The Latest: Death toll in the UK surpasses 30,000
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:
— U.K. has become second country to record more than 30,000 deaths as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
— Former CDC director: US will reach 100,000 virus deaths by the end of May.
— Republican-led Michigan Legislature suing Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
— Singapore’s virus infections surge past 20,000.
— Russia’s minister of culture tests positive, 3rd cabinet member.
LONDON — The U.K. has become the second country to record more than 30,000 deaths as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, said at the government’s daily briefing that another 649 people in the U.K. have died in all settings, including hospitals and care homes, after testing positive for the coronavirus.
That takes the U.K.’s official death toll to 30,076, only behind the United States, which has more than 71,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
The British government is expected to extend the lockdown restrictions on Thursday when they come up for review, partly because deaths remain elevated despite falling when measured over a seven-day period.
Jenrick also said that just under 70,000 tests for the coronavirus were conducted on Tuesday. That’s short of the 100,000 target the government had set for the end of April, which it managed to achieve twice.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a new target for testing capacity of 200,000 tests a day by the end of May.
Tom Frieden, a former director of the CDC, testified at a House hearing that there will be 100,000 deaths in the United States by the end of May.
As bad as the crisis has been, “It’s just the beginning,” he said.
“Our war against COVID will be long and difficult.”
Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, a hearing participant, said reopening the economy can’t wait. “We’re safer from death if we’re not born,” he said.
LANSING, Mich. — The Republican-led Michigan Legislature is suing Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, asking a judge to declare invalid and unenforceable her stay-at-home order and other measures issued to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the state Court of Claims, says a 1945 law that gives the governor broad emergency powers to order such restrictions governs local, not statewide, declarations such as the one that has been in place since March.
It contends Whitmer needs legislative approval to extend the declaration and effectively keep intact the stay-home directive.
The order is in place at least through May 15 and generally requires people to shelter in place except to do critical jobs, exercise outdoors and buy groceries or other items.
Nearly 4,200 people in Michigan have died of complications from COVID-19.
MADRID — Spain’s government has secured the endorsement of the Spanish parliament to extend the national state of emergency and virus lockdown measures for two more weeks.
The state of emergency, which began on March 14 when regional health authorities had lost control of the coronavirus spread, will now run through May 24.
The left-wing coalition government won the vote despite losing the support of the main opposition party and other allies. It did so by striking last-minute deals with two other parties.
Despite voting “yes,” they urged Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to come up with an alternative to the state of emergency, which gives his executive extraordinary powers. Some of Spain’s administrative regions feel it has infringed on their powers.
The government argues the extension is critical to prolong a lockdown that has succeeded in reining in the outbreak. It also says that it is needed to apply its complex rollback plan for the lockdown, which will vary by province as they prepare for a possible second wave.
MILAN — The number of people who have recovered from coronavirus in Italy is higher than the number of people who are actually positive for the first time since Italy created the first red zones on Feb. 21.
As of Wednesday, a total of 93,245 people have been dismissed from hospitals after recovering from the virus, while 91,528 people are currently positive, according to the civil protection agency.
Meanwhile, both the number of deaths and new positives made their biggest jumps since Sunday.
Authorities recorded 369 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing Italy’s total deaths to 29,684, while the number of new infections rose by 1,444, hitting 214,457.
Italy began easing the strict lockdown measures on Monday, but it is expected to be a couple of weeks before it is apparent whether the greater freedoms result in an increase in infections and deaths.
Italians are being told to wear masks and gloves when outside the house, as some 4.4 million people returned to work this week as more manufacturing was open and some more businesses, including coffee bars for take-out orders only.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Italy has sent doctors to Bosnia to help the Balkan country deal with its coronavirus outbreak.
Two Italian military doctors who had previously “participated in the superhuman effort to help Italians” infected with the novel virus, arrived in Sarajevo Wednesday, Bosnia’s Civil Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
While in Bosnia, the Italian military doctors will be under the chain of command of the European Union Force deployed in the country, EUFOR said in a statement Wednesday.
After Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, more than 60,000 troops deployed throughout the country to secure the peace. In 2004 the peacekeeping mandate was handed over to the EU, which currently has a few hundred soldiers on the ground.
The doctors will be visiting hospitals in Bosnia “to share their first-hand knowledge and experience of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis in Italy,” EUFOR statement added.
As of Wednesday, Bosnia has confirmed nearly 2,000 cases of infection, including 86 deaths.
SINGAPORE — Singapore’s virus infections surged past 20,000 as more foreign workers living in crowded dormitories were diagnosed.
The city-state reported 788 new cases for a total of 20,198, the third highest in Asia after China and India. Foreign workers living in dorms accounted for nearly 90% of the cases.
