The Latest: Spain reports lowest daily death toll in 5 weeks
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:
— Spain reports lowest death toll in 5 weeks
— Animals at two Dutch mink farms test positive
— Italians wait to hear about new restrictions
— Spain allows children under 14 out for first time
— French government to details plans to ease lockdown
MADRID — Spain has reported its lowest daily death count for coronavirus infections in five weeks as its strict lockdown restrictions begin to pay dividends.
Spanish health authorities said Sunday that 288 people died from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 23,190 since the start of the outbreak. It is the first time the daily death toll has fallen below 300 fatalities since March 20.
The daily number of confirmed new infections also dropped. Spain counts 207,634 confirmed cases overall, but authorities say that the true number of infections is unknown due to limits on testing.
The daily rate of infection fell to 0.8%, down from over 20% a month before.
“The magnitude of today’s decrease is important,” Spanish health official Fernando Simón said. “As of tomorrow, our goal is no longer to reach the peak of the contagion curve, we are already there. Now we need to consolidate (our position) and think about how to safely move into the next phase of scaling down our restriction measures.”
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is to give details on Tuesday on further moves to reduce the lockdown after children were allowed out for the first time in 44 days on Sunday.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Animals at two mink farms in the Netherlands have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture said Sunday that some staff at the two farms had earlier displayed symptoms of the disease “so it is assumed that these are human-to-animal infections.”
As a precaution, authorities are closing roads within 400 meters (yards) of the affected farms in North Brabant, which is the Dutch region the hardest hit by the coronavirus.
The minks are not the first animals infected with the coronavirus. The findings come after positive tests in two pet cats in New York state and in some tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo, adding to a small number of confirmed cases of the virus in animals worldwide.
ROME — Italians are waiting to hear what new set of restrictions will govern their lives over the next months after almost seven weeks under a national lockdown.
Premier Giuseppe Conte has been spending the weekend consulting those who will have key roles in overseeing Italy’s gradual easing of restrictions – mayors, governors, allies in his center-left government, a national scientific advisory committee and an ad hoc group of experts including economists and psychologists.
The current lockdown lasts through May 3. Italy’s education minister said weeks ago that it was practically impossible for schools to reopen before the summer break. That would prolong pressure on working parents.
Family Minister Elena Bonetti said in an interview in Corriere della Sera on Sunday that she is pushing for the opening of summer recreation centers for children as well as daycare centers for kids six years old or younger.
BARCELONA, Spain — The sound of children shouting has returned to Spain’s streets for the first time in six weeks after the government lifted a strict home confinement on its youngest citizens.
Spain’s government let children under 14 years old out for the first time on Sunday morning after 44 days of complete seclusion. They can now to take walks with a parent for up to one hour within one kilometer from home.
“This is wonderful! I can’t believe it has been six weeks,” said Susana Sabaté, a mother of 3-year-old twin boys who were wearing child-size face-masks. “My boys are very active. Today when they saw the front door and we gave them their scooters, they were thrilled.”
Youngsters can take one toy with them, but they are not allowed play with other kids and should maintain a one-meter distance from other people. Parks are closed. Authorities recommend that both parents and children wash their hands before and after outings.
Spain has one of the world’s strictest lockdowns as it fights to contain one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world. The strict measures helped reduce a daily contagion rate that was over 20% a month ago to under 2% this week, easing pressure on hospitals that were on the brink of collapse.
PARIS — The French government will detail to parliament on Tuesday how it plans to pull the country out of the coronavirus lockdown that has plunged the eurozone’s second-largest economy into a deep and alarming freeze.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe tweeted that he will unveil the “national deconfinement strategy” in an address at the National Assembly. Lawmakers will get to debate the blueprint before voting on it.
The government has for weeks had teams of experts working on finding a balance between restarting the economy without provoking a second surge of COVID-19 infections that could overwhelm hospital ICUs.
President Emmanuel Macron had already announced that France’s lockdown, in place since March 17 and among the strictest in Europe, would begin to ease from May 11.
Philippe’s long-awaited speech will flesh out the details. He said it will cover six themes: health, schooling, work, shops, transport and gatherings.
The lockdown has been raising tensions in France’s poorest areas.
ISLAMABAD — Frontline health workers in Pakistan’s largest Punjab province are holding rotating sit-ins to protest the poor quality of their personal protection equipment.
Dr. Salman Haseeb Chaudhry, president of the provincial chapter of the Young Doctor’s Association, said Sunday the substandard equipment is leading to an increasing number of health professionals contracting COVID-19, and that a grand health alliance including nurses and paramedics has formed to demand greater protection.
Chaudhry said 100 health professionals tested positive for the new coronavirus in the previous 24 hours.
Pakistan has confirmed 12,723 cases of the virus with 269 deaths attributed to COVID-19. The true number of infections is thought to be far higher.
Pakistan has been recording a steady daily increase of about 750 positive cases in the last week. Testing is still low with barely 6,800 people tested daily in a country of 220 million people, 60% of whom live in the most populous Punjab problem.
Pakistan has struggled to get protective equipment to its health professionals. Doctors in southwestern Baluchistan province who protested were jailed earlier this month. They were freed within hours.
The government has increased the supply of protective equipment after receiving planeloads of supplies from China and stepping up local production. But Chaudhry said the quality is substandard.
LONDON — The British prime minister’s office says Boris Johnson will return to work Monday, two weeks after he was discharged from a London hospital where he was treated for the new coronavirus.
Johnson, 55, spent a week at St. Thomas’ Hospital, including three nights in intensive care, where he was given oxygen and watched around the clock by medical staff.
After he was released April 12, he recorded a video message thanking staff at the hospital for saving his life.
Johnson has not been seen in public since then, as he recovered at the prime minister’s country retreat outside London.
Johnson’s return comes amid growing criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The number of people with COVID-19 who have died in British hospitals reached 20,000 on Saturday. Thousands more are thought to have died in nursing homes.
Opposition politicians are calling for more clarity on when the government will ease a nationwide lockdown that was imposed March 23 and runs to at least May 7.
NEW DELHI: India’s prime minister has cautioned his people against complacency in the fight against the coronavirus, saying it can return again and people must change their habits.
During a 30-minute radio program on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that people need to stick to social distancing, wearing face masks and not spitting in public places.
He also said that a traditional system of Indian medicine, known as “Ayurveda” which includes yoga exercises and drinking hot water, can be extremely helpful in building immunity to diseases.
Modi put India’s 1.3 billion people under a strict lockdown on March 25 until May 3 to fight the virus. The restrictions have been eased somewhat by allowing neighborhood shops to reopen, and manufacturing and farming activities to resume in rural areas to help millions of poor daily workers.
India has so far recorded 25,671 positive cases of the virus with 824 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea has confirmed 10 more cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, a continuation of the country’s slowing caseload.
The additional cases reported Sunday marks the ninth day in a row that South Korea’s daily increase came below 20.
The state-run Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the country’s total to 10,728 with 242 deaths. It says 8,717 patients have recovered.
South Korea has recently relaxed some of its social distancing rules, but officials have still raised worries about possible transmissions by “quiet spreaders.”
South Korea had recorded hundreds of new cases every day between late February and early March, mostly in the southeastern city of Daegue and nearby areas.
HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige on Saturday extended Hawaii’s stay-at-home order and the mandatory quarantine for visitors through May 31.
“This was not an easy decision. I know this has been difficult for everyone. Businesses need to reopen. People want to end this self-isolation and we want to return to normal,” Ige said. “But this virus is potentially deadly, especially for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.”
At a news conference, Ige pointed to alarming COVID-19 clusters on the Big Island and Maui, Hawaii News Now reported. “We still need to remain vigilant.”
In his statement, Ige warned of undoing Hawaii’s progress in containing the virus if public places open up too early. Hawaii has 601 cases of coronavirus and 13 deaths.
“Thanks to our residents, we are flattening the curve, saving lives, and avoiding a resurgence of this virus by not reopening prematurely,” Ige said.
The governor also extended the eviction moratorium, which prevents any eviction from a residential dwelling for failing to pay rent, through May 31.
BEIJING — China said Sunday it had confirmed 11 more cases of the new coronavirus the previous day, bringing its official count to 82,827. However, there were no reported deaths for the 11th day in a row.
Five of the new cases were in Heilongjiang province, a northeastern border area with Russia that has seen a surge in infections. Another was in Guangdong province, a manufacturing and tech region bordering Hong Kong in the south.
The other five cases were imported from overseas. China has identified 1,634 imported cases in all.
China said it also has 1,000 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus but do not have any symptoms. They are under medical observation but not included in the confirmed case count.
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