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Global oil prices rebounded to more than $30 a barrel for the first time in almost a month on Thursday after Saudi Arabia and Russia signalled a possible truce in a price war that has triggered the fastest oil market collapse in decades.
The price of Brent crude leapt by 30% after the US president, Donald Trump, fanned hopes of a new deal between Riyadh and Moscow to help stabilise the oil market. Oil prices fell to 18-year lows of $23 a barrel earlier this week as Russia and Saudi Arabia prepared to wrestle for a greater share of the market by increasing production despite falling energy demand because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Trump tweeted on Thursday that he had spoken to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and expected Riyadh and Moscow to cut output by as much as 15m barrels a day. Read more HERE.
WHO says numbers likely to be significantly higher as South Africa imposes lockdown
There are now more than 2,400 confirmed cases of Covid-19 across Africa and growing warnings that the pandemic will cause major challenges for the continent’s under-resourced health services. World Health Organization officials have said the statistics are likely to significantly underestimate the true number of cases. There have been 60 reported deaths so far.
About a third of the cases are in South Africa, which recorded a steep rise overnight. The country’s health minister, Zweli Mkhize, said on Wednesday that the number of coronavirus cases had reached 709, up from 554 a day before. South Africa will go into a strict 21-day lockdown at midnight on Thursday in an attempt to avoid a “catastrophe of huge proportions”, said the president, Cyril Ramaphosa. He called on the 56 million people in sub-Saharan Africa’s most developed economy to show patience, courage and unity. Read more HERE.
Bacterium is able to break down polyurethane, which is widely used but rarely recycled. A bacterium that feeds on toxic plastic has been discovered by scientists. The bug not only breaks the plastic down but uses it as food to power the process.
The bacterium, which was found at a waste site where plastic had been dumped, is the first that is known to attack polyurethane. Millions of tonnes of the plastic is produced every year to use in items such as sports shoes, nappies, kitchen sponges and as foam insulation, but it is mostly sent to landfill because it it too tough to recycle.
When broken down it can release toxic and carcinogenic chemicals which would kill most bacteria, but the newly discovered strain is able to survive. While the research has identified the bug and some of its key characteristics, much work remains to be done before it can be used to treat large amounts of waste plastic. Read more HERE.
A strong earthquake in Croatia on Sunday caused panic, evacuations and damage- all amid a partial coronavirus lockdown. A 15-year-old was reported to be in critical condition and 16 other people were injured, authorities said. The European seismological agency EMSC said the 5.3 earthquake struck a wide area north of the capital, Zagreb, at 6.23am (0523 GMT).
The epicentre was 7 kilometres (4 miles) north of Zagreb at a depth of 10 kilometres (6 miles). Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the earthquake was the biggest in Zagreb in the last 140 years. Many buildings cracked and walls and rooftops were damaged. Streets were littered with debris. Concrete slabs fell on cars and chimneys landed in front of entrances.
Footage from the scene showed mothers dressed in nightgowns hugging their newborn babies in a parking lot as they evacuated a damaged maternity hospital amid freezing temperatures. Read more HERE.
Governments warn disease will cause huge challenges for continent’s health services. Countries across Africa have imposed wide-ranging and stringent new measures as the coronavirus begins to spread more rapidly across the continent.
Though the continent is still far behind Europe and Asia in the total numbers of Covid-19 cases, the disease has now reached about half of its countries. Algeria has 48 confirmed cases, Egypt 110, while South Africa has 62, according to the World Health Organization and national governments on Monday. Other countries have fewer cases, mostly in single figures.
Somalia, Liberia and Tanzania registered their first cases on Monday. Most were brought to the continent by travellers from overseas but increasing numbers of internal transmissions are being recorded. Read more HERE.