The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
– Spain to start easing confinement of children.
– Stranded Kosovo citizens to begin returning home.
– US, Canada to keep border closed 30 more days.
– Africa surpasses 20,000 cases, more than 1,000 deaths.
– Queen Elizabeth wants low-key birthday amid virus; nearly 15,500 deaths in Britain.
INDIANAPOLIS – More than 200 people upset over restrictions on Indiana residents because of the coronavirus protested outside the state mansion of Gov. Eric Holcomb, urging him to back off and restart the economy.
Holcomb, a Republican, said a stay-at-home order that expires Monday will be extended to May 1 while he works on a plan to reopen businesses.
In Austin, Texas, a few hundred people rallied at the state Capitol in another protest over stay-at-home orders. The demonstration came a day after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced that next week Texas will begin reopening state parks and letting retailers sell items curbside.
Abbott says more restrictions will be lifted before the end of April.
TIRANA, Albania – About 2,400 Kosovo citizens stranded abroad due to the new coronavirus will begin returning home.
A Foreign Ministry statement Saturday said the first two flights from Switzerland and Turkey would be next week.
Kosovo has been in a total lockdown for more than a month. The Kosovar Foreign Ministry selected the first 600 people based on criteria set by the Health Ministry. More citizens will be allowed to return once quarantines are lifted.
ATHENS, Greece – There have been two new fatalities from COVID-19 in Greece since Friday, raising the total to 110.
The countryâ€™s health ministry also announced Saturday the number of confirmed cases rose by 11, to 2,235. There are 68 people hooked to ventilators in intensive care units, down from 71 on Friday, and 39 patients have exited ICUs.
The average age of the victims is 74, the ministry said.
MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro SÃ¡nchez says the government will seek to extend the country’s state of emergency by two weeks to fight the new coronavirus outbreak but will start easing the total confinement of children.
Spain imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe in mid-March that brought economic activity to a near standstill. The government, which has been under pressure from regional governments, parents and some educators to ease the lockdown for children, will begin to do so in nine days.
SÃ¡nchez said Saturday that children will be allowed â€œto get out of their houses for a period on a daily basisâ€ but the specifics need to be ironed out with experts. He says rolling back the national lockdown will only come when the countryâ€™s embattled health system is ready for possible rebounds. The state of emergency extension until May 9 needs to be approved by parliament.
PARIS — Franceâ€™s national health agency says the number of virus patients in intensive care dropped for the 10th straight day, while the number of overall virus hospitalizations has fallen for three consecutive days.
Health officials say confinement is â€œstopping the viral spread.â€
The total number of deaths in France from COVID-19 reached 19,323, and nursing home deaths amount to more than one third of the total.
DETROIT – A Michigan prisoner who declined to be paroled earlier this year after decades behind bars has died from COVID-19 complications.
William Garrison died at a hospital after nearly 44 years in prison. The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 500 inmates in Michigan prisons and killed 17.
The 60-year-old Garrison was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man during a 1976 robbery when Garrison was 16 years old. He could have been paroled two weeks ago but decided to wait until September, when he would be eligible for a complete release without the rigors of parole supervision, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The parole board approved his application in March.
LONDON – Britain is due to receive a major shipment of personal protection equipment from Turkey.
The consignment of 84 metric tons of safety equipment includes 400,000 medical gowns.
Governments and hospitals are scrambling to source supplies of personal protection equipment as supplies run low during the pandemic. Turkey has ramped up production equipment to meet the booming demand.
Turkish officials have said that 88 countries had asked Turkey to supply PPE.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lankaâ€™s government has announced it will start relaxing a countrywide curfew.
The presidentâ€™s office announced that curfew in 18 of the countryâ€™s 25 districts will be in force from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day starting Monday. Curfew in the remaining seven districts, where most of the patients have been reported, will start Wednesday, and 25 areas identified as high-risk localities will remain locked down.
