The Latest: German cops close brothel violating restrictions

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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:

– German police close makeshift brothel operating in violation of coronavirus restrictions.

– Parisians dance in the streets despite coronavirus lockdown.

– Hindu chief assures India’s minorities there won’t be discrimination during coronavirus pandemic.

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BERLIN – Police in the German city of Cologne say they have shut down a makeshift brothel operating in violation of coronavirus restrictions.

The city’s police force said officers went to an apartment building as part of an investigation into an attempted killing. They didn’t find the man they were seeking but did discover a half-dozen prostitutes of various nationalities in rooms in the building, one of whom had just welcomed a client.

A police statement Sunday said that the house’s owner had recruited the women online. He faces a criminal investigation following Friday’s discovery.

Prostitution is legal in Germany but brothels and other such facilities were shut down last month as part of measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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PARIS – The itch to dance and break out of coronavirus lockdown to bust a few moves in the fresh air has proved too strong for some to resist in Paris after weeks of staying home.

Video of Parisians dancing in the street this weekend, some wearing face masks, triggered buzz and criticism on social networks and an apology Sunday from the out-of-work theater technician who blasted the music from his balcony.

Nathan Sebbagh has been thanking medics and trying to lift spirits with half-hour hip-shaking musical selections on Saturday evenings. But his goodwill gesture this weekend became a victim of its own success.

Police knocked at his door and gave him a lecture after a small but frisky crowd gathered and danced under his balcony.

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NEW DELHI – A Hindu nationalist organization chief assures India’s minorities there will be no discrimination on the basis of religion as they battle the outbreak of a coronavirus pandemic.

Mohan Bhagwat is head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or National Volunteer Corps. He says no group can be blamed as a whole for the individual acts of some people of a particular community.

He delivered an online address on Sunday on the current situation in wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

The RSS is the ideological mentor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. Muslims comprise nearly 14% of India’s 1.3 billion people

His remarks came amid criticism by the BJP and other Hindu groups of an Islamic missionary meeting attended by thousands of people in the Indian capital last month that triggered a surge in coronavirus cases.

The meeting took place shortly before the Indian government banned large gathering.

The compound later gave shelter to people stranded in a lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 25. A government raid on the compound discovered the largest virus cluster in India.

Police filed a case against some of the group’s leaders for violating the ban, a charge the group denies. Officials have arrested 29 people, including 16 foreigners, who participated in the missionary meeting.

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VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is stressing that efforts to combat malaria must continue even as the world fights COVID-19.

Concern has been rising that while the world is focused on the pandemic, people suffering from other illnesses could receive less attention. Francis added his voice to that chorus of concern, saying Sunday that “while we are fighting the coronavirus pandemic, we must also continue our efforts to prevent and treat malaria, which threatens billions of people in many countries.”

The U.N. World Health Organization has said severe disruptions to anti-malaria campaigns, using insecticide-treated netting against mosquitoes, coupled with difficulties in accessing medicine could lead to a doubling in the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year compared to 2018.

As he has been doing during the Vatican’s and Italy’s COVID-19 lockdowns, Francis delivered his traditional Sunday noon blessing from a window overlooking empty St. Peter’s Square. He delivered his televised remarks from inside the Apostolic Palace.

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SINGAPORE- Singapore has deported a British man and blacklisted him after he lied about his travel history during a visit to a court last month. It was part of precautionary measure to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.

Singapore police say the 60-year-old man was allowed to enter the court premise on March 25 after declaring he hadn’t been abroad in the last 14 days. An investigation showed he flew into the city-state from Hong Kong on March 13, 12 days before his visit to the court.

Police said the Briton was given a stern warning before he was deported Sunday to Hong Kong and barred from re-entering the city-state, despite being married to a Singaporean permanent resident.

Singapore has the most virus cases in Southeast Asia at 13,624. This included 931 new infections Sunday, mostly among foreign workers living in cramped dormitory.

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HONG KONG – Demonstrators gathered in a Hong Kong mall on Sunday chanting pro-democracy slogans even as Hong Kong’s social distancing measures banned gatherings of more than four in public.

Police officers, including riot police with shields, entered the Cityplaza shopping mall in Tai Koo to disperse the crowds shortly after demonstrators gathered.

Hundreds of protestors gathered and sung the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong.” They shouted slogans reiterating their demands to the government and called for the Hong Kong police force to be disbanded.

The demonstration comes on the heels of the arrest of 15 former lawmakers and pro-democracy activists last week on charges of unlawful assembly stemming from huge rallies against a controversial extradition bill that would allow detainees to be transferred to mainland China.

The extradition bill was later withdrawn in September, although protests continued for several months with protesters demanding voting rights and an independent inquiry into police conduct.

Sunday’s demonstration is the city’s largest this year. Protests had quieted down in January after the COVID-19 outbreak in China led to a global pandemic.

Hong Kong reported no new cases on Sunday for the third time in the last seven days. The city has recorded a total of 1,038 infections and four deaths so far.

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JOHANNESBURG – The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 30,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the 54 countries of Africa.

The report issued Sunday showed there have been 1,374 deaths in Africa. Only two African countries have not reported any cases of the disease – the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho in southern Africa and Comoros, the small Indian Ocean islands.

South Africa has the continent’s most COVID-19 cases with 4,361, followed closely by three countries in North Africa: Egypt with 4,319 cases, Morocco, with 3,897 and Algeria with 3,256 cases.

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MADRID – Spain has reported its lowest daily death count for coronavirus infections in five weeks as its strict lockdown restrictions begin to pay dividends.

Spanish health authorities said Sunday that 288 people died from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 23,190 since the start of the outbreak. It is the first time the daily death toll has fallen below 300 fatalities since March 20.

The daily number of confirmed new infections also dropped. Spain counts 207,634 confirmed cases overall, but authorities say that the true number of infections is unknown due to limits on testing.

The daily rate of infection fell to 0.8%, down from over 20% a month before.

“The magnitude of today’s decrease is important,” Spanish health official Fernando Simón said. “As of tomorrow, our goal is no longer to reach the peak of the contagion curve, we are already there. Now we need to consolidate (our position) and think about how to safely move into the next phase of scaling down our restriction measures.”

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is to give details on Tuesday on further moves to reduce the lockdown after children were allowed out for the first time in 44 days on Sunday.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Animals at two mink farms in the Netherlands have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture said Sunday that some staff at the two farms had earlier displayed symptoms of the disease “so it is assumed that these are human-to-animal infections.”

As a precaution, authorities are closing roads within 400 meters (yards) of the affected farms in North Brabant, which is the Dutch region the hardest hit by the coronavirus.

The minks are not the first animals infected with the coronavirus. The findings come after positive tests in two pet cats in New York state and in some tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo, adding to a small number of confirmed cases of the virus in animals worldwide.

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ROME – Italians are waiting to hear what new set of restrictions will govern their lives over the next months after almost seven weeks under a national lockdown.

Premier Giuseppe Conte has been spending the weekend consulting those who will have key roles in overseeing Italy’s gradual easing of restrictions – mayors, governors, allies in his center-left government, a national scientific advisory committee and an ad hoc group of experts including economists and psychologists.

The current lockdown lasts through May 3. Italy’s education minister said weeks ago that it was practically impossible for schools to reopen before the summer break. That would prolong pressure on working parents.

Family Minister Elena Bonetti said in an interview in Corriere della Sera on Sunday that she is pushing for the opening of summer recreation centers for children as well as daycare centers for kids six years old or younger.

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BARCELONA, Spain – The sound of children shouting has returned to Spain’s streets for the first time in six weeks after the government lifted a strict home confinement on its youngest citizens.

Spain’s government let children under 14 years old out for the first time on Sunday morning after 44 days of complete seclusion. They can now to take walks with a parent for up to one hour within one kilometer from home.

“This is wonderful! I can’t believe it has been six weeks,” said Susana Sabaté, a mother of 3-year-old twin boys who were wearing child-size face-masks. “My boys are very active. Today when they saw the front door and we gave them their scooters, they were thrilled.”

Youngsters can take one toy with them, but they are not allowed play with other kids and should maintain a one-meter distance from other people. Parks are closed. Authorities recommend that both parents and children wash their hands before and after outings.

Spain has one of the world’s strictest lockdowns as it fights to contain one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world. The strict measures helped reduce a daily contagion rate that was over 20% a month ago to under 2% this week, easing pressure on hospitals that were on the brink of collapse.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

A man takes a young boy for a walk in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 26, 2020. On Sunday, children under 14 years old are allowed to take walks with a parent for up to one hour and within one kilometer from home, ending six weeks of compete seclusion due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Paul White)
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