The Latest: Venezuela extends coronavirus lockdown into July
CARACAS, Venezuela — Authorities in Venezuela are extending its coronavirus lockdown keeping residents at home except for essential chores such as food shopping. The announcement Friday extends the lockdown through mid-July.
Officials have already allowed some sectors to reopen, including banks and construction. Doctors and dentists can also see patients. Next week, shopping centers and gyms will be allowed to reopen as well as sporting activities without live audiences.
According to official figures, 23 people have died in Venezuela since the first coronavirus cases were diagnosed in mid-March. Officials say fewer than 3,000 people have fallen ill in the country of roughly 25 million.
However, experts outside the government worry a wave of illnesses is still a danger for Venezuela.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— World Health Organization says pandemic puts women at ‘heightened risk’ of dying in childbirth.
— China reports Beijing’s first locally transmitted virus case in weeks
— Airlines sue British government over country’s quarantine for most incoming travelers
— More than two dozen international aid organizations have told the U.S. government they are “increasingly alarmed” that “little to no U.S. humanitarian assistance has reached those on the front lines” of the coronavirus pandemic as the number of new cases picks up speed in some of the world’s most fragile regions.
— Survivors of COVID-19 are donating their blood plasma in droves in hopes it helps other patients recover from the coronavirus. And while the jury’s still out, now scientists are testing if the donations might also prevent infection in the first place.
— Among the numerous rural areas across the U.S. that have recently experienced coronavirus outbreaks are migrant farmworker communities in Florida. Immokalee is one of them. The poor town of 25,000 north of the Everglades has become a hot spot, with cases more than doubling in the past two weeks.
Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
OKLAHOMA CITY — Health officials in Oklahoma say a spike in coronavirus cases in the Tulsa area is linked to indoor events and are warning people attending such events to take health safety precautions.
The Tulsa Health Department’s warning Friday comes a week before President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, which has a listed seating capacity of 19,199.
Department spokesperson Leanne Stephens says an undetermined number of the latest coronavirus cases were linked to two recent indoor gatherings, but declined to name those events.
She says the department has not had contact with the Trump campaign and the warning is unrelated to the planned rally.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has seen its largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases — 3,359.
A health ministry update says South Africa now has more than 61,000 cases, or well over a quarter of the cases across the African continent, including 1,354 deaths.
Nearly two-thirds of South Africa’s cases are in the Western Cape province centered on the city of Cape Town, where the World Health Organization’s Africa chief has said the trend “seems to be similar to what was happening in Europe and in the U.S.”
The total number of cases across the 54-nation continent is now above 218,000 and WHO says the pandemic is “accelerating” in Africa, even though the cases make up less than 3% of the global total.
South Africa has conducted more than 1 million tests for the virus, roughly one-third of all testing in Africa.
SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Supreme Court has upheld Gov. Kate Brown’s shutdown orders aimed at stemming the coronavirus pandemic, and she put the brakes on loosening restrictions amid a spike in cases.
The Supreme Court overturned a ruling by a judge in a conservative, rural part of the state who had determined that Brown’s restricting of activities during the coronavirus pandemic were subjected to a time limit and were thus “null and void.”
The high court said Friday that Brown’s powers under a state of emergency, declared on March 8, continue until the state of emergency is ended by either herself or the Legislature.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 178 new confirmed coronavirus cases Thursday, marking the highest daily count in the state since the start of the pandemic.
“As I’ve said before, reopening comes with real risk,” Brown told a news conference Friday. She said the “pause” will give health officials time to assess what factors are driving the spread of the virus and determine the way forward.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Three months into a mandatory lockdown, Salavdorans are awaiting a reaction from President Nayib Bukele after the country’s congress passed legislation over his strong objections that would let them leave their homes.
The Legislative Assembly passed legislation early Friday that would extend a state of emergency in the country for another two weeks, but eliminate the nearly universal mandatory stay-at-home order except for those who tested positive for COVID-19 and those returning from abroad.
The body approved it after failing to reach an agreement with administration negotiators, so it was unclear whether Bukele would accept it.
Bukele has imposed the strictest measures in the region to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, including sending people caught violating the order to government-run containment centers for month-long stays. He has resisted loosening the stay-at-home order, arguing that the country’s medical system could be quickly overwhelmed, resulting in much greater loss of life.
