The death toll from the new coronavirus in the United States passed the 10,000 marker on Monday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
The country has the highest confirmed positives in the world, with more than 347,003 cases of the virus and 10,335 deaths related to Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by it.
There are growing signs of impending shortages of medical gear and staff.
The U.S. had just 1,000 confirmed cases and about 30 deaths on March 10, with the outbreak spreading rapidly and across the country.
New York is the current epicentre, while Louisiana, Michigan, Illinois and California are also hotspots, with more due to emerge.
Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola
UN condemns use of improvised explosive devises against civilians in Tripoli
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Monday condemned the use of improvised explosive devises against civilians in the southern part of Tripoli, as the armed conflict between the east-based army and the UN-backed government continues.
UNSMIL “is extremely concerned about reports that residents of the Ain Zara and Salahuddin areas of Tripoli have been killed or wounded by improvised explosive devices placed in/near their homes,” UNSMIL said in a statement.
“UNSMIL strongly condemns these acts, which serve no military objective, provoke extreme fear among the population, and violate the rights of innocent civilians who must be protected under international humanitarian law,” the statement said.
UNSMIL called on all individuals to “seek information and heed security advice to stay away from areas that have not been declared safe to enter by a competent authority or items of unknown origin which may be explosive devices”.
UNSMIL also praised the search and clearance work by Libyan Police and Military Engineers, reaffirming its continued support to Libyan partners, communities, and stakeholders “who are working tirelessly to rid Libya of the threat of explosive remnant of war (ERW)”.
The UN-backed government’s forces accused the rival east-based army of planting mines before withdrawing from conflict areas in southern Tripoli.
Since April 2019, the east-based army has been leading a military campaign attempting to take over Tripoli and topple the UN-backed government.
Australian researchers identify obscure protein responsible for advanced breast cancer
Scientists from Australia’s South Australia (SA) state have discovered how an obscure protein can accelerate the development and growth of breast cancer.
In a study published on Tuesday, researchers from the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB) at the University of South Australia (UniSA) described how aggressive cancers produce Creld2, a protein that hijacks healthy cells to promote tumour growth.
“Scientists have been aware of this protein for some time, but it has not been well-studied and until now we hadn’t understood the role it plays in breast cancer. Creld2 appears to make normal, healthy cells surrounding the tumour behave abnormally, causing them to help tumours grow,” Michael Samuel, co-author of the study, said in a media release.
According to Breast Cancer Network Australia, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian women, accounting for about 29 percent of all new cancers in Australian women in 2019, and the second leading cause of cancer death in Australian women after lung cancer.
The team at the CCB, an alliance between the University of South Australia and SA Pathology, is now working on how to stop or destroy Creld2 with the aim of stopping breast cancers from growing and spreading around the body.
High levels of the protein are found in triple negative breast cancers, which make up 15 percent of breast cancer cases in Australia and have the poorest survival rate.
Creld2 at high levels is also found in kidney cancers and non-melanoma skin cancers, which are the the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia.
“The prognosis for all these cancers is not good, so if we can destroy or block this protein, we could potentially stop these cancers from growing,” Samuel said.
Aussie police arrest pair over 400kg of meth stashed in hot sauce shipment
Australian police have arrested two men and seized large amounts of cash in relation to a shipment of 800 bottles of sriracha hot sauce used to smuggle roughly 400 kg of methylamphetamine into the country.
Police revealed on Tuesday that two men, aged 50 and 21, had been arrested during which detectives seized over half a million Australian dollars (367,528 U.S. dollars) in cash.
The shipment of hot sauce was intercepted in October 2019, with officers seizing the drugs, worth an eye-watering 300 million Australian dollars (196.8 million U.S. dollars).
At the time, five other men were also arrested and charged in relation to the crime, whose cases remain before the courts.
Following further investigations police swooped on two others on Friday, arresting the 21-year-old during a vehicle stop and the 50-year-old soon after.
During a subsequent search of the older man’s vehicle, police seized a money counting machine, a mobile phone and cash, including 63,000 Australian dollars, 1000 euros and 1000 U.S. dollars.
Investigators also located a further half a million Australian dollars (367,528 U.S. dollars) in cash inside a cooler bag in the boot of the vehicle.
Australia’s peak medical body warns of “growing” anti-vaccine movement
Australia’s peak medical body has called for urgent action from the governments to combat the “growing” anti-vaccine movement.
Tony Bartone, president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), told The Sydney Morning Herald recently that the governments must “act now” by rolling out a pro-vaccine information campaign.
“It’s growing,” he said of the non-vaccination movement.
