The Latest: Pope calls for EU solidarity to deal with virus

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.


— Pope Francis calls for EU solidarity.

— Indonesia’s daily tally of new cases fluctuates.

— Churches in Lebanon welcome worshippers again.


VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is calling on leaders of European Union countries to work together to deal with the social and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pope noted in his Sunday blessing that 75 years have passed since Europe began the challenging process of reconciliation after World War II. He said the process spurred both European integration and “the long period of stability and peace which we benefit from today.”

He prayed that the same spirit that inspired European integration efforts “not fail to inspire all those who have responsibility in the European Union” to deal with the coronavirus emergency in a “spirit of harmony and collaboration.”

Throughout his papacy, the pope has urged European countries to resist nationalism and instead pull together on issues like migration.

During the pandemic, hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain have that insisted EU leaders demonstrate solidarity.


JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia’s daily tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases has been fluctuating as testing capability has improved.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto has declared 387 new cases, taking the country’s total to 14,032.

Yurianto said in his daily video conference on Sunday that there have been 973 deaths attributed to COVID-19 and that 2,698 patients have recovered.

Indonesia recorded 533 new cases on Saturday for its highest daily tally, likely due to a significant increase in testing.

However, testing remains a major problem in the archipelago nation, which is home to about 270 million people. Indonesia has so far conducted fewer than 120,000 tests – less than 500 per million people.


BEIRUT – Lebanon’s churches have welcomed worshippers for the first time in nearly two months.

Most churches were closed to the public to limit the spread of coronavirus, but Lebanese authorities have started easing restrictions that were imposed in March.

Churches and mosques are now permitted to welcome worshippers for congregational prayers on Sundays and Fridays as long as capacities are limited and other safety guidelines including social distancing measures are respected.

Many worshippers entering churches around Lebanon on Sunday were sprayed with disinfectant and had their temperatures checked before they were allowed in to sit at a distance from others.

Masses including the Easter prayers were held in empty churches for the first time in Lebanon’s recent history last month. Even during the country’s civil war from 1975-90 did not stop its people from going to places of worship.

Lebanon has the largest percentage of Christians in the Middle East, about a third of the country’s five million people. The country has registered 809 cases of the coronavirus with 26 deaths attributed to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.


MOSCOW – Russia’s count of coronavirus infections has climbed above 200,000 after its highest daily tally of new cases.

Figures released Sunday recorded 11,012 new cases of the virus for a total of 209,688, with 1,915 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Russian officials say the sharp rise in numbers can be attributed to increased testing, at least in part.

More than half the infection cases and deaths are recorded in Moscow, which will remain under a lockdown for the rest of the month.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Movement restrictions in Malaysia are to be extended by four weeks until June 9 despite a sharp drop in infections in the country.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says restrictions that were due to end on Tuesday must continue to prevent infections from flaring up in the absence of a vaccine.

The government had already let most businesses reopen with strict conditions from May 4 to help revive its hard-hit economy. But mass gatherings remain barred with schools, cinemas and worship houses staying shut, while group sports are prohibited and interstate travel banned.

Muhyiddin says 6.6 million people, nearly half of the country’s labor force, has returned to work with the number expected to increase.

He apologized to ethnic Malay Muslims for disallowing them to return to their hometowns to celebrate the Eid festival at the end of the fasting month, but said gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed within the same state. He said the government also plans to let worship houses operate with strict measures soon.

Malaysia has recorded 6,589 cases with 108 deaths.


JOHANNESBURG – Africa has more than 60,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a tally from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Africa CDC says that all but one of the continent’s 54 countries, tiny Lesotho, has confirmed cases of the virus. South Africa has the most with more than 9,400 registered.

The widespread shortage of testing capacity continues to be a challenge and means the true figures are likely to be much higher.

Some countries are easing lockdowns even as cases rise, arguing people have to make a living and feed their families despite the risks.


BERLIN — Police in Germany say dozens of people were detained at protests against the pandemic restrictions after some rallies turned violent on Saturday.

Berlin police said 86 people were detained after bottles were thrown at officers during a demonstration on Alexanderplatz, a large central square in former East Berlin. One officer was injured, and another was injured in a separate incident in front of the Reichstag building where 45 people were detained.

In the western city of Dortmund, police said a man attacked a TV crew during a protest — the third such attack in Germany in the past two weeks. The 23-year-old assailant was arrested.

Police in nearby Cologne expressed outrage that some protesters in the city urged shoppers to remove their masks when entering stores.

“It seems like these people still haven’t understood that it’s not just about their health but also the lives of others,” Cologne’s police chief said.

Despite the gradual easing of Germany’s pandemic restrictions in recent weeks, protests against them have swelled, bringing together far-right groups, C-list celebrities and people who believe the virus is harmless or part of a global conspiracy.


SEOUL, South Korea — The governor of a province that surrounds Seoul ordered the two-week shutdowns of all nightclubs, hostess bars and other similar entertainment facilities in his province to guard against a possible new surge in coronavirus cases.

Lee Jae-myung, the Gyeonggi province governor, announced the steps Sunday, a day after Seoul shut down more 2,100 nightclubs, hostess bars and discos in the capital city as dozens of fresh infections linked to clubgoers have been reported in recent days.

The province and Seoul form the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people reside.

Earlier Sunday, South Korea reported 34 additional virus cases over the past 24 hours, the first time the country’s daily jump has marked above 30 in about a month. Health authorities said that 24 of the 34 cases were those who had visited clubs in Seoul’s Itaewon entertainment neighborhood in the past several days or people who came in contact with them later.

New cases linked to the Itaewon clubs raised worries that an outbreak in South Korea may surge again after showing a downward trend for weeks.


NEW DELHI — An Indian navy warship carrying Indians stranded in the Maldives because of the coronavirus lockdown has docked at a port in Kochi, a port city in the southernmost state of Kerala.

The INS Jalashwa with 698 returning Indian citizens aboard is the first vessel to arrive Sunday as part of India’s massive repatriation mission. India is also using national carrier Air India to bring back thousands of stranded citizens from the Persian Gulf, U.K. and elsewhere in Asia.

Sea and air passengers have been charged a fare to return to India. Hundreds of thousands of Indian citizens have signed up for additional repatriation journeys planned this month.

India’s lockdown entered a sixth week Sunday, though some restrictions have been eased for self-employed people unable to access government support to return to work. India has reported 60,829 positive cases, including 19,357 recovered patients, and 2,109 deaths.


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