World News in Brief: May 11

Monday, 2020-05-11 18:25:44
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People wearing protective face masks are seen at a shopping centre as Belgium began easing lockdown restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium May 11, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
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An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.5 hit off the coast of eastern Japan on Monday (May 11) but no tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage. The epicentre of the earthquake was off the coast of Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo, and measured at a depth of 50 km (30 miles), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

* Britain and the European Union start their penultimate scheduled round of trade talks on Monday with little progress on major sticking points before a June deadline to agree on any extension of negotiations. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to prolong the current transition period beyond the end of the year to grant more time for the two sides to agree the scale and scope of their new relationship.

* China reported 17 new COVID-19 cases for May 10, rising from a day earlier and marking the highest daily increase since April 28, according to official data published on Monday. Five of the new cases were reported in the central city of Wuhan, where the outbreak first emerged in late 2019, marking the highest since March 11. The total case toll now stands at 82,918 and the death toll remained unchanged at 4,633.

* Russia on Monday reported a record rise in the number of new coronavirus infections with 11,656 new cases in the last 24 hours, a phenomenon authorities attribute to a massive testing programme. The country's coronavirus response centre also reported 94 new deaths, taking the overall death toll to 2,009 people.

* India announced a limited re-opening of its giant rail network beginning on May 12 after a nearly seven-week lockdown, despite also reporting its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus cases. As of Sunday (May 10), the coronavirus infections jumped by 4,214, the most ever, to 67,152. The number of people who have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, has reached 2,206.

* The Japanese government will consider lifting the state of emergency on many of the 34 prefectures that are not among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus epidemic before the nationwide deadline of May 31, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said. Tokyo, Osaka and 11 other prefectures are not among the regions that could see an earlier easing of restrictions.

* The Philippines' confirmed coronavirus infections have broken past the 11,000 mark, the health ministry said on Monday. In a bulletin, the health ministry reported 292 additional cases, bringing the total to 11,086. It recorded seven more deaths, increasing the total to 726 while 75 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 1,999.

* Singapore's health ministry said on Monday it confirmed 486 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally of infections to 23,822. The health ministry said the number of cases, the lowest in a week, were partly distorted by fewer tests being processed as one of its laboratories was recalibrating apparatus after 33 false positives were identified.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 357 to 169,575, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. The reported death toll rose by 22 to 7,417, the tally showed.

* Spain's daily coronavirus death toll fell on Monday to 123, the health ministry said, its lowest level in seven weeks. The overall death toll from the epidemic rose to 26,744 on Monday from 26,621 on the previous day. The number of confirmed cases rose to 227,436 from 224,390 on Sunday.

* The Republic of Korean officials scrambled on Monday to contain a new coronavirus outbreak that is threatening to spread throughout the densely populated capital city of Seoul, leading the country to reconsider plans to reopen schools. Officials reported 35 new infections across the country as of midnight on Sunday, the second consecutive day of new cases of that magnitude and the highest numbers in more than a month, reinforcing fears the country could be entering a second wave outbreak.

* The coronavirus lockdown will not end yet, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday, urging people to "stay alert" to the risks as he outlined plans to begin slowly easing measures that have closed much of the economy for seven weeks. As of Sunday, Britain had reported some 219,183 confirmed infections. Britain's coronavirus death toll - 31,855 - is the second highest in the world, behind the United States.

* Spain wants a joint European response to the crisis at airlines caused by travel restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic, economy minister Nadia Calvino said on Monday.

* The head of Poland's electoral commission said on Sunday that the speaker of parliament had 14 days to declare the date of a new presidential election. Poland had been due to hold a presidential election on Sunday and, while the vote was not officially cancelled or postponed, the electoral commission had said on Thursday it could not be held due to the coronavirus crisis.

* Turkey said on Sunday it would deem the forces of Libyan General Khalifa Haftar "legitimate targets" if what it termed their attacks on its interests and diplomatic missions in Libya persisted. Turkey backs Libya's internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). It has signed a military cooperation deal with the GNA, which has been trying to fend off an offensive by Haftar's forces.

* Confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Panama reached 8,448 on Sunday, a rise of 166 from the previous day, and deaths climbed by seven to 244, the health ministry said.

* Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane's coalition collapsed in parliament on Monday, leaving him without enough seats to continue governing, the speaker said, adding that Thabane must leave office by May 22. Sam Rapapa, the deputy chairman of Thabane's All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, said all parties had provisionally agreed on Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro to replace Thabane.

* Three United Nations peacekeepers were killed and four severely wounded after a routine patrol hit improvised explosive devices in the northern Mali region of Aguelhok, the United Nations said on Sunday.

* Yemen on Sunday reported 17 new coronavirus cases and one death, raising the total number of infections to 51 and total fatalities to eight, the emergency coronavirus committee of Yemen's Saudi-backed government said on Twitter.

* Argentina said early on Monday that it would extend negotiations over a US$65 billion debt restructuring proposal until May 22 after an initial deadline passed on Friday without the support for a comprehensive deal the country needs to avert default. The South American grains powerhouse announced the extension in the official gazette, adding that the results of the offer would be announced on May 25 with a settlement date of May 27.

* Kazakhstan allowed a coronavirus state of emergency to lapse on Monday, authorising cities and provinces to begin lifting lockdown measures depending on their success in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Kazakhstan has confirmed 5,126 COVID-19 cases with 31 deaths.

* At least 20 people were killed in attacks by unidentified gunmen on several villages in the Tillaberi region of western Niger, the governor of the region said on Sunday. Ibrahim Tidjani Katchella told national radio Saturday's attacks were carried out by assailants on motorcycles. He gave no further details.

* Coronavirus infections in Tehran are still rising, the ISNA news agency reported on Sunday, citing a local official. The total number of deaths from coronavirus rose by 51 in the past 24 hours to 6,640, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state TV on Sunday. A total 107,603 cases have been diagnosed, he said.

* Saudi king Salman ordered on Monday the distribution of "Ramadan Aid" worth SAR1.85 billion (US$492.6 million) for social security beneficiaries, the state news agency reported. Providers of families will get SAR1,000 each while family members will get SAR500 each.

* Tunisia recorded zero new coronavirus cases for the first time since early March, health authorities said on Monday, as the government will further relax restrictions on movement and businesses. Tunisia, which reported its first case on March 2, has confirmed 1,032 cases in all and 45 deaths. The North Africa country, which has about 500 intensive care beds, said 745 patients recovered and only 11 were still in hospital.

* A worker at a fish-processing factory in Ghana's Atlantic seafront city of Tema infected 533 other workers at the facility with the coronavirus, Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a broadcast late on Sunday. Ghana's health authorities reported the outbreak at the industrial facility late on Friday, but did not provide details. The president said 22 people have died of coronavirus-related causes, while 494 have recovered.