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.

TOKYO — Japanese health ministry said Sunday that 568 new cases of the coronavirus were reported the day before, bringing a domestic total to 10,361. A combined total including 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year came to 11,073, with 174 deaths.

The number of cases is still relatively small compared to the U.S. and Europe, but that’s only as many as Japan’s limited testing has detected and actual infections are believed to be far more widespread.

Japan has finally started setting up additional testing centers in Tokyo and elsewhere, allowing primary care doctors to send suspected patients directly to testing stations rather than having them go through public health centers to screen eligibility, an earlier requirement that had prevented and delayed testing and treatment of many people.

Experts have noted that their strategy of going after clusters to trace infections is no longer effective to keep up with the surging cases and more tests are needed.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday expanded a state of emergency, which was limited to Tokyo and six other urban areas, to all of Japan, in a bid to prevent further spread of the virus nationwide amid concerns that hospitals are already overburdened with influx of patients.

It took two months for the cases to reach 1,000 since the first case was detected in mid-January, but the spread of the infections has accelerated in recent weeks and the number doubled from around 5,000 in just 10 days.

South Korea reports first single-digit daily jump in two months

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported eight more cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the first time for a daily jump in the country to drop to a single digit in about two months.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the additional figures released Sunday took the country’s total to 10,661 with 234 deaths.

It says 8,042 of the total have been recovered and released from quarantine and that 12,243 others were under tests to determine whether they contracted the virus.

South Korea’s caseload has been waning in recent weeks since it recorded hundreds of new cases every day between late February and early March, mostly in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby areas.

Despite the recent downward trend, South Korean officials have warned about the possibility of a broader “quiet spread” with people easing up on social distancing.

South Carolina begins process of reopening

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina retail stores and public beach access points that had been closed to halt the spread of the coronavirus will be allowed to reopen next week, The Post and Courier reported Saturday.

Gov. Henry McMaster will issue orders Monday to allow for the reopenings to take place on Tuesday, the governor’s chief of staff, Trey Walker, told the newspaper.

The order will apply to numerous nonessential stores, including department stores, flea markets, florists, bookstores and music shops. Grocery stores, pharmacies, home improvement stores and medical facilities have been allowed to stay open during the pandemic.

Occupancy in each store will be limited to five customers per 1,000 square feet of retail space or 20% occupancy, whichever is less, the newspaper said.

Local governments will still be allowed to make their own rules about waterway access.

The governor’s stay-at-home order will remain in place, as will the ban on eating inside restaurants, Walker said.

Hundreds in Brazil denounce lockdown measures

RIO DE JANEIRO – Hundreds of people denouncing pandemic lockdown measures opposed by President Jair Bolsonaro snarled traffic in major Brazilian cities on Saturday.

Protesters in trucks, cars and on motorcycles honked horns on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital of Brasilia, calling for governors to resign over measures that have forced most businesses to close for weeks.

Bolsonaro has been a fierce critic of the states’ stay-at-home measures, arguing that the economic harm could be more damaging than the illness. The protests took place a day after Bolsonaro fired his health minister, who had been promoting isolation measures.

In Rio de Janeiro, about 100 vehicles took part in the gridlock and temporarily shut down Copacabana Beach.

In Brasilia, Bolsonaro reiterated his intention to start reopening the economy.

California takes steps to house homeless

SAN FRANCISCO – California is on its way to acquiring 15,000 hotel rooms to house the homeless during the pandemic, said Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday as he reminded people to stay indoors while outbreaks continue to crop up throughout the state.

Standing in front of a Motel 6 outside the city of San Jose, Newsom said more than 4,000 people have been moved out of shelters and off the streets and into motel rooms. He took the opportunity to scold leaders of unnamed cities for blocking efforts to house the homeless, asking them to “please consider the morality” of their decisions.

His announcement came a day after the state reported another 87 deaths from the coronavirus. Meanwhile, California’s death toll from the virus rose above 1,050 on Saturday, according to a tally by John Hopkins University.

Indiana residents protest virus restrictions

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 200 people upset over restrictions on Indiana residents because of the coronavirus protested outside the state mansion of Gov. Eric Holcomb, urging him to back off and restart the economy.

Holcomb, a Republican, said a stay-at-home order that expires Monday will be extended to May 1 while he works on a plan to reopen businesses.

In Austin, Texas, a few hundred people rallied at the state Capitol in another protest over stay-at-home orders. The demonstration came a day after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced that next week Texas will begin reopening state parks and letting retailers sell items curbside.

Abbott says more restrictions will be lifted before the end of April.

Stranded Kosovo citizens to begin returning home

TIRANA, Albania — About 2,400 Kosovo citizens stranded abroad due to the new coronavirus will begin returning home.

A Foreign Ministry statement Saturday said the first two flights from Switzerland and Turkey would be next week.

