The Latest: UN chief says stranded seafarers are key workers
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. secretary-general says COVID-19 travel restrictions have left hundreds of thousands of the world’s 2 million seafarers stranded at sea for months, and is calling on countries to designate them and other marine personnel as key workers.
Antonio Guterres also called on nations to ensure that crews can leave vessels and be replaced safely, according to a statement Friday from U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
The U.N. chief said the maximum time for seafarers to spend at sea under international conventions is being ignored, with some marooned on vessels for 15 months.
Guterres said U.N. agencies, including the International Labor Organization and the International Maritime Organization, have worked with the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers Federation to develop protocols for crew changeovers, “taking full account of public health concerns.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— France has millions of unsold face masks after virus crisis
— Treasury chief refusing to disclose recipients of virus aid
— Sao Paulo cemeteries to dig up graves for coronavirus space
— In the sprawling refugee camps of Sudan’s Darfur, officials say people are falling sick and dying at astonishing rates. Humanitarian workers and medical personnel believe the coronavirus is spreading unchecked and untracked through Sudan’s most marginalized territory. Medical facilities are few and far between in the large western territory.
— Most Americans say they are wearing masks. They are still by and large avoiding restaurants. And the vast majority are still staying at least six feet from others. A new poll finds most Americans aren’t ready to abandon precautionary measures in response to the coronavirus, even as states and metropolitan areas relax restrictions.
— In the battle against COVID-19, public health workers spread across states, cities and small towns make up an invisible army on the front lines. But that army is under assault when it’s needed most. Elected officials and members of the public frustrated with lockdowns and safety restrictions have turned public health workers into politicized punching bags, battering them with angry calls and physical threats.
Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
BEIJING — Beijing closed the city’s largest wholesale food market Saturday after the discovery of seven coronavirus cases in the previous two days.
The Xinfadi market, which has 4,000 tenants, will be disinfected after workers tested positive and the virus was found in the environment, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The National Health Commission said that six new cases were confirmed in Beijing on Friday. Another case was reported Thursday. They are the first locally transmitted cases in the Chinese capital in more than 50 days.
Attention focused on the market after the discovery of the first three cases. Two of the infected people had been to the market, and the third worked with one of them at a meat research institute, according to Chinese media reports.
City officials said late Friday that all the workers were being tested for the coronavirus. They also ordered the testing of food and environmental samples from all the city’s wholesale food markets.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 49 new coronavirus cases.
Most most of them are in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where health authorities have been struggling to slow transmissions linked to entertainment and leisure activities, church gatherings and low-income workers who can’t afford to stay home.
The figures released Saturday brought national totals to 12,051 cases and 277 deaths.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 44 of the new cases are in greater capital area, which is home to half the country’s 51 million people.
Agency director Jung Eun-kyeong is urging residents in the capital area to stay home over the weekend, saying there is “high concern” that increased public activity will lead to widespread circulation of the virus.
GUATEMALA CITY — The spread of the coronavirus is encroaching on Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei.
He says 58 employees in the presidential offices have tested positive for the virus, up from 18 on Sunday.
Those who have tested positive include people from administration and security areas. Giammattei says he has been tested multiple times, but always has come out negative.
On Friday, Guatemala reported more than 8,600 infections and 351 deaths.
BEIJING — Officials in China’s capital are moving quickly to stem a new coronavirus outbreak after the discovery of seven cases the past two days.
The National Health Commission said six of the cases were confirmed in Beijing on Friday, a day after the first was reported. They are the first locally transmitted cases in the city in more than 50 days.
Chinese media said at least two of the infected people had visited a wholesale market dealing in fresh food. Authorities said all workers at the Xinfadi market were being tested for the virus and testing of food and environmental samples had been ordered for all Beijing’s wholesale food markets.
Earlier, the city said it was delaying the planned reopening of school Monday for first to third graders because of the new cases.
SAN DIEGO — A top U.S. Border Patrol official says coronavirus cases are on the rise in certain pockets of the agency.
Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz said Friday that 93 Border Patrol employees and 16 people in custody have tested positive for the virus. He says that is “relatively low” but adds that “we are not out of the woods just yet.”
Ortiz tells employees that there have been “indications of localized increases” among Border Patrol personnel. He doesn’t say where in an email to agents that was obtained by The Associated Press, and the agency didn’t immediately respond to questions.
AP reported Thursday that border states Arizona and Texas have seen a recent rise in coronavirus cases.
AUSTIN, Texas — Daily coronavirus hospitalizations in Texas have reached a new high for a third time in four days as state officials continue to loosen restrictions on public activities.
Health officials said Friday that 2,166 patients were in Texas hospitals with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. That is 13 more than the previous high reached Wednesday.
Nineteen more COVID-19 deaths also were reported Friday, bringing the state’s overall toll to 1,939.
Officials said almost 2,100 new coronavirus infections had been confirmed, bringing the state’s total to 83,680.
The actual number is likely higher because many people have not been tested. Studies have found that many people can be infected and not feel sick, so may not seek testing.