Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Coronavirus news: US could be next Covid-19 hotspot amid 'large acceleration' of cases, says WHO

Tuesday 24/March/2020 - 01:11 PM
The Reference

Belgian public health officials have chided people for treating the coronavirus lockdown like “an alternative holiday” and getting in their cars to go to the beach or the countryside, reports my colleague Jennifer Rankin in Brussels.

Belgium’s crisis centre announced on Tuesday that 526 people had tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 4,269. The pandemic has claimed 122 lives, with 34 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours.

For the second day running hospital admissions fell, with 256 people admitted to hospital in the last 24 hours, compared to 290 on Monday and 335 on Sunday. Health experts see this as a step in the right direction, but have warned against any relaxation of the nationwide lockdown.

Since last Wednesday, Belgium’s 11.5m population have been instructed to stay home, only going outside for essential trips, such as buying food, medicine or doing a vital job that cannot be done at home.

Benoît Ramacker, a spokesman for the federal crisis centre, said it was “incomprehensible and unacceptable” that people were not following the rules, with some treating the lockdown like an “alternative holiday”.

He was speaking after the mayor of the Flemish town of Izegem was criticised for taking part in a street party at the weekend. Bert Maertens claimed no party had ever taken place, with social distancing maintained during the event. He said a neighbour had decided to play a DJ set from their house and invited others to listen from their homes or gardens. But a police source told Belgian media that “people were standing far too close to each other”.

Iran reports 1726 new cases, 122 deaths in last 24 hours

Akhtar Mohammad Makoii

Iran reported 1726 new Coronavirus cases in last 24 hours raising the total number to 24811, reports Akhtar Mohammad Makoii.

A spokesman for Iran’s health ministry also announced 122 deaths in the same period raising the total number of deaths to 1934.

So far 8931 patients have recovered.

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An app to help track the spread of Covid-19 and explore who is most at risk from the disease has been launched by researchers in the UK in a bid to better understand the pandemic, reports my colleague Nicola Davis.


The free COVID Symptom Tracker app asks users to fill in various data, including their location, age, sex and existing medical conditions before asking them to report every day on whether they feel healthy and, if not, to answer questions on a wide-range of symptoms, from coughs and fever to fatigue, diarrhoea and confusion.

The team behind the app say they hope it will provide real-time information on how the disease is spreading in the UK, including hotspots.

“The concept is it is an early warning radar device because we are asking about non-classical symptoms as well, because many people are reporting non-persistent cough, or feeling unwell or a strange feeling of a lack of taste, or chest tightness that aren’t in the classical list but if we see it across the country in clusters we know they are probably real [symptoms of Covid-19],” said Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, who is leading the work.

The driver of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has reportedly been taken to hospital with breathing problems and been tested for coronavirus, reports my colleague Tom Phillips in Rio.

According to the Correio Braziliense newspaper the driver was admitted to a hospital in the capital Brasília and is waiting on test results.

If confirmed, the driver would be at least the 24th person close to Bolsonaro to come down with the illness. Twenty three members of a delegation Bolsonaro recently led to meet Donald Trump in the United States - including his US ambassador, chief foreign policy adviser and communications chief - have tested positive.

Bolsonaro meanwhile has claimed he has tested negative but refused to publish the results and many Brazilians are unconvinced by Bolsonaro’s claims.

On Monday Brazilian health officials said they had registered 1,891 cases of coronavirus and 34 deaths from coronavirus, the majority in the southeast of the country.