What a cracker!

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Benchmark shrugs off value drop

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Hall of fame

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Canary raises value

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Iran neighbors impose travel bans as coronavirus toll rises

first_imgIran’s confirmed death toll from the new coronavirus rose to eight on Sunday, the highest outside China, sending neighbouring countries scrambling to contain the outbreak.Four immediate neighbours of the Islamic republic — Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Armenia — said on Sunday they would close land borders, while three imposed restrictions on air traffic, amid growing regional concerns about the spread of the virus.Iraqi and Kuwaiti authorities have already banned travel to and from Iran. Lebanon has confirmed its first case — a 45-year-old Lebanese woman who had travelled from Qom in Iran — and Israel on Sunday quarantined at home nearly 200 school pupils who came into contact with South Korean tourists who contracted the virus. Iran reported three more novel coronavirus deaths Sunday among 15 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total number of fatalities to eight and infections to 43.Four new COVID-19 cases surfaced in Tehran, seven in the holy city of Qom, two in Gilan and one each in Markazi and Tonekabon, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said.Authorities have ordered the closure of schools, universities and other educational centres in 14 provinces across the country as a “preventive measure”. Art events, concerts and film shows have been banned for a week.”We are on the frontlines, we need help,” the head of Qom’s medical sciences university, Mohammadreza Ghadir, said on state television. ‘Major implications’ “To prevent the spread of the novel #coronavirus and protect the public, Afghanistan suspends all passenger movement (air and ground) to and from Iran,” the office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan tweeted.A provincial official in Pakistan and the nation’s Frontier Corps, for their part, confirmed the country had sealed the land border with Iran.Both Afghanistan and Pakistan share long, porous borders with Iran that are often used by smugglers and human traffickers, while millions of Afghan refugees live in the Islamic republic — raising fears that the virus could easily spread over the border.Turkey said it would “temporarily” close its land border with Iran, while air traffic from Iran would be halted but departures to the country continue.Late on Sunday, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian announced his country was both suspending flights and entry via the sole land border checkpoint with Iran. China — the epicentre of the outbreak — reported another 97 deaths in its daily update Sunday, taking its total to 2,442, plus 648 new infections.Nearly 80,000 people have been infected worldwide, the vast majority in China.But official figures indicate the death rate is proportionately much higher in Iran than China, standing at nearly one in five of the confirmed infections.Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki said the treatment of COVID-19 cases would be free.”In every city, one hospital will be dedicated to treating coronavirus cases,” he said, adding that this number would be greater in bigger cities like Tehran.But academics expressed concern over the ability of Iran — currently grappling with a major economic crisis and hit by swingeing US sanctions — to contain the outbreak. “It is unlikely that Iran will have the resources and facilities to adequately identify cases and adequately manage them if case numbers are large,” said Paul Hunter, a medical professor at Britain’s University of East Anglia.He also noted that the region was already grappling with multiple conflicts.”During armed conflicts, borders between countries become porous… and health care facilities are often targeted and destroyed,” he said.Other regional countries on Sunday also took major precautionary measures to counter the virus potentially spreading from Iran.Jordan said it would bar entry to citizens of China, Iran and South Korea and other foreigners travelling from those countries.The Kuwait Port Authority, meanwhile, announced a ban on the entry of all ships from the Islamic republic.Topics :last_img read more

World Bank unveils $12b aid package to combat coronavirus

first_img The funds, some of which are targeted to the world’s poorest nations, can be used for medical equipment or health services and will include expertise and policy advice, the bank said in a statement.The virus that erupted in central China in December has killed more than 3,000 worldwide and infected over 90,000 people.Malpass said the money – $8 billion of which is new – will go to countries that request help. The bank has been in contact with many member nations, but he did not specify which are likely to be the first to receive aid.”The point is to move fast. Speed is needed to save lives,” he said in a conference call.”We want to make the best use of the World Bank’s extensive resources and global expertise and the historical knowledge of crises,” he said, citing similar crisis funding to combat the Ebola and Zika outbreaks in recent years. The World Bank unveiled a US$12 billion aid package on Tuesday that will provide fast-track funds to help countries combat the coronavirus outbreak.”The goal is to provide fast, effective action that responds to country needs,” World Bank President David Malpass told reporters. He said it is critical to “recognize the extra burden on poor countries” least equipped in the struggle to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Topics :last_img read more

