Global covid 19 cases surpass 33.5 million mark: Johns Hopkins

Agencies
September 30, 2020

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Washington, Sept 30: The overall number of global coronavirus has surpassed 33.5 million, while the deaths have increased to more than 1,006,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Wednesday, the total number of cases stood at 33,560,877 and the fatalities rose to 1,006,576, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 7,190,230 and 205,986, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in the second place in terms of cases at 6,145,291, while the country's death toll soared to 96,318.

The other top 15 countries with the maximum amount of cases are Brazil (4,777,522), Russia (1,162,428), Colombia (824,042), Peru (808,714), Spain (748,266), Mexico (738,163), Argentina (736,609), South Africa (672,572), France (590,021), Chile (461,300), Iran (453,637), the UK (448,729), Bangladesh (362,043), Iraq (358,290) and Saudi Arabia (334,187), the CSSE figures showed.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 142,921.

The countries with a death toll above 10,000 are Mexico (77,163), the UK (42,162), Italy (35,875), Peru (32,324), France (31,908), Spain (31,411), Iran (25,986), Colombia (25,828), Russia (20,456), South Africa (16,667), Argentina (16,519), Chile (12,725), Ecuador (11,312) and Indonesia (10,601).

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Agencies
October 21,2020

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Kabul, Oct 21: At least 11 women were trampled to death when a stampede broke out Wednesday among thousands of Afghans waiting in a soccer stadium to get visas to leave the country, officials said.

Gov. Attaullah Khogyani said another 13 people, mostly women, were injured at the stadium in the eastern Nangarhar province, where they were trying to get visas to enter neighbouring Pakistan.

He said most of those who died were elderly people from across Afghanistan.

In a separate incident, at least 34 Afghan police were killed in an ambush by Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan, according to a local hospital official.

Rahim Bakhish Danish, the director of the main hospital in the Takhar province, confirmed receiving 34 bodies and said another eight security forces were wounded.

An Afghan security official said the forces were in a convoy that was ambushed.

The official, who was not authorised to brief media on the event and so spoke on condition of anonymity, said several police Humvees were set ablaze.

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News Network
October 17,2020

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New Delhi, Oct 17: Marking a landslide victory in the New Zealand General Elections, incumbent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to return for her second term as the head of the country. PM Jacinda Ardern, representing New Zealand's liberal labout party, is acing ahead to form for the first time a single party majority government in the country in decades. During her first term in the office, Ardern was in power with the support of the nationalist party.

Ardern’s liberal Labour Party had nearly double the support of its main challenger, the conservative National Party.

Labour was on the cusp of winning an outright majority in Parliament, something that hasn’t happened since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago. Typically, parties must form alliances to govern, but this time Ardern and Labour may be able to go it alone.

"It's a landslide that looks like our vote is the best it has been since the 1940s," said Labour Minister David Parker. "It's a tremendous accolade first and foremost to the prime minister, but also to the wider Labour team and the Labour movement."

A record number of voters cast early ballots in the two weeks leading up to the election.

On the campaign trail, Ardern was greeted like a rock star by people who crammed into malls and spilled onto streets to cheer her on and get selfies with her.

Her popularity soared earlier this year after she led a successful effort to stamp out the coronavirus. There is currently no community spread of the virus in the nation of 5 million and people are no longer required to wear masks or social distance.

Ardern, 40, won the top job after the 2017 election when Labour formed an alliance with two other parties. The following year, she became only the second world leader to give birth while in office.

She became a role model for working mothers around the world, many of whom saw her as a counterpoint to President Donald Trump. And she was praised for her handling of last year’s attack on two Christchurch mosques, when a white supremacist gunned down 51 Muslim worshippers. She moved quickly to pass new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

In late March this year, when only about 100 people had tested positive for COVID-19, Ardern and her health officials put New Zealand into a strict lockdown with a motto of “Go hard and go early.” She shut the borders and outlined an ambitious goal of eliminating the virus entirely rather than just trying to control its spread.

With New Zealand having the advantage of being an isolated island nation, the strategy worked. The country eliminated community transmission for 102 days before a new cluster was discovered in August in Auckland. Ardern swiftly imposed a second lockdown in Auckland and the new outbreak faded away. The only new cases found recently have been among returning travelers, who are in quarantine.

The Auckland outbreak also prompted Ardern to postpone the election by a month and helped increase the early voter turnout.

The National Party’s leader, Judith Collins, is a former lawyer. She served as a minister when National was in power and prides herself on a blunt, no-nonsense approach, a contrast to Ardern’s empathetic style. Collins, 61, was promising sweeping tax cuts in response to the economic downturn caused by the virus.

In the election, voters also had a say on two contentious social issues — whether to legalize marijuana and euthanasia. Polls taken before the election indicated the euthanasia referendum was likely to pass while the marijuana vote remained uncertain. The results of both referendums will be announced Oct. 30.

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Agencies
October 11,2020

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Seoul, Oct 11: North Korea displayed a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and other weapons during a massive military parade to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party, state-media reported on Sunday.

Besides the night-time parade on Saturday, there was also fireworks display, a car parade and other celebratory events to mark the occassion, Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency said in a report.

The new ICBM was carried on a transporter erector launcher (TEL) with 22 wheels, indicating that it is longer than the Hwasong-15, which is carried by a 18-wheel TEL, Yonhap News Agency quoted the KCNA report as saying.

The Hwasong-15 has an estimated range of 12,874 kn, which is capable of striking any part of the continental US.

The regime has two more types of ICBM: the Hwasong-13 that can fly as far as 5,500 km, and the Hwasong-14 missile with an estimated range of 10,058 km, which is capable of reaching most of the continental US.

Also during the parade which was the first since 2018, the country also showed off a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which it labelled as the Pukguksong-4, the KCNA report said.

According to experts, the Pukguksong-4 SLBM appeared larger than its previous version of the Pukguksong-3 that the North test-fired in October 2019.

The Pukguksong-3 is classified as a medium-range missile, and is believed to be an upgraded version of its Pukguksong-1 missile.

The country also presented its version of Russia's Iskander short-range ballistic missile and super-large multiple rocket launchers, which it has test-launched several times since 2019.

In an address before the military parade, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to continue to strengthen self-defence "war deterrent", Yonhap News Agency reported.

Kim stressed that war deterrent is purely for self-defence, and "will never be abused or used as a means for pre-emptive strike".

"But, if, and if, any forces infringe upon the security of our state and attempt to have recourse to military force against us, I will enlist all our most powerful offensive strength in advance to punish them," he added.

Kim also apologized to his people for their suffering from multiple challenges, including recent typhoons and flooding and the impact from its anti-pandemic campaign.

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