“Anyone who speaks against the science of vaccination needs to expect to be slapped down by scientific sources.
“Anyone who gives a platform to anti-vaxxer messages should similarly expect to be also held to a similar account.”
Bartone’s warning came after Pete Evans, a celebrity chef, used an appearance on commercial radio on Monday to repeatedly question vaccination science.
Bartone said that he feared that progress on immunization in Australia could be undone by misinformation spreading on social media.
“Clearly, there needs to be significant resources put into the community about the importance of public information, the importance of public health education right from earliest years,” Bartone said.
“The important message is that everyone, from the governments right down to all health authorities, has a role to ensure the appropriate funding and the appropriate resources are available so that people can differentiate the good from the bad and the downright deadly.”
Angola declares state of calamity amid pandemic
Angola on Monday replaced the state of emergency with the state of calamity, in a move that set the ground for gradual resumption of regular life disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, said a document from the Council of Ministers.
According to the final communique of the council, the measure will take effect on May 26, and will last until June 9, with specific regulations for various public and private activities.
The government cannot neglect the serious economic consequences that have resulted from the halt of the social life and how it affected fundamental rights of the citizens, it said.
Despite the decision, the government would not neglect the precautions against COVID-19.
Luanda, capital of Angola, the only city reported with positive cases of COVID-19, remains under sanitary cordon during the state of calamity.
So far, Angola has reported 70 cases with four deaths and 18 recoveries.
Jordan marks Independence Day
Soldiers attend a military parade during a celebration of Jordan’s Independence Day in Amman, Jordan, on May 25, 2020. Jordan marked its 74th anniversary of Independence on Monday. (Photo by Mohammad Abu Ghosh/Xinhua)
S. Africa registers record-high daily toll from COVID-19
South Africa on Monday recorded 52 more deaths from COVID-19, the highest daily increase since the outbreak in early March, raising the national death toll to 481.
The country also reported 1,032 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, brining the total cases to 23,615, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update.
The total number of recoveries nationwide stood at 11,917 as of Monday, Mkhize said, adding that a total of 596,777 tests have been conducted, with 12,992 tests done in the last past 24-hour testing cycle.
The Western Cape province remains the epicenter of the pandemic with 15,396 cases, followed by Gauteng with 2,993 cases, the Eastern Cape with 2,748 cases and KwaZulu-Natal with 1,882 cases.
Despite the rapid spread of the pandemic, the country is preparing to ease the lockdown from level four to level three, starting from June 1.
Level three will allow 8 million people to return to work with the opening up of the economy and the removal of a number of restrictions on the movement of people.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the decision to further ease the lockdown was based on wide consultations with various stakeholders across the country and guided by advice from the World Health Organization and the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chile confirms 73,997 COVID-19 cases in total
In the past 24 hours, the country reported 4,895 cases, the biggest single-day jump in new infections with 43 deaths, the ministry said.
The vast majority of new infections, or 4,428 cases, presented symptoms, while 467 remained asymptomatic.
Since the outbreak began here in March, 29,302 people have recovered and 43,934 cases remain active or capable of transmitting the disease.
Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera unveiled on Monday a so-called national agreement to strengthen five key factors identified as central to successfully emerging from the epidemic, such as health, welfare, household earnings, economic recovery and a fiscal framework.
“We are convinced that fighting to protect the health and lives of our compatriots, protect workers’ jobs, household incomes, the survival of companies, and to reactivate our economy and our capacity to get back on our feet … deserves a great national agreement,” Pinera told reporters.
The plan stresses economic recovery — with an emphasis on creating jobs, raising wages and increasing investment and productivity — within a fiscal framework to tackle “the urgent needs of the present and the demands of the future with social sensibility and fiscal responsibility,” according to the president’s office.
City view of Milan, Italy
Photo taken on May 25 , 2020 shows a city view of Milan, Italy. (Xinhua)
Dollar changes hands around 107.69 yen level in early trade in Tokyo
The U.S. dollar changed hands around the 107.69 yen level in early deals in Tokyo on Tuesday.
As markets opened here, the dollar was quoted at 107.69-70 yen compared with 107.74-76 yen at 5 p.m. on Monday in Tokyo.
Financial markets in the United States were closed on Monday for a national holiday.
The euro, meanwhile, fetched 1.0900-0904 dollars and 117.40-44 yen against 1.0876-0877 dollars and 117.18-22 yen in late Monday afternoon trade in Tokyo.
5.2-magnitude quake strikes north of Levin, New Zealand
An earthquake of 5.2 magnitude struck north of Levin, New Zealand, reported GeoNet of the country on Tuesday.
