The Latest: US, Canada to keep border closed 30 more days
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 reaches 20,000 deaths from virus.
— US, Canada to keep border closed 30 more days.
— Africa surpasses 20,000 cases, more than 1,000 deaths.
— Queen Elizabeth wants low-key birthday amid virus; nearly 15,500 deaths in Britain.
TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the U.S. and Canada have agreed to keep the border closed to nonessential travel for another 30 days.
Trudeau says it will keep people on both sides of the border safe amid the pandemic. U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday the U.S.-Canada border will be among the first borders to open. Nearly 200,000 people normally cross the border daily.
The U.S. has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world. The U.S. and Canada agreed last month to limit border crossings to essential travel amid the pandemic. The agreement was due to expire this week.
STOCKHOLM — Sweden has reported 111 new COVID-19 deaths, with total deaths at 1,511.
Swedish health officials say 13,822 people have confirmed infections. Most of the infections and deaths have been recorded in Stockholm, which has 897 fatalities.
Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told Swedish broadcaster TV4, “pressure on the intensive care units seems to be easing and pressure on health care services has been somewhat relieved. We hope this is a trend that is continuing.”
On Friday, the Swedish government defended its approach of pursuing relatively liberal policies to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying it shared the “same goals” as other nations fighting COVID-19. The government has advised the public to practice social distancing, but schools, bars and restaurants remain open. Only gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned.
ROME — An Italian cruise liner company says a ship with no cases of COVID-19 has reached the western Mediterranean.
Costa Crociere says the Costa Deliziosa will disembark 168 Spanish passengers early next week at the port of Barcelona, Spain. Then the Deliziosa will head to its final destination, Genoa, Italy, where it will disembark Italian and other remaining passengers on Wednesday.
A company spokesman says a passenger left the ship this week in Marsala, Sicily, for health issues but not due to the coronavirus.
French authorities had rebuffed a request by Costa for permission to disembark several hundred passengers from France and nearby countries at Marseille’s port.
The ship, sailing around the world when the pandemic erupted, has 1,814 guests and 898 crew members.
ACCRA, Ghana — As the coronavirus takes its toll on the poor, some 1,000 people in Ghana’s capital are homeless after authorities razed their neighborhood.
The Accra Metropolitan Authority says the destruction of the Old Fadama slum clears the way for dredging of a nearby lagoon to help prevent flooding before the rainy season starts. Upset residents ask what they can do in a city under lockdown because of the coronavirus, and some members of parliament call the destruction of homes “callous and insensitive.”
Some residents had tried to leave the city when Ghana’s government-imposed coronavirus measures, but security officials forced them to return. The government has since made some efforts to house them.
JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 20,000, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of deaths across the continent surpassed 1,000 on Saturday.
Fifty-two of Africa’s 54 countries have confirmed cases of the virus, and the World Health Organization has expressed concern that local spread is increasing.
Africa could be the next hotspot in the pandemic. Modeling by Imperial College London says under the best-case scenario with “intense” social distancing, some 300,000 people in Africa could die this year from COVID-19.
INDIANAPOLIS — People in a small Indianapolis suburb don’t have to worry about paying a bill in April thanks to anonymous donors.
Fortville’s nearly 4,000 residents had their water and sewer bills paid for by anonymous businesses.
Residents were informed Friday through a Facebook post, generating a string of grateful comments.
“The town has received a gracious donation with the stipulation that it be used to pay for April water/sewer bills. If you have already paid your April bill, you will see a credit on the May billing,” the post read.
Fortville town manager Joe Renner says the total donation was more than $210,000. Renner told The Indianapolis Star it was “pretty great” the town had “such caring people.”
AUSTIN, Texas — A protest is expected at the Texas Capitol, even as Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic will begin easing next week.
The protest Saturday in Austin, Texas, is the latest in demonstrations across the country that have been organized by small-government groups and supporters of President Donald Trump.
The Texas protest is organized by Owen Shroyer, a host of Infowars, which is a part of a company owned by conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones. He also broadcast a small protest this week outside the governor’s mansion in Texas.
Abbott announced Friday that Texas will begin lifting some restrictions on retailers next week, plus reopen state parks and allow doctors to resume elective surgeries. He says more restrictions would be lifted on April 27.
Texas has more than 17,300 cases and at least 428 related deaths. Texas ranks last in the U.S. in testing per capita, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of data collected by The COVID Tracking Project.
LONDON — British authorities reported 888 more coronavirus-related hospital deaths on Saturday, bringing the total to 15,464.
The latest daily figure from the health department is 41 higher than the previous day’s 847 deaths.
Britain posted a record high daily death toll of 980 a week ago.
BARCELONA — Spaniards are still grieving lost loved ones with shocking frequency and under restrictions that limit burials to three attendees.
