The Latest: WHO says Brazil’s health system still is coping
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.
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:
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..
The WHO chief cited as a positive example of “national unity” a phone call he had in which Finland’s prime minister told him she was working with an opposition party to identify problems and propose solutions.
Tedros noted that millions of people have lost their lives or their jobs because of the pandemic, calling it a “humbling” moment.
“This has to stop,” he said. “But it will be difficult in a divided world.”
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.
“The data we have at the moment supports a system under pressure, but a system still coping with the number of severe cases,” Ryan said.
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.
arrived Friday in Albania with a charter plane.
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.
Albania authorities imposed a lockdown early in the national outbreak, a move credited with keeping the number of virus-related deaths downs. As of Friday Albania has reported 36 deaths and 1,416 confirmed cases.
However, there has been an increase in new cases in recent days as people stopped practicing social distancing and gathered in large numbers at funerals.
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.
“We’ve not closed down the economy, and consequently our economy is much better off today than any other state in America,” he said Thursday.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway’s government says it is keeping travel restrictions in place for visitors from Sweden, which did not impose a lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said Friday that the more than 1,600-kilometer-long (994-mile-long) border between the Scandinavian countries would remain closed.
Solberg said the sole exception would be Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea where the reproduction rate of infections was low.
She said: “I realize this is a big disappointment. But the restrictions are based on objective criteria that are the same for everyone.”
Unlike in most European countries, Swedish authorities advised residents to practice social distancing and only banned gatherings of more than 50 people. The nation’s schools, bars and restaurants never closed during the pandemic.
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.
Illa said more regions will move next week into Phase 3 of easing restrictions — the final step before the “new normal.” He said that 70% of the Spanish population will be in Phase 3.
Spain has staggered the lifting of its lockdown as different regions meet targets such as a falling number of new infections and hospital capacity.
KYIV, Ukraine — The wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says she is infected with the novel coronavirus.
First lady Olena Zelenska wrote in an Instagram post on Friday that her husband and their children have tested negative.
She said she feels good, is receiving outpatient treatment and is isolated from her family “in order not to put them in danger.”
Ukraine has so far reported over 29,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 870 deaths. The government started gradually easing lockdown restrictions in late May with the resumption of public transportation and the reopening of malls and gyms.
LONDON — Families who have lost loved ones in the COVID-19 pandemic are demanding an independent public inquiry into the way the British government handled the crisis.
Matt Fowler, of the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK group, told the BBC that his father’s death could have been prevented “if things were handled in a different manner.’’
He says that his father was “only 56, so he has gone way, way before his time.”
The group with some 450 members has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and to Health Secretary Matt Hancock demanding an inquiry.
The lawyer for the group, Elkan Abrahamson, says a limited inquiry was needed as soon as possible because the crisis is still ongoing.
He says, “in this case, if it does take a long time more lives will be lost.”
BEIJING — China’s capital is suspending plans to restart classes for the first three years of elementary school next week amid reports of new cases of community transmission in the city.
Beijing’s municipal government said it wants to ensure the health and safety of students and teachers.
Local authorities on Thursday announced a 52-year-old man had become the city’s first confirmed case of local transmission in weeks after he arrived alone at a clinic complaining of fever.
The official Xinhua News Agency said another two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Beijing on Friday.
The man whose diagnosis was announced Thursday had reportedly visited a market on June 3. The hall where he shopped has now been closed for disinfection, state media reported. It wasn’t clear if there was a connection between the three new cases.
YEREVAN, Armenia — Authorities in Armenia have extended the state of emergency for another month until July 13, saying the coronavirus continues to remain a threat.
The country’s health officials have reported a total of 15,281 confirmed cases and 258 deaths among its population of nearly 3 million. So far only 5,639 people have recovered.
Last month, despite the ongoing state of emergency, Armenian authorities eased some of the virus-related restrictions, reopening public transport, gyms, kindergartens and restaurants.
In late May, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said the outbreak was getting worse. A week later he announced that he and his family got infected with the virus. Last week, Pashinian said they had recovered.
ROME — Premier Giuseppe Conte is being questioned by prosecutors investigating the lack of a lockdown of two towns in Lombardy’s Bergamo province at the start of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak.
Doctors and virologists have said the two-week delay in quarantining Alzano and Nembro allowed the virus to spread in Bergamo, which saw a 571% increase in excess deaths in March compared to the average of the last five years.
Lead prosecutor Maria Cristina Rota arrived with a team of aides Friday morning at the premier’s office in Rome, Palazzo Chigi. In addition to Conte, she is expected to question the health and interior ministers.
Italy registered its first domestic case Feb. 21 in the Lombardy province of Lodi, and 10 towns in the province were immediately locked down to try to contain the spread.
Alzano and Nembro registered their first cases two days later, on Feb. 23, but the government didn’t quarantine them for two weeks until all of Lombardy was locked down March 7. Conte told La Stampa daily that he acted based on “science and conscience.”
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s top infectious disease expert has raised alarm over the speed of coronavirus transmissions in the densely populated capital area, where around 30 to 50 new infections have been reported each day since late May.
Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the average infectiousness of virus carriers in the Seoul metropolitan area was about three times higher than in the rest of the country.
She said the basic reproduction number of virus carriers — which measures the number of infections caused by an individual — in the capital area reached as high as 1.7 or 1.8 in recent weeks. Any number above 1 indicates a growing epidemic.
She pleaded with Seoul residents to stay home over the weekend, saying there was “high concern” that increased public activity would lead to a massive circulation of the virus.
Health workers have struggled to trace hundreds of infections linked to e-commerce workers, church gatherings, elderly door-to-door sellers and clubgoers.
LONDON — Three airlines have launched legal action against the British government, describing the country’s plan to quarantine most incoming travelers as “flawed.’’
British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair say in a statement Friday that the quarantine will have a “devastating effect’’ on tourism and the wider economy. The airlines want the government to readopt its previous policy, where quarantine was limited to passengers from high risk countries.
Quarantine measures imposed this week stipulate that all passengers — bar a handful of exceptions like truckers or medical workers — must fill in a form detailing where they will self-isolate for two weeks. The requirement applies regardless whether they are U.K. citizens or not, and those who fail to comply could be fined.
The quarantine was imposed after a heated debate on whether it would help British efforts to tamp down the outbreak or simply stamp out any hopes that the tourism industry will recover following months of lockdown.
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has been promised by his Chinese counterpart that the Philippines “as a friendly neighbor” will be prioritized when China is able to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Friday that Duterte got the assurance from Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a late Thursday telephone call that lasted 38 minutes.
Roque said Xi assured Duterte of “his country’s commitment to make the vaccine available for all, adding that the Philippines, as a friendly neighbor, would certainly be a priority.”
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has reported 107 more COVID-19 deaths and 6,397 new cases, the highest single-day increase.
It brought Pakistan’s tally to 2,463 deaths among 125,933 confirmed cases.
The government said Friday that 40,247 patients have recovered.
Experts say Pakistan may witness a further rise in COVID-19 cases. They say the disease has spread across the country since last month when Prime Minister Imran Khan eased lockdown, saying he was doing it to save the ailing economy and people from hunger and poverty.
Pakistan’s economy will contract in the fiscal year ending June 30, for the first time in 68 years as a result of the global pandemic.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister expects international students will begin returning in July despite warnings of racism from China.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after meeting federal state leaders on Friday that international students would be allowed to come to Australia under approved plans to study at nominated institutions.
International students have been Australia’s most lucrative industry after mining, with China the largest source of foreign students.
China this week warned its citizens of the risk of pandemic-related racism if they traveled to Australia. Last month, China banned beef imports from Australia and ended trade in Australian barley through massive tariffs.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Friday accused China of “disinformation” through its racism warning. Morrison said he was not concerned that Chinese government warnings could deter Chinese students.
NEW DELHI— India’s coronavirus caseload has become the fourth-highest in the world, overtaking Britain, by adding 10,956 new cases in yet another biggest single-day spike.
India’s two-month lockdown kept transmission low but in a large population of 1.3 billion, people remain susceptible and the campaign against the virus is likely to go on for months, Balram Bhargava, director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, said.
India’s lockdown was imposed nationwide in late March but has eased since, and it is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas. The new cases rose after India reopened shops, shopping malls, manufacturing and religious places.
Subways, schools and movie theaters remain closed.
The increase reported Friday raised India’s confirmed cases to 297,535 with 8,498 deaths.