The Latest: Russian health workers dispute medics death toll
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Russian health official says more than 100 medics have died of coronavirus.
— Tanzania expresses displeasure over U.S. embassy statements suggesting the African nation is hiding the true number of virus cases.
— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it’s time to relaunch New York City’s economy.
— Rome’s Colosseum to open after three-month shutdown.
MOSCOW — A Russian health official said Tuesday that 101 medics have died of the coronavirus, according to data provided by regional authorities.
Health care workers question the official toll and believe that the real figure is much higher. An online list of medics who died compiled by their colleagues has over 300 names.
Russia ranks third in the world behind the United States and Brazil, with over 360,000 infections, including 3,807 deaths.
The country’s relatively low mortality rate raises doubts among experts in Russia and in the West, drawing suspicions that the authorities could have manipulated the statistics and under reported virus-related deaths for political reasons.
Russian officials angrily reject the allegations and argue that the low death toll reflects the effectiveness of the measures taken to stem the outbreak.
DODOMA, Tanzania — Tanzania’s foreign affairs ministry says it has summoned the U.S. ambassador to express displeasure over embassy statements suggesting that Tanzania’s government is hiding the true number of virus cases.
The East African nation hasn’t updated its number of cases since the end of April and President John Magufuli has claimed the virus has been defeated through prayer. Cases have been frozen at just over 500 for weeks.
The U.S. Embassy in two statements this month said hospitals in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam are full of COVID-19 patients.
Tanzania’s statement says acting U.S. Ambassador Imni Patterson met with Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Wilbert Ibuge, who expressed Tanzania’s disappointment and said the government is willing to share information about COVID-19 infections as long as it is requested through official channels.
While African nations have been praised for their pandemic response, Tanzania has been the exception.
BRUSSELS — International donors on Tuesday pledged more than 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in support of refugees and migrants from Venezuela as the coronavirus pandemic deepens their plight.
Venezuela is gripped by a deepening political and economic crisis under President Nicolás Maduro. Refugee agencies have said that the number of people fleeing the country could reach 6.5 million by the end of 2020. Most stay in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The money will help the refugees and migrants to integrate and bolster host communities also struggling with the virus. Relief aid focusing on health, protection, food, water and education will also be financed.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says it’s “extremely significant” that such sums were raised in these coronavirus times for a crisis that he says has recently been forgotten.
The meeting was hosted by the EU and Spain and involved around 50 UN agencies and financial institutions.
BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont is preparing to close some of the surge sites that were set up in case COVID-19 infections overwhelmed the state’s hospitals.
WCAX-TV reports that pop-up sites, like the one at the Spartan Arena in Rutland, were designed for non-COVID patients in case hospitals became inundated with patients who did have the coronavirus. The Rutland site, which could handle 150 patients, was never used.
Human Services Secretary Mike Smith says the sites in Rutland, St. Albans, and Barre will be the first to close.
If conditions change, the sites could be reopened.
BATON ROUGE, La. — More than 1,800 students are living on university campuses around Louisiana, even though they’ve been taking classes online and have been encouraged to return home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Advocate report s.
The students include 650 at Louisiana State University, 310 at Louisiana Tech, 50-60 at Tulane University, six at Grambling State, and four at Northwestern State, and they have a wide variety of reasons for remaining.
The reasons given range from being from a state or country that’s become a COVID-19 hotspot, to avoiding home because of abusive or drug-ridden families, officials say.
NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it’s time to focus on relaunching New York City’s moribund economy after weeks of declining deaths and hospitalizations.
After ringing open the Stock Exchange, the Democratic governor laid out a plan that includes accelerating major infrastructure projects and tackling transmission of the new coronavirus in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.
The mid-Hudson Valley, including the city’s northern suburbs, on Tuesday became the latest region of New York state to begin slowly phasing in economic activity. Long Island was expected to follow Wednesday, which would leave New York City as the only region awaiting the start of reopening.
Statewide hospitalization rates continue to decline with about 200 new cases a day. The number of deaths reported Monday dropped to 73, the lowest number since late March.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s death toll from COVID-19 has reached 4,397 with 28 new deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the health minister.
Fahrettin Koca tweeted Tuesday 948 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 158,762.
More than 121,500 people have recovered and people needing intensive care continued on a downward trend, according to the health ministry statistics.
Turkey ranks ninth in a tally by Johns Hopkins University for the number of cases, but experts believe the rate of infections globally could be much higher than reported. The country ranks 14th in number of deaths.
Turkey’s 83 million citizens are on the final day of a four-day nationwide lockdown. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he hoped this restriction to stay at home would be the last round. He’s expected to announce new policies and easing measures against COVID-19 later this week.
The country has opted for weekend and holiday lockdowns in large cities for nearly two months and has kept people above 65 and under 20 at home.
ROME — Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli has revealed that he’s recovered after being stricken with COVID-19 and has donated plasma for research about coronavirus treatments.
Bocelli visited a hospital Tuesday in the Tuscan city of Pisa to donate.
Some coronavirus patients have received plasma from former patients as part of their treatment to boost recovery. The singer told reporters outside the hospital that he had suffered only mild symptoms after a positive swab test on March 10.