“The data shows that the disease is decreasing in the population, but we still have a significant number of deaths. So this is not over yet,” says Spanish health official Fernando Simón.
Early Saturday at a Barcelona cemetery, the silence was broken by three nuns singing hymns as the coffin of sister Inmaculada Louzán was placed into a niche by cemetery workers. The sister of Nazareth died at 80 of coronavirus-related complications after caring for members of the congregation at a nursing home, where she contracted the virus.
Spain has reached 20,000 deaths and more than 190,000 total infections. Spain’s health authorities reported 565 deaths in the last 24 hours.
LONDON — Britain’s Queen Elizabeth doesn’t want a gun salute for her birthday because she doesn’t think it’s appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic.
The British monarch, who turns 94 on Tuesday, decided not to publicly mark the occasion in any special way, including the artillery salute she traditionally gets on her birthday.
“Her Majesty was keen that no special measures were put in place to allow gun salutes as she did not feel it appropriate in the current circumstances,” Buckingham Palace said. She’ll also be keeping private any phone and video calls with her family.
The queen has previously stressed the importance of lockdown measures, saying in her Easter message that “by keeping apart we keep others safe.”
PARIS — The French military is dismantling a field hospital set up to relieve the pressure on overwhelmed medical centers.
The dismantling of the makeshift hospital in the eastern city of Mulhouse began Friday as the virus has receded in the region, a military official told The Associated Press.
The field hospital held 30 beds and treated dozens of patients that couldn’t fit in Mulhouse hospitals. Hospitals in nearby Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg also took in French patients from the area.
Lawmaker Olivier Bech told local broadcaster France Bleu Alsace that 15 of the field hospital’s beds are now empty.
France has more than 18,000 confirmed deaths from the virus.
ATHENS, Greece — As Orthodox Easter approaches, the Greek government is concerned about keeping the faithful from flouting quarantine measures.
Authorities are worried people will show up at churches on Saturday night to celebrate at the stroke of midnight. They also will fine those leaving their homes to celebrate Easter Sunday in the countryside.
The government decided not to distribute the Holy Light to churches across the country, as is the custom. It arrives on the eve of Easter every year from Jerusalem, having been lit there at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
ANGON, Myanmar — Authorities in Myanmar’s biggest city have ordered a six-hour curfew in a bid to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The Yangon Region Government announced the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew will start Saturday night. Myanmar’s eastern neighbor, Thailand, has a curfew covering the same hours.
Several of the city’s neighborhoods were put under lockdown, with all people required to stay at home except for essential workers, and only one person per household allowed to buy necessary supplies. Myanmar announced Thursday a ban on gatherings of more than five people.
Public health authorities confirmed Saturday six new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 94 and five deaths.
Myanmar was among the last countries in Southeast Asia to confirm any COVID-19 cases, likely because of lack of testing. The public health infrastructure is considered one of the weakest in Asia.
MADRID — Spain has reached 20,000 deaths for the coronavirus pandemic and total infections increased to more than 190,000.
Spain’s health authorities reported 565 deaths in the last 24 hours. Only the United States and Italy have more deaths.
New infections rose by nearly 4,500. More than 74,000 people in Spain have recovered.
This week, health authorities said there were discrepancies in the statistics of virus deaths and infections reported by regional administrations. The central government has ordered regions to give more precise data and use the same parameters.
As the outbreak’s spread slows, pressure on hospitals has relaxed. Authorities have closed one part of a huge field hospital with thousands of beds set up by the military in a convention center in Madrid.
But strict confinement rules are expected to be extended beyond April 26.
ROME — Italy’s commissioner for the coronavirus is cautioning against pitting health concerns versus economic worries when deciding to ease lockdown rules.
Domenico Arcuri says, “without health, the (economic) revival will disappear in the batting of an eyelash.”
Health experts say easing must be gradual. Italy has nearly 23,000 deaths, the most in Europe, and more than 172,000 known cases.
To put the COVID-19 pandemic in perspective, Arcuri noted during World War II in Milan, bombings killed some 2,000 civilians. In Lombardy, which has the largest share of Italy’s COVID-19 cases and is a leader of the country’s industrial production, more than 11,851 people have died.
“That’s five times as many in only two months,” says Arcuri.
Authorities in Lombardy and other northern regions, but also Sicily in the south, have been pressing the central government to quickly ease restrictions on factories and many other businesses. The government decree that shut down nonessential industries and businesses runs through May 3.
PARIS — France’s lower house of parliament approved an emergency budget overnight that takes into account the government’s 110 billion euro ($120 billion) plan to save the economy from virus-related collapse.
The budget includes bonuses for medical staff, funds to help struggling workers and families, and aid to businesses including strategic industries like aviation and car manufacturing.
The bill goes to the Senate on Tuesday. The government has warned that France’s economy, one of the world’s biggest, could shrink 8% this year and see its worst recession since World War II.
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