Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Kisses, hugs of greeting endure in Mexico despite virus fears
Mexicans are finding it difficult to shake the habit of greeting friends, family and even strangers with a handshake, hug or kiss on the cheek despite warnings they could spread coronavirus, with the practice on display at a major banking conference. At the annual gathering this week in the seaside resort of Acapulco, a couple of bankers, old friends, embraced after a brief back and forth discussion on what was the right way to greet one another.
'Life continues,' says Brazil's Bolsonaro after negative coronavirus test
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who met with President Donald Trump in the United States less than a week ago, has tested negative for coronavirus, a post on his Facebook page said on Friday. Bolsonaro and a large Brazilian entourage, including cabinet ministers, met with Trump and other senior U.S. officials last weekend at Mar-a-Lago. One of the party, Bolsonaro's communications secretary Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and is in quarantine.
U.N. headquarters in New York to slash staff presence for four weeks over coronavirus
The United Nations said it will slash its staff presence at its New York headquarters for four weeks, starting Monday, after a Filipino diplomat became the first person at the 193-member world body known to have tested positive for the coronavirus. The U.N. announcement on Friday came as host country the United States declared a national emergency over the fast-spreading virus.
Ireland cautions citizens about travel to other EU states
Ireland advised its citizens on Friday to exercise a high degree of caution before deciding to travel to the rest of the European Union due to the spread of the coronavirus and restrictions other members states had put in place. Ireland shut schools, universities and childcare facilities until at least March 29 on Friday and restricted mass gathering to slow the spread of the virus. The number of confirmed cases rose to 90 from 70 on Thursday.
Hezbollah: Not against aid, even from IMF, but depends on terms
Hezbollah does not oppose foreign aid to Lebanon, even from the International Monetary Fund, as long as the help does not impose conditions that harm the national interest, its leader said on Friday. In a televised speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said his Shi'ite movement, which backs the government, refused conditions "that would make the country explode". He said it was against raising the value-added tax (VAT), particularly for the poor.
Trump to nominate Hudson Institute CEO Weinstein to be U.S. ambassador to Japan: White House
U.S. President Donald Trump intends to nominate Kenneth Weinstein, chief executive officer of the Hudson Institute think tank, as ambassador to Japan, the White House said on Friday. Weinstein is chairman of the board of governors of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which includes the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other broadcasters.
Iraq condemns U.S. air strikes, warns of consequences
Iraq condemned overnight U.S. air strikes on Friday, saying they killed six people and warning of dangerous consequences for what it called a violation of sovereignty and targeted aggression against the nation's regular armed forces. President Barham Salih said repeated such violations could cause Iraq to unravel into a failed state and revive the Islamic State militant group. Iraq's foreign ministry announced plans to bring a complaint to the United Nations.
Air pollution clears in northern Italy after coronavirus lockdown, satellite shows
Air pollution over northern Italy fell after the government introduced a nationwide lockdown to combat coronavirus, satellite imagery showed on Friday, in a new example of the pandemic's potential impact on emissions. China, where the outbreak started, showed a marked reduction in pollution after the government imposed travel bans and quarantines, and the data from Italy, which was hit hard several weeks later, suggested a similar pattern.
WHO officials rethink epidemic messaging amid pandemic debate
The World Health Organization is considering changing the way it classifies and describes international epidemics, amid a protracted public debate over whether to call the outbreak of the new coronavirus a pandemic. Officials at the Geneva-based WHO – who this week described it as a pandemic for the first time - are reviewing how the health agency communicates its risk assessment of disease outbreaks in the future, said two people familiar with the discussions. They said that included use of the term pandemic as well as PHEIC, which stands for public health emergency of international concern.
As coronavirus chaos spreads globally, Trump declares U.S. emergency
President Donald Trump declared a U.S. national emergency over the quickly spreading coronavirus on Friday, opening the door to more government aid to combat a pathogen that has infected more than 138,000 people worldwide and left over 5,000 dead. The impact of the coronavirus on everyday life deepened around the world. It was detected for the first time in several countries, with the World Health Organization (WHO) calling Europe the pandemic's current epicenter. More schools and businesses closed, the global sporting calendar was left in tatters, and people faced greater restrictions on where they could go.