The Latest: Limited movement allowed in Chinese city Wuhan

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BEIJING (AP) – The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 335,900 people and killed more than 14,600. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 98,300 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

– Limited movement now allowed in Chinese city of Wuhan.

– South Korea reports 64 new cases, seven more deaths.

– Mayor says New York City hospitals running short on equipment.

– Canada calls for Olympic postponement, won’t send team this summer.

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The central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus outbreak emerged, is now allowing for limited movement within and outward as its months-long lockdown gradually eases.

The municipal government said in a Monday notice that residents whose health is classified as “green” on an electronic database will be allowed to leave their residential neighborhoods if they have proof that they are returning to work.

Public transportation is being revived, while checkpoints between different districts are being dismantled.

Individuals who want to leave Wuhan for other parts of the province of Hubei – but not beyond it – can apply to do so with medical documentation, including the results of a COVID-19 test.

Wuhan has the bulk of China’s 67,800 virus cases. The first infections were reported there, and it was also the first city to be locked down.

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SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea has reported 64 new cases and seven more deaths from the coronavirus, bringing its national totals to 8,961 infections and 111 deaths.

While the country’s epidemic has slowed from early March, when it was reporting around 500 new cases a day, there’s increasing concern of COVID-19 re-entering the country amid broadening outbreaks in Europe, North America and beyond.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that at least 114 cases have been confirmed as being re-imported from abroad, including 64 passengers arriving from Europe and 22 coming from North and South America over the past two weeks.

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NEW YORK – New York City hospitals are just 10 days from running out of “really basic supplies,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said late Sunday.

“If we don’t get the equipment, we’re literally going to lose lives,” de Blasio told CNN.

De Blasio has called upon the federal government to boost the city’s quickly dwindling supply of protective equipment. The city also faces a potentially deadly dearth of ventilators to treat those infected by the coronavirus.

Health care workers also warned of the worsening shortages, saying they were being asked to reuse and ration disposable masks and gloves.

New York City hospitals scrambled Sunday to accommodate a new swell of patients, dedicating new COVID-19 wings in their facilities. It remained “extremely busy” at Northwell hospitals, a spokesman said, adding their intensive care units were filling up.

“A number of hospitals have reported that they are becoming overwhelmed,” said Jonah Allon, a spokeswoman for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

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TORONTO – Canada says it won’t attend the Olympics this summer, calling for a postponement for a year.

The Canadian Olympic Committee sent out a statement Sunday night saying it’s refusing to send a team to Tokyo unless the Games, which are scheduled to start on July 24, are pushed back by 12 months.

The COC’s statement comes amid criticism of the International Olympic Committee’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean low-cost airline Eastar Jet says it will shut down all flights, becoming the first South Korean carrier to do so amid a sharp decline in travel over the global coronavirus crisis.

The company on Monday said it will temporarily suspend its domestic flights from Tuesday to April 25 because of decreased demand.

Eastar, which had flown to various places in Asia and Russia’s Vladivostok, halted its last international routes earlier this month when Japan began enforcing 14-day quarantines on passengers arriving from South Korea.

South Korean carriers have been cutting back or suspending flights amid the global spread of COVID-19. Other budget carriers such as Air Seoul, Air Busan and T’Way Air are currently operating only domestic flights after suspending their international services.

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BEIJING – China’s National Health Commission on Monday reported 39 new cases of COVID-19, all of which it says are “imported” infections in recent arrivals from overseas.

For more than a week, the majority of mainland China’s reported cases have been found in people coming from other countries, while community transmission inside the country has dwindled, according to the National Health Commission.

Seeking to prevent a resurgence of the virus, which first emerged late last year in central China, the government is imposing a strict quarantine on individuals entering the country.

Beginning Monday, all flights into Beijing will be diverted to one of 12 airports in other cities. Passengers must pass a health inspection in one of those cities before flying onward to the Chinese capital. They must then quarantine themselves in a hotel for 14 days at their own expense.

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TOKYO – Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that a postponement of the Olympics is unavoidable if it cannot be held in a complete way due to the coronavirus impact.

He was commenting on the International Olympic Committee plan to examine the situation over the next few weeks and make a decision, which could include a postponement option.

Abe, speaking at a parliamentary session, ruled out a possibility of a cancellation.

Whether Japan can hold the Tokyo Games as planned on July 24 has been a major international concern as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread globally, especially hitting hard Europe and the U.S.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand will go into a full lockdown for about four weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday.

She said the lockdown will begin in 48 hours’ time. People must stay at home and all non-essential businesses and activities cease.

The decision came as health officials announced another 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 102. Most of those cases have been traced to people returning from overseas but crucially two of the cases could not be traced and officials believe are evidence of a local outbreak.

Ardern said there would be an unprecedented level of economic and social disruption as a result of the lockdown.

“I do not underestimate what I’m asking New Zealanders to do,” she said. “It is huge, and I know it will feel daunting.” But she said it was important to act early to save tens of thousands of lives.

There have been no deaths due to the coronavirus in New Zealand, which has a population of 5 million.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The United Arab Emirates has announced that it is suspending all passenger flights and the transit of airline passengers in the country for two weeks to stymie the spread of a new virus.

Dubai’s airport, the world’s busiest international airport, is a vital hub connecting Europe and other Western nations with countries in Asia and Australia. Suspending transit flights there impacts travelers around the world. The UAE made the announcement early Monday.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, announced overnight that an evening curfew would go into effect starting Monday from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for 21 days.

The decisions are the latest and most dramatic measures to be announced in what has been a gradual, but rapid tightening of daily life across Gulf Arab states and the world as government’s struggle to slowdown the rate of infections from the new coronavirus.

There are around 26,800 cases of the virus confirmed in the Middle East, but more than 21,000 of those cases are in Iran and many others are linked to travelers from Iran.

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Sunshine lured crowds to California beaches and parks on Sunday despite a statewide stay-at-home order, prompting officials to close some strands and trails and issue more warnings for people to go back indoors.

Santa Monica closed seaside parking lots to discourage people from visiting its famous beach and help curb the coronavirus spread. Most people on the sand took care to heed guidelines to stay 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from others. But spacing became an issue in popular areas like the boardwalk.

“Today is not the day to go to the beach,” city manager Rick Cole said.

Dozens of Southern California parks, trails and facilities overseen by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority were closed to visitors.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, authorities shut Drakes Beach, Agate Beach and other popular coastal spots, including Point Reyes Lighthouse and Chimney Rock Headlands.

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ROSEAU, Dominica – The eastern Caribbean island of Dominica is reporting its first COVID-19 case. Health Minister Irvin McIntyre said Sunday that the patient is a 54-year-old Dominican who recently returned from the United Kingdom. He said the man was immediately placed under quarantine upon his arrival.

Also, the Dominican Republic’s minister of foreign affairs has tested positive for COVID-19.

Miguel Vargas said Sunday that his son also tested positive after recently attending a wedding in the popular upscale resort town of Punta Cana. Vargas also is the chairman of the Dominican Revolutionary Party.

The Dominican Republic has 75 confirmed cases and three deaths. The country shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

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WASHINGTON – The Senate has refused to advance the coronavirus rescue package in a procedural vote with Democrats rejecting a draft from Republicans and pushing for more aid for workers.

Negotiations are expected to continue into the evening Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged senators to “signal to the public that we’re ready to get this job done.” He wants passage by Monday.

But Democrats have resisted, arguing the nearly $1.4 trillion measure needs to bolster aid and put limits on how businesses can use the emergency dollars.

More voting is possible.

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NEW YORK – Futures for U.S. stocks fell sharply at the start of trading Sunday as investors watch to see if Congress can agree on a huge rescue package to try to stem the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Futures for the S&P 500 fell by 5%, triggering a halt in futures trading.

Wall Street is coming off its worst week since 2008. The S&P 500 fell 15% as large swaths of the U.S. economy shut down and investors waited for Washington to deliver financial support for American workers and battered industries such as airlines and hotels. Democrats have argued the package was tilted toward corporations rather than workers and healthcare providers, so negotiations are ongoing.

Oil prices also tumbled as the broad global economic slowdown threatens demand for energy. The price of U.S. oil fell 6% to $21.26 a barrel, while the international benchmark dropped 7% to $25.10

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WASHINGTON – The White House is urging commercial labs to prioritize the testing of hospital patients as they work to clear a backlog of tests for the coronavirus.

Vice President Mike Pence says the Department of Health and Human Services will issue formal guidance Monday, but that the federal government is encouraging all labs to “prioritize inpatient testing.”

Pence says the government hopes to have the backlog of existing tests – a milestone the White House hoped to reach on Monday – cleared by the middle of the week.

The White House is encouraging those without symptoms against seeking testing, warning it depletes already scarce supplies of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers.

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump says he’s ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ship mobile hospital centers to the hard-hit states of Washington, California and New York amid the coronavirus pandemic. For New York, that would mean another 1,000 hospital beds.

Trump is also revealing for the first time the number of respirators and other personal protective equipment sent to the hard-hit states by the federal government. It comes as state and local leaders have appealed on the federal government to provide far more, and as Trump has held off on using his fully authorities under the Defense Production Act to marshal the private sector’s capabilities.

Trump says it’s up to states to try to get the materials first. He says: “We’re sort of a backup for states.”

Trump says he’s also giving governors in those three states in calling up their national guard, keeping it under local control but providing federal funding.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

In this March 18, 2020 photo, people buy pork at the entrance gate of a closed residential community in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province. Last month, Wuhan was overwhelmed with thousands of new cases of coronavirus each day. But in a dramatic development that underscores just how much the outbreak has pivoted toward Europe and the United States, Chinese authorities said Thursday that the city and its surrounding province had no new cases to report. The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people, but severe illness is more likely in the elderly and people with existing health problems. (Chinatopix via AP)
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