The Latest: Air Canada announces temporary layoffs
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 hospital ship arrives in New York City.
—Japan urges head of WHO to help speed vaccines.
—Italy sees slowdown in rate of new cases.
TORONTO — Air Canada will temporarily lay off more than 15,000 unionized workers beginning this week as the airline struggles with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The layoffs will continue through April and May amid drastically reduced flight capacity from the Montreal-based airline. Canada’s largest airline says the two-month furloughs will affect about one-third of management and administrative and support staff, including head office employees, in addition to the front-line workers.
The carrier is also cutting between 85% and 90% of its flights, canceling most of its international and U.S. routes in response to the global shutdown. Earlier this month Air Canada’s flight attendant union said 5,149 cabin crew would be temporarily laid off.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia has issued a stay-home order for all residents as the number of positive infections from the new coronavirus continue to rise.
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s government ordered Washington’s approximately 7,000,000 residents to only leave home for essential shopping or medical care or work at businesses classified as essential. The order permits “allowable recreational activities” — essentially walking or bike riding alone or with your family while maintaining social distancing with others.
Any violators may be charged with a misdemeanor.
Although Washington, D.C., is not a state, Mayor Muriel Bowser essentially functions as a governor and issued the order in coordination with identical moves from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
Washington’s infection numbers have climbed steadily for the past week to 401. Nine people have died, including a senior member of Bowser’s staff.
SEATTLE — At least 12 workers and four patients at Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital have tested positive for the new coronavirus and one patient has died from the disease, officials said.
The 85-year-old Western State Hospital patient tested positive on March 21 and died last Thursday, the Washington Department of Health and Human Services told The Associated Press. The other patient who tested positive has since fully recovered, the agency said. Western state workers have been critical of the administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
TAMPA, Fla. — Florida officials have arrested the pastor of a megachurch after detectives say he held two Sunday services with hundreds of people and violated a safer-at-home order in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
According to jail records, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne turned himself in to authorities in Hernando County, where he lives. He was charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order. Bail was set at $500, according to the jail’s website, and he was released after posting bond.
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. humanitarian chief is warning that the 10 cases of COVID-19 and one death confirmed in Syria are just “the tip of the iceberg” and judging from other countries “a devastating impact” can be expected on vulnerable communities.
Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council that “all efforts to prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19 are impeded by Syria’s fragile health system,” noting only around half of the country’s hospitals and primary health care facilities were fully functional at the end of 2019.
He said efforts to prevent and combat the virus are also are impeded by high levels of population movement, challenges to obtaining critical supplies including protective equipment and ventilators, and difficulties of isolating in crowded camps for the displaced with “low levels of sanitation services.”
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has ordered an additional 8,000 ventilators, with delivery of the first 1,400 by early May. The $84.4 million order was placed with several suppliers under existing Defense Logistics Agency contracts.
A Pentagon spokesman, Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews, identified the four suppliers as Zoll, Combat Medical, Hamilton Medical, and VyAire. Andrews said delivery locations will be prioritized by FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services. These are in addition to the 2,000 ventilators that the Pentagon previously said it would make available to FEMA from Defense Department stockpiles.
SAN FRANCISCO — The leaders of six San Francisco Bay Area counties are extending their shelter at home orders until May 1.
The region of seven million people was the first in the United States to issue such an order, and it has been credited for helping address the influx of coronavirus patients at local hospitals.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed thanked residents for following the order during the weekend, saying compliance was much better than the previous weekend when some people flocked to parks and beaches.
At least 130 people have died in California from COVID-19.
WASHINGTON — New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez, a Democrat who attended Friday’s House session to pass a $2 trillion rescue package, says Monday in a statement that she has a presumed coronavirus infection.
Velázquez, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan, stood within feet of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic and Republican leaders at a signing ceremony after the bill was passed.
Velázquez, 67, says in the statement that she began to feel ill Sunday morning and spoke to the Capitol’s attending physician by phone. She says she was diagnosed with a presumed infection but has mild symptoms and is isolating at home, as the doctor recommended.
MOSCOW — The mayor of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, has ordered a wide-ranging lockdown.
The measure sets the same conditions as in Moscow. Residents are ordered to stay at home except for medical emergencies, buying food and medication, disposing of garbage and walking pets within 100 meters (320 feet) of home. It also allows people to go to their workplaces if required.
St. Petersburg, with a population of about 5.5 million, has reported 50 cases of the coronavirus and one death.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ vicar for Rome has tested positive for the coronavirus in the first case of a cardinal close to the pope known to be infected.
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis had been in touch with Francis in recent weeks — apparently not in person, however — over the cardinal’s initial decision to close all Rome churches in line with an Italian government shutdown decree.
De Donatis reversed himself after Francis intervened, and allowed diocesan churches to remain open for individuals to pray.
The pope is technically bishop of Rome, but he delegates the day-to-day running of the diocese to his vicar, De Donatis, 66. The Rome church said De Donatis was in good condition at Rome’s Gemelli hospital and was receiving antiviral treatment.
The Holy See has said six people have tested positive for the virus in the Vatican, none of them the pope or his closest advisers.
ROME — Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza says Italy will follow the recommendation of scientists and extend a nationwide lockdown at least until April 12.
The lockdown decree currently runs until April 3, and doctors and other health experts have been cautioning that Italy’s cases of COVID-19 haven’t reached their peak yet, despite some encouraging numbers.
Speranza says the national scientific technical committee recommended “extending the containment measures at least until Easter,” April 12. He added: “The government will move in this direction.”
Italy has more than 100,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and nearly 11,600 deaths of infected persons.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization is citing “some evidence” that wearing face masks — if used improperly — could actually do more harm than good in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said he was unaware of a move by officials in Austria to require people to wear face masks when they go to supermarkets.
With some countries facing shortages of masks, Ryan reiterated that WHO believes generally they should be worn by people who are ill, to prevent them from spreading the virus, and by health care workers who really need them.
“But there is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any particular benefit — in fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite,” he said.
Ryan didn’t elaborate beyond citing “risks” linked to fitting masks improperly, though he appeared to be alluding to how hands can carry virus up to or near the face as the masks are put on.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s president announced the launch of an aid campaign to support low-income families who are being hit by the virus outbreak.
In an address to the nation following a Cabinet meeting, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was donating seven months of his salary to the campaign.
Erdogan also said Turkey planned to send a cargo plane load of medical supplies to Spain to help the country combat the virus.
A ship carrying medical aid has also been dispatched to Italy, Erdogan said.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico has closed a fire station in the U.S. territory’s capital after officials say the wife of a fireman tested positive for COVID-19.
Monday’s announcement comes just days after authorities closed two police stations for similar reasons. Officials said 40 firemen at the Puerta de Tierra station in San Juan were sent home under a two-week quarantine and will be tested.
WASHINGTON — The State Department says it has successfully arranged the repatriation of some 25,000 American citizens stranded abroad in more than 50 countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Department officials say they are continuing to ramp up evacuation efforts and that more than 100 flights for U.S. citizens have been scheduled for the coming weeks. About 9,000 Americans have registered for those upcoming flights and there is still space available on many.
Many of those stranded are in Latin American countries, notably Peru, where some Americans have been quarantined by authorities.
Meanwhile, department health officials said there are 75 confirmed coronavirus cases among employees at the 220 U.S. embassies. Inside the United States, the officials said there are 30 confirmed cases of the virus at State Department offices in nine cities.
PRAGUE — The Czech government has extended its sweeping restrictions that are meant to help curb the outbreak of the coronavirus.
A traveling ban that allows people just to go to work and do essential shopping will be in place until at least April 11. Retail businesses, except food stores and pharmacies, also will remain closed until the same date.
The state of emergency that gives the government some extraordinary powers to deal with the pandemic also is set to expire on April 11, and parliamentary approval will be needed for any further extension.
In a new measure, all Czechs returning home from abroad, not just those arriving from the 19 worst hit countries by the crisis, will have to be quarantined for two weeks.
MADRID — A Spanish Air Force A400M cargo plane has arrived with 1 million quick tests for the new coronavirus.
The flight from Shanghai also brought masks and personal protection equipment for health workers in Spain, which has the third-highest number of reported infections in the world, after the United States and Italy.
Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said the plane landed Monday at the Torrejón de Ardoz base, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Madrid, with almost 14 metric tons of cargo.
In neighboring Portugal, a shipment of 1 million masks and 200,000 tests also arrived from China.
LONDON — The British government’s chief scientific adviser says there is evidence nationwide lockdown measures are working to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Patrick Vallance says the number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 is rising steadily, “suggesting we’re not on a fast acceleration at the moment.”
There are currently 9,000 coronavirus patients in hospitals in England, a number increasing by about 1,000 a day.
Vallance says the number of deaths among people with the virus is tracking the rise seen in France but is below the trajectories of Spain and Italy, the hardest-hit European countries.
The U.K. has confirmed 22,141 cases of COVID-19, and 1,408 people with the virus have died. That is an increase of 180 on the previous 24 hours, a smaller rise than in the two previous days.
ROME — Italy is seeing a continued slowdown in the rate of its new confirmed coronavirus cases while registering a record number of people cured as it enters its third week into a nationwide lockdown.
Another 812 people died in the last day, bringing Italy’s toll to 11,591 and maintaining its position as the country with the most dead.
Overall, Italy added 4,050 new infections Monday, bringing its official total to 101,739 and keeping its place as the European epicenter of the pandemic and second only to the U.S. Epidemiologists say the real number of Italy’s caseload, however, is as much as five to 10 times more than the official number, but that those cases aren’t being counted because Italy is only testing people with severe symptoms. Of those infected, 14,620 have been declared cured, including a record 1,590 in the past day.
Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak