While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 20

WHO regional director Ahmed al-Mandhari (screen) speaks during a press briefing in the Egyptian capital Cairo,. PHOTO: AFP

WHO declares 'progress' in fight against coronavirus

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday hailed "tremendous progress" in the fight against the deadly new coronavirus since it emerged in China in December.

"We are making tremendous progress in a short period of time... trends are very encouraging but we are not at a turning point yet," said Dr Richard Brennan, WHO's regional emergency director, at a press conference in Cairo.

The death toll from the Covid-19 virus jumped past 2,000 on Wednesday, almost all of them in mainland China, where 74,185 cases of infection have been confirmed.

Egypt's health ministry announced last week the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Africa, a foreigner whose nationality was not revealed.


Queen could stop Harry and Meghan using 'royal' brand: Reports

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Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will begin their new life outside the royal inner circle at the start of April, their spokeswoman said on Wednesday, as Buckingham Palace said it was reviewing the couple's use of the "Sussex Royal" label.

The couple will formally step down as senior royals from March 31, the spokeswoman said, and will no longer carry out duties on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II after that date.

They will no longer have an office at Buckingham Palace - the queen's London residence - and will instead be represented through their British charity from April 1, she added.


Violinist plays during brain op as surgeons test her dexterity

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A violinist helped surgeons avoid damage to her brain during surgery to remove a tumour by playing her instrument, the British hospital where she underwent the innovative procedure said.

Surgeons came up with the novel approach to ensure that areas of Dagmar Turner's brain responsible for intricate hand movements were not affected during the precision procedure.

Turner, a 53-year-old musician with the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra in southern England, was diagnosed in 2013 with a slow-growing tumour after suffering a seizure during a concert. She eventually sought surgery.


'Could you live on $170 a month?' Russian woman asks president Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday faced what appeared to be a rare unscripted grilling from a Russian woman who asked him how much he earns and whether he could live on her income of US$170 (S$230) a month.

While visiting his native city of Saint Petersburg, Putin had laid a wreath at a political mentor's grave and was approached by people passing nearby, who filmed him on cellphones.

A woman in a hooded coat pushed through and immediately asked Putin: "Please tell me, is it possible to live on 10,800 rubles (US$170)?"


Video goes viral of Syrian dad turning war noise into a 'game' to protect daughter

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Syrian video journalist Abdallah al-Muhammad has invented a game to cushion his young daughter from the trauma of hearing the deafening cacophony of air strikes and shelling near his home in north-west Syria's Idlib.

A video posted by Muhammad on social media this week, showing him and his three-year-old daughter Salwa laughing at the sound of shelling in Idlib during this game, has gone viral.

Syrian troops, supported by Russian warplanes have been advancing since December against the last rebel bastions in Idlib and Aleppo provinces, in what could be one of the final chapters of the nine-year-old civil war.


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