Bocelli said he finds it “hard to metabolize” the concept that a virus could “bring the whole world … to its knees.”
On Easter Sunday in April, Bocelli sang solo in Milan’s empty Duomo cathedral during the lockdown in Italy, where the COVID-19 outbreak began in Europe.
PHILADELPHIA — Dozens of people who have been sleeping at the city’s airport during the COVID-19 pandemic are being tested rapidly before being taken to homeless shelters, officials said Tuesday.
The airport had run out of other options for handling the crowd, spokesperson Florence Brown said.
At the peak of the encampment, more than 150 people slept at the baggage claim areas around Terminal A, which in part serves international flights and has been out of use for about two months.
Problems have mounted because of worker complaints and less access to food, staff cleaning and bathroom supplies.
Parts of the baggage claim area will be put back in use around June 4, officials have said.
ROME — The Colosseum will start receiving visitors again after three months of shutdown during COVID-19 containment measures.
To lower the risk of possible contagion at one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions, tourists must wear protective masks and have their temperatures taken before entering the ancient arena, which re-opens to tourism on June 1.
Entrance times will be staggered to discourage crowding and tickets must be bought online. A reduced-price ticket will be available for afternoon visitors in an effort to encourage Romans to visit the monument at the end of their working day, especially while Italy awaits for tourism from overseas to resume.
Tickets to the Colosseum also allow entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. But tourists to those two sites will no longer be able to wander at will through the sprawling ancient ruins. Instead, they will have to follow fixed paths.
LONDON — Health Secretary Matt Hancock is reporting that Britain’s overall number of deaths involving the new coronavirus is at the lowest in six weeks.
Officials also said that for the first time since March 18, there were no such deaths recorded in Northern Ireland on Monday.
Official U.K. figures show an increase of 134 deaths recorded with a positive coronavirus test, bringing the country’s total death toll to 37,048 on Tuesday. That figure rises to 45,231 when taking into account suspected cases and all deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
John Newton, the national Covid-19 testing coordinator, added that the number of coronavirus hospital admissions in England was down to 471, the lowest number recorded.
UNITED NATIONS — Two major children’s organizations say the number of children in poor and middle-income countries living below the poverty line could increase by 86 million to 672 million by the end of 2020 as a result of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNICEF and the Save the Children humanitarian and rights organization said in an analysis released Tuesday that nearly two-thirds of all children living in poverty are in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. But they said countries across Europe and central Asia could see a 44 percent increase across the region, while Latin America and the Caribbean could see a 22 percent increase from the coronavirus impact.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said the unprecedented socioeconomic crisis from COVID-19 “threatens to roll back years of progress in reducing child poverty and to leave children deprived of essential services.”
To mitigate the impact of the pandemic, Save the Children and UNICEF called for rapid and large-scale expansion of social protection systems and an array of programs, including cash transfers, school feeding, and child benefits to address immediate financial needs.
MADRID — Spain’s Health Ministry is reporting a slight increase in its national death toll from the new coronavirus, to 27,117, as it changes the way cases are counted.
Authorities said 35 deaths occurred over the past seven days, though almost 250 other deaths were added to the total.
On Monday, the Health Ministry cut the death toll by almost 2,000 after sifting through and correcting data, and that review is continuing.
The total number of cases rose to 236,259, with 194 diagnosed over the previous 24 hours and 3,222 over the past seven days.
ROME — Two northern regions account for far more than half of Italy’s latest confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.
According to Health Ministry figures, Lombardy registered 159 new cases in the 24-hour period ending Tuesday evening, while neighboring Piedmont registered 86 cases. The only other region to have more than 50 cases in the day-to-day tally was Liguria, also in the north.
Italy’s overall number of confirmed COVID-19 infections rose to 230,555 with the addition of 397 cases nationwide. Italy saw one of the lowest day-to-day number of deaths of patients since the first days of the outbreak with 78 more deaths registered.
That brings the nation’s count to 32,995 known deaths.
BERLIN — Europe’s aviation safety agency is calling on airlines and airports to participate in a new program to help evaluate new coronavirus guidelines in real-life situations.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said Tuesday that the program will focus on airlines that are fully applying the guidelines flying to airports that are also applying them.
The guidelines were published last week by EASA in conjunction with the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control with the goal of allowing air travel to restart in safe conditions. The guidelines include distancing measures, hand hygiene, mask recommendations and also rely on passengers taking personal responsibility, such as postponing travel if they learn they have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
The Cologne, Germany-based agency says participating airlines and airports will sign a pledge to abide by the guidelines, coordinate with national authorities, and design practical solutions when they encounter problems implementing the guidelines.
ATHENS — Greek health officials say they are ending their regular live televised briefings on the course of the coronavirus pandemic, which has essentially been brought under control in the country.
Sotiris Tsiodras, the government’s coronavirus task force chief, said Tuesday that while he will retain his duties, from now on the briefings will be written unless some special development dictates otherwise.
Tsiodras announced 10 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours and one more death, bringing the total to 2,892 infections and 173 deaths in a country of less than 11 million.