Geonet said the offshore quake hit at 12.34 p.m. local time, 33 km deep and 30 km northwest of Levin, a suburb town just 70 km north of Wellington, capital of New Zealand, where thousands of locals strongly felt the shake.
Tokyo stocks open higher as Japan completely lifts virus emergency
Tokyo stocks opened sharply higher Tuesday, as the market mood was brightened by Japan’s complete lifting of the state of emergency over the COVID-19 a day earlier, raising hopes for the nation’s economy to be fully brought back online.
As of 9:15 a.m., the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 257.76 points, or 1.24 percent, from Monday to 20,999.41.
The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, added 15.22 points, or 1.01 percent, at 1,517.42.
Air transportation, marine transportation and real estate-oriented issues comprised those that gained the most in the opening minutes after the morning bell.
Nepal plans to conduct COVID-19 test among 2 percent of population
As the number of COVID-19 cases is rising in Nepal, the country plans to increase testing for the COVID-19 substantially to identify the cases early, Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli said on Monday.
In an televised address to the nation on Monday evening, Oli said that the Nepali government planned to conduct a test among 2 percent of the country’s total population.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, a central statistics body of the Nepali government, an estimated population of Nepal as of Monday stands at 29.96 million.
Based on this population figure, Nepal plans to conduct a test on nearly 600,000 people, which is equivalent to 2 percent of the population. As of Monday, Nepal has conducted tests on 51,642 people with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology, while 95,192 people have been tested with rapid test kits, according to Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population.
The Nepali government confirmed on Monday that as many as 682 people had so far been tested positive for the COVID-19 while four persons died of the virus.
During the address to the nation, the Nepali prime minister said that the rising number of cases in Nepal is due to the failure to conduct required tests among the migrant Nepali workers who returned home particularly from India with which Nepal shares open border. “For the failure to conduct testing, the virus transmitted in communities rapidly.”
“The timely taken measures such as the lockdown, closure of international borders for human movement and flight suspensions have helped to keep the COVID-19 cases relatively low.”
Nepal has been under the lockdown since March 24 which will last till June 2.
5.4-magnitude quake hits 89 km SSW of Merizo Village, Guam — USGS
A 5.4-magnitude earthquake jolted 89 km SSW of Merizo Village, Guam at 23:22:27 GMT on Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The epicenter, with a depth of 20.78 km, was initially determined to be at 12.5776 degrees north latitude and 144.2339 degrees east longitude.
Man heads towards mosque before offering Eid al-Fitr prayers during COVID-19 lockdown in Kathmandu, Nepal
Trump marks Memorial Day with visits to national cemetery, monument
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday visited a national military cemetery and a historic fort to mark the Memorial Day, as the country’s coronavirus death toll approaches 100, 000.
“Tens of thousands of service members and national guardsmen are on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus,” Trump said.
“As one nation, we mourn alongside every single family that has lost loved ones, including the families of our great veterans.” the president said during visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Viriginia and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, Maryland.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, a Democrat, criticized Trump’s “nonessential travel” to his city amid the pandemic, saying the president is not setting a good example, according to a USA Today report.
Wearing a black mask, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also marked the day by placing a wreath at a veterans park near his Delaware home, making his first public appearance in more than two months.
Earlier on Monday, Trump attacked Biden and former President Barack Obama on social media over work ethic and golf hobby, a day after Biden slammed him for golfing as the pandemic rages across America. Trump was seen golfing at his Virginia club on Saturday and Sunday.
More than 1.65 million Americans have tested positive for the virus and over 98,000 have died as of Monday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University.
NASA, SpaceX make final preparations for historic launch
Two NASA astronauts will fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, the first launch of American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil since 2011.
The mission team concluded the launch readiness review for the upcoming mission, dubbed Demo-2, on Monday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, at a prelaunch briefing.
NASA and SpaceX key managers have given the “go” for the launch, she said, adding the team continues to make progress toward the mission.
“The only thing need to do is how to control the weather on the launch day,” Lueders said.
Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, is scheduled for Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. Eastern Time from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A.
The two astronauts are scheduled to arrive at the ISS about 24 hours after launch.
The spacecraft is designed to do this autonomously, but astronauts aboard the spacecraft and the station will be monitoring approach and docking, and can take control of the spacecraft if necessary, according to NASA.
After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be welcomed aboard station and will become members of the Expedition 63 crew. They will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew.
The mission duration has not been announced yet. NASA said it will be determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.
Nigerian president says peace a prerequisite for Africa’s development
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said peace, along with security, unity, and harmony, is a prerequisite for sustainable development in Africa.