PHOENIX — The number of jail inmates in metro Phoenix who have tested positive for the coronavirus has surpassed the total among state prisoners.
Officials say 290 of Maricopa County’s 4,400 inmates had tested positive as of Thursday. That compares to 249 confirmed cases among the nearly 41,000 inmates in Arizona’s prisons. The sharp growth of cases in the county’s jails has been attributed to more testing and contact tracing within the jails.
Arizona is one of several states that has seen a surge in new COVID-19 cases after stay-at-home orders were lifted last month.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is reporting an increase in the number of daily confirmed infections, some two weeks after relaxing many of the restrictions in place to curb its spread.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Friday reported 1,195 new cases in the past 24 hours, pushing the total number of infections in the country to 175,218. It was the first time the daily infections jumped past the 1,000-mark after hovering around 800 or 900 for nearly two weeks.
Meanwhile, Koca also reported 15 new deaths on his Twitter account — the lowest day-to-day fatality in more than two months. The total number of deaths now stands at 4,778.
Turkey reopened restaurants, cafes, gyms, parks, beaches and museums on June 1 and eased stay-at-home orders for senior citizens and minors earlier this week. People crowded sea fronts and parks in the first weekend after the relaxation, often without masks or flouting social distancing.
Koca warned that “false optimism” is causing the virus to spread and urged the public to wear masks and abide by government advice on distancing and hygiene.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister say schools in the state are eligible to apply for federal funds available to respond to the coronavirus.
Grants of $50,000 to $500,000 are available, based on a school’s student enrollment as of Oct. 1, 2019 for measures including improved access to distance learning and mental health support for students.
Public schools statewide were closed for the remainder of the school year and to turn to distance learning.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A third California state prison has had an inmate die of suspected coronavirus as fatalities spread beyond what had been the prisons’ epicenter for such deaths.
Officials said Friday that an inmate from Chuckawalla Valley State Prison near Blythe in Riverside County died Thursday at an outside hospital from what appear to be coronavirus complications.
It was the prison system’s 15th virus-related inmate death, with 13 of those at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
Officials said the first death outside that prison came Tuesday, when an inmate from the California Institution for Women in Corona, east of Los Angeles, died at an outside hospital.
Statewide, more than 2,440 inmates have tested positive and more than 660 have recovered.
ATLANTA — U.S. health officials on Friday released long-awaited guidance for Americans who want to reduce their risk of coronavirus infection while attempting some semblance of normal life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggestions include: Take the stairs, not the elevator, down from your hotel room. Encourage people to bring their own food and drinks to your cookout. Use hand sanitizer after banking at an ATM. Call ahead to restaurants and nail salons to make sure staff are wearing face coverings. And no high-fives — or even elbow bumps — at the gym.
The CDC also offered tips for organizing and attending big gatherings such as concerts, sporting events, protests and political rallies.
Those guidelines are “not intended to endorse any particular type of event,” the CDC’s Dr. Jay Butler said in a Friday call with reporters.
The guidelines are long overdue, some health experts say.
LONDON — The director-general of the World Health Organization says he is “truly concerned” about divisions the coronavirus pandemic has created globally and within countries, calling it an “invisible but a very small virus causing havoc.”
WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing on Friday that the novel coronavirus “is a very dangerous virus, and it’s very hard to fight this virus in a divided world,.
Comparing the ongoing outbreak to the devastating Spanish influenza pandemic more than a century ago, Tedros called on nations “to do better” and to learn from history..
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A third California state prison has had an inmate die of suspected COVID-19 as virus-related deaths of prisoners spread beyond the institution that has been the epicenter.
Officials said Friday that an inmate from Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, located near Blythe in Riverside County, died Thursday at an outside hospital from what appear to be COVID-19 complications.
It was the state prison system’s 15th virus-related inmate death, 13 of which involved prisoners at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
Officials said the first death outside the Chino prison took place Tuesday, when an inmate from the California Institution for Women in Corona, east of Los Angeles, died at an outside hospital.
Statewide, more than 2,440 inmates have tested positive for the virus and more than 660 have recovered.
