The Latest: Dutch coronavirus outbreak spreads to Germany

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:

— Syria reports 20 new cases, the largest number in a day since the outbreak began.

— Outbreak linked to Dutch slaughterhouse spreads across the border to Germany.

— Greece restarts regular ferry services to the islands in bid to salvage tourism season.

— Domestic airline travel partially resumes in India.

— Iditarod winner, dogs stranded in Alaska since victory in March.

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DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s Health Ministry is reporting 20 new cases of coronavirus in the country, the highest daily count since the new virus was first reported here in late March.

Monday’s announcement raises to 106 the number of confirmed cases. There have been four deaths.

The ministry said all 20 new cases are of Syrians who returned from abroad. They comprise 15 people who came back from Kuwait, three from Sudan, one from Russia and one from the United Arab Emirates.

Syria recently began easing restrictions imposed over the past weeks.

Earlier in May, President Bashar Assad issued a decree postponing the country’s parliamentary elections until July — the second such delay in light of restrictions in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

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BERLIN — A coronavirus outbreak linked to a slaughterhouse in the Netherlands has spread across the border to Germany.

Dutch regional health authorities said Monday that tests showed 147 of the 657 employees at a meat processing plant in Groenlo were positive for COVID-19.

They said 79 of those infected live in Germany, while 68 are resident in the Netherlands.

There have been several clusters of COVID-19 among slaughterhouse workers in Germany in recent weeks, prompting a government pledge to crack down on conditions in the industry. Many workers in German abattoirs are migrants from Eastern Europe employed by subcontractors. They often live in shared housing and are transported to and from the slaughterhouses by shuttle bus, increasing the likelihood of infection.

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PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro’s health minister has urged citizens to help keep the small Balkan country “corona-free” in the future after authorities said there are no more cases of infection at the moment.

Minister Kenan Hrapovic on Monday described the current situation in the country as a joint success of the health authorities and the citizen of Montenegro.

The Public Health Institute said Sunday that all of the 140 tests in the past 24 hours were negative and that there are no people currently reported sick with the virus.

Hrapovic says “responsible behavior and joint health care will be out trump card in the days ahead so that we can remain proud bearers of the title of a corona-free country.”

The Balkan country of some 620,000 people imposed strict lockdown measures to curb the outbreak. A total of 324 cases have been recorded and nine people have died.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece on Monday restarted regular ferry services to the islands, while restaurants and bars were also back open for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season.

Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown in late March, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents keeping access.

But the country’s low infection rate in the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the government to start the holiday season earlier than expected, on June 15, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain, and Turkey — are grappling with more deadly outbreaks.

Distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants, while state-run health services to combat new coronavirus cases are being expanded to the islands, with intensive care space being provided on five islands: Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos, and Corfu, along with existing facilities on the island of Crete.

Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy, with a direct cash contribution of more than 10%, and broad secondary benefits. More than 34 million visitors traveled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros, according to central data.

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NEW DELHI — Domestic airline travel has partially resumed in India as authorities continued to ease a nationwide coronavirus lockdown despite the caseload rising at more than 6,000 new infections per day.

At New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Monday, passengers in masks or full protective suits stood in long lines to show identification and boarding passes to security personnel standing behind plastic partitions. Ticket machines have been shifted outside, where airport workers sanitized baggage and there are stalls stocked masks, sanitizer and face shields.

Commercial flight traffic returned across India, except for the states of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.

India’s Supreme Court has ordered social distancing norms observed in airports and in flight, forcing airlines to keep middle seats open.

Elsewhere in India, Muslims celebrated the festival of Eid, the end of Ramadan, in a subdued fashion with places of worship remaining closed under the lockdown restrictions.

On Monday, India reported more than 138,000 virus cases, including 4,000 deaths.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Thomas Waerner won this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in March, yet he is still waiting to return to his home in Norway.

The Anchorage Daily News reported Waerner and his 16 dogs have been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 47-year-old Waerner plans to fly home in early June. He has five children and 35 other sled dogs in Torpa, Norway.

He missed the 10th birthday of one of his children and misses morning coffee with his wife, who left Alaska in March, shortly before health restrictions stopped travel.

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TOKYO —Experts on a special government panel have approved a plan to remove a coronavirus state of emergency from Tokyo and four other remaining prefectures, paving the way for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare entirely ending the measure to allow businesses to gradually resume.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that experts on a government-commissioned panel approved the plan to end the state of emergency that has lasted for more than a month and a half.

Abe is to officially declare the end of the state of emergency later Monday after endorsement from parliamentary committees.

Nishimura said lifting of the emergency does not mean the end of the pandemic. He said the goal is to minimize next possible recurrences of infections while balancing preventive measures and the economy.

Abe declared the state of emergency on April 7, first in parts of Japan including Tokyo, expanded it to the entire nation later in the month and extended it until the end of May. Unlike a European-style hard lockdown, Japan’s state of emergency is soft and largely a request for people to stay at home and for non-essential businesses to close or operate shorter hours, a strategy aiming at minimizing the economic damage.

Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures are to reopen schools, public facilities and businesses in phases in coming weeks while watching any signs of a resurgence of infections.

Nishimura said recent data suggest that the infections have slowed enough and the medical systems are under less pressure and that it’s time to gradually resume social and economic activity. Tokyo and Hokkaido, where more than a dozen new cases have been reported Sunday, still need to remain extra-cautious, he said.

(asterisk)We cannot completely eliminate the coronavirus to zero,” Nishimura said. “Even after the state of emergency is lifted, we must firmly take preventive measures based on our new lifestyles.”

Japan has 16,580 confirmed cases and 830 deaths, according to the health ministry.

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WASHINGTON — The White House has announced a ban on travel to the U.S. from Brazil due to the spread of coronavirus in Latin America’s hardest-hit country.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says in a statement Sunday evening that the ban applies to foreign nationals who have been in Brazil in the 14 days before they sought to travel to the United States.

McEnany cast it as a move by President Donald Trump “to protect our country.”

Trump has already banned travel from the United Kingdom, Europe and China, all of which have been hit hard by the virus. Trump had said last week that he was considering imposing similar restrictions on Brazil.

Brazil had reported more than 347,000 COVID-19 cases, second behind the U.S. in the number of infections, according to a Johns Hopkins University count.

Brazil also has recorded more than 22,000 deaths, fifth-most in the world. There have been more than 97,000 U.S. deaths.

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BERLIN — The coronavirus lockdown has pushed the number of road deaths in Germany to a record monthly low.

Official figures released Monday show 158 people died in traffic accidents in March, compared with 234 deaths in the same month last year.

The Federal Statistical Office said it was the lowest monthly death toll on Germany’s roads since reunification in 1990.

Germany imposed significant restrictions on people’s movements in March to lessen the spread of the coronavirus.

The total number of traffic accidents in Germany sank to 166,000 in March, a 23% drop from the same month in 2019.

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LONDON — Plans by the British government to announce a further easing of lockdown measures are being overshadowed by an outcry over a senior aide accused of flouting restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson is standing by adviser Dominic Cummings, who drove 250 miles (400 kilometers) from his London home to his parents’ house while he was infected with the virus. Johnson said Cummings acted out of concern for his 4-year-old son, but many Britons see it as a clear breach of the government’s national “stay at home” order.

Stephen Reicher, a social psychologist who sits on a group advising the government, said “more people are going to die” because the episode will undermine trust in government and adherence to the lockdown rules.

Bishop of Leeds Nick Baines said the public had been “lied to, patronized and treated … as mugs.”

The scandal shows no signs of dying down, with the conservative Daily Mail newspaper running the front-page headline “What planet are they on?” in reference to Cummings and Johnson.

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MOSCOW — Russia’s coronavirus caseload exceeded 350,000 on Monday, with health officials reporting almost 9,000 new infections over the past 24 hours and 92 deaths, which brought the overall death toll to 3,633. The country’s comparatively low mortality rate raises questions among experts both in Russia and in the West, with some suggesting the government may be manipulating the statistics and underreporting virus-related deaths. Russian officials vehemently deny the allegations and attribute the low numbers to the effectiveness of measures taken to curb the spread of the outbreak.

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PRAGUE — Bars, restaurants and cafes are returning to full service in the Czech Republic as the government takes further steps to ease coronavirus restrictions.

As of Monday, those establishments can serve customers in interior spaces. Hotels are also reopening together with public swimming pools, wellness centers and saunas.

Sports, cultural and other public events for up to 300 people will be allowed, up from the previous 100.

Restrictions have been only partially lifted for schools. Students up to fifth grade can attend on a voluntary basis under strict conditions starting Monday. There must be no more than 15 students in a class and they must stay together the whole day. Remaining elementary school students and all high school students won’t return to their schools until the start of the new school year on Sept. 1.

Face masks are now mandatory only on public transport, in enclosed spaces and inside buildings. Outside, masks must be used if two unrelated people are less than two meters (6.5 feet) apart.

The Czech Republic has reported 8,597 cases, including 315 deaths.

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