The US general advising Iraq's armed forces joined NATO envoys yesterday in an attempt to resolve long disputes over the scale of the alliance's contribution to the Iraq operation. \nLieutenant General David Petraeus met ambassadors from 26 nations who are finalizing plans for NATO to run an academy for Iraqi officers outside Baghdad, which officials want operational by January. \nDiplomats said they were optimistic consensus would be found on a "concept of operations" approved overnight by military experts that would deploy about 300 NATO instructors to Iraq. \nAfter overcoming French concerns, NATO agreed last month on the outline of the plan, but differences have emerged over how many NATO troops will be needed to protect them. \nNATO's top commander, US General James Jones, has argued that up to 3,000 troops could be needed, although he has acknowledged the figure could be much lower. \nFrance has bristled at the prospects of sending thousands of NATO troops and insists the training mission keep a low profile. \nThe envoys are seeking to define how US-led coalition troops already in Iraq would protect the NATO instructors, and then to decide how many new NATO guards would also be needed. \nPetraeus will command the NATO troops, reporting back to allied headquarters, as well as running the much wider US-led program to build up the Iraqi regime's forces to around 250,000. \nNot all NATO allies will contribute to the mission in Iraq. France, Belgium, Germany and Spain have said any training they offer Iraqi forces will be outside the country. \nNATO diplomats have played down the significance of differences and rejected parallels with the crisis at NATO in early 2003, when France, Germany and Belgium opposed the war in Iraq. \nDespite insisting that it would prefer any NATO training to be kept outside Iraq, Paris lifted its objections to an alliance mission in July. \nIt allowed about 40 NATO instructors to deploy to Iraq in August and agreed to the expanded mission last month. \nAlthough many NATO nations have sent soldiers to Iraq, objections from France and Germany had previously prevented the alliance from taking any collective role there, apart from offering logistical support to a Polish-led multinational force of 6,000 troops operating in the center of the country.
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and