The Latest: Outbreak at German asylum center under control

By The Associated Press 19 May 2020, 12:00AM

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.


Japan plunges into recession as US states start opening up.

— Greece reopens Acropolis in Athens and other ancient sites.

— European leaders consult on possibility of summer vacations.

India reports 5,242 new cases, largest single-day surge, and 157 deaths.


LONDON —The boss of budget airline Ryanair slammed the UK government’s plan to impose a 14-day quarantine on international travelers, claiming the proposals have no scientific basis.

Michael O’Leary told the BBC on Monday that using face masks instead would “eliminate” the risk of spreading coronavirus. His comments come days after the airline announced plans to ramp up its schedule starting in July.

Britain’s government has outlined plans for visitors to have a two-week quarantine either in accommodation of their choice or provided by the government as a last resort, but an implementation date has not yet been announced.

O’Leary described the idea as “idiotic’’ and “unimplementable.’’


BELGRADE, Serbia — Limited commercial air traffic has resumed at Serbia’s main airport after authorities eased the lockdown against the new coronavirus.

One flight is scheduled on Monday with Wizz Air flying from London's Luton Airport to Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport and back.

The airport has said that travel will resume gradually and under strict rules. Only passengers with tickets are allowed into the airport building and the use of protective gear and hand sanitizers is mandatory.

The country of 7 million people has reported 10,610 cases and 230 deaths.


BERLIN — German authorities say an outbreak of the coronavirus at a home for asylum seekers in a western town is under control after more than half the residents tested positive for COVID-19.

Vanessa Nolte, a spokeswoman for city of Cologne, said Monday all 312 residents of the home in nearby Sankt Augustin have been tested since the virus was first detected there late last week.

The facility was home to primarily younger people and families of various nationalities seeking asylum. A total of 170 tested positive for the virus, but none have required hospitalization.


MOSCOW — Moscow health officials say 77 people died of coronavirus in the city in the past 24 hours, the highest daily number for the Russian capital so far.

With a total of over 146,000 confirmed infections and 1,580 deaths, Russia’s capital currently accounts for more than half of the country’s virus cases and 58% of all reported deaths.

Russia’s caseload surpassed 290,000 on Monday, with the death toll exceeding 2,700. The country’s comparatively low death rate has raised questions in the West, with experts suggesting Russia may be under-reporting deaths.

Russian officials vehemently deny these allegations and attribute the relatively low number of COVID-19 deaths to measures the country has taken to curb the spread of the virus.


LONDON — Ireland is taking its first steps out of lockdown, with some stores re-opening and outdoor work resuming after shutting down amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Garden centers, hardware stores and opticians are among the businesses being allowed to open Monday as the lockdown eased.

People are being urged to wear face coverings when going to shops or using public transport.

Health Minister Simon Harris told RTE radio that he’s nervous, because the virus has not gone away. Nonetheless, Harris hopes that social distancing and other measures will make more normalcy possible.

He says that if Ireland can get the next three weeks right “we as a country will find a way to live safely alongside the virus.”


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Church services are resuming in Denmark but with new guidelines dictating one meter (3.3. feet) between worshipers when they pray and two meters when they sing.

The Danish church affairs minister, Joy Mogensen, said it “is important that both the national church and other faith communities are conscious of following the guidelines closely.”

“And I still encourage everyone to use common sense and apply a precautionary principle when planning local activities again,” she said.

More than 80% of Denmark’s population belongs to the State Evangelical Lutheran Church, though only about 5% attend church services regularly.

On top of that cafes and restaurants are also to reopen as well as upper school classes — sixth to 10th grade. The easing up of restrictions comes as infections levels in Denmark have fallen to their lowest level in two months.


MOSCOW — Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan started gradually easing some of their lockdown restrictions as the spread of the coronavirus slows in two ex-Soviet nations slows down.

In Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan’s capital, mosques, markets cafes and restaurants with no more than 50 seats and kindergartens with groups for no more than 15 children reopened on Monday.

In Azerbaijan, cafes and restaurants reopened in the capital, Baku, and four others cities, and people were allowed to walk in parks in groups of up to 10 people.

Kazakhstan has so far reported more than 6,100 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the growth rate slowing down in recent weeks. Authorities in Azerbaijan have registered more than 3,200 cases.


BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping will speak at the opening ceremony of the World Health Organization’s annual meeting later Monday.

China’s foreign ministry said that he would address the World Health Assembly by videolink. The conference is being held virtually this year because of the coronavirus.

The WHO has been drawn into a blame game between the U.S. and China over the spread of the virus. President Donald Trump has withdrawn U.S. funding for the U.N. organization, saying it was too accepting of China’s handling of the outbreak early on.

China has defended its record and said it has worked closely with the WHO and will continue to do so to respond to the pandemic


VATICAN CITY — Italy and the Vatican are opening a new post-lockdown phase in the virus emergency, with churches resuming public Masses after a sharp confrontation between the Italian government and the country’s bishops over worshiping in the era of coronavirus.

Guards in hazmat suits took the temperature of the faithful entering St. Peter’s Basilica, where Pope Francis celebrated an early morning Mass for a handful of people in a side chapel to commemorate the centenary of the birth of St. John Paul II.

Across town, the Rev. Jose Maria Galvan snapped on a latex glove and face mask before distributing Communion to the dozen parishioners attending the 7:20 a.m. Mass at his Sant’Eugenio parish.

“Before I became a priest I was a surgeon, so for me gloves are normal,” he joked afterward. “I’m dexterous (with gloves) so the hosts don’t get away from me.”

It was all part of Italy’s next step in emerging from the West’s first coronavirus lockdown, with commercial shops reopening and barbers and bartenders going back at work. But they are doing so under strict rules that regulate everything from how you get your coffee to the way you pray.


BRUSSELS — The European Medicines Agency’s executive director says a coronavirus vaccine won’t be available soon and that even when one is ready, production won’t be sufficient to offer protection to the entire world’s population.

Guido Rasi said Monday in a session with European lawmakers that a vaccine against the deadly virus is one year away at best.

Even then, Rasi said there won’t be enough doses for the entire population. He said a coordinated approach at the European level will be key to identifying those who will benefit the most from the vaccine.

“We will need to have one holistic model to create the first ring of defense in the general population,” he said.


CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s government welcomed international support for an independent investigation of the coronavirus pandemic, a proposed inquiry that has been condemned by China and blamed for a bilateral trade rift.

The European Union has drafted a resolution, cosponsored by dozens of countries including Australia, that has been gaining support and is expected to be approved in a vote at the World Health Assembly in Geneva this week. The resolution before the assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, calls for an evaluation of the origins of the pandemic and responses to it.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Monday her government had been keen to ensure that the resolution stipulates the inquiry be “impartial, independent and comprehensive.”

“We’re very encouraged by the growing levels of support for this comprehensive World Health Assembly motion,” Payne told reporters. “We look forward to seeing hopefully a positive outcome later this week.”

Australia has been seen as a leader in rallying global support for such an inquiry, attracting Chinese criticism that it is parroting the United States and inviting a Chinese boycott of exports and services.

The motion comes as Australia struggles to resolve a dispute with China over beef imports. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said he's been unable to speak with his Chinese counterpart about China’s ban on meat from Australia’s four largest abattoirs over labeling issues.


ATHENS, Greece — Greece reopened the Acropolis in Athens and other ancient sites Monday, along with high schools, shopping malls and mainland travel in the latest round of easing pandemic restrictions imposed in late March.

Paving stickers were used as markers to keep visitors apart outside the Acropolis, while students were placed on rotation with online teaching to keep classes below 50% capacity.

Public compliance with strict lockdown measures helped keep the COVID-19 death toll to 166 while the total number of confirmed cases stood at 2,834 on Sunday. But authorities are keen to reopen the vital tourism sector, following a warning by the EU Commission that Greece is likely to suffer the worst recession in the bloc this year.

