Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Swiss army joins frontline in battle against coronavirus
In a Swiss hospital, the tall young soldier adjusts the heavy hospital bed in which an elderly woman with coronavirus is coughing deeply and wheels her out of the emergency ward. Head nurse Christophe Galzin is delighted to be getting the extra help. "They (the soldiers) are very strong," he said.
Kirsten Hillman named Canada's ambassador to U.S.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday named Kirsten Hillman as the country's ambassador to the United States. Hillman has been Canada's acting ambassador to the United States since August, and was previously the deputy ambassador.
Two more weeks of lockdown as Spain's coronavirus crisis worsens
Spain's coronavirus lockdown was extended on Thursday to last until at least April 12 as Europe's second-worst hit country struggled to tackle a fast increase in the death toll. Parliament voted in the early hours of Thursday to extend emergency measures - including the state of lockdown that has seen people confined to their homes except for essential trips for food, medicine and work.
U.S. envoy blames China for endangering world with coronavirus
The U.S. ambassador to London has said China had endangered the world by suppressing information about the coronavirus outbreak thus allowing it to spread far beyond the Communist republic's borders. "First it tried to suppress the news," Ambassador Woody Johnson wrote in an article for The Times newspaper published on Thursday, adding that Beijing had then selectively shared critical information while stonewalling international health authorities.
EU marks 25th anniversary of open-border Schengen pact with closed frontiers
The European Union marked the 25th anniversary of its open-border Schengen agreement on Thursday with all its land borders shut or subject to heavy checks imposed in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The Schengen agreement, underpinning an increasingly integrated and united Europe, came into force on March 26, 1995.
Beware second waves of COVID-19 if lockdowns eased early: study
Extending school and work closures at the coronavirus' ground zero in China may delay a second wave of infections, researchers said on Thursday, urging the rest of the world to take note. With containment measures largely successful and the epidemic's epicenter now in Europe, China has loosened a two-month lockdown in the city of Wuhan where the new coronavirus is thought to have jumped from wildlife to people late last year.
U.S.-led forces depart Iraqi military base near Mosul in drawdown
Troops with the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State began departing an air base in northern Iraq on Thursday, handing it over fully to the Iraqi military as part of a reduction of foreign forces in the country. The overall drawdown will see coalition forces move into a smaller number of bases and reduce personnel. The coalition has not provided details or numbers.
Iran has no knowledge of former FBI agent's whereabouts: Iranian official
Tehran has no knowledge about the whereabouts of a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in March 2007, a spokesman for the Iranian mission at the United Nations said on Thursday. The family of the man, Robert Levinson, said earlier that he had died in Iranian custody.
Putin says Russia can defeat coronavirus in less than three months
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia could defeat coronavirus in less than three months if it imposed tough measures quickly as authorities suspended all regular and charter flights to and from the country from Friday. Moscow authorities said they would close all shops apart from food stores and pharmacies from this weekend as Russia reported its biggest one day rise in coronavirus cases yet, bringing its official tally to 840.
Belgium says coronavirus peak still ahead
The peak of Belgium's coronavirus infections still lies ahead, the health ministry said on Thursday, adding much will depend on how strictly people follow lockdown measures. Belgium, a country of some 11.5 million people, has so far confirmed 6,235 coronavirus cases and reported 220 deaths due to the disease, which is now ravaging Europe after originating in China late last year.