– Green light for experimental drug –
US authorities approve an experimental drug for emergency use on patients, in the latest step in the global push to find viable treatments and a vaccine.
Remdesivir, an antiviral drug initially developed to treat Ebola, is given the green light after a major trial finds it boosted recovery in serious COVID-19 patients.
– Blood pressure not a factor –
In reassuring news for millions of people, three major studies say commonly used blood pressure medicines do not heighten susceptibility to infection, or increase the risk of becoming seriously ill with the disease.
– WHO: Virus ‘natural in origin’ –
The World Health Organization reiterates that the virus was of natural origin after claims from US President Donald Trump he had seen evidence it originated in a Chinese lab.
– 241,682 deaths –
241,682 people have died worldwide since the epidemic surfaced in China in December, according to an AFP tally at 1900 GMT Saturday based on official sources.
In all, 3,398,390 cases have now been reported in 195 countries and territories.
In the United States, which has the highest toll, 65,645 people have died. Italy is the second hardest-hit country, with 28,710 dead, followed by the United Kingdom with 28,131, Spain 25,100 and France 24,760.
– France’s ‘long-distance run’ –
France will extend a health emergency imposed on March 24 for another two months until July 24, its health minister announces.
“We are going to have to perform a long-distance run,” says Olivier Veran.
The chairman of the national rail operator SNCF says his company has already lost two billion euros ($2.2 billion) during the crisis, and will likely apply for state aid and cut staff numbers.
– Spaniards go outside –
Spain’s nearly 47 million people, under strict lockdown since March 14, are allowed outside for walks or sport.
Many restrictions remain, however. In towns of more than 5,000 inhabitants, children and the elderly cannot leave home at the same time.
– Ecuador on edge –
The International Monetary Fund approves a $643 million emergency loan for Ecuador, hard hit by the pandemic and low oil prices.
– Nearly all home –
The repatriation of Europeans who found themselves outside the EU when borders closed as part of national lockdowns is almost complete, says the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell.
– India readies for star-studded concert –
Rock legend Mick Jagger and Hollywood’s Will Smith will be among dozens of international and Bollywood stars taking part in a four-hour concert Sunday to raise funds for the battle against the virus in India, where the number of cases is surging.