Australia, New Zealand move to seal borders to curb virus

first_imgAustralia and New Zealand have announced a slew of restrictions to tackle the pandemic, but have so far stopped short of closing schools or instituting wider-ranging lockdowns.Policymakers hope the bans will slow the rate of infection enough to avoid more draconian measures that would cripple the two economies and transform life for months to come.Australia currently has 642 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with the total doubling roughly every three days. New Zealand has 28 cases.Morrison said around 80 percent of Australia’s coronavirus cases came from “someone who has contracted the virus overseas or someone who has had direct contact with someone who has returned from overseas”. Australia and New Zealand moved to seal off their borders Thursday, announcing unprecedented bans on entry for non-residents in the hope of stemming the rise of COVID-19 infections.Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ban on anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident coming to Australia “will be in place from 9:00 pm tomorrow evening”.A similar measure was announced by his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern, who acknowledged: “I recognize how extraordinary this is. In no time in New Zealand’s history has a power like this been used.” A recent opinion poll showed 69 percent of Australians back closing the border.Ardern said the measures would also ban visa holders.”Today’s decision stops any tourist, or temporary visa holder such as students or temporary workers, from coming to and entering into New Zealand.”center_img Topics :last_img read more

Oil prices tumble as world’s storage tanks fill up amid demand shock

first_imgStrategists said part of the WTI decline is due to retail investment vehicles like exchange-traded funds selling out of the front-month June contract and buying into months later in the year to avert massive losses like last week, when WTI plummeted below zero.“Clearly everything’s getting dragged down by the machinations in the WTI futures market,” said Daniel Hynes, senior commodity strategist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in Sydney.The main concern is that there is nowhere to store all the oil that is not being consumed due to the drop in global economic activity amid restrictions imposed around the world to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.Even with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia having agreed record output cuts of nearly 10 million barrels per day (bpd) from May 1, that volume is not nearly enough to offset a drop in demand of around 30 million bpd due to COVID-19 restrictions. Oil prices slumped on Tuesday, extending the previous session’s slide, on worries about limited capacity to store crude worldwide and expectations that fuel demand may only recover slowly as coronavirus pandemic restrictions are gradually eased.United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures skidded by as much as 16 percent and were off 14.7 percent, or US$1.88 cents, at $10.90 a barrel as of 0158 GMT. WTI plunged 25 percent on Monday.Brent crude futures fell to a low of $18.97 and were last down 4.1 percent, or 82 cents, at $19.17 a barrel. The benchmark slid 6.8 percent on Monday, and the contract for June delivery expires on April 30. “While we’re starting to see COVID-19 cases ease and some countries ease restrictions, those initial moves look fairly tentative. The market’s coming round to the view there’s going to be no quick recovery in demand,” Hynes said.As a result of the collapse in demand, global storage onshore is estimated to be about 85 percent full as of last week, according to data from consultancy Kpler.In a sign of the energy industry’s desperation for places to store petroleum, oil traders are resorting to hiring expensive US vessels to store gasoline or ship fuel overseas, shipping sources said.“It is hard to see sentiment turning convincingly positive for oil until there’s evidence of OPEC cuts and demand improvement slowing or reversing the global inventory build,” said AxiCorp’s chief global market strategist, Stephen Innes.Topics :last_img read more