Kosovo has been in a total lockdown for more than a month. The Kosovar Foreign Ministry selected the first 600 people based on criteria set by the Health Ministry. More citizens will be allowed to return once quarantines are lifted.

Spain to start easing confinement of children

MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says the government will seek to extend the country’s state of emergency by two weeks to fight the new coronavirus outbreak but will start easing the total confinement of children.

Spain imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe in mid-March that brought economic activity to a near standstill. The government, which has been under pressure from regional governments, parents and some educators to ease the lockdown for children, will begin to do so in nine days.

Sánchez said Saturday that children will be allowed “to get out of their houses for a period on a daily basis” but the specifics need to be ironed out with experts. He says rolling back the national lockdown will only come when the country’s embattled health system is ready for possible rebounds. The state of emergency extension until May 9 needs to be approved by parliament.

France sees 10th straight day of declines in ICU patients

PARIS — France’s national health agency says the number of virus patients in intensive care dropped for the 10th straight day, while the number of overall virus hospitalizations has fallen for three consecutive days.

Health officials say confinement is “stopping the viral spread.”

The total number of deaths in France from COVID-19 reached 19,323, and nursing home deaths amount to more than one third of the total.

U.S., Canada to keep border closed 30 more days

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.

Read the rest of this story here.

New reported New York virus deaths under 550 for first time since April 1

NEW YORK  — The daily increase in coronavirus deaths in New York state has dropped under 550 for the first time in over two weeks as hospitalizations continue to decline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday, while warning that the crisis is far from over: Hospitals are still reporting nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 patients per day.

“You are not seeing a total overload of the emergency rooms. That doesn’t mean happy days are here again,” the Democrat said. “We are not at a point when we are going to be reopening anything immediately.”

Read the rest of this story here.

Sweden reports 111 new deaths

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.

Around 1,000 Ghanians are homeless after their neighborhood is razed

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.

Reported African cases surpass 20,000

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.

Anonymous businesses pay utilities in Indianapolis suburb

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.”

Protests expected at Texas Capitol

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.

Britain now reporting more than 15,000 deaths

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.

Queen Elizabeth aims for low-key 94th birthday

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.”

France dismantling field hospital

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.

Greece stresses quarantine ahead of Orthodox Easter

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.

Myanmar issues evening curfew

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.

Spain records 20,000th death from virus

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.

Italian commissioner says without health, no economic recovery possible

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.

French bar cruise ship from disembarking passengers

PARIS — French authorities have barred a cruise ship that’s been at sea since early January from disembarking more than 1,000 passengers before its final destination in Italy.

The regional administration for the Bouches-du-Rhone in southern France cited a nationwide ban on allowing foreign cruise ships to dock, as part of France’s virus-related confinement measures.

The French administration said that the Costa Deliziosa sought to make a stop in Marseille on Friday to disembark 1,400 passengers who wanted to get out before the final stop in Venice.

The administration granted exemptions to six other cruise ships in recent weeks to allow French passengers to get off, but refused this time.

The Costa Deliziosa left on an around-the-world cruise and is expected to reach Italy in the coming days.

French parliament house approves stimulus

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.

Group of countries urges international cooperation

BERLIN — A group of thirteen countries including Britain, Brazil, Italy and Germany is calling for global cooperation to lessen the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint statement the group said it is committed to “work with all countries to coordinate on public health, travel, trade, economic and financial measures in order to minimize disruptions and recover stronger.”

The countries emphasized the need to maintain “air, land and marine transportation links” to ensure the continued flow of goods, including medical equipment and aid, and the return home of travelers.

They want key transport hubs around the world to remain open and for airlines to maintain major routes.

The group — also including Canada and France — stressed the critical role of the scientific community in providing guidance to governments.

Singapore sees sharp spike in cases

SINGAPORE — Singapore has reported a daily record of 942 infections that saw its total surge to 5,992.

The sharp one-day spike in the tiny city-state of nearly six million people is the highest seen in Southeast Asia.

The number of cases more than doubled this week amid an upsurge among foreign workers staying in crowded dormitories, who constitute 60 percent of Singapore’s COVID-19 infections.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on Facebook that the vast majority of cases among migrant workers were mild as the workers are young.

Although cases in the dorms are expected to continue to rise, Lee said the government is increasing healthcare and isolation facilities to handle the load. More than 200,000 migrant workers from Bangladesh, India and other Asian countries live in dormitories housing up to 20 people a room with shared facilities.

Africa records 1,000th death

JOHANNESBURG — Africa now has more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 52 of the continent’s 54 countries have reported the virus, with the overall number of cases more than 19,800 as of Saturday morning.

The World Health Organization has noted a 51% increase in cases in Africa and a 60% jump in deaths.

But the WHO chief has warned that because of a shortage of testing “it’s likely the real numbers are higher than reported.”

The Africa CDC has said more than 1 million test kits will be rolled out starting next week.


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