The Latest: Spain PM asks to extend state of emergency again
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 normal’ anything but as countries continue to reopen.
— Prime minister of Spain asks Parliament for extension to national state of emergency.
— University of Cambridge cancels all face-to-face lectures for 2020-2021 school year.
— First Pakistani lawmaker to test positive for virus dies.
MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is appearing before Spain’s Parliament to ask for their endorsement to extend the nation’s state of emergency that his government has used to rein in a coronavirus outbreak that has killed at least 27,000 Spaniards.
It would be the fifth two-week extension to the state of emergency, which is currently set to expire on Sunday. The government wants to extend it until June 7.
The vote is expected to be close, although Sánchez’s minority government composed of his Socialists and an anti-austerity party has secured the important backing of the center-right Citizens party.
Sánchez’s support has been waning with every vote to extend the state of emergency, which gives the government the power to restrict Constitutional rights such as free movement and assembly key to its sanitary lockdown. The main opposition party, the conservative Popular Party, has said it will vote “No.”
Also, the governmental gazette published the order that will require everyone over six years old to wear face masks in a closed public space or outdoors if a two-meter (6.5-foot) social distance cannot be guaranteed starting Thursday.
LONDON — Cambridge has become the first university in Britain to cancel all face-to-face lectures for the 2020-21 academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The university says all lectures will be held virtually and streamed online until summer 2021. Cambridge says it may be possible to hold tutorials and other teaching in small groups — a key part of the university’s system — when the new academic year starts in October, as long as social distancing can be followed.
The pandemic has already upended student life. Cambridge moved all its teaching online in March, and exams are being held remotely.
British universities are warning they will face a financial crisis if students decide they don’t want to pay tuition fees — currently 9,250 a year ($11,300) in England — for a virtual experience. Lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed because of the pandemic have also cut off the flow of international students, who pay higher fees and form a major source of income for U.K. universities.
LAHORE, Pakistan — Pakistan’s first lawmaker who was tested positive for coronavirus has died at a hospital in the eastern city of Lahore.
According to doctors and her Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, Shaheen Raza, 69, was hospitalized three days ago. Her condition deteriorated Wednesday and she died at a government hospital. Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan expressed his grief and sorry of the death of his party’s senior lawmaker.
Usman Buzdar, the chief minister in the Punjab province, confirmed her death from coronavirus. She was a lawmaker at the provincial Punjab Assembly.
The announcement about Raza’s death comes as the poverty-stricken Pakistan recorded its highest single-day deaths from COVID-19, with 46 in the last 24 hours. The virus has so far infected several politicians, including Pakistan’s speaker of lower house of parliament Asad Qaiser who has fully recovered.
As of Wednesday, there were nearly 46,000 confirmed cases of the virus, including almost 1,000 fatalities, in Pakistan, where authorities eased six-week long lockdown last week despite warnings from some doctors that the lifting of restrictions can cause a sudden spike in deaths and infections.
Pakistan has also reopened shopping malls on a court order and authorities Wednesday resumed a train service, saying the measures were aimed at reviving the economy and saving people from dying because of hunger and poverty.
Authorities say most of the people in Pakistan are not adhering to social distancing guidelines.
BANGKOK — A Canadian pastor charged in Myanmar with violating a ban on large gatherings has made his first court appearance after being released from a quarantine reportedly imposed because he had contracted COVID-19.
David Lah was charged in mid-April with violating an article of the Natural Disaster Management Law, and faces possible punishment of up to three years in prison, a fine, or both. The law was invoked in mid-March to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The charge involves a religious gathering Lah held on April 7 in Yangon. The judge at Wednesday’s hearing ordered Lah’s detention for 15 days pending a possible trial while police continue their investigations.
LONDON — Aerospace engine maker Rolls-Royce has announced plans to cut some 9,000 jobs globally as it grapples with the collapse in air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company employs 52,000 people overall, and it is not immediately clear where the cuts will fall.
The reorganization will lead to cuts resulting in some 700 million pounds ($856 million) in savings with an overall aim of 1.3 billion pounds in annual savings.
Chief executive Warren East says the company must “take difficult decisions to see our business through these unprecedented times.”
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine police have raided a small clandestine hospital and a drugstore catering to Chinese citizens suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 disease and arrested two Chinese administrators.
Police Brig. Gen. Rhoderick Armamento said law enforcers found a Chinese patient in the seven-bed hospital and drug store during Tuesday’s raid at a residential villa, which was illegally turned into a medical facility at the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone northwest of Manila.
More than 200 suspected Chinese-brand coronavirus rapid test kits and syringes, which have been used, were recovered in trash cans, he said.
“They have practiced medicine and prescribed drug without license,” Armamento told The Associated Press by telephone Wednesday. “The Chinese patients who were brought there may still be walking around in public and can infect other people.”
The Chinese who have gone to the underground hospital may include the large numbers of workers in online gambling outfits in Clark, a former U.S. Air Force base turned into a commercial and leisure hub.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the illegal hospital and drugstore can endanger patients instead of saving them because they do not conform with government health regulations and standards.
The Philippines has reported nearly 13,000 coronavirus infections, including 837 deaths, among the highest in Southeast Asia.
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations secretary-general is warning that the coronavirus pandemic threatens Africa’s progress and could push millions into extreme poverty.
Antonio Guterres said in a video message Wednesday launching a policy briefing on “The Impact of COVID-19 in Africa” that countries on the continent have responded swiftly to the crisis, “and as of now reported cases are lower than feared,” with more than 2,500 deaths.
But the U.N. chief said “much hangs in the balance,” and he called for “international action to strengthen Africa’s health systems, maintain food supplies, avoid a financial crisis, support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat, and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings.”
To help address the devastating economic and social consequences of the pandemic, Guterres said Africa needs more than $200 billion and “an across-the-board debt standstill for African countries.”
He said in recent years economic growth in Africa has been strong, the digital revolution “has taken hold” and agreement has been reached on a free trade area.
But Guterres said “already, demand for Africa’s commodities, tourism and remittances are declining” and “the opening of the trade zone has been pushed back.”
And the secretary-general said the pandemic “will aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease.”
SINGAPORE — Singapore, which has one of the highest infection rate in Asia, plans to exit a partial lockdown that ends June 1 in a controlled approach over three phases.
Officials say businesses that do not pose high risk of transmission can reopen from June 2 but some retail shops, personal services and dine-in restaurants will still be barred. Schools will reopen in phases and families can visit each other, but limited to one visit a day and not more than two guests in a household.
The city-state has reported 28,794 cases with 22 deaths. Most of the cases are linked to foreign workers, who remained locked down in their crowded dormitories. Earlier this month, the city-state allowed select businesses to open doors after infections dropped in the local community, away from the dorms.
The government said in a statement Tuesday that it expects infections to rise with the increased activity next month. If transmission remains low and stable, and the dorm situation under control, it said more activities will gradually resume including gyms, tuition centers and retail outlets in phase two.
It said all restrictions will eventually be eased in phase three but with strict health guidelines in a “new normal” until an effective vaccine for COVID-19 is developed.
NEW DELHI — In a major relief to tens of thousands migrant workers eager to return to their village homes from cities and towns, Indian Railways will be doubling the number of special trains for them and also run 200 new trains across the country from June 1.
Indian Railways in a statement says that it has operated more than 1,600 trains for migrant workers and transported over 2.1 million of them to their home states in the past 19 days.
Passengers are required to wear masks and undergo health screenings before being permitted to board. The return of these workers in huge numbers has raised fears of many of them carrying infections to their home states from cities and towns.
Thousands of workers have been crowding rail stations, bus stations and highways with their wives and children in blazing heat anxious to return to their homes. They say the they can resume farming and also take up jobs like building roads, water harvesting in drought-hit areas and construction of animal shelters under a government program that guarantees 100 days of employment a year in rural India for 200 rupees ($2.65) per person per day.
The Railways statement on Tuesday appealed to the migrants not to panic.
The number of coronavirus cases in India have surged past 100,000 with nearly 4,000 deaths. Almost 39,000 people have recovered from the illness. India’s two-month-old lockdown has been extended until May-end.
The railway system is often described as India’s lifeline, transporting 23 million people across the vast subcontinent each day, some 8.4 billion passengers each year.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is lifting restrictions put into place because of the coronavirus.
“It’s time to get Alaska back on its feet,” he said at a Tuesday evening news conference. “Friday, we’re open for business across the state of Alaska.”
Low case numbers and death totals in the nation’s largest but sparsely populated state led Dunleavy, a first-term Republican facing a recall effort, to his decision. Alaska has had 399 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths.
All businesses, including bars and gyms, will be allowed to reopen without restrictions or capacity limits, as will churches, libraries and museums. Recreational and sports activities will also be allowed to resume.
“It will all be open just like it was prior to the virus,” he said.
There will be some guidelines in place, however. Alaskans will be advised to still practice social distancing, clean touch screens before use, stay home if sick and wear a face covering in public if near other people.
Visitor restrictions remain in place for senior centers, prison and institutions. And organizers with large gatherings and festivals should consult with public health officials before scheduling the event. A 14-day mandatory quarantine for those arriving in Alaska remains in place until June 2.
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