Yemen reports first two deaths from coronavirus

first_imgTopics : The Saudi-backed government’s health minister told Yemen TV late on Wednesday that five COVID-19 cases with two deaths were reported in Aden and noted that the prevalence of other diseases with similar symptoms, such as dengue fever, made it difficult to detect coronavirus infections without testing.”We have all been waiting for this moment and preparing for it despite our scarce (health) capabilities,” said an official in the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), which on Sunday declared self-rule in Aden and other southern regions.”Yes this is yet another suffering for us but we must be firm, calm and patient … It is very likely the numbers will increase in coming days,” Abdul Nasser al-Wali said.The STC, which is locked in a power struggle with the Saudi-backed government in its interim seat in the south, on Wednesday declared a three-day, 24-hour curfew and closure of mosques. Authorities have told Reuters they have been unable to track down “patient zero” for Yemen’s infections, an important step in tracing people potentially exposed to infection and containing an outbreak.On Tuesday the United Nations said there was a “very real probability” the virus was circulating within communities.Health workers say the virus could spread rapidly in a country where 24 million people – 80% of the population – rely on aid, and 10 million are at risk of famine. Disease is rife.Divided country Two sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters there has been at least one confirmed case in Houthi-controlled Sanaa, but the movement’s health ministry denied this and said all suspected cases had tested negative for COVID-19.On Wednesday the Aden-based government’s emergency coronavirus committee voiced concerns that Houthi officials were not admitting to a coronavirus outbreak in the capital.The Saudi-led coalition has declared a temporary nationwide ceasefire due to the pandemic as the United Nations seeks to hold a virtual meeting of the warring parties to cement a permanent truce, coordinate coronavirus efforts and restart peace talks.The Iran-aligned Houthis, who control most big urban centers, have not accepted the truce and violence has continued.Tensions also resurfaced in the south after the STC declared emergency rule, threatening to renew conflict between the separatists and the Saudi-backed government, both part of the anti-Houthi coalition. center_img Yemen reported multiple coronavirus infections and deaths linked to the disease for the first time on Wednesday and an official in the southern port of Aden said the number of cases was very likely to increase in the coming days.The United Nations has said it fears the novel coronavirus could be spreading undetected in a country where millions face famine and lack medical care after Yemen announced its first COVID-19 case in the southern Hadhramout province on April 10.Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Houthi group ousted the internationally recognized government from power in the capital Sanaa, prompting a Saudi-led alliance to intervene in March 2015. The war has shattered health and sanitation systems and authorities lack testing capabilities.last_img read more

Premier League’s international appeal faces coronavirus test

first_imgThat income will be all the more welcome, with uncertainty over when supporters will be allowed back into stadiums and commercial revenues expected to tumble in a global economic crisis.However, without the atmosphere generated by baying fans, the Premier League’s appeal may be diminished in football’s new normal.”What makes it special in England is the way people react to the game,” former Arsenal manager and FIFA’s chief of global football development Arsene Wenger told The Athletic.”It is the best country in the world for the way the fans respond to what’s happening on the pitch. That’s why I think it will be the most handicapped championship without that.” When the 100 day-wait for Premier League football comes to an end on Wednesday, the anticipation will be felt as keenly in Mumbai and Beijing as in Manchester and Birmingham.The global reach of the English top-flight has helped secure its position as the wealthiest league in world football.The Premier League’s overseas television rights deals for the 2019-2022 three-season cycle hit a record £4.2 billion ($5.3 billion) and another £2 billion deal has already been struck for Scandinavian rights between 2022 and 2028. Reschedule rebate The need to cram the remaining 92 games of the season into a five-and-a-half week window also means many more midweek games with evening kick-offs in England, forcing fans in the Far East to tune in during the early hours.Overseas broadcasters will be compensated with a reported £107 million rebate due to the change in scheduling.However, the excitement over the Premier League’s return endures, particularly among the huge number of Liverpool fans, many of whom are awaiting a first league title in their lifetimes.Jurgen Klopp’s men are just two wins away from being crowned champions of England for the first time in 30 years.Hu Zhifei, a 26-year-old journalist and member of Liverpool’s official fan club in Beijing, had planned a trip to see his heroes in action in February that was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.”Nobody is anticipating the league’s restart more than Liverpool fans because we are within two wins of the title,” said Hu, who will tune in to watch the Reds via internet streaming despite kick-offs in the early hours.Excitement is also building in India, where the Premier League has built up a strong following among urban youth in a traditionally cricket-obsessed nation.”Finally I’ll watch some live EPL action. I have already chalked out a schedule for these matches,” Qazi Ahmad Masood, a 17-year-old student, told AFP. “I would love to see my favourite club Liverpool lift the trophy.”‘Fast and exciting’ One of the difficulties that lies ahead for the Premier League’s brand will be to maintain the intensity of competition on the field in echoing, empty stadiums.”The Premier League is fast and exciting and no matter whether it is a strong or weak team, the games are great to watch,” said Hu.Fans watching at home will be offered pre-recorded fan noise dubbed over the action to compensate for the real thing.”There is something about the legend that is English football that is all about noise and atmosphere and proximity,” Simon Chadwick, director of Eurasian sport at Emlyon business school in France told AFP.”That spectacle, the product, the noise, the atmosphere, the experience won’t necessarily be there.”However, by overcoming a series of obstacles just to get back playing in the country that is the worst-hit by coronavirus in Europe, the Premier League is confident it will not lose ground in the long run against the Bundesliga, La Liga or Serie A in the battle for viewers across the globe.”We know it won’t be the same without our loyal supporters in stadiums but, together with our broadcast partners, we are able to ensure fans can watch or listen to each match live from home,” said the Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters.Topics :last_img read more