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Coronavirus: ‘Rapid increases’ in South Africa cases as more than 500,000 test positive | World News

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South Africa has confirmed more than 500,000 coronavirus cases, as the number of infections in the African continent climbs towards one million.

The country reported a daily rise of 10,107 new cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

This brings the total to 503,290 – the fifth-highest worldwide, behind the US, Brazil, India and Russia, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University in the US.



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July: South Africa in midst of COVID-19 ‘storm’

Denis Chopera, a virologist based in Durban, said: “Half a million is a significant milestone, because it shows we’ve entered a stage of rapid increases. We may reach one million cases very quickly.”

Many experts think South Africa could reach the peak in cases in late August or early September.

Mr Chopera added: “What we know for sure is that the figures are an underestimate and that this virus will be with us for a long time to come.”

Just over three million of South Africa’s 58 million people have been tested since the country’s first case was confirmed five months ago.

Gauteng, which includes South Africa’s largest city Johannesburg and its administrative capital Pretoria, is the current epicentre of the virus.









July: COVID-19: South Africa’s health system ‘buckling’

But Mr Chopera said provinces such as Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal could fare badly with a big increase in cases, as their health systems are less prepared.

“They may have serious problems,” he said.

The number of deaths stands at 8,153 in South Africa. There have been around 684,000 worldwide.

South Africa went into lockdown at the end of March but many restrictions have been eased to limit the effect on the country’s economy, which was already in recession before the virus hit.

The unemployment rate is about 30%.

Social distancing was often impossible in South Africa’s tightly-packed urban areas and there are fears the same problems could see a rapid rise in cases across the continent, where large parts of the population live in similarly-crowded conditions.



South Africa Impala caught in wire







May: COVID-19 threatens South Africa wildlife

South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa said: “The lockdown succeeded in delaying the spread of the virus by more than two months, preventing a sudden and uncontrolled increase in infections in late March.”

Meanwhile, India recorded its steepest spike of 57,118 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, taking its total coronavirus cases close to 1.7 million, with July alone accounting for nearly 1.1 million infections.

Also, Mexico has passed the UK to have the third-highest number of deaths from the virus, 47,472, behind the US and Brazil.

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Beirut explosion: Rescuers search for survivors after deadly ‘ammonium nitrate blast’ | World News

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Rescuers are searching for survivors after a huge explosion killed at least 100 people and injured more than 4,000 in Beirut.

For thousands of people at home, work or out and about, there was no warning and no way to get to safety as Tuesday’s blast hit the Lebanese capital.

President Michel Aoun said it was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate – used in fertilisers and as an explosive – which was left unsecured in a warehouse for six years at the city’s port.

Aftermath of massive blast in Beirut. Pic: Wael Hamzeh/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Image:
Aftermath of massive blast in Beirut. Pic: Wael Hamzeh/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock



Man rescued from rubble in Beirut







Man rescued from explosion rubble

He called for an urgent cabinet meeting on Wednesday, and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared as the disaster is investigated.

Residents woke today to a scene of devastation, shocked by the magnitude of the destruction.

Thousands have been left homeless and families are still counting the casualties and searching for the dead.

The head of Lebanon’s Red Cross, George Kettaneh, said at least 100 people were killed and more than 4,000 were wounded, adding the toll could rise further.

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Many people spent the night going from one hospital to another desperate for any news about missing loved ones.

A general view shows the damage at the site of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
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The aftermath gives an idea of the power of the explosion

The blast struck with the force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, according to Germany’s geosciences centre GFZ, and was heard and felt as far away as Cyprus – more than 125 miles (200km) across the Mediterranean.

A mushroom cloud could be seen spreading over the city.

“L’Apocalypse,” read the front page of Lebanon’s French L’Orient-Le Jour newspaper. Another paper, al-Akhbar, had a photo of the destroyed port with the words: “The Great Collapse.”