In a message to African leaders to mark the “Africa Day 2020” launched by the African Union Commission in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), Buhari said Africa has given the world new hope by choosing the theme “Silencing the Guns in the Context of the COVID-19” for this year’s celebration.
For African leaders to ensure that every effort is made to guarantee the success of silencing the guns on the continent, the Nigerian president said, there was the need to emphasize sensitizing Africans to the inseparable connection between peace and development.
“Peace, security, unity, and harmony are prerequisites for development in Africa,” Buhari said while calling on African citizens to innovate on how “silencing the guns” can be used to achieve peace and grow African economies.
He also urged regional economic groups, civil society organizations and the private sector in Africa to take full ownership of the theme of this year’s celebration to strengthen collaborative efforts among member countries of the African Union.
The Africa Day is observed annually on May 25, to commemorate the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the African Union, which was created on May 25, 1963, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
More African countries should heed UN call for global ceasefire: Guterres
More African countries should heed the UN call for a global ceasefire to push back deadly COVID-19, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday.
Marking Africa Day, the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union (AU), on May 25, 1963, the UN chief said in his message that the COVID-19 pandemic “threatens to derail progress” which would enable countries to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and development targets set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The AU has established a task force to develop a continent-wide strategy and appointed special envoys to mobilize international support, said the UN chief. Its Peace and Security Council has also taken steps to counter the negative impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of critical peace agreements and reconciliation efforts.
He noted that the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established a response fund, while African member states have undertaken “robust measures to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the socio-economic impacts.”
Guterres welcomed the AU’s support for his global ceasefire call, an imperative that also reflects the AU’s 2020 theme: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”
“Armed groups in Cameroon, Sudan and South Sudan have responded to the call and declared unilateral ceasefires. I implore other armed movements and governments in Africa to do likewise. I also welcome the support of African countries for my call for peace in the home, and an end to all forms of violence, including against women and girls,” he added.
Some 20 African countries are scheduled to hold elections this year, some of which are likely to be postponed due to the pandemic, with potential consequences for stability and peace, noted the secretary-general.
“I urge African political actors to engage in inclusive and sustained political dialogue to ease tensions around elections and uphold democratic practices.”
Last week, the UN issued a policy brief outlining the impacts of the pandemic on the continent. “We are calling for debt relief and action to maintain food supplies, protect jobs and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings. African countries, like everyone, everywhere, should also have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment.”
An opportunity now exists, for African governments to “use this moment” to shape new policies that bolster health systems, improve social protection and pursue climate-friendly pathways, he said.
Targeting measures to those employed in the informal sector, the vast majority of whom are women, will be an important step to recovery, said Guterres, as will empowering women to ensure their full participation and leadership.
“The inclusion and leadership of young people will also be crucial every step of the way,” said Guterres.
Croatian PM happy with progress of Peljesac Bridge construction
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday that he is glad to see the progress in the construction of the Peljesac Bridge despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
Plenkovic and government officials visited the construction site in southern Croatia on Monday afternoon.
Crossing the Mali Ston Bay over the Adriatic Sea, the 2.4-kilometer-long Peljesac Bridge connects Croatia’s southernmost Dubrovnik-Neretva County to the rest of the mainland, giving the southeastern European country a continuous land link that bypasses foreign territory.
A Chinese consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) won the bid for the first phase of the bridge and its access roads in January 2018, with a promise to finish the job in 36 months. Construction officially kicked off in late July 2018 and has been progressing well since then.
“This project will connect Croatian territory once and for all. For all of us, and especially for our colleagues and friends from Dubrovnik-Neretva County, it means the equal status of that county in the territorial organization of Croatia,” Plenkovic said, noting that the bridge is one of the most important investments in the country.
Plenkovic told reporters that due to the COVID-19 epidemic, Croatian experts couldn’t travel to China to follow the production of certain parts of the bridge, which could postpone the completion of construction for two or three months. He said that the Chinese company is ready to make a further effort to finish the European Union-funded project on time.
Oleg Butkovic, Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, told RTL television on Monday that the construction of the bridge hasn’t stopped during the COVID-19 epidemic and that the bridge and the connection roads should be finished by the end of next year at the latest.
Lu Shengwei, representative of CRBC in Croatia, told Xinhua that Croatian officials were satisfied with what they saw during the visit. According to Lu, there are currently 500 people working on the project, and the contractor has been taking stringent measures against the possible outbreak of COVID-19 at the construction site.
On Saturday, the Chinese contractor successfully installed the first steel box girder, an important bridge part that upholds the road surface on the piers.