The Latest: Spain PM says coronavirus ‘has not disappeared’

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:

– Spain’s prime minister says coronavirus ‘has not disappeared.’

– Lack of food cited at India quarantine center, migrants flee.

– Belarus hosts large military parade despite sharply rising infections.

___

MADRID – Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says loosening the nearly two-month lockdown will be for naught if people don’t obey social distancing rules.

He reminded Spaniards on Saturday, two days before 51% of the nation of 47 million will be allowed to sit at outdoor cafes, “the virus has not disappeared.”

On Monday, many regions not as hard hit by the virus will permit gatherings of up to 10 people and reopen churches, theaters, outdoor markets and other establishments with limits on occupancy.

Madrid and Barcelona will stay under stricter confinement. Two-meter social distancing rules remain in effect.

“The struggle goes on and will last until we find a vaccine,” Sanchez said. “Meanwhile, we have to live with the virus, that is why we must reinforce our health care system and strengthen its capabilities.”

Sánchez and Spain’s army have warned of possible surges in the coming months.

Spain’s health ministry reported 179 new confirmed deaths on Saturday, increasing the death toll to 26,478. A month ago, Spain was averaging 900 daily deaths.

___

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican Museums are gearing up to resume visits to the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens and papal estate outside Rome after a two-month coronavirus lockdown.

New protocols will require reservations in advance, protective masks and likely afternoon and evening visiting to stagger crowds.

The Vatican hasn’t announced a reopening date for the museums. The head of the Vatican City State that oversees the museums, Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, suggested Saturday it might not be ready to coincide with the May 18 reopening of Italian museums.

But he says the Vatican was finishing the installation of scanners to check temperatures of museum visitors and preparing protocols for tours of the Vatican Gardens and the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo on Lake Albano.

The Vatican Museums usually receive 7 million visitors a year and are the main source of income funding the Holy See bureaucracy. Vergez says the museums have a “solid” economic foundation.

The Vatican, a city state in the center of Rome, imposed a lockdown in tandem with the rest of Italy, which was the first European country hit hard by COVID-19. This week, Italy began a cautious and gradual reopening.

___

PATNA, India – About 70 people fled from a quarantine center in the Indian state of Bihar’s Nawada district, alleging poor facilities and lack of food.

They are among the tens of thousands of migrant workers who left India’s cities when a nationwide virus lockdown was imposed March 25, walking toward their home villages fearing starvation if they remained.

Local TV broadcast images of the migrants running from the center with their belongings on Saturday. As many as 150 migrants are quarantined at Aadarsh Inter School at Sirdala block in Nawada district, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from the state capital of Patna.

District magistrate Yashpal Meena says 50 of the migrants fled after one of the occupants tested positive for COVID-19. He says at least 15 were found and brought back to the center.

India’s pace of infection has spread in recent days since Prime Minister Narendra Modi partly lifted the lockdown to ease the economic hardships on migrant workers. The government is running special trains to give immigrants rides back home after 14 days in quarantine.

India has reported just under 60,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and 1,981 deaths.

___

LONDON — The U.K.’s coastguard says it received the highest number of calls for assistance since the coronavirus lockdown began on March 23.

It says there were 97 incidents or 54% more than the average of 63 recorded for the previous month. The coastguard is typically used to help rescue swimmers or people in boats.

Matt Leat, duty commander with the Coastguard, says he understood why people may have been “tempted” to go seaside on a recent warm public holiday. But he adds it’s “really vital” to observe stay-at-home orders and social distancing.

He urged people to exercise locally and “stretch your legs, not our resources.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to extend most of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions for another three weeks when he addresses the nation on Sunday.

___

MINSK, Belarus – Tens of thousands of people have turned out in the capital of Belarus despite sharply rising coronavirus infections to watch a military parade celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Belarus has not imposed wide-ranging restrictions to halt the virus’ spread. Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has dismissed concerns about it as a “psychosis.”

At Saturday’s parade of some 3,000 soldiers, Lukashenko says Belarus’ ordeal in the war “is incomparable with any difficulties of the present day.”

