The Latest: Easter observed at home, economies hit hard
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
— Easter observed at home, world economies hit hard by coronavirus.
— Rare divisions in Japan as local leaders press prime minister to hasten emergency measures.
— Authorities in Indonesia’s capital begin stricter restrictions.
ALBANY, New York — People around the world began celebrating Good Friday and Easter from the safety of their homes, as rare divisions surfaced in Japan over how to tackle the growing coronavirus outbreak there.
Politicians and public health officials have warned that the hard-won gains against the pandemic must not be jeopardized by relaxing social distancing over the holiday weekend. Across Europe, where Easter is one of the busiest travel times, authorities set up roadblocks and otherwise discouraged family gatherings.
In a measure of how fast the coronavirus has brought world economies to their knees, a staggering 16.8 million Americans lost their jobs in just three weeks. And still more job cuts are expected. The U.S. unemployment rate in April could hit 15% — a number not seen since the end of the Great Depression.
There was some measure of relief in Britain as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out of intensive care at the London hospital where he is being treated for the virus. The 55-year-old took a turn for the worse earlier in the week as his country descended into its biggest crisis since World War II.
Worldwide, the number of dead topped 95,000 and confirmed infections reached 1.6 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true numbers are believed much higher, in part because of different rules for counting the dead and cover-ups by some governments.
The U.S. appeared on course to overtake Italy within days as the country with the highest number of fatalities. However, virus deaths as a proportion of the population in the U.S. remains about one-sixth of those in hard-hit Italy and Spain.
TOKYO — Aichi, home to Toyota Motor Corp. in central Japan, has declared its own state of emergency, saying it cannot wait for a slow-moving decision by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to add the prefecture to an ongoing emergency declared this week.
Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura said one-third of about 300 new coronavirus cases in the prefecture have been confirmed in the past week as the infection spreads rapidly in the region, making it the fifth-most infected prefecture in the country.
“The situation is critical,” Omura said. “We decided to do everything we can to protect Aichi residents’ lives and health.”
Omura issued a request to all residents to stay home and work remotely until May 6, when the government-issued state of emergency is to end. Omura, however, did not request closures of non-essential businesses and facilities for now.
His announcement came just as Tokyo’s outspoken governor, Yuriko Koike, was to request closures of non-essential businesses and facilities in the city after agreeing with Abe’s government that had asked her to wait two weeks, apparently to avoid impact on the economy.
Earlier on Friday, leaders of Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, urged Abe to add that prefecture to part of the state of emergency to allow them to issue stricter social-distancing measures. Such actions by local leaders are unusual in Japan and come as Abe faces criticism for slow and lax measures.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that additional state of emergency declarations in Aichi and Kyoto are not immediately planned.
Japan as of midday Friday had 5,246 confirmed coronavirus cases, as well as 712 from a cruise ship, with 99 deaths.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Authorities in Indonesia’s capital began implementing stricter restrictions Friday to slow the spread of the new coronavirus in a city where COVID-19 deaths have spiked in the past week.
Jakarta is home to 10 million people, 30 million including those in a greater metropolitan area that’s become Indonesia’s coronavirus epicenter with 1,706 cases out of 3,293 nationwide. The country has recorded 280 deaths, with 142 of them in the capital alone.
The decree, giving authorities more power to press people to stay home and businesses to close, will be re-evaluated every two weeks. It will be imposed in Jakarta, where people who violate the restriction will face up to a year in jail and a 100 million rupiah ($6,350) fine.
Televison footage showed padlocked parks and empty roads where lines of cars once idled in bumper-to-bumper traffic as motorbikes zoomed through the narrow gaps in between.
According to the decree, police can ban any event that would involve more than five participants, including preventing people from going to mosques to pray on Friday.
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