Alex Crawford in Beirut following the explosion







This is what Beirut is waking up to

“It was a real horror show. I haven’t seen anything like that since the days of the [civil] war,” said Marwan Ramadan, who was about 500 metres from the port and was knocked off his feet by the force of the explosion.

The intensity of the blast threw victims into the sea and rescue teams were still trying to recover bodies.



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Aerial views of Beirut after explosion

Beirut explosion aftermath
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At least 4,000 people in the city were hurt

Lebanon was already on the brink of collapse amid the coronavirus outbreak and an unprecedented economic crisis that had triggered mass protests in recent months.

Its hospitals, already buckling under a surge in COVID-19 infections, are now overflowing and struggling to cope with the influx of those injured in the blast.

Doctors and nurses have been forced to treat some of those hurt on the streets outside, while at the same time trying to keep coronavirus patients separate from the constant new arrivals.

Map of Beirut showing approximate location of the blast, and a 2km radius - as the effects of the explosion were felt across the city
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The explosion caused windows to shatter as far as 2km away


Beirut explosion hits church during mass







Priest flees as explosion hits during mass

“It’s like a war zone. I’m speechless, said Beirut’s mayor Jamal Itani, while inspecting damage he estimated ran into billions of dollars.

“This is a catastrophe for Beirut and Lebanon.”

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Beirut explosion: ‘Casualties everywhere’ – Hospitals struggle to cope as bloodied people walk streets | World News

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“This is a catastrophe we have on our hands,” says a doctor at St George Hospital, less than a mile from the epicentre of the explosion at Beirut port.

It is one of several hospitals in the Lebanese capital which was damaged and had its electricity knocked out in the blast.

At least 100 were killed in the explosion and around 4,000 injured, according to Lebanon’s Red Cross.



Alex Crawford in Beirut following the explosion







Beirut blast aftermath: ‘It looks like war zone’

Already near full due to the ongoing and unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, hospitals quickly filled beyond capacity, pleading for blood supplies and generators to keep their lights on.

Inside, the wards and corridors were overflowing with patients.

Dozens of injured were being treated on the spot on the street outside, in the rubble, on stretchers and in wheelchairs.

And all the while, people with various injuries arrived in ambulances, in cars and on foot.

More from Beirut Explosion

An emergency doctor at Khoury Hospital said: “We have at least 300 wounded in the hospital right now, we have six operating suites that are still operating right now, and this keeps filling up by another group that needs attention.

“Every one of our crew, doctors and nurses are operating, even administration, everyone is working.

“We have a lot of damage, as you can see, all the ceilings have collapsed at the entrance, and the glass windows of patient rooms.”

Beirut explosion aftermath
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At least 4,000 people in the city were hurt

Firass Abiad, chief of Rafic Hariri University Hospital, had already tweeted on Tuesday morning that it had been nearing capacity.

After the explosion he described the scenes in the emergency department as “devastating” as new patients arrived, most with glass injuries, some transferred from other overflowing medical facilities and hospitals.

He tweeted: “More casualties will come. This will be a difficult night.

“My thoughts are with the families of people who have passed away or still missing.

“The scenes in the ED are devastating, but the staff are kind and selfless. No more words…”



Hadi Nasrallah recalls his experience of a massive explosion in Beirut







‘It was raining glass all over the city’

Footage on social media showed the wounded – bloodied and dazed, some in tears – wandering the streets in their blood-soaked clothes, shouting for help or in search of missing loved ones.

The crunch of broken glass and stone clearly audible beneath their feet from shattered windows and smashed masonry.

Ibrahim Shamas was looking for his 29-year-old nephew, Hassan.

“We have been all over every hospital in Beirut and now we are waiting for the names to come out and nothing has come out. We do not know if he is dead or alive, we do not know.”

Those who felt the blast said they had never experienced anything like it.

