Reuters World News Summary

Following is a summary of current world news briefs.

Trump, Pompeo walk to brink of blaming Iran for rocket attack

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday came close to blaming Iran for a rocket attack in Iraq last week in which two American troops and a British service member were killed. "Maybe we shouldn't say yet," said Trump when the question was posed to Pompeo at a White House news conference. Said Pompeo: "Let me just get back to you on the answer to that."

North Korea fires suspected short-range missiles, South Korea says, amid coronavirus

North Korea fired two projectiles that appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, South Korea's military said on Saturday, after what analysts said was a show of confidence during the coronavirus epidemic by announcing an April legislature session. The launch follows two earlier this month, when North Korea launched short-range missiles and multiple projectiles, according to South Korea's military, drawing U.S. and Chinese appeals for Pyongyang to return to talks on ending its nuclear and missile programs.

U.S. envoy to South Africa draws fire after possible virus exposure

U.S. State Department employees have complained about the U.S. ambassador to South Africa's failure to self-isolate immediately after returning from a U.S. visit when she attended a March 7 Mar-a-Lago event, some of whose attendees have tested positive for coronavirus, according to messages reviewed by Reuters. Among those at the event were U.S. President Donald Trump, who has tested negative for the Covid-19 disease, and U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham, who decided to quarantine himself after learning a Brazilian official there fell ill with it.

Cruise ship bound for Italy had 36 coronavirus cases during Marseille stop

An Italian cruise ship bound for the Italian harbour of Savona had 36 people on board infected with the coronavirus when tests were undertaken on passengers during a stop in the French port of Marseille, French authorities said on Friday. A Marseille area prefecture official told Reuters that he could not comment on how many of those infected had disembarked and how many were still on the ship, which was due to leave Marseille on Friday evening to sail to Savona.

Coronavirus deaths in Italy overtake China as economic damage mounts

The world's richest nations poured unprecedented aid into the global economy on Thursday as coronavirus cases ballooned in the new epicentre Europe, with the number of deaths in Italy outstripping those in mainland China, where the virus originated. With over 242,000 infections and nearly 10,000 deaths, the epidemic has stunned the world and drawn comparisons with painful periods such as World War Two, the 2008 financial crisis and the 1918 Spanish flu.

Italy's coronavirus deaths surge by 627 in a day, elderly at high risk

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has leapt by 627 to 4,032, officials said on Friday, an increase of 18.4% - by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago. On Thursday, Italy overtook China as the country to register most deaths from the highly contagious respiratory disease.

Coronavirus death toll in Turkey rises to nine, 670 confirmed cases: health minister

The death toll in Turkey due to the coronavirus rose to nine, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said late on Friday, after five elderly patients died of the highly contagious respiratory illness. The number of confirmed cases in the country has surged since the first case was announced last week, reaching 670 on Friday. The cases have roughly doubled every day since Sunday.

The United Kingdom is closed: Johnson shutters pubs and restaurants

Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively closed down the United Kingdom on Friday, ordering pubs, restaurants, theaters, cinemas and gyms to shut their doors in a bid to slow down the accelerating spread of the coronavirus. As the coronavirus outbreak sweeps across the world, governments, companies and investors are grappling with the biggest public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic, panicked populations and imploding financial markets.

Canada's stretched hospitals brace for impact

Canada's health system is preparing for an influx of coronavirus patients in the midst of a long-running bed shortage, calling doctors out of retirement and ramping down any treatment that can wait. A shortage of beds during periods of peak demand, like the flu season, is a longstanding problem in the publicly funded system. While health spending has risen gradually in recent years, beds have not kept pace with population growth.

Macron's popularity jumps as French approve of coronavirus response

French President Emmanuel Macron's popularity rating jumped to a more than two-year high, according to an opinion poll published on Friday, showing his handling of the coronavirus crisis was being given a big vote of confidence. Some 51% of the French "have confidence" in Macron, according to a Harris Interactive opinion poll for LCI television, a 13-point increase compared to the previous month and the highest since January 2018.