The Latest: Philippines bans foreigners amid outbreak
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 240,000 people and killed more than 9,800. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. Almost 85,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
—Italy passes China for most coronavirus-related deaths.
—Cannes Film Festival postponed because of coronavirus pandemic.
—Haiti confirms first 2 cases of new coronavirus.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is indefinitely banning the entry of foreigners after the government declared a state of calamity and public health emergency amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late Thursday that it is temporarily suspending visa issuances in all its foreign posts effective immediately.
“This goes one imperative step forward: a total ban on incoming foreign visitors of all nationalities,” Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said in a tweet. ”Outgoing foreign visitors should be given all the help to get out. Idiotic to detain them.”
The drastic move exempts foreign government and international organization officials and their dependents as well as foreign spouses and children of Filipino citizens, the department said.
BEIJING — Some flights to Beijing are being rerouted to regional airports to relieve pressure on the capital for screening large numbers of incoming passengers.
China has not banned travelers from abroad, but Beijing and other cities are requiring that all undergo 14-day quarantines, either at home or at a government-designated facility such as a hotel or makeshift observation center.
China is very slowly coming back to life, with the government saying about 80% of economic activity has been restored, although millions of workers remain stranded by travel bans.
Beijing’s tourism industry is still on hold, just as it should be ramping up for the summer season. The Great Wall is largely shut and it remains forbidden to visit the Forbidden City, the ancient former palace of China’s emperors.
CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. — In Alameda County, Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelley said a gun shop called Solar Tactical in Castro Valley has refused to close, despite the shelter at home order. He said officers have advised the shop to close.
“We’ll start out nice,” Kelley said Thursday. “Then we’ll post a notice to close and then we will take enforcement.”
The shop did not answer phone calls Thursday and did not immediately respond to messages. A message on its Facebook page said the store is now operating on an appointment-only basis and urged customers to call local police to protest the effort to close it and other gun stores.
“Your 2nd Amendment right is no longer considered essential during forced shelter in place,” the shop said. “Please share and get the word out. Call your local officials, news stations, and Alameda County Sheriffs office to let them know how you feel about your 2nd Amendment rights being taken away.”
BEIJING — The Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus at the heart of the global pandemic was first detected has recorded a second consecutive day with no new confirmed or suspected cases.
Nationwide, a total of 39 cases were recorded Friday, the health ministry said, all of them brought from overseas. Three more deaths were also registered, bringing China’s total to 3,248, a figure surpassed on Thursday by Italy as the highest in a single nation.
China still leads in overall cases, with 80,967, more than 71,000 of whom have been declared healthy and sent home.
China has loosened some travel restrictions in Hubei, the province surrounding Wuhan, although its provincial border remains closed and Wuhan itself remains under lockdown. Officials say they will only lift the quarantine after Wuhan goes 14 consecutive days with no new case.
MADISON, Wis. — Two Wisconsin residents have died from the coronavirus pandemic, the first to be reported in the state.
Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday that a man in his 50s from Fond du Lac County and a man in his 90s from Ozaukee County had died. No other details about their circumstances was reported.
HONOLULU — Hawaii state Sen. Clarence Nishihara was informed Thursday that he tested positive for coronavirus.
Nishihara is the first known Hawaii lawmaker to test positive and the first at the Hawaii State Capitol building, Senate communications spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said.
Senate President Ron Kouchi sent a memo recommending all Senate offices close until further notice.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti has confirmed its first two cases of the new coronavirus.
President Jovenel Moise said the unidentified patients that tested positive for COVID-19 have been quarantined. He declined to release further details out of fear for their safety.
Moise also said he would close all airports, schools, factories and seaports.
The announcement comes just days after officials closed the border that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share on the island of Hispaniola.
Haiti is the poorest country in the western Hemisphere, and many worry the country is not equipped to handle a possible spread of coronavirus.
SEATTLE — A federal judge has declined to order the release of immigration detainees who may be especially vulnerable to the new coronavirus because they are old or have underlying health conditions.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project sought the release of nine detainees at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Northwest detention center in Tacoma.
U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said he was aware of the gravity and rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 crisis, but that there is no evidence of an outbreak at the privately run jail or that the agency’s precautions are inadequate.
MINNEAPOLIS — Compass Airlines is shutting down operations in April due to the coronavirus outbreak.
A statement from the Minneapolis-based company says Compass Airlines “has made the difficult decision to cease operations, effective April 7.” According to the statement, “Radical capacity reductions left Compass without the ability to fly even minimally viable schedules.”
The Star Tribune also reports that Compass’ Delta-affiliated operations will end March 31 instead of winding down later this year as scheduled.
President Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants calls the shutdown “devastating.” The union represents more than 200 cabin crew members at Compass. Under parent Trans States Airlines, Compass exclusively flies in western states but kept its corporate headquarters in the Twin Cities.
SEATTLE — The death toll in Washington state from the new coronavirus has increased to 74, and the number of cases has topped 1,300, according to state health officials.
King County reported four new deaths — bringing its total to 60 — while Snohomish, Benton and Island counties each reported one death.
Gov. Jay Inslee issued an order Thursday prohibiting non-urgent medical and dental procedures in an effort to secure protective equipment used by front-line health care workers. The order applies to any procedure that would require someone to wear protective gear.
“We know the health care personal protective equipment supply chain in Washington has been severely disrupted by the significant increased use of such equipment worldwide,” Inslee said in a statement. “We will do all we can to protect the women and men who protect us.”
COLUMBIA, S.C. — U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley says he has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Beasley says in a statement he began to feel ill after returning from an official visit to Canada and put himself into quarantine at his South Carolina home last Saturday.
Beasley says his symptoms have been mild and he is in good spirits. He says he continues to work from home and his employees are helping him inform anyone he had contact with during his trip.
Beasley has run the program since 2017 that provides food to more than 80 million starving and hungry people around the world.
The 63-year-old Beasley was governor of South Carolina for four years starting in 1995.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government is bailing out its national airline by offering more than $500 million in loans.
Air New Zealand has already stopped most international routes and cut back on domestic flights due to the coronavirus outbreak. Beginning Friday, New Zealand has closed its borders to everyone but citizens and residents, ending most airline travel to the South Pacific nation.
Air New Zealand said it will cut its workforce of 12,500 by 30%. The airline is 52% owned by the government, which has offered loans of 900 million New Zealand dollars ($511 million) over two years.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said that without the intervention, New Zealand was at risk of not having a national airline. New Zealand has had 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19, all connected to international travel. There have been no signs yet of a local outbreak.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told President Donald Trump that a growing number of new coronavirus cases could push the state past its capacity to deliver health care in seven days.
Edwards stressed at a later news conference that the number was a “worst case scenario,” which he said was “sobering.”
The number of people known to be infected with the virus in Louisiana jumped to nearly 380, Edwards said Thursday afternoon. That was up from 280 a day earlier.
“My fear, based on modeling that I’ve received today, is that in as little as seven days we could start to exceed our capacity to deliver health care,” Edwards told Trump during a conference call the president held with governors that was carried by news networks.
“We’ve got some requests in, for example we have a VA hospital in New Orleans where we’ve requested to be able to surge patients there,” Edwards said.
“I’m going to try to get you immediate approval on the hospital,” Trump told Edwards.
SAO PAULO — Brazil is closing its borders with most of its South American neighbors, a decision most of them had already made, and treating any patients with “severe flu” as a coronavirus case.
Latin America’s largest nation is still negotiating with Uruguay. Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta also said families of people who tested positive will receive medical permission to stay home for two weeks.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who initially dismissed the outbreak as “hysteria,” is trying to regain control of the fight against the virus that Mandetta and state governors have led thus far. Brazil has 621 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and reported six deaths.
LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa announced that people infected with the coronavirus are to be confined to their residences and most retail outlets must close as part of a 15-day state of emergency in the European country.
Those over 70 years old or with chronic ailments should only leave home for short walks for health reasons. Costa said the rest of the population should only leave home to commute to work, shop for necessities, to help a family member, to accompany children, or to walk a pet.
Costa added that all retail shops except supermarkets, bakeries, pharmacies, gas stations, and newsstands are ordered to close.
CANNES, France — France’s Cannes Film Festival, arguably the world’s most prestigious film festival and cinema’s largest annual gathering, has postponed its 73rd edition.
Organizers of the French Riviera festival, scheduled to take place May 12-23, say they are considering moving the festival to the end of June or the beginning of July.
Organizers had been reluctant to cancel Cannes. But as the coronavirus pandemic spread through France, it became all but inevitable that a massive gathering like Cannes couldn’t go on as scheduled. “See you very soon,” the festival said in a statement.
WASHINGTON — Army officials say one Army combat support hospital and one field hospital will soon be deployed.
The combat hospital normally has 248 beds, including 48 for intensive care with ventilators, and the field hospital has 32 beds, but can be increased by another 60 beds. Of those, there could be as many as 24 intensive care beds with ventilators.
The two units going are a combat hospital from Joint Base Lewis McCord in Washington and the 586th Field Hospital from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
According to a defense official, the likely two locations at this point are New York City and Seattle.
JOHANNESBURG — Another U.S. embassy in Africa is reporting anti-foreigner sentiment over the coronavirus.
The embassy in Cameroon says Americans and other foreigners in the major cities of Yaounde and Douala reported “verbal and online harassment, stone throwing and banging on vehicles occupied by expatriates.”
Many of Africa’s more than 600 confirmed cases of the coronavirus are people who recently arrived from the United States, Britain, Italy and other high-risk countries.
The U.S. embassy in Ethiopia issued a similar security alert, prompting the prime minister’s office to announce that COVID-19 “is not related to any country or nationality.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia is closing its borders for all but cargo traffic in an effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the measure takes effect on Friday.
The Balkan country on Thursday closed its main airport in Belgrade for all passenger flights and the national carrier Air Serbia stopped operations.
Officials say the closure of the borders was made partly because some 70,000 Serbs and their families working in West European countries have returned to Serbia in the last few days despite appeals by authorities not to do so.
Serbia, with 103 coronavirus cases confirmed so far, has introduced some of the toughest restrictive measures in Europe. They include an overnight curfew for all citizens and a ban on leaving their homes for all those older than 65.
PRAGUE — The funeral of Dana Zatopkova, an Olympic javelin champion and the wife of running great Emil Zatopek, will be held at a secret location on Friday due the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The Czech Olympic Committee said the organizers wanted to prevent a gathering of many people, which is now banned, who would like to say goodbye to the popular athlete who died Friday at age 97.
“Under the normal circumstances, we would, of course, like everyone who want to pay respect to her to come,” said Jiri Kejval, the head of the Czech Olympic Committee.
Kejval said a mass will be served for Zatopkova once the crisis with the virus is over and her remains will be buried alongside her late husband in the town of Roznov pod Radhostem in September.
TORONTO — Canada’s foreign minister is being tested for the coronavirus after experiencing flu-like symptoms after traveling.
Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said on Twitter he is self-isolating at home for 14 days and says he expects the results of his test very shortly.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is already self-isolating at his residence after his wife tested positive following a trip to London.
Champagne says he will continue to work to support Canadians facing difficulties abroad and to help coordinate the international response to the crisis.
MIAMI — Carnival Corp. says it will make cruise ships from four of its brands available to serve as temporary hospitals in locations that need them to combat the new coronavirus.
The announcement came after President Donald Trump said at a White House news conference he had spoken with Carnival Chairman Micky Arison about the possibility.
The world’s largest cruise line says its ships could serve mainly to treat non-coronavirus patients, freeing up beds in land-based hospitals for those patients. The company says ships can provide up to 1,000 hospital rooms and are able to be quickly provisioned with the necessary medical equipment, including intensive care units.
Carnival crew would provide such things as food and beverage, and cleaning services, with local medical personnel to handle the treatment of patients, the statement said.
Trump said at a White House briefing that he would present the offer to New York and California during a teleconference later Thursday will all 50 governors.
Two Navy hospital ships also will become part of the effort.
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