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Virus hits French navy as death toll climbs


Nearly 700 sailors aboard France’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier have tested positive to coronavirus, as the nation’s death toll passes 17,000.

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The French armed forces ministry 1767 sailors from the carrier naval group but mostly aboard the Charles de Gaulle itself had been tested, and at least 668 found to be infected .

31 crew are in hospital, and results from a third of the tests are still not in.

The carrier, which had most recently been taking part in exercises with northern European navies in the Baltic Sea, arrived home earlier than expected after about 40 crew members showed signs of COVID-19 symptoms.

Crew from the carrier and a frigate are now in confinement at their naval base, along with the carrier’s plane and helicopter pilots.

It comes as France’s coronavirus death toll hit 17,167 – up from 15,529 on Tuesday.

The number of people in intensive care units fell by 273 to 6457.

Health officials said it was the seventh consecutive day of decline, suggesting the country-wide lockdown, extended to May 11 on Monday, is having positive effects in containing the disease.

New Yorkers ordered to wear masks

New York’s death toll rose by 752 overnight to pass 11,000, prompting an order for all residents to wear face coverings when out in public or in close contact with other people.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the order would come into effect on Friday.

“Stopping the spread is everything. How can you not wear a mask when you’re going to come close to a person?” Cuomo said at his daily briefing.

“On what theory would you not do that?”

Officials said the official New York death toll doesn’t include roughly 4000 other deaths they believe were probably caused by the virus, but not confirmed by a lab test.

Britain’s death toll rose by 761 overnight to approach 13,000, although officials warn the numbers could rise sharply in coming days due to reporting lags.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top medical adviser, Chris Whitty, said that data on the extent and impact of the outbreak was encouraging but that it was too soon to focus the next phase of the government’s response.

“Our view is that it is probably reaching the peak overall,” Whitty said at the government’s daily news conference.

“We are not yet at the point where we can say confidently and safely ‘this is now past the peak and we can start thinking very much now about the next phases.'”

The government is widely expected to announce it will extend the lockdown imposed on March 23.

Foreign minister Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Johnson while he recovers from COVID-19, will lead a cabinet meeting on Thursday morning, and in the afternoon chair an emergency response committee meeting to decide on extending the lockdown

In Italy, another 578 died from the virus overnight, raising the number of fatalities to more than 21,600 since the country’s outbreak began on February 21.

The number of new cases dropped to 2667 from a previous 2972, with a total 165,000 cases.

There were 3079 people in intensive care on Wednesday against 3186 on Tuesday – a 12th consecutive daily decline.

Of those originally infected, 38,092 were declared recovered, against 37,130 a day earlier.

The daily number of deaths from the coronavirus in Spain also fell slightly from 567 to 523, but its death toll of 18,579 makes it the third worst-affected country, after the United States and Italy.

Germany has extended its restrictions until at least May 3, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying the country had achieved a “fragile, partial success” against the coronavirus outbreak.

But Germans should still exercise “extreme caution” Merkel said, noting that there was still no vaccine or effective treatment against the virus.

-with AAP

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