The Latest: UN official diagnosed with coronavirus
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 240,000 people and killed more than 9,800. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. Almost 85,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
—Italy passes China for most coronavirus-related deaths.
—UN Secretary-General: World “is at war with a virus.”
—Cannes Film Festival postponed because of coronavirus pandemic.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley says he has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Beasley says in a statement he began to feel ill after returning from an official visit to Canada and put himself into quarantine at his South Carolina home last Saturday.
Beasley says his symptoms have been mild and he is in good spirits. He says he continues to work from home and his employees are helping him inform anyone he had contact with during his trip.
Beasley has run the program since 2017 that provides food to more than 80 million starving and hungry people around the world.
The 63-year-old Beasley was governor of South Carolina for four years starting in 1995.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government is bailing out its national airline by offering more than $500 million in loans.
Air New Zealand has already stopped most international routes and cut back on domestic flights due to the coronavirus outbreak. Beginning Friday, New Zealand has closed its borders to everyone but citizens and residents, ending most airline travel to the South Pacific nation.
Air New Zealand said it will cut its workforce of 12,500 by 30%. The airline is 52% owned by the government, which has offered loans of 900 million New Zealand dollars ($511 million) over two years.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said that without the intervention, New Zealand was at risk of not having a national airline. New Zealand has had 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19, all connected to international travel. There have been no signs yet of a local outbreak.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told President Donald Trump that a growing number of new coronavirus cases could push the state past its capacity to deliver health care in seven days.
Edwards stressed at a later news conference that the number was a “worst case scenario,” which he said was “sobering.”
The number of people known to be infected with the virus in Louisiana jumped to nearly 380, Edwards said Thursday afternoon. That was up from 280 a day earlier.
“My fear, based on modeling that I’ve received today, is that in as little as seven days we could start to exceed our capacity to deliver health care,” Edwards told Trump during a conference call the president held with governors that was carried by news networks.
“We’ve got some requests in, for example we have a VA hospital in New Orleans where we’ve requested to be able to surge patients there,” Edwards said.
“I’m going to try to get you immediate approval on the hospital,” Trump told Edwards.
SAO PAULO — Brazil is closing its borders with most of its South American neighbors, a decision most of them had already made, and treating any patients with “severe flu” as a coronavirus case.
Latin America’s largest nation is still negotiating with Uruguay. Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta also said families of people who tested positive will receive medical permission to stay home for two weeks.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who initially dismissed the outbreak as “hysteria,” is trying to regain control of the fight against the virus that Mandetta and state governors have led thus far. Brazil has 621 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and reported six deaths.
LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa announced that people infected with the coronavirus are to be confined to their residences and most retail outlets must close as part of a 15-day state of emergency in the European country.
Those over 70 years old or with chronic ailments should only leave home for short walks for health reasons. Costa said the rest of the population should only leave home to commute to work, shop for necessities, to help a family member, to accompany children, or to walk a pet.
Costa added that all retail shops except supermarkets, bakeries, pharmacies, gas stations, and newsstands are ordered to close.
CANNES, France — France’s Cannes Film Festival, arguably the world’s most prestigious film festival and cinema’s largest annual gathering, has postponed its 73rd edition.
Organizers of the French Riviera festival, scheduled to take place May 12-23, say they are considering moving the festival to the end of June or the beginning of July.
Organizers had been reluctant to cancel Cannes. But as the coronavirus pandemic spread through France, it became all but inevitable that a massive gathering like Cannes couldn’t go on as scheduled. “See you very soon,” the festival said in a statement.
WASHINGTON — Army officials say one Army combat support hospital and one field hospital will soon be deployed.
The combat hospital normally has 248 beds, including 48 for intensive care with ventilators, and the field hospital has 32 beds, but can be increased by another 60 beds. Of those, there could be as many as 24 intensive care beds with ventilators.
The two units going are a combat hospital from Joint Base Lewis McCord in Washington and the 586th Field Hospital from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
According to a defense official, the likely two locations at this point are New York City and Seattle.
JOHANNESBURG — Another U.S. embassy in Africa is reporting anti-foreigner sentiment over the coronavirus.
The embassy in Cameroon says Americans and other foreigners in the major cities of Yaounde and Douala reported “verbal and online harassment, stone throwing and banging on vehicles occupied by expatriates.”
Many of Africa’s more than 600 confirmed cases of the coronavirus are people who recently arrived from the United States, Britain, Italy and other high-risk countries.
The U.S. embassy in Ethiopia issued a similar security alert, prompting the prime minister’s office to announce that COVID-19 “is not related to any country or nationality.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia is closing its borders for all but cargo traffic in an effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the measure takes effect on Friday.
The Balkan country on Thursday closed its main airport in Belgrade for all passenger flights and the national carrier Air Serbia stopped operations.
Officials say the closure of the borders was made partly because some 70,000 Serbs and their families working in West European countries have returned to Serbia in the last few days despite appeals by authorities not to do so.
Serbia, with 103 coronavirus cases confirmed so far, has introduced some of the toughest restrictive measures in Europe. They include an overnight curfew for all citizens and a ban on leaving their homes for all those older than 65.
PRAGUE — The funeral of Dana Zatopkova, an Olympic javelin champion and the wife of running great Emil Zatopek, will be held at a secret location on Friday due the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The Czech Olympic Committee said the organizers wanted to prevent a gathering of many people, which is now banned, who would like to say goodbye to the popular athlete who died Friday at age 97.
“Under the normal circumstances, we would, of course, like everyone who want to pay respect to her to come,” said Jiri Kejval, the head of the Czech Olympic Committee.
Kejval said a mass will be served for Zatopkova once the crisis with the virus is over and her remains will be buried alongside her late husband in the town of Roznov pod Radhostem in September.
TORONTO — Canada’s foreign minister is being tested for the coronavirus after experiencing flu-like symptoms after traveling.
Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said on Twitter he is self-isolating at home for 14 days and says he expects the results of his test very shortly.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is already self-isolating at his residence after his wife tested positive following a trip to London.
Champagne says he will continue to work to support Canadians facing difficulties abroad and to help coordinate the international response to the crisis.
MIAMI — Carnival Corp. says it will make cruise ships from four of its brands available to serve as temporary hospitals in locations that need them to combat the new coronavirus.
The announcement came after President Donald Trump said at a White House news conference he had spoken with Carnival Chairman Micky Arison about the possibility.
The world’s largest cruise line says its ships could serve mainly to treat non-coronavirus patients, freeing up beds in land-based hospitals for those patients. The company says ships can provide up to 1,000 hospital rooms and are able to be quickly provisioned with the necessary medical equipment, including intensive care units.
Carnival crew would provide such things as food and beverage, and cleaning services, with local medical personnel to handle the treatment of patients, the statement said.
Trump said at a White House briefing that he would present the offer to New York and California during a teleconference later Thursday will all 50 governors.
Two Navy hospital ships also will become part of the effort.
BASSE TERRE, Guadeloupe — The French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe has declared its own COVID-19 epidemic with 45 confirmed cases.
The local government said Thursday that eight patients remain hospitalized as it urged people to remain indoors on the island of some 390,000 people. The curfew applies to places including beaches and waters surrounding the island.
Guadeloupe banned all incoming commercial passenger flights on Wednesday and starting March 23 will restrict outgoing flights to special circumstances including health-related reasons.
ROME — Italy has become the country with the most coronavirus-related deaths, surpassing China by registering 3,405 dead.
Italy reached the gruesome milestone on the same day the epicenter of the pandemic, Wuhan, China, recorded no new infections. Overall, China on Thursday counted 3,249 dead, 156 fewer than Italy, according to the Johns Hopkins University virus map.
Both Italy’s death toll and its new infections shot up again, adding 427 more dead and 5,322 more infections. Overall, Italy has recorded 41,035 infections, a little more than half of China’s positive cases.
Italy’s health care system has been overwhelmed by the virus, and on Thursday a visiting Chinese Red Cross team criticized the failure of Italians to fully quarantine and take the national lockdown seriously.
LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II has urged British people to “work as one” to defeat the coronavirus pandemic.
In a rare first-person message, the queen acknowledged that many individuals and families “are entering a period of great concern and uncertainty.“
“At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal,” she said.
The queen thanked medics, scientists and emergency workers, and said “we all have a vitally important part to play” in overcoming the pandemic.
The 93-year-old monarch and her husband Prince Philip, 98, moved to their Windsor Castle residence on Thursday. They usually spend Easter there but have gone a week early, with a slimmed-down staff, because of the outbreak.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch medical care minister has resigned, a day after slumping to the floor during a parliamentary debate about the government’s handling of the coronavirus.
The Dutch royal house announced King Willem-Alexander had accepted Bruno Bruins’ resignation. It did not give a reason for the minister leaving office.
Bruins collapsed in parliament Wednesday night and was quickly helped to his feet by a fellow Cabinet minister. He later tweeted that he felt faint due to exhaustion and was heading home to rest so he could return to work Thursday.
Bruins has been one of the busiest ministers in government as Dutch authorities attempt to rein in the spread of the coronavirus.
UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world “is at war with a virus” and warned that “a global recession — perhaps of record dimensions — is a near certainty.”
The U.N. chief said “people are suffering, sick and scared” and stressed that current responses by individual countries will not address “the global scale and complexity of the crisis.”
“This is a moment that demands coordinated, decisive, and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies,” Guterres told reporters from U.N. headquarters. “We must recognize that the poorest countries and most vulnerable — especially women — will be the hardest hit.”
He welcomed next week’s emergency summit of leaders of the Group of 20 major economic powers to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic saying he will participate with the message that this is an unprecedented situation which requires creativity — “and the magnitude of the response must match its scale.”
BERLIN — German authorities have called off an official ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the liberation from Nazi rule because of the coronavirus epidemic.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was due to speak at the event in Berlin on May 8. But the interior ministry said Steinmeier has decided the event shouldn’t go ahead in the current circumstances.
The ministry said that it hasn’t yet been decided how the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s surrender will now be marked.
Russia is still planning a massive May 9 military parade on Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the World War II victory, the nation’s most important holiday. President Vladimir Putin has invited many global leaders.
LONDON — The Church of England says couples should scale back their special day because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Britain’s state-established Protestant church says church weddings should be attended only by the couple, the officiating minister and the two witnesses required by law. New guidance issued Thursday says attendees, apart from the couple, should observe as much distance as possible.
The church suggests the ceremony could be streamed online for those unable to attend, or couples could hold a public blessing once the outbreak is over. And it acknowledges that some couples may want to postpone their wedding altogether.
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.