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[VOA] VOA 2020-05-01

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Worldwide more than 229 thousand have died from covid-19, with more than 3.2 millions cases reported, according to tallies by Johns Hopkins University. This since the epidemic circulated in China last December. Here is some of the latest developments in the crisis.

And tallies compiled by AFP, the United States has now passed the one million case mark, with more than 60 thousand people dead,the most of any other country.

Italy is the second hardest-hit country with more than 27 thousand dead, followed by Britain, Spain and France,with more 24 thousand dead in that country. Europe's Belgium is the country with the most dead per capita.

Cases surged past 100 thousand in Russia, as officials warned infections had not yet peaked and they extended lockdown measures across the country. The country's latest official death toll is nearly 11 hundred.

South Korea, though, seems to be turning a corner for the fist time since covid-19 was detected there in February.South Korea reports zero new infections, suggesting its aggressive test-and-trace strategy is having results.

And in the first evidence of a successful treatment for the disease, a US clinic trial of the drug, remdesivir, shows that covid-19 patients recovered by 30 percent faster than those on a placebo.

Also, the Center for Research on Energy and Clear Air released a research that shows there would be 11 thousand fewer death form air pollution in European countries, due to a massive drop in fossil fuel pollution during lockdowns.

A good bit of global economic news packed to the covid-19 pandemic is dire. Data from the European Union's official statistics agency,Eurostat, shows that the EU economy's Gross Domestic Product contracted by 3.8 percent from January to March, the worst quarterly drop since Eurostat records began in 1995.  

France confirmed it's officially plunged into recession. Spain's economy has contracted by 5.2 percent in the first quarter, according to provisional figures by the national statistics agency INE.

And unemployment soars in Germany. The jobless total in that country jumped sharply in April to 4.6 million from 4.3 million in March, according to data from the Federal Labor Agency.

US Intelligence Agency are dismissing at least one theory about the origin of the virus,saying evidence shows the virus was not engineered in a Chinese laboratory. But official say they are still looking into whether the outbreak, which originated in China, was triggered by human contract with animals, or whether began as the result of some scientific accident.

The office of the Director of National Intelligence said Thursday in a statement that the US intelligence community concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the covid-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.

It was a rare public statement on an ongoing investigation. The statement added that intelligence community will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.

The White House has been demanding a more thorough investigation into the origins of covid-19. US president Donald Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on statements from both China and the World Health Organization on this topic.

A court in Uganda this week rejected a bail for 19 members of the LGBT community who were arrested for gathering in public in violation of the coronavirus lockdown. Police arrested the men last month at a shelter for sexual minorities. Their lawyer argues that the men were targeted because of their sexual orientation. A spokesperson for the Kampala police says officers made the arrests after local residents complained about the gathering. Ugandan authorities have outlawed any gathering of more than 5 people in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and police arrested more than 400 people last week for alleged violations.
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