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:
– Britain launches trial for dogs to sniff out humans with COVID-19.
– Italy easing travel restrictions in place since March.
– India surpasses China in coronavirus infection cases.
ATHENS, Greece – Greece reopened organized public beaches under strict social distancing measures during a heat wave.
City dwellers flocked to the beaches while temperatures reached 98 degrees, hoping for a refreshing swim less than a week after full lockdown measures were lifted.
Easing beach restrictions is seen as key to salvaging the tourism industry over the summer in a country expected to have the worst recession in the European Union as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, swimming and sun loungers were permitted but no group sports or food operations. The government issued strict beach guidelines, with businesses facing fines of up 20,000 euros ($21,650) and a three-month closure for violations.
The number of beachgoers cannot exceed 40 people per 1,000 sq. meters (10,764 sq. feet) and two beach umbrellas must be 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart. The distance between groups must be 4 meters (13 feet).
The government is considering opening bars and restaurants on May 25.
LONDON – Local officials and tourism boards are discouraging people from visiting popular tourist spots on the first weekend since lockdown rules for England were eased.
The County Councils Network, which represents 36 rural and coastal authorities in England, says its concerned â€œday trippersâ€ from cities and towns could raise the infection rate in counties and overwhelm parks and beaches.
Spokesman Julian German says, â€œOur coastal and rural areas will be there when this is over.â€
The British government relaxed lockdown rules on Wednesday to allow people in England to spend more time outdoors. They can play golf and tennis, sunbathe, go fishing and have a picnic. Meeting one other person is allowed with social distancing.
Rules for the rest of Britain – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -havenâ€™t been eased.
LONDON – British researchers are launching a trial to see whether dogs can use their noses to detect whether humans have COVID-19 before they show symptoms.
Britainâ€™s health department said Saturday that disease control experts are looking into whether dogs which have been trained to sniff out certain cancers and malaria can potentially be used as a â€œnon-invasive, early warning measureâ€ to identify the coronavirus.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Durham University are collaborating with the charity Medical Detection Dogs. The trial is getting 500,000 pounds ($600,000) of British government funding.
Six dogs, including Labradors and Cocker Spaniels, have started basic training for the trial. In the initial phase, researchers plan to gather odor samples from both people infected with the virus and those who arenâ€™t.
The health department says the dogs will then undergo thorough training using the samples and will only be deployed if backed by strong scientific evidence.
MILAN – Dozens of restaurant owners have protested outside of Milanâ€™s main train station against the new rules for reopening as of Monday.
They say the rules remain unclear and that the entire sector – including suppliers and food producers – is suffering.
They protested in front of signs reading: â€˜â€™I wonâ€™t open today to close tomorrow,â€™â€™ and calling for an abolition to taxes and more concrete help.
The government early Saturday posted rules for restaurants to reopen, including a distance of at least one-meter (three feet) between patrons, a requirement to take reservations and keep records for at least two weeks and a recommendation to use disposable or electronic menus that can be read on personal devices. It also recommends but does not require taking temperatures of diners as they arrive.
In Italyâ€™s financial capital, 3,400 restaurants plan to open Monday along with 4,800 bars, 2,900 hairdressers, 2,200 clothing stores and 700 shoe shops.
KARACHI, Pakistan – The first Pakistani COVID-19 patient who was treated at a hospital with blood donated from a man who survived the disease has fully recovered.
The patient was treated at a hospital in the countryâ€™s southern Sindh province.
Several COVID-19 patients are currently undergoing the plasma therapy after authorities allowed 350 patients to undergo such a clinical trial across the country.
A Pakistani doctor who treated the patient has urged those who defeated coronavirus to donate blood for the treatment that uses plasma from people who have recovered to help seriously ill patients.
The development comes as Pakistan reported 31 more deaths from coronavirus, raising virus-related fatalities to 834.
Pakistan has 38,799 confirmed cases and the increase in infections also coincides with a growing number of daily tests being carried out in this country of 220 million.
ROME – The Italian government is easing travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing people to move freely inside the region where they live as of Monday, and between regions starting June 3.
The government decree announced early Saturday also permits international travel to and from Italy from June 3.
Italy imposed nationwide lockdown rules in early March after it became the first country outside Asia with a major outbreak of coronavirus. More than 31,000 people have died, leaving Italy with the highest death toll after the United States and Britain. But the government led by Premier Giuseppe Conte has gradually reopened the country as the rates of infections and deaths have fallen.
Social distancing rules are being implemented in the sectors of the economy that have reopened, including factories and some businesses. Schools remain closed and crowds are not permitted, though people will be allowed to attend Mass in churches with some restrictions starting next week.
NEW DELHI – Indiaâ€™s coronavirus infection cases have surpassed Chinaâ€™s with the health ministry on Saturday reporting the spike to 85,940 cases with 2,752 deaths.
In total, China has reported 4,633 deaths among 82,933 cases since the virus was first detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan.
The worst hit Indian states are Maharashtra with 29,100 cases, Tamil Nadu 10,108, Gujarat 9,931 and New Delhi 8,895.
Prime Minister Narendra Modiâ€™s government is due to announce this weekend a decision whether to extend the 54-day-old lockdown. Early this month, it started gradually easing the restrictions to resume economic activity by allowing neighborhood shops to reopen and manufacturing and farming to resume. It also has resumed a limited train service across the country to help stranded migrant workers, students and tourists.
Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.