Officials say the upsurge among foreign workers was expected amid ongoing virus testing at dozens of dorms that have been locked down.
Singapore will allow selected businesses to operate on May 12 in a gradual roll back of a two-month lockdown that is expected to end June 1.
BERLIN — German officials have cleared the way for restaurants, hotels and remaining shops to reopen in the coming weeks. They also are putting in place a requirement to reimpose restrictions if new coronavirus infections exceed a set number.
Germany, which started shutting down public life in mid-March, has seen new infections decline significantly in recent weeks and pressure for relief from the shutdown mount. It started loosening restrictions over two weeks ago, when small shops were allowed to reopen. Other facilities, including hairdressers and zoos, have followed.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday after consulting with the governors of Germany’s 16 states that “the current situation made it possible that we could … agree on further reopening.”
Germany’s soccer league, the Bundesliga, will be allowed to resume play in the second half of May.
Merkel said that regional authorities will have to draw up a “restriction concept” for any county that reports 50 new cases for every 100,000 inhabitants within a week. The aim is to avoid a new nationwide shutdown.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — El Salvador President Nayib Bukele says the country will begin a quarantine on Thursday.
Residents can leave their homes only twice a week to buy food. The country has spent a month under a mandatory stay-at-home order, without a limit on how often they could shop for groceries. Police and soldiers have arrested several thousand people for violating that order and sent them to containment centers for 30-days quarantine. The country’s Supreme Court has ruled those detentions unconstitutional, but Bukele has refused to budge.
The largest concentration of infections is in the capital, so Bukele says people won’t be allowed to travel between municipalities without a letter showing they are needed for work. Only banks, pharmacies, supermarkets and selling of basic grains will be allowed open.
MILAN — Milan is running targeted, voluntary antibody testing of bus and tram drivers as part of a study with the University of Milan.
Prof. Massimo Galli, who is running the study for the city, says the tests are a valid screening measure. Antibody tests would be followed up with a virus test to see if those with antibodies are currently positive.
Mayor Giuseppe Sala says the study results will be released when the sample is large enough. He says the goal of antibody testing programs is offering reassurance to people returning to work as Italy eases its lockdown.
“It is right that people are returning to work, it is necessary,” Sala said. “But we need to put our citizens in the condition to be tranquil when they go back to work.”
MOSCOW — Russian authorities have decided to reopen all industrial plants and construction sites in the capital starting next week, citing a stable rate of the coronavirus.
President Vladimir Putin says it will be up to officials in other regions of the country to determine when it’s possible to ease lockdown measures in place since the end of March. Putin says it’s necessary to proceed with caution to prevent a surge in contagion.
Russia has registered 165,929 coronavirus cases and 1,537 deaths.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin attributed an increased number of infections in the capital to broader testing, saying the number of patients in serious condition has remained stable.
He says the city’s industrial plants and construction sites will open Tuesday. Sobyanin says the move will reactivate a half million jobs in Moscow and 3.5 million jobs elsewhere in the country.
NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the rising coronavirus infection rates outside of the New York metropolitan area should serve as a warning to other states not to reopen their economies too quickly.
“This desire to restart and open up without necessarily referencing the actual facts of what’s going on is dangerous,” de Blasio said on CNN’s “New Day.”
The mayor says New Yorkers have succeeded in lowering virus infection rates by following social distancing orders and wearing masks in public.
He says the message to the rest of the country is “learn from how much effort, how much discipline it took to finally bring these numbers down and follow the same path.” Otherwise, he says, there’s the possibility of a resurgence.
There have been more than 13,000 deaths in the five boroughs of New York City, plus another likely 5,000 blamed on the virus, but unconfirmed by lab tests.
New York state recorded 230 deaths on Monday, far lower than the peak of 799 on April 8.
BRUSSELS — Belgian Prime minister Sophie Wilmes announced loosening of social distancing measures, allowing more shops to open next week and hosting friends or family members at home.
Wilmes says households can invite up to four people starting Sunday.
Working remotely “remains the norm” and most shops and businesses will be allowed to open next week. However, restaurants, bars and cultural venues will remain closed. Sporting competitions have been canceled until July 31.
Wearing a mask while running errands is recommended but won’t be mandatory.
Belgium, a country of 11.5 million, has more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 8,339 deaths.
MOSCOW — Russia’s minister of culture has tested positive for the coronavirus, the third Russian Cabinet member infected.
Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova has mild symptoms and is undergoing treatment at home, according to her office. The ministry says Lyubimova attends video calls with other officials.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Construction minister Vladimir Yakushev were reported to have the virus last week.
It wasn’t clear if Russian President Vladimir Putin had met with any of the infect officials. Since early in the outbreak, the Russian leader has limited meetings and switched to daily video calls with officials.
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