The Latest: Ship carrying stranded Indian citizens returns

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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:

– Navy warship carrying 698 stranded Indian citizens returns.

– South Korea president says citizens shouldn’t panic over rise in new virus cases.

– 3 members of White House coronavirus task force place themselves in quarantine.

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NEW DELHI – An Indian navy warship carrying Indians stranded in the Maldives because of the coronavirus lockdown has docked at a port in Kochi, the capital of the southernmost state of Kerala.

The INS Jalashwa with 698 returning Indian citizens aboard is the first vessel to arrive Sunday as part of India’s massive repatriation mission. India is also using national carrier Air India to bring back thousands of stranded citizens from the Persian Gulf, U.K. and elsewhere in Asia.

Sea and air passengers have been charged a fare to return to India. Hundreds of thousands of Indian citizens have signed up for additional repatriation journeys planned this month.

India’s lockdown entered a sixth week Sunday, though some restrictions have been eased for self-employed people unable to access government support to return to work. India has reported 60,829 positive cases, including 19,357 recovered patients, and 2,109 deaths.

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SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea’s president says his proposal to North Korea on jointly tackling infectious diseases such as the COVID-19 illness remains valid, though the North hasn’t responded.

President Moon Jae-in told reporters Sunday that he believes the North is suffering “various difficulties” over the coronavirus pandemic.

Moon didn’t elaborate. His spy agency recently told lawmakers the virus pandemic resulted in sharply shrinking the North’s external trade and causing panic buying in Pyongyang, the North’s capital.

Moon says he’ll try to persuade North Korea to accept his offers for reconciliation projects after the pandemic is stabilized. Moon has proposed reconnecting severed railways, resuming reunions of families split by war and sending South Korean tourists to North Korea.

North Korea has been taking intense anti-virus quarantine steps but it has steadfastly claimed there hasn’t been a single case of the coronavirus on its territory. Many foreign experts are skeptical of the North’s claim.

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SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea’s president is urging citizens not to lower their guard down, but said there’s no reason to be panicked amid worries about a new surge in the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

President Moon Jae-in made the comments in a speech Sunday as his health authorities detected a slew of new cases linked to nightclubs in Seoul’s Itaewon district in recent days. Earlier, South Korea’s caseload had been waning for weeks, prompting authorities to relax their social distancing rules.

“The infection cluster which recently occurred in entertainment facilities,” Moon said, “has raised awareness that, even during the stabilization phase, similar situations can arise again anytime, anywhere in an enclosed, crowded space.”

Moon added that, “We must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention.” But he also said “there’s no reason to stand still out of fear. “

South Korea reported 34 additional cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours as a spate of transmissions linked to clubgoers threatens the country’s hard-won gains in its fight against the virus.

Figures released Sunday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention increased national totals to 10,874 with 256 deaths. The agency said 9,610 have recovered and 10,128 others were undergoing tests to determine whether they’ve contracted the virus.

Moon says South Korea has “the right quarantine and medical systems combined with experience to respond quickly to any unexpected infection clusters that might occur.”

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WASHINGTON – Three members of the White House coronavirus task force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, placed themselves in quarantine after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, another stark reminder that not even one of the nation’s most secure buildings is immune from the virus.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the task force, has become nationally known for his simple and direct explanations to the public about the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes. Also quarantining are Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn.

Fauci’s institute said he has tested negative for COVID-19 and will continue to be tested regularly. It added that he is considered at “relatively low risk” based on the degree of his exposure, and that he would be “taking appropriate precautions” to mitigate the risk to personal contacts while still carrying out his duties. While he will stay at home and telework, Fauci will go to the White House if called and take every precaution, the institute said.

Redfield will be “teleworking for the next two weeks” after it was determined he had a “low risk exposure” to a person at the White House, the CDC said in a statement Saturday evening. The statement said he felt fine and has no symptoms.

Just a few hours earlier, the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that Hahn had come in contact with someone who tested positive and was in self-quarantine for the next two weeks. He tested negative for the virus.

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

Indian naval warship INS Jalashwa carrying Indians who were stranded in Maldives due to the lockdown over COVID-19 pandemic arrives at Kochi, India, Sunday, May 10, 2020. The warship with 698 returning Indian citizens aboard is the first vessel to arrive Sunday as part of India’s massive repatriation mission. India is also using national carrier Air India to bring back thousands of stranded citizens from the Persian Gulf; U.K. and elsewhere in Asia. (AP Photo/R S Iyer)
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