The latest on the coronavirus pandemic from around the U.S. and the world.

Masks and social distancing can help control the coronavirus but hand washing and other measures are still needed, a new analysis finds.

Virus_Outbreak_What_Works_62234

A man and woman wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus walk past a cartoon advising people to wash their hands on a boarded up storefront in San Francisco. A new analysis published in the journal Lancet on Monday finds masks and social distancing help but hand washing and other measures are still needed to control the coronavirus. Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Researchers concluded single-layer cloth masks are less effective than surgical masks, while tight-fitting N95 masks provide the best protection. A distance of 1 meter (more than 3 feet) between people lowers the danger of catching the virus, while 2 meters (about 6 1/2 feet) is even better.

Eye protection such as goggles or eyeglasses can help too. None of the strategies work perfectly and more rigorous studies are needed, according to the analysis published Monday.

With the coronavirus still new, health officials have relied on studies involving its cousins, severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome. The findings come from a systematic review of 44 studies, including seven involving the virus causing COVID-19. The remaining focused on SARS or MERS.

“This puts all that information clearly in one place for policymakers to use,” said study co-author Dr. Derek Chu of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Still to come are results from more rigorous experiments in Canada and Denmark that are testing masks in randomly assigned groups of nurses and the general public. Until then, the new study in the journal Lancet provides reassurance that masks do help.

Public health officials have given conflicting advice about masks.

The World Health Organization, which funded the new analysis, has said healthy people need to wear a mask only if they are caring for a person with COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants everyone to wear at least a cloth mask when grocery shopping or in similar situations where keeping distance is difficult.

U.S. factories sink in May for 3rd straight month

WASHINGTON — American factories slowed for the third consecutive month in May as they continued to sustain economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said Monday that its manufacturing index came in at 43.1 last month after registering 41.5 in April. Anything below 50 signals that U.S. manufacturers are in retreat. New orders, production, hiring and new export orders all fell in May but at a slower pace than they did in April.

Virus_Outbreak-Restarting_Factories_02792

In this Sept. 27, 2018 file photo, robots weld the bed of a 2018 Ford F-150 truck on the assembly line at the Ford Rouge assembly plant in Dearborn, Mich. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File

The pandemic and the lockdowns, and travel restrictions meant to combat it, have brought economic activity to a near-standstill. U.S. gross domestic product fell at a 5% annual rate from January-March and is expected to drop at a record-busting 40% rate from April-June.

The results were about what economists expected.

Eleven of 18 manufacturing industries contracted last month, led by printing, primary metals and transportation equipment makers. Six reported growth, led my mineral companies and furniture makers.

The Commerce Department said last week that orders for big-ticket manufactured goods dropped 17.2% in April after falling 16.6% in March.

“ Looking ahead, conditions may start to gradually improve in June but manufacturing faces significant travails on the long road to recovery,” economists Oren Klachkin and Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics wrote in a research report. Among the problems factories face are weak demand, disruptions in supplies and heightened uncertainty.

“These impediments, along with fears of a second wave of coronavirus contagion, are expected to persist even once lockdowns are fully lifted, making a V-shaped recovery very unlikely,” Klachkin and Daco wrote.

The pain is not limited to the United States. J.P. Morgan reported Monday that global manufacturing production fell for the fourth straight month in May. Manufacturing output fell in 27 of the 28 countries for which results were available. The exception was China, where the virus originated and where the first economic recovery began after a draconian lockdown.

Pakistan says it’s relaxing a ban on tourism

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s prime minister says he is relaxing more coronavirus restrictions implemented in March, including a ban on tourism, as authorities reported 60 more COVID-19-related deaths.

Imran Khan said Monday Pakistanis must learn how to live with the coronavirus, as lockdown is not a treatment for the disease.

His blunt televised remarks drew criticism on social media when he said the virus would continue to spread, causing more deaths if people did not observe social distancing rules.

Pakistan has registered 1,543 fatalities amid 72,460 cases.

The country has witnessed an increase in coronavirus-related deaths since it eased lockdown ahead of the holiday of Eid-ul Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan.

Mosques reopen in Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Gaza’s Hamas rulers are fully reopening mosques in the Palestinian enclave after nearly two months of closure to contain the coronavirus.

The announcement Monday adds to a series of easing measures the Islamic group has taken after succeeding so far to keep the virus at bay. Mosques are set to reopen Wednesday after Hamas allowed for a partial reopening last month for one weekly prayer.

It has already lifted a ban on restaurants, cafes and markets. The Gaza Strip, blockaded by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took power in 2007, has 61 confirmed cases and one death — all inside quarantine centers where people from outside the territory must remain upon arrival.

Experts fear an outbreak in the impoverished territory could overwhelm its already under-resourced health care system.

Portuguese authorities seize bootleg masks

LISBON, Portugal —Portuguese authorities say they have seized another 206,000 masks for use against the new coronavirus which did not comply with European standards.

The masks, worth $380,000, were seized from the warehouses of wholesale importers. They were to be sold at supermarkets and public and private health institutions.

Since the start of the new coronavirus outbreak, Portugal has seized more than 300,000 masks, the Economic and Food Safety Authority said Monday.

North Macedonia announces spike after restrictions eased

SKOPJE, North Macedonia — Authorities in North Macedonia have announced the second-highest daily increase of new COVID-19 infections since late February, after restrictions were recently eased.

Health Minister Venko Filipce said Monday seven people died and 89 new cases were confirmed in the latest 24-hour reporting period — bringing the respective totals to 140 deaths and 2,315 confirmed cases. He said plans to reopen borders would be delayed pending further monitoring of the outbreak.

