Global News SahilOnline, Leading news portal from Coastal Karnataka, bringing you latest updates from the Coast, State, Nation and the World, in Kannada, Urdu and English. Global News Amid LAC standoff, China and Pakistan discuss Kashmir, Afghanistan issues Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday held a telephonic conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on ways to step up bilateral ties and also exchanged views on the Kashmir issue and the situation in Afghanistan. First alerted to coronavirus by office, not China: WHO The World Health Organization has updated its account of the early stages of the COVID crisis to say it was alerted by its own office in China, and not by China itself, to the first pneumonia cases in Wuhan. WHO team to visit China next week to investigate origins of coronavirus Amid global concerns that China delayed giving information regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak, a team of WHO (World Health Organisation) will visit the country next week to investigate the origins of the virus and its spread to human beings. China under Xi stepped up 'aggressive' foreign policy towards India:Congressional commission report China under President Xi Jinping has stepped up its "aggressive" foreign policy toward India and "resisted" efforts to clarify the Line of Actual Control that prevented a lasting peace from being realised, according to a report released by a US Congress appointed commission. Rajnath Singh leaves for 3-day visit to Russia Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday left for a three-day visit to Russia during which he will hold talks with top Russian military brass and attend a grand military parade in Moscow to mark the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany in the Second World War. Conditions are rife for next pandemic unless urgent action is taken, warns WWF While the world continues to grapple with the devastating consequences of coronavirus, leading conservationist organisation WWF has called for urgent global action to address the key drivers which will cause future zoonotic disease outbreaks. Closely monitoring India-China situation, says US The United States is closely monitoring the situation following a fierce clash between Indian and Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh and hopes that the differences will be resolved peacefully, officials said here. India says 20 soldiers killed on disputed Himalayan border with China Twenty members of India’s armed forces have been killed in a “violent face-off” with Chinese soldiers on their disputed Himalayan border, raising tensions in the already volatile region. US reducing number of troops in Germany to 25K, confirms Trump Washington, Jun 16 (PTI) The United States will reduce its troop strength in Germany from the nearly 52,000 at present to 25,000, President Donald Trump has said here. In an interaction with reporters at the White House on Monday, Trump attributed the move to high costs and Germany being "delinquent" in its payment to NATO. "We have 52,000 soldiers in Germany. That's a tremendous amount of soldiers. It's a tremendous cost to the United States and Germany, as you know, is very delinquent in their payments to NATO. "They are paying one per cent and they're supposed to be a two per cent. And then two percent is very low. It should be much more than that. So they are delinquent of billions of dollars," Trump alleged. "So, we're putting the number down to 25,000 soldiers. We'll see what happens, but Germany has not been making payments. In addition to that, I was the one that brought it up. Everybody talks about Trump with Russia. Well, I brought this up a long time ago. Why is Germany paying Russia billions of dollars for energy and then we're supposed to protect Germany from Russia? How does that work? It doesn't work," the US president said. US soldiers, he said, are paid well. "They live in Germany. They spend vast amounts of money in Germany. Everywhere around those bases is very prosperous for Germany. So, Germany takes. And then on top of it, they treat us very badly on trade. We have trade with the EU, Germany being the biggest member, and very, very badly on trade and we are negotiating with them on that. But right now, I'm not satisfied with the deal they want to make," Trump said. "They've cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars over the years on trade," he said. The US protects them and then they take advantage of America on trade, the president said. "So we are working on a deal with them, but it's very unfair and I would say by far, the worst abuser is Germany," he said. COVID-19: China begins mass testing in Beijing as 67 new cases appear China has begun the mass testing of hundreds of people who had visited a Beijing wholesale market which sparked a fresh bout of coronavirus cases even as the country reported 67 new COVID-19 infections including 42 in the capital. Four killed, over 50 injured in oil tanker explosion in China Beijing, Jun 13 (PTI) Four people were killed and over 50 others injured when an oil tanker exploded on an expressway in East China's Zhejiang province on Saturday. The explosion damaged nearby residential houses and factory workshops in Tai Zhou city, local authorities said. According to the state-run China Daily, four people were killed and over 50 injured in the blast. Video posted online by the state-run CGTN TV showed debris of the exploded vehicle flying all around, causing extensive damage to the neighbouring residential units. Several cars and vehicles around the area also caught fire following the explosion. The accident occurred on the highway, leading to the closure of many entrances. Rescue work is underway. No announcement on withdrawal of troops from Germany: White House President Donald Trump is constantly reassessing the best posture for the American military forces and its presence overseas, the White House has said, while clarifying that there is no announcement to make on the withdrawal of US troops in Germany. Cloth masks will work only with social distancing: WHO Hyderabad: The World Health Organisation has said face masks made from cloth should not be used in places where people do not follow social distancing norms. The WHO said in settings where “physical distancing cannot be achieved” and “an increased risk of infection and/or negative outcomes” exists, then a medical mask should be preferred over a fabric one. The WHO said in an advisory that anyone who is above 60 years of age, or those with pre-existing health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung disease, cancer or other underlying co-morbidities, must wear only a medical mask for their own protection. With Telangana state said to be experiencing the community transmission phase – where anyone could be a Covid-19 carrier and spreader – the WHO’s guidance on using medical grade masks assumes importance. While masks made from cloth can be used for activities such as using public transport, their use should always be accompanied by frequent hand hygiene and physical distancing. The use of face masks has been a topic on which the WHO had been ambivalent since the outbreak of Covid-19. In its advice issued on Saturday, the WHO said that non medical masks which have lower filtering ability and increased breathability, and are made of woven fabrics such as cloth, can be used for “source control (used by infected persons) in community settings and not for prevention.” The state and central governments have been appealing to people to maintain a minimum of six feet of distance in a public setting. Following this condition strictly is required to prevent either catching the virus from those around them, or spreading it by asymptomatic individuals who have no clue that they have been infected and have turned into disease spreaders. Wearing of masks has been made mandatory for everyone in a public setting but it is not uncommon to see people not following these guidelines in the city and elsewhere in the state. The WHO advice comes at a time when state health department officials have been holding the general public partly responsible for the recent surge in Covid-19 cases because they are not following safety precautions. Some private hospitals have banned entry of people not wearing a triple layered medical mask. United States: Protests continue in New York City amid lingering tensions over curfew Demonstrations over the death of George Floyd continued in New York City on Saturday, with thousands taking to the streets and parks to protest police brutality as police pulled back on enforcing an 8 pm curfew that has led to confrontations over the past several days. Drug used to treat blood cancers might help reduce COVID-19 severity in patients: Study Scientists have observed that a drug which is already approved to treat several blood cancers, is associated with reduced respiratory distress and a reduction in the overactive immune response in COVID-19 patients, an advance that may lead to a potential therapeutic for novel coronavirus infection. 40 primary students, teachers stabbed in primary school in China About 40 students and staff of a primary school in China were injured when a security guard attacked them with a knife, official media reported on Thursday, the latest such incident of mass attack by disgruntled people in the country. Curfew imposed in NYC as protesters loot stores across Manhattan New York, Jun 2 (PTI) The authorities in the upscale New York City have imposed a curfew and ramped up police presence after violence and looting incidents were reported across the city amid widespread protests triggered by the custodial killing of African-American George Floyd. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio announced on Monday that the citywide curfew in New York City will begin at 11 PM on Monday and will be lifted at 5 AM Tuesday morning. They also announced that the New York City Police Department will double its presence, bringing nearly 8000 police personnel to help prevent violence and damage to property, in angry response to the killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old man who was pinned to the ground in Minneapolis last week by a white police officer who kneeled on his neck as he gasped for breath. The additional officers will be deployed in areas where violence broke out and property was damage during the previous night's protests - specifically in lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. Videos and photos posted on social media showed that while demonstrators protested peacefully around most areas in the city, there were several instances of looting as well. People were seen breaking into high end stores around Manhattan's Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue, home to almost all luxury and high-end brands from around the world, and running way with merchandise from the shops. Groups of people also looted pharmacies, electronic stores and other businesses across the city. Governor Cuomo said that the curfew was imposed is to help separate the overwhelming majority of peaceful protesters from "people who are looking to exploit the moment by looting". "New York City, they looted high end stores with high end merchandise. That wasn't a coincidence. There were people who knew what they were doing. If you wanted to commit a crime that was the time and night to do it, right?" he told CNN. Cuomo said while there are "extremist groups that just want to propose anarchy", the majority of the people are making a very valid point that discrimination and abuse by police should finally end. The governor said in a statement that while the state authorities encourage people to protest peacefully and make their voices heard, the safety of the general public was paramount and cannot be compromised. "I stand behind the protestors and their message, but unfortunately there are people who are looking to distract and discredit this moment. The violence and the looting has been bad for the city, the state and this entire national movement, undermining and distracting from this righteous cause," Cuomo said. He also criticised President Donald Trump for threatening to call in the military to end protests around the country. "What the president today did was he called out the American military against American citizens. That's what they did. They used the American military to push back a peaceful protest, which everyone watched on TV, just so he could have a photo-op of walking to a church. When was the last time you saw the American military called out against Americans?," he said. Trump, who was taken to an underground bunker in the White House on Friday as protesters gathered outside the presidential residence, on Monday ventured outside the White House grounds to pose for photographs at a nearby church. Before Trump came out of the White House, riot police and National Guard troops used tear gas and flash grenades to disperse a peaceful protest in a nearby park. Mayor Blasio said he supported peaceful protest in the city. The mayor said while demonstrations have been generally peaceful, "we can't let violence undermine the message of this moment. It is too important and the message must be heard". He said there had been incidents over the past few days, as the protests intensified, where police officers did not uphold the values of New York City or of the Police Department. "We agree on the need for swift action," he said, adding that it will be ensured that such officers are held accountable. Considered to be the worst ever civil unrest in the US in decades, the violent protests have engulfed at least 140 cities across America in the days following the death of Floyd. Trump: US coronavirus deaths could reach 70,000 President Donald Trump is projecting that coronavirus deaths in the United States could reach 70,000, but says original projections were much higher as he explained why voters should consider re-electing him in November. Extremists taking advantage of global COVID-19 lockdowns to recruit youths online: UN chief UN chief Antonio Guterres has warned that extremist groups are taking advantage of the COVID-19 lockdowns and intensifying efforts on social media to recruit youths online by exploiting their anger and despair, asserting that the world cannot afford a lost generation due to the unprecedented global health crisis. Coronavirus: China declares Wuhan low-risk area China has classified the coronavirus epicentre Wuhan as a low-risk area, days after it revised the city's death toll by 50 per cent, even as 16 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the country, health officials said on Sunday. 12 Indians among 14 new coronavirus cases in Nepal Twelve Indians are among the 14 new coronavirus cases reported in Nepal on Friday, nearly doubling the number of infected persons in the country. US will end its grant to Wuhan lab: Trump intensifies COVID-19 war on China The US is looking into reports that the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 150,000 people globally, "escaped" from a virology laboratory in China's Wuhan city, President Donald Trump has said. 2,569 new deaths in 24 hours bring US coronavirus toll past 28,000 The United States on Wednesday posted nearly 2,600 additional deaths from COVID-19 in 24 hours, a new record and the heaviest daily toll of any country, Johns Hopkins University said. WHO welcomes joint efforts with India to fight COVID-19 WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has welcomed the world health body's cooperation with India to leverage strategies that helped the country win its war against polio into the response to COVID-19 outbreak, saying such joint efforts will help defeat the pandemic. US has 'passed the peak' on new coronavirus cases, says Trump The US has "passed the peak" on new coronavirus cases, President Donald Trump has said and predicted that some states would reopen this month. New disinfection robot to aid cleaners in COVID-19 fight Scientists have developed a semi-autonomous robot that can disinfect large surfaces quickly, and reduce the risk of cleaners picking up the novel coronavirus from potentially contaminated areas. Trump names six Indian-Americans to Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups President Donald Trump has named six Indian-American corporate leaders, including Sunder Pichai from Google and Satya Nadella from Microsoft, to his Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups formed to revive the US economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Spain death toll tops 2,000 after 462 deaths in 24 hours: govt Madrid, Mar 23 (AFP) The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged to 2,182 after 462 people died within 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday. The death rate showed a 27-per cent increase on the figures released a day earlier, with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rising to 33,089 in Spain, one of the worst-hit countries in the world after China and Italy. Despite an unprecedented national lockdown which was put in place on March 14, the number of deaths and infections have spiralled in Spain, with the figures growing as the country steps up its capacity for testing. And the lockdown, which was initially put in place for two weeks, will be extended until April 11 to try to curb the spread, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said -- in a measure which will be put to parliament on Tuesday. The rise in infections in this country of 46 million people has brought Spain's healthcare system to the brink of collapse, particularly in Madrid, the worst-hit area, which has registered 10,575 cases, and where 1,263 people have died -- accounting for 58 per cent of the national death toll. Some 3,910 healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus, or around 12 percent of those infected, the health ministry's emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon said. Officials have repeatedly warned that the number of deaths and infections would continue to rise this week and that the worst was yet to come. "We have yet to see the impact of the strongest, most damaging wave, which will test our material and moral capacities to the limit, as well as our spirit as a society," Sanchez said on Sunday. In terms of people who have recovered, government figures show there are currently 3,355 cases, just over 60 percent of whom are in Madrid. 29 Indians return from Dubai via Pakistan Attari (Amritsar): At least 29 Indians, who had gone to Dubai to watch a cricket match which was called off later, on Wednesday night returned to India through the land transit route of Attari-Wagah border here. Earlier, when they entered India after being cleared by the Pakistan Immigration Authority, they were detained at Attari border, as they were not having requisite permission on their passport to return to India through Pakistan. According to officials, they had earlier flown to Dubai from New Delhi to watch a Pakistan League Cricket match there. The match, however, was aborted and they decided to return India via Pakistan. They took a flight to Pakistan and after landing there, they took land route to reach Attari-Wagah border. All were cleared by Indian immigration authority after being allowed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Amritsar Civil Surgeon Dr Prabdeep Kaur Johal said that by 9.30 PM all the Indian nationals were not handed over to the medical team for checkup. She said if anyone of them are found with any symptoms of the virus, they would be admitted to Amritsar Government Hospital or else they would be allowed to continue their journey to Delhi or elsewhere. More than 850 million students worldwide not at school because of coronavirus pandemic: UNESCO PARIS: More than 850 million young people, or about half the world's student population, are barred from their school and university grounds because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, UNESCO said Wednesday. Calling it an "unprecedented challenge," UNESCO said schools had been closed in 102 countries, with partial closures in 11 more -- with more closures to come. "Over 850 million children and youth -- roughly half of the world's student population -- had to stay away from schools and universities," the UN educational organisation said in a statement. "This represents more than a doubling in four days in the number of learners prohibited from going to educational institutions," it added, citing figures from late Tuesday. "The scale and speed of the school and university closures represents an unprecedented challenge for the education sector," it said. UNESCO said countries worldwide were rushing to fill the void by offering real-time video classes and other high-tech solutions. Some countries were offering classes over television or radio. The organisation said it was holding regular virtual meetings with education ministers around the world to find the best solutions and determine priorities. "The current situation imposes immense challenges for countries to be able to provide uninterrupted learning for all children and youth in an equitable manner," it said. MEA confirms 255 Indians test positive for COVID-19 in Iran New Delhi [India], Mar 18 (ANI): As many as 255 Indians in Iran have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Ministry of External Affairs said on Wednesday. "Other than Iran, 12 Indians have also tested positive in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), five in Italy and one each in Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Kuwait and Hong Kong," V Muraleedharan, Minister of State in the MEA told the Lok Sabha in a written reply. Muraleedharan also noted that India had "Provided 15 tonnes of medical assistance including one lakh masks, one lakh surgical masks, five lakh pairs of surgical gloves, 75 pieces of infusion pumps, 30 pieces of enteral feeding pumps, 21 pieces of Defibrillator, 4, 000 pieces of N-95 masks to China." "These supplies were delivered by an Indian Air Force C-17 special flight which landed in Wuhan, China. This assistance was provided as a mark of friendship," he added.  Trump becomes Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee Washington, Mar 18 (PTI) US President Donald Trump has become the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee after his home state of Florida awarded him with enough numbers to cross the pledged delegate threshold. As per the national delegate count, Trump on Tuesday had 1,330 pledged delegates in his kitty. A Republican presidential aspirant needs 1,276 of the total 2,550 pledged delegates. A formal nomination would be announced at the Republican National Convention in August. Trump's campaign in a statement said that the primary in his home state of Florida put him above the delegate threshold to become the presumed 2020 Republican nominee for president. The primary season saw him shatter records for vote totals and vote percentages. With Florida's 122 delegates awarded to the President, he has 1,330 delegates, above the 1,276 needed to win the nomination. The Republican Party is more unified and energized than ever before and it's because of President Trump's leadership and clear record of accomplishment on behalf of all Americans, said Brad Parscale, Trump's 2020 campaign manager. As his response to the coronavirus has shown, and as the broad and strong economy demonstrates, the President wakes up every day putting America first in every decision he makes. And voters have responded, he said. Counting vote totals from states which have held primary contests so far, Trump has earned at least four million votes more than the previous record for total votes cast for an incumbent president in those same states, held by former President Bill Clinton in his 1996 re-election campaign. Trump also set vote total records in several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington, which have had primary contests so far in 2020. For example, Trump won 18,89,006 votes in Texas, easily crossing total votes for recent previous presidents running for re-election: Barack Obama (520,410), George W. Bush (635,948) and Bill Clinton (796,041). In Michigan, Trump received 6,39,143 votes, compared to 1,74,054 for Obama and 2,65,425 for Clinton (In 2004, there was no Republican Preference Primary election in Michigan). "Nobody motivates our base more than President Trump, as evidenced by the historic turnout we've seen in state after state this primary season," said GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. "Fueled by both our longtime supporters and the thousands of new voters that continue to join our movement, we are united and enthusiasm is on our side. We have the strongest record of success, an unparalleled grassroots infrastructure and are thrilled to have President Trump as our party's presumptive nominee once again," McDaniel said. Policy action needed for a healthy global economy: IMF Washington DC [USA]:  While quarantining and social distancing is the right prescription to combat COVID-19's public health impact, the exact opposite is needed when it comes to securing the global economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said. Constant contact and close coordination are the best medicine to ensure that the economic pain inflicted by the virus is relatively short-lived. Many governments have already taken significant steps, with major measures being announced on a daily basis -- including the recent bold, coordinated moves on monetary policy. "But clearly, even more needs to be done. As the virus spreads, increased coordinated action will be key to boosting confidence and providing stability to the global economy," said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. Additional fiscal stimulus will be necessary to prevent long-lasting economic damage. "Governments should continue and expand these efforts to reach the most-affected people and businesses -- with policies including increased paid sick leave and targeted tax relief," she wrote in a blogpost on Monday (local time). Beyond these positive individual country actions, as the virus spreads, the case for a coordinated and synchronised global fiscal stimulus is becoming stronger by the hour. In advanced economies, central banks should continue to support demand and boost confidence by easing financial conditions and ensuring the flow of credit to the real economy. For example, the US Federal Reserve just announced further interest rate cuts, asset purchases, forward guidance and a drop in reserve requirements. Going forward, said Georgieva, there may be a need for swap lines to emerging market economies. So central banks' policy action in emerging-market and developing economies will need to balance the especially difficult challenge of addressing capital flow reversals and commodity shocks. In times of crisis such as at present, foreign exchange interventions and capital flow management measures can usefully complement interest rate and other monetary policy actions. Besides, financial system supervisors should aim to maintain the balance between preserving financial stability, maintaining banking system soundness and sustaining economic activity. This crisis will stress test whether the changes made in the wake of the financial crisis will serve their purpose, said Georgieva. Banks should be encouraged to use