The Latest: Biden says convention could be held virtually
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:
— Surgeon General braces Americans for “the hardest and the saddest week.”
— Biden says Democratic National Convention may have to be held virtually.
— Former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril dies of coronavirus.
WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden says the Democratic National Convention that has already been delayed until August may need to be held virtually.
Biden said on ABC’s “This Week” it may not be possible to put tens of thousands of people in one place.
Biden has a commanding lead in delegates and needs to clinch his party’s presidential nomination as the coronavirus’ spread continues to reshape the race for the White House.
Biden says he plans to wear a mask in public. That conforms with federal guidelines that Americans use face coverings in public places. But it contradicts President Donald Trump, who says he’s choosing not do that.
“He may not like how he looks in a mask, but the truth of the matter is that follow the science,” Biden said. “That’s what they’re telling us.”
CAIRO — Former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril died in the Egyptian capital of Cairo from COVID-19. The announcement was made on his official Facebook on Sunday. He was 67.
Jibril tested positive for the new coronavirus late in March.
Egypt’s state-run media also reported his death. Jibril was a senior Gadhafi economic adviser and protege to Seif al-Islam, son and presumed heir to Libya’s longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi.
He broke with Gadhafi’s regime in the early days of the 2011 NATO-backed rebellion that toppled and later killed Gadhafi. He quickly managed to reinvent himself as a rebel leader through his international ties, which included fluent English from his advanced degrees at the University of Pittsburgh. He also had backing from his powerful Warfalla tribe.
Jibril had established a secular-leaning allegiance, the National Forces Alliance, in 2012 in efforts to hold off Islamist rivals after the overthrow and killing of Gadhafi in 2011.
WASHINGTON — Surgeon General Jerome Adams is bracing Americans for what he says is going to be “the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives’’ because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Adams tells “Fox News Sunday’’ that “this is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.’’
He wants to make clear that “it’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.’’
Adams also has a message to governors who haven’t yet imposed shelter-in-place orders in their states. He says the handful of states in that category are states where a large amount of food is produced for the country, and that’s been part of the struggle when it comes to stay-at-home restrictions.
But Adams has a message for those governors: “If you can’t give us a month, give us what you can. Give us a week. Give us whatever you can to stay at home during this particularly tough time when we’re going to be hitting our peak over the next seven to 10 days.’’
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s state-owned airline has quarantined the crew of a Pakistan International Airlines flight upon its return to the southern Arabian Port city of Karachi from London. The crew is being tested for the new coronavirus.
The flight returned empty to Karachi after returning Britons stranded in Pakistan. All flights from Karachi have been temporarily suspended until the test results are returned and the crew is cleared.
Pakistan has 2,899 confirmed cases of COVID 19 and 45 deaths. Another 170 patients have recovered.
MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has published an editorial in several European newspapers to press for his proposed “new Marshall Plan” for Europe to act together in sharing the burden of the coronavirus crisis.
Sánchez wrote Sunday that European Union members must do all they can to help their hardest hit partners recover from the financial and economic impacts of the pandemic. If not, he said “we will fail as a union.”
The Spanish Socialist leader said that he approves of the measures already taken, which include an EU jobs plan and the European Central Bank mobilizing lines of credit. But he says that’s not enough.
Spain, Italy and France have had over 34,000 combined deaths from the virus and other countries want the EU to issue joint European debt to spread the costs. Germany and the Netherlands have rejected that.
“Europe must build a wartime economy and promote European resistance, reconstruction and recovery,” Sánchez wrote. He said the world is at a critical juncture at which “even the most fervently pro-European countries and governments” need proof of commitment.
He wrote: “We need unwavering solidarity.”
In a separate editorial in Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also threw her weight behind the idea of a “Marshall Plan for Europe.” She wrote the crisis was an opportunity to renew the feeling of community among European nations.
The former German defense minister wrote that today’s leaders had a responsiblity to make “smart and sustainable” investments now to ensure the stability for the future.
ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte is expressing great sorrow for the death of one of his bodyguards.
Conte posted on Facebook that Giorgio Guastamacchia died Saturday. The 51-year-old contracted the new coronavirus last month.
The premier recalled the bodyguard’s “professional dedication” and his ready smiles. Also paying tribute to Guastamacchia were Italy’s previous two premiers. Matteo Renzi and Paolo Gentiloni also used Guastamacchia among their bodyguards while in office.
MOSCOW — The spokesman for Vladimir Putin says the Russian president will continue working remotely for at least another week amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Dmitry Peskov said on state television Putin and people who work with him are being tested regularly.
Russia’s coronavirus task force says the number of infections in the country was 5,389, which is up almost 700 than the previous day. There have been 45 deaths recorded.
ROME — Rome’s main hospital for treating COVID-19 infections says more patients were discharged than admitted for the first time since Italy’s outbreak began.
Spallanzani Hospital’s daily bulletin on coronavirus cases was another positive sign that Italy’s rigid lockdown measures have apparently slowed the contagion. The lockdown has been four weeks now.
