promises to be crucial for the risk of a new wave of contamination,” reported BFM Television.

The government planned to enter a second phase of deconfinement on June 2 if the sanitary situation remains encouraging.

(XINHUA)

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Lebanon’s number of COVID-19 infections rises to 1,114

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Lebanon’s number of COVID-19 infections increased on Sunday by 17 new cases to 1,114 while the death toll remained unchanged at 26, the National News Agency reported.

The Health Ministry has conducted 63,044 tests since the outbreak of the virus in Lebanon on Feb. 21.

The ministry is still conducting PCR tests all over the country in a bid to isolate the areas that are highly infected.

Director general of Rafic Hariri University Hospital tweeted on Saturday that the number of cases in the coming week will tell if isolation measures adopted in some regions are sufficient.

(XINHUA)

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5 killed, 15 injured in Somalia roadside blast

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At least five people were killed and 15 others injured on Sunday in a roadside blast in Baidoa town in southwest Somalia.

A police officer, who declined to be named, said that a land mine exploded near an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp on the outskirts of Baidoa during Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

“The blast occurred near an IDP camp where many people were holding traditional Eid celebrations. We can confirm five people died and 15 others were wounded,” the officer told Xinhua by phone, adding that the casualties could rise as there were many people at the scene.

Ismael Mukhtar Omar, spokesman of the Somali government, confirmed the incident to Xinhua, saying the explosion occurred where people were holding Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

“As we were watching people playing traditional plays, we heard a huge blast sound, and then smoke rose up into the air. We ran to different directions for safety. There were many casualties,” Hani Ibrahim, a witness, told Xinhua via phone.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

(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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Israeli aircraft lands in Turkey for first time since 2007

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An Israeli plane has landed in Turkey for the first time for over a decade, Israel’s leading airline El Al said on Sunday.

El Al was the only Israeli airline to conduct flights to Turkey until it canceled the route to Istanbul in 2007 due to high security costs and stiff restrictions arising from the tense relations between the two countries.

Since then, except for emergency landings and private flights, no Israeli aircraft has landed in Turkey.

On Sunday, however, El Al’s Dreamliner aircraft, converted to carry cargo, landed in Istanbul.

It was loaded there with 24 tons of humanitarian coronavirus equipment, destined for Israel and the United States.

So far, El Al has received approval from the Turkish authorities to operate two flights for humanitarian purposes and is awaiting approval to operate cargo flights regularly.

(XINHUA)

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Turkey confirms 1,141 new COVID-19 cases, 156,827 in total

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Turkey on Sunday confirmed 1,141 new COVID-19 cases and 32 more deaths in the past 24 hours, according to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Turkey rose to 156,827, while the death toll surged to 4,340, Koca tweeted.

A total of 1,092 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, the minister noted.

Turkey conducted 24,589 tests for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests carried out so far to 1,832,262, he stated.

The minister said that 118,694 patients have recovered in Turkey since the outbreak, while 769 patients are being treated at the intensive care units and 385 others being intubated.

Turkey reported the first COVID-19 case in the country on March 11.

(XINHUA)

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