ROME — The northern Italian region where Europe’s COVID-19 outbreak began has registered for another day by far the most new coronavirus cases in Italy.
Italian Health Ministry figures showed the Lombardy region had 272 confirmed cases in the 24-hour period ending Friday evening. The region with the next-highest daily caseload, Emilia-Romagna, reported 33 new cases.
Nationwide, Italy had nearly 400 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 236,305. The Health Ministry’s daily update included 56 virus-related deaths, raising the country’s death toll of people with confirmed infections to 34,223.
Authorities say since many people with COVID-19 symptoms weren’t tested, the actual numbers of infections and deaths are likely to be significantly higher.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief is expressing concern about Brazil’s ability to manage surging coronavirus case numbers, but said the health system so far is coping.
Dr. Michael Ryan said Friday that some of Brazil’s 27 administrative areas “have quite a bit of pressure on the intensive care system” and there are ”clear hot spots in heavily populated areas.”
The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University says Brazil has tallied more than 802,000 confirmed virus cases as of Friday, the second-largest number in the world after the United States, and over 40,000 COVID-19 deaths.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has rejected ordering quarantines, and many Brazilians have criticized him for opposing city and state measures such as lockdowns, social distancing and other steps meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
ISLAMABAD– Pakistan’s government has presented its annual budget for the next fiscal year, saying it is not imposing new taxes as the coronavirus had already affected most people financially in recent months.
The federal minister for industries, Hammad Azhar, said during a televised speech on Friday their government will to achieve the growth of 2.3% during 2020-2021. Pakistan’s new fiscal year begins on July 1.
Azhar’s comment came a day after Pakistan said its economy will contract in the fiscal year ending June 30, for the first time in 68 years as a result of the global pandemic.
Pakistan’s economy has been under pressure because of its depleting foreign reserves and decrease tax collection since coronavirus spread in the country in March, forcing the government to impose a lock down. But Prime Minister Imran Khan eased restrictions last month, saying he wanted to save the country’s economy.
It caused a spike in COVID-19 fatalities and infections.
On Friday, Pakistan reported 107 more COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the country’s death toll to 2,463 out of 125,933 confirmed cases.
TIRANA, Albania — The first group of foreign visitors has arrived in Albania since the country’s opened tourist resorts on June 1.
Tourism Minister Blendi Klosi welcomed the 189 tourists from Belarus who arrived on a chartered plane to Albania’s only international airport on Friday.
Albania eased lockdown measures a month ago. The country with a 2.8 million population depends on revenues from tourists enjoying its 300-mile long seaside and mountain regions. Some 6 million tourists visited Albania last year.
WASHINGTON — The State Department says it is starting to ramp up passport operations and is working on a backlog of about 1.7 million applications that have been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak.
U.S. passport operations were scaled back in March because of COVID-19. The State Department has been processing applications for health care workers, military personnel and people who needed to travel because of a life-or-death emergency.
Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch told reporters Friday that more passport agency staff have begun returning to work and additional personnel will also be brought in to help process applications, some of which have been pending since February.
Risch said they hope to complete about 200,000 per week and eliminate the backlog, provided the virus does not surge again and the State Department is not required again to scale back operations. Passport agency employees can’t work from home for security reasons.
The U.S. typically processes about 18 million passports per year.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert says he will “pause” the lifting of additional virus-related restrictions in most parts of the state after the rate of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketed in recent weeks.
The longtime governor made clear, though, that he has no intention of reversing course and placing more restrictions on businesses such as gyms, restaurants and salons that were allowed to reopen in May.
Herbert said the earlier decision to ease restrictions was one reason why Utah’s 5.3% unemployment rate for the week ending May 30 was the second-lowest in the United States behind only South Dakota, according to U.S. Department of Labor data.
MADRID — Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has announced that Galicia will become the country’s first region to scrap tough restrictions on movement that were adopted to stem the new coronavirus pandemic.
Illa said Friday that the northwestern region will move next week to what the government calls “the new normal,” when some rules, such as wearing face masks when social distancing is not possible, will remain in place.
The government hopes the entire country will be in the “new normal” by June 21. The rules will not be fully dropped until the pandemic is declared over.