Several hospitals were severely damaged in the blast
Image:
Several hospitals were severely damaged in the blast

Shop owner Ahmad Ismail said he was standing at the entrance with another person when he “felt the glass shaking”.

“I said to him [that] maybe it was an earthquake and he went to ask the neighbours what’s going on.

“Then I felt something like lightning strike across Beirut, and then everything turned red and the force (of the explosion) threw me… I landed on the other end of the shop.”

He added: “I never experienced such a thing, not its size, not its sound.”

One woman said: “We were at home. We heard what sounded like fireworks. We thought it was a container in the port that was on fire and they weren’t able to put it out.

“A few seconds later we were flying through the air.”









Twisted metal, glass and rubble – Beirut’s devastated streets

Omar Kinno sat on the pavement, fighting back tears.

He said one of his sisters was killed when the blast rocked their apartment near the port, and another sister’s neck was broken.

His injured mother and father were taken to a hospital but he didn’t know which, and he was making calls trying to track them down.

He said: “I have no idea what happened to my parents. I am totally lost.”

“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross, George Kettaneh, told broadcaster Mayadeen.

“There are victims and casualties everywhere.”

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Beirut: Donald Trump suggests ‘bomb of some kind’ caused huge explosion in Lebanese city | US News

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Donald Trump has contradicted Lebanese officials and suggested a “terrible attack” caused a massive explosion that killed at least 70 people in Beirut.

The cause of the blast, which also injured thousands of others, has not been confirmed – but the Lebanese prime minister has blamed thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at a warehouse.

Mr Trump told reporters: “I’ve met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that this was not some kind of manufacturing explosion type of an event… They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind.”



A shockwave during an explosion in Beirut. Pic: Karim Sokhn/Instagram/Ksokhn + Thebikekitchenbeirut







Beirut explosion from multiple angles

The explosion happened in the city's port area
Image:
The explosion happened in the city’s port area

The US president did not say what information his generals had used to inform their opinion, but it clashes with the early assessments of officials in the Middle Eastern country.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab tweeted on Tuesday night to point the finger at what he said was an estimated 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored dangerously for six years at a warehouse

A picture shows the scene of an explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020. - A large explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4, an AFP correspondent said. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city. (Photo by Anwar AMRO / AFP) (Photo by ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images)
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A huge smoke cloud billowed into the sky after Tuesday afternoon’s blast
BEIRUT, LEBANON - AUGUST 04: An injured man rests in a chair after a large explosion on August 4, 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon. Video shared on social media showed a structure fire near the port of Beirut followed by a second massive explosion, which damaged surrounding buildings and injured hundreds. (Photo by Daniel Carde/Getty Images)
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Many walking wounded were left dazed in the city streets

Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound used as fertiliser and also in explosives.

Lebanon’s internal security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, earlier echoed the prime minister and said a highly explosive material had been confiscated from a ship some time ago and stored at the port.

More from Beirut Explosion

Local TV station LBC named the substance as ammonium nitrate.

A a counter-terrorist bomb disposal operator looked at footage of the smoke produced by the explosion and told Sky News it was unlikely to have been caused be gunpowder or ammunition.

Large parts of the Lebanese capital have been devastated by Tuesday afternoon’s explosion, which sent a huge shockwave across the city.

Residents reported collapsed ceilings and shattered windows as far as 2km (1.2 miles) away and the explosion was even heard and felt in Cyprus.

Beirut resident Fady Roumieh, who was standing in a car park east of the blast and said it was “like a nuclear bomb”



Hadi Nasrallah recalls his experience of a massive explosion in Beirut







‘It was raining glass all over the city’

Sky News Middle East editor Zein Ja’far, who was in downtown Beirut at the time of the explosion, said it caused windows to “cave in”.

“It tore apart the facade of the building we’re in, and once the dust settled we managed to get ourselves and others in this block outside,” said Ja’far.

He said there were a lot of “very dazed, very bloodied people” wandering around in shock.

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