flexibility in existing regulations, for example by using their capital and liquidity buffers, and undertake renegotiation of loan terms for stressed borrowers. Risk disclosure and clear communication of supervisory expectations will also be essential for markets to function properly in the period ahead. Georgieva said the IMF stands ready to mobilise its one trillion dollar lending capacity to help its membership. As a first line of defence, the fund can deploy its flexible and rapid-disbursing emergency response toolkit to help countries with urgent balance-of-payment needs. These instruments can provide in the order of 50 billion dollars to emerging and developing economies. Up to 10 billion dollars can be made available to our low-income members through our concessional financing facilities, which carry zero interest rates. Iran reports 129 new virus deaths, taking total to 853 Tehran, Mar 16 (AFP) Iran said on Monday that the novel coronavirus had killed 129 more people, a new record high for a single day in one of the world's worst-hit countries. "Our plea is that everyone take this virus seriously and in no way attempt to travel to any province," health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised news conference. The latest deaths bring the overall toll to 853 fatalities since February 19, when the government announced Iran's first two deaths from the COVID-19 disease. Jahanpour also reported 1,053 confirmed new cases of infection in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 14,991. Tehran province had the highest number of new infections with 200 cases, about 50 fewer than the day before. The central province of Isfahan followed with 118 cases, with Mazandaran in the north of Iran coming next with 96. Khorasan Razavi province, home to the holy Shiite city of Mashhad, was not among the reported provinces with fresh cases. It had recorded 143 the day before. "If we judge cautiously, it seems that the overall efforts by the people and interventions by the health system... are slowly showing their effects in Qom and Gilan," Jahanpour said. The holy city of Qom in central Iran, where the virus was first reported, had 19 new cases that took the total to 1,023. And confirmed infections in Gilan reached 858, with 18 new ones. The northern region is a popular tourist spot and among the worst-hit of Iran's 31 provinces. Coronavirus: China reports 13 new deaths, imported cases rise Beijing, Mar 14 (PTI) China reported 13 new coronavirus deaths, taking the toll due to the disease to 3,189, while the confirmed cases climbed to 80,824 with 11 more infections, as the country witnessed a rise in imported cases, health officials said on Saturday. Seven imported cases were reported on the mainland on Friday, taking the total to 95, National Health Commission (NHC) said. Eleven new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus infection and 13 deaths were reported on the Chinese mainland on Friday, NHC said, adding all of the deaths were in the Hubei Province, the epicentre of the disease. The overall confirmed cases on the mainland had reached 80,824 by the end of Friday. This included 3,189 people who died of the disease, 12,094 patients still undergoing treatment and 65,541 others who were discharged from hospitals after recovery. By the end of Friday, 137 confirmed cases including four deaths had been reported in Hong Kong, 10 confirmed cases in the Macao and 50 in Taiwan including one death, officials said. Meanwhile, Ministry of Education announced that though the COVID-19 is slowing down, schools won't resume until local authorities put the virus outbreak under control and roll out necessary containment measures. Wang Dengfeng, director of the ministry's working group on epidemic control, said local authorities shall consult experts before reopening schools and safety of the faculty members should be ensured. Resumption would be prioritised for the graduating classes in middle and high school, as they were supposed to sit for the high school or college entrance examination in about 80 days, he was quoted as saying by China Central Television. Wang said that the ministry is seeking advice from related departments as well as representatives of students and parents on whether to postpone the college entrance exams and the decisions will be made soon. Local authorities are entitled to decide whether to postpone the exam for high school candidates, state-run China Daily reported on Saturday. Canada PM's wife positive for new coronavirus Ottawa:  Justin Trudeau's wife has tested positive for novel coronavirus, his office has said, while assuring the public that the Canadian prime minister is fine. Canada's leader and his 44-year-old wife announced on Thursday that they were self-isolating while she was tested for coronavirus after a public event. "Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau was tested for COVID-19 today. The test came back positive," the Prime Minister's office said in a statement late Thursday, adding she would remain in isolation and her symptoms were mild. "The Prime Minister is in good health with no symptoms," the statement said, noting he would also be in isolation for two weeks and -- on the advice of his doctors -- will not be tested for the virus. It follows several provinces in Canada -- which so far has reported nearly 150 cases in six states, and one death -- unveiling stricter measures to combat the spread of the virus while sporting events and entertainment galas were cancelled. The PM would continue his duties, his office said, and would address the country on Saturday. Trudeau, 48, held several meetings over the phone on Thursday, including with the special cabinet committee on COVID-19, his office said, and also spoke with the leaders of Italy, the US and Britain. On Friday he will talk with indigenous leaders, as well as provincial and territorial premiers to coordinate Canada's response to the virus, and "limit the economic impact on the country". After experiencing some mild symptoms following her return from the UK, according to an earlier statement, Gregoire-Trudeau immediately sought medical advice and testing. "Although I'm experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of the virus, I will be back on my feet soon," she said in a message via the PM's Office. "Being in quarantine at home is nothing compared to other Canadian families who might be going through this and for those facing more serious health concerns." Since the novel coronavirus first emerged in late December 2019, more than 130,000 cases have been recorded in 116 countries and territories, killing at least 4,900 people, according to an AFP tally. Most of Canada's cases have been traced to China, Iran, Italy or Egypt, but seven people who recently returned from the US also tested positive, public health authorities said. In Parliament, Health Minister Patty Hajdu urged Canadians to "reconsider going to areas where there are a large number of people, which might include places like churches, community centres, concerts and various sporting events." Quebec's Premier Francois Legault unveiled the strongest emergency measures yet in Canada, asking all travelers returning from overseas trips or anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms to self-isolate for two weeks. A ban on indoor gatherings of more than 250 people was also announced, with Montreal's Saint Patrick's Day parade -- held since 1824 -- postponed. Alberta and British Columbia announced bans on large gatherings too. Quebec, which has 13 confirmed cases of the virus, is also considering placing the entire island of Montreal -- a population of nearly 2 million -- under quarantine. In neighbouring Ontario, public health officials announced the public schools would be shut until April 5. The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television cancelled this year's Canadian Screen Awards -- scheduled to air on March 29 -- and the country's Juno music awards, planned for Sunday, were also scrapped. Coronavirus cases in Italy jump to over 8,500, death toll at 631 Rome [Italy], Mar 11 (ANI): Italy on Tuesday confirmed that 8,514 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 631 have died since the epidemic first emerged in the country's northern region last month. In addition, a total of 1,004 patients have recovered, said Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli, who is also the national commissioner in charge of the coronavirus emergency, according to Xinhua news agency. Borrelli said that among the deceased, a few were aged between 50-59 years, 8 per cent were aged 60-69, 32 per cent were 70-79, 45 per cent were 80-89 and 14 per cent were over 90. Of the positive cases, 5,038 are hospitalised with symptoms, 877 are in intensive care, and 2,599 are quarantined at home, Borrelli said. The whole of Italy - a country of some 60 million people - was placed under quarantine as the government stepped up efforts to tackle the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 10,000 people. All sporting events, schools, and universities have been cancelled. Places of public gathering such as cinemas, theatres, and nightclubs remain closed. Religious ceremonies including funerals and weddings will also be postponed. Globally, more than 4,000 people have died from the coronavirus and over 113,000 cases have been confirmed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). About 64,000 people have recovered around the world, Al Jazeera reported. Air Canada, the country's flag carrier, has halted all flights to and from Italy over the coronavirus outbreak, until at least May 1. The airline's last flight to Rome is scheduled to take off from Toronto on Tuesday, with the final return flight departing Rome for Montreal on Wednesday. All affected customers will be notified and offered a full refund, it said. Air Canada said regulations and "ongoing health and safety concerns" prompted the decision. In a similar move, Hungary's Wizz Air has also suspended all flights to and from Italian airports from March 10 until April 3 Spain decided to cancel all direct flights from Italy for two weeks in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, according to the government's official gazette. The measure will take effect from March 11 at midnight and continue until midnight of March 25, the gazette said. Austria and Kazakhstan has further denied entry to people arriving from Italy in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.  IAF plane with 58 Indian pilgrims from Iran lands at Hindon airbase New Delhi [India], Mar 10 (ANI): The first batch of 58 pilgrims who had been stuck in Iran, one of the worst coronavirus-affected nation, arrived at the Hindon Air Force Station in Ghaziabad on Tuesday morning. "First batch of 58 Indian pilgrims being brought back from #Iran. IAF C-17 taken off from Tehran and expected to land soon in Hindon," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar informed a little while ago. The Minister lauded the efforts of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian mebassy in Tehran as well as those of Iranian authorities in evacuating the Indian pilgrims. "Thanks to the efforts of our Embassy @India_in_Iran and Indian medical team there, operating under challenging conditions. Thank you @IAF_MCC. Appreciate cooperation of Iranian authorities," Jaishankar added. IAF's C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft had departed for Iran on Monday from Hindon Air Force Station here to bring back Indian nationals stuck in Iran. Iran is among the countries most affected by the novel coronavirus. The country has reported 7,161 cases of the disease so far while 237 people have died of the infection -- the highest outside of China. The IAF aircraft had earlier been sent to the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan with about 15 tonnes of medical equipment and had brought back 76 Indians and 36 foreign nationals. The External Affairs Minister had informed on Monday that the screening process of Indian nationals stranded in Iran has started and follow up arrangements were being discussed with Iranian authorities to bring them back. "We are working on the return of other Indians stranded there," the dignitary also said in his twitter thread today. Earlier in the day today, Jaishankar met families of Indian students stranded in Iran and assured them that the Centre has been facilitating their early return to India. Around 40 Indian citizens are stranded at Qom city in Iran. New Delhi has sent a team of doctors to Iran for screening and has established a clinic at Qom. Iranian Embassy here has also assured that the Indian citizens with no symptoms of the virus will be transferred to India and those whose medical test results are positive will be hospitalised in one of the advanced special medical centres designated by Iran's Ministry of Health. Kuwait suspends flights with 7 countries over coronavirus concerns Kuwait has decided to suspend all flights with seven countries for a week as part of the precautions against the spread of novel coronavirus, the Kuwaiti government said Saturday. The seven countries are Bangladesh, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. China's coronavirus death toll touches 3,042; confirmed cases rise to 80,552 The death toll in China's novel coronavirus outbreak has touched 3,042 with 30 new fatalities while the confirmed cases have risen to 80,552 amid signs that the dreaded COVID-19 was stabilising, including in the epicentre Hubei province. Iran says 92 dead amid 2,922 cases of the new coronavirus Tehran, Mar 4 (AP) Iran says the new coronavirus has killed 92 people amid 2,922 confirmed cases across the Islamic Republic. Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour announced the new figures at a news conference Wednesday in Tehran. There are now over 3,140 cases of the new virus across the Mideast. Of those outside Iran in the region, most link back to the Islamic Republic. The virus has sickened top leaders inside Iran's civilian government and Shiite theocracy. Iran stands alone in how the virus has affected its government, even compared to hard-hit China, the epicenter of the outbreak. Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 90,000 people and caused over 3,100 deaths. Experts worry Iran may be underreporting the number of cases it has. Erdogan threatens Europe with 'millions' of migrants Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Monday that "millions" of migrants would soon head for Europe, drawing accusations from EU leaders that he is trying to pressure them into backing his incursions into Syria. Muhyiddin Yassin sworn in as Malaysia's new Prime Minister Malaysia's former deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Sunday took the oath of office as the country's eighth premier. China coronavirus: Death toll climbs to over 2,700 amidst signs of slowdown  The death toll in China's novel coronavirus epidemic on Wednesday climbed to 2,715 with 52 new fatalities while the confirmed cases rose to 78,064, amidst strong signs of COVID-19 slowing down even at its epicentre Hubei province. US President Donald Trump describes Kashmir as 'big problem' in India visit US President Donald Trump on Tuesday described the Kashmir issue as a "big problem" and a "thorn" for a long time, and offered to mediate in de-escalating tensions between India and Pakistan. Trump's visit has opened a new chapter in India-US ties: President Kovind The visit of US President Donald Trump to India has opened a new chapter of 'deep and abiding' ties between the two countries, President Ram Nath Kovind said in his remarks at the banquet hosted in the honour of the visiting dignitary on Tuesday. Anything I can do to mediate, I'll do: Trump on Kashmir issue United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday said if there is anything he can do to help resolve the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan, he is ready to do it. India, US have finalised defence deals worth $3 billion: US President Donald Trump India and the United States (US) on Tuesday finalised defence deals worth $3 billion, and signed three memoranda of understanding (MoU), including one in energy sector, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that the two countries have decided to take Indo-US ties to comprehensive global partnership level. Prez Trump visits Taj Mahal, says America loves India US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Monday evening visited the iconic Taj Mahal as they marvelled at the famed 17th century Mughal-era mausoleum built as a monument of love. 'No one cares': Locked-in Wuhan residents adapt to find food The lockdown of Guo Jing's neighbourhood in Wuhan -- the city at the heart of China's new coronavirus epidemic -- came suddenly and without warning. Turmoil in Malaysia as PM Mahathir submits resignation Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, at 94 the world's oldest leader, submitted his resignation to the king Monday after a bid by his allies to bring down the government and block the succession of leader-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim. PM Modi hugs Trump as he lands in India on first visit  U.S. president Donald Trump landed straight into the arms of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi at the Ahmedabad airport to begin his state visit to India today. China coronavirus toll rises to 2,345 The overall death toll in mainland China due to the deadly coronavirus has increased to 2,345, while the number of confirmed cases reached 76,288, health authorities said on Saturday. Opening of Kartarpur Corridor practical proof of Pakistan's desire for peace, says UN chief UN chief Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor is a practical example of Pakistan's desire for peace and inter-faith harmony, as he visited the revered Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev. Death toll from China coronavirus jumps to 1,770 The death toll from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 1,770 after 105 more people died, the National Health Commission said Monday. Erdogan raises Kashmir in Pak Parliament, says issue close to both countries Islamabad, Feb 14 (PTI) Notwithstanding India's objection, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday once again raked up the Kashmir issue, vowing that Ankara will support Pakistan's stand as it is a matter of concern to both the countries. Addressing a joint session of Pakistan's Parliament, Erdogan, who arrived here on a two-day visit, announced that Turkey will back Pakistan in its efforts to come out of the Grey List of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which is meeting this week in Paris. "I also want to emphasise that we will give support to Pakistan which is subject to political pressure in the Financial Action Task Force meetings," he said on the upcoming meeting of the anti-terror financing watchdog. Voicing his country's support to Pakistan's stand on the Kashmir issue, he said it can be resolved not through conflict or oppression but on the basis of justice and fairness. "Our Kashmiri brothers and sisters have suffered from inconveniences for decades and these sufferings have become graver due to unilateral steps taken in recent times," Erdogan said, apparently referring to India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August last year. "Today, the issue of Kashmir is as close to us as it is to you (Pakistanis). "Such a solution (on the basis of justice and fairness) will serve the interests of all parties concerned. Turkey will continue to stand by justice, peace and dialogue in the resolution of the Kashmir issue," the president said. The Turkish President, in his address, likened the "struggle" of the Kashmiris with that of his country in the World War I against foreign domination. Drawing comparison with the battle of Gallipoli which was fought in Turkey between the Allied Powers and the Ottoman Empire in which over two lakh troops were killed on the both sides, Erdogan said "there is no difference between Gallipoli and Kashmir". "Turkey will continue to raise its voice against the oppression," he told Pakistani lawmakers in his address to the National Assembly and Senate, which was his record fourth address to the Pakistani Parliament over the years. In September last year, Erdogan raised the Kashmir issue during his address at the United Nations General Assembly. Reacting to his remarks in the UN, India said it "deeply regrets" the statement of Turkey on the Kashmir issue, and termed it an internal matter. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar called upon Turkey to have a proper understanding of the situation in Kashmir before making further comments. India revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5. Reacting to India's move, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner. India has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and ruled out any third party mediation, including either from the UN or the US, saying it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan. Virus death toll in Hubei surges by 242 in one day: Govt Beijing:The number of fatalities and new cases from China's coronavirus outbreak soared on Thursday, with 242 more deaths and nearly 15,000 extra patients in hard-hit Hubei province as authorities changed their threshold for diagnosis. At least 1,355 people have now died nationwide and nearly 60,000 have been infected after Hubei's health commission reported the new numbers. In its daily update, Hubei's health commission confirmed another 14,840 new cases in the central province, where the outbreak emerged in December. The huge jump came as local officials said they were changing the way they diagnose COVID-19 cases. In a statement, the Hubei health commission said it would now include cases that were "clinically diagnosed" in its official toll. This means lung imaging on suspected cases can be considered sufficient to diagnose the virus, rather than the standard nucleic acid tests. Of the dramatic jump in figures Thursday, it said the new classification accounted for 13,332 of the cases and just over half the new death toll. Hubei health commission said the change would mean patients could get treatment "as early as possible" and be "consistent" with the classification used in other provinces. It said it had made the change "as our understanding of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus deepens, and as we accumulate experience in diagnosis and treatment". Death toll rises to 1,113 in China coronavirus; confirmed cases jump to over 44,000 The death toll in China's novel coronavirus outbreak has gone up to 1,113 with 97 new fatalities reported mostly in the worst-affected Hubei province while the confirmed cases of infection jumped to 44,653, health officials said on Wednesday. Pak court sentences Hafiz Saeed to 11 years in jail in terror financing cases Lahore: Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed was on Wednesday sentenced to 11 years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan in two terror financing cases. Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty on, was arrested on July 17 in the terror financing cases. He is lodged at the Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail in high security. A court official confirmed to PTI that Saeed was sentenced in two terror financing cases registered against him in Lahore and Gujranwala cities on the application of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police. The court sentenced Saeed to five and a half years and imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 in each case. The sentences of both cases will run concurrently. The anti-terrorism court or ATC had indicted Saeed and his close aides on December 11 in the terror financing cases. On last Saturday, Lahore ATC judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta deferred the verdict against Saeed in two terror financing cases till February 11. In the two cases, the prosecution produced some 20 or so witnesses in the ATC who testified against Saeed and his close aides for their involvement in terror financing. Saeed pleaded "not guilty" in both the cases. The Counter Terrorism Department had registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of terror financing in different cities of Punjab province. The cases were registered against Saeed and others in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan for collection of funds for terrorism financing through assets/properties made and held in the names of Trusts/Non Profit Organisations including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, etc. According to the CTD, investigation launched into financing matters of proscribed organisations - JuD and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) - in connection with implementation of UN Sanctions against these Designated Entities and Persons as directed by NSC (National Security Committee) in its meeting of January 1, 2019 chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan for implementing the National Action Plan. "These suspects made assets from funds of terrorism financing. They held and used these assets to raise more funds for further terrorism financing. Hence, they committed multiple offences of terrorism financing and money laundering under Anti Terrorism Act 1997. They will be prosecuted in ATCs (Anti Terrorism Courts) for commission of these offences," the CTD said. The crackdown on Saeed's outfit last year followed a warning by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force to Pakistan to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing and money laundering. Saeed-led JuD is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans. The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice. He was listed under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008. Nepal prepares to evacuate its citizens from virus-hit Wuhan city in China Nepal is preparing to bring back its 180 nationals struck in China's Wuhan city, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus that has killed over 1,000 people, officials said here. Coronavirus death toll in China crosses 1,000 The death toll in China due to the novel coronavirus epidemic has crossed 1,000, while the confirmed cases have gone over 42,000, health officials announced on Tuesday. About 60 more coronavirus cases on Japan cruise ship: Media report Around 60 more people aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, national broadcaster NHK said Monday, bringing the total number of infected to about 130. Coronavirus death toll rises to 908 in China The death toll in China due to novel coronavirus epidemic has gone up to 908 and the number of confirmed cases rose over 40,000, Chinese health officials said on Monday. Coronavirus: death toll in China soars to 722 The number of deaths from China’s new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 722 on Saturday, surpassing the toll from the SARS outbreak on the mainland and Hong Kong almost two decades ago. Coronavirus: Death toll rises to 636 in China The death toll due to the fast-spreading novel coronavirus outbreak in China has increased to 636, authorities said on Friday, while the number of confirmed cases also rose to 31,161. 3 dead after Turkish plane skids off runway, splits into pieces I​​​​​​​stanbul: Three people have died and 179 were injured when a plane skidded off the runway at an Istanbul airport, caught fire and split into three after landing in rough weather. Live images broadcast on Turkish television showed several people climbing through a large crack in the severed aircraft and escaping onto one of the wings at the rear. The Boeing 737 operated by Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines had flown into Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport from the Aegean port city of Izmir on Wednesday, NTV television reported. The plane was apparently buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain lashing Istanbul, Turkey's largest city. Three Turks were killed and 179 injured, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters. "Some passengers evacuated the plane by themselves but others are stuck inside and our rescuers are working to free them," Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said on CNN-Turk television. The plane was carrying 177 passengers and six crew members, state news agency Anadolu said, revising the previous total given by Turkish authorities. Turkish media reports said there were 12 children on board. Istanbul governor Ali Yerlikaya said the plane "slid some 60 metres (200 feet)" after skidding off the runway, and then "fell about 30-40 metres" down a bank. The accident, which he attributed to bad weather, "could have had more serious consequences", he said. NTV showed images of the badly damaged plane and flames inside, which were later put out by firefighters. After darkness fell, television footage showed dozens of rescue workers in high-visibility jackets surrounding the plane with flashlights. Baby tests positive for coronavirus just 30 hours after birth BEIJING: A baby in China's epidemic-hit Wuhan city has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus just 30 hours after being born, Chinese state media reported Wednesday. The infant is the youngest person recorded as being infected by the virus, which has killed nearly 500 people since emerging late last year. CCTV quoted experts as saying it may be a case of "vertical transmission", referring to infections passed from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or immediately after. The mother had tested positive for the virus before she gave birth. The official Xinhua news agency reported Monday that a baby born last week to an infected mother had tested negative. The disease is believed to have emerged in December in a Wuhan market that sold wild animals and spread rapidly as people travelled for the Lunar New Year holiday in January. China's national health commission said on Tuesday that the oldest person diagnosed with the virus is a 90-year-old, and that 80 per cent of reported deaths have been of patients 60 years of age and older. Coronavirus deaths touch 490, Japan records 10 cases on ship Deaths from a new virus rose to 490 in mainland China on Wednesday while new cases on a Japanese cruise ship, in Hong Kong and in other places showed the increasing spread of the outbreak and renewed attention toward containing it. Ten people from the cruise ship tested positive and were taken to hospitals, while all 3,700 crew and passengers on the ship will be quarantined on board for up to 14 days, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said. More tests are pending. In Hong Kong, hospitals workers are striking to demand the border with mainland China be shut completely to ward off the virus, but four new cases without known travel to the mainland indicate the illness is spreading locally in the territory. The growing caseload “indicates significant risk of community transmission” and could portend a “large-scale” outbreak, said Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch at the Center for Health Protection. Hospitals in Hong Kong said they had to cut some services due to striking workers’ absences. More than 7,000 joined the strike Tuesday, according to the Hospital Authority Employees’ Alliance, the strike organizer. The territory’s beleaguered leader, Carrie Lam, criticized the strike and said the government was doing all it could to limit the flow of people across the border. Almost all land and sea links have been closed, but the striking workers want it shut completely. “Important services, critical operations have been affected,” Lam told reporters. “So I’m appealing to those who are taking part in this action: Let’s put the interests of the patients and the entire public health system above all other things.” With the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan, cut off by rail, air and road to try to contain the virus, the U.S. and other countries were organizing more evacuation flights for their citizens still in the central Chinese city. The latest mainland China figures showed an increase of 65 deaths from the previous day, all the new deaths from Wuhan. The number of new cases increased to 24,324, a rise of 3,887 from the previous day. Outside mainland China, at least 180 cases have been confirmed, including two fatalities, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines. To treat the thousands of patients, China rushed to build hospitals and converted a gymnasium, exhibition hall and cultural center in Wuhan. Patients were being moved into a new, 1,000-bed hospital with prefabricated wards and isolation rooms. A 1,500-bed hospital also specially built opens in days. The hospitals made from converted public spaces to treat patients with mild symptoms have a total of 3,400 beds, the simple cots placed in tight rows in cavernous rooms without any barriers between them. One man, Fang Bin, said he saw wards so crowded during a visit to the city’s No. 5 Hospital on Saturday that some patients were forced to sit on the ground. “There are too many patients, it’s overcrowded,” Fang told The Associated Press. He said he was taken from his home and questioned by police after he posted a video of what he saw online. The 10 cases confirmed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship raised Japan’s total to 33 cases. The 10 are a Filipino crew member and nine passengers, two Australians, three Japanese, three Hong Kongers and an American. They were among 273 people tested because they had a cough or fever, which are symptoms of the virus, or had close contact with a man who got off the ship in Hong Kong and was infected. Some tests are still pending. The transmission to each person isn’t clear, and the others may have gotten the virus when they got off the ship at other port calls in Vietnam, Taiwan, Kagoshima and Okinawa. The ship returned to Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday. Thailand confirmed six more cases Tuesday, raising its total to 25. Two are motorcycle taxi drivers who had driven for Chinese tourists. Earlier a Thai taxi driver was also diagnosed with the virus. The cases are concerning because they suggest the virus can spread more easily between people than has been suspected. South Korea raised its total to 18, with the new cases raising concern about the illness spreading from countries other than China. South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a man who attended a business conference in Singapore met a Malaysian there who had the virus. Another case confirmed Wednesday was the daughter of a woman who got sick after traveling in Thailand. Dr. David Heymann, who led the World Health Organization’s response to the SARS outbreak, said it’s too early to tell when the new coronavirus will peak, but that it appears to still be on the increase. He said the spike in China’s recent caseload is partly because the tally was expanded to milder cases, not only people with pneumonia. It is not yet considered a pandemic, or worldwide outbreak, which WHO defines as sustained transmission in at least two world regions. Heymann said as the new virus starts to spread beyond China, scientists will gain a better understanding of it. “What we will see is the clearer natural history of the disease,” he said, as those exposed to the virus “are being traced and watched very closely,” he said. Nevertheless, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries outside China to share more data on infections, saying detailed information has been provided in only 38% of cases. “Without better data, it’s very hard for us to assess how the outbreak is evolving or what impact it could have and to ensure we’re providing the most appropriate recommendations.” Powerful earthquake kills 18 people, injures over 550 in eastern Turkey ELAZIG (TURKEY): A powerful earthquake has killed at least 18 people and injured hundreds in eastern Turkey, as rescue teams searched through the rubble of collapsed buildings for survivors early on Saturday. At least 30 people were missing following the magnitude 6.8 quake, which had its epicentre in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in the eastern province of Elazig. "It was very scary, furniture fell on top of us. We rushed outside," 47-year-old Melahat Can, who lives in the provincial capital of Elazig, told AFP. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said all steps were being taken to aid people affected by the quake, which caused widespread fear. "We stand by our people," Erdogan said on Twitter. People who fled their homes in panic were lighting fires in the streets to stay warm in freezing temperatures. The Turkish government's disaster and emergency management agency (AFAD) said the quake hit Sivrice at around 8.55 pm (1755 GMT). Turkey lies on major faultlines and is prone to frequent earthquakes. Turkish television showed images of people rushing outside in panic, as well as a fire on the roof of a building. Interior, environment and health ministers said at least 18 people were killed, 13 of them in Elazig province and five others in the neighbouring province of Malatya, which lies to the southwest. Some 553 people were injured, they said. "There is nobody trapped under the rubble in Malatya but in Elazig search and rescue efforts are currently under way to find 30 citizens," Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. Rescue teams were searching for survivors trapped in a five-storey collapsed building in a village some 30 kilometres from Elazig, according to AFP journalists at the scene. One person was pulled alive from the rubble. Sports centres, schools and guest houses had been opened to accommodate quake victims in Malatya. Everybody is in the street Sivrice -- a town with a population of about 4,000 people -- is situated south of Elazig city on the shores of Hazar lake -- one of the most popular tourist spots in the region and the source of the Tigris river. The lake is home to a "Sunken City", with archaeological traces dating back 4,000 years in its waters. The tremor was felt in several parts of eastern Turkey near the Iraqi and Syrian borders, the Turkish broadcaster NTV reported, adding that neighbouring cities had mobilised rescue teams for the quake area. "Everybody is in the street, it was very powerful, very scary," said Zekeriya Gunes, 68, from Elazig city, after the quakes caused a building to collapse on her street. "It lasted quite long, maybe 30 seconds," added Ferda, 39. "I panicked and was undecided whether to go out in this cold or remain inside." The USGS put the magnitude as 6.7, adding that it struck near the East Anatolian Fault in an area that has suffered no documented large ruptures since an earthquake in 1875. "My wholehearted sympathy to President @RTErdogan and the Turkish people following the devastating earthquake that has hit Turkey. Our search and rescue teams stand ready to assist," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote on Twitter. In Athens, the Greek premier's office said later that Mitsotakis had spoken by phone to Erdogan. "The Turkish president... said Turkish teams had the situation under control for now and that it would be re-evaluated in the morning," his office added. In 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, leaving more than 17,000 people dead including about 1,000 in the country's largest city Istanbul. In September last year, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul, causing residents to flee buildings in the economic capital. Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate the city of 15 million people, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions. Growth slowdown in India temporary, expect momentum to improve going ahead: IMF chief Davos, Jan 24 (PTI) IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva on Friday said growth slowdown in India appears to be temporary and she expects the momentum to improve going ahead. Speaking here at the WEF 2020, she also said the world appears a better place in January 2020 compared to what it was when IMF announced its World Economic Outlook in October 2019. She said the factors driving this positive momentum include receding trade tension after the US-China first phase trade deal and synchronised tax cuts, among others. She, however, said a growth rate of 3.3 per cent is not fantastic for the world economy. "It is still sluggish growth. We want fiscal policies to be more aggressive and we want structural reforms and more dynamism," the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. On emerging markets, she said they are also moving forward. "We had a downgrade in one large market India but we believe that's temporary. We expect momentum to improve further going ahead. There are also some bright spots like Indonesia and Vietnam," she noted. She further said a number of African countries are doing very well, but some other nations like Mexico are not. On risks ahead for the global economy, the IMF chief listed factors like weakness in long-term productivity growth and low inflation. "We are living in a more risk-prone world. It is only January and there have been events that are sparking risks for the global economy," she added. CAA, NRC internal matters of India, Act was unnecessary: Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has termed as "internal matters" of India the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), but at the same time said the act was "not necessary". According to the CAA, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 following religious persecution there will get Indian citizenship. Protests are being held across India against the controversial law. "We don't understand why (the Indian government) did it. It was not necessary," Hasina told the Gulf News in an interview, referring to India's new citizenship law. Her comments came weeks after Bangladesh Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen said that the CAA and the NRC are India's "internal issues", but voiced concern that any "uncertainty" in the country is likely to affect its neighbours. Bangladesh, where 10.7 per cent of the 161 million population is Hindu and 0.6 per cent Buddhist, has denied any migration to India because of religious persecution, the paper said. Hasina, who is in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, also said that there has been no recorded reverse migration from India. "No, there is no reverse migration from India. But within India, people are facing many problems," she said. "(Still), it is an internal affair," Hasina said. "Bangladesh has always maintained that the CAA and NRC are internal matters of India," Hasina said. "The Government of India, on their part, has also repeatedly maintained that the NRC is an internal exercise of India and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has in person assured me of the same during my visit to New Delhi in October 2019." She said the relationship between Bangladesh and India is currently at its best, with cooperation in a "wide spectrum of areas". The NRC has been prepared to identify genuine Indian citizens living in Assam since March 24, 1971, or before, and identify illegal Bangladeshi migrants in the state. Out of 3.3 crore applicants, over 19 lakh people were excluded from the final NRC published on August 30. Not ready for peace with India without resolving Kashmir issue in just manner: Pak FM Washington:  Pakistan is not prepared to pay any price for peace with India and certainly not without resolving the Kashmir issue in a just manner, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said. Addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think-tank here on Thursday, Qureshi reiterated Pakistan's demand that US President Donald Trump should mediate to resolve the Kashmir issue. Ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories on August 5, evoking strong reactions from Islamabad. Pakistan has been trying to rally international support against India on the issue. "Our government wants peace in the neighbourhood. We want, we need peace in order to focus on achieving our domestic agenda for economic reform and development. But we are not prepared to pay any price for peace with India, certainly not our dignity and certainly not without resolving the Kashmir dispute in a just manner," Qureshi said. He alleged that instead of fighting poverty and hunger together, the "RSS-inspired BJP government has embarked upon the project of turning India into a Hindu Rashtra". "The adherence of Hindutva and an Akhand Bharat have established this ascendancy with disastrous consequences for all in India and the world to see," he alleged. Qureshi said on August 5 India tried to change the "disputed status" of Jammu and Kashmir and "alter" its demographic structure, breaking all relevant international laws and "violating" several UN Security Council resolutions in the process. India has been seeking to break the will of the Kashmiri people by imprisoning them in their homes and imposing a communications blockade that continues to this day, he said. "Indian narrative that Kashmir is India's internal part is firmly refuted by its being on the Security Council agenda. If this were not the case, why would the French President raise it with the Indian Prime Minister?" he asked. "We know that President Trump is profoundly worried by the Kashmir situation and we welcome his repeated offers of mediation in resolving the Kashmir dispute. The United States alone commands the moral authority and respect in South Asia to resolve the longest pending dispute on the UN agenda," he said. "We hope president Trump is successful in realising his goal and can make a lasting contribution to substantial peace in South Asia. That could be his enduring legacy," Qureshi said. Although President Trump has offered to mediate on the Kashmir issue in the past, New Delhi has told Washington that it is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan and there is no scope for any third-party mediation. On the sidelines of the G7 summit in the French town of Biarritz in August last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while interacting with the media alongside President Trump, categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, saying the two countries can discuss and resolve all issues bilaterally and "we don't want to trouble any third country". On a two-day visit to Washington DC, Qureshi is scheduled to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien on Friday. On Thursday, he met lawmakers at the US Capitol. In his speech, Qureshi referred to the recent arrest of an Indian police officer and joined the conspiracy theory about terrorist attacks in India. "Meanwhile, we all followed reports of capture of Indian police officer, Davinder Singh, whose footprint is now being seen in some major terrorist attack, which India itself orchestrated and blamed on Pakistan," said Qureshi. "We have been consistently warning the world community about another false flag operation against Pakistan that Davinder Singh was accompanied by two militants on his way to Delhi in close proximity to Republic Day celebrations should not be lost on anyone," the minister said. Qureshi said that the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens were raising fundamental questions about the ideals like democracy and secularism that India's founding father passionately advocated. He said that every other day, military officials or politicians from India make veiled threats against Pakistan. Earlier in the day, Qureshi met members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella voices concern over CAA New York: Microsoft's Indian-origin CEO Satya Nadella on Monday voiced concern over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), saying what is happening is "sad" and he would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant create the next unicorn in India.His comments came while speaking to editors at a Microsoft event in Manhattan where he was asked about the contentious issue of CAA which grants citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. "I think what is happening is sad... It's just bad.... I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India or becomes the next CEO of Infosys," Nadella was quoted as saying by Ben Smith, the Editor-in-Chief of New York-based BuzzFeed News. In a statement issued by Microsoft India, Nadella said: "Every country will and should define its borders, protect national security and set immigration policy accordingly. And in democracies, that is something that the people and their governments will debate and define within those bounds. "I'm shaped by my Indian heritage, growing up in a multicultural India and my immigrant experience in the United States. My hope is for an India where an immigrant can aspire to found a prosperous start-up or lead a multinational corporation benefitting Indian society and the economy at large". The Centre last week issued a gazette notification announcing that the CAA has come into effect from January 10, 2020. The CAA was passed by Parliament on December 11. According to the legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 due to religious persecution will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship. There have been widespread protests against the Act in different parts of the country. In UP, at least 19 persons were killed in anti-CAA protests. No nuclear weapons and don't kill your protesters, Trump warns Iran US President Donald Trump on Sunday warned the Iranian regime not to "kill demonstrators" who took to the streets after the government admitted it had "unintentionally" shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet earlier last week. "National Security Adviser suggested today that sanctions and protests have Iran "choked off", will force them to negotiate. Actually, I couldn't care less if they negotiate. Will be totally up to them but, no nuclear weapons and "don't kill your protesters," Trump said on Twitter. His comments came after Robert O'Brien said on "Fox News Sunday" that Iran would soon have "no choice" but to engage diplomatically with the Trump administration, arguing that new sanctions passed were successfully ramping up the pressure on Tehran. "I think the maximum pressure campaign is working," O'Brien said. "Iran is being choked off and Iran is going to have no other choice but to come to the table." "What's going to cause them to negotiate is the pressure on the economy, and when you've got students out there chanting 'death to the dictator,' and when you have thousands of Iranians out protesting in the street, that's the sort of pressure that's going to bring them to the table," he added. Iran and the US appeared to be at the edge of military conflict last week after the killing of Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran's Quds forces, for which Iranian forces responded with a barrage of missiles aimed at two Iraqi bases housing US troops, though the strikes caused minimal damage and no casualties. Trump appeared to back off from talk of war this week in a public address to the nation, saying on Wednesday: "I'm pleased to inform you, the American people should be extremely grateful and happy. No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime." "Our great American forces are prepared for anything," he added. "Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world," the President told his nation. Iran braces for protests after admitting plane shootdown Dubai: Iran’s security forces deployed in large numbers across the capital on Sunday, expecting more protests after its Revolutionary Guard admitted to accidentally shooting down a passenger plane at a time of soaring tensions with the United States. Riot police in black uniforms and helmets massed in Vali-e Asr Square, Tehran University and other landmarks as calls circulated for protests later in the day. Revolutionary Guard members patrolled the city on motorbikes and plainclothes security men were also out in force. People looked down as they walked briskly past the police, hoping not to draw attention to themselves. The plane crash early Wednesday killed all 176 people on board, mostly Iranians and Iranian-Canadians. After initially pointing to a technical failure and insisting the armed forces were not to blame, authorities on Saturday finally admitted to accidentally shooting it down in the face of mounting evidence and accusations by Western leaders. Iran downed the Ukrainian flight as it braced for retaliation after firing ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces. The ballistic missile attack, which caused no casualties, was a response to the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad. Iranians have expressed anger over the downing of the plane and the misleading explanations from senior officials in the wake of the tragedy. They are also mourning the dead, among whom were a large number of young people with promising futures who were studying abroad. “Even talking about it makes my heart beat faster and makes me sad,” said Zahra Razeghi, a Tehran resident. “I feel ashamed when I think about their families.” “The denial and covering up the truth over the past three days greatly added to the suffering and pain of the families, and me,” she added. Another individual, who only identified himself as Saeed, said the largely state-run media had concealed the cause of the crash for “political reasons.” “Later developments changed the game and they had to tell the truth,” he said. Hundreds of students gathered at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University on Sunday to mourn the victims and protest against authorities for concealing the cause of the crash, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported. They later dispersed peacefully. A candlelight ceremony late Saturday in Tehran turned into a protest, with hundreds of people chanting against the country’s leaders — including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — and police dispersing them with tear gas. Protests were also held in the city of Isfahan and elsewhere. Police briefly detained the British ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, who said he went with the intention of attending the vigil and did not know it would turn into a protest. The semi-official Tasnim news agency cited an unnamed official as saying the ambassador was suspected of organizing and provoking the protesters, which was in violation of diplomatic protocol and justified his arrest on national security grounds. US House to vote on preventing Trump from Iran war Washington:(AFP):  The Democratic-led US House of Representatives will vote Thursday to prevent President Donald Trump from waging war with Iran after he ordered the killing of a top general, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. Pelosi said that the Democrats will move forward because their concerns were not addressed in a closed-door briefing to lawmakers Wednesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials. "The president has made clear that he does not have a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe, achieve de-escalation with Iran and ensure stability in the region," Pelosi said in a statement. "Our concerns were not addressed by the president's insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the administration's briefing today," she said. Under the 1973 War Powers Act, the administration needs to notify Congress on major military actions but Trump, unusually, has kept classified his rationale for a strike that killed powerful Iranian general Qasem Soleimani while he was in Iraq. Pelosi said that the House would therefore vote, under the 1973 act, to limit Trump's ability to wage war against Iran. She said that the House may also soon consider revoking the authorisation of force approved after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Three successive administrations have cited that authorization as legal justification for an array of military actions a 80 'American terrorists' killed in missile strikes: Iran media Dubai: Iranian state television said on Wednesday that at least 80 "American terrorists" were killed in attacks involving 15 missiles Tehran launched on US targets in Iraq, adding that none of the missiles were intercepted. State TV, citing a senior Revolutionary Guards source, also said Iran had 100 other targets in the region in its sights if Washington took any retaliatory measures. It also said US helicopters and military equipment were "severely damaged". Iran launched missile attacks on US-led forces in Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday in retaliation for the US drone strike on an Iranian commander whose killing has raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. All 176 on-board killed after Ukraine International Airlines jet crashes near Tehran airport Tehran: All least 167 passengers and nine crew members were killed when a Ukraine International Airlines flight crashed minutes after take-off from Tehran airport on Wednesday, according to Iran's state media. "All the 167 passengers and nine crew members were killed in the crash," IRNA news agency quoted a spokesperson of the Imam Khomeini Airport as saying. The flight had crashed near the airport in southern Tehran minutes after take-off when its engine caught fire, IRNA said. The plane, which is reported to have been a Boeing 737, was on its way to Kiev in Ukraine from Tehran. Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran's Emergency Medical Services, said on IRINN, a state-run media outlet, that emergency crews have been dispatched to the crash site between the cities of Parand and Shahriar. As per Iran's semi-official news agency ISNA, the crash was due to technical difficulties.  'All is well,' says Trump after Iran missile attack Washington:  US President Donald Trump, in his first reaction after Iran's missile attack on two American bases in Iraq, insisted that "all is well" and promised to make a statement to the nation on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday night, Iran launched over a dozen ballistic missiles targeting at least two bases where US military and coalition forces' are stationed in Iraq, the Pentagon said. According to Iranian state TV, the attacks were in revenge for the killing of the commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards, General Qasem Soleimani, in a US drone strike on Friday, which was ordered by President Donald Trump. Shortly after the missile attacks, Trump tweeted, "All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!" He also promised to make a statement to the nation on Wednesday morning (local time). "We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning," Trump tweeted. Trump's tweet came after his reported meeting with his national security team, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper. Though there was no official confirmation of the meeting, Pompeo and Esper were seen entering the White House on late Tuesday night. According to the White House, President Trump spoke with Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and thanked him for his country's strong partnership with the US. The two leaders discussed the situation in Iraq and Iran, as well as other critical bilateral and regional issues. Trump also telephoned Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel and the two leaders discussed the security situation in the Middle East and Libya and agreed to continue close coordination moving forward, the White House said. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Pompeo telephoned Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and updated him on the Iranian missile attacks on Iraqi air bases, including in Erbil. Meanwhile the Democratic party leadership continued to blame Trump for the escalating tensions in the Middle East. "What's happening in Iraq and Iran today was predictable. Not exactly what's happening but the chaos that's ensuing," former US vice president Joe Biden said, blaming the situation on Trump's decisions of withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and ordering the missile strike in which Iranian general Soleimani was killed. "Some of the things he's (Trump) done and said in the meantime have been close to ludicrous, including threatening to bomb holy sites...I just pray to God as he goes through what's happening, as we speak, that he's listening to his military commanders for the first time because so far that has not been the case," the Democratic presidential contender said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is closely monitoring the situation following the bombings targeting US troops in Iraq. "We must ensure the safety of our service members, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war," she tweeted. On Tuesday, Trump threatened Iran of dangerous consequences in the event of an attack from them. "If Iran does anything that they shouldn't be doing, they are going to be suffering the consequences, and very strongly," he told reporters at the White House. Iran launches missile strike against US in Iraq Washington, Jan 8 (PTI) Iran has launched over a dozen ballistic missiles targeting at least two bases where US military and coalition forces' are stationed in Iraq, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. According to Iranian state TV, the attacks were in revenge for the killing of the commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards, General Qasem Soleimani, in a US drone strike on Friday, which was ordered by President Donald Trump. Shortly after the missile attacks, Trump tweeted, "All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning." Officials said President Trump has been briefed and he is monitoring the situation. "We are working on initial battle damage assessments," Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said. Hoffman said around 5:30 pm on January 7, "Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US.military and coalition forces in Iraq". "It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil, he said. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the President has been briefed about the situation. We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team, Grisham said. Hoffman said in recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defence has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard its personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region, he said. "As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners, and allies in the region, Hoffman said. Meanwhile, President Trump spoke with Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and thanked him for his country's strong partnership with the US. The two leaders discussed the situation in Iraq and Iran, as well as other critical bilateral and regional issues, officials said. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo telephoned Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and updated him on the Iranian missile attacks on Iraqi air bases, including in Erbil. The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch as the situation develops. Iran: 35 killed in fatal stampede at funeral for slain general Qassem Soleimani Tehran: A stampede erupted on Tuesday at a funeral procession for a top Iranian general killed in a US airstrike last week, killing 35 people and injuring 48 others, state television reported. According to the report, the stampede took place in Kerman, the hometown of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as the procession got underway. Initial videos posted online showed people lying lifeless on a road, others shouting and trying to give help them. Iranian state TV gave the casualty toll in its online report, without saying where it obtained the information. Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran's emergency medical services, earlier spoke by telephone to state TV and confirmed the stampede took place. "Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions," he said. A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over 1 million people in the Iranian capital, crowding both main thoroughfares and side streets in Tehran. Soleimani's death has sparked calls across Iran for revenge against Americafor a slaying that's drastically raised tensions across the Middle East. Early Tuesday, the leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard threatened to "set ablaze" places supported by the United States over the killing of a top Iranian general in a US airstrike last week, sparking cries from the crowd of supporters of "Death to Israel!" Hossein Salami made the pledge before a crowd of thousands gathered in a central square in Kerman before a casket carrying Soleimani's remains. The outpouring of grief was an unprecedented honor for a man viewed by Iranians as a national hero for his work leading the Guard's expeditionary Quds Force. The US blames him for the killing of American troops in Iraq and accused him of plotting new attacks just before his death Friday in a drone strike near Baghdad's airport. Soleimani also led forces in Syria backing President Bashar Assad in a long war, and he also served as the point man for Iranian proxies in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. US targeting 52 sites in Iran, as tension mounts: Donald Trump US President Donald Trump warned Saturday that the US is targeting 52 sites in Iran and will hit them "very fast and very hard" if the Islamic republic attacks American personnel or assets. UAE extends $200m aid to Pakistan for economic projects The United Arab Emirates has extended USD 200 million aid to Pakistan for the development of the small and medium-sized enterprises in the country, Finance Adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan said. The announcement came after Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan concluded his one-day visit to the country on Thursday. "The money will be spent on small business promotion and jobs. This support is testimony to the expanding economic relations and friendship between our countries," the adviser, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, on Thursday said. The Crown Prince directed the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development to allocate USD 200 million in order to assist the Pakistani government's efforts to create a stable and balanced national economy that will help achieve the country's sustainable development, Dawn News reported on Friday. During the visit, the prince met Prime Minister Khan and held talks on bilateral, regional and international issues. The UAE is Pakistan's largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major source of investments. The UAE is also among Pakistan's prime development partners in education, health and energy sectors. It hosts more than 1.6 million expatriate Pakistani community, which contributes remittances of around USD 4.5 billion annually to the GDP. This is the Crown Prince's second visit to Pakistan since Khan took office in August 2018. He had last visited Pakistan on January 6 last year, just weeks after his country offered USD 3 billion financial assistance to Pakistan to deal with its balance of payment crisis. The Crown Prince's visit was considered by experts as an attempt to woo Pakistan against the backdrop of recent developments when Saudi Arabia and UAE apparently used pressure to stop Pakistan from attending the Kuala Lumpur summit held last month. The summit from December 19-21 was seen by Saudis as an attempt to create a new bloc in the Muslim world that could become an alternative to the dysfunctional Organisation of Islamic Cooperation led by the Gulf Kingdom. 15 killed, 66 hurt after plane crashes in Kazakhstan Almaty: A Kazakhstan plane with 98 people aboard has crashed shortly after takeoff early Friday, killing at least 15 people, officials in Almaty said. ​​​​​​​At least 66 others survived with injuries, 50 of them hospitalized. The Bek Air aircraft hit a concrete fence and a two-story building after takeoff from Almaty International Airport. It lost attitude at 7:22 a.m. (0122 GMT), the airport said. In a statement on its Facebook page, the airport said there was no fire and rescue operation got underway immediately following the crash. Around 1,000 people were working at the snow-covered site of the crash. The weather in Almaty was clear, with a mild sub-zero temperature that is common at this time of the year. Footage showed the front of the broken-up fuselage rammed a house and the rear of the plane lying in the field next to the airport. The plane was flying to Nur-Sultan, the country's capital formerly known as Astana. The aircraft was identified as a Fokker-100, a medium-sized, twin-turbofan jet airliner. The company manufacturing the aircraft went bankrupt in 1996 and the production of the Fokker-100 stopped the following year. All Bek Air and Fokker-100 flights in Kazakhstan have been suspended pending the investigation of the crash, the country's authorities said. At least 24 dead in Indonesia bus plunge Palembang, Dec 24 (AFP) At least two dozen people died and 13 others were injured after a bus plunged into a ravine in Indonesia, police said. The bus carrying dozens of passengers careered into a 150-metre (500-foot) ravine in South Sumatra province just before midnight (1600 GMT) on Monday and ended up in a river, local police spokesman Dolly Gumara told AFP Tuesday. India must act quickly to reverse economic slowdown, says IMF New Delhi/Washington: India must take steps quickly to reverse the economic slowdown of an economy that has been one of the engines of global growth, the International Monetary Fund has said. Declining consumption and investment, and falling tax revenue, have combined with other factors to put the brakes on one of the fastest growing economies in the world, the IMF said in its annual review. After lifting millions out of poverty “India is now in the midst of a significant economic slowdown”, Ranil Salgado of the IMF Asia and Pacific Department told reporters. “Addressing the current downturn and returning India to a high growth path requires urgent policy actions.” However, the government has limited space to boost spending to support growth, especially given high debt levels and interest payments, the fund warned. IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath last week said India’s slowdown had “surprised to the downside”, and said the fund is set to significantly downgrade its growth estimates for the Indian economy in the World Economic Outlook which will be released next month. The IMF in October slashed its forecast for 2019 by nearly a full point to 6.1 per cent, while cutting the outlook for 2020 to 7.0 per cent. Salgado said India’s central bank has “room to cut the policy rate further, especially if the economic slowdown continues”. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut the key lending rate five times this year to a nine-year low, but at its last meeting earlier this month defied expectations by keeping policy unchanged. The central bank slashed its annual growth forecast to 5 per cent from 6.1 per cent, as consumer demand and manufacturing activity contracts. India’s economy grew at its slowest pace in more than six years in the July-September period, down to 4.5 per cent from 7.0 per cent a year ago, according to government data. Salgado said “the government needs to reinvigorate the reform agenda”, including restoring the health of the financial sector in order to “enhance its ability to provide credit to the economy”. Indian, Chinese officials to meet today for talks on border issue The 22nd meeting of the Special Representatives (SR) for India-China boundary question will be held in New Delhi on Saturday. ‘Personal vendetta against me’: Ex-Pakistan president Musharraf on his death sentence Pakistan’s ailing former dictator on Wednesday said the death sentence given to him by a court in a treason case was based on a “personnel vendetta”. Pakistan's ex-President Pervez Musharraf given death penalty in high treason case ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf was on Tuesday sentenced to death in the high treason case by a special court here, according to media reports. A three-member bench of the special court, headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, handed Musharraf, 76, death sentence in the long-drawn high treason case against him for suspending the Constitution and imposing emergency rule in 2007, a punishable offence for which he was indicted in 2014. The former Army chief left for Dubai for medical treatment in March 2016 and has not returned since, citing security and health reasons. The special court comprising Justice Seth, Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court (SHC) and Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court announced the verdict it had reserved on November 19, the Dawn newspaper reported. Since 2016, Musharraf has been living in a self-imposed exile in Dubai for "seeking medical treatment" and has not returned to the country since. He is wanted by authorities in connection to the case. The high treason trial of the former leader has been pending since December 2013 when he was booked in the case. He was indicted on March 31, 2014 and the prosecution had tabled the entire evidence before the special court in September the same year. However, due to litigation at appellate forums, Musharraf's trial lingered on and he left Pakistan in March 2016 "to seek medical treatment." The former Pakistan President was then declared an absconder as he failed to appear in court despite repeated summons and the court issued a directive to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to arrest him. ‘Protect, respect right of peaceful assembly’: US on Citizenship Act protests Washington: Stressing that it is closely following the developments regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in India, US State Department has appealed protestors to refrain from violence, and authorities to "protect and respect the right of peaceful assembly." "We are closely following developments regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act. We urge authorities to protect and respect the right of peaceful assembly. We also urge protestors to refrain from violence," a US State Department spokesperson told ANI on Monday (local time). Stressing that "respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law are fundamental principles of our two democracies," the US State Department said, "The United States urges India to protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with India's Constitution and democratic values." Protests have taken place in several parts of the country over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which was approved by Parliament in its recently concluded winter session. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act seeks to provide citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities members who have faced religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, and have arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014. 'Concerned about implications of Citizenship Bill,' says top US official The United States is concerned about the implications of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in India, a top American diplomat responsible for monitoring international religious freedom said on Friday. Pressured at home, Ethiopia PM picks up Nobel Peace Prize Oslo(AFP) Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will collect his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Tuesday, but as ethnic violence rises at home he has kept festivities to a minimum and refused media requests. Hailed as a modern, reformist leader, Ahmed's decision to skip all events with the press has dismayed his Norwegian hosts. Africa's youngest leader at just 43, he is to receive the prestigious award at a ceremony in Oslo's City Hall at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT), attended by the royal family and Norwegian public figures. The Nobel Committee announced in October it was honouring Abiy for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict with neighbouring foe Eritrea. On July 9, 2018, following a historic meeting in Eritrea's capital Asmara, Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki formally ended a 20-year-old stalemate between their countries in the wake of the 1998-2000 border conflict. That was just three months after Abiy took office. During the whip-fast rapprochement that followed, embassies reopened, flights resumed and meetings were held across the region. Abiy's actions sparked optimism on a continent marred by violence, and he went on to play an important mediation role in the Sudan crisis and attempted to revive a fragile peace deal in South Sudan. In stark contrast to his authoritarian predecessors, the early days of his mandate also saw a wave of democracy-boosting measures in Ethiopia, as he lifted the state of emergency, released dissidents from jail, apologised for state brutality and welcomed home exiled armed groups. He also established a national reconciliation committee and lifted a ban on some political parties. Abiy's reforms and visions lifted hopes far beyond his country's borders, but the "Abiymania" hype has faded somewhat and he is now facing major challenges. His vow to hold the first "free, fair and democratic" elections since 2005 in May could be threatened by ethnic violence. Less than two weeks after the Nobel announcement in October, anti-Abiy protests left 86 people dead. Ahead of the elections, experts say the Ethiopian leader may now have to shift his attention away from the peace process. The regime of Isaias Afwerki, the only president Eritrea has ever known, has given no sign of any kind of political opening. The land border between the two nations is once again closed, and the question of border demarcations remains unresolved. Faced with these challenges, Abiy has considerably shortened the traditional Nobel programme: he will only stay in Oslo for a day and a half, compared to more than three days for most laureates. And perhaps more importantly, the former officer and ex-intelligence chief has chosen to forego any events where the media could ask him questions. The traditional press conference held by the laureate on the eve of the ceremony has been stricken from the programme, as has the press conference after a meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Also gone are individual interviews with the media, and a question-and-answer session with youngsters under the aegis of Save The Children. The head of the Nobel Institute, Olav Njolstad, called the decision "highly problematic". "It's linked to the situation in his country and his personality: he's religious (Pentecostal) and does not want to put himself in the spotlight," Njolstad told AFP. "In the eyes of the (Nobel) Committee, a free press and freedom of expression are essential conditions for a lasting peace in a democracy, and so it's strange for a Peace Prize laureate to not want to speak to the press," he added. Abiy's entourage said it was "quite challenging" for a sitting leader to spend several days at such an event, especially when "domestic issues are pressing and warrant attention". On "a personal level, the humble disposition of the Prime Minister rooted in our cultural context is not in alignment with the very public nature of the Nobel award," said his press secretary Billene Seyoum. The Nobel Peace Prize consists of a diploma, a gold medal and a cheque for nine million Swedish kronor (850,000 euros, 945,000). The other Nobel prizes for literature, physics, chemistry, medicine and economics will also be handed over on Tuesday, but in Stockholm. Sri Lanka elections: Gotabaya Rajapaksa elected as new President Sri Lanka's former wartime defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been elected president, his spokesman said Sunday following a fiercely fought election seven months after terror attacks killed 269 people. 15 dead as trains collide in Bangladesh At least 15 people were killed and 58 others injured when two trains collided in eastern Bangladesh early Tuesday, police said. Rajnath Singh to attend SCO heads of states meet in Tashkent Defence Minister Rajnath Singh would represent India at the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) heads of states meeting, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on November 1-2, sources said here on Monday. 5 killed in Philippines earthquake; over 200 aftershocks registered Five people were killed after an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale struck Philippines' southern province of North Cotabato on Wednesday, local officials said on Thursday. Referendum 2020 bogus issue backed by Pakistan, says Indian envoy The "Referendum 2020" backed by a handful of Sikhs is a "bogus issue" which is being supported by a neighbour opposed to India, country's top envoy to the US said on Sunday. Typhoon leaves 19 dead as Japan launches major rescue Helicopters, boats and thousands of troops were deployed across Japan on Sunday to rescue people stranded in flooded homes as the death toll from a ferocious typhoon climbed to at least 19 with more than a dozen missing. One woman fell to her death from a rescue helicopter. Turkey won’t stop Syria operation despite threats: Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey will not stop its operation against Kurdish militants in northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday, dismissing what he called “threats” from other countries. US Congress Committee urges India to lift 'devastating' Kashmir curbs India's communication blackout is having a "devastating impact" on the lives and welfare of the people of Kashmir, a powerful US Congressional Committee has said, urging New Delhi to lift its more than two-month long restrictions in the Valley.