The Latest: Britain’s virus death toll highest in Europe

0

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:

-President Trump heads to Phoenix to tour Honeywell plant.

-French President Macron criticized for opening schools next week.

-Britain’s official coronavirus death toll becomes highest in Europe.

___

LONDON – Britain’s official coronavirus death total has passed Italy’s number to become the highest in Europe.

The U.K. government says 29,427 people with COVID-19 have died in hospitals, nursing homes and other settings, an increase of 693 on the figure announced a day earlier. In Italy, 29,315 people confirmed to have the virus have died.

The toll is the second-highest in the world behind the United States.

Both the British and Italian tallies are probably underestimates because they do not included suspected cases. In the U.K. there have been 32,375 deaths in which COVID-19 was either confirmed or suspected.

___

ROME – Italy has reported its lowest daily number of new COVID-19 cases since its lockdown began in early March.

The Italian health ministry registered 1,075 new cases, running the overall number of confirmed infections nationwide to 213,013, although experts note that many persons with no or mild symptoms never get tested. All but two of Italy’s 20 regions had 100 or fewer new cases in the 24-hour period ending Tuesday evening.

While the lower number of daily new cases is heartening, epidemiologists have warned that the daily numbers will be especially critical to watch in about two weeks, when it will be clearer if partially lifted lockdown rules, which went into effect on Monday, might see an uptick in infections.

The death toll rose to 29,315, with 236 more deaths of infected persons registered on Tuesday.

___

NEW DELHI, India – Health officials in India are rushing to contain the spread of the virus in the southern Indian city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu after a large cluster was discovered in one of the country’s largest markets for fruits, vegetables and flowers.

J. Radhakrishnan, the nodal officer for COVID-19 in Chennai, tells The Associated Press that some 7,000 people connected to the busy Koyambedu market that remained open through India’s nationwide lockdown were being traced and quarantined. Many of these people had returned to their homes in different districts in the region, he says.

The market is spread over 250 acres and has around 500 shops. It was shut on Monday after the viral cluster was detected.

Chennai now has 2,008 cases, with 545 cases detected in the past two days, and the city now accounts for half of the state’s total 4,058 cases.

___

ATHENS, Greece – Greek authorities have issued a public warning to coffee-bar owners who dodge lockdown restrictions by selling takeaway alcoholic drinks to customers who gather outside to drink them as the establishments play loud music.

Civil Protection Agency chief Nikos Hardalias says the practice is forbidden and police will be on the lookout for offenders. Coffee shops can only sell takeaway coffee under current regulations.

Greece has recorded 10 new coronavirus cases and no deaths. A total of 2,642 infections have been recorded and 146 deaths.

But the health ministry’s spokesman for coronavirus matters, infectious diseases specialist Sotiris Tsiodras, noted Greece might have over-reported its own coronavirus deaths. Answering a question during his daily briefing, Tsiodras said Greece’s death toll includes anyone who died and tested positive for the virus, regardless of whether their death might have been due to other, unrelated causes.

___

MADRID – Spain’s Socialist-led government will ask parliament on Wednesday to extend the state of emergency another two weeks through May 24.

But the conservative Popular Party, the main opposition, is reluctant.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says extending the state of emergency “is the only instrument that allows the government to limit mobility, in order to prevent contagion, save lives and protect citizens.”

Health Minister Salvador Illa says the state of emergency, which has allowed the government to impose a lockdown, has been “essential” in reducing the daily infection rate from 35% to 0.4%.

Finance Minister Maria Jesus Montero warned that economic measures to cushion the pandemic’s blow are dependent on state of emergency legislation.

If the Popular Party votes against the extension, it could scuttle the government’s pandemic plans. It may decide to abstain, in which case the government’s request should win approval.

___

HARTFORD, Conn. – Gov. Ned Lamont ordered in-person classes at all Connecticut K-12 public schools to remain canceled for the rest of the current school year, requiring districts to continue distance learning.

The Democrat says schools must continue providing to-go meals to children under the school lunch and breakfast programs. Lamont says he’s working with state and local education officials to determine whether summer school programs should be held.

Lamont says he was hoping high school seniors could complete the final few weeks, but it wasn’t possible given the virus and the need to “protect everyone’s safety.”

The state’s largest teachers’ union, the Connecticut Education Association, praised Lamont’s decision.

___

MASERU, Lesotho – Lesotho, the only nation among Africa’s 54 to not report a case of COVID-19, will lift its five-week lockdown on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Tom Thabane says schools, churches and bars will open, with restrictions. Businesses will open but they must maintain social distancing and staff must work in shifts to reduce congestion. Churches can open but they must have less than 50 people per service. People will be expected to wear face masks in public.

Thabane says mass-testing will begin. The tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa, which has Africa’s highest number of confirmed cases at 7,220.

South Africa slightly eased its strict lockdown this week to allow some mines, manufacturers and retailers to resume operations at up to 30% capacity. Rwanda and Nigeria also eased restrictions this week.

___

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump says Americans should think of themselves as “warriors” in the fight against the new coronavirus.

Trump spoke to reporters Tuesday before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Phoenix to tour a Honeywell plant that’s making N95 respirator masks.

