The Latest: Dutch lawmakers seek review on virus response
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch lawmakers have called for an independent review of the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis so authorities can be better prepared for a possible second wave of infections.
In a vote Tuesday, a majority of lawmakers supported a motion by the opposition Labor and Socialist parties calling on the Netherlands’ governing coalition to seek independent advice before Sept. 1 on “what lessons can be learned” from the measures taken by the government to rein in the spread of the virus.
Nearly 50,000 people have tested positive for the virus in the Netherlands and 6,070 have died, according to the government’s official tally. The pandemic’s actual death tolls in many countries are believed to be higher because not all people who died with suspected COVID-19 were tested.
The Dutch Safety Board, an independent panel that investigates major incidents such as plane crashes and industrial accidents, also is investigating the government’s coronavirus response but its probe is expected to take many months.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— The German government wants to require any cases of the coronavirus in pets to be reported to authorities.
— Tanzania’s president says the country will reopen schools at the end of this month after claiming victory over COVID-19 and that divine intervention is key to stopped the virus.
— China reimposes some travel restrictions in the capital to contain a new outbreak, highlighting calls for vigilance as the U.S., Europe and Latin America continue to reopen.
— Americans are unhappier today than they’ve been in nearly 50 years. That’s the takeaway from the COVID Response Tracking Study conducted by University of Chicago researchers. It finds that just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy, down from 31% who said the same in 2018. About twice as many Americans reported being lonely as did in two years ago, an unsurprising finding given lockdowns and stay-home orders.
— Scientists at Imperial College London will start immunizing people in Britain this week with an experimental coronavirus shot, while pharmaceutical company Sanofi and the French government announced more than 800 million euros ($890 million) in investment as part of the worldwide race to find an effective vaccine.
— Health care workers are reckoning with the psychological toll of fighting the virus. While the global pandemic hasn’t abated, the days of ventilator shortages and makeshift morgues at hospitals have subsided. Not necessarily the pain from treating gasping patients in past months and fears that COVID-19 could flare anew later this year.
Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TORONTO — Canada and the United States have agreed to keep borders closed to non-essential travel until July 21 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that the two countries extended their existing agreement by another 30 days.
The border restrictions were announced on March 18 and previously extended in April and May. Many Canadians fear a reopening.
The U.S. has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world,
ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities say more than 7,800 coronavirus tests were carried out on passengers who arrived at Athens international Airport last week and turned up four cases.
Authorities said the 7,804 checks were carried out on flights that arrived June 8-14, before Greece opened to most European tourists this week without compulsory coronavirus tests.
Greece has been eager to promote itself as a safe tourist destination, and to salvage what is left of the summer tourist season. The country is heavily dependent on tourism, which makes up around 20% of its economy.
Tourists have been able to fly into Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki since Monday, and are subject to random coronavirus tests rather than mandatory testing and quarantine. International flights will be able to fly directly to regional airports from July 1.
BERLIN — Authorities in Berlin have placed 369 households under quarantine after dozens of people tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Officials in the southern district of Neukoelln said Tuesday that the outbreak involved homes in seven different locations and in some cases with 10 people living together.
Berlin’s top health official, Dilek Kalayci, urged the German capital’s residents to use a new government-backed contact tracing app rolled out on Tuesday.
As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 7,368 cases of COVID-19 and 208 deaths since the outbreak began.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Tanzania’s president says the country will reopen schools at the end of this month after claiming victory over COVID-19.
President John Magufuli’s comments came a day after his prime minister said 66 people in Tanzania were still infected. Confusion has surrounded the East African nation after it stopped publicly updating its number of cases at the end of April.
Magufuli has claimed the pandemic has been greatly exaggerated and pressed ahead with loosening restrictions in Tanzania, a country of some 56 million people. He says precautions such as wearing masks are unnecessary and instead divine intervention is key to stopping the virus.
Health experts have pleaded with the government for cooperation and transparency.
While Tanzania’s official number of cases has been frozen at just over 500, opposition leaders fear the real number is in the tens of thousands.
Magufuli spoke Tuesday while dissolving Tanzania’s parliament to pave way for an October general election, another event that has caused concern.
LONDON — A new study by Public Health England has confirmed that historic racism and social inequalities are contributing factors that increase the risk of black and Asian people and members of other minority communities dying from the coronavirus in the U.K.
Britain’s government has been under heavy pressure to do more to directly address the issue after data consistently showed that coronavirus death rates were significantly higher for black people and ethnic minorities compared to white Britons.
The report published Tuesday didn’t look at genetic factors, but said it was clear that the pandemic “exposed and exacerbated longstanding inequalities” in the country.