Public beaches reopened over the weekend amid heatwave temperatures, with strict distancing rules imposed by the government, but crowding did occur on buses from Athens to the nearby coast.

Travel to the Greek islands remains broadly restricted.


BERLIN — Germany’s foreign minister is consulting with 10 European colleagues on how to go about making summer vacations elsewhere on the continent possible.

Germany’s two-month-old warning against tourist travel to any country is due to expire on June 14. It and other countries aim to restore free travel across their borders next month.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas planned a video conference Monday with counterparts from 10 countries that are popular destinations for Germans. He told ZDF television that “we want to discuss under what criteria a summer vacation could be possible” – including issues such as entry rules and quarantine requirements that some nations have imposed.

Maas said countries also will have to agree on a mechanism “to react very quickly” if coronavirus infections surge again. He added that “even if a summer vacation will be possible elsewhere in Europe, which I hope, one has to say that this vacation this year won’t be like the ones we know from the past, because the pandemic is still there and we must at least have safety precautions for the worst case that the figures get worse again.”


BRUSSELS — Belgium took the next step in its relaxation of the country's coronavirus lockdown on Monday, with more students going to school, and markets and museums reopening.

Schools were permitted to go through a dry run on Friday, but primary and secondary classes resumed for real Monday with a limited amount of pupils to make sure social distancing was fully respected. In many cases, though, distance learning on laptops remained the order of the day.

Barbers can also resume work, even though Monday used to be their traditional day off. Both barber and client will have to wear protective masks.

Hoping to make the most of the sunny weather, open-air markets can start selling the plentiful spring fruits and vegetables.

And zoo animals, bereft of visitors since March, will have eyes on them again as parks can reopen. Museums will reopen as well and, like zoos, will have a strict reservation system to avoid overcrowding.


KEY WEST, Fla. — The Florida Keys will reopen to tourists on June 1, more than two months after the island chain closed to visitors to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

Checkpoints that barred visitors from coming into the Florida Keys will be removed next month, Monroe County Emergency Management said in a statement Sunday. Hotels and other lodging establishments will also be allowed to reopen at 50% occupancy, the statement said.

Those businesses must implement sanitation stations and follow the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s cleaning guidelines for COVID-19.

The Florida Keys have been closed to visitors since March 22.


NEW DELHI, India — India has recorded its biggest single-day surge with 5,242 new cases of coronavirus and 157 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s infection tally to more than 96,000, the most in Asia.

The country now has 3,029 reported fatalities due to COVID-19.

The surge in infections comes a day after the federal government extended a nationwide lockdown to May 31 but eased some restrictions to restore economic activity and gave states more control in deciding the nature of the lockdown.

Authorities are largely attributing the recent surge in infections to the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to India’s villages, which have weaker health infrastructure.

India had eased its lockdown rules on May 4 and even allowed migrant workers to travel back to their homes, a decision that has resulted in millions of people being on the move for the last two weeks.

All domestic and international passenger flights remain prohibited in the country. Metro services, schools, colleges, hotels and restaurants also remain shuttered nationwide.

Most of the infections reported in India are from its major cities. Mumbai, the financial capital and home to Bollywood, alone has registered almost 20% of the total cases.


MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan — The government in the Pakistani-administered sector of Kashmir announced it is reimposing full lockdown measures beginning Monday night after several people tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The move came days after about two dozen more people tested positive in Pakistan-held Kashmir, where so far 112 confirmed cases have been reported. The region has reported only one coronavirus-related death.

The lockdown was imposed in Pakistan-held Kashmir in March to contain the spread of the virus. But it was eased in April. Kashmir is a split between Pakistan and neighboring India but claimed by both in its entirety.

The announcement came as Pakistan reported 30 more deaths from the new coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, raising overall fatalities in the country to 903. So far, 42,125 confirmed cases have been reported in Pakistan, a total that includes the 112 infections in Pakistan-held Kashmir.


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By The Associated Press 19 May 2020, 12:00AM

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