Trump’s trip is designed to give the appearance of a return to normalcy as states begin to reopen after shutting down in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

The president has stayed close to the White House since mid-March, when he declared a national emergency over the outbreak. He traveled to Virginia at the end of March to see a Navy hospital shift off to New York, and he spent this past weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Trump says: “The people of our country should think of themselves as warriors. Our country has to open.”

___

LONDON – Virgin Atlantic says it plans to cut 3,150 jobs and end its operation at London’s Gatwick Airport.

The company says the job losses will be across the board and it will reduce the size of its fleet.

Virgin is applying for emergency loans from the British government. The airline says recovery is expected to take up to three years.

Also, new car sales in the U.K. came to a near standstill in April, the lowest monthly level since 1946.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders indicate only 4,321 cars were registered during the month, down 97% from the year before. Dealerships were closed and potential buyers have been in lockdown since March 23.

___

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York state is reporting more than 1,700 previously undisclosed deaths at nursing homes and adult care facilities.

At least 4,813 people have died from COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes since March 1, according to a tally released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office late Monday. It includes, for the first time, people believed to have died from the coronavirus before it could be confirmed by a lab test.

Exactly how many nursing home residents have died remains uncertain despite the state’s latest disclosure. The list doesn’t include nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals before dying.

___

BEIRUT – Dozens of Lebanese returned home from Syria after authorities briefly opened two border crossings nearly two months after they were closed.

The returnees were subjected to tests for the coronavirus and will stay in hotels for one day to wait for the results. Lebanon, which has reported 741 cases of coronavirus and 24 deaths, will extend the lockdown until May 24.

Information Minister Manal Abdul-Samad says the government has asked security forces to make sure the lockdown is enforced.

She also says Lebanon accepted a $750,000 donation from Google in the form of advertisements to raise knowledge about coronavirus.

___

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed plans to gradually reopen schools next week amid concerns from mayors, teachers and parents about the timing.

Macron, wearing a mask, visited a primary school in a suburb west of Paris on Tuesday that has remained open for children of health workers.

More than 300 mayors in the capital region, including Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, urged Macron in an open letter to delay the reopening of primary schools scheduled for next week.

They denounced an “untenable and unrealistic timetable” to meet the sanitary and safety conditions required by the state, including class sizes capped to a maximum of 15. The majority of French children attend public schools.

Many parents say they won’t send their children back to school as France is one of the world’s hardest-hit countries by the coronavirus.

France starts lifting confinement measures on May 11, with businesses to resume activity and parents to return to work.

___

GENEVA – The U.N. human rights office says conditions in many prisons in the Americas are “deeply worrying” as COVID-19 spreads in many overcrowded facilities that lack hygiene.

Rights office spokesman Rupert Colville says fear of contagion and lack of basic services like access to food and health care have stoked riots and protests in some prisons.

He pointed to outbreaks of deadly violence in detention centers in Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela in recent weeks, along with attempted prison breaks in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and the United States.

Colville says the incidents suggest some states had not taken “appropriate measures to prevent violence in detention facilities,” urging states to investigate the deaths and injuries and any allegations of use of force by authorities during the rioting.

___

CAIRO – Yemen’s health minister affiliated with the Houthi rebels has announced the first coronavirus death in the rebel-controlled northern part of the country.

Taha al-Motawakel says a Somali migrant who died Sunday in a hotel in the capital Sanaa tested positive for the virus. He didn’t provide details about other confirmed cases in areas under Houthi control.

The surfacing of the pandemic in Yemen has stoked fears that an outbreak could devastate its already crippled health care system.

Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2014, when the rebels seized Sanaa, and much of the country’s north. The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition intervened to oust the rebels and restore the internationally recognized government. The conflict has killed more than 100,000 people and settled into a bloody stalemate.

The latest coronavirus death brings the total confirmed cases to 22 and three deaths across the country.

___

ATHENS, Greece – Greece’s prime minister says it appears “absolutely feasible” for restaurants and cafes to reopen on June 1 if the coronavirus outbreak keeps slowing.

On Monday, Greece reported two deaths and six confirmed infections, bringing the total death toll to 146, with confirmed infections at 2,632.

Greece began easing its lockdown measures on Monday, with the opening of a limited number of retail businesses, such as beauty salons and bookshops, and people allowed to leave their homes.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held a video conference with several cabinet members Tuesday to discuss how to reopen the restaurant and café sector while maintaining social distancing regulations. One possibility was increasing the outdoor space for tables and chairs.

Greece imposed a lockdown early on in its coronavirus outbreak, a move credited with containing the number of deaths.

___

LONDON – Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon has outlined how lockdown restrictions could be relaxed while stressing the move is not imminent.

Sturgeon says Scotland was at a “critical” moment and the lockdown will be extended for another three-week period after the next review on Thursday.

However, she says the first loosening considered by the government would be time spent outdoors. Other discussions relate to easing restrictions on community care services and businesses.

She says it’s too early to reopen schools and they possibly won’t reopen before the summer holidays.

Sturgeon says it’s preferred all four nations of the U.K. – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – should move together on easing the lockdown.

___

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

Signs and security at the entrance to the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in London, Tuesday May 5, 2020. The Nightingale Hospital was set up to deal with anticipated increased need for victims of the COVID-19 coronavirus, is to stop admitting new patients following limited demand for its services. (Kirsty O’Connor / PA via AP)
Advertisements