The authors said there was a strong association between economic disadvantages and having the virus. Black people and minority groups are more at risk because they are more likely to live in cramped housing, use public transportation and work in jobs with a higher risk of virus exposure.
BEIJING — The head of the World Health Organization is scheduled to deliver a graduation address to business students at one of China’s premier universities amid U.S. accusations that he and the U.N. health agency gave in to undue influence from Beijing.
Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management announced that WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will address students remotely on Sunday. Tedros earlier publicly praised the Chinese response as “very impressive, and beyond words.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to suspend funding for the WHO after saying the agency had echoed China’s claims that it was responding swiftly to the coronavirus even as information appears to show Beijing covered up or delayed passing on data about its outbreak.
The AP found significant delays by China in the early stages of the country’s outbreak that compromised the WHO’s understanding of how it was spreading, according to internal recordings of WHO meetings, documents and interviews.
The AP uncovered evidence that China sat on releasing the genome of the virus for more than a week after three government labs had fully decoded it.
NEW DELHI, India (AP)—Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief over deaths from the coronavirus outbreak in India.
While interacting with chief state ministers on Tuesday, Modi said that any death due to COVID-19 was “tragic” and he warned people against going out without face masks.
Modi emphasized the revival of India’s economic activities and said the country’s response to the pandemic would serve as an example of “cooperative federalism.”
The prime minister’s address was unexpectedly broadcast live and came just hours after India said at least three Indian soldiers were killed in a confrontation with Chinese troops along their disputed border in the Ladakh region. Modi made no mention of the clashes.
India’s lockdown had been considered mostly effective in staunching the spread of the virus. But as restrictions have gradually eased in recent weeks to help India’s ailing economy, cases have soared nationwide.
The Health Ministry on Tuesday reported 10,667 new coronavirus cases, taking the total tally to 343,091. It also reported 380 more deaths, bringing the death toll to 9,900.
MOSCOW — Outdoor spaces in cafes and restaurants, museums and zoos have reopened in Russia’s capital as part of easing coronavirus restrictions.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said last week that the city government would end the lockdown it imposed in late March. The steps taken Tuesday also allowed dental clinics to resume providing non-urgent treatment.
Kindergartens, gyms and the indoor spaces of cafes and restaurants in Moscow are set to reopen starting June 23.
Moscow authorities cited the decrease in new confirmed virus cases as the reason why stay-home orders and other restrictions could end. The daily number of new confirmed cases in Moscow has dropped from over 6,000 to under 1,500 in recent weeks.
However, Kremlin critics link the move to the Russian government’s desire to boost voter turnout in an upcoming constitutional referendum that would allow President Vladimir Putin’ to rule until 2036. Voting is set to start on June 25.
ROME — A national survey of the psychological impact of coronavirus lockdowns on Italian children has quantified what many parents noticed offhand during weeks cooped up at home: Their kids were more irritable, had trouble sleeping and for some of the youngest, wept inconsolably and regressed developmentally.
The survey, conducted by the Giannina Gaslini Pediatric Hospital in Genoa in conjunction with the University of Genoa, found those symptoms were more acute in families where the parents themselves were particularly stressed.
Italy’s health ministry on Tuesday released the results of the anonymous survey of 6,800 people, which was conducted March 24-April 3. The start date was two weeks into a 10-week lockdown in the onetime European epicenter of the outbreak,
Italy was the first country in the West to be hit hard by COVID-19. It has reported 237,000 infections and 34,371 virus-related deaths but many suspect the true toll is higher due to the many people who died without getting tested.
VERMONT — After months of having some of the fewest coronavirus cases in the country, Vermont is now trying to contain an outbreak that has hit an immigrant community in a small but densely populated city.
What health officials described as a small cluster in Winooski that they first noticed on Memorial Day has jumped to 83 cases and expanded into neighboring Burlington and other surrounding communities. No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported.
About 40% of the cases have been in children. As of Monday, only 17% of those who tested positive showed any symptoms of COVID-19, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said.
Compared with larger states, Vermont’s current outbreak is small. But for several weeks before the Winooski outbreak, the number of new cases reported in Vermont was frequently in the low single digits, with occasional days with no positive cases. Vermont has 55 COVID-19 deaths.
LONDON — Britain’s statistics agency says the total number of coronavirus-related deaths across the U.K. has reached almost 52,000 by the week ending June 5.
The updated figure from the Office for National Statistics is around 10,000 higher than the government’s daily tally, which are based on initial cause of death assessments. Those from the statistics agency are collated from death registrations, which can take a couple of weeks to be issued.
The statistics agency also said there were around 64,500 more deaths across the U.K. than the five-year average over the period of the pandemic. The U.K. recorded its first virus-related death in early March.
Excess deaths are widely considered to be the best gauge of the virus’ impact as they provide a clear guide over historical periods and include all-cause mortality.
Excess deaths in the U.K. have been declining over the past few weeks, along with a decline in the daily coronavirus death toll.
PARIS — Drug maker Sanofi pledged Tuesday to invest 610 million euros ($677 million) in vaccine facilities in France, as President Emmanuel Macron announced 200 million euros ($222 million) in government investments to reduce France’s dependence on other countries for vaccines and other medicines.
Sanofi said its investment would go into a vaccine production site and a new vaccine research center, to be able to produce in greater scale and “quickly respond to future pandemic risks.”
Macron said starting Thursday, France will “relocalize” production of some medicines as part of broader government efforts to revive the virus-battered economy and bring more manufacturing production back to France.
Sanofi is working on a vaccine it hopes to test on humans later this year and win approval next year. It’s among dozens of vaccine candidates being pursued around the world.
Last month, Sanofi prompted outrage in France by promising to give the United States first access to the company’s eventual vaccine, because the U.S. had invested more in its research.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh on Tuesday reported 53 new deaths from coronavirus in a day, the highest in a daily count, bringing the death toll to 1,262.
Nasima Sultana of the Health Directorate said 3,862 people tested positive, raising the total caseload to 94,481.
The new figures came amid calls to control new infections by locking down many areas in the capital, Dhaka, and elsewhere. Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million, has only 61 laboratories for testing. Experts say the country’s healthcare facilities have already been overwhelmed.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia has surpassed 40,000 coronavirus cases but will allow some schools to reopen.
A spokesman for the national COVID-19 task force, Achmad Yurianto, said there are 1,106 new COVID-19 cases in Indonesia in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 40,400 cases and 2,231 deaths.
The government will allow schools in “‘green zone” areas to reopen, which includes about 6% of students. But Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim said 94% of the students in Indonesia cannot have face-to-face academic activitiesl as they are located in 429 districts in high and medium-risk areas. The new school year is scheduled to begin on July 13.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s parliament has voted to ask the government to end to its state of emergency declared because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuesday’s proposal was supported by opposition parties and approved in a vote of 192-0. It will be up to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government to end the state of emergency in place since March, which it is expected to do later this week.
Opposition parties also criticized another bill approved Tuesday that will give the government to right declare a “public health emergency” upon the recommendation of the Hungary’s chief medical officer, granting it special powers to operated without parliamentary approval.
Watchdog groups said this will “allow the government to again rule by decree” for an indefinite period.
BERLIN — The German government plans to introduce an obligation that any cases of coronavirus in pets be reported to authorities. It says the move is needed to assist research into the virus.
Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner said Tuesday that the plan is for the move to be considered by parliament next month.
Kloeckner said that there will be no obligation for people to test their pets, but it would make sense to do so in certain situations – for example, if a cat living in a household with human coronavirus cases itself shows symptoms. She stressed there’s no evidence so far that pets can transmit COVID-19 to humans.
Germany has about 31 million pets and 83 million people. The head of the country’s animal disease research center said there has only been one known animal case there so far.
LONDON — Scientists at Imperial College London will start immunizing people in Britain this week with their experimental coronavirus shot, becoming the latest entry into the race to find an effective vaccine to stop the pandemic.
In a statement, the British government said 300 healthy people will be immunized with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed at Imperial, which has been backed by 41 million pounds ($51 million) in government funding.
So far, the vaccine candidate developed by Imperial College London has only been tested in animals and in the laboratory, where it produced much higher levels of antibodies than would normally be seen in infected people.
Many scientists have warned that the pandemic might only be stopped with an effective vaccine, which typically takes years to develop.
TOKYO — Japan’s central bank echoed the Federal Reserve’s pledge of support for financial markets by beefing up its support for corporate lending. The Bank of Japan ended its policy meeting Tuesday without a change to its minus 0.1% benchmark interest rate and ultra-lax monetary stance.
It did expand its “Special Program,” including purchases of commercial paper and corporate bonds and its lending programs for commercial banks, from 75 trillion yen to 110 trillion yen ($690 billion to $1.02 trillion).
The Bank of Japan said the economy “is likely to remain in a severe situation for the time being due to the impact of COVID-19,” though it expects economic activity to resume gradually.
BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda told reporters that recovery for the world’s third-largest economy could come in the latter part of the year if the effects of the outbreak are mitigated. He stressed that the central banks board agreed on taking extra action if needed.
KYIV, Ukraine — The wife of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been hospitalized with double-sided pneumonia after getting infected with the new coronavirus.
