The Latest: Russia cases increase; 3rd highest in the world

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:

— Virus deaths surpass 100,000 in US while cases rise in India.

— Russia continues to see high numbers of new coronavirus cases.

— EasyJet to cut up to a third of its workforce.

— Turkey partially resumes train operations.

___

MOSCOW — Russia is continuing to see high numbers of new coronavirus cases even though its far-flung regions have increasingly moved to reopen the economy.

The government’s anti-coronavirus task force reported 8,371 new infections Thursday, about the same as in the previous day and lower than the peak levels of more than 11,000 cases earlier this month. The total number of infections topped 379,000, the world’s third-largest caseload behind the United States and Brazil.

Russian officials reported 174 new deaths, repeating the highest daily toll recorded two days ago and bringing the total to 4,142.

The Russian capital, which accounted for about half of all infections, eased the lockdown in place since late March, ordering to reopen non-food stores, dry cleaners and repair shops. The city mayor also announced that residents will be allowed to walk in the parks with some restrictions and engage in sports in the mornings.

___

LONDON — Budget carrier easyJet plans to cut up to a third of its workforce as it restructures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline has around 15,000 full-time employees — meaning some 4,500 jobs are at risk.

CEO Johan Lundgren, says the carrier remains focused on doing what is right for the company and its long-term “health and success.’’

EasyJet plans to resume limited service on June 15, but estimates that it may take three years to get back to 2019 demand levels.

Lundgren says that “against this backdrop, we are planning to reduce the size of our fleet and to optimise the network and our bases.”

___

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has resumed limited intercity train operations after a two-month suspension as the country eases restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Train services restarted on Thursday, with a high-speed train departing the capital, Ankara, for Istanbul at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT). The trains will make 16 trips daily, connecting the cities of Ankara, Istanbul, Konya and Eskisehir.

The trains are operating at half-capacity and travelers are being permitted on board only with a government-issued special code that certifies that the passenger is not being monitored for a suspected COVID-19 infection.

Speaking at a ceremony at Ankara’s train station, Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailoglu, said people showing sign of illness would not be allowed on board. Any passenger showing COVID-19 symptoms on board the train would be taken to a special “isolation section” and handed over to health officials at the nearest station, he said.

No food or drinks would be served during the journey, the minister added.

Deaths from COVID-19 in the country have reached 4,431, with a total of almost 160,000 confirmed infections. Nearly 123,000 people have recovered, according to Health Ministry figures.

___

NEW DELHI — India sees no respite from the coronavirus caseload seeing another record single day jump of over 6,500 cases 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 preparing a new set of guidelines to be issued this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in worst-hit areas as it promotes economic activity.

The Health Ministry reported a total of 158,333 cases on Thursday, a jump of 6,566 cases in the past 24 hours, with 4,531 deaths, an increase of 194. It said the recovery rate has also risen to more than 42% .

Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, is the worst hit city in the country with more than 33,000 cases and nearly 1,200 deaths. Most of the cases are concentrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states.

An increase in cases have also been reported in some of India’s poorest eastern states as migrant workers stranded returning to native villages from India’s largest cities have begun arriving home on special trains.

India started easing lockdown restrictions earlier this month, allowing reopening of shops and manufacturing and resumption of some trains and domestic flights and vehicles’ movement.

Metro services, schools and colleges, hotels and restaurants are shuttered nationwide.

___

CANBERRA, Australia — A Catholic archbishop has accused an Australian state government of inequitable pandemic rules by allowing up to 50 people into pubs while church congregations are limited to 10.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher on Thursday encouraged Catholics to sign a petition calling on the New South Wales government to treat churches the same as pubs, restaurants and cafes.

New pandemic restrictions that take effect on June 1 increase the number of customers that such commercial premises can hold from 10 to 50.

“Contrary to what has been said throughout this pandemic, we do not consider church attendance to be non-essential; indeed, nothing is more essential than the practice of our faith,” the petition said.

Fisher said he was standing up for freedom of worship “when I see so many double standards being applied to people of faith.”

“We aren’t asking for special treatment, we are asking for equal treatment,” Fisher said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said state governments were working at their own pace in lifting pandemic restrictions.

New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state and has been the worst effected by COVID-19. New South Wales has recorded 48 of Australia’s 103 deaths. Catholicism is the largest denomination in Christian-majority Australia.

___

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s central bank lowered its policy rate to an all-time low of 0.5% to soften the pandemic’s shock to the country’s trade-dependent economy, which it says may shrink for the first time in 22 years.

The Bank of Korea’s rate cut on Thursday came about two months after it executed its first emergency rate cut since 2008 to bring the policy rate to 0.75%.

The bank also adjusted its annual growth outlook from a 2.1% expansion to a 0.2% contraction. The country’s economy hasn’t seen an annual contraction since 1998, when it was in the midst of a crippling financial crisis.

By lowering borrowing costs, the bank intends to ease the volatility in financial markets and help pump money into the economy.

But some experts say it’s unclear whether traditional financial tools to boost money supplies would be effective now when the pandemic has damaged both supply and demand.

The Bank of Korea said last month that South Korea’s economy shrank 1.4% during the first three months of the year, the worst contraction since late-2008. Domestic consumption took a hit as more people stayed home to avoid virus transmissions, while exports also shrank amid worldwide lockdowns.

___

Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Categories: National & International News