The Latest: France extends confinement until April 15

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.


— France extends nationwide confinement to April 15.

— Chinese and U.S. leaders talk by phone about coronavirus.

— ACLU questions Rhode Island stopping New York cars.

— British PM Boris Johnson tests positive.


PARIS — France is extending its nationwide confinement measures another two weeks until April 15, as the virus continues to claim victims around the country.

Saying “we are only at the beginning” of the virus wave, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the extension Friday. It had been scheduled to end Tuesday.

Philippe warned that the number of cases is expected to rise in the Paris region and northern France, after heavily hitting eastern France.

France has reported nearly 1,700 deaths of people with the virus in hospitals, the fifth-highest number of any country worldwide. France’s numbers have continued to mount since the confinement began March 17.


MADRID — Spain is prohibiting companies from using the virus outbreak as a justification for firing workers.

Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz said Friday redundancies as a result of the virus outbreak were unnecessary as the government had established temporary layoff mechanisms by which businesses can halt paying staff during the crisis, with the state picking up the tab.

“Nobody can exploit this health crisis. Nobody can make the most of the COVID-19 to make layoffs,” she said.

The minister added that temporary contracts still in effect cannot be terminated but rather suspended for the duration of the crisis.

Spanish National Television on Friday said there had been 240,000 temporary layoff agreements affecting 1.2 million workers so far.

The Spanish government has been adamant it will look after every citizen during the crisis.

Before the virus crisis, Spain had 14% unemployment, the second highest in the European Union after Greece.


TORONTO — Canada is increasing a payroll subsidy to small businesses to now cover up to 75% of salaries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the increase over the original 10% subsidy plan. Trudeau says it became clear the government needed to do much more.

Trudeau says it means people will continue to be paid even though their employer has had to slow down or stop its operations because of COVID-19.

The prime minister says he hopes employers who are being pushed to lay off workers will think again.

Benjamin Bergen, Executive Director of the Council of Canadian Innovators, says the wage subsidies show the government is finally hearing the concerns from the business front lines. He says many companies may go bankrupt in April.


WASHINGTON — Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Donald Trump that China “understands the United States’ current predicament over the COVID-19 outbreak and stands ready to provide support, the official Xinhua News Agency said Friday.

The White House said only that the two leaders spoke on the phone Thursday and “agreed to work together to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and restore global health and prosperity.”

According to the Chinese news agency, Xi also urged Trump to take “substantive action in improving bilateral relations.”


BRUSSELS — Belgium’s health minister says video appointments with psychologists will be reimbursed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Maggie De Block says remote consultations with the mental health specialists will help patients suffering from anxiety because of the deadly virus.

She says its important for people who have already consulted a psychologist to continue their treatment.

In Belgium, there have been 7,284 cases of COVID-19 and 289 deaths.


MILWAUKEE — Tests led by U.S. government scientists found the coronavirus can remain viable on cardboard for up to a day.

Julie Fischer, a microbiologist at Georgetown University’s global health security research center, says it was a controlled lab situation and doesn’t reflect what might happen in daily life or with other materials.

“In the real-world environment, those packages and envelopes would be moving from place to place under various weather, temperature conditions that are affected by air and sunlight” that could impact viral viability, she said.

Even if virus was on the mail, it would need to make its way to the mouth or nose to cause infection.

“As long as you wash your hands thoroughly and regularly after opening it and don’t touch your nose and mouth … that mail itself, that package, poses very little risk,” Fischer said.

She says postal workers are at risk because they are coming into contact with each other and the public. She notes “the biggest risk is still exposure to an infected person.”


BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is closing its border crossings with neighboring Austria, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for almost all trucks.

The Slovak police announced the measure in response to Hungary’s decision to tighten border checks to curb the outbreak of the coronavirus. As a result, long lines of trucks have been formed at the Slovak-Hungarian crossings.

“The goal is to prevent traffic collisions near the crossings and on our territory,” Slovakia’s police said.

The measure will be effective indefinitely. The trucks delivering goods to Slovakia or carrying live animals will be allowed to cross the borders.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island is questioning the constitutionality of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s directive allowing state police to stop vehicles with New York license plates.

The Democratic governor on Thursday called the measure extreme but pointed out New York City is the epicenter of the disease in the U.S.

Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU of Rhode Island, says while Raimondo has the authority to suspend some state laws and regulations to address a medical emergency, she cannot suspend the Constitution.

He says under the Fourth Amendment, having a New York state license plate “simply does not, and cannot, constitute ‘probable cause’ to allow police to stop a car and interrogate the driver, no matter how laudable the goal of the stop may be.”

The governor’s spokesman says the directive aims to ensure travelers from New York staying in Rhode Island know they are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s state-run news agency says authorities have evacuated hundreds of migrants who were waiting at the border with Greece to make their way into Europe.

Thousands of migrants had massed at a border crossing with Greece after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last month his country would no longer prevent migrants and refugees wanting to travel to European Union countries. Violent clashes had erupted between the migrants and Greek border authorities trying to push them back.

Anadolu Agency reported Friday migrants waiting at the border crossing in Edirne province were transported in buses to state guest houses where they would be quarantined. It says they would be moved to other regions in Turkey at the end of the quarantine.


HELENA, Mont. — Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana has reported the state’s first coronavirus-related death.

Bullock announced the death Thursday night. He did not release any details about the person’s identity or where the person lived.

Montana had 90 cases on Thursday. On Saturday, a two-week stay-at-home order goes into effect for the state’s 1 million residents in the latest attempt to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

People can leave home for food or medical care, along with other exceptions.


MADRID — Spain’s severely strained health service has 9,444 workers infected with COVID-19, a figure Amnesty International says is the highest among countries affected by the outbreak.

