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World Roundup: China lifts ban on US carriers

  • China lifts ban on US carriers
  • Roche cleared for clinical tests
China on Thursday said foreign airlines blocked from operating in the country over virus fears would be allowed to resume limited flights, lifting a de facto ban on US carriers, a day after Washington ordered the suspension of all Chinese travel into and out of the US.

The apparent decision to step back by Beijing comes as tensions between the world’s two superpowers are sent soaring by a series of issues including Donald Trump’s accusations over China’s handling of the pandemic, Hong Kong and Huawei.

The latest spat was rooted in the Civil Aviation Authority of China deciding to impose a limit on foreign airlines based on their activity as of March 12. Because US carriers had suspended all flights by that date, their cap was set at zero, while Chinese carriers’ flights to the US continued.

On Wednesday the US said it would block Chinese passenger flights from June 16, raising concerns of another front being opened up in the economic titans’ standoff.

Roche gets clearance for clinical tests

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche said Thursday the US authorities had given it emergency clearance for a test identifying patients most at risk of a dangerous immune response to coronavirus infection.

Some of those worst affected display a very severe inflammatory response to COVID-19 as the body tries to combat the infection but ends up also destroying healthy tissue and even organs such as the kidneys with life-threatening implications.

Very ill patients require mechanical ventilation, putting a huge burden on medical teams and resources over many weeks.

“The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Elecsys® IL-6 test,” Roche said in a statement. “This test measures levels of the biomarker interleukin 6 (IL-6) and can be used to help identify patients with confirmed COVID-19 disease who could be at high risk of intubation with mechanical ventilation.”

“The test can support physicians, in combination with other examinations and vital signs, to decide early on if a patient with confirmed COVID-19 illness requires mechanical ventilation,” it said.

Germant rolls out $146b stimulus fund

Germany will plow $146 billion into a stimulus package to kick-start an economy severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Under the wide-ranging measures outlined in a 15-page document, value-added tax will be temporarily slashed, families will receive 300 euros for each child, while those who purchase electric cars will see a government rebate doubled to 6,000 euros.

“We have an economic stimulus package, a package for the future and in addition, we’re now dealing with our responsibility for Europe and the international dimension,” Merkel said.

Noting that millions of employees in Germany have been put on shorter working hours, Merkel said that “shows how fragile the whole thing is, and why we must succeed in giving the economy a push so that jobs can be secured.”

Brazil’s record death toll

Brazil reported a record 1,349 coronavirus deaths in a 24-hour period Wednesday, the health ministry said, as the pandemic continued to take a grim toll on Latin America’s hardest-hit country.

The figure brought the total death toll from the new coronavirus in Brazil to 32,548, with 584,016 confirmed infections – the second-highest caseload worldwide, after the United States.

Brazil’s death toll, which has doubled in 17 days, is currently the fourth-highest worldwide, after the US, Britain and Italy.

Experts say under-testing in the country of 210 million people means the real numbers are probably much higher.

Topics: Donald Trump , coronavirus pandemic , US Food and Drug Administration
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