The Latest: Cyprus brings forward end of lockdown by 3 weeks
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 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.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus has accelerated the lifting of most of the country’s remaining coronavirus restrictions by three weeks, citing its consistently low infection rate since the May 4 end of a stay-at-home order.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Wednesday the third phase of the country’s gradual rollback of restrictions will be completed by June 24 instead of July 14.
That means that as of June 9, shopping malls, airports and the interior seating spaces of hotels, bars and restaurants, open-air theaters and cinemas will be back in business. Sports events without spectators, kindergartens, playgrounds, summer schools and school canteens also re-open on that date.
Casinos, dance schools, gyms, theme and water parks open their doors four days later.
A 10-person limit on public gatherings will stay in effect at least until June 24.
Indoor cinemas and theaters are expected to open in early August, while music concerts, festivals, wedding and christening receptions and graduation ceremonies will again be permitted on Sept. 1.
To date, Cyprus counts 952 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 17 deaths.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Wuhan has finished a mass testing effort of nearly all its 11 million people, resulting in 300 being put in isolation.
— Pandemic pushes Australia’s economy into 1st recession in 29 years.
— Concerns are mounting about studies in two influential medical journals on drugs used in people with coronavirus.
— The US Senate confirms a new inspector general to oversee money distributed as part of the $2 trillion economic rescue law.
— Virus resurgence in South Korea continues as schools reopen to more students.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
LONDON — British police statistics show that black and ethnic minority Londoners were more likely than their white counterparts to be fined or arrested for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules barring gatherings and non-essential travel.
Metropolitan Police figures show that black people received 26% of the 973 fines handed out by police between March 27 and May 14 and accounted for 31% of arrests. They make up about 12% of London’s population.
People from Asian, black, mixed and other backgrounds received more than half of fines and arrests, but account for about 40% of the city’s population.
The police force said the reasons for the discrepancy “are likely to be complex and reflect a range of factors.”
Owen West, a former police chief superintendent, said racism was a potential factor. He said “the U.K. police service has massive issues with discrimination … and I really do think now is the time to confront it.”
The statistics are the latest evidence that ethnic minority communities are being hit disproportionately hard during the coronavirus pandemic.
They were published a day after a government-commissioned report confirmed that ethnic minority people in Britain experienced a higher death rate from the coronavirus than white compatriots. The government has vowed to uncover and confront the issues behind the difference.
LONDON — The British government is confirming plans to impose a 14-day quarantine for people arriving in the country starting next week, despite pleas from the travel industry to drop the idea.
Airlines and tour companies say the quarantine will derail plans to rebuild business. It comes as other European countries reopen their borders and ease travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Others say the measure comes too late. Britain’s official COVID-19 death toll stands at more than 39,000, the highest in Europe. Officials say the quarantine will help prevent a second wave of infections, though most of Britain’s European neighbors currently have lower infection rates.
Starting Monday, travelers and returning Britons coming from all countries except Ireland, which has a long-standing free-movement agreement with the U.K., will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks.
Breaches can be punished with a 1,000-pound ($1,220) spot fine, or by prosecution and an unlimited fine. But it’s unclear how the quarantine will be enforced. The U.K. government has said only that people “could” be contacted to ensure they are complying.
BERLIN — Germany’s government says it plans to lift a travel warning for European countries on June 15 — but it may still advise against travel in some cases, for example to Britain if quarantine rules there remain in place.
Germany issued a warning against all nonessential foreign travel in March. The aim is to change that for Germany’s 26 European Union partners, other countries outside the EU that are part of Europe’s passport-free Schengen travel area and Britain.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday that the warning would be replaced with more conventional travel advice “so long as there are no longer entry bans and no large-scale confinement” in the countries concerned. He said all countries except Norway and Spain, where entry restrictions are expected to last longer, now fulfill those conditions.
Maas said that the new travel advice won’t amount to “an invitation to travel,” and in some cases may advise against trips – “for instance to Britain, so long as there is still an obligatory 14-day quarantine for everyone arriving there.”
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic and Slovakia are fully opening their common border for travelers, fully lifting restrictions that have been adopted to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
The prime minister of the two countries, Andrej Babis of the Czech Republic and Igor Matovic of Slovakia, announced the move that becomes effective on Thursday at the start of their meeting in Prague.
The Czechs and Slovaks together with Hungarians have been allowed to travel to their three countries without showing a negative test on the coronavirus or be quarantined if they return home from the trip in 48 hours.
The two countries have not been hit by the pandemic as hard as some other European countries, including Italy, Spain, France and Britain.
GENEVA — The World Economic Forum says its next meeting in January will be held under the headline “The Great Reset,” reflecting the impact that the coronavirus crisis has had on economies and societies around the world and the ongoing need to tackle climate change.
Organizers of the annual meeting of government and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, said Wednesday that they plan to hold a “twin summit” comprising both “in-person and virtual dialogues.” These will link elites to young people in more than 400 cities around the world.
Forum founder Klaus Schwab said that “the global health crisis has laid bare the unsustainability of our old system in terms of social cohesion, the lack of equal opportunities and inclusiveness.”
He warned that “climate change could be the next global disaster with even more dramatic consequences for humankind.”
ISLAMABAD — Health officials say one more Pakistani lawmaker has died at a hospital in Islamabad after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Mian Jamshed Kakakhel, who was a member of a provincial assembly in the northwest, died Wednesday. His death comes a day after two lawmakers died at different hospitals after testing positive for the coronavirus.
So far, four Pakistani lawmakers have died because of the coronavirus in the country, which recorded its highest single-day increase in infections with 4,131 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours.
Pakistan on Wednesday reported 67 deaths in the past 24 hours from the outbreak.
Critics blame Prime Minister Imran Khan for an increase in deaths and infections. They accuse him of easing restrictions last month at a time when there was a need to enforce a stricter lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
Pakistan has recorded a total of 80,463 confirmed cases and 1,688 deaths since February.
BRUSSELS — Environmental group Greenpeace says the EU’s economic response to the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to the investment of several billion euros in polluting fossil fuels industries.
According to a Greenpeace analysis released Wednesday, the European Central Bank has purchased corporate bonds worth about 30 billion euros ($33.7 billion) between mid-March and mid-May 2020. Among that investment, 7.6 billion euros ($8.5 billion) were injected into fossil fuels industries, Greenpeace said.
“With the purchase of bonds from just seven big polluters, the ECB contributed an estimated 11.2 million tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, which is more than the entire annual emissions of Luxembourg,” Greenpeace said.
Last week, the European Commission pledged to stay away from fossil-fueled projects in its coronavirus recovery strategy, and to stick to its target of making Europe the first climate neutral continent by the mid-century.
JOHANNESBURG — Tanzania is entering its sixth week without an update on its coronavirus cases as African health authorities worry and the U.S. issues a new statement of concern.
The East African nation’s data has been frozen at just over 500 cases since the end of April as the government of President John Magufuli claims the virus has been defeated. The opposition, however, has alleged that Tanzania’s cases could be in the tens of thousands.
The latest U.S. Embassy alert, posted Tuesday, says “there have been instances during the COVID-19 outbreak when hospitals in Dar es Salaam reached full capacity due to the high volume of COVID-19 cases” and that “the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains high.”
The alert recommends that U.S. government personnel stay at home except for essential activities.
Tanzania, unlike many African nations, has lifted its ban on international flights. Cases across the African continent are now above 157,000.
BERLIN — A city in central Germany has closed its schools for the rest of the week and is testing hundreds of people in a residential complex after 80 coronavirus infections were linked to private events marking the end of Ramadan.
Goettingen Mayor Rolf-Georg Koehler said on Tuesday that all residents of the complex at the center of the outbreak will be tested – up to 700 people. Officials said that 230 people in and around Goettingen and another 140 further afield are in quarantine after the infections were detected.
They say a hookah lounge in Goettingen where various people apparently used the same mouthpiece played a significant role. News agency dpa reported that, since the infected include 24 children, the city is closing its schools this week and will require the wearing of masks for the two following weeks.
Germany started easing coronavirus restrictions in late April and is continuing to do so despite some concern over various local outbreaks.
BEIJING — The central Chinese city of Wuhan has tested nearly every one of its 11 million people for the coronavirus in a mass effort that resulted in the isolation of 300 people, authorities said Wednesday.
The pandemic is believed to have originated last year in the industrial city that went under lockdown for 76 days to try to stop the outbreak. Wuhan still accounts for the bulk of China’s 83,021 cases and 4,634 deaths from the disease.
The testing effort carried out in the second half of May targeted every resident not already tested and excluded only children under age 6.
“This is extraordinarily rare anywhere in the world,“ National Health Commission expert Li Lanjuan told reporters. “It not only shows confidence and determination in the fight against the epidemic in Wuhan, but has also provided reference to other cities for their prevention.”
No new cases of COVID-19 were found, although 300 people who tested positive for the virus without showing symptoms were placed in isolation.
The executive deputy mayor, Hu Yabo, said the city spent 900 million yuan ($126 million) on the tests, a “totally worthwhile” expenditure as Wuhan looks to reassure residents and people elsewhere in China and get the city’s local economy humming again, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted him as saying.