The Latest: Spain PM wants to extend state of emergency
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.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Spain prime minister wants to extend state of emergency 1 month.
— Britain launches trial for dogs to sniff out humans with COVID-19.
— Italy easing travel restrictions in place since March.
— India surpasses China in coronavirus infection cases.
MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he’ll ask Parliament for what he hopes will be the last extension of the state of emergency.
Sánchez says he’ll seek the support of the legislature to support a one-month extension of the state of emergency that gives his government extraordinary powers to maintain the nation’s two-month lockdown. Previously, Sánchez received parliamentary support for two-week extensions to the state of emergency that took effect on March 14 and expires May 24.
Health authorities reported 102 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, taking Spain’s death toll to 27,563. Over a month ago Spain, had more than 900 deaths a day before the lockdown measures for an outbreak that’s infected a confirmed 276,505.
Support for Sánchez’s minority, left-wing coalition government has been waning with each vote to extend the state of emergency. But the Socialist leader managed to salvage a key vote two weeks ago by striking last-minute deals with two smaller parties.
TIRANA, Albania — The U.N. children’s agency says it is concerned about alleged police abuse of an Albanian teenager who apparently violated the coronavirus curfew.
UNICEF commented on the incident shown on social media of four police officers beating a 15-year-old boy on Friday in Tirana.
“Violence committed by those who are mandated to protect the law and order is truly disturbing,” says UNICEF in a statement, urging “an investigation and adequate steps by the responsible state structures.”
Police suspended the officer involved and is investigating the case.
“State police strongly denounce such acts which violate the police image among the citizens,” says State Police spokesman Gentian Mullai.
Albania has imposed a curfew since mid-March that continues in the capital of Tirana, which is the most virus-affected area. Individuals can go out for two hours with online permission and not after 5.30 p.m.
Albania is in total lockdown with all its borders shut. Next week it will relax rules for most of the businesses but not public transportion, sports, cultural and entertainment activities.
Albania has 933 confirmed virus cases and 31 deaths
ATHENS, Greece — Greece reopened organized public beaches under strict social distancing measures during a heat wave.
City dwellers flocked to the beaches while temperatures reached 98 degrees, hoping for a refreshing swim less than a week after full lockdown measures were lifted.
Easing beach restrictions is seen as key to salvaging the tourism industry over the summer in a country expected to have the worst recession in the European Union as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, swimming and sun loungers were permitted but no group sports or food operations. The government issued strict beach guidelines, with businesses facing fines of up 20,000 euros ($21,650) and a three-month closure for violations.
The number of beachgoers cannot exceed 40 people per 1,000 sq. meters (10,764 sq. feet) and two beach umbrellas must be 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart. The distance between groups must be 4 meters (13 feet).
The government is considering opening bars and restaurants on May 25.
LONDON — Local officials and tourism boards are discouraging people from visiting popular tourist spots on the first weekend since lockdown rules for England were eased.
The County Councils Network, which represents 36 rural and coastal authorities in England, says its concerned “day trippers” from cities and towns could raise the infection rate in counties and overwhelm parks and beaches.
Spokesman Julian German says, “Our coastal and rural areas will be there when this is over.”
The British government relaxed lockdown rules on Wednesday to allow people in England to spend more time outdoors. They can play golf and tennis, sunbathe, go fishing and have a picnic. Meeting one other person is allowed with social distancing.
Rules for the rest of Britain — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland —haven’t been eased.
LONDON — British researchers are launching a trial to see whether dogs can use their noses to detect whether humans have COVID-19 before they show symptoms.
Britain’s health department said Saturday that disease control experts are looking into whether dogs which have been trained to sniff out certain cancers and malaria can potentially be used as a “non-invasive, early warning measure” to identify the coronavirus.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Durham University are collaborating with the charity Medical Detection Dogs. The trial is getting 500,000 pounds ($600,000) of British government funding.
Six dogs, including Labradors and Cocker Spaniels, have started basic training for the trial. In the initial phase, researchers plan to gather odor samples from both people infected with the virus and those who aren’t.
The health department says the dogs will then undergo thorough training using the samples and will only be deployed if backed by strong scientific evidence.
MILAN — Dozens of restaurant owners have protested outside of Milan’s main train station against the new rules for reopening as of Monday.
They say the rules remain unclear and that the entire sector — including suppliers and food producers — is suffering.
They protested in front of signs reading: ‘’I won’t open today to close tomorrow,’’ and calling for an abolition to taxes and more concrete help.
The government early Saturday posted rules for restaurants to reopen, including a distance of at least one-meter (three feet) between patrons, a requirement to take reservations and keep records for at least two weeks and a recommendation to use disposable or electronic menus that can be read on personal devices. It also recommends but does not require taking temperatures of diners as they arrive.
In Italy’s financial capital, 3,400 restaurants plan to open Monday along with 4,800 bars, 2,900 hairdressers, 2,200 clothing stores and 700 shoe shops.
KARACHI, Pakistan — The first Pakistani COVID-19 patient who was treated at a hospital with blood donated from a man who survived the disease has fully recovered.
The patient was treated at a hospital in the country’s southern Sindh province.
Several COVID-19 patients are currently undergoing the plasma therapy after authorities allowed 350 patients to undergo such a clinical trial across the country.
A Pakistani doctor who treated the patient has urged those who defeated coronavirus to donate blood for the treatment that uses plasma from people who have recovered to help seriously ill patients.
The development comes as Pakistan reported 31 more deaths from coronavirus, raising virus-related fatalities to 834.
Pakistan has 38,799 confirmed cases and the increase in infections also coincides with a growing number of daily tests being carried out in this country of 220 million.
ROME — The Italian government is easing travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing people to move freely inside the region where they live as of Monday, and between regions starting June 3.
The government decree announced early Saturday also permits international travel to and from Italy from June 3.
Italy imposed nationwide lockdown rules in early March after it became the first country outside Asia with a major outbreak of coronavirus. More than 31,000 people have died, leaving Italy with the highest death toll after the United States and Britain. But the government led by Premier Giuseppe Conte has gradually reopened the country as the rates of infections and deaths have fallen.
Social distancing rules are being implemented in the sectors of the economy that have reopened, including factories and some businesses. Schools remain closed and crowds are not permitted, though people will be allowed to attend Mass in churches with some restrictions starting next week.
NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus infection cases have surpassed China’s with the health ministry on Saturday reporting the spike to 85,940 cases with 2,752 deaths.
In total, China has reported 4,633 deaths among 82,933 cases since the virus was first detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan.
The worst hit Indian states are Maharashtra with 29,100 cases, Tamil Nadu 10,108, Gujarat 9,931 and New Delhi 8,895.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is due to announce this weekend a decision whether to extend the 54-day-old lockdown. Early this month, it started gradually easing the restrictions to resume economic activity by allowing neighborhood shops to reopen and manufacturing and farming to resume. It also has resumed a limited train service across the country to help stranded migrant workers, students and tourists.