The Latest: France to give details on easing lockdown
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:
— French government to give details on how it plans to ease lockdown measures
— Frontline health workers in Pakistan protest poor quality of personal protection equipment
— British prime minister to return to work two weeks after being discharged from hospital
— India’s prime minister warns against complacency and asks people to change their habits
— South Korea reports 10 confirmed cases, continuing slowing country’s caseload
PARIS — The French government will detail to parliament on Tuesday how it plans to pull the country out of the coronavirus lockdown that has plunged the eurozone’s second-largest economy into a deep and alarming freeze.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe tweeted that he will unveil the “national deconfinement strategy” in an address at the National Assembly. Lawmakers will get to debate the blueprint before voting on it.
The government has for weeks had teams of experts working on finding a balance between restarting the economy without provoking a second surge of COVID-19 infections that could overwhelm hospital ICUs.
President Emmanuel Macron had already announced that France’s lockdown, in place since March 17 and among the strictest in Europe, would begin to ease from May 11.
Philippe’s long-awaited speech will flesh out the details. He said it will cover six themes: health, schooling, work, shops, transport and gatherings.
Parents are anticipating specifics about the government’s previously announced plans for a staggered resumption of classes. The government says parents will be given the option of continuing to home-school kids if they prefer.
ISLAMABAD — Frontline health workers in Pakistan’s largest Punjab province are holding rotating sit-ins to protest the poor quality of their personal protection equipment.
Dr. Salman Haseeb Chaudhry, president of the provincial chapter of the Young Doctor’s Association, said Sunday the substandard equipment is leading to an increasing number of health professionals contracting COVID-19, and that a grand health alliance including nurses and paramedics has formed to demand greater protection.
Chaudhry said 100 health professionals tested positive for the new coronavirus in the previous 24 hours.
Pakistan has confirmed 12,723 cases of the virus with 269 deaths attributed to COVID-19. The true number of infections is thought to be far higher.
Pakistan has been recording a steady daily increase of about 750 positive cases in the last week. Testing is still low with barely 6,800 people tested daily in a country of 220 million people, 60% of whom live in the most populous Punjab problem.
Pakistan has struggled to get protective equipment to its health professionals. Doctors in southwestern Baluchistan province who protested were jailed earlier this month. They were freed within hours.
The government has increased the supply of protective equipment after receiving planeloads of supplies from China and stepping up local production. But Chaudhry said the quality is substandard.
LONDON — The British prime minister’s office says Boris Johnson will return to work Monday, two weeks after he was discharged from a London hospital where he was treated for the new coronavirus.
Johnson, 55, spent a week at St. Thomas’ Hospital, including three nights in intensive care, where he was given oxygen and watched around the clock by medical staff.
After he was released April 12, he recorded a video message thanking staff at the hospital for saving his life.
Johnson has not been seen in public since then, as he recovered at the prime minister’s country retreat outside London.
Johnson’s return comes amid growing criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The number of people with COVID-19 who have died in British hospitals reached 20,000 on Saturday. Thousands more are thought to have died in nursing homes.
Opposition politicians are calling for more clarity on when the government will ease a nationwide lockdown that was imposed March 23 and runs to at least May 7.
NEW DELHI: India’s prime minister has cautioned his people against complacency in the fight against the coronavirus, saying it can return again and people must change their habits.
During a 30-minute radio program on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that people need to stick to social distancing, wearing face masks and not spitting in public places.
He also said that a traditional system of Indian medicine, known as “Ayurveda” which includes yoga exercises and drinking hot water, can be extremely helpful in building immunity to diseases.
Modi put India’s 1.3 billion people under a strict lockdown on March 25 until May 3 to fight the virus. The restrictions have been eased somewhat by allowing neighborhood shops to reopen, and manufacturing and farming activities to resume in rural areas to help millions of poor daily workers.
India has so far recorded 25,671 positive cases of the virus with 824 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea has confirmed 10 more cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, a continuation of the country’s slowing caseload.
The additional cases reported Sunday marks the ninth day in a row that South Korea’s daily increase came below 20.
The state-run Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the country’s total to 10,728 with 242 deaths. It says 8,717 patients have recovered.
South Korea has recently relaxed some of its social distancing rules, but officials have still raised worries about possible transmissions by “quiet spreaders.”
South Korea had recorded hundreds of new cases every day between late February and early March, mostly in the southeastern city of Daegue and nearby areas.
HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige on Saturday extended Hawaii’s stay-at-home order and the mandatory quarantine for visitors through May 31.
“This was not an easy decision. I know this has been difficult for everyone. Businesses need to reopen. People want to end this self-isolation and we want to return to normal,” Ige said. “But this virus is potentially deadly, especially for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.”
At a news conference, Ige pointed to alarming COVID-19 clusters on the Big Island and Maui, Hawaii News Now reported. “We still need to remain vigilant.”
In his statement, Ige warned of undoing Hawaii’s progress in containing the virus if public places open up too early. Hawaii has 601 cases of coronavirus and 13 deaths.
“Thanks to our residents, we are flattening the curve, saving lives, and avoiding a resurgence of this virus by not reopening prematurely,” Ige said.
The governor also extended the eviction moratorium, which prevents any eviction from a residential dwelling for failing to pay rent, through May 31.
BEIJING — China said Sunday it had confirmed 11 more cases of the new coronavirus the previous day, bringing its official count to 82,827. However, there were no reported deaths for the 11th day in a row.
Five of the new cases were in Heilongjiang province, a northeastern border area with Russia that has seen a surge in infections. Another was in Guangdong province, a manufacturing and tech region bordering Hong Kong in the south.
The other five cases were imported from overseas. China has identified 1,634 imported cases in all.
China said it also has 1,000 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus but do not have any symptoms. They are under medical observation but not included in the confirmed case count. (edited)
LOS ANGELES — A spring heat wave drove people to California beaches, golf courses and trails, leading to the closure of one coastal park as authorities warned people not to swarm recreational areas for fear of igniting a deadly coronavirus surge.
Temperatures soared into the 80s and 90s from Sacramento to San Diego on Saturday. While most recreation remains shuttered under various stay-at-home orders, officials are wary that those still open could draw crowds that will ignore social distancing rules and seek sun and air after being mainly confined indoors for more than a month.
“We’re seeing a summer day crowd,” said Brian O’Rourke, a lifeguard battalion chief in Newport Beach in Orange County, which saw an estimated 40,000 people on Friday. A similar crowd was expected Saturday as the fog burns off.
Police in Pacific Grove said they had to close the picturesque Lovers Point Park and Beach at the southern end of Monterey Bay because of a lack of social distancing.
Los Angeles city and county beaches, trails and playgrounds were closed, and officers on horseback were patrolling those areas to enforce social distancing rules. The city also opened cooling centers for people “who might not be able to survive the heat wave at home,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says his press briefings are “not worth the time & effort” as his administration prepares to adjust his public presence amid the coronavirus pandemic toward addressing the nation’s economic woes.
Tweeting on Saturday, one of the few days in which he has not held a daily briefing since the start of the outbreak, Trump says: “What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately.”
The president’s tweet comes two days after he used a briefing to muse about the injection of chemical disinfectants, drawing warnings from manufacturers and the nation’s top medical professionals. The White House claimed Friday that Trump was misinterpreted, though the president later asserted he was speaking “sarcastically.”
White House aides are developing plans to shift the president’s public emphasis from the virus to addressing the economic crisis it has caused and the government’s plans for reopening the economy.
NEW YORK — Potbelly Sandwich Shop is the latest large company to say it will return money it received as part of the Payroll Protection Program.
The company said Saturday that its sales dropped dramatically when COVID-19 hit, forcing it to furlough employees and close shops. Potbelly applied for and qualified for assistance under the program.
“We were surprised and disappointed when the fund was quickly exhausted, leaving many without help,” the company said. “We are returning the PPP loan after further clarification from the Treasury Department.”
The Chicago-based sandwich shop has about 6,000 employees and annual revenues of more than $400 million, according to FactSet.
The PPP is intended to help small businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Its initial $349 billion in funds ran out last week and the House gave final approval to $310 billion in additional funds Thursday.
PHOENIX — The pace of additional deaths in Arizona’s coronavirus outbreak has slowed following a recent surge.
The Department of Health Services’ tally of deaths statewide rose by seven to 273 as of Saturday, following an increase of 17 deaths reported Friday and a total of 62 deaths reported over the previous three days
The department said there were 6,820 cases reported statewide as of Saturday, an increase of 235 from Friday.
Health officials say the recent surge in reported fatalities likely resulted from a boost in cases weeks ago. It was expected to slow because it often takes weeks for patients to die once hospitalized and because hospitalizations appear to have leveled off.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging careful science to prove whether any of the drugs being explored as COVID-19 treatments actually work.
Fauci, infectious diseases chief at the National Institutes of Health, said Saturday during an online meeting of the National Academy of Sciences that the only way to get an answer is by doing a randomized controlled trial.
“We need something out there, but safety and efficacy is something we owe to the global population,” Fauci said.
Fauci also stressed that caution is needed as economies reopen, pointing to a step-wise approach with restrictions gradually lifted as areas reach certain milestones.
“Any attempt to leapfrog over these almost certainly will result in a rebound, and then we can set ourselves back,” he said. “If we don’t get control of it we will never get back to normal. I know we will, but we’ve got to do it correctly.”
Fauci also cautioned against looking for a magic number of available tests needed as the country reopens.
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