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Honduran president hospitalised for coronavirus: Live updates |NationalTribune.com

The World Health Organization has announced that testing of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in its large multi-country trial of treatments for COVID-19 patients had been halted after new data and studies showed no benefit. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, is undergoing treatment in hospital for pneumonia after he tested positive for COVID-19 this week, the government said.…

Honduran president hospitalised for coronavirus: Live updates |NationalTribune.com

The World Health Organization has announced that testing of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in its large multi-country trial of treatments for COVID-19 patients had been halted after new data and studies showed no benefit.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, is undergoing treatment in hospital for pneumonia after he tested positive for COVID-19 this week, the government said. His spokesman said, “his general health status is good.” Hernandez’s wife, Ana Garcia, also tested positive for COVID-19.

Peru topped 240,000 total cases of coronavirus, surpassing hard-hit Italy, government data showed, even as the pace of infections has begun to moderate in the South American nation. More than 7,000 Peruvians have died from the disease, the government reported.

A genetic analysis of COVID-19 patients suggests that blood type might influence whether someone develops severe disease, according to a New England Journal of Medicine report. Scientists who compared the genes of thousands of patients in Europe found that those who had Type A blood were more likely to have severe disease while those with Type O were less likely.

More than 8.3 million people have been confirmed to have the new coronavirus around the world. More than four million have recovered, while 447,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The United States has the most cases and deaths, followed by Brazil.

Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, June 18
05:00 GMT – Hong Kong sends special flight to India
The Hong Kong government has sent a special flight to India to take residents back to the semi-autonomous Chinese city. 
The flight is expected to arrive in Hong Kong at around 08:00 GMT on Thursday, according to a statement from the Hong Kong government. It is unclear how many Hong Kong residents are taking the special flight.
04:42 GMT – China to offer some debt relief to African countries
China will exempt some African countries from repaying zero-interest rate loans due at the end of 2020, Reuters news agency reported quoting President Xi Jinping.
Under the framework of the China-Africa cooperation forum, China will further extend loan payment forbearance for some countries including African countries, Xi told the China-Africa summit.
“I am confident that humanity will ultimately defeat the virus, and Chinese and African people will embrace better lives in future,” said Xi when making remarks on China-Africa’s joint efforts to fight against the coronavirus.
China is willing to give priority to African countries once COVID-19 vaccines are ready to use, Xi added.
04:08 GMT – Australia to fly foreign students from Singapore
The two universities in Australia’s capital plan to fly in 350 foreign students as the country’s international education sector reopens after the coronavirus lockdown, AP news agency reported.
Australian National University and Canberra University said Thursday they expect the chartered aircraft to fly to Canberra from Singapore in late July.
Priority will be given to students involved in research that cannot be done online. The students will be quarantined at a hotel for two weeks. They are likely to be the first foreign students to return to Australian campuses since the lockdown.
03:40 GMT – Virus infections continue steady rise in South Korea
South Korea has reported 59 COVID-19 cases as infections steadily rise in the capital area where half the country’s 51 million people live, according to the Associated Press.
The figures announced on Thursday by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bring the national caseload to 12,257, including 280 deaths.
The agency says 39 of the new cases are in Seoul and the surrounding region, where authorities are trying to stem transmissions amid increased economic activity and eased attitudes on social distancing.
Eight new cases were linked to international arrivals. The country has at least 12,257 cases and 280 deaths.

South Korean police officers stand guard during an event to commemorate the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Korean War, near the entrance of the 14th-century Gyeongbok Palace is Seoul [Ahn Young-joon/AP]

03:08 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 580 to 187,764
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 580 to 187,764, Reuters news agency reported on Thursday quoting data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
The reported death toll rose by 26 to 8,856, the tally showed.
02:51 GMT – Trump: US will not lock down again amid rising coronavirus cases
President Donald Trump has said the United States would not close businesses again as several states reported rising numbers of new coronavirus infections.
“We won’t be closing the country again. We won’t have to do that,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Channel.
Trump’s comments come after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both said the United States could not shut down the economy again.
Restaurants, gyms, schools and other locations closed down in March as the country braced for the coronavirus, which has so far sickened 2.16 million Americans and killed nearly 118,000.
02:22 GMT – Wuhan study: There may be no immunity against COVID-19
A new study conducted by Chinese and American scientists said that humans may never develop immunity against the coronavirus, the South China Morning Post reported.
The conclusion was based on a non-peer reviewed study looking at whether hospital workers in Wuhan, where the infection was first reported, developed antibodies, after being exposed to the disease.
The report said only 4 percent of the samples studied had developed antibodies as of April. This was based on the assumption that at least a quarter of the more than 23,000 samples tested were infected.
02:02 GMT – UN: Many Jordanians struggling as country emerges from lockdown
Many people in Jordan are struggling to meet basic needs after a more than two-month lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic, a UN Development Programme (UNDP) study said, with reports of unemployment expected to rise to 19 percent.
Although Jordan has contained the first wave of COVID-19 and is now reopening most businesses, the full impact of the pandemic is still unfolding in the aid dependent country of 10 million people, the UNDP study said.
Officials have adopted recent estimates by the World Bank that the economy was set to shrink by 3.5 percent this year – the first such contraction since 1990 – compared with an IMF estimate of 2 percent growth before the health crisis.
01:37 GMT – Beijing reports 21 new COVID-19 cases in city as of June 17

The total number of infections in Beijing has risen to 158 over the past week [Ng Han Guan/AP]

Beijing confirmed 21 new COVID-19 cases as of June 17, China’s health authority said on Thursday, down from 31 a day earlier.
Beijing logged its first case in the current outbreak, the worst in the city since early February, on June 11. The total number of infections has risen to 158 over the past week, according to Reuters news agency.
01:25 GMT – Study shows how quickly coronavirus spreads at home
The novel coronavirus is twice as infectious within households than similar diseases such as SARS, with a substantial number of additional infections spreading before a COVID-19 sufferer shows any symptoms, AFP news agency reported on Thursday quoting a new study.
Using data on 350 COVID-19 patients and nearly 2,000 of their close contacts in the city of Guangzhou, China, the researchers from US and China found that while the average patient had just a 2.4 percent chance of infecting someone they did not live with, that figure jumped to 17.1 percent – around one in six – among cohabitants.
The overall chances of infecting a family member or live-in partner with COVID-19 are twice as high as with SARS, and three times higher than MERS, another coronavirus, they found.
The study suggested that quarantine of asymptomatic patients can help prevent transmission.
00:51 GMT – WHO stops hydroxychloroquine trial 
The World Health Organization has halted the trial test of the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus.
According to the WHO recent trials showed that the anti-malaria drug does not result in the reduction of mortality of hospitalised COVID-19 patients.
“Patients who have already started hydroxychloroquine but who have not yet finished their course in the trial may complete their course or stop at the discretion of the supervising physician,” the WHO statement said.
00:36 GMT – Qantas halts most international flights until October on border closure
Qantas Airways Ltd said on Thursday it had cancelled most international flights until late October after the Australian government indicated its border closure because of the coronavirus was likely to extend to 2021.
“We will still have some flights scheduled across the Tasman in the coming months with the expected travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand,” the airline said in a statement, referring to the Tasman Sea between the countries.
“Should travel between Australia and other countries open up and demand return, we can add more flights back into our schedule,” it added.
00:15 GMT – Mexico reports 4,930 new coronavirus cases, 770 more deaths
Mexico’s health ministry has reported 4,930 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 770 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 159,793 cases and 19,080 deaths.
The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases, according to Reuters news agency.

Members of biological sciences of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) in Mexico Cit  test people for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the university [Henry Romero/Reuters]

00:08 GMT – Biden calls on Trump to ‘wake up’ to havoc caused by virus
Joe Biden unleashed a stinging critique of President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus, calling on Trump to “wake up” to the havoc caused by the pandemic and do more to prevent further harm, AP news agency reported.
“Donald Trump wants to style himself as a wartime president,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said at a recreation centre in the Philadelphia suburbs. “Unlike any other wartime leader, he takes no responsibility; he exercises no leadership. Now, he has just flat surrendered the fight.”
Biden has steadily stepped up his attacks on Trump’s leadership in recent weeks. But his remarks Wednesday were especially sharp, trying to counter the populism Trump hopes to ride to reelection with stern warnings about how dangerous such an approach would be.
The US has topped 2.16 million confirmed coronavirus infections with at least 117,000 deaths, and some states are reporting increases in cases after reopening their economies.
00:01 GMT – Honduran president hospitalised for COVID-19, treated for pneumonia

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, accompanied by his wife Ana Garcia, addresses supporters during a rally outside the Presidential House in 2019 [File: Jorge Cabrera/Reuters]

