The Latest: Dirty masks cause complaints to Japan government
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:
— Japan government faces complaints after giving out dirty masks
— McDonalds is suspending operations in Singapore after seven employees test positive.
— South Korea has eight more cases of coronavirus in 24-hour span
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s unpopular handouts of old-fashioned cloth masks as part of his coronavirus measures faced complaints, as thousands of those sent to pregnant women were dirty..
The health ministry said over the weekend that it has received at least 1,900 cases of the problems reported by 80 municipalities that the masks came with stains, dust and other contamination. The dirty masks were among a million masks that the government started sending to pregnant women in Japan as a priority last week. Abe announced a plan on April 1 to mail two cloth masks each to all 50 million households in Japan amid dire shortage of masks.
The faulty masks were the latest embarrassment for Abe’s government already criticized for its coronavirus measures inadequate, off-target, too little and too late.
The cloth masks also seem to have a size problem. When the masks also arrived at elderly care centers, television talk shows showed some caregivers struggling to fit the mask, saying the it was too small to cover both nose and mouth at the same time.
The ministry said it has urged mask makers to resolve the contamination problem, while asking municipal officials to visually inspect the masks before mailing them.
SINGAPORE — Fast food giant McDonald’s says it will suspend all operations in Singapore for two weeks from Sunday after seven of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus.
McDonald’s said in a Facebook post it decided to follow the health ministry’s advise to shutdown until May 4 when Singapore’s partial lockdown ends as part of a preventative action in the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak. It said it would continue to pay the salary of 10,000 employees working in more than 135 outlets across the city-state during this period.
The fast-food chain, which serves six million customers every month, didn’t give further details. Seven of its employees working in several outlets have been diagnosed with the virus in the past week.
The city-state Saturday reported a record daily jump of 942 new infections, the highest one-day spike seen in Southeast Asia, to bring its total to 5,992. The government has made it mandatory for people to wear masks outside them homes and imposed strict social distancing measures.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported eight more cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the first time for a daily jump in the country to drop to a single digit in about two months.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the additional figures released Sunday took the country’s total to 10,661 with 234 deaths.
It says 8,042 of the total have been recovered and released from quarantine and that 12,243 others were under tests to determine whether they contracted the virus.
South Korea’s caseload has been waning in recent weeks since it recorded hundreds of new cases every day between late February and early March, mostly in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby areas.
Despite the recent downward trend, South Korean officials have warned about the possibility of a broader “quiet spread” with people easing up on social distancing.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina retail stores and public beach access points that had been closed to halt the spread of the coronavirus will be allowed to reopen next week, The Post and Courier reported Saturday.
Gov. Henry McMaster will issue orders Monday to allow for the reopenings to take place on Tuesday, the governor’s chief of staff, Trey Walker, told the newspaper.
The order will apply to numerous nonessential stores, including department stores, flea markets, florists, bookstores and music shops. Grocery stores, pharmacies, home improvement stores and medical facilities have been allowed to stay open during the pandemic.
Occupancy in each store will be limited to five customers per 1,000 square feet of retail space or 20% occupancy, whichever is less, the newspaper said.
Local governments will still be allowed to make their own rules about waterway access.
The governor’s stay-at-home order will remain in place, as will the ban on eating inside restaurants, Walker said.
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