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Here are today’s picks from our editors.
Global COVID-19 cases surpass 500,000, vaccine at least 12-18 months away
Confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide have surpassed half a million with 23,335 deaths, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.
The situation dashboard by WHO showed a total of 509,164 coronavirus cases had been reported globally as of Friday, as the virus spread to more than 200 countries and regions.
Noting that a COVID-19 vaccine is still at least 12 to 18 months away, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus stressed an urgent need for therapeutics to treat patients and save lives.
Speaking of the "Solidarity Trial," a multi-country clinical study for potential treatments for COVID-19, Tedros said it is a historic trial that will dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work.
The first batch of patients in Norway and Spain will shortly be enrolled in the study. (Xinhua)
Wuhan no longer at 'high risk' of coronavirus outbreak
China's Wuhan has had its coronavirus risk evaluation downgraded from "high risk" to "medium risk," a local health official said Friday.
The coronavirus risk evaluation for five districts of Xinzhou, Huangpi, Jiangxia, Caidian and Dongxihu have been further lowered to "low risk," said Liu Dongru, deputy head of the provincial health commission.
Wuhan has reported only one new confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) since March 18. (Xinhua)
Trump signs $2.2T stimulus after swift congressional votes
US President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law Friday, after swift and near-unanimous action by Congress this week to support businesses, rush resources to overburdened health care providers and help struggling families during the deepening coronavirus epidemic.
“This will deliver urgently needed relief,” Trump said as he signed the bill in the Oval Office, flanked only by Republican lawmakers. He thanked members of both parties for putting Americans “first.”
Earlier Friday, the House of Representatives gave near-unanimous approval by voice vote after an impassioned session conducted along the social distancing guidelines imposed by the crisis. (AP)
Virus cases spike on US aircraft carrier
The number of coronavirus cases on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the Pacific has spiked to at least 23, with authorities moving to isolate the entire crew in port, US media reported.
Earlier this week three sailors were evacuated after testing positive for the virus, the first cases reported on a US Navy ship on deployment.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday said in a statement that he expected further positive tests among the more than 5,000 personnel on board the warship, which is in Guam on a "pre-scheduled port visit." (AFP)
British PM Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that he is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.
A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement that Johnson experienced mild symptoms on Thursday and was tested for COVID-19 on the personal advice of England's chief medical officer.
Earlier this week Prince Charles, the eldest son to Queen Elizabeth II, also tested positive for the virus. (AFP)
Iran says produces new generation of centrifuges
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has designed and produced a new generation of centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear enrichment plant in central Iran, semi-official Mehr news agency reported Friday.
Iranian experts have been working on producing a new generation of centrifuges in line with the country's need of nuclear technology for civilian use, an unnamed source in AEOI was quoted as saying.
These machines mark a breakthrough in advancing Iran's peaceful nuclear energy program, the source said, without further details. (Xinhua)
China Mobile to have 300,000 5G base stations in 2020
China Mobile, one of the country's leading telecommunications operators, will have about 300,000 5G base stations by the end of 2020 and will provide 5G commercial services in all cities above the prefecture-level in the country within a year.
China Mobile will work to overcome the impact of the epidemic and push forward the implementation of the 5G plus plan, to better boost social information flow, industrial transformation and upgrading, and the construction of a digital society, the company said on Friday.
The company aims to develop 70 million 5G users this year and drive sales of 100 million 5G terminals. (Xinhua)
Thanks for listening and be sure to catch us tomorrow.
And now for the Question of the Day:
What country is the world's leading banana grower?
Today’s quote is from French philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592).
"Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face."
(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Ryan Yaoran Yu, Brian Lowe, and Elaine Yue Lin. Music by Eugene Loner.)