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Mainland China reports 14 new COVID-19 cases vs 32 a day earlier
19 September 2020, 4:28 AM

Mainland China reported 14 new COVID-19 cases on September 18, down from 32 cases reported a day earlier, the Chinese national health authority said on Saturday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all new cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas.

It also reported 24 new asymptomatic cases, up from 20 a day earlier, though China does not classify these patients without symptoms as confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The total number of COVID-19 cases for mainland China now stands at 85 269, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4 634.

Australia virus hotspot state records lowest new cases since June
19 September 2020, 3:27 AM

The Australian state at the centre of the country’s novel coronavirus outbreak on Saturday reported its lowest daily increase of infections in three months, putting it on course to relax a hard lockdown in the capital city by the end of the month.

Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state and home to a quarter of its 25 million people, recorded 21 new cases of COVID-19 in the prior 24 hours, less than half the previous day’s number and its lowest since June 24.

None of the seven other Australian states and territories had reported new case numbers but all except Victoria have reported single-digit or no case increases for weeks.

Victoria also reported seven new deaths related to the virus, taking the national total to 844, according to government figures.

The state has had 90% of Australia’s coronavirus-related deaths.

Australia has reported just under 26 900 infections.

The country had largely escaped the high casualty numbers of many others as the virus swept the world but a second wave of infections in

Victoria has put the country on high alert and prompted most states to close their internal borders.

The Victorian capital, Melbourne, has been under one of the toughest lockdowns including a nightly curfew, but the state government has said it will let construction sites, manufacturing plants, warehouses and childcare facilities reopen on September 28 if increases in average daily cases stay below 50.

 

 

World leaders urged to put targeted measures in place to suppress the spread of coronavirus – WHO
19 September 2020, 2:54 AM

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged world leaders to put targeted measures in place to suppress the spread of the coronavirus.

Confirmed cases of the virus across the world are sitting at 30,2 million, with at least 947 000 deaths and 20,6 million recoveries.

The head of the WHO, Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says countries need to take the necessary steps now to prevent future pandemics.

WHO updates on COVID-19:

California’s wildfire death toll rises as showers bolster crews in Oregon
19 September 2020, 1:48 AM

A firefighter has perished in a blaze that was ignited two weeks at a gender-reveal party, the US Forest Service reported on Friday, as welcomed thundershowers brought some relief to weary fire crews in western Oregon.

The firefighter’s death on Thursday in the San Bernardino National Forest east of Los Angeles raised the death toll to at least 35 in the catastrophic spate of wildfires raging across the western United States in recent weeks.

Twenty-six of those victims have died in California,including two other firefighters – a Forest Service contractor killed in a lightning-sparked fire in northern California, and a private helicopter pilot whose chopper crashed on a water-dropping mission in Fresno County last month.

Authorities withheld the identity of the latest firefighter fatality pending notification of next of kin.

No details on the circumstances were immediately released except that the death occurred during the El Dorado Fire, which investigators have determined was triggered by pyrotechnics during a gender-reveal celebration on September 5.

That blaze has since charred more than 21 000 acres (8 500 hectares) and was 66% contained as of Friday, authorities said.

Twelve firefighters have suffered minor injuries and at least 10 structures have been destroyed by that fire.

Scores of wildfires have blackened some 3.2 million acres (1.3 million hectares in California since mid-August and another 1.7 million acres (650 000 hectares) in Oregon and Washington state since Labour Day.

The blazes, described by scientists and officials as unprecedented in scope and magnitude, have largely incinerated several small towns and destroyed thousands of dwellings in all three states.

The fires, many sparked by intense lightning storms, were stoked early on by record-breaking heat, drought-parched vegetation and bouts of howling winds.

Civilians account for the remaining 23 confirmed fire-related deaths in California since mid-August, as well as the eight in Oregon and one in Washington state. Thousands of evacuees, particularly in Oregon, remained huddled in emergency shelters, mobile trailers and hotel rooms.

Communities in Oregon, unaccustomed to wildfires of such magnitude and lacking sufficient resources to deal with them,was especially hard hit.

Emergency management officials have warned the death toll there could climb as search teams scour the ruins of homes engulfed in flames during chaotic evacuations early in the disaster.

Thundershowers brought drenching rains to the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains late Thursday and through Friday, helping a force of more than 6 000 firefighters make further headway against 10 major blazes still burning in Oregon.

The heavy rains also prompted flood and landslide warnings in areas where fire has stripped hillsides and canyons of vegetation.

Cooler, more favorable weather in the region since last week has already dispelled some of the smoky, polluted air and tempered the flames, enabling ground teams with axes and bulldozers to take the offensive while also allowing greater use of water-dropping helicopters and airplane tankers.

Higher humidity levels were likewise bolstering hopes for subduing blazes in the greater San Francisco Bay area.

“Milder weather is helping the fire fight as crews continue to gain ground on many of the major incidents,” the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said on Friday.

A key sign of success in the three states’ efforts to control the fires has been a steady rise in containment, a measure of the buffer lines that firefighters carve around the perimeter of each blaze by hacking away unburned vegetation to prevent its spread.

 

Britain, France, Germany say UN sanctions relief for Iran to continue beyond September 20
19 September 2020, 12:11 AM

In a letter to the 15-member body, seen by Reuters, the three European parties to the nuclear deal and long-time US allies said any decision or action taken to reimpose UN sanctions “would be incapable of legal effect.” The United States quit the nuclear deal in 2018.

“We have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so,” said the UN envoys for Britain, France and Germany, adding that they remain committed to “fully implementing” a 2015 Security Council resolution that enshrines the pact, which also included Russia and China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that he triggered a 30-day process at the Security Council leading to a return of UN sanctions on Iran on Saturday (2000 EDT/0000 GMT Sunday) that would also prevent a conventional arms embargo on Tehran from expiring on October 18.

But 13 of the Security Council members say Washington’s move is void because it is no longer a party to the nuclear deal. The United States say it can make the move because the 2015 Security Council resolution still names it as a participant.

Diplomats say few countries are likely to reimpose the measures, which were lifted under the deal that aimed to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons.

US President Donald Trump plans to issue an executive order in the coming days allowing him to impose US sanctions on anyone who violates the UN arms embargo on Iran, sources have told Reuters, in a bid to reinforce the US assertion that the measure has been extended indefinitely beyond October 18.

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