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:
– British PM Boris Johnson names son after grandfathers, doctors.
– Spaniards flock to exercise after 7-week lockdown.
– Russia reports sharp spike in coronavirus cases.
ROME – The number of beds treating COVID-19 patients continued to decline as Italy prepared to ease its strict lockdown measures on Monday.
The Civil Protection Agency said that there were 212 fewer people hospitalized with the virus and 39 fewer in intensive care in the past 24 hours, numbers that have been consistently easing in recent weeks. That has given authorities confidence to be able to cope with any new spike in cases as more businesses reopen and individuals are allowed more freedom to move around their towns and cities of residence.
At the same time, the number of dead nudged up the most in 11 days – by 474 – and the number of people who have recovered from the virus was the lowest in more than two weeks. Italy has registered the most deaths after the United States, at 28,710.
PARIS – France hopes to extend the health emergency put in place to fight the coronavirus crisis until July 24.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran made the announcement on Saturday, arguing that the extension of the measures that began March 24 is required to prevent a new flare-up of infections.
The proposal, which will be put to the French Parliament next week and is expected to pass, is centered on the notion that a â€œprematureâ€ relaxing the state of emergency â€œcould see a risk of the outbreakâ€ increasing.
France is among countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, having recorded some 24,594 deaths and 167,346 confirmed cases so far.
The new proposals include a data system for those that have contracted the virus, that will function for up to a year.
ISTANBUL – The Turkish trade ministry lifted export restrictions and a requirement to obtain advance permission for private companies to export medical equipment needed in treating COVID-19.
The decision, published in the Official Gazette, rescinded restrictions on exporting ventilators, intubation tubes and ICU monitors, among other equipment.
The trade ministry lifted restrictions on the export of ethanol, cologne, disinfectants and hydrogen peroxide.
Turkey also announced a military plane delivered medical supplies, including locally produced ventilators, to Somalia. Ankara has so far shipped needed supplies to at least 55 countries, including to the United States.
Turkey, a country of 83 million, has more than 122,000 cases and more than 3,200 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
ATHENS, Greece – Greek authorities have announced three deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
That raises the total to 143 – 106 men 37 women. The average age of the victims is 74.
There have been eight more confirmed infections for a total of 2,620 cases.
BARCELONA, Spain – Spaniards filled the streets to exercise for the first time after seven weeks of confinement to fight the coronavirus.
People ran, walked or rode bicycles under a sunny sky in Barcelona, where many flocked to the maritime promenade to get close to the still off-limits beach. Others jogged around parks and along sidewalks across the nation.
â€œSome people think it may be too early, as I do, but it is also important to do exercise for health reasons,â€ says 36-year-old Cristina Palomeque in Barcelona.
Spain has 24,824 confirmed deaths from the COVID-19 virus and 215,216 infections. The lockdown has helped reduce daily increases of infections.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A Malaysian minister has defended the mass arrest of immigrants without valid documents in viral hotspots.
Senior Minister Ismail Sabri says 586 immigrants were detained during an operation Friday in several buildings under strict lockdown in Kuala Lumpur.
He says they all tested negative for the virus and have been sent to detention camps for breaching immigration laws. Rights groups have slammed the government for breaking its promise to not act against migrants who come out for virus screening. They say the inhumane move during a pandemic could hamper efforts to curb the virus.
Ismail brushed off the criticism Saturday, saying authorities were acting within the law. He says Malaysia has taken care of the immigrantsâ€™ welfare during the lockdown, but they must face the law as they have no valid documents. The country has more than two million immigrants living illegally in the country.
Malaysia, which has 6,176 virus cases and 103 deaths, will let most businesses reopen Monday before a partial lockdown ends May 12.
LONDON – Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds have named their baby boy Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson, honoring their grandfathers and doctors who cared for the U.K. leader after contracting the coronavirus.
Symonds made the announcement on her Instagram page, posting a picture of her cradling the infant. She praised the maternity team at University College Hospital in London, saying her â€œheart is full.â€³
The birth came just days after Johnson returned to work following his hospitalization for the coronavirus. He spent a week in Londonâ€™s St. Thomasâ€™ hospital, including three nights in intensive care.
Symonds wrote in the post, explaining the name as â€œWilfred after Borisâ€™ grandfather, Lawrie after my grandfather, Nicholas after Dr Nick Price and Dr Nick Hart – the two doctors that saved Borisâ€™ life last month.â€™â€™
Johnsonâ€™s office says heâ€™ll take paternity leave later this year.
MADRID – The Spanish government will require commuters on public transportation to wear masks, starting Monday.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro SÃ¡nchez made the announcement on Saturday. Thatâ€™s when Spaniards were allowed outdoors to exercise for the first time in seven weeks. SÃ¡nchez says heâ€™ll ask the Parliament for an extension of the state of emergency established March 14 and set to expire on May 9.
Also Monday, people can go to restaurants and cafes to take away food. Bookstores, hair salons and some retail outlets can open.
Sanchez says, â€œNow we are finally seeing the results of all these weeks of confinement, (…) and we deserve some relief.â€
Spainâ€™s death toll for the virus reached 25,100 after 276 more people died in the last 24 hours. Thatâ€™s down from more than 900 daily deaths reported a month ago.
The total confirmed infections reached 216,582, with another 1,147 reported cases in the last day.
MANILA, Philippines – A Philippine Supreme Court justice says nearly 10,000 poor inmates have been temporarily freed by reducing the amounts of their bails to decongest jails amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Associate Justice Mario Victor Leonen told an online video news conference Saturday most of the more than 9,731 inmates freed since mid-March were from jails on the main northern Luzon island, which has been placed under a massive quarantine.
Some of the inmates, who could not afford to post bail, were released to the custody of local officials, the Supreme Court said.