The number is nearly 15 percent of Spain’s total of 64,059 infected cases and has increased considerably in recent days.

Spanish health workers have been saying they are seriously lacking in basic protective material, such as masks, gloves and gowns. Hospitals are full and approaching the breaking point in many cities.

The Spanish branch of Amnesty issued a statement demanding Spain do more to protect the health workers, saying “authorities cannot make more excuses: It’s their obligation to protect those who protect us and to do it before it is too late.”

Spanish health officials say they are doing their utmost to get material to all.


ROME — The head of Italy’s National Institutes of Health says Italy’s coronavirus infections are slowing down, but it hasn’t reached the peak of the curve.

Dr. Silvio Brusafero says the infection curve began to flatten around March 20, some 10 days after Italy imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain the virus in Europe’s epicenter. He urged continued isolation measures to keep the virus from spreading.

Dr. Franco Locatelli, head of the government’s health advisory council, says he thinks it’s “inevitable” the industrial shutdown currently scheduled to last through April 3 will be extended.

Italy has reported more than 8,100 dead, more than any other country. Most have been elderly or with previous medical conditions.


MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will quarantine for more than a week after meeting officials who were exposed to people with the coronavirus.

Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go says Duterte will go into quarantine Saturday, the president’s 75th birthday, to April 7. He’ll continue working in his residence at the presidential palace in Manila.

A test cleared Duterte of the COVID-19 illness two weeks ago. But he has since had meetings with Cabinet members and other officials who have been exposed to infected people.

Health officials have reported 803 cases of the COVID-19 disease, with 54 deaths. The main northern region of Luzon, home to more than 50 million people, is on a monthlong lockdown in a drastic move to contain infections.


BELGRADE, Serbia — A Serbian court has sentenced a man to three years in jail for flouting self-isolation orders.

The state Serbian TV says the first such sentence in the Balkan country was handed out during a video linked court session in an eastern Serbian town.

The TV says there are 112 people in detention in Serbia for ignoring the orders to stay at home and are awaiting trials. Some 50,000 people are under lockdown, most of them Serbs who have returned to the country from abroad after the March 15 introduction of the nationwide state of emergency.

Serbia, which has recorded 435 coronavirus cases and seven deaths, has introduced some of the most restrictive measures in Europe. They include a 12-hour police enforced curfew and a 24-hour ban for leaving their homes for those older than 65.


LONDON — British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The news came the same day Prime Minister Boris Johnson was confirmed to have COVID-19.

Hancock has been at the forefront of Britain’s response to the outbreak. Britain has 11,658 confirmed cases of the virus, and 578 people have died.


STOCKHOLM — Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven says gatherings of more than 50 people will be banned Sunday, lowing it from 500.

Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren says the move came before the Easter break, adding “We have many tough weeks and months ahead.”

Head of Sweden’s national police Anders Thornberg says police can break up gatherings exceeding the authorized size and hand out fines or sentence people to jail for a maximum six months.

Sweden has opted for a rather relaxed approach by keeping primary and elementary schools, restaurants and bars open and encouraging people to go outside.


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico is reporting its third COVID-19 death, and it’s first for a local resident.

The U.S. territory’s Health Department says the victim was a 48-year-old woman whose test results came in after she died. The other two victims were elderly tourists from Italy and New York.

Puerto Rico has more than 70 confirmed cases with more than 330 test results pending. The island just extended an ongoing two-week curfew to April 12 and imposed new rules that are the strictest of any U.S. jurisdiction.


WARSAW, Poland — Poland has temporarily closed its borders to thousands of cross-border workers.

The measures take effect Friday and require cross-border workers to stay on one side of the border until April 11, just before Easter.

Except for truck and trains carrying goods, anyone crossing into Poland will be put on 14-day quarantine.

The decision has been met with an outcry, especially from those commuting daily to work in Germany. Poland’s government says most coronavirus infections in Poland were brought from abroad.

The nation of 38 million has confirmed 1,244 cases of infection. Sixteen people have died.


WASHINGTON — U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams was asked on CBS if he’s pleased with the federal government’s response to the virus.

“Pleased is, I don’t think, a fair word, because, gosh, there are people dying,” Adams said. “My colleagues out there are suffering. I’m not pleased with the entirety of the response because it takes state and federal and local people coming together.”

Is he satisfied?

“I’m not going to be satisfied until we get to the end of this and we see cooperation at every level and we see health care workers getting what they need,” he said.

When asked if the 15-day lockdown period needs to be extended, he said some places will have to continue it because the virus has not hit its peak.

“What we’re looking to do in the next week or two, is really get people the testing data that they need to make informed choices,” Adams said. “Some places it doesn’t matter if it’s Easter or if it’s Memorial Day or if it’s Labor Day.

“We know that we want people to be thinking about what they can do now, so that we can quickly get through this with a few deaths, and a few hospitalizations as possible.”


LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Johnson’s office says he was tested after showing mild symptoms,

Downing Street says Johnson is self-isolating and continuing to lead the country’s response to COVID-19.


MADRID — Spain is reporting a record number of daily deaths at 769.

Spain’s coronavirus cases increased by 7,800 Friday to total 64,059 cases. There’s a total of 4,858 deaths

The director of Spain’s health emergency coordination center, Fernando Simón, says the day-on-day increase of infections is slightly lower for the first time since a rapid rise in early March. The country has the second-worse tally in Europe and fourth in the world.

From Wednesday to Thursday, the positives had increased in more than 8,500 cases, some 700 more than Thursday to Friday. The daily increase was 14% Friday, lower than in previous days.

Spain’s Health Ministry says more than 9,000 people have recovered from the COVID-19 illness.

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