Most of the new cases were reported around the capital Skopje, Filipce said, adding that local lockdowns would be reimposed in affected areas later this week if infection numbers remain high.

North Macedonia’s government allowed restaurants and bars to reopen last week.

Serbian president visits Bulgaria

SOFIA, Bulgaria – Serbian President Alexander Vucic has become the first foreign official to pay an official visit to Bulgaria after a nearly three-months long lockdown.

On Monday, Bulgaria dropped a mandatory two-week quarantine for people arriving from most other European countries. It also reopened the indoor sections of restaurants, bars and coffee shops, a month after the outdoor sections opened.

Theatres and opera houses also have been opened to the public, as well as kindergartens.

Health officials have reported 2,519 confirmed cases, of whom 140 died

Crowds flock to visit Sistine Chapel

VATICAN CITY — Some 1,600 people reserved tickets in advance to see the Sistine Chapel on the first day the Vatican Museums opened to the public after a three-month coronavirus shutdown.

APTOPIX_Virus_Outbreak_Italy_Reopening_57049

Visitors admire the Sistine Chapel as the Vatican Museum reopened, in Rome, Monday, June 1, 2020. The Vatican Museums reopened Monday to visitors after three months of shutdown following COVID-19 containment measures. AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Museum employees measured the temperature of visitors at the entrance, and everyone was required to wear masks throughout their visits.

Museum director Barbara Jatta said Monday was a day of “great joy” and a return to a semblance of normalcy after so many weeks of fear in the onetime epicenter of the European virus outbreak.

She said it was “a very pleasant surprise” so many reserved tickets to visit. During peak summer months, the Vatican Museums routinely would have an hours-long line of tourists waiting to enter since the Vatican didn’t have an advance reservation system to schedule visit times.

Jatta said museum staff used the weeks of closure to ensure the safety of visitors as well as the art. She said: “We want to share this patrimony but we want to share in safety.”

Checkpoints outside Florida Keyes coming down

FLORIDA KEYS — Checkpoints leading into the Florida Keys are coming down two months after being set up to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

The checkpoints being removed early Monday were put into place in March to keep tourists from entering the chain of islands.

More than 18,750 cars from the mainland were turned away because drivers did not present the proper paperwork that showed they either worked or lived in the Florida Keys, said Kristen Livengood, a county spokeswoman.

With four deaths attributed to COVID-19, the Florida Keys has had about 110 coronavirus cases, and more than 20 of those are from a nursing home on Plantation Key, according to the Miami Herald.

Montenegro to allow visitors again

PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro, the first country in Europe to declare itself “coronavirus-free,” has started letting in foreign tourists as of Monday as it seeks to salvage the tourism season following the virus outbreak. But there’s a catch.

The tiny Adriatic state’s authorities have listed 131 countries whose citizens can enter without any restrictions, if they currently have at most 25 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

Nevertheless, Montenegro’s government tweeted Monday that “tourists mostly from Western European countries started arriving as of midnight.”

In a bid to attract wary European tourists looking for a safe place to spend their holidays, Montenegro has been advertising itself as a “corona-free” destination since it officially has had no new cases of COVID-19 infections for the past several weeks.

WHO says treatment for chronically ill massively disrupted

LONDON — The World Health Organization says that about half of countries surveyed in a new analysis have had partial or complete disruption of services for people with high blood pressure and diabetes treatment during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a survey of 155 countries last month, the U.N. health agency found worrying problems in the provision of health care for people with non-communicable diseases, many of whom are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

The survey also found that 42% of countries had interrupted services for cancer patients and 31% for heart emergencies. In more than 90% of countries, health care staff had been partially or fully reassigned to pandemic duties.

Japan begins large antibody testing regimen

TOKYO — Japan’s health ministry started blood tests Monday in three areas including Tokyo in an effort to check what percentage of its people have developed antibodies, a sign of their coronavirus infections in recent past.

The tests will be conducted on 10,000 randomly selected people at age 20 or older from Tokyo and Osaka to represent Japan’s two most-infected prefectures, while Miyagi in the north is one of least infected in the country.

Some 3,000 people will be tested in each area and results will be expected at the end of June.

Japan, due to its lack of testing capability and resources, has until recently begun carefully limiting access to testing mainly to reduce the number of severe cases and fatalities. The strategy, however, has prompted doubts that many people may have been undetected.

Lithuania eases border restrictions

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania is easing border restrictions on foreign nationals arriving from dozens of European countries, the health ministry said on Monday.

A 14-day quarantine period will no longer be mandatory for those entering from European countries with less than 15 new confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks. This includes Germany, Poland, France, Italy, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

Travelers from Ireland, Malta and Spain continue to face a 14-day self-isolation period while citizens of Belgium, Sweden, Portugal, and the UK remain banned from entering the Baltic nation.

Earlier in May, restrictions were lifted for residents from neighboring Latvia and Estonia with the announcement of a Baltic travel bubble.

Albania and Kosovo open borders

TIRANA, Albania — Both Albania and Kosovo have allowed nearly all movement and operation of businesses except for a few activities that usually collect groups of people.

Land borders have opened, and incoming visitors are not obliged to self-quarantine themselves. A long line of vehicles was seen at some border crossing points Monday and businesses at one of them were complaining about an added 22-euro tax ($24.4) for disinfection of their cargo vehicles.

Hotels in Albania also opened on Monday while public beaches will be free for the people a week later. Tourism is one of the most negatively impacted businesses.

 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: