The Latest: Dairy plants dumping unused milk as demand dries
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:
— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson still showing symptoms of coronavirus.
— Vatican records its 7th coronavirus case and extends partial lockdown until May 4.
— FEMA requests 100,000 body bags from Defense Logistics Agency.
— Pandemic could wipe out $23 billion in passenger revenue from airlines across Middle East and Africa.
WEST BEND, Wis. — Many dairy processing plants across Wisconsin have more product than they can handle and that’s forced farmers to begin dumping their milk down the drain.
That’s the case at Golden E Dairy near West Bend. Farmer Ryan Elbe told WISN-TV they are dumping about about 30,000 gallons (113,562 litres) a day.
The coronavirus has dried up the marketplace for dairy products as restaurants, schools and food service businesses have been closed. About one-third of the state’s dairy products, mostly cheese, are sold in the food-service trade.
The Journal Sentinel reports that Elbe’s cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has agreed to pay them for milk that’s being dumped. But like most cooperatives, DFA can only afford to do that for so long.
Elbe’s parents started the farm with 80 cows in 1991, an operation that has grown to 2,400 cows today.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The new coronavirus pandemic is expected to wipe out $23 billion in passenger revenue from airlines across the Middle East and Africa this year.
That’s according to an assessment Thursday by the aviation industry’s largest trade association.
The International Air Transport Association has been pleading for governments to rescue carriers with financial assistance and tax cuts. Flights around the world are grounded and airports are shuttered except to cargo flights and returning citizens.
The group said Mideast airlines will see a $19 billion drop in revenue this year as compared to 2019. Airlines in Africa, which include EgyptAir, are expected to see a $4 billion drop.
Hundreds of thousands of job in the aviation sector are also at risk across both regions.
IATA said projections are based on assumptions that travel restrictions will continue through the second quarter of 2020. Even if travel recovers partially in the second half of the year, it will be slow and impacted by an overall slump in the global economy and weakened passenger demand.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — A domestic abuse association in Cyprus says forced seclusion because of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a nearly 50% spike in family violence reports in March.
The Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family says of the nearly 2,100 calls to its helpline through March, more than half went unanswered because staff were overwhelmed.
The association says confinement due to the new virus increases the intensity, frequency and danger of violence against women and children. It also offers perpetrators different ways to abuse victims like using children to pressure a spouse psychologically, using threats of exposure to the virus, withholding items like medicine, masks and antiseptic liquids and preventing women from seeking medical help in case symptoms appear.
The association said it continues its operate its helpline and that all shelters remain open.
BERLIN — An app developed by German non-profit group Data4Life and Berlin’s renowned Charité hospital that makes the process of testing for the new coronavirus more efficient is being made freely available to other institutions around the world.
The CovApp was launched in the German capital last month to help people determine whether they should visit a testing center if they believe they are infected.
Depending on the answers users provide about their symptoms and recent activity, the app either suggests they rest at home or refers them to a nearby medical facility to get a test.
The data collected beforehand can be provided to doctors at the facility to shorten the waiting time there.
The app’s makers said Thursday they are making the code open source, meaning it will be “freely accessible for everyone.”
BERLIN — Germany plans to loosen a week-old ban on most seasonal workers entering the country amid concerns about the impact on farms.
Farms last year employed nearly 300,000 seasonal workers, many from eastern Europe.
The interior and agriculture ministries says up to 40,000 seasonal workers will be allowed into Germany in April and the same number in May.
Authorities hope that some 10,000 people per month who are already in Germany can be recruited, such as the unemployed, students or asylum-seekers.
Newcomers will be allowed in only by plane and must be given medical checks on arrival. They will have to live and work separately from other employees for the first 14 days and wear protective gear while working.
Farmers had been able to bring in only 20,000 seasonal workers before new arrivals were halted last week but they will need some 100,000 by the end of May.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still showing symptoms almost a week after he announced he had the new coronavirus.
Johnson’s spokesman says the prime minister “continues to have mild symptoms.”
Johnson said Friday he had tested positive for COVID-19 after developing a fever and a cough. He said he was following U.K. health officials’ advice to self-isolate for seven days.
That period is almost up.
Spokesman James Slack did not confirm whether Johnson would end his quarantine. Slack said the prime minister is following “the best medical and scientific advice” about when to end his quarantine.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has recorded its seventh coronavirus case and extended its partial lockdown of activities until May 4.
The Vatican says a Vatican employee tested positive after having been on home quarantine since mid-March because his wife, who works in a hospital, was infected.
The Vatican previously had six cases, including a high-ranking official who lived in the same residence as Pope Francis. The Vatican has said the pope and his closest advisers haven’t been infected.
Francis also Thursday issued a decree extending the suspension of activities of the Vatican City State’s criminal tribunal until May 4.
The Holy See says it has reduced its activities to only work essential for the functioning of the headquarters of the universal Catholic Church.
Francis’ Holy Week and Easter services, which begin Sunday with Palm Sunday, are being conducted without the faithful present.
Washington — A Pentagon spokesman says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has requested 100,000 human remains “pouches.”
Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews says the request is being fulfilled by the Defense Logistics Agency. Pouches are also commonly referred to as “body bags.”