Health authorities in Lombardy said last week overwhelmed hospitals were starting to feel some relief. The northern region has more than half of Italy’s 15,000 deaths.
Spallanzani had treated the first known COVID-19 cases in Italy, which was a vacationing Chinese couple who fell sick in late January. They were discharged last month.
PARIS — An Airbus plane has traveled from China to France and returned with a cargo of 4 million face masks.
The European multinational said in a statement that the flight landing in France on Sunday morning was its third such mission between China and France.
Airbus says it is continuing “to purchase and supply millions of face masks from China.”
It added the large majority of the masks will be donated to governments of the Airbus home countries, which are predominately France, Germany, Spain and the U.K.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s military troops and police personnel are performing musical programs to boost the mental health of citizens under lockdown during coronavirus pandemic.
The programs cater to people living in apartments who can’t leave due to the curfew. Music bands go to each of the apartments and perform on a makeshift stage.
Sri Lanka has been under a countrywide curfew since March 20. Police are strictly imposing the curfew. There have been 13,716 people arrested for violating curfew and 3,423 vehicles seized.
Curfew will be lifted for eight hours in 19 districts on Monday to allow people to buy food and other essentials. The curfew in six other districts which have been identified as high-risk areas will continue indefinitely.
Five people have died due to the virus in Sri Lanka and the total number of confirmed cases are at 166.
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN — Officials in South Sudan say the country has recorded its first case of COVID-19. It makes it the 51st of Africa’s 54 countries to have the disease.
First Vice President Riek Machar and the U.N. mission in South Sudan confirmed the positive case of a U.N. worker who arrived in the country from the Netherlands on Feb. 28.
Officials say the patient is a 29-year-old woman who is in quarantine and recovering.
South Sudan has 11 million people but Machar says the country currently has four ventilators. South Sudan has already imposed a night curfew and closed its borders to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
PRAGUE — More than 300 pilots in the Czech Republic have joined forces in a group of volunteers who use their private planes to distribute medical equipment all across the country.
The “Pilots to the People” project is meant to help the state authorities fighting the epidemic of the coronavirus “to deliver supplies to any place in the country as soon as possible.”
The service is offered free of charge and the pilots pay for the gas. There’s a network of some 200 airports in the country they can use, making it possible to efficiently serve the entire country.
The group says their goal is to transport the material to any hospital, clinic or any other place where it’s needed in within two hours.
Dan Stastny, one of the founders of the project told The Associated Press on Sunday. that besides the speed, they “can land at any sort of airstrip for ultralight planes which is a great advantage.”
The volunteers mostly include amateurs, sport and small planes pilots.
BANGKOK — A Muslim separatist group in Thailand has announced it is suspending guerrilla activity to facilitate humanitarian access during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Barisan Revolusi Nasional says in a statement posted Sunday on its Facebook page that it was acting “in order to create a safer and more suitable environment … for health care agencies and other organizations tasked with preventing and containing the outbreak of Coronavirus.”
It says its suspension will remain in effect as long as the group is not attacked by government forces.
The group, generally known as the BRN, has been leading a loose alliance fighting for autonomy for Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, the only ones with Muslim majorities in the predominantly Buddhist nation. About 7,000 people have been killed since the conflict flared up in 2004.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that warring parties in 11 countries had responded positively to his appeal for a global cease-fire to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece has put a migrant facility outside Athens on lockdown for 14 days after a 53-year-old Afghan developed coronavirus symptoms Saturday afternoon.
Authorities say the man has been taken to an Athens hospital and is under “full medical evaluation.” They have not specified the seriousness of his condition.
The lockdown began Sunday morning. The facility is called an “open” one in official parlance, meaning the migrants there could leave and enter as they wished.
There are about 2,500 migrants living there, not all of whom are registered, according to Mihalis Hassiotis, a municipal councillor of Oropos, a town north of Athens where the facility is located.
The migrants stay in containers in crowded conditions. Hassiotis says the facility was designed initially for 500 and expanded over the years.
MADRID — The rate of the coronavirus outbreak continues to slow in Spain, the country with the second most infections behind the United States.
Spain recorded 6,023 confirmed new infections on Sunday, taking the national tally to 130,759. That is down from an increase of 7,026 infections in the previous 24-hour period, confirming the downward tendency of the past week.
Confirmed new deaths also dropped to 674 fatalities, taking the national tally to 12,418. That is the first time new deaths have fallen below 800 new fatalities in the past week.
As its outbreak loses steam, Spain’s government has started to cautiously consider when it can start to reactivate an economy that has been shut down and put hundreds of thousands out of work.
“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told the nation Saturday.
But to get there, Sánchez announced that he would ask the Parliament to extend the state of emergency by two more weeks, taking the lockdown on mobility until April 26. He added that a team of experts is also studying how to plan for a gradual loosening of restrictions to reactive the country’s dormant economy and social life.
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