The Latest: Former combatants in Colombia making face masks

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.


—Trump meets with former coronavirus patients.

— NY Gov. Cuomo: We have a president, not a ‘king.’

—Louisiana pushes back presidential primary again.


UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations envoy for Colombia says former combatants are now making face masks to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, but COVID-19 hasn’t stopped violence against social leaders, human rights defenders and ex-fighters despite a nationwide stay-at-home order.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu told the U.N. Security Council that three social leaders and three former combatants were killed in recent weeks, bringing the total number of ex-combatants killed since the government signed a peace agreement with Colombia’s main rebel group, the FARC, in 2016 to 195.

In response to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for a global cease-fire to tackle COVID-19, the U.N. envoy said the National Liberation Army, known by its Spanish acronym ELN, which is one of Colombia’s last remaining rebel groups, declared a month-long unilateral cease-fire in April.

However, Ruiz Massieu said, “armed clashes continue between illegal armed groups in several departments.”


BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards is pushing back Louisiana’s presidential primary again because of the coronavirus, this time to July 11. The state’s chief elections officer is asking lawmakers to expand mail-in balloting and early voting.

The primary originally had been scheduled for April 4. Edwards, a Democrat, has delayed the election twice at the request of Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin as Louisiana continues to grapple with the virus outbreak, which has hit the state especially hard.

In the past month, more than a dozen states have postponed their primaries to give them time to adjust and plan.

Ardoin also is asking lawmakers to approve emergency procedures for the election. The secretary of state wants to expand early voting from one week to two weeks, allow mail-in ballots for more people and change some precinct locations.


RIO DE JANEIRO — Rio de Janeiro’s Gov. Wilson Witzel says he has tested positive for the new coronavirus after a month of pushing for confinement measures in the Brazilian state.

In a video posted to his official Twitter account, Witzel says he has experienced fever and sore throat since Friday. His positive test results came back on Tuesday, he says, adding that he feels well.

“I will continue working,” he says. “I request once again that you stay at home. This sickness, as you can all perceive, does not choose and contagion is rapid.”

Witzel, 52, has been one of Brazil’s foremost proponents of self-quarantine, and last month he imposed restrictions on business, transit and gatherings to contain the spread of COVID-19. This week he extended shutdown measures through the end of the month.

That stance has put him at odds with President Jair Bolsonaro, who has played down the severity of the virus that has thus far killed more than 1,500 people in Latin America’s largest country.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee corrections officials are looking into whether to test all state inmates for the new coronavirus after positive tests have come back for staffers and inmates, a Department of Correction spokeswoman said.

On Friday, the department mass tested 1,145 workers at Northwest Correctional Complex and Bledsoe County Correctional Complex, finding that 13 department staff and six contract workers tested positive after showing no symptoms at the time of testing. The widespread testing came in reaction to six workers previously testing positive at the facilities.

The department’s website says five inmates have tested positive, including confirmed cases at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center and Turney Center Industrial Complex. As of Tuesday, only 55 state inmates had been tested, the department said.


TORONTO — All non-essential businesses in Canada’s most populous province will be closed until at least May 12 after Ontario extended its state of emergency for another 28 days.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also says Ontario’s schools will not re-open on May 4. Ford says it is too soon to relax measures as the province continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will announce a new public-private partnership Tuesday aimed at making as many as 60,000 ventilators available to patients in coronavirus hot spots.

Under the plan, major health care systems have agreed to lend out unused ventilators to places where demand is high. The White House says they identified as many as 60,000 ventilators and contacted the American Hospital Association and others to try to find a way to put them to use.

A senior administration official confirmed the plan, which was first reported by Reuters, on condition of anonymity before it is formally announced.

Twenty health systems have agreed to participate so far.


WASHINGTON — The U.S. has released nearly 700 people from immigration detention around the country amid concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus.

Acting Deputy Homeland Security Director Ken Cuccinelli says the 693 people who were deemed eligible for release are people who are considered medically vulnerable to the virus and are not considered to pose a security or flight risk if the U.S. seeks to take them into custody later.

Cuccinelli told reporters Tuesday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement screened detainees for risks such as age, pregnancy or underlying health conditions.

ICE says 77 detainees have tested positive at detention centers around the country. Activists have pushed for significantly more releases given the potential danger to people held in close quarters.


TIRANA, Albania — Following two weeks of almost total lockdown, Albania will allow its residents who have remained abroad to come back on flights from a local airline.

Transport Minister Belinda Balluku says starting Saturday Air Albania airline would start to bring back home Albanians around Europe.

Foreign citizens who have remained in the country also may use it to fly away.

The minister said the newcomers should first agree that upon landing they will be under quarantine for 14 days accommodated in hotels they pay themselves.


PARIS — The French foreign minister summoned China’s ambassador to France to express his “clear disapproval” of recent comments over how France is dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

In a statement Tuesday, Jean-Yves Le Drian said some public remarks from Chinese officials were not in line with the relation of “trust and friendship” between French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A long statement in French was released Sunday on the website of China’s embassy to France in an apparent response to criticism from Western media, experts and politicians over China’s handling of the virus outbreak.

The statement, presented as written by an unnamed Chinese diplomat in Paris, notably stated that caregivers in French nursing homes have “collectively deserted, letting their residents dying from starvation and disease.”

It also criticized the firing of the captain of the U.S. coronavirus-infected aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s health minister has reported 107 COVID-19 fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 1,404.

Fahrettin Koca also told reporters that the number of infections in the country has increased by 4,062, pushing the total number of confirmed cases to 65,111.

At least 4,799 patients have recovered, he said.

Koca said the infection rate in Turkey is slowing down and the country could reach a peak in the coming weeks. But he insisted physical distancing efforts should be maintained.

“I believe we will reach the peak in one or two weeks unless there is a new wave,” Koca said.


ROME — Police have searched Italy’s biggest nursing home, where 143 people have reportedly died in the past month, as multiple criminal investigations kick into gear over allegations of negligence and homicide in elderly facilities in the coronavirus pandemic.

RAI state television said financial police seized clinical files and other documents from the 1,000-bed Pio Albergho Trivulzio facility in Milan.

Prosecutors launched an investigation following complaints from staff that management prohibited doctors and nurses from wearing protective masks for fear of alarming residents. The facility has insisted it followed all security protocols and says it is cooperating with the investigation.

The region of Lombardy has launched an independent commission to investigate nursing home deaths — most of them uncounted in official tolls because they were never tested for COVID-19.

The National Institutes of Health also has started a survey on nursing home deaths.


ATLANTA — Between 10% and 20% of U.S. coronavirus cases are health care workers, though they tended to be hospitalized at lower rates than other patients, health officials reported Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first national data on how the pandemic is hitting doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. Medical staff have also been hit hard in other countries: Media reports said about 10% of cases in Italy and Spain were health care workers.

The data is important new information but not necessarily surprising, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, who is running the U.S. agency’s response to the outbreak.

Compared with U.S. cases overall, larger proportions of diagnosed health care workers were women, were white, and were young or middle-aged adults. That’s consistent with the demographics of who works in health care, researchers said.


UNITED NATIONS — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that the world is facing “a dangerous epidemic of misinformation” about COVID-19, with harmful health advice, wild conspiracy theories and hatred going viral.

He announced a U.N. initiative “to flood the internet with facts and science while countering the growing scourge of misinformation, a poison that is putting even more lives at risk.”

Guterres urged social media organizations to do more to counter the spreading global “misinfo-demic” and to “root out hate and harmful assertions about COVID-19.”

The U.N. chief said people around the world “are scared” and want to know what to do and where to turn for advice, and they need science, not “snake-oil solutions.”


PARIS — The COVID-19 death toll in France has risen to 15,729 as the spreading of the coronavirus in the country appears to be stabilizing.

National health agency chief Jerome Salomon says France registered 762 deaths over the past 24 hours in hospitals and nursing homes.

The number of people admitted to a hospital every day is slowing down and the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units slightly dropped for the sixth straight day, he says.

More than 6,700 patients are still in critical care.

France also passed 100,000 people testing positive for the virus since the outbreak began, one day after French President Emmanuel Macron announced the lockdown in the country will be extended until May 11.


ROME — The number of new positives for the coronavirus in Italy is at the lowest level in a month.

Italy’s civil protection agency reported 2,972 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the lowest number since March 13, when 2,547 cases were reported. Italy has registered a total 162,488 positives since the virus broke out on Feb. 21.

Deaths rose 2.9%, by 602 to 21,067. While the number of new cases and deaths continue to grow, pressure is easing on hospitals, with 74 fewer patients being treated and 12 fewer in intensive care.


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is meeting with patients who have recovered from the coronavirus.

Among the former COVID-19 patients meeting with Trump at the White House is Michigan state lawmaker Karen Whitsett. Whitsett has publicly credited Trump for publicizing the use of an anti-malaria drug — which she says she used during her illness — as a treatment for the disease.

Whitsett thanked Trump again during Tuesday’s meeting and said hydroxychloroquine must to readily available for the people of Detroit, which is in her district.

Trump has promoted the drug as a treatment for COVID-19 although it hasn’t been approved by the federal government for that specific use.

Trump is also hearing from a passenger who was on a cruise ship that experienced an outbreak of coronavirus.


WINDHOEK, Namibia — Namibia’s President Hage Geingob says the southern African nation will extend its lockdown until May 5.

Namibia, with a population of 2.4 million, has confirmed 16 cases of COVID-19. In response to the economic hardships caused by the restrictions to combat the virus, the Namibian government is sending citizens a once-off payment of R750 ($40).

Also Tuesday, Uganda extended its lockdown for three weeks until May 5. At least 33 of Africa’s 54 countries have national lockdowns or partial restrictions to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Fifty-two African countries have confirmed COVID-19, with just over 15,200 cases across the continent, causing 815 deaths.


NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to morning TV shows to push back against President Donald Trump’s claim of “total” authority to reopen the nation’s virus-stalled economy.

“We don’t have a king. We have a president,” Cuomo said on NBC’s “Today.”

He added, “That was a big decision. We ran away from having a king, and George Washington was president, not King Washington. So the president doesn’t have total authority.”


Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at and

Categories: National & International News