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Live COVID-19 updates: China firmly supports UN's leading role in fighting COVID-19 pandemic, Italy says WHO "essential"

(Xinhua)    10:09, April 17, 2020

BEIJING, April 17 (Xinhua) -- The following are the updates on the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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UNITED NATIONS -- A Chinese envoy on Thursday reaffirmed China's support for the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) in playing a leading role in coordinating international cooperation against COVID-19.

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, made the remarks in a letter sent to President of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and permanent representatives of member states to the United Nations.

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ROME -- Italian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Marina Sereni on Thursday voiced support for the World Health Organization (WHO) and called for a more coordinated international response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sereni made the remarks after a video conference of foreign ministers in the Alliance for Multilateralism, which was organized by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

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WASHINGTON -- The policy-setting body of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday pledged collective action to mitigate the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are in an unprecedented global crisis. The global economy will contract sharply this year, reflecting necessary health measures to contain the virus, disruptions in economic supply and demand, and tightening financial conditions," the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) said in a communique after a meeting.

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ABUJA -- Nigeria received on Thursday the second batch of medical supplies from China to help the West African country combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

The donation was handed over at the Cargo Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in the capital of Abuja.

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BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, spoke over phone on Thursday night, reaffirming mutual support in the fight against COVID-19 and rejecting politicization of the pandemic.

As the coronavirus disease is spreading around the globe, Xi said, all countries are faced with the arduous task of tackling the epidemic.

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UNITED NATIONS -- UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock warned on Thursday that the world body will have to close 31 of its 41 aid programs in Yemen in a few weeks as a result of lack of funds.

"This means we will have to start eliminating many of the activities that may offer Yemenis' best chance to avoid COVID-19," Lowcock told the Security Council in a virtual briefing.

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NEW YORK -- The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 650,000 by 4 p.m. local time on Thursday (2000 GMT), according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The fresh figure reached 653,825 with 30,998 deaths, according to the CSSE.

New York state topped the charts of cases and deaths, which stood at 223,231 and 14,198, respectively. New Jersey reported 75,317 cases and 3,156 fatalities. Other states with over 20,000 cases included Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, and Louisiana.

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GABORONE -- The second consignment of medical supplies from Jack Ma Foundation to Botswana government arrived in Gaborone, the capital city on Thursday evening.

The consignment consists of 18,912 extraction kits, 18,900 swabs and viral transport medium, 10,320 N95 masks, 9,500 medical gloves, 3,800 face shields, 3,700 medical protective clothing, 36 thermometer guns and two ventilation machines.

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BERLIN -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday called for more global cooperation to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and voiced support for the World Health Organization (WHO).

Merkel told a video conference of leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) that the crisis can only be tackled with a strong and coordinated international response, according to a statement by the German Federal Government.

The German chancellor expressed her full support for the WHO, as well as numerous other partners, said the statement.

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BRASILIA -- The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazil rose from 28,320 to 30,425, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The death toll from the disease increased from 1,736 to 1,924, for a mortality rate of 6.3 percent, the ministry said.

Brazil's epicenter of the outbreak continues to be the southeast state of Sao Paulo (11,568), followed by the states of Rio de Janeiro (3,944), Ceara (2,386), Amazonas (1,719) and Pernambuco (1,683).

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TUNIS -- China donated a batch of medical aid to Tunisia's Ministry of National Defense on Thursday.

Chinese Ambassador to Tunisia Wang Wenbin and Tunisian Defense Minister Imed Hazgui signed a handover certificate for both sides.

The medical aid includes N95 masks, test kits and medical protective glasses.

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ANKARA, -- Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Thursday confirmed 4,801 new COVID-19 cases and 125 more deaths from the virus in Turkey.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 74,193, while the death toll surged to 1,643, Koca tweeted.

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ROME -- The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 22,170 lives in locked-down Italy, bringing the total number of cases, including fatalities and recoveries, so far to 168,941, according to the latest data released by the country's Civil Protection Department on Thursday.

Speaking during a televised press conference, Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli confirmed that there were 1,189 new active coronavirus infections compared to Wednesday, bringing the nationwide total to 106,607 cases.

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RIYADH -- Saudi Arabia announced Thursday a 500-million-U.S. dollar donation to relevant international organizations to support global efforts in combatting the COVID-19, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The donation would support emergency, preparedness response, and development and application of new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, the Saudi Arabia G20 Presidency said in a statement.

The donation would also fulfill unmet needs for international surveillance and coordination and ensure sufficient supplies of protective equipment for health workers.

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WASHINGTON -- A senior U.S. Federal Reserve official on Thursday urged large banks to raise capital to help economy weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Large banks are eager to be part of the solution to the coronavirus crisis. The most patriotic thing they could do today would be to stop paying dividends and raise equity capital, to ensure that they can endure a deep economic downturn," Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, wrote in the Financial Times.

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LONDON -- The British government announced on Thursday that the current restrictive measures that aim to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus will remain in place for "at least three weeks".

Asserting that relaxing lockdown measures would lead to a resurgence of the virus, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary and first secretary of state, told reporters that the government has decided relaxing the measures would make the economic impact worse, not better.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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