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[VOA] VOA 2020-05-01

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Worldwide more than 229,000 people have died from COVID-19, with more than 3.2 million cases reported according to tallies by Johns Hopkins University. This since the epidemic _ in China last December. Here’s some of latest developments in the crisis.

In tallies compiled by ASP, the United States has now passed the 1 million case mark with more than 60,000 people dead, the most of any other country. Italy is the second hardest hit country with more than 27,000 dead followed by Britain, Spain and France with more than 24,000 people dead in that country. Europe’s Belgium is the country with the most death per capita. Cases surge past 100,000 in Russia as the officials warned infections have not yet peaked and they esteemed lockdown measures across the country. The country’s latest official death toll is nearly 1100.

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

And the first evidence of the successful treatment for the disease the US clinical trial of the drug remdesivir shows that COVID-19 patients recovered about 30% faster than those on a placebo.

Also the center for research on energy and clean air release a research that shows there will be 11,000 fewer does from the air pollution in European countries due to a massive drop in fossil fuel pollution during lockdowns.

A good bit of global economic news _ to the COVID-19 pandemic is dire. Data from the European Union’s official statistics agency Eurostat shows that the EU economy gross domestic product contracted by 3.8 percent from January to March. The worst quarterly drop since Eurostat’s records began in 1995. France confirms it’s officially plunge into a recession. Spain’s economy has contracted by 5.2 percent in the first quarter according to provisional figures by the national statistics agency *. And unemployment soars in Germany. The jobless total in that country jump sharply in April to 2.7 million from 2.3 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 coronavirus saying evidence shows the virus was not engineered in a Chinese laboratory but officials say they are still looking into whether the outbreak which originated in China was triggered by human contact with animals or whether it began as the result of some scientific accident. The office said 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 the intelligence community will continue to vigorously examine emerging information and intelligence should determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or feel less the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan. The White House has been demanding a more thorough investigation into the origin of the COVID-19. US president Donald Trump has repeatedly cast doubts on statements from both China and the World Health Organization on this topic.     

According Uganda this week rejected 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 these men were targeted because of their sexual orientation. The spokesperson for the _ police says that the officers made the arrest after local residents complained about the gathering. Uganda 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 violation.
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