Saturday's world stories

NYT: Xi Jinping ordered action on coronavirus earlier than previously reported

Xi Jinping vists a community health center in Beijing on Feb. 10. Photo: Ju Peng/Xinhua via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping said that he first gave orders to tackle the coronavirus crisis on Jan. 7 in a speech released by state media on Saturday, the New York Times reports. He did not disclose details of those orders in the speech.

Why it matters: The newly published address, which Xi gave on Feb. 3, confirms "for the first time that he was aware of the virus while officials at its epicenter were openly downplaying its dangers," per the Times.

Go deeperArrowFeb 15, 2020 - World

In photos: How countries struck by coronavirus celebrated Valentine's Day

A Hong Kong flower shop on Valentine's Day. There are 56 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Hong Kong as of Feb. 14. Photo: Miguel Candela/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Across China and other countries with some of the highest confirmed cases of the coronavirus, people celebrated Valentine's Day as they would any other year: buying flowers and other gifts, attending weddings and spending time with loved ones.

Where it stands: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,527 people and in mainland China infected nearly 66,497 people, a number the CDC believes is underreported. There are more than 500 cases in 27 other countries and territories.

Go deeperArrowFeb 15, 2020 - Health

French health minister confirms first coronavirus death in Europe

French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn. Photo: Ludovic Marin/Contributor/Getty Images

French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn confirmed on Saturday the death of a Chinese patient diagnosed with coronavirus in a Paris hospital, the first COVID-19 casualty outside of Asia.

The state of play: "I was informed last night of the death of an 80-year-old patient who was hospitalized ... since January 25 and who had a pulmonary infection from the coronavirus," Buzyn said.

Go deeperArrowFeb 15, 2020 - Health

U.S. reportedly reaches Afghanistan truce with Taliban

A U.S. soldier looks out over Afghanistan from a helicopter in 2014. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reached an initial deal with the Taliban on Friday that could begin a drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan, AP reports, citing a senior U.S. official.

The big picture: Top administration officials, including President Trump, had signaled that an agreement could be reached soon, allowing America's 18-year war in Afghanistan to end after thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent. But previous attempts to leave Afghanistan have not panned out.

Go deeperArrowFeb 14, 2020 - World