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:
– New York City to begin reopening on June 8, governor says.
– Portugal continues easing restrictions after no new virus spike.
– Iraq reports spike in infections after relaxed curfew for Eid holiday.
– Infection rate remains stubborn in Italy’s Lombardy region.
ALBANY, N.Y. – New York City is on track to begin reopening on June 8 as the state gradually loosens restrictions put in place during the coronavirus crisis.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made that announcement Friday, saying the nation’s worst pandemic hot spot is meeting goals set for hospital rates and testing. The Democratic governor says the city will â€œstockpileâ€ personal protective equipment like masks, and will focus on infection rates in hot spots by ZIP code.
Cuomo made the remarks as a large swath of upstate New York got the go-ahead Friday to reopen hair salons, retail shops and offices under strict guidelines. New York City remains the only region of the state that has not yet commenced economic rebirth.
LISBON, Portugal – Portugal is reopening movie theaters, shopping malls, gymnasiums and kindergartens after a gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions over the past four weeks produced no spike in new coronavirus infections.
Also reopening in coming days are places of worship, courtrooms and large stores.
The limit of 50% of seating capacity at restaurants will also be scrapped as long as eateries place impermeable barriers between tables.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in the Lisbon metropolitan area, where in some places officials have detected an increase in cases, some of those changes will come into force only after a review at the end of next week.
From Thursday to Friday, Portugal officially recorded 350 new cases of COVID-19 – 323 of them in the greater Lisbon area.
Portugal has officially recorded almost 32,000 cases of COVID-19 and almost 1,400 deaths.
BAGHDAD – Iraqâ€™s Health Ministry has reported the country’s highest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since late February, when the government began recording cases.
The ministry said at least 416 new cases were reported on Friday. The country had given Iraqis a weekâ€™s holiday to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Curfew hours had been relaxed during the month of fasting, which contributed to higher daily rates of infection.
According to ministry figures, more than 5,873 people have tested positive for the virus in Iraq. At least 185 people have died.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered a return to full daylong curfews following the end of Ramadan.
MADRID – Spainâ€™s health emergency response chief says 51,482 Spanish health workers have been infected by the new coronavirus since the outbreak began, and 63 have died.
Fernando SimÃ³n said Friday that almost 7,800 health staff are still off work due to the infection. He said 631 had to be admitted to intensive-care units.
SimÃ³n said it is hard to tell whether the employees were infected at work or elsewhere.
MILAN – As Italy decides whether to open regional borders as planned next week, hard-hit Lombardy remains an outlier.
The civil protection agency reported 345 confirmed new infections in the region on Friday. That brings Lombardy’s total cases to 88,500, nearly 40% of Italyâ€™s total.
Nearly half of Italy population of known positives are in Lombardy, and 80% of those in isolation at home, not requiring hospital care.
The Italian government had announced internal borders would open on June 3, but the stubborn infection rate in Lombardy has put that in question. Officials are considering whether delay the regional border opening by a week – a decision that is meant also to help Italyâ€™s moribund tourist industry.
Italyâ€™s total cases of confirmed COVID-19 rose by 516 to 232,248 on Friday, and deaths increased by 87 to 33,229. Only five other regions showed double-digit increases.
LONDON – Britainâ€™s government has announced that starting in August, businesses must start sharing the costs of a job retention program that has effectively placed workers furloughed amid the coronavirus pandemic on the government payroll.
The unprecedented program has so far covered the wages of some 8.5 million people and has cost 15 billion pounds ($18.4 billion). It has covered 80% of wages up to 2,500 pounds per worker each month.
Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said from July, businesses can decide to bring furloughed workers back part-time if they want. In September and October, employers will need to contribute 10% and 20% of furloughed wages respectively.
Sunak also announced he is extending a support program for self-employed workers. From August, those eligible can claim an extra grant capped at 6,570 pounds each. The program has so far seen 2.3 million claims worth 6.8 billion pounds.
LONDON – The World Health Organization and 30 countries and partners are starting an initiative aimed at making diagnostics, drugs and vaccines for the new coronavirus available to everyone who needs them.
In a press briefing on Friday, WHO and partners, including President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica, said they were officially launching the COVID-19 â€œTechnology Access Pool,â€ an information-sharing platform. Among other goals, the initiative is intended to encourage countries to freely share genetic sequences of the virus and to license any potential treatment or vaccine to the Medicines Patent Pool, a U.N. backed body that works to increase access to and develop medicines for people in low and middle income countries.
â€œSince the beginning of the pandemic, science has been at the heart of WHOâ€™s efforts to suppress transmission and save lives,â€ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, calling for more countries and organizations to commit to making tests, drugs and vaccines available globally.
Some pharmaceutical executives have questioned whether drugmakers will be willing to sign up to the project, since many of their profits hinge on patents.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia says its campus will reopen for some in-person classes in August, with the face-to-face instruction ending by Thanksgiving.
Students will be allowed to return for the fall semester on Aug. 25, according to a statement from the university.
Administrators say on-campus classes will end by Nov. 26 and students wonâ€™t return until January to limit travel amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Large classes and those taught by professors with health concerns will remain online. The university says most classes offered in-person also will be offered remotely, allowing students to choose whether they will stay home or return.
SKOPJE, North Macedonia – Health authorities in North Macedonia have announced an increase in coronavirus cases, just days after the government decided to end a two-month curfew and allow bars and restaurants to reopen.
Health Minister Venko Filipce says 52 new infections and four deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. Authorities have recommended wearing protective masks and maintaining social distance.
Half of the new cases were recorded in five municipalities of the capital Skopje. Filipce says those areas will be quarantined if the number of new infections doesnâ€™t fall in the next few days.
North Macedonia has recorded 2,129 confirmed cases and 126 deaths. A state of emergency declared in mid-March in the country is still in effect.
BERLIN – Switzerland is ordering its army to largely stand down from coronavirus duty.
The Swiss government says up to 5,000 soldiers supported civilian authorities across the Alpine country and in neighboring Liechtenstein nation over the past 10 weeks. Switzerlandâ€™s army is composed mainly of conscripts.
The government says about 1,000 soldiers will assist with border controls and provide other technical support until mid-June.
Switzerland and Liechtenstein have recorded 30,828 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and 1,657 deaths.
TORONTO – Canadaâ€™s transport minister says large cruises will still be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau says it applies to cruises with overnight accommodations and more than 100 passengers and crew. The government previously restricted large cruise ships until July 1.
VIENNA – Vienna mayor Michael Ludwig switched on the Austrian capitalâ€™s giant Ferris wheel to celebrate the reopening of the countryâ€™s tourism industry.
The landmark attraction has been in use since World War II and closed due to the coronavirus.
Austrian hotels are allowed to host guests, though many European borders are still closed and tourists have been wary of traveling.
MADRID – The Spanish government will provide more money for the countryâ€™s most impoverished 850,000 families so they can reach a minimum monthly income in the nationâ€™s first attempt to guarantee a basic salary.
The plan was approved by the ruling left-wing coalition led by Prime Minister Pedro SÃ¡nchez. The leader of the Spanish Socialist Party is under pressure to spur economic recovery and reduce the fallout from a two-month lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus thatâ€™s killed at least 27,000.
Citizens over 21 will be eligible for benefits if they donâ€™t meet a minimum monthly income ranging from 461 euros ($513) to 1,015 euros ($1,130), depending on the number of family members. Migrants who have been in Spain for more than one year can apply.
Social Security Minister JosÃ© Luis EscrivÃ¡ says the measure intends to reduce poverty and inequality. He says 100,000 households will immediately benefit and the government aims to include 750,000 more in coming months. The total cost for Spainâ€™s public coffers is estimated at 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) annually.
MONROE, N.C. – A school board in North Carolina voted to hold an in-person graduation ceremony for all its high schools that would be a violation of the stateâ€™s coronavirus safety orders.
The Union County Public Schools Board voted 5-4 Thursday to hold the ceremonies in an outdoor stadium where students would maintain social distancing, news outlets reported. But the ceremonies would still violate Gov. Roy Cooperâ€™s executive order limiting mass gatherings to 25 people in outdoor spaces.
â€œObviously, we have a terrible lack of leadership from the governor of our state,â€ says Gary Sides, a school board member who issued the proposal. â€œWeâ€™re trying to fumble through and not deprive these kids of one of the most important events of their life.â€
The boardâ€™s vote comes after students and parents held a protest outside Union County Public Schools Superintendent Andrew Houlihanâ€™s home demanding an in-person ceremony.
LAGOS, Nigeria – The Nigerian government says it still hasn’t received ventilators from the United States a month after President Donald Trump promised to send hundreds to the West African country.
Trump said last week 1,000 ventilators had been provided to Nigeria. But the countryâ€™s information minister, Lai Mohammed, says, â€œTo the best of my knowledge, they have not arrived. When they do arrive, it will be made public.â€
Trump had offered to provide ventilators to Nigeria in late April during a telephone conversation with Nigeriaâ€™s president Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigeria has recorded about 9,000 COVID-19 cases. However, testing has been limited, complicating efforts to track the full extent of the crisis in Africaâ€™s most populous nation.
LONDON – People in Scotland can meet outside in groups of no more than eight as parts of the U.K. regain some freedom from coronavirus restrictions.
People are allowed to enjoy sunbathing and some non-contact sports such as golf and tennis.
In England, up to six people from different households will be allowed to meet outside in parks or gardens on Monday. In Wales, people from two households can start meeting outside starting Monday, but they must stay in their local area.
In Northern Ireland, the government plans to allow small outdoor weddings on June 8.
JERUSALEM – Israelâ€™s Health Ministry is warning people not to â€œslip into complacencyâ€ about the coronavirus after recording a spike in new cases.
The ministry reported another 64 cases late Thursday after weeks of steady improvement when the total number of active cases dropped below 2,000. New outbreaks have been linked to schools, which recently reopened after weeks of lockdown.
Israel imposed sweeping restrictions on travel and movement in mid-March. It has reported about 16,900 cases and 284 deaths.
Authorities have lifted most of the restrictions in recent weeks. This week bars, restaurants, pools and hotels were allowed to reopen. Authorities are urging people to wear masks in public and practice social distancing, but in recent days many have appeared to ignore the rules.
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