The Latest: Nissan employees in Spain protest for 2nd day

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:

— New Zealand near eradication, but virus has grim global hold.

— Employees from Nissan plants in Spain protest for second day.

— Worshippers in Turkey hold communal Friday prayers for the first time in 74 days.

— Indonesia surpasses 25,000 coronavirus cases.

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BARCELONA, Spain — Employees in Spain of Japanese giant Nissan took to the streets for the second day in a row to protest the closure of three Barcelona plants as the carmaker scales down its global production.

Hundreds of workers have surrounded on Friday at least four of Nissan’s car dealerships in or around the northeastern city, covering their windows with leaflets reading “Nissan betrays 25,000 families” and “We will keep fighting” among others.

The closures by the end of the year would mean the loss of 3,000 direct jobs, and some 20,000 additional ones in the supply chain could be affected.

Both Spain’s central government and the regional authorities of Catalonia, where the affected factories are, have vowed to help unions revert the Japanese company’s decision. Industry Minister Reyes Maroto on Friday said that the proposal could be a “joint private-public partnership.”

Although Nissan had been mulling for months to scale down its production in Europe and other parts of the world, the company is suffering like many other automakers from a plunge in demand for vehicles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Worshippers in Turkey have held their first communal Friday prayers in 74 days after the government reopened some mosques as part of its plans to relax measures in place to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Prayers were held in the courtyards of a select number of mosques on Friday, to minimize the risk of infection.

Authorities distributed masks at the entrance to the mosques, sprayed hand sanitizers, and checked temperatures for fever.

Worshippers were asked to bring their own prayer rugs, but some mosques offered disposable paper rugs which were placed 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart.

The partial opening of the mosques follows a slowdown in the confirmed COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country.

On Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to lift restrictions on movement between cities and reopen restaurants, cafes, sports centers, beaches and museums on June 1.

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — The number of coronavirus cases in Indonesia has surpassed 25,000 with more than 1,500 virus-related deaths as authorities are stepping up to lift large-scale social restrictions next week.

Indonesia’s COVID-19 Task Force on Friday reported 678 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 25,216 with 1,520 deaths, the highest death toll in Southeast Asia. It also reported 6,492 recoveries.

Jakarta, the first large city to enforce partial lockdown rules in the country, has hinted that the restriction policy would not be extended after June 4.

The State-Owned Enterprises Ministry has instructed state-run companies to allow its employees to return to work in mid-June by observing health guidelines amid a surge in cases and fears of a new wave of infections with the return of hundreds of thousands of people to cities after Islamic holidays.

The government’s data showed that nearly 50,000 people are under isolation and monitoring for possibly having the virus or after testing positive without showing any symptoms, while another 12,499 patients who remain in treatment are waiting for the lab-test results.

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AMSTERDAM — Dutch authorities have closed a third meatpacking plant in a week for fear it would be source of coronavirus transmission.

The Van Rooi plant in the southern Netherlands was closed on health grounds after 16% of a sample of 130 workers tested positive.

“The test results show that there is a risk that the company can become a hotspot to spread the coronavirus within a short timespan,” the regional security authority said in a statement.

The plant will be closed until at least June 2. Over 30,000 people work in the Dutch meatpacking and slaughterhouse industry.

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PARIS — France has reported more than 3,000 new daily virus infections in the biggest such one-day rise in more than three weeks – and the first major increase since France started gradually reopening May 11.

The new figure was not included in the government’s daily virus press release Thursday night, but was put on a government virus tracking website.

The national public health agency and Health Ministry did not provide a reason for the rise Friday. It comes as testing has become more easily available in France, though it is unclear whether that is part of the reason.

The French government has gradually increased the number of tests it is conducting after widespread criticism early in the pandemic that it was not testing widely enough.

Scattered virus outbreaks have been reported since France’s reopening began, notably in some schools that were subsequently shut down.

France has now reported over 28,000 virus deaths in hospitals and nursing homes and more than 149,000 people who have tested positive with the virus.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Latvian company has launched a virus tracing app, one of the first with the joint Apple-Google operating system software — the newly released exposure notification API — saying the software that is using Bluetooth technology can detect and register other nearby mobile devices.

The country’s health ministry said in a press release that all data on the app, called ″Apturi Covid,″ Latvian for “Stop Covid,” is encrypted and stored directly on the device. It won’t be accessible to the phone owner or other users of the app that is voluntary to use.

The software “will give people the opportunity to return to their daily lives by ensure faster awareness of contact people, according to the app’s Facebook page.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Latvia are of 1,064 with 24 people having died, the Baltic News Service said.

“With the use of modern technology, we can once again gain time and go a step further. The new app will allow epidemiologists to identify contacts more quickly,″ Elina Dimiņa, head of the Infectious Diseases Surveillance and Immunization, a government agency, said in the press release.

Due to the decentralized and encrypted nature of the app, it aligns with EU regulations on data protection.

API stands for application programming interface, which is a software tool that gives special access to some features of Apple’s iOS and Android mobile operating systems.

A Swiss coronavirus contact-tracing app was launched earlier this month but was limited to hospital workers, members of the Swiss army and civil servants. The Latvian app is estimated to initially be used by at least 1/5 of the country’s population of nearly 2 million.

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MOSCOW — Russia has reported the highest daily spike in coronavirus deaths once again on Friday, with health officials registering 232 deaths in the last 24 hours, which bought the country’s total to 4,374.

Russia’s comparatively low mortality rate continues to raise questions among experts both in Russia and in the West, with some suggesting that the country’s government may be underreporting virus-related deaths for political reasons. Russian officials vehemently deny the allegations and attribute the low numbers to the effectiveness of the measures taken to curb the spread of the outbreak.

Russia’s coronavirus caseload has exceeded 387,000 on Friday, with health officials reporting over 8,500 new infections.

Earlier this month President Vladimir Putin announced lifting some lockdown restrictions, saying that Russia was able to “slow down the epidemic” and it was time for gradual reopening. The vast majority of the country’s regions have been on lockdown since March 30.

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TOKYO — Tokyo will remove shutdown requests on more businesses from June when theaters, cinemas, fitness gyms and retailers in the Japanese capital can reopen after a coronavirus state of emergency ended this week.

Governor Yuriko Koike said Tokyo is now ready to move to Step 2 of a three-phase roadmap designed to gradually reopen businesses in the city.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared an end to a seven-week emergency Monday, saying the infections have subsided enough to resume social and economic activity under a “new normal” requiring physical distancing and other disease prevention measures.

Tokyo reported 22 new cases Friday, triggering concerns of an underlying risk and a possible second wave of infections. Koike said infections are not accelerating and hospitals now have space.

Libraries, museums and schools, considered to be lowest risk, reopened in Tokyo this week. Under Step 2, theaters, cinemas, fitness gyms, cram schools and retailers can resume businesses. Night clubs, karaoke and live music houses, which are considered more prone to infections, will be last and their safety guidelines are still being worked out.

Even though its emergency measures only involved requests for social distancing and some business closures, Japan so far has about 16,700 cases and 870 deaths, significantly fewer than many other countries.

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JOHANNESBURG — South Africa says it has a backlog of nearly 100,000 unprocessed tests for the new coronavirus.

A health ministry statement overnight puts the backlog as of Monday at 96,480. The ministry says “this challenge is caused by the limited availability of test kits globally.” It says priority is being given to processing tests from patients admitted to hospitals and health workers.

South Africa has conducted more tests for the virus than any other country in Africa — more than 655,000 — and has more confirmed cases than any other country on the continent with 27,403. The ministry says one of the latest people to die in South Africa was an employee with the National Health Laboratory Services.

“We understand this tragedy will certainly test you,” the ministry said in a message to her colleagues, adding that the government is committed to providing proper protective gear that also faces shortages.

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Muslims in some parts of Indonesia attended Friday prayers as mosques closed by the coronavirus for weeks were allowed to start reopening in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

The guidelines for worship facilities released by religious affairs minister Fachrul Razi on Friday change many traditions in mosques. Worshippers usually pray shoulder to shoulder, and they huddle, hug and shake hands once the prayer ends, with cheek-to-cheek kisses common.

Muslims in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi were expected during Friday’s prayers to stay at least 1 meter (yard) apart from one another without shaking hands and would hear shorter sermons. No children were allowed to join the prayers, and police and soldiers were there to ensure health protocols such as social distancing and wearing a mask were observed.

Similar scenes were seen in another satellite city of Bogor, and Makassar, one of Indonesia’s big cities on Sulawesi island.

President Joko Widodo said his administration wants Indonesia to remain productive economically but also safe from the virus. He said any measures to start the so-called “new normal” would be based on epidemiological data.

The government has been deploying 340,000 security forces gradually to enforce the health rules as the country prepares to reopen its economy.

Indonesia had recorded more than 24,500 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday with nearly 1,500 deaths, the most fatalities in Southeast Asia.

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BANGKOK — Authorities in Thailand are relaxing restrictions imposed two months ago to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Venues allowed to reopen Monday include cinemas, theaters, zoos and aquariums, but they must limit admissions. Cinemas will be allowed to hold a maximum of 200 people at a time, seated at a safe social distance from each other — with the exception of couples.

Other establishments permitted to reopen include massage parlors, gyms, bowling alleys and sports venues.

Restaurants were already allowed to reopen earlier this month but under conditions ensuring social distancing. Malls were previously allowed to reopen, and the new rules change their mandatory closing time from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Commercial passenger flights from abroad remain banned until at least the end of June.

Thailand has had just single-digit increases in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases for most of May. It announced 11 new cases Friday, bringing the total to 3,076 including 57 deaths.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand reported just a single person in the entire nation of 5 million people is known to still have the coronavirus after no new cases have been detected for the past week.

In total, 1,504 people were found to have contracted the virus. Of those, 1,481 have recovered and 22 died. About 275,000 people have been tested.

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan reported 57 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, its most in one day since the outbreak began in February.

The latest figure increased the country’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,317. The government also reported 2,636 new infections on Friday, raising the total number of cases to 64,028.

Currently 4,615 people with infections are being treated at 726 hospitals across the country, and other patients have been quarantined at their homes or government facilities. So far, 22,305 patients have recovered.

In the past 24 hours, 11,931 tests were conducted in Pakistan, bringing the overall total of tests to 520,017.

Coronavirus-related deaths and cases have increased in various parts of Pakistan, including Islamabad, in recent weeks as the government eased lockdown restrictions — ignoring warnings from medical professionals. Pakistan has barely 3,000 intensive care beds in the entire country and doctors often warn that continued spikes in infections could overwhelm its poor health care system.

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NEW DELHI — India has registered another single-day high of 7,466 coronavirus cases, surpassing China both in terms of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19.

The Health Ministry on Friday put the total number of cases in India at 165,799, with 4,706 deaths. China has reported 4,634 deaths among 82,995 cases.

The spike in infections in India comes at a time when the two-month-old lockdown across the country is set to end on Sunday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is expected to issue a new set of guidelines this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in the worst-hit areas as it promotes economic activity.

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