The Latest: Germany stimulus to help fight future challenges

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BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel says more than a third of the stimulus package agreed by her government this week is devoted to tackling future challenges such as climate change.

Germany’s three governing parties announced a 130 billion-euro ($146 billion) package Wednesday to revive the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In her weekly video address Saturday, Merkel said that 50 billion euros alone would go toward boosting the use of hydrogen as a clean alternative to fossil fuels, encouraging the purchase of electric vehicles, equipping schools with IT devices and researching future technologies such as quantum computing.

Merkel acknowledged that Germany will have to borrow money to pay for the additional spending, but insisted that “now, during the worst economic crisis that (post-war) Germany has experienced, it’s right to act with bravery and resolve.”

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

– U.S. unemployment makes a surprise 13.3% drop amid the pandemic.

– The U.K. became the second country after the United States with more than 40,000 virus deaths.

– Russian Orthodox priest tends to Moscow’s COVID-19 patients

– The loneliest of D-Day remembrances is hit by pandemic

– Europe could have its free travel zone up and running again by the end of this month, but travelers from further afield will not be allowed in before July, a European Union commissioner said Friday after talks among the bloc’s interior ministers. The news should come as a relief to millions of Europeans still trying to work out their summer vacation plans – which begin for many in July once the school year is over.

– Japan has kept its deaths from the new coronavirus low despite a series of missteps that beg the question of whether it can prevent future waves of infections. Authorities have conducted only a fraction of the tests needed to find and isolate patients.

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Go to https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates throughout the day.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:

MOSCOW – Russia reported its second-highest one-day death toll from COVID-19 even as the number of new coronavirus infections remained steady.

The national coronavirus task force said Saturday that 197 people died over the past day, sharply up from 144 a day earlier. The highest one-day death toll was 232 on May 29.

There were 8,855 new infection cases overall. Russia has recorded more than 458,000 cases, including 5,725 deaths.

Although Moscow and its surroundings have been the epicenter of the pandemic, accounting for about half of the infections and deaths, the figures reported Saturday showed only about one-third of the new infections were in the capital area.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – After loosening some restrictions, Saudi Arabia on Saturday reimposed a 3 p.m. curfew on residents in its second-largest city of Jiddah and suspended prayers in mosques there again.

The decision comes as confirmed cases of the coronavirus continue to rise, including an alarming spike in the number of critical cases.

The kingdom has recorded more than 95,000 cases, including 642 deaths.

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ISLAMABAD – Pakistan reported 97 more coronavirus deaths on Saturday, the highest 24-hour increase to its fatalities, as authorities urged volunteers to motivate people to adhere to social distancing regulations to contain the spread of the virus.

According to Usman Dar, who heads the “Corona Relief Tiger Force,” about 1 million volunteers have signed up recently in response to the government’s call to help the country’s most vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.

He told reporters that 165,348 volunteers are currently assisting authorities to contain the spread of the virus.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the volunteers will also be used to deliver food and medicine to needy and poor people if needed.

Pakistan also reported 4,734 new virus cases, raising its overall infections to 93,983.

With the latest 97 virus-related deaths, Pakistan’s overall fatalities have jumped to 1,935.

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PARIS – Paris police have banned a third protest that had been planned for Saturday to condemn alleged police abuses in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Police cited a risk of spreading COVID-19 and fears of public unrest. The police decree noted that social distancing regulations ban gatherings of more than 10 people.

Online posts called for people to gather Saturday afternoon in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Paris police had previously also banned two other planned gatherings Saturday outside the US Embassy.

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NEW DELHI – India surpassed Italy as the sixth worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic after another biggest single-day spike in confirmed infections.

The Health Ministry reported 9,887 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 236,657.

Most of the new cases are in rural areas following the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who left cities and towns after the lockdown in late March.

The lockdown is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas while authorities have partially restored train services and domestic flights and allowed shops and manufacturing to reopen. Shopping malls and religious places are due to open on Monday with restrictions to avoid large gatherings.

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BEIJING – China is ordering its highest level of protection for the armadillo-like pangolin as part of its crackdown on the wildlife trade following the global coronavirus pandemic.

While the virus is believed to have originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, most scientists say it was most likely transmitted from bats to humans via an intermediary animal such as the pangolin.

The order Friday from the National Forestry and Grassland Administration does not explicitly mention the virus outbreak as a reason for the measure, but the timing appears to indicate that was a consideration.

Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy by some Chinese and its scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Other animals protected at China’s top level include giant pandas, Tibetan antelopes and red-crowned cranes.

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BEIJING – China’s capital is lowering its emergency response level to the second-lowest starting Saturday for the coronavirus pandemic.

That will lift most restrictions on people traveling from Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei, where the virus first appeared late last year. They will no longer face 14-day mandatory quarantines and other forms of monitoring, and those currently in such situations will be allowed to return to their normal lives.

Beijing residential compounds will not be required to conduct temperature checks and masks no longer must be worn for outdoor activities. Kindergartens will reopen and other grades still suspended will restart classes.

Beijing has reported no new cases of local transmission in at least 50 days and as many as 90 days in some districts.

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SANTA FE, N.M. – The New Mexico Supreme Court is temporarily suspending consumer debt collection such as garnishing wages and seizing assets in response to the coronavirus pandemic and its related economic downturn.

The court on Friday ordered the temporary suspension in a new effort to alleviate economic hardship amid a surge in unemployment and uncertainties.

The decision comes as a virus outbreak continues to race through privately run prison facilities for state and federal inmates in Otero County. There have been 583 positive tests among inmates there.

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Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

The body of a prematurely born one week old baby of a covid positive mother being prepared for burial at the designated burial spot for COVID 19 patients in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 5, 2020. More states opened up and crowds of commuters trickled onto the roads in many of India’s cities as a three-phase plan to lift the nationwide coronavirus lockdown started despite an upward trend in new infections. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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