France's coronavirus-related deaths surge

US COVID-19 Deaths Cross 30,000; Over 638,000 Infected

The coronavirus death toll in the United States crossed 30,000 with more than 638,000 confirmed cases by the end of Wednesday.

Despite the rapidly rising infections, President Donald Trump hinted that some states may be able to return to normalcy earlier than the tentative reopening date of May 1.

However, the country is not yet ready to reopen, experts and governors of the worst-affected states say.

The social distancing guidelines that the Trump administration announced are set to expire on April 30.

As per Johns Hopkins University’s latest data, a total of 30985 people have died and 639,664 others were infected in the United States, the world’s worst-affected country in the world.

Of all the confirmed cases in the country, 214,832 were reported in New York, where 14,073 people have died so far due to COVID-19.

On Wednesday, COVID-19 deaths crossed 1000 in Massachusetts.

New Jersey (3156 deaths and 71,030 infections), Michigan (1921 deaths, 28059 infections), Massachusetts (1108 deaths and 29918 infections), Louisiana (1103 deaths, 21951 infections), Illinois (949 death, 24593 infections), California (890 deaths, 27098 infections) Connecticut (868 deaths, 14,755 infections), Pennsylvania (787 deaths, 26804 infections), Florida (614 deaths, 22519 infections), Georgia (576 deaths, 15267 infections) and Washington (565 deaths, 10971 infections) are the other worst-affected states.

COVID-19 death toll mounts in Ecuador

As the coronavirus spreads, morgues and hospitals left overwhelmed in Ecuador.

Hospitals and morgues in Ecuador are feeling the strain of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many are filled to capacity.

So far, 98 people have died and more than 2,700 have been infected.

And relatives say they are waiting for the bodies of the deceased to be collected.

Al Jazeera’s John Holman reports.

Iran summons Swiss ambassador as U.S. representative in Tehran over Gulf tensions: IRIB

(Reuters) – Iran has summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents U.S. interests in the country, over recent Gulf tensions, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Thursday, according to the IRIB news agency.

The ambassador was given a message to pass on to the United States that Iran will strongly defend its maritime rights in the Gulf and respond to any threats.

At least 100 sailors on US aircraft carrier contract COVID-19

The captain of the carrier told Pentagon the virus is spreading ‘uncontrollably’, but Defense Secretary Mark Esper says it is not the right time to move people from the ship.

At least 100 sailors on board a United States aircraft carrier have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The captain of the Theodore Roosevelt told the Pentagon the virus is spreading “uncontrollably”.

But Defense Secretary Mark Esper says it is not the right time to move the people from the ship.

Al Jazeera’s Victoria Gatenby reports.

COVID-19: Almost half of Lebanon now lives below poverty line

Lebanon’s cabinet has approved financial aid for low-income families as pandemic deepens what was already the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

Lebanon’s cabinet has approved financial aid for low-income families and those who have lost their jobs.

But the coronavirus pandemic is deepening what was already the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

About 33 percent of the population lived below the poverty line in September.

Now almost half of Lebanon has fallen below that line.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr has more from Beirut.

Ukraine central bank cuts key interest rate to 8% from 10%

KIEV, April 23 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s central bank cut its main interest rate for the seventh time in a row on Thursday, to 8% from 10%, to support the economy as it lurches towards recession due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The cut was sharper than the expectations of a Reuters poll of analysts. (Reporting by Natalia Zinets; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Communication technology hindering diplomatic efforts of UN

Nations are trying to speak to each other but it seems sometimes they get disconnected.

The coronavirus pandemic is making global diplomacy more complicated.

For the first time in its history, the United Nations Security Council has been meeting remotely.

But those sessions have been plagued by technical difficulties.

Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays reports.

Italy's Treasury pays back BTP bond using 932 mln euros from Sinking Fund

MILAN, April 23 (Reuters) – Italy’s Economy Ministry said on Thursday it had used 932 million euros ($1.00 billion) from the government’s Bond Sinking Fund to partially reimburse an inflation-linked BTP bond sold to retail investors in April 2014 and due today.

The transaction almost depleted the fund, which is aimed at reimbursing or buying back Italian securities from the market to reduce public debt, the statement added.

Birmingham stabbing: Woman rushed to hospital after attack in Erdington

The woman was treated at the scene at the junction of the A4040 and B4139 in the Birmingham suburb of Erdington at 9.15am. She was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

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France's coronavirus-related deaths surge

As grim new records continue to be set, residents grow more desperate for tests and any potential treatment.

In France, the number of deaths due to coronavirus have increased rapidly in the last three days.

As grim new records continue to be set, residents grow more desperate for tests and any potential treatment.

Medical experts there know the need is urgent, but they are warning that safety has to come first.

Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler reports from Angouleme in France.