Andrews wrote in a statement that the Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency have a longstanding arrangement with FEMA to procure key commodities during crisis response operations.
Andrews added the Defense Logistics Agency is currently responding to FEMA’s prudent planning efforts for 100,000 pouches to address mortuary contingencies on behalf of state health agencies.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Public rejection of the burial of people with the new coronavirus has been growing in Indonesia for over a week as some fear the disease can spread from the corpse to nearby community.
Indonesia has reported nearly 1,800 positive cases of the coronavirus with 170 deaths.
Television footage showed villagers in Central Java’s Banyumas district blocked an ambulance carrying a coffin wrapped in plastic with a victim of the coronavirus. Some were throwing wooden sticks to prevent the ambulance from approaching a public cemetery near their homes.
Similar situations occurred in some parts of the archipelago nation, mainly on Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi islands. Authorities are trying to convince the public that the burial of people with COVID-19 is not something to be wary of.
The protests has prompted local administrations to prepare plots of land as graveyard specifically designed for COVID-19 patients.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The state reported 272,117 jobless claims for the week ending March 28, a second straight week of record losses.
Ohio has received 468,414 claims the past two weeks, which is more than 100,000 for all of 2019. The state has paid out $45 million to more than 108,000 claimants.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Authorities in Puerto Rico say they have detained six police officers accused of violating curfew after they were tipped off that the group was hanging out at a beach in the island’s southeast.
Officials say the five women and one man are members of Puerto Rico’s Joint Rapid Action Forces. The division in part serves as a liaison to federal law enforcement agencies.
Hundreds of people have been detained amid a month long curfew aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. territory. Puerto Rico has reported at least 12 deaths and more than 300 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
TOKYO — Tokyo has reported 97 new cases of the new coronavirus in another record single-day increase as the infection accelerated in Japan’s capital.
Officials are scrambling to secure more beds to accommodate an influx of patients.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike started to raise alarms last week when the number of untraceable cases started to soar. Japan has more than 3,000 cases, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 71 deaths.
Experts on a government panel have called on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take steps to prevent medical systems from collapsing.
Koike and heads of Tokyo’s four neighboring prefectures jointly issued a weekend stay-at-home request to their residents last week that will last until at least mid-April. Department stores in Tokyo and its vicinity have already announced their weekend closures.
Tokyo initially only had about 130 beds for isolated treatment of infectious diseases and already had to quadruple the number to accommodate the rising COVID-19 patients.
Koike says Tokyo has secured 700 more beds and plans to get thousands more in coming weeks. She says the city plans to eventually transfer those with slight symptoms to hotels and public facilities to make room for severe patients.
BERLIN — Germany’s foreign minister says his country has taken in more than 100 coronavirus patients from Italy and France as part of bilateral aid efforts among allies.
Speaking before a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from NATO member states, Heiko Maas said the alliance is trying to see how its capabilities can be used to tackle the crisis caused by the pandemic.
Maas said NATO “can be part of solution,” citing in particular the military’s medevac capabilities.
German news agency dpa reported that Germany has taken in 85 coronavirus patients from France, 32 from Italy and two from the Netherlands. It said more than 60 further hospital beds in Germany are earmarked for patients from Italy and France, while team of doctors and nurses have been deployed to Naples and Madrid.
Maas warned that the pandemic was being exploited by hostile forces, such as the Islamic State group in Iraq.
He welcomed China’s aid to some countries, but noted that this comes after China received aid during the peak of its outbreak.
CAIRO — Libya’s east-based government has extended the region’s 16-hour curfew until April 8 in its effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
No cases of the virus have been recorded in the eastern half of Libya so far but authorities last week imposed an all-day curfew until April 3. It was later reduced to 16 hours a day. It has now been extended until next Wednesday.
Libya has so far recorded 10 cases in the country’s west, in the capital of Tripoli and the city of Misrata, which are controlled by a rival government and where similar curfews are in place.
Libya is divided between two governments.
Last year, forces loyal to the east-based launched an offensive to wrestle Tripoli from the U.N.-supported government based in the capital. The offensive is now mostly stalemated but has killed hundreds of civilians and displaced tens of thousands.
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. infectious disease official says medical experts are no closer to figuring out why some seemingly healthy people infected by the new coronavirus develop only mild or no symptoms but others become very sick.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says on NBC’s “Today” show he’s been “puzzled from the beginning” of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He says it’s “very strange” how the virus can be “completely devastating” and lead to “viral pneumonia and respiratory failure” in one person and be “absolutely nothing” in another person.
Fauci says he’s been working in infectious diseases for almost 50 years but doesn’t “fully understand exactly what the mechanism of that is.”
He says finding the answer is going to require natural history studies, which follow people over time while collecting their health information.
PARIS — France is pushing for stronger solidarity between European Union member states to provide an economic stimulus to restart the economy following the virus crisis.
French Finance minister Bruno Le Maire in English warned Thursday “economic recovery in Europe and throughout the world will be long, drawn out, difficult and costly. There will be no miracle solution.”
He called for a solidarity effort between Europeans, especially Italy and Spain, which are the most hardly hit by the pandemic on the continent.
France will propose the European Union to set up an “exceptional and temporary joint fund” dedicated to helping all member states’ economic recovery in the coming years.
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