Assad warns of virus ‘catastrophe’ as Syria lockdown eases May 05, 2020 0 485 12345 AFPDamascusPresident Bashar al-Assad warned Monday of a “catastrophe” in war-battered Syria if the easing of lockdown measures against coronavirus is mishandled.The government in Damascus has officially recorded 44 cases of COVID-19, including three deaths, while Kurdish authorities in the country’s northeast have announced three cases in areas under their control.The relatively low number of recorded cases does not mean Syria is “out of the danger zone”, Assad told the government’s coronavirus crisis body.“Although the numbers are limited, this doesn’t mean they can’t explode suddenly in a matter of days or maybe weeks,” he said in a video shared on the presidency’s social media channels.“This will put us in the face of a real catastrophe that would overwhelm the state’s health and logistical capabilities.”The government last week started to gradually lift a weeks-old lockdown that has hampered a crumbling economy battered by Western sanctions and nine years of war. A night-time curfew is still in force and residents are not allowed to travel across provinces, but markets have reopened during the day and the government is planning to reopen universities.Assad said Syria was in a “transitional phase” from the lockdown but warned of grave economic challenges that would outlast confinement.Syria is in the thick of a grinding economic crisis that has seen its pound hit record lows against the dollar, while inflation has soared, plunging most of the population into poverty.“In tandem with the health challenge, the other challenge during the coronavirus pandemic and even before is the economic challenge,” Assad said.With the pandemic, “citizens from different segments of society have been forced to choose between hunger and poverty... or illness”. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Iran reopens mosques, records almost 80,000 hospital recoveries May 05, 2020 0 433 Relief in Lagos as lockdown ends May 05, 2020 0 625 Kuwait breaks up ‘riot’ by Egyptian workers demanding repatriation May 05, 2020 0 1268 Lebanon’s banned Hezbollah says not active in Germany AFP Beirut The head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement on Monday condemned Germany’s ban on his group as bowing to US pressure and insisted it was not active in the country. Germany designated Hezbollah a “Shiite terrorist .. Bahrain opens second field hospital on man-made island AfP Manama After turning a car park into an intensive care unit for coronavirus patients, Bahrain has set up its second field hospital -- on a man-made island. The facilities are among five that the authorities plan to .. Virus caused ‘mystery’ mass deaths in north Nigeria: investigators Kano Mass deaths in a northern Nigerian state were caused by coronavirus, the authorities said after a preliminary investigation into the phenomenon. Gravediggers in the state of Kano have reported burying dozens of .. South Africa starts virus trial of TB vaccine AFP Cape Town Hundreds of South African health workers were given a century-old tuberculosis vaccine on Monday in a trial to see whether the venerable formula can protect against coronavirus. Devised at France’s .. Sudan says US approves ambassador, first in two decades Khartoum Sudan announced on Monday that the United States had approved Khartoum’s pick of a veteran diplomat as ambassador to Washington, the first such envoy in over two decades. Ties between Khartoum and Washington .. Six killed as plane carrying medical supplies crashes in Somalia DPA Mogadishu Six people, including two pilots, were killed when a plane carrying medical supplies crashed in south-western Somalia on Monday, authorities said. “The cause of the accident is not yet known,” government ..