The Latest: Spain wants to extend state of emergency 2 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:
— President Trump heads to Phoenix to tour Honeywell plant.
— French President Macron criticized for opening schools next week.
— Italy experts warn of second wave after gradual reopening.
MADRID — Spain’s Socialist-led government will ask parliament on Wednesday to extend the state of emergency another two weeks through May 24.
But the conservative Popular Party, the main opposition, is reluctant.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says extending the state of emergency “is the only instrument that allows the government to limit mobility, in order to prevent contagion, save lives and protect citizens.”
Health Minister Salvador Illa says the state of emergency, which has allowed the government to impose a lockdown, has been “essential” in reducing the daily infection rate from 35% to 0.4%.
Finance Minister Maria Jesus Montero warned that economic measures to cushion the pandemic’s blow are dependent on state of emergency legislation.
If the Popular Party votes against the extension, it could scuttle the government’s pandemic plans. It may decide to abstain, in which case the government’s request should win approval.
HARTFORD, Conn. — Gov. Ned Lamont ordered in-person classes at all Connecticut K-12 public schools to remain canceled for the rest of the current school year, requiring districts to continue distance learning.
The Democrat says schools must continue providing to-go meals to children under the school lunch and breakfast programs. Lamont says he’s working with state and local education officials to determine whether summer school programs should be held.
Lamont says he was hoping high school seniors could complete the final few weeks, but it wasn’t possible given the virus and the need to “protect everyone’s safety.”
The state’s largest teachers’ union, the Connecticut Education Association, praised Lamont’s decision.
MASERU, Lesotho — Lesotho, the only nation among Africa’s 54 to not report a case of COVID-19, will lift its five-week lockdown on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Tom Thabane says schools, churches and bars will open, with restrictions. Businesses will open but they must maintain social distancing and staff must work in shifts to reduce congestion. Churches can open but they must have less than 50 people per service. People will be expected to wear face masks in public.
Thabane says mass-testing will begin. The tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa, which has Africa’s highest number of confirmed cases at 7,220.
South Africa slightly eased its strict lockdown this week to allow some mines, manufacturers and retailers to resume operations at up to 30% capacity. Rwanda and Nigeria also eased restrictions this week.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says Americans should think of themselves as “warriors” in the fight against the new coronavirus.
Trump spoke to reporters Tuesday before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Phoenix to tour a Honeywell plant that’s making N95 respirator masks.
Trump’s trip is designed to give the appearance of a return to normalcy as states begin to reopen after shutting down in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
The president has stayed close to the White House since mid-March, when he declared a national emergency over the outbreak. He traveled to Virginia at the end of March to see a Navy hospital shift off to New York, and he spent this past weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
Trump says: “The people of our country should think of themselves as warriors. Our country has to open.”
LONDON — Virgin Atlantic says it plans to cut 3,150 jobs and end its operation at London’s Gatwick Airport.
The company says the job losses will be across the board and it will reduce the size of its fleet.
Virgin is applying for emergency loans from the British government. The airline says recovery is expected to take up to three years.
Also, new car sales in the U.K. came to a near standstill in April, the lowest monthly level since 1946.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders indicate only 4,321 cars were registered during the month, down 97% from the year before. Dealerships were closed and potential buyers have been in lockdown since March 23.
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state is reporting more than 1,700 previously undisclosed deaths at nursing homes and adult care facilities.
At least 4,813 people have died from COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes since March 1, according to a tally released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office late Monday. It includes, for the first time, people believed to have died from the coronavirus before it could be confirmed by a lab test.
Exactly how many nursing home residents have died remains uncertain despite the state’s latest disclosure. The list doesn’t include nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals before dying.
BEIRUT — Dozens of Lebanese returned home from Syria after authorities briefly opened two border crossings nearly two months after they were closed.
The returnees were subjected to tests for the coronavirus and will stay in hotels for one day to wait for the results. Lebanon, which has reported 741 cases of coronavirus and 24 deaths, will extend the lockdown until May 24.
Information Minister Manal Abdul-Samad says the government has asked security forces to make sure the lockdown is enforced.
She also says Lebanon accepted a $750,000 donation from Google in the form of advertisements to raise knowledge about coronavirus.
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed plans to gradually reopen schools next week amid concerns from mayors, teachers and parents about the timing.
Macron, wearing a mask, visited a primary school in a suburb west of Paris on Tuesday that has remained open for children of health workers.
More than 300 mayors in the capital region, including Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, urged Macron in an open letter to delay the reopening of primary schools scheduled for next week.
They denounced an “untenable and unrealistic timetable” to meet the sanitary and safety conditions required by the state, including class sizes capped to a maximum of 15. The majority of French children attend public schools.
Many parents say they won’t send their children back to school as France is one of the world’s hardest-hit countries by the coronavirus.
France starts lifting confinement measures on May 11, with businesses to resume activity and parents to return to work.
GENEVA — The U.N. human rights office says conditions in many prisons in the Americas are “deeply worrying” as COVID-19 spreads in many overcrowded facilities that lack hygiene.
Rights office spokesman Rupert Colville says fear of contagion and lack of basic services like access to food and health care have stoked riots and protests in some prisons.
He pointed to outbreaks of deadly violence in detention centers in Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela in recent weeks, along with attempted prison breaks in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and the United States.
Colville says the incidents suggest some states had not taken “appropriate measures to prevent violence in detention facilities,” urging states to investigate the deaths and injuries and any allegations of use of force by authorities during the rioting.
CAIRO — Yemen’s health minister affiliated with the Houthi rebels has announced the first coronavirus death in the rebel-controlled northern part of the country.
Taha al-Motawakel says a Somali migrant who died Sunday in a hotel in the capital Sanaa tested positive for the virus. He didn’t provide details about other confirmed cases in areas under Houthi control.
The surfacing of the pandemic in Yemen has stoked fears that an outbreak could devastate its already crippled health care system.
Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2014, when the rebels seized Sanaa, and much of the country’s north. The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition intervened to oust the rebels and restore the internationally recognized government. The conflict has killed more than 100,000 people and settled into a bloody stalemate.
The latest coronavirus death brings the total confirmed cases to 22 and three deaths across the country.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s prime minister says it appears “absolutely feasible” for restaurants and cafes to reopen on June 1 if the coronavirus outbreak keeps slowing.
On Monday, Greece reported two deaths and six confirmed infections, bringing the total death toll to 146, with confirmed infections at 2,632.
Greece began easing its lockdown measures on Monday, with the opening of a limited number of retail businesses, such as beauty salons and bookshops, and people allowed to leave their homes.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held a video conference with several cabinet members Tuesday to discuss how to reopen the restaurant and café sector while maintaining social distancing regulations. One possibility was increasing the outdoor space for tables and chairs.
Greece imposed a lockdown early on in its coronavirus outbreak, a move credited with containing the number of deaths.
LONDON — Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon has outlined how lockdown restrictions could be relaxed while stressing the move is not imminent.
Sturgeon says Scotland was at a “critical” moment and the lockdown will be extended for another three-week period after the next review on Thursday.
However, she says the first loosening considered by the government would be time spent outdoors. Other discussions relate to easing restrictions on community care services and businesses.
She says it’s too early to reopen schools and they possibly won’t reopen before the summer holidays.
Sturgeon says it’s preferred all four nations of the U.K. — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — should move together on easing the lockdown.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch riot police have arrested some demonstrators who gathered in The Hague to call for an end to the partial coronavirus lockdown.
Authorities in the city allowed the unannounced demonstration by a few hundred people near the city’s central railway station on condition that the protesters maintained social distancing.
However, the mayor withdrew permission when demonstrators refused to follow police instructions and officers, supported by police on horseback, began detaining people. Police didn’t immediately say how many people were arrested.
The Netherlands has been in what Prime Minister Mark Rutte calls an “intelligent lockdown” since mid-March. Schools, bars, restaurants and museums are closed and people are urged to work from home and practice social distancing outside.
The first gradual easing came last week when young children resumed sports training. Elementary schools are due to reopen next week.
NEW DELHI, India — India has discovered two viral clusters since it partly lifted the nationwide lockdown on Monday, contributing to the largest single-day spike in cases and deaths in 24 hours.
There’s been a total of 3,900 infection cases and 195 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking India’s total to more than 46,000 cases and more than 1,500 dead.
The Health ministry says the spike was due to late reporting of information by several state governments.
A vegetable and fruit market in Chennai, a southern Indian city, has been linked to more than 300 cases. Many of those who had been working in the market, which is among the largest in the country, had returned to their villages due to the lockdown and public health officials are now trying to retrace their footsteps.
In Tripura, a state in India’s north-east, which shares a border with Bangladesh, a total of 27 new cases were reported, of which 13 were linked to the Border Security Force or BSF, the country’s border guarding force.
ROME — Italian experts are warning a second wave of coronavirus infections will most certainly accompany Italy’s gradual reopening from Europe’s first lockdown.
They are calling for intensified efforts to identify possible new victims, monitor their symptoms and trace their contacts
Dr. Silvio Brusaferro, president of the Superior Institute of Health, briefed a Senate committee on Tuesday about the next phase of Italy’s coronavirus pandemic. He joined experts a day after 4.4 million Italians went back to work and restrictions on personal movement were eased for the first time in two months.
Brusaferro says the key to keeping the outbreak under control lies in the early isolation of people with suspected infection, more tests and the quarantine of their close contacts. He says it will require “a huge investment” of resources for training medical personnel to monitor possible new cases. He adds any phone app that can help trace contacts, while useful, doesn’t substitute for the actions of people.
The head of the institute’s infectious disease department, Dr. Giovanni Rezza, told La Repubblica the coming weeks were essentially an “experiment” to see how the infection curve reacts to the easing of the lockdown and production shutdown.
“We are not out of the epidemic. We are still in it. I don’t want people to think there’s no more risk and we go back to normal,” Rezza told La Repubblica.
In Italy’s hard-hit northern Lombardy, tens of thousands of sick overwhelmed the health care system. Scientists say a second wave of infection would particularly hit the south, which didn’t have many infections.
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