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, is undergoing treatment in hospital for pneumonia after he tested positive for COVID-19 this week, Reuters news agency reported quoting a government spokesperson.
Francis Contreras, a spokesperson for Honduran health agency SINAGER, said that while Hernandez needed specialised medical care in a military hospital, including receiving medicines via intravenous drip, he is generally in good health.
The health news is a fresh blow to the 51-year-old Hernandez, who has come under increasing pressure at home as one of his brothers was swept up by a drug trafficking probe in the United States which has threatened to engulf him too.
“His general health status is good,” Contreras told reporters outside the military hospital. However, he said X-rays of Hernandez have revealed lung problems.
Hernandez’s wife, Ana Garcia, also tested positive for the coronavirus, along with two presidential aides, but has not presented any symptoms of the disease, Contreras said.
___________________________________________________________________
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Read all the updates from yesterday (June 17) here.
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COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |NationalTribune.com

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN,…

COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |NationalTribune.com

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN, Qatar emir questions world inaction on Israeli occupationQatar’s leader says Israel continues to carry out ‘flagrant violation of international resolutions’.Lebanon: Hezbollah arms depot blast caused by ‘technical error’Lebanon’s official news agency said explosion took place in southern village of Ein Qana, about 50km south of Beirut.
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Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year. On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the…

Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year.
On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the roof to collapse and parts of the building were blackened by the blaze.
“One of the strong theories is based on internal agents being involved in the incident,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters at a news conference, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).

“The issue is being seriously reviewed by the country’s security organisations and we will announce the results after things are clear.”
It is the first time an Iranian official specifically pointed to the possibility of an inside job for the blast.
In late August, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed the damage to the facility was the result of “sabotage”.
“But how this explosion took place and with what materials … will be announced by security officials in due course,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at the time, citing “security reasons” for not disclosing further information.
‘Sabotage is certain’
In early September, Kamalvandi announced Natanz saboteurs “have been identified” but refrained from discussing further details, including whether internal agents were complicit.
On Tuesday, Rabiei also reiterated that “sabotage is certain” but the incident still needs to be investigated due to its complexities.
The desert Natanz site, much of which is underground, is one of several Iranian facilities regularly monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.
Following the explosion, international media reports indicated Israel may have been behind the attack. Israel has been deliberately vague, neither confirming nor denying involvement while stressing the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“Everyone can suspect us in everything and all the time, but I don’t think that’s correct,” Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said days after the attack.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also said “Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear capabilities”, adding to that end, “We take actions that are better left unsaid.”
IAEA-Iran relations
September’s announcement that Iran knows the saboteurs behind the Natanz explosion came one week after IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the country.
The trip was successful, leading to Iran granting access to two suspected former nuclear sites that the UN watchdog wished to inspect.
“In this present context, based on analysis of available information to the IAEA, the IAEA does not have further questions to Iran and further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Iran,” the IAEA and Iranian officials said in a joint statement following the visit.
In a speech during the 64th session of the General Conference of the IAEA on Monday, the president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi referred to the Natanz incident.

“These malicious acts need to be condemned by the agency and member states,” he said via video conference, adding “Iran reserves its rights to protect its facilities and take necessary actions against any threat as appropriate.”
Salehi also urged the UN watchdog not to compromise its “impartiality, independence and professionalism”.
Iran, UN and the United States are locked in a major disagreement centred around the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in May 2018.
The US on Sunday declared it reinstated all UN sanctions on Iran, an announcement that was roundly rejected by the United Nations Security Council as lacking legal basis.
The US is trying to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the nuclear deal.
Iran, which has always maintained it never pursued nuclear weapons, accepted the nuclear deal that removed all UN sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The US reneged on the deal, unilaterally imposing a harsh campaign of sanctions that have hit almost all the productive sectors of the Iranian economy. US sanctions have also targeted Iranian officials and organisations.
In response, starting exactly one year after US sanctions were imposed and other parties failed to guarantee economic benefits promised Iran under the deal, Iran started gradually scaling back its nuclear commitments.

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Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com

Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel. Palestinians see the deals that the United…

Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com

Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel.
Palestinians see the deals that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington a week ago as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
Earlier this month, the Palestinians failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn nations breaking ranks and normalising relations with Israel.
Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, but Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position.
“Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council [of foreign ministers] at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency,” Maliki said.
In his remarks, he did not specifically name the UAE and Bahrain, Gulf Arab countries that share with Israel concern over Iran. He said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had been informed of the Palestinian decision.

Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation

The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state, in exchange for establishing ties with it.
In a new move addressing internal Palestinian divisions, officials from West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Gaza-based Hamas movement were due to hold reconciliation talks in Turkey on Tuesday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed implementation of unity deals agreed since then.
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies
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