Some aged war veterans in the stands at the parade wore masks, but in general there were few masks seen among the throng of spectators. Belarus, a country of about 9 million, has recorded more than 21,000 cases of coronavirus infection.

___

BERLIN – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says Europe must acknowledge that it “wasn’t well-prepared” for the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement marking Europe Day, Maas says initially most countries, including Germany, were focused on coping with the outbreak at home.

While defending the national response as “necessary, in order to safeguard our ability to act and then also help other,” Maas says the European Union had “grown in the crisis.”

The EU’s sluggish response has given way to cross-border medical aid, a massive financial support package and coordinated scientific research programs.

Maas called the solidarity provided by EU member states “unique in the world,” adding Germany wants the bloc to emerge from the crisis stronger. Berlin takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the 27-nation EU on July 1.

___

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has marked the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II in a ceremony shorn of its usual military parade and pomp by the coronavirus pandemic.

Putin laid flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier just outside the Kremlin walls and gave a short address honoring the valor and suffering of the Soviet army during the war.

Victory Day is Russia’s most important secular holiday. This year’s observance had been expected to be especially large because it is the 75th anniversary. The Red Square military parade and a mass procession called The Immortal Regiment were postponed as part of measures to stifle the spread of the virus.

The only vestige of the conventional show of military might was a flyover of central Moscow by 75 warplanes and helicopters.

___

SEOUL, South Korea – Seoul has shut down more than 2,100 nightclubs, hostess bars, and discos after dozens of infections were linked to clubgoers who went out last weekend as the country relaxed social distancing guidelines.

The measures imposed by Mayor Park Won-soon on Saturday came after the national government urged entertainment venues around the nation to close or otherwise enforce anti-virus measures, including distancing, temperature checks, keeping customer lists and requiring employees to wear masks.

Park says the entry bans on the facilities will be maintained until the city concludes the infections risks as meaningfully lowered.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier said 18 fresh cases were reported in the 24 hours to midnight Friday, all but one of them linked to a 29-year-old man who visited three clubs in Seoul’s Itaewon district last Saturday before testing positive on Tuesday.

But Park says 16 more cases were confirmed in Seoul alone in the following hours since. He said this brought the total number of infections linked to clubgoers to 40 – 27 in Seoul, 12 in neighboring Incheon and Gyeonggi province towns, and one in the southern port city of Busan.

The KCDC, which complies data from local governments, couldn’t immediately confirm Park’s numbers.

___

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A federal court has halted the Kentucky governor’s temporary ban on mass gatherings from applying to in-person religious services.

The temporary restraining order issued Friday prevents Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration from enforcing the ban on mass gatherings at “any in-person religious service which adheres to applicable social distancing and hygiene guidelines.”

The ruling sided with the Tabernacle Baptist Church, but applies statewide. Two other federal judges had previously ruled the ban was constitutional. But also on Friday, one of those judges in a separate order granted Maryville Baptist Church an injunction allowing in-person services at that specific church.

Beshear had previously announced that places of worship could hold in-person services starting May 20, as part of a broader plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy. Earlier Friday, he outlined reopening requirements, including limiting attendance at in-person services to 33% of building occupancy capacity.

Beshear’s office had not issued a statement on the injunctions as late Friday

___

NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana’s governor says the state will have 250 workers in place by the end of next week to contact people infected with the new coronavirus and track down people they have been in close contact with.

Such “contact tracing” is a key factor in whether the state will be able to start easing restrictions and closures of businesses.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is under increasing pressure from Republican officials to restart Louisiana’s economy. Increased testing is also a factor, and Edwards said the state plans to complete a total of 200,000 tests for the month of May.

Edwards said the state has signed contracts with two companies that will establish the contact tracing system. That will bolster the 70 contact tracers currently working. The state expects to eventually hire as many as 700 contract tracers if needed.

Edwards’ current emergency order, banning gatherings of more than 10 people and closing many nonessential businesses, expires May 15. He plans to announce Monday whether the restrictions will be extended.

___

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

People surf on a beach reopened for sport activities after the lockdown measures imposed by the government due to coronavirus, in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, May 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Advertisements