The government has instructed that only one third of state workers should report to their offices in Colombo. In other areas 50 percent of the state workers will be required to report to their offices.
Sri Lanka has so far reported 248 COVID-19 patients with seven deaths, while 86 have recovered.
ROME – The Health Ministry in Italy says there were 3,491 new coronavirus cases, nearly identical to the previous day increase in confirmed infections.
There were 482 more deaths, raising the overall official toll to 23,227 in Italy, which has Europeâ€™s highest number of deaths.
The country is approaching the end of its sixth week of nationwide lockdown, with people allowed out of their homes only for essential work or buying food and tending to family members.
Overall, Italy has nearly 176,000 confirmed cases.
TIRANA, Albania – The NATO-led troops in Kosovo say two civilian workers have died from the coronavirus.
A statement by the Kosovo Force on Saturday says, â€œsome of our personnel have tested positive, and sadly two civilian workers lost their lives.â€
It does not specify the nationality of the workers. KFOR, with some 3,500 troops from 28 countries, is led from NATO and supported by the United Nations, the European Union and the United States.
KFOR says soldiers who show signs of infection or had contact with someone infected are placed in quarantine and treated by medical facilities on KFOR bases before being evacuated.
KFOR commander Major General Michele Risi says, â€œOur Forces remain ready, and our crucial work goes on.â€
Kosovo has 480 virus cases and 12 deaths.
ISTANBUL – Turkeyâ€™s health minister says 121 more people have died of COVID-19, with total deaths at 1,890.
Minister Fahrettin Koca shared the figures on Twitter on Saturday, saying 3,783 more people were infected of the novel coronavirus. The total number of confirmed infections is 82,329.
â€œDespite an increase in tests, thereâ€™s a decrease in number of new cases,â€ Koca tweeted and urged: â€œPrecaution, treatment.â€
Also Saturday, the interior ministry extended for 15 days a ban on entering and leaving 31 provinces by land, air or sea. These provinces, including Istanbul and capital Ankara, are on a weekend lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
TORONTO – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the U.S. and Canada have agreed to keep the border closed to nonessential travel for another 30 days.
Trudeau says it will keep people on both sides of the border safe amid the pandemic. U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday the U.S.-Canada border will be among the first borders to open. Nearly 200,000 people normally cross the border daily.
The U.S. has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world. The U.S. and Canada agreed last month to limit border crossings to essential travel amid the pandemic. The agreement was due to expire this week.
STOCKHOLM – Sweden has reported 111 new COVID-19 deaths, with total deaths at 1,511.
Swedish health officials say 13,822 people have confirmed infections. Most of the infections and deaths have been recorded in Stockholm, which has 897 fatalities.
Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told Swedish broadcaster TV4, â€œpressure on the intensive care units seems to be easing and pressure on health care services has been somewhat relieved. We hope this is a trend that is continuing.â€
On Friday, the Swedish government defended its approach of pursuing relatively liberal policies to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying it shared the â€œsame goalsâ€ as other nations fighting COVID-19. The government has advised the public to practice social distancing, but schools, bars and restaurants remain open. Only gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned.
ROME – An Italian cruise liner company says a ship with no cases of COVID-19 has reached the western Mediterranean.
Costa Crociere says the Costa Deliziosa will disembark 168 Spanish passengers early next week at the port of Barcelona, Spain. Then the Deliziosa will head to its final destination, Genoa, Italy, where it will disembark Italian and other remaining passengers on Wednesday.
A company spokesman says a passenger left the ship this week in Marsala, Sicily, for health issues but not due to the coronavirus.
French authorities had rebuffed a request by Costa for permission to disembark several hundred passengers from France and nearby countries at Marseilleâ€™s port.
The ship, sailing around the world when the pandemic erupted, has 1,814 guests and 898 crew members.
ACCRA, Ghana – As the coronavirus takes its toll on the poor, some 1,000 people in Ghanaâ€™s capital are homeless after authorities razed their neighborhood.
The Accra Metropolitan Authority says the destruction of the Old Fadama slum clears the way for dredging of a nearby lagoon to help prevent flooding before the rainy season starts. Upset residents ask what they can do in a city under lockdown because of the coronavirus, and some members of parliament call the destruction of homes â€œcallous and insensitive.â€
Some residents had tried to leave the city when Ghanaâ€™s government-imposed coronavirus measures, but security officials forced them to return. The government has since made some efforts to house them.
JOHANNESBURG – Africaâ€™s coronavirus cases have surpassed 20,000, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of deaths across the continent surpassed 1,000 on Saturday.
Fifty-two of Africaâ€™s 54 countries have confirmed cases of the virus, and the World Health Organization has expressed concern that local spread is increasing.
Africa could be the next hotspot in the pandemic. Modeling by Imperial College London says under the best-case scenario with â€œintenseâ€ social distancing, some 300,000 people in Africa could die this year from COVID-19.
INDIANAPOLIS – People in a small Indianapolis suburb donâ€™t have to worry about paying a bill in April thanks to anonymous donors.
Fortvilleâ€™s nearly 4,000 residents had their water and sewer bills paid for by anonymous businesses.
Residents were informed Friday through a Facebook post, generating a string of grateful comments.
â€œThe town has received a gracious donation with the stipulation that it be used to pay for April water/sewer bills. If you have already paid your April bill, you will see a credit on the May billing,â€ the post read.
Fortville town manager Joe Renner says the total donation was more than $210,000. Renner told The Indianapolis Star it was â€œpretty greatâ€ the town had â€œsuch caring people.â€
AUSTIN, Texas – A protest is expected at the Texas Capitol, even as Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic will begin easing next week.
The protest Saturday in Austin, Texas, is the latest in demonstrations across the country that have been organized by small-government groups and supporters of President Donald Trump.
The Texas protest is organized by Owen Shroyer, a host of Infowars, which is a part of a company owned by conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones. He also broadcast a small protest this week outside the governorâ€™s mansion in Texas.
Abbott announced Friday that Texas will begin lifting some restrictions on retailers next week, plus reopen state parks and allow doctors to resume elective surgeries. He says more restrictions would be lifted on April 27.
Texas has more than 17,300 cases and at least 428 related deaths. Texas ranks last in the U.S. in testing per capita, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of data collected by The COVID Tracking Project.
LONDON – British authorities reported 888 more coronavirus-related hospital deaths on Saturday, bringing the total to 15,464.
The latest daily figure from the health department is 41 higher than the previous dayâ€™s 847 deaths.
Britain posted a record high daily death toll of 980 a week ago.
BARCELONA – Spaniards are still grieving lost loved ones with shocking frequency and under restrictions that limit burials to three attendees.
â€œThe data shows that the disease is decreasing in the population, but we still have a significant number of deaths. So this is not over yet,â€ says Spanish health official Fernando SimÃ³n.
Early Saturday at a Barcelona cemetery, the silence was broken by three nuns singing hymns as the coffin of sister Inmaculada LouzÃ¡n was placed into a niche by cemetery workers. The sister of Nazareth died at 80 of coronavirus-related complications after caring for members of the congregation at a nursing home, where she contracted the virus.
Spain has reached 20,000 deaths and more than 190,000 total infections. Spainâ€™s health authorities reported 565 deaths in the last 24 hours.
LONDON – Britainâ€™s Queen Elizabeth doesnâ€™t want a gun salute for her birthday because she doesnâ€™t think itâ€™s appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic.
The British monarch, who turns 94 on Tuesday, decided not to publicly mark the occasion in any special way, including the artillery salute she traditionally gets on her birthday.
â€œHer Majesty was keen that no special measures were put in place to allow gun salutes as she did not feel it appropriate in the current circumstances,â€ Buckingham Palace said. Sheâ€™ll also be keeping private any phone and video calls with her family.
The queen has previously stressed the importance of lockdown measures, saying in her Easter message that â€œby keeping apart we keep others safe.â€
PARIS – The French military is dismantling a field hospital set up to relieve the pressure on overwhelmed medical centers.
The dismantling of the makeshift hospital in the eastern city of Mulhouse began Friday as the virus has receded in the region, a military official told The Associated Press.
The field hospital held 30 beds and treated dozens of patients that couldnâ€™t fit in Mulhouse hospitals. Hospitals in nearby Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg also took in French patients from the area.
Lawmaker Olivier Bech told local broadcaster France Bleu Alsace that 15 of the field hospitalâ€™s beds are now empty.
France has more than 18,000 confirmed deaths from the virus.
ATHENS, Greece – As Orthodox Easter approaches, the Greek government is concerned about keeping the faithful from flouting quarantine measures.
Authorities are worried people will show up at churches on Saturday night to celebrate at the stroke of midnight. They also will fine those leaving their homes to celebrate Easter Sunday in the countryside.
The government decided not to distribute the Holy Light to churches across the country, as is the custom. It arrives on the eve of Easter every year from Jerusalem, having been lit there at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
ANGON, Myanmar – Authorities in Myanmarâ€™s biggest city have ordered a six-hour curfew in a bid to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The Yangon Region Government announced the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew will start Saturday night. Myanmarâ€™s eastern neighbor, Thailand, has a curfew covering the same hours.
Several of the cityâ€™s neighborhoods were put under lockdown, with all people required to stay at home except for essential workers, and only one person per household allowed to buy necessary supplies. Myanmar announced Thursday a ban on gatherings of more than five people.
Public health authorities confirmed Saturday six new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 94 and five deaths.
Myanmar was among the last countries in Southeast Asia to confirm any COVID-19 cases, likely because of lack of testing. The public health infrastructure is considered one of the weakest in Asia.
MADRID – Spain has reached 20,000 deaths for the coronavirus pandemic and total infections increased to more than 190,000.
Spainâ€™s health authorities reported 565 deaths in the last 24 hours. Only the United States and Italy have more deaths.
New infections rose by nearly 4,500. More than 74,000 people in Spain have recovered.
This week, health authorities said there were discrepancies in the statistics of virus deaths and infections reported by regional administrations. The central government has ordered regions to give more precise data and use the same parameters.
As the outbreakâ€™s spread slows, pressure on hospitals has relaxed. Authorities have closed one part of a huge field hospital with thousands of beds set up by the military in a convention center in Madrid.
But strict confinement rules are expected to be extended beyond April 26.
ROME – Italyâ€™s commissioner for the coronavirus is cautioning against pitting health concerns versus economic worries when deciding to ease lockdown rules.
Domenico Arcuri says, â€œwithout health, the (economic) revival will disappear in the batting of an eyelash.â€
Health experts say easing must be gradual. Italy has nearly 23,000 deaths, the most in Europe, and more than 172,000 known cases.
To put the COVID-19 pandemic in perspective, Arcuri noted during World War II in Milan, bombings killed some 2,000 civilians. In Lombardy, which has the largest share of Italyâ€™s COVID-19 cases and is a leader of the countryâ€™s industrial production, more than 11,851 people have died.
â€œThatâ€™s five times as many in only two months,â€ says Arcuri.
Authorities in Lombardy and other northern regions, but also Sicily in the south, have been pressing the central government to quickly ease restrictions on factories and many other businesses. The government decree that shut down nonessential industries and businesses runs through May 3.
PARIS – Franceâ€™s lower house of parliament approved an emergency budget overnight that takes into account the governmentâ€™s 110 billion euro ($120 billion) plan to save the economy from virus-related collapse.
The budget includes bonuses for medical staff, funds to help struggling workers and families, and aid to businesses including strategic industries like aviation and car manufacturing.
The bill goes to the Senate on Tuesday. The government has warned that Franceâ€™s economy, one of the worldâ€™s biggest, could shrink 8% this year and see its worst recession since World War II.
Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak