The Latest: French foreign minister summons Chinese official
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:
—Seven crew cases on Navy hospital ship in Los Angeles.
—Trump meets with former coronavirus patients.
— NY Gov. Cuomo: We have a president, not a ‘king.’
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.
KYIV, Ukraine — The outbreak of the new coronavirus in Ukraine has somewhat stabilized in recent days, but it still “too early to relax,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an online statement.
“A sharp spike (of new coronavirus cases) didn’t happen thanks to responsible behavior of citizens observing self-isolation. It is important to continue doing that,” Zelenskiy said.
Ukrainian authorities have so far reported 3,372 coronavirus cases and 98 deaths. Ukraine was one of the first former Soviet nations to go into a lockdown in March, closing its borders and halting the operation of most businesses and facilities across the country.
PRAGUE — The Czech government has unveiled a plan to gradually relax its restrictions imposed to help contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Vice Premier Karel Havlicek says the measures will be adopted in five waves in the coming weeks. The government will go ahead with the plan only if the outbreak is kept under control. Still, the rules for social distancing and mandatory wearing of face masks remain in place.
The day-to-day increase in the new cases of infected people stayed under 100 on Monday for the second straight day for the first time since March 17. It was 89 on Sunday and 68 on Monday though a lower number of tests was carried out over Easter holidays. A total of 6,101 people have tested positive in the Czech Republic, 161 have died.
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.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ transport minister says the country is starting the mass repatriation of citizens who have been stranded abroad as a result of coronavirus travel restrictions.
The move comes amid complaints from some parents who say their kids who are studying abroad have been left confused over how the government will bring them back.
Minister Yiannis Karousos told the state-run Cyprus News Agency that the target is to bring back every two weeks 2,000 people — equal to the maximum number of available hotel rooms where returnees will spend a mandatory two weeks in quarantine.
Repatriation flights will start from the U.K. and Greece and then be extended to Germany, the U.S. and the Netherlands. Priority will be given to first-year university students.
Repatriation of those belonging to vulnerable groups like the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions began several days ago.
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.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities say cemeteries across the country will remain closed this Friday, which is Good Friday for Orthodox Christians and a day on which the faithful traditionally visit the graves of their loved ones.
Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias says cemeteries are part of religious facilities that are subject to current lockdown restrictions banning the public. Particularly on Good Friday, Hardalias says: “As hard as it is, as harsh as it sounds, our cemeteries will remain closed.”
Greece announced 25 new confirmed COVID-19 infections and two new deaths, bringing the country’s total to 2,170 registered cases and 101 deaths. Seventy-six people are intubated in intensive care.
TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says anyone returning from overseas without a credible isolation plan will be required to quarantine in a hotel.
Trudeau says the new rule begins at midnight. He says an inadequate plan would include those who no set destination for someone who has been out of Canada for years. He also says an inadequate plan includes those who plan stay with many elderly family members.
The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to all nonessential travel, but Canada is still receiving repatriation flights for Canadians who have been stranded abroad. Trudeau says travel restrictions will remain for many weeks.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has urged the Serb authorities in Bosnia to withdraw a decree against alleged spreading of false news and panic during the state of emergency introduced to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir, and the Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kathleen Kavalec, warned the decree could restrict the media and journalists from reporting freely on the outbreak.
The decree envisages hefty fines for those allegedly spreading false news and panic.
Bosnia has 1,083 confirmed infections with the new coronavirus, while 40 people have died.
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.
RENO, Nev. — Swiss ventilator maker Hamilton Medical plans to open its first U.S. factory to make the breathing machines to fulfill a government contract.
Hamilton is hiring “several hundred” workers for the plant that it’s setting up in Reno, Nevada, with help from automaker General Motors. The company is building a production line and expects to start making critical care ventilators by the end of April.
On Monday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Hamilton a $552 million contract to build 14,115 ventilators by July 3, with 850 coming by May 8 and 4,404 by May 22.
Health care experts expect hospitals to experience shortages of ventilators as cases of the coronavirus peak in the coming weeks.
PARIS — A French court has ordered Amazon to stop buying, storing or delivering non-essential goods for the next month to protect its employees from the virus.
The emergency ruling Tuesday requires Amazon to evaluate health risks at all its facilities around France and negotiate new safety measures with worker representatives, according to lawyers for unions that launched the legal proceedings.
The court stopped short of halting all Amazon warehouse activity, which the unions had sought.
Lawyer Judith Krivine says Amazon must suspend its non-essential trade within 24 hours of Tuesday’s ruling or face 1 million euros in fines per day. Sales of food, medicine and hygiene supplies are still allowed.
Amazon did not immediately comment. The head of Amazon France, Frederic Duval, said last week the company was putting in place safety measures.
LOS ANGELES — The number of COVID-19 cases among crewmembers of the Navy hospital ship Mercy has risen to seven.
They’ve been isolated off the ship, Cmdr. John Fage, a 3rd Fleet spokesman, told The San Diego Union-Tribune in an email Monday.
The 1,000-bed hospital ship docked in the Port of Los Angeles is serving patients who have not been stricken by the coronavirus. The Mercy’s ability to receive patients has not been affected, Fage said.
The ship has more than 800 medical personnel and support staff aboard to relieve strain on local hospitals by providing care to patients who do not have COVID-19, allowing those hospitals to use intensive care units and ventilators for virus cases.
On Monday, Los Angeles County public health authorities reported 9,420 positive cases and 320 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.”
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