The Latest: Turkey repatriates citizen with virus in Sweden

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:

— After COVID-19: Anxious, wary first responders back on job

— Turkey repatriates citizen who allegedly failed to receive any treatment for the new coronavirus in Sweden.

— Health officials warn parents in Spain to abide by social distancing rules.

— Pakistan extends its ban on international and domestic air travel.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey dispatched an air ambulance and repatriated a Turkish citizen who tested positive for the coronavirus in Sweden but allegedly failed to receive any treatment there.

Emrullah Gulusken, 47, was evacuated from his home in Malmo, Sweden, on Sunday after his daughter, Leyla, pleaded for help on social media. She said her father was sent back home despite his worsening condition, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Gulusken and his three of his children were flown to Ankara where they were hospitalized, the agency reported.

“Dear Leyla, we have heard your voice… Our air ambulance is taking off at 6 am we are coming to Sweden,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted on Sunday. “Our hospital, our doctors are ready waiting for your father.”

Turkey has repatriated some 40,000 nationals from 75 countries since the start of the outbreak in March, according to Foreign Ministry figures.

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MADRID — Health authorities in Spain are urging parents to be responsible and abide by social distancing rules a day after some beach fronts and city promenades filled with families eager to enjoy the first stroll out in six weeks.

Fernando Simón, head of Spain’s health emergency coordination center, said Monday that rules to keep a 2-meter (6.5-foot) distance from other families and for going outdoors only once a day, for one hour, and at most three children at a time accompanied by one adult, were generally respected on Sunday.

But he said that some images of crowds were “concerning.”

“The impact in the epidemic can be a step backwards that can be much harder than what we have seen until now,” Simón warned.

The top health official said that staying at home for weeks “was hard but easy,” and that “the difficult part comes now.”

“Now is when each of us needs to show the personal, individual and family responsibility that avoids turning the progressive opening up into a risk for all population,” he said.

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s ban on international and domestic air travel has been extended until May 25 as the country seeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In the federal capital of Islamabad a local television station shut down its office after eight staff tested positive for COVID-19, owner of ARY Television Salman Iqbal tweeted Monday. Only two have shown symptoms but Iqbal said the office was closing until all the staff could be tested and the offices were disinfected.

Even as the numbers of confirmed cases continue a steady upward climb, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has refused to close mosques in the country during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan leaving it to clerics to enforce social distancing.

Frontline health care workers have protested his decision pleading with both the religious clerics and the government to close mosques until the virus has been brought under control.

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NEW ORLEANS — At least eight of the 800 members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club have been confirmed to have died of COVID-19, while others may have been killed by the coronavirus, and still more are fighting for their lives, said the club’s board chairman, Jay H. Banks, who also is a New Orleans city councilman.

The toll on the club, a mainstay of Mardi Gras parades that was formed more than a century ago in part to provide funeral services to black people, reflects the outsized impact that the pandemic is having on black people. African Americans represent more than 56% of Louisiana’s 1,670 coronavirus deaths, the state public health department reported Sunday.

Banks said he spoke from the pulpit at the funeral on Friday of Bobby Gray, captain of the Soulful Warriors, who serve as escorts to the Zulu king in club ceremonies. “The people were spread out in the pews in a twisted checkerboard, and everyone was wearing a mask,” he said.

“I think that’s the point that people need to understand, the cruelty of this thing is ongoing. It’s not only taking life; it’s killing the living too. Because how do you mourn by yourself? Think about it — we ain’t got nobody to lean on.”

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JOHANNESBURG — More than 200 doctors from Cuba have arrived in South Africa to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The doctors, including community health and infectious disease specialists, arrived early Monday morning.

South Africa requested assistance from the Cuban government, which is sending more than 1,000 doctors to 22 countries, including Togo, Cape Verde and Angola in Africa. South Africa has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Africa, with at least 4,546 cases and 87 deaths.

The Cuban medical personnel will stay in a two-week quarantine before starting work. They have arrived as South Africa is increasing community testing, especially in poor, crowded neighborhoods.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Courts of law across Denmark reopened Monday as the Scandinavian country continued phase one of what it has called a “controlled reopening” of society.

“We are looking forward to coming back to the court rooms but it must be done in a health-responsible way, both for our users and employees,” said Kristian Hertz, head of the Danish Court Administration.

According to the administration’s guidelines, a judge can limit the number of people inside a court room if he or she gauges that there are too many people.

Because the number of cases has piled up over the last weeks, cases involving serious penal code offenses will be handled first and followed by lesser offenses and civil cases.

Denmark already has allowed some people back to work, including hairdressers, dentists, tattoo parlors, physiotherapists, among others, and some classes were allowed to return to school.

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PARIS — Work began Monday to refit the construction site at fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral to protect workers from the virus and allow cleanup efforts to resume.

More than a year after the fire, workers still haven’t finished stabilizing the medieval cathedral, much less rebuilding it. And the coronavirus outbreak caused a new setback: Work on the cathedral halted in mid-March, when France imposed strict confinement measures.

On Monday, workers began to rearrange the construction site to make it virus-safe, according to an official with the state agency overseeing the project. The site is hidden from the public by high barriers.

Notre Dame rector Mgr Patrick Chauvet told reporters that includes rearranging showers and cloakrooms to allow more distance between workers, and installing a place to eat because all restaurants in France are currently closed. He said the workers will stay in nearby vacant hotels so they won’t have to take public transport.

The cleanup work itself is scheduled to start gradually resuming next week.

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BELGRADE, Serbia — An opposition group is calling for daily noisy protests from windows and balconies after thousands banged pots and blew whistles during an evening curfew on Sunday against Serbia’s populist authorities.

The Let’s Not Drown Belgrade group says in a statement that the demonstrations in the capital and other Serbian cities are meant to show that the daily and weekend curfew cannot stop the struggle for democracy in the Balkan country which formally seeks European Union membership.

Serbia’s autocratic President Aleksandar Vucic has faced accusation of curbing democracy and media freedoms with the state of emergency that has been imposed as part of measures against the new coronavirus.

The authorities have started partial easing of the strict rules by reopening some businesses and allowing people over 65 years old limited movement, but they have also announced an 83-hour curfew for the upcoming May Day weekend.

Serbia has reported more than 8,000 infections and 156 deaths. Experts have said the situation has stabilized in the past days but that caution is still necessary.

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NEW DELHI, India — Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has said the monthlong ongoing lockdown has yielded positive results and that the country has managed to save “thousands of lives.”

Modi, who had a videoconference with various heads of the states on Monday, said the impact of the coronavirus, however, will remain visible in the coming months, according to a press statement released by his office.

During the meeting with state heads, Modi advocated for social distancing of at least two yards (6 feet) and the use of face masks as a rapid response to tackle COVID-19.

He said that states should put their efforts of converting hotspots, or red zones, into “orange and thereafter green zones.”

India last week eased the lockdown by allowing shops to reopen and manufacturing and farming activities to resume in rural areas to help millions of poor, daily-wage earners. But the economic costs of the nationwide lockdown continue to mount in a country of 1.3 billion people.

Modi, who put India under a strict lockdown on March 25, did not say if the lockdown restrictions will extend after May 3.

India has confirmed over 27,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 872 deaths.

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MADRID — Spain is recording 331 new deaths with coronavirus in the past 24 hours, up from Sunday’s 288, while the political and social debate focuses on the way out of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.

The total death toll stands on Monday over 23,500, while the number of infections is over 200,000 according to the latest count of the Health Ministry, which records only cases confirmed through lab tests.

With supervised children under 14 allowed to enjoy one hour out every day since Sunday, Spaniards are now setting eyes on the next relaxation of the confinement, now entering its seventh week. From Friday on, people of all ages will be allowed to go on walks or practice sports outdoors, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced.

Details on this and other new measures are expected to be ironed out on Tuesday, when the Cabinet holds a weekly meeting. Further loosening that could help activate the economy, such as the reopening of nonessential shops or restaurants, is still under discussion.

Health authorities are rolling out on Monday an 8-week survey among 36,000 Spanish households with a series of tests that should shed light on what’s the share of the population that has overcome the COVID-19 illness.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch national birthday party for their king is a muted affair, dubbed King’s Day at Home because of coronavirus restrictions.

King Willem-Alexander was celebrating his 53rd birthday Monday with his family at their palace in a forest on the edge of The Hague after a mass celebration in the southern city of Maastricht was canceled due to the coronavirus.

In a nationally televised speech to the nation, he paid tribute to health care workers and others battling the virus and hoped for better times ahead.

Flanked by his wife Maxima and their three daughters, Willem-Alexander said the annual holiday would be unique, “especially unique because I hope it will be absolutely the last King’s Day at Home in history.”

King’s Day is usually a nationwide celebration involving street parties and children selling secondhand toys in makeshift garage sales known as “free markets” throughout the country.

But early Monday, streets were still largely deserted apart from queues of shoppers, observing social distancing guidelines, outside bakeries selling traditional King’s Day pastries decorated with orange frosting.

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BEIJING — China is fighting back against calls for an investigation into its role in the global coronavirus pandemic, citing faults with the U.S. response to the outbreak and calling for Washington itself to admit error.

“We hope the U.S. will respond to people’s concern from the U.S. and the international community. Perhaps the World Health Organization can also be invited in to assist in the investigation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing on Monday.

President Donald Trump says he is suspending payments to the WHO, of which the U.S. is the largest funder, saying it has responded weakly to the pandemic and shown a pro-China bias.

China, where the virus was first detected late last year, has strenuously denied accusations from the U.S. and others that it suppressed information about the outbreak, allowing it to spread far wider than it might have, and delaying responses from other countries.

Also Monday, the official Xinhua News Agency ran a commentary accusing U.S. Republican politicians of seeking to gain political points by attacking China over the pandemic.

“The U.S. conservatives’ moves to cover up their own failures by shifting blame and public attention will only harm those still struggling in the pandemic and render the global fight much harder,” Xinhua said.

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MOSCOW — Russia surpassed China with its total number of confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday.

The Russian government reported 87,147 cases on Monday, which is almost 4,000 more than China’s official toll of 83,912. Almost 6,200 new infections were registered in the past 24 hours.

The actual number of infections in both countries is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. Many also believe that governments in both Russia and China could be manipulating the statistics for political purposes.

Russia had been reporting comparatively low numbers of coronavirus cases until April, and the Kremlin insisted the situation was under control. In mid-April, Russians were supposed to vote for a constitutional reform that would allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036, and Kremlin critics argued the government was downplaying the crisis ahead of the vote. In late March, Putin postponed the vote indefinitely. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has been growing exponentially since then.

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