Zelenskiy’s office said in a statement Tuesday that Olena Zelenska’s condition was stable and the president himself and the couple’s children tested negative for the virus on Monday.
Zelenska said she tested positive for the virus on Friday.
Ukraine’s authorities started to gradually ease lockdown restrictions in late May, resuming the operation of public transport, reopening malls and gyms. On Monday, the country’s authorities resumed international flights to several countries.
ISLAMABAD — Authorities in Pakistan are taking action to seal off high-risk areas in the country’s 20 biggest cities after an increase in coronavirus infections.
Pakistan’s National Command and Control Center says raids are being carried out to impose fines and shut markets, industries and shops where social distancing regulations were being violated.
The sealing of high-risk areas began after Pakistan reported a big jump in COVID-19 deaths and a steady increase in infections.
Pakistan put its entire population of 220 million under lockdown from March until last month, when Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government loosened restrictions, saying it was necessary to save the country’s economy.
Critics say the government’s gamble resulted into a sharp increase in infections and deaths.
On Tuesday, Pakistan reported 111 new COVID-19 fatalities. It raised the overall death toll from the virus to 2,839 among 148,921 confirmed cases.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has made the wearing of face masks mandatory in five more provinces, following an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted early Tuesday that the wearing of masks was now compulsory in 42 of Turkey’s 81 provinces.
In the remaining provinces, residents are required to wear masks on public transportation and in shops and malls, and are being advised to wear masks and keep to social distancing practices elsewhere.
Koca tweeted: “We cannot struggle against the virus without masks.”
Turkey is seeing an upward trend in the daily number of infections after the government authorized cafes, restaurants, gyms, parks, beaches and museums to reopen, lifted inter-city travel restrictions and eased stay-at-home orders for the elderly and young at the start of June. The daily number of infections climbed to above 1,500 in the past five days after hovering around 800-900 previously.
JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s coronavirus cases are now above a quarter-million after South Africa registered a series of daily record-high new cases over the weekend.
South Africa further loosened its lockdown measures on June 1, allowing alcohol sales, more business openings and religious gatherings limited to 50 people.
The country has more than a quarter of the cases on the 54-nation African continent with more than 73,000. It saw its highest jump in cases on Sunday with more than 4,300.
South Africa’s struggle to balance measures to slow the spread of the virus and relieve economic pain are common throughout Africa, where the World Health Organization last week said the pandemic is now “accelerating.”
ATHENS, Greece — Hundreds of health care workers have marched through central Athens demanding the hiring of permanent workers for the health sector, while Greece’s hospital doctors’ union declared a 24-hour strike Tuesday.
The union for state hospital workers also declared a seven-hour work stoppage for the Greek capital and a 24-hour strike for the rest of the country with the same demands.
Greece’s center right government hired hundreds of workers for state hospitals on fixed-term contracts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Unions are demanding permanent hires, and for funding for the country’s health care system.
NEW DELHI — India recorded another 10,000-plus coronavirus infections as patients swamp health services in its largest cities.
The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported a 24-hour increase of 380 deaths due to COVID-19, driving the death toll to 9,900.
The 10,667 new cases raise the nation’s total to 343,091, fourth-highest in the world behind the U.S., Brazil and Russia. The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons such as limited testing.
Maharashtra, the western state that is home to Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, continues to have the highest state toll. Mumbai, Chennai and the capital New Delhi are seeing rising infections swamp their health services.
New Delhi is a growing concern with the federal government criticizing its contact tracing and hospital capacity. The capital has about 10,000 beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients, half of which are already occupied. Hotels and sports stadiums are being considered for use as field hospitals.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand is no longer free from the new coronavirus after two women who flew from London to see a dying parent tested positive.
The new cases sparked a round of testing for anybody who might have been close to them, including their flight’s fellow passengers and crew, staff members at a hotel and a family member.
The women are isolated and have delayed the funeral of their parent until they have recovered.
New Zealand has counted 22 deaths from COVID-19, and until Tuesday, everyone else among the 1,500 people known to have been infected had recovered.
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine officials have placed a central city back under strict lockdown and retained quarantine restrictions in the capital for another two weeks as coronavirus infections continue to spike alarmingly.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved in a televised meeting Monday night with key Cabinet officials a recommendation to lock down Cebu city anew and retain quarantine restrictions in metropolitan Manila, where many of the nearly 26,500 infections and more than 1,000 deaths have been recorded.
First imposed in mid-March, the COVID-19 restrictions in metropolitan Manila have been among the longest in the world.
“The battle with COVID isn’t over,” Duterte said. “I can’t stop you from going out and I can’t catch all of you … don’t blame us. Do not forget that we warned you about the grave consequences.”