The Philippines has some of the most overcrowded jails in the world and at least one detention center in central Cebu city has reported more than 200 infections. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on petitions for the temporary release of elderly and ill prisoners amid the contagion.
The Philippines has reported nearly 9,000 COVID-19 cases and 603 deaths, among the highest in Southeast Asia.
MOSCOW – About one-third of the workers at a vast natural gas field in Russiaâ€™s far northeast have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Olga Balabkina, deputy head of the local government in the Sakha republic, says more than 3,000 of the Chayandinskoye fields 10,000 workers have tested positive, according to Russian news agencies.
Employees of one of the contractors at the field reportedly held a protest this week, claiming insufficient measures taken against the spread of the virus.
PARIS – Eurostar says all its passengers must wear face masks as a safeguard against coronavirus, effective Monday.
In a tweet in French and in English, the international high-speed train service says the policy will apply to both its trains and its stations, â€œin line with guidelines announced by the French and Belgian governments.â€
It warned passengers without a mask could be refused travel. It says any mask is â€œsuitableâ€ if it effectively covers the nose and mouth.
The company has dramatically reduced its services connecting Brussels with Paris and London. There are currently only four trains a day.
VIENNA – Barbers and hair salons are back in business in Austria, but most residents will have to wait a month for a haircut because theyâ€™re booked.
Austrians quickly snapped up appointments after the government relaxed restrictions meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. All staff members and customers must wear masks and chairs need to be at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) apart.
Restaurants will be allowed to reopen on May 15, followed by hotels on May 29. Austriaâ€™s government is implementing a staggered restart of the economy so that it can issue another lockdown in case coronavirus infection rates start to climb.
The nation has recorded 15,558 infections and 596 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
NICOSIA, Cyprus – Cyprus is encouraging the voluntary use of a locally developed mobile phone tracing app that could help find individuals who may have had contact with a coronavirus carrier.
Cyprusâ€™ Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy told the Associated Press that the COVTRACER app, developed in partnership with a government-funded research center, uses GPS information to track a personâ€™s daily movements.
That information is stored in the mobile phoneâ€™s log file that the owner – if infected – could chose to share with authorities. Public health officials would then use the data to trace others who may have been in proximity to the carrier.
The ministry says use of the app is â€œstrictly voluntaryâ€ and any collected data is accessible only to the mobile phone owner, who is the only one with the authority to share it.
Another mobile tracing app based on Bluetooth technology has been shelved due to privacy concerns.
The ministry says Cyprus backs a coordinated European approach on tracing apps that would help manage COVID-19 infections across the continent and speed up border openings when restrictions are lifted.
Cyprus has 857 confirmed coronavirus cases and 15 deaths.
MOSCOW – Russia reported a sharp spike in its daily tally of coronavirus infection cases, with a new one-day high of 9,633 on Saturday.
That’s a 20% increase from the previous dayâ€™s count. More than half of the new cases were reported in Moscow, where concern is growing about whether hospitals could become overwhelmed.
The Russian capitalâ€™s mayor said this week officials are considering establishing temporary hospitals at sports complexes and shopping malls.
Infection cases have reached the highest levels of government, with both the prime minister and the construction minister reporting they have the virus.
SOAVE, Italy – Italyâ€™s special commissioner for the coronavirus says antibody blood tests will begin Monday, along with a gradual loosening of Italyâ€™s two-month lockdown.
Domenico Arcuri calls it a new challenge, â€˜â€™which by now is clear to everyone, we donâ€™t know how long it will last.â€™â€™
The government says it will administer the first 150,000 antibody blood tests on a sample population starting Monday. More nasal tests have been distributed throughout the country in a bid to identify and isolate positive cases.
The blood tests and nasal tests are meant to give a snapshot of where the virus has spread to focus further testing.
Arcuri says more masks would be distributed for people riding on public transportation, which is expected to spike up as the manufacturing and construction sectors emerge from lockdown. Stores, restaurants, bars and cultural sites such as museums remain closed until May 18.
Italy is opening parks and allowing funerals to resume with a maximum 15 people. Individuals must observe social distancing rules.
JOHANNESBURG – Africa now has more than 40,000 coronavirus cases.
Thatâ€™s according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been more than 1,600 deaths across the continent.
Fifty-three of Africaâ€™s 54 countries have confirmed cases, all but tiny mountainous Lesotho, which is surrounded by South Africa.
BEIJING – China, where the pandemic began in December, reported one new infection and no deaths in the 24 hours through midnight Friday.
The country has reported a total of 82,875 confirmed cases and 4,633 deaths.
The National Health Commission reported 43 people were released from hospitals Friday after being declared recovered, raising the total to 77,685. There were a total 557 people still hospitalized on the mainland.
LOS ANGELES – Oprah Winfrey keeps updated with the coronavirus news, but she has often focused her attention more on the positive â€œacts of valorâ€ while on lockdown during the pandemic.
The media mogul said Friday evening she wants people to digest daily information wisely during the Call to Unite 24-hour livestream global relief event. She was among 200 star-studded participants including President Bill Clinton and Julia Roberts to take part in the event.
The event was initiated to help inspire people to endure and overcome the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
â€œI have a small diet and managed how I took in the news,â€ said Winfrey on Friday evening from her home, where she has been self-quarantining with three others for nearly 50 days. She said she hopes the event can help the world become better.
â€œIf you leave it on all the time – as I know some people do – you will be consumed by the agitation, the hysteria, the confusion and constant angst that has been put into your phone, home and into your spirit,â€ she continued. â€œI have chosen to focus on so many acts of courage and valor, determination and people not giving up.â€
Each participant will answer calls in their own way, whether through performing a song, sharing a story or offering a prayer.
Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak