The latest on the coronavirus pandemic. 

WASHINGTON — The Strategic National Stockpile is nearly out of the N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients.

The Department of Health and Human Services told the Associated Press on Wednesday that it was deploying all remaining personal protective equipment in the federal stockpile. A small percentage will be kept in reserve to support federal response efforts, the department said. The statement confirms federal documents released Wednesday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee showing that about 90% of the personal protective equipment in the stockpile has been distributed to state and local governments.

House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y. said in a statement that the Trump administration is leaving states to scour the open market for scarce supplies, often competing with each other and federal agencies in a chaotic bidding war that drives up prices.

Trump has faulted the states for not better preparing for the pandemic and has said they should be relying on the federal stockpile only as a last resort.

Read the full story about the shortage of medical supplies here.

South Korea sees smallest daily jump in new cases since Feb. 20

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it has reported 39 more cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, in a continued slowdown of the virus outbreak in the Asian country.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement Thursday the additional cases increased the country’s total to 10,423. It says 6,973 of them have been recovered and released from quarantine. The center says fatalities from the coronavirus rose by four to 204.

But the 39 new cases are the smallest daily jump since Feb. 20. South Korea recorded 47 and 53 new cases on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There are still worries about a steady rise in infections linked to international arrivals, which has helped inflate the caseload in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.

A total of 22 of the 39 new cases have been reported in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province.

Coronavirus cluster among hospital staff on Maui

HONOLULU — Hawaii officials said Wednesday they have identified a cluster of COVID-19 cases at Maui island’s only hospital as it disclosed 15 employees of the facility have tested positive.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said the Maui Memorial Medical Center employees have been sent home to self-isolate. He said plans were being made to isolate the workers at a quarantine site away from their families.

Bruce Anderson, the director of the state Department of Health, said the first case at the hospital was identified in mid-March and many of the initial cases were related to travel. He said it was only Tuesday when the state epidemiologist saw the connections between subsequent cases and recognized the virus had likely been transmitted between workers and from patient to worker.

He said all those who have had close contact with the employees will be tested.

Nevada governor clamps down on public gatherings

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada’s governor on Wednesday ordered a closure of golf courses, real estate open houses, religious gatherings of 10 people or more and additional restrictions to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Steve Sisolak said he was adding restrictions because some people have created an unnecessary risk by trying to circumvent the rules he has already put in place. Other restrictions were designed to cut down on the amount of time people spend next to others, he said.

The governor last month ordered a closure of non-essential businesses, including gambling and casinos, and issued a directive telling Nevadans to stay at home, though exceptions were granted for people going outside to exercise.

Sisolak said at a news conference Wednesday night he was ordering the closure of sports and recreational facilities where people congregate, such as golf courses, tennis courts, basketball courts and pools. He said that despite his decision last month to leave golf courses open, he had seen pictures that had been sent to him of people riding together in golf carts and standing together on the greens.

Outcry over racial data grows as virus slams black Americans

As the coronavirus tightens its grip across the country, it is cutting a particularly devastating swath through an already vulnerable population — black Americans.

Democratic lawmakers and community leaders in cities hard-hit by the pandemic have been sounding the alarm over what they see as a disturbing trend of the virus killing African Americans at a higher rate, along with a lack of overall information about the race of victims as the nation’s death toll mounts.

Among the cities where black residents have been hard-hit: New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago and Milwaukee.

Of the victims whose demographic data was publicly shared by officials — nearly 3,300 of the nation’s 13,000 deaths thus far — about 42% were black, according to an Associated Press analysis. African Americans account for roughly 21% of the total population in the areas covered by the analysis.

The AP’s analysis is one of the first attempts to examine the racial disparities of COVID-19 cases and deaths nationwide. It involved examining more than 4,450 deaths and 52,000 COVID-19 cases from across the country, relying on the handful of state and local governments that have released victims’ race.

A history of systemic racism and inequity in access to health care and economic opportunity has made many African Americans far more vulnerable to the virus. Black adults suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and asthma, which make them more susceptible, and also are more likely to be uninsured. They also often report that medical professionals take their ailments less seriously when they seek treatment.

Second U.S. study for COVID-19 vaccine uses skin-deep shots

WASHINGTON — U.S. researchers have opened another safety test of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, this one using a skin-deep shot instead of the usual deeper jab.

The pinch should feel like a simple skin test, a researcher told the volunteer lying on an exam table in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday.

“It’s the most important trial that we’ve ever done,” Dr. John Ervin of the Center for Pharmaceutical Research told The Associated Press afterward. “People are beating down the door to get into this trial.”

The experiment, using a vaccine candidate developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, is part of a global hunt for much-needed protection against a virus that has triggered an economic shutdown and forced people indoors as countries try to stem the spread.

A different vaccine candidate began safety testing in people last month in Seattle, one developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. About two-thirds of that study’s participants have gotten the first of two needed doses.

Inovio’s study is set to test two doses of its vaccine, code-named INO-4800, in 40 healthy volunteers at the Kansas City research lab and the University of Pennsylvania. Inovio is working with Chinese researchers to also begin a similar study in that country soon.

These early-stage studies are a first step to see if a vaccine appears safe enough for larger tests needed to prove whether it will protect. Even if the research goes well, it is expected to take more than a year before any vaccine could be widely available.

Dozens of potential vaccines are being designed in labs around the world, expected to begin this testing process over the next several months.

Read more about the vaccine experiments here.

Stocks climb 3.4% on Wall Street as hopes build for virus peaks

NEW YORK — Stocks shot 3.4 percent higher on Wall Street on Wednesday as investors chose to focus on the optimistic side of data about the coronavirus outbreak’s trajectory.

It’s the latest about-face in this brutally volatile stretch for the U.S. stock market, which has flip-flopped between gains and losses for six straight days.

The up moves have recently been bigger than the downward swings, though, amid signs that deaths and infections may be nearing a peak or plateau in some of the world’s hardest-hit areas. The S&P 500 has jumped nealry 23 percent since it hit a low two and a half weeks ago.

Trading remained unsettled around the world, though, with European and Asian stock markets mixed. A day before, an even bigger gain for the S&P 500 suddenly vanished in the afternoon.

Read more from Wall Street here.

Hundreds of young Americans have succumbed to coronavirus, data show

Two weeks after her husband died alone in an intensive care unit in Fort Myers, Fla., Nicole Buchanan is quarantined at the home they shared with their 12-year-old daughter, wrestling not only with grief but with why and how the coronavirus could steal someone so young and healthy.

“My husband didn’t have diabetes, he didn’t have asthma, he didn’t have high cholesterol. He didn’t have anything,” Buchanan said. “There’s just so much I’ll never know, that I’ll never get the answers to.”

Conrad Buchanan, who died at 39 on March 26 after battling the infection for nearly two weeks, was creative and goofy. A professional DJ, he could entertain huge crowds with his music. But at home, he was fond of singing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” to his 12-year-old daughter, Skye.

“He had an amazing sense of humor. He had a big laugh. He was so magnetic,” his 37-year-old widow said. “He was our universe.”

He also was among at least 759 people under age 50 across the United States who have perished amid the deepening pandemic, according to a Washington Post analysis of state data. These deaths underscore the tragic fact that, while the novel coronavirus might be most threatening to the old and compromised, no one is immune.

For the very young — people under the age of 20 — death is extremely rare in the current pandemic. But it happens: The Post identified nine such cases.

The risk appears to rise with every decade of age. The Post found at least 45 deaths among people in their 20s. (It’s hard to give a precise number because of the divergent ways that states present age groups: For instance, this figure does not include 15 deaths under the age of 30 in Louisiana and New Jersey.)

As ages progress, The Post found at least 190 deaths among people in their 30s, and at least 413 among people in their 40s.

Read the full story on the toll of the coronavirus among young people here.

Sales of Dr. Anthony Fauci bobbleheads raise $100,000 to buy masks

Bobblehead Hall of Fame CEO Phil Sklar will present a virtual $100,000 check Wednesday afternoon to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy after the Milwaukee-based museum launched a fundraising campaign with a Dr. Anthony Fauci bobblehead that became its best-seller ever.

More than 20,000 orders had come in as of Wednesday from 50 states and a dozen-plus countries to support the “100 Million Mask Challenge.” The Fauci bobblehead was unveiled April 1.

The creation features Fauci wearing a suit as he makes a motion showing how the nation needs to “flatten the curve” in the coronavirus pandemic.

The museum picked Fauci because many people see the plain-speaking expert on the coronavirus as a hero right now, Sklar said.

Video courtesy of National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum via Associated Press

Condition of British prime minister, in ICU with coronavirus, is ‘improving’

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care with the coronavrus but is “improving,” a senior official said Wednesday, as the U.K. saw its biggest spike in deaths from the virus to date.

Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said Johnson “has been sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team” at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, three days after he was admitted.

A shaken U.K. government sought to keep a grip on its response to the outbreak with its leader hospitalized and the number of COVID-19-related deaths approaching the peaks seen in Italy and Spain, the two countries with the greatest number of fatalities.

Britain’s confirmed death toll reached 7,097 on Wednesday, an increase of 938 from 24 hours earlier. Italy recorded 969 deaths on March 27 and Spain 950 deaths on April 2.

Not all the deaths reported each day occurred in the preceding 24 hours, and the British total only includes deaths in hospitals.

Johnson was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 and still had a cough and fever 10 days later. He was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday and moved to the ICU on Monday after his condition deteriorated. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is standing in for Johnson while he is hospitalized.

Johnson spokesman James Slack said earlier Wednesday that the prime minister continues to receive “standard oxygen treatment” and is breathing without any other assistance.

Read the full story about Boris Johnson here.

Pentagon says military coronavirus cases near 2,000

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the military has surged to nearly 2,000.

Last weekend the number topped 1,000, and one week ago it stood at 771.

Among the services, the active duty Navy has the most cases, with more than 500. The Army has 470.

Switzerland hopes to lift restrictions soon

GENEVA — Switzerland plans to lift some restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus crisis by the end of the month.

Switzerland, like other European countries, has closed nonessential shops and schools and banned events. President Simonetta Sommaruga says the existing restrictions will remain in place until April 26.

But she says officials are planning a gradual reopening, and the government will consider a strategy on April 16.

Sommaruga didn’t specify what measures might be relaxed first.

Switzerland has recorded more than 22,000 infections, including 858 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Puerto Rico asks to ban flights from certain U.S. cities

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s governor is asking federal officials to ban all flights from U.S. cities with a high number of coronavirus cases to help prevent the spread in the U.S. territory.

The petition by Gov. Wanda Vázquez to the Federal Aviation Administration comes as officials accuse some visitors of taking medicine to lower their fevers to avoid being placed in quarantine. National Guard members screen people at the island’s main international airport.

The National Guard has said at least two passengers from New York who lowered their fever with medication are now hospitalized in the island with COVID-19.

London bus and underground workers demand more protection

LONDON — Transit unions and grieving relatives are demanding more protection for bus and subway workers after 14 London transport staff died from the new coronavirus.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan says eight were bus drivers.

London’s subways and buses have continued to run a reduced service to transport key workers since the U.K. went into lockdown March 23. Subway travel is down 95% and bus travel down 82% from the same period last year.

Khan says steps are being taken to protect transit staff. He says they include cleaning buses with antiviral disinfectant, blocking off seats nearest the driver and and using protective screens between driver and passengers.

WTO estimates drop in global trade 

The World Trade Organization estimates global trade will fall between 13% and 32% this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Geneva-based body, which oversees the rules of trade, says in a report the drop would be worse than during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

The wide range in its forecast is due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, as it remains uncertain when business will return toward more normal levels. Governments around the world have locked down on business and travel to contain the outbreak, disrupting supply chains.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo says, “The unavoidable declines in trade and output will have painful consequences for households and businesses, on top of the human suffering caused by the disease itself.

“These numbers are ugly – there is no getting around that. But a rapid, vigorous rebound is possible.”

Democrats seek additions to $250 billion emergency virus aid

Congressional Democratic leaders proposed Wednesday adding hundreds of billions of dollars for health care, state and local governments, and food stamps to $250 billion in fresh emergency aid President Donald Trump wants to help small businesses weather the coronavirus epidemic.

Trump requested an additional $250 billion for a just-launched small businesses payroll program and is looking to secure congressional passage this week. For that he will need Democratic support.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer outlined their own priorities in a Wednesday statement.

Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer

In this March 12, 2020, file photo Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., walks together as they head to a lunch with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

They say they will approve the $250 billion in assistance to small businesses, but want $125 billion of that channeled through community-based financial institutions that serve farmers, families, women, minorities and veterans.

They’re also calling for an additional $100 billion for hospitals and community health centers to provide testing supplies and protective equipment like masks and gowns. They are seeking another $150 billion for state and local governments to manage the coronavirus crisis

They also want a 15 percent increase to the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food stamp benefits, a proposal that could draw GOP opposition.

“The heartbreaking acceleration of the coronavirus crisis demands bold, urgent and ongoing action from Congress to protect Americans’ lives and livelihoods,” the leaders said in a joint statement. “The American people need to know that their government is there for them in their time of great need.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said more money is needed to fund the popular new $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which took off last Friday but was quickly overrun as companies jumped at the chance to tap up to $10 million in forgivable loans to keep paychecks flowing amid the stay-home shutdown.

Read the full story here.

CDC weighs loosening guidelines for some exposed to virus

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering changing its guidelines for self-isolation to make it easier for those who have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus to return to work if they are asymptomatic.

The public health agency, in conjunction with the White House coronavirus task force, is considering an announcement as soon as Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday.

Under the proposed guidance, people who are exposed to someone infected would be allowed back on the job if they are asymptomatic, test their temperature twice a day and wear a face mask, said a person familiar with the proposal under consideration. The person described the proposal on the condition of anonymity because the draft had not been finalized.

The new policy is aimed in particular at workers in critical jobs. But it also comes as the Trump administration is eyeing what it calls a “stabilization” in infection rates and looks toward rolling back some of the restrictive social distancing guidelines and restarting the nation’s stalled economy.

The proposed guidance would follow recommendations made by the CDC that eased self-isolation requirements for front-line medical workers who were exposed to the virus. Under CDC guidance, medical workers who have been exposed to the virus without protective equipment but who have no symptoms can return to work with a mask and temperature checks after 14 days.

Pope Francis denounces mafia, pandemic profiteers

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is denouncing the mafia and all those who are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to make money.

Francis opened his morning Mass on Wednesday by praying that “all those who profit off the needs of others, and sell them” experience spiritual conversion.

Francis’ homily was dedicated to the biblical story of Judas betraying Jesus — a narrative Christians commemorate this week in the run-up to liturgical services marking Christ’s Last Supper, crucifixion and resurrection on Easter.

In his remarks, Francis said everyone has a “little Judas inside of us” who makes a choice between loyalty to others or self-interest. He said: “Each one of us has the capacity to betray, to sell others, to choose our own interests.”

Speaking of mobsters and money lenders, he said: “May the Lord touch their hearts and convert them.”

Italian officials have warned that organized crime groups are maneuvering to profit off the social and economic disruptions caused by Italy’s virus-induced nationwide shutdown.

Albanians quarantined at border

TIRANA, Albania — Forty Albanian citizens waiting at the two border crossings with Greece were let in and accommodated at hotels under quarantine for 14 days, the health ministry reports on Wednesday.

Authorities have closed the borders “to protect the life of the people inside and outside of Albania,” according to Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Only those coming for an emergency to check on families will be allowed to enter the country while Albanians with foreign citizenship are not allowed to get in.

Spokeswoman Etiola Kola said 35 Albanians were quarantined at a hotel after crossing the southeastern Kapshtice border check point Tuesday evening.

The local media on Wednesday reported on five others crossing the border in southern Kakavia, both with neighboring Greece where hundreds of thousands of Albanians live since immigrating after the fall of the communist regime in 1990.

They had been waiting there for about three days. Many Albanians with Greek residence documents were not allowed to go in.

Their expenses for 14 days of quarantine will be billed to their families.

Albania has 400 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths as of Wednesday. The relatively low figures are attributed to rigid restrictions in the country.

Spain reports 757 deaths in 24 hours

MADRID — Spain’s Health Ministry reported Wednesday 757 new deaths of patients with coronavirus and 6,180 new confirmed infections.

Both figures were slightly higher than Tuesday’s, when the first increase in five days was explained by a backlog of test results and fatalities that had gone unreported over the weekend.

But doubts about the statistics are being heard louder as fresh data starts to emerge.

Authorities have already acknowledged that a scarcity of testing kits and a bottleneck in the number of tests that laboratories can conduct on a daily basis are giving an underestimated contagion tally, which rose to 146,000 on Wednesday. A nationwide survey of 30,000 households has been launched to figure out what is the more approximate extent of the epidemic beyond hospitals and nursing homes.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said Tuesday that his department can only account for those who die and were tested. There have been few instances of post-mortem testing.

To rein in the data divide, Spain’s Justice Ministry issued an order on Wednesday requiring more than 4,000 civil registries across the country to provide new and revised data.

African leaders bristle at Trump’s attack on WHO chief

JOHANNESBURG — Some African leaders are bristling at President Donald Trump’s attack on the WHO chief, especially after Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke up this week against “racist” comments by two French doctors who said a coronavirus vaccine could be tested in Africa.

Tedros condemned the remarks as leftovers of a “colonial mentality.” Tedros is from Ethiopia and is the first African to lead the World Health Organization.

“Surprised to learn of a campaign by the U.S. govt against WHO’s global leadership. The African Union fully supports WHO and Dr. Tedros,” the chair of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, tweeted.

“I agree with you, my brother. WHO, under the stewardship of Dr. Tedros, has shown itself to be a true flag-bearer of multilateralism when global solidarity has become critical,” Namibia’s President Hage Geingob responded in a tweet.

WHO head says decline doesn’t mean relax distancing

GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization’s Europe office says a trend of decline in the rate of increase in new coronavirus cases does not mean it’s time to relax measures aimed to stop its spread.

Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, also said some countries “are experiencing a rapid increase in cases or a fresh surge,” and called for continued vigilance. He noted measures taken in many countries to shut schools and businesses.

“We still have a long way to go in the marathon and the progress we have made so far in fighting the virus is extremely fragile,” he said. “To think we are coming close to an endpoint would be a dangerous thing to do. The virus leaves no room for error or complacency.”

He said countries that any prospect of easing lockdowns or physical distancing measures “requires very careful consideration,” such as by considering if health systems are prepared.

“Many of us are looking forward to celebrating Easter with better weather but this is not the time to lower our guard,” Kluge told a video news conference from Copenhagen. “We must soldier on.”

Slovakian travel disrupted by new measures

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Huge traffic disruptions have been reported across Slovakia amid the government’s new restrictions on movement to contain the epidemic of the coronavirus.

The restrictions were imposed for Wednesday till Monday to prevent people from traveling over Easter. Slovakia is a Roman-Catholic stronghold in central and eastern Europe.

People are only allowed to travel to work, do essential shopping or visit doctors. Only family members can stay together for outdoor activities that are restricted to take place only within one county.

Police teamed up with the military to enforce the measures on the borders of the counties, causing traffic jams.

Bratislava authorities say the traffic on all roads leading to the capital has collapsed, advising people to cancel their travel plans.

Economy Minister Richard Sulik apologized for the delays on Wednesday, saying he would like to relax the restrictions. Prime Minister Igor Matovic was against it.

French aircraft carrier returning to port

PARIS — France’s defense ministry announced that French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is heading back to port amid a possible virus outbreak onboard.

The ministry said in a statement Wednesday that around 40 troops are presenting symptoms compatible with the COVID-19 disease. They have been placed under strict medical observation.

A medical team equipped with tests will get onboard Wednesday in order to confirm the potential cases and prevent the virus from further spreading, the ministry said.

The aircraft carrier, which was on a mission in the Atlantic Ocean, is returning immediately to its base in the port of Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast, where it was initially expected to dock on April 23. Its crew is composed of about 1,900 troops.

The announcement comes after a coronavirus outbreak hit U.S. aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, now at port in Guam. As of Tuesday, the U.S. Navy said at least 230 crew had been tested positive. The firing last week of the Roosevelt’s captain created a combustible controversy in the country.

Human rights groups urge Europe to safeguard access to abortion

BRUSSELS — A hundred non-governmental organizations including human and women’s rights groups are urging European governments to implement measures safeguarding access to abortion during the COVID-19 epidemics.

In a statement released Wednesday, they asked governments to recognize abortion as an essential care.

Their call came as Poland’s parliament prepares to put on the agenda a strict new abortion law. The eastern European country already has some of the the continent’s most restrictive abortion laws.

“European governments must act urgently to guarantee safe and timely access to abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Leah Hoctor, the regional director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “They should move swiftly to eradicate all medically unnecessary requirements that hamper access to abortion care and should authorize women to access early medical abortion from their homes.”

The groups said the current health crisis has affected reproductive health services at hospitals and clinics because of staff shortages or reassignments of affected personnel to tasks related to the deadly virus.

“In many places, accessing normal clinical services has become extremely difficult,” they said. “Restrictions to reproductive health services disproportionately affect women living in poverty, women with disabilities, Roma women, undocumented migrant women, adolescents, trans and gender non-binary people, and women at risk of or who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence.”

China sees chance to cooperate with United States

BEIJING — China says the struggle against the global coronavirus pandemic provides a “platform for China-U.S. cooperation,” despite sniping between the sides over blame and responsibility.

Citing recent comments between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Trump, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a briefing Wednesday that the sides would “benefit from cooperation and stand to lose from conflict, and cooperation is the only correct choice.”

Some in Congress are calling for China to be held accountable for initially covering up the outbreak, an accusation Beijing strongly denies despite growing evidence. Anticipating a backlash, China’s official Xinhua News Agency has suggested Beijing could retaliate against the U.S. by banning the export of medical products that would leave the U.S. stuck in the ”ocean of viruses.”

Zhao drew attention last month when he suggested without evidence that the U.S. military transported the virus to Wuhan or that the virus was released from a U.S. lab.

“It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” Zhao tweeted March 12.

Asked about the tweet on Tuesday, Zhao said it had been “a response to the stigmatization some US politicians made against China previously, and it also reflected the indignation of many Chinese people about these practices.”

Camus novel becomes coronavirus hit in Japan

TOKYO — The printing of Albert Camus’ “The Plague” in Japanese shot above the cumulative million mark, with 154,000 copies going into extra printing seven times since February.

People have been snatching up copies since the coronavirus pandemic hit, and a bookstore chain limited purchases to one copy per buyer to curtail literary hoarding.

“The book is offering insight for people on the basic question of how we must live life when we are all faced with these insular times,” publisher Shinchosha spokesman Morito Mamiya said Wednesday.

The novel, first published in French in 1947, and in Japanese in 1969, portrays the dilemma of human existence as a North African city gets overtaken by the plague. On a regular year, about 5,000 copies of the classic get sold in Japan, but it’s now No. 1